ABU DHABI: The UAE is considering a 2050 target to align with a global campaign to prevent temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the subject.
If the talks are successful, the UAE could become the first of the OPEC countries to technically reach net zero while continuing plans to invest billions in oil extraction.
This decision would appeal to Western countries which demand stronger climate commitments, but will not force it to sell less oil.
The net zero charge is led by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s special envoy for climate change and his Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.
We are “certainly working on a whole-of-government approach to see when it is possible to reach net zero,” Hana AlHashimi, who heads Al Jaber’s office, said in a call organized by US-UAE Business. Council on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg. “I encourage you to stay tuned,” she said.
The country aims to make an announcement ahead of the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November, residents said, asking not to be identified for the confidentiality of ongoing talks.
Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels after shipment abroad are not included in these targets at the national level. Fossil fuels remain the UAE’s main source of income, contributing around 30% of GDP. Still, the nation has taken steps to strengthen its green credentials.
According to the UAE’s long-term energy plan, only half of all power capacity is expected to be emission-free by 2050, made up of renewables and nuclear power. The country plans to cover the rest of its energy needs with gas and coal.
Climate Action Tracker, a nonprofit that analyzes climate goals, considers UAE policies “grossly insufficient.”
The United Arab Emirates are now candidates to host the UN global climate talks in 2023. They face South Korea, which has already set a goal of net zero by 2050.
The UAE has been the target of US lobbying for stronger green commitments. It is one of the few countries to have twice hosted Special Climate Envoy John Kerry since taking office earlier this year, Bloomberg said.
Kerry has expressed optimism that Saudi Arabia will agree to a net zero emissions target of around 2050 after visiting the country on its last trip to the region.