UAE records 30% reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide levels between February and April 2020

Photo: WAM

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE, has recorded a notable drop in the concentration of major air pollutants due to the transportation restrictions that have been imposed to counter the spread of COVID-19.

In this context, MOCCAE reported an average 30 percent decline in the levels of nitrogen dioxide, NO2, across the UAE between 1st February and 30th April, 2020.

Speaking on the findings, Aisha Al Abdooli, Director of the Green Development and Environment Affairs Department at MOCCAE, said: "The Ministry closely monitors air quality in the country through its 52 stations and AI lab. Due to the slowdown of all activities as part of the response to the pandemic, the world is seeing a considerable reduction in air pollution."

She added: "The UAE has witnessed a drop in the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which is released into the air by vehicles. The decline varied between different areas, ranging from 10 per cent to 71 per cent. Overall, the average reduction across the country between February 1 and April 30, 2020, amounted to 30 per cent."

According to MOCCAE’s readings, air quality in the UAE saw a noticeable improvement on 2019, as evidenced by the percentage of green days – days when the concentration of air pollutants is low and air quality is good. In 2019, the country experienced 81 per cent green days, compared to 71 per cent in 2018.

In February 2020, MOCCAE published the first national-level inventory of emissions in the UAE on its website. Moreover, the Ministry completed the technical regulations for air quality measurement systems in collaboration with Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, ESMA. MOCCAE is currently developing an air quality strategy post-2021.

In parallel with the Ministry’s efforts to improve air quality, Dubai has made great strides in this area. The emirate signed the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration – a pledge to drastically reduce air pollution by 2025.

It also launched a plan to convert 50 per cent of its taxi fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles by 2021, and replace existing public buses with Euro 5- and Euro 6-compliant buses that optimize the use of energy and reduce carbon footprint.

Other relevant steps include the adoption of the Low Emission Vehicle Strategy in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi government’s drive to switch its vehicles from petrol to compressed natural gas, and linking Fujairah Municipality’s air quality monitoring network with industrial facilities.

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