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US praises UAE’s action on climate change

The visit of US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry to the UAE highlights the importance both the UAE and the United States are attaching to sustainable development and curbing the ill-effects of climate change.

Kerry visited a number of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) major strategic projects supporting the country’s efforts in the field of clean energy, limiting the consequences of climate change, and promoting sustainable development at the local and global levels.

Kerry took a helicopter tour over the world’s largest single-site solar project, Noor Abu Dhabi, with Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology. He went to the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as well as Masdar, a critical contributor to the UAE’s 400% expansion of its renewable energy portfolio over the last ten years. He also visited Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the world’s first university with curricula devoted to driving sustainability solutions through innovations in artificial intelligence.

The day’s activities included a tour of other key solar installations, including Shams 1, one of the largest concentrated solar power plants in the world, where Kerry was briefed on the upcoming 2 GW Al Dhafra Solar Project, which recently set a new record for the lowest solar power tariff at 1.35 cents/kWh.

Kerry concluded the day with a visit to Abu Dhabi’s Jubail Mangrove Park. Mangroves, native to the UAE, have the triple benefit of preventing coastal erosion, encouraging biodiversity, and capturing more carbon per hectare than rainforests. With millions of mangroves already planted across its coastal areas, the UAE has committed through its second Nationally Determined Contribution, to planting an additional 30 million by the year 2030. The UAE plays a major role in backing clean energy projects to address the impact of climate change and mitigate its negative effects on ecosystems and various economic sectors.

John Kerry is visiting Abu Dhabi to attend the first Regional Climate Dialogue, jointly hosted on 4 April by the UAE and the US. The Dialogue will bring together senior climate action representatives from the GCC, the MENA region as well as the UK.

Dr. Al Jaber added: “I’m delighted that US Special Envoy for Climate Kerry has joined us for an important climate dialogue with regional partners that will accelerate global progress toward climate goals. Over the past 15 years, the UAE has made bold commitments on climate change, domestically and internationally, and has demonstrated its ability to act on them.”

On his part, Kerry expressed delight at his visit to the UAE, noting it’s part of the efforts to make United National Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow a success and “address the climate crisis with the seriousness it demand.”

It’s remarkable to find the UAE trying to lead many other nations in the search of new technology to address the global climate challenge and in transitioning to the new economy while facing this crisis.

“We face an enormous global challenge and it’s growing in intensity,” said Kerry.

The first Regional Climate Dialogue will focus on national and regional preparations for the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26), set to run in November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. The UAE was the first country in the region to sign the Paris Agreement and the first to submit an economy-wide Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reduce emissions compared to business-as-usual in 2030. The UAE has impressed the world with a range of major projects, most notably its peaceful nuclear power plants, solar energy power plants, desalination plants and waste management projects, which aim to transform waste into energy.

The virus may have put the brakes on a lot of projects around the world, but not in the UAE, which remains committed to progressive climate action.

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