UAE can take lead in fight against climate change

By January 17, 2019News

It (Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week) is the right kind of spotlight needed at the moment and it gives world leaders the opportunity to come up with long term strategies on a global forum.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends

These words of Martin Luther King Jr. ring just as true today as they did when he first said more than half a century ago. The subject matter behind the quote has definitely changed, but the underlying theme remains timeless; for the greater good of humanity, it will not matter in the end what the naysayers said. What will matter is what you did or said.

For earth, and by extension, for its inhabitants, us, that moment has long since arrived.

Climate change is no longer a fad or hoax inspite of what the unbelievers would have you believe. And the sooner world leaders stopped arguing over the merits and demerits of each other’s arguments and got down to coming up with a way to avoid the iceberg that is rapidly approaching the ship of humanity, the better.

Besides dealing a hammer blow to the global sustainability targets, the dismal performance on climate change has also forced nations such as ours that are forecasted to be hit worst to start looking for sustainable and successful environmental programmes. In the wake of the rubble that is the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change now after the withdrawal of the US, the eyes of the world are looking for a leader to emerge and fill up the void that has been created and to treat the matter as the global pandemic that it is. I believe with all my heart that the UAE can be that leader. It is time for all countries to unite under a common platform and tackle the issue of climate change. The on-going Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is one of the largest forums that focuses on sustainability. It is exactly the right kind of spotlight that is needed at the moment and it gives world leaders the opportunity to come up with long term strategies on a global forum.

There really is no time to lose. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, made an announcement that is practically a death knell for life on the planet if it comes true; global temperature if it continues on the current trajectory is projected to rise more than 3C by 2100. That level is more than the target that was set in the Paris Agreement. If the prediction is allowed to come to fruition, low-lying waterside countries such as Bangladesh and Comoros could be the first casualty.

But make no mistake, we will also be soon in the crosshairs. The world as we have known is already changing with focus shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy forms. Naturally that will affect the economy of the UAE but being the resilient nation that we are, this is an opportunity to forge a new identity for ourselves. The UAE has been one of the pioneers in its usage of innovation towards sustainable farming and renewable energy initiatives. An example is Masdar City in Abu Dhabi which is also a co-host of (ADSW). Citizens of Masdar City are part of a pilot project in which they are being encouraged to grow organic food in recycled shipping containers. This is only one such example among many that can be replicated on a large scale.
I would know.

After having fought this battle for almost three decades through my organisation, Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), I believe we are well-poised to take the role of a leader. Emirates Environmental Group has been carrying out campaigns for many years now that instil a sense of community in the people and promote the idea that this planet is our home and that we need to protect it for our future generations.

One of our recently implemented campaigns ‘For Our Emirates We Plant’, which is an annual event, we planted 1,000 indigenous Sidra trees in Sidr nature reserve in Al Minei, Ras Al Khaimah. Another strong platform is our recycling campaign, which involves thousands of companies, academic institutions and families to segregate waste at source and send for recycling. Our achievement in 2018 has succeeded in mitigating 73,393 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions.

I am a firm believer that the environmental legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan is in good hands. I am confident that the government led ably by the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the UAE leadership are firmly committed to ensuring a sustainable environment for future generations.

Habiba Al Mar’ashi is President and CEO of Arabia CSR Network