UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Wraps up Successful Participation in UN Climate Action Summit in New York

His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, today concluded his visit to New York, where he participated in multiple sessions organized on the sidelines of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019.

In parallel with the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74), His Excellency Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, convened the summit on September 23 under the theme ‘A Race We Can Win: A Race We Must Win’ to mobilize leaders to enhance their countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

In the run-up to the event, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi attended the UN Youth Climate Summit, the first such summit that aims to provide a platform for young leaders to share their solutions with the world and meaningfully engage with decision-makers.

During a meeting with Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi announced that the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) launched the #ItAffectsYou video competition. The global contest challenges young men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 to produce a compelling video that is up to two minutes long and depicts the adverse impacts of climate change or, alternatively, documents a promising effort to counter them.

The Minister served as a panelist in a session on ‘Advancing Buildings and Sustainable Urban Infrastructure’ as part of the Local Action Track ‘Partnerships for Ambition: Unlocking the Full Potential of Local Climate Action’. He provided an overview of the UAE’s approach to minimizing the environmental impact of the construction boom the country has witnessed over the course of four decades.

Furthermore, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi participated in the 11th High-Level Assembly of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) that took stock of the progress made so far and discussed scaling up the coalition’s action program. At the gathering, he announced the UAE’s decision to join the coalition that is committed to improving air quality and protecting the climate through reducing short-lived climate pollutants.

A World Health Organization-led session under the theme ‘Adapting our Health Systems for Climate Change and Air Pollution’ was also on the Minister’s agenda.

In addition, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi attended a reception entitled ‘Securing our Future: People, Food and Nature Solving the Planetary Emergency’ that witnessed the launch of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. At the event, he announced the UAE’s decision to join the promising coalition.

Moreover, at a session of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), he announced the UAE’s decision to join the commission that aspires to advance climate adaptation solutions. He also shared the country’s plan to pass a federal law on climate that sets out an inclusive framework for climate action.

His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi participated in a session on ‘Scaling Solutions for Circular Plastics’, organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to bring together key players across value chains to identify practical solutions to global plastic pollution.

At a breakout session on agriculture and land use, climate change, and sustainable solutions, held as part of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum 2019, the Minister presented an overview of the UAE’s approach to enhancing the resilience of its agricultural sector that relies on innovation and state-of-the-art technologies. He outlined the country’s initiatives aimed at achieving this priority, such as encouraging subsistence-level farmers to adopt commercial agriculture, developing a food diversification strategy, supporting R&D in areas that enhance food security and diversity, and strengthening international agricultural cooperation.

At a press conference on the sidelines of the summit, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi presented the upgrades to the UAE’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs). He said that as part of its 2020 NDCs, the UAE will seek to achieve a target of 50 percent clean energy in its total energy mix by 2050, generated from renewable and nuclear power sources. This will more than double the existing target of 24 percent by 2021, as reflected in the country’s first NDCs.

The Minister added that the government-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, will expand its first-in-the-region commercial-scale carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration project sixfold by 2030, marking one of the largest investments in this segment worldwide.

Furthermore, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi noted that for the first time, the UAE’s 2020 NDCs will also include a National Climate Change Plan as well as a National Climate Change Adaptation Program. The program comprises a comprehensive governance framework to address adaptation across the energy, health, infrastructure, and environment sectors, assesses the existing and projected risks these sectors face as a result of climate change, and devises relevant resilience measures.

Demonstrating the country’s holistic commitment to the environment, the Minister said: The UAE is also leveraging cutting-edge space technologies in its latest regional efforts to join the space race. The first Arab satellite, 813, set to launch into space in 2022, will monitor desertification, drought, and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as collect vital data that can be used to pinpoint causes, symptoms, and patterns of our planet’s changing climate conditions.

Speaking on the role of youth in shaping a sustainable future, he said: In its fight against climate change, the UAE views youth engagement as one of the highest priorities and actively involves the young generation in climate decision-making. Young people already serve as delegates in the country’s negotiations with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Through the youth council established by MOCCAE, they will now assume a formal role in authoring the 2020 NDCs.

His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi added: We plan to take multiple measures to promote youth engagement in the climate conversation. We will organize more national dialogues on climate change and facilitate exchanges between the government, youth, and civil society on climate priorities through our youth circles platform. We will mobilize other local stakeholders in the climate field, such as Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Emirates Water and Electricity Company, and Masdar, to establish internal youth advisory councils, and include young people in the design and implementation of climate-related projects.

We also aim to encourage the UAE’s young generation to submit policy proposals and solutions related to climate matters to MOCCAE. As for capacity building, we seek to educate young people on climate change and sustainability through our newly launched Emirates Youth Professional School, and provide them with internships with climate action stakeholders through our upcoming Youth Internships platform.

The Minister also announced the UAE’s decision to join new coalitions that fast-track climate action, as well as several of the initiatives announced by the summit’s own coalitions. He noted that the UAE Ministry of Infrastructure Development is participating in the Zero Carbon Buildings for All initiative that focuses on driving national ambition via enabling policies for net-zero-carbon infrastructure. He added that Empower, the Dubai government-owned central cooling systems corporation, is now a member of the Cool Coalition that aims to advance climate-friendly and efficient cooling.

Under the Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action Track of the UN Climate Action Summit, the UAE is committed to providing technical support and charting a comprehensive roadmap that mobilizes relevant stakeholders from local authorities and the private sector to construct net-zero-energy buildings.

Finally, within the scope of the Social and Political Drivers Track, the country has resolved to achieve air quality that is safe for its citizens, and to align its climate change and air pollution policies by 2030. Under the same track, the UAE endorses the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s global call for the protection of cultural and natural heritage from the impacts of climate change.

Source: Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.