When even a country like the UAE, blessed with an abundance of cheap oil and gas, is pledging to get most of its energy from renewable sources, there has to be optimism about the prospects of the COP21 conference finding a global consensus on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 on the eve of the UN-sponsored climate conference that opened in Paris yesterday. The COP21 conference will see all 195 signatory countries, including the UAE, adopt a new agreement on emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The targets will take effect from 2020.
Dubai has pledged billions of dirhams to meet its goal of providing 75 per cent of its energy from clean energy sources by 2050. One way this target will be reached is through the installation of solar panels on the roof of every building in the emirate.
The UAE as a whole has already pledged to meet a similarly ambitious target of generating 24 per cent of its energy from clean sources by 2021. At the start of November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted to the COP21 organisers a document known as its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, stating the environmental goals the UAE will seek to achieve over the next five years.
With a combination of technological advances and economies of scale bringing down the cost of renewable energy to the point where they are becoming as cheap or cheaper than traditional energy sources, even those who are sceptical about anthropogenic climate change will see compelling reasons to move away from using fossil fuels.
For the UAE, with its aim to focus on high-tech industries as it moves away from an oil-based economy, becoming a global centre of excellence for the development and implementation of renewables is a compelling strategy. Starting that by meeting our own energy needs is simply good sense.