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By Daniel Bardsley

When temperatures climb in the UAE, the normal reaction is to turn up the air conditioning.

And in a country where the mercury can exceed 50ºC during the summer, who could be blamed for that?

But there are other ways of keeping cool that can cut energy use, save money and be better for the planet.

Neighbourhood design – including how much vegetation there is – can limit temperature increases amid the all-year sunshine of the UAE.

Among the neighbourhoods in the Emirates particularly well designed to stay cool is Dubai's Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

“The area boasts ample greenery, including landscaped parks and lakes, which play a crucial role in reducing ambient temperatures,” said one of the authors of a new study, Dr Ansar Khan, of the University of Calcutta in India.

Materials used in buildings and the presence of greenery can reduce a building's energy demand by as much as 36 per cent, the findings published in Energy and Buildings suggest.

“It underscores the importance of implementing sustainable and innovative solutions to address the challenges posed by urbanisation and climate change,” said Dr Khan.

Reducing the need for air conditioning can help the planet because the consumption of electricity to power it is growing and much of that electricity will have been produced by burning fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change.

Our full report is here.


World needs 'unprecedented' climate action

The UAE Cop28 presidency has been stepping up efforts to maintain the momentum of the historic climate summit.

Last week, the UAE teamed up with the next two Cop hosts – Azerbaijan and Brazil – to help keep the crucial 1.5ºC climate goal within reach.

And this week, Cop28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber was at the International Energy Agency in Paris calling for “unprecedented” climate action to keep the historic deal – under which an agreement to transition away from fossil fuels was reached – alive.

Dr Al Jaber also cautioned of “turmoil” if the green transition was not managed correctly and stated governments needed to be honest and transparent about the costs involved.

He was speaking at the “Beyond Cop28: Time to unite, act and deliver the UAE consensus” event, which was attended by International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol; John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate; and ministers, ambassadors, industry executives and other leaders.

John Dennehy's full report is here.


How an Abu Dhabi fund is protecting a threatened species

The Lynch’s Colombian tree frog had not been seen for more than three decades and was feared to be extinct.

But thanks to an expedition supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the creature was rediscovered in 2022 by the ProAves conservation group in the eastern Andes of Colombia.

What does this have to do with the environment? As Razan Al Mubarak, founding managing director of the fund, said, the preservation of the Lynch’s Colombian tree frog was “not just about saving these remarkable species”.

“It’s about maintaining the balance of ecosystems where every creature plays a pivotal role,” she said.

The Abu Dhabi-backed fund has supported hundreds of projects around the world with grants aimed at protecting individual species.

Daniel Bardsley's full report is here.


The big fact

About 70 million people have been exposed to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) “forever chemicals” in US drinking water, testing from the country's Environmental Protection Agency has found.

But the tests only checked about one third of the public water systems so far, meaning the true figure could be higher.

PFAS are found in products from cosmetics to cookware and are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down. Studies have linked them with health issues such as birth defects and cancer.


Jargon buster

Feedback loops happen when one change in the environment or climate leads to further changes.

Some feedback loops that scientists believe are driving global warming include forest wildfires. Fires can release greenhouse gases leading to more warming and more wildfires.

Our full guide to understanding climate jargon is here.



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Updated: February 21, 2024, 10:56 AM
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