Sheikha Shamma tells UK climate show worldwide effort vital to tackle crisis

The award-winning campaigner warns ecosystems risk collapse unless the warming of planet is reversed

Sheikha Shamma at the London Climate Technology Show this week. Victoria Pertusa / The National
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Flash floods and record-breaking heatwaves in different regions of the world this year demonstrate how the climate crisis “has no borders” and can only be tackled on a global scale, a leading Emirati environmental campaigner has warned.

Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan, the granddaughter of the late president Sheikh Khalifa, said if urgent action is not taken the “chaos” being unleashed on communities in all corners of the world due to climate change stands to get worse.

Speaking to The National, she said her grandfather’s work was a source of inspiration for her as she seeks to address challenges and open up conversations about the hot topic.

“My grandfather was an environmentalist and it’s important for me to carry on the work that has been done by my forefathers and [fore]mothers,” she said. “And I've seen over the last few years the impact that the climate crisis has had on people's lives.”

Sheikha Shamma, chief executive and founder of the Alliances for Global Sustainability and co-founder of Aurora50, said the flash floods across the UAE in July and soaring temperatures in Europe were prime examples of how the problems caused by a warming of the planet are affecting people in all regions.

“It was unbearable,” she said of the record-breaking heat in London, which topped 40.2°C in July.

As the UAE prepares to host the Cop28 United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2023, Sheikha Shamma said she feels “extremely excited and optimistic” about what can be achieved at the gathering.

She also spoke of her hopes for the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators, which was launched last month during New York Climate Week. The initiative, which is led by Sheikha Shamma, seeks to help the country achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“The platform that I've created is a non-partisan think tank that will convene the public sector, the private sector, NGOs, civil society, to provide policy recommendations that will accelerate the green economy so that Cop is not just an event it's an opportunity for us to build the foundations to allow green businesses to grow,” she said.

In her line of work, Sheikha Shamma has been encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by young Emiratis who are eager to play their part in the global fight against climate change. She also said the positive feedback from women is cause for hope for the future.

During a speech on the opening day of the London Climate Technology Show on Wednesday, the campaigner urged decision makers to make bold moves to curb the crisis.

The effects of climate change, she said, will inflict drastic changes to nations and bring about political crisis unless addressed.

She warned that the days of saying climate change is a problem for future generations are long gone, as “the effects we are witnessing in every corner of the globe have made it clear that this is a problem we are facing here and now”.

“Climate change has caused chaos and it has affected millions of people this summer, with only a 1.1 degree increase in global temperatures,” she told the audience.

“From heatwaves sweeping Europe to severe floods in Asia and a myriad of natural disasters … it is evident that the climate crisis that we are collectively facing has no borders.

“This is precisely why climate change cannot be addressed by any sector or country alone. Without taking a united front in tackling this challenge we will soon see mass migration and the collapse of ecosystems alongside social and political crises.”

Sheikha Shamma receives climate change award - in pictures

Updated: October 19, 2022, 3:20 PM