Dubai gears up for the future through Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The Government of Dubai has announced today its intention to develop the Dubai Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The announcement was declared at day one of the C40 Dubai Adaptation Conference, organised by the General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Dubai, in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group from 23rd to 25th January 2017 and in the presence of representatives of several world cities.

The first day of the conference was attended by representatives of the C40 cities, as well as a number of director generals and representatives of Government of Dubai bodies who will be responsible for developing and implementing the Dubai Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The plan will involve studying the impacts of climate change in Dubai, in response to the Dubai Plan 2021 aspirations for Dubai to be a sustainable city, resistant to climate change, and help the city to adapt to the new conditions climate change is bringing about.

Led by Dubai Municipality and other parties, Dubai's plan for climate adaptation is to be developed during this year. It will determine the extent of climate change in the Gulf, and in Dubai in particular. These issues include: the temperature increase in different urban and desert regions, sea level rise, the effect of rainfall decrease on the  frequency and intensity of sand storms. Other elements of climate change are to be determined during the course of the study.

In response to the study’s findings, the plan will announce initiatives designed to monitor desertification, increased salinity of the Arabian Gulf water, air quality, along with other initiatives related urban planning, environmental health, infrastructure, water and electricity supply, tourism and the economy.

Abdullah Al Shaibani, Secretary General of the Executive Council of Dubai, started his opening statement by welcoming the attendees from various cities of the world to the international conference, hosted by Dubai for the first time to share  best practices and experiences of climate change adaptation, by saying: 'Welcome to the biggest conference held by C40 with the aim of discussing cities adaption to climate change.

'Since its establishment by the founding fathers, the UAE has always been at the forefront of efforts to support global environmental issues, based on its belief that any change in the elements of the environment will have major effects over a wide geographic range, affecting the global climate and the quality of life offered to the future generations. From this perspective, and in line with the directions of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai,  it has become a high priority to ensure the sustainability and protection of the environment within the UAE National Agenda and Dubai Plan 2021,' Al Shaibani added.

He also said: 'Climate change, mainly owing to human activities, is already affecting the whole world, leading to enormous changes in the environment. In consequence, global and major cities of the world should take decisive steps towards climate change adaptation by thinking of cities as an integral part of a global system. We all must strive to provide solutions contributing to the climate change adaptation in order to ensure happiness and quality of life for the people. For our part, the Government of Dubai will begin this year to develop the Dubai Climate Change Adaptation Plan as a strategic initiative within the Dubai Plan 2021. The new plan comes in line with the objectives of Dubai’s memebership in C40 and the UAE singning of the Paris Agreement.

Al Shaibani also talked about how the UAE people have overcome extreme climate conditions and high temperatures: 'Although it is situated on the coast, Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert, where summers are extremely hot and humid while winters are warm and rainy. Prior to the urban and economic development that coincided with the formation of a new federation, our forefathers adapted to the hot climate through adopting Al Barjeel (wind towers) architecture, which adequately reflects the UAE people’s acute awareness of the prevailing weather conditions. Al Barjeel is now considered a symbol of the historical architecture of Dubai.'     In his opening remarks, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: "The effects of climate change on cities are clear and climate change is also impacted by urbanisation, as indicated by the United Nations Human Settlements Program. Cities are responsible for about 60% of carbon emissions. At the same time, they are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  In spite of the disparity of these effects between cities due to various factors, no city will be free from vulnerability.

In the UAE, cities are the backbone of life and home to the majority of population, economic and social activities and infrastructure. Therefore, our priority is to provide maximum protection and strengthen the ability of cities to adapt to the potential effects of climate change. According to the findings of recent local geographical studies, most of the cities and urban areas located on the coastal strip in the UAE may be vulnerable to the effects of climate change as a result of sea level rise."

"We are well aware of the risks posed on cities by the climate change, and in line with the directives of our wise leadership and in the framework of Vision 2021, we have adopted an integrated set of policies and measures based on knowledge, innovation and best practices in past years. For example; policy for diversifying sources of income, diversification of energy and water sources, green economy, green architecture, sustainable transport, efficiency enhancement of use, in addition to a set of national policies and strategies aimed at protecting the interest of the country’s ecosystems", Dr Al Zeyoudi added.

Commenting on the Dubai Climate Change Adaptation Plan, Samira Al Rayes, Senior Director of Policies and Strategies for Sustainable Development at the General Secretariat of the Executive Council, said: 'The Government of Dubai’s work approach is well-defined by the constant directions of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for placing the people at the centre of government functions, policies and strategies. Therefore, the Dubai Climate Change Adaptation Plan announced today reflects the Government of Dubai’s commitment to develop and implement the necessary plans to create a sustainable environment that reserves the future generation’s rights.

'By joining the global network of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Dubai strengthens its role in achieving comprehensive development and making a real change in terms of adapting to global climate change, as well as benefiting from experiences of other cities in this regard. This year, we will intensify our joint efforts with Dubai Municipality, leading the development and implementation of the plan. It has also been affirmed by the conference participants that the world is already experiencing the effects of climate change, and it is time to make our cities immune from such a change,' Al Rayes added.

Commenting on the importance of the conference, Al Rayes said: The three-day conference focuses on three main areas, namely: Identifying climate change impact on the urban environment, the extent to which cities can adapt to the increase in global temperature, and how this affects electricity and water consumption, as well as the impact of sea level rise on coastal infrastructure. C40 member cities will participate in breakout workshops sessions to share best practices and experiences that can be benefited from.

Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality stressed on the importance of this event hosted by the city of Dubai. It comes as a fruit of the efforts of this city in joining the global network of cities committed to reducing the impact of climate change. He pointed out that joining this network is a source of pride and a confirmation of Dubai’s keenness to reach this prestigious position among the major advanced nations of the world.

He said: This conference comes as a realization of the directives of the wise government on the application of the specifications of smart cities and the standards of urban environment through the adoption of the latest environmentally friendly solutions and tools, giving it an opportunity for continuity and sustainability.

He said that Dubai Municipality has a strategy that is working on the application of the wise directives of our government in order to make Dubai as one of the most sustainable cities in the world by 2021. It includes using the latest smart technology applications in all business sectors, especially the construction sector that falls under the Sustainability Committee in the Municipality.

He also added that Dubai Municipality has spared no effort in the development of strategies and initiatives that work in the long-term in reducing all the things that cause climate change. It has worked to reduce the emission of gases from potential sources, which included energy sources and the methods of their use, the fuel and technologies that generate significant emission levels of gases that cause climate change.

We have placed on the list of those regulations, the adoption of green building regulations in the emirate of Dubai; which was launched in October 2007 under the patronage of the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. These regulations stipulate that all the buildings that will be constructed in the Emirate of Dubai must comply with the internationally recognized specifications of green buildings.

Based on these regulations, Dubai Municipality has conducted, since February 2008, and in coordination with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, a study of the global systems of green buildings and has developed guidelines governing the implementation of these regulations. The key elements of these regulations include: sustainable site planning and design, energy conservation and efficient usage, which means the effective use of energy resources, sources of air conditioning, the use of insulation materials, efficient use and conservation of water by reducing water usage and re-use of treated wastewater, use of appropriate thermal insulation technologies, waste recycling and reuse, avoiding the use of materials that possess the properties of toxicity, ensuring the quality of the external and internal environment of the buildings through pollution control, monitoring air quality and using low-lying emission material.

Dubai Municipality has intensified campaigns through the media and launched "Green Roofs for Buildings" initiative in 2009. Regulations have been formulated for this initiative by the Buildings Department and the Environment Department in the Municipality and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. It was presented and explained to the public through public seminars and conferences. In 2010, the "Guidelines for the Terms and Specifications of the Green Building Regulation" was launched, which was scheduled to come into force in 2014, according to the Local Order No. 2011/344 and it was  implemented in several stages.

The regulations include increased vegetation (ensures carbon absorption): The strategic plan of Dubai Municipality aims to raise the per capita green space for the residents of the emirate from 14.8 to 23.4 square metres per person. The cultivated green space in Dubai is composed of trees, shrubs, herbs or flowers. Dubai Municipality aims to convert 8% of the total urban area in the emirate green by 2021.

Dubai Municipality has been keen to develop its strategies and initiatives to support all its objectives in the field of green cities through the development of world-class rules and regulations, which include: sustainability, conservation and optimal use of energy, not to waste the water, re-use of treated wastewater, use of thermal insulation techniques, controlling environmental pollutants, air quality monitoring and reducing emissions of gases that cause climate change.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said: "Dubai’s hosting the Climate Change Adaptation Conference featuring the participation of 47 cities, underscores the profile of Dubai and its leading role in protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions causing negative implications on the climate. The Conference will be a great opportunity for participants to familiarize themselves with the leading global practices in tackling climate changes.

"RTA attaches paramount importance to environmental conservation efforts and power-saving issues. Safety & Environmental Sustainability are part of the strategic goals of RTA, and are aligned with the national initiative launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in 2012 under the theme: Green Economy for Sustainable Development aimed at fostering a green economy across the UAE. They also conform to the UAE Vision 2021 and Power & Carbon Reducing Strategy adopted by the Dubai Government with the aim of rendering Dubai a model in the efficient power consumption, and reduced carbon footprint.

"From inception, RTA had been adopting a plethora of brilliant initiatives towards mitigating environmental impacts, saving power and supporting the green economy drive in various projects & services provided by RTA’s affiliated sectors and agencies. Because of RTA’s initiatives & projects, the public transport ridership has soared from 163 m riders in 2006 to 539 m riders in 2015. The current ridership hovers around 1.5 m riders per day. Over the past years, RTA has accomplished 45 projects, initiatives related to energy and green economy, and has introduced the highest standards of green buildings aligned with the highest global standards. It is seeking to replace all conventional streetlights with lights LED by 2030, which will reduce the carbon footprint by more than 3000 tons of carbon per annum.

"RTA has also piloted the operation of a bus powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and another project for measuring the carbon footprint of vehicles in the emirate of Dubai since 2008. It is also working on beefing up its fleet of hybrid vehicles by as much as 50% in 2021. In keeping with the government drive to bring happiness to people, RTA has accomplished the transformation of all services to smart ones deliverable via smartphones and tablets. The smart transformation drive contributed to saving 28 km in respect of each transaction processed via smart apps or online. It has also reduced carbon emissions by 10 KG per transaction.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer: Dubai’s hosting the C40 Cities Adaptation Conference, in cooperation with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, is especially important as climate change is one of the top priorities of Dubai’s wise leadership. Dubai has become a role model for sustainable development, thanks to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to achieve the sustainable development and protect the natural resources for generations to come. Dubai Government has a comprehensive vision for the future of sustainability and tackling climate change. This is done through a strategy to reduce its effects, in adherence with the objectives set by the Dubai Plan 2021, to transform Dubai into a smart and sustainable city, whose elements are clean, healthy, and sustainable.

DEWA plays an essential role in achieving these goals by reinforcing the renewable energy sector to meet the objectives of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which maps out Dubai’s energy sector over the next three decades. This strategy aims to provide 75% of Dubai’s total power output from clean energy sources by 2050. This contributes to dealing with environmental challenges the world is facing by establishing a sustainable model in energy conservation that supports economic growth without damaging the environment and natural resources, and can be exported to the whole world.

One of DEWA’s largest projects is the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest solar park in the world, with a total planned capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. It will contribute to the reduction of approximately 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

In adherence to DEWA’s vision to become a sustainable innovative world-class utility, we are working to enhance Dubai’s electricity and water networks, and launches initiatives and campaigns to raise awareness on the importance of using natural resources sensibly. DEWA also works to instill a culture of conservation in society and to achieve the Demand Side Management strategy to reduce consumption by 30% by 2030, and the Carbon Abatement Strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 16% by 2021.

Ahmed Buti Al Muhairbi, Secretary General of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy: "In line with Dubai's clean energy strategy 2050 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai - to transform Dubai to a global hub for clean energy and the green economy, we are pleased and honored that Dubai to host the adaptation to climate change in collaboration with the C40 network of global climate change C40 ". This is enhance the preservation of the environment and the relentless pursuit in addressing the challenges that contribute to reducing the carbon footprint in order to create a better future for generations to come. "

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