By Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the climate platform hosted by Masdar, opens next week for its 14th edition. ADSW will be the first in a series of global events placing the Arab world at the center of the climate conversation over the next few years.
The dialogue at ADSW, which includes the IRENA General Assembly, the World Future Energy Summit and the Zayed Sustainability Prize, among other program elements, will be a continuation of the discussion from COP26 in November, and will lay the groundwork for COP27 in Egypt later this year and COP28 in the UAE in 2023.
This year, therefore, ADSW reaffirms the UAE’s leadership role at a defining time for the planet’s future. After all, as a nation at high risk from increased temperatures, rising sea levels and reduced rainfall, the UAE has for many years been acutely aware that climate change is a reality and a challenge that we must tackle alongside the global community. The ADSW platforms built by Masdar over the years such as the aforementioned Zayed Sustainability Prize, WiSER and Youth 4 Sustainability, are raising awareness of the need for a more sustainable world and for concerted response by all nations that is inclusive of all demographics.
As a global community, limiting the increase in global temperatures to just 1.5°C is our number one priority, and the pathway to Net Zero – identified as the most important measure needed to achieve this – will be a dominant conversation at ADSW. “Net Zero” is the state in which greenhouse gases reaching the atmosphere each year are near zero levels, slowing down climate change and potentially reversing its course over time.
Reaching that target at a national level, never mind globally, is no easy feat. The UAE has long been a pioneer and regional model for climate action, taking steps to lead the way . We were the first Gulf country to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement, setting out targets for nations to begin the process, and the first Arab country to set voluntary clean energy targets – and overachieve them. Last November, the UAE became the first Arab nation to launch a “Net Zero by 2050” strategic initiative, putting the country resolutely on the path to a low carbon future.
At Masdar, we are proud of our role since our founding in 2006 as a major contributor to the UAE’s climate change mitigation and Net Zero efforts. We have been addressing the challenge from multiple fronts – allocating capital to impactful projects, leveraging new technologies at scale, building awareness for behavioral change, and supporting policy-makers around the world. Our projects in the UAE are directly helping achieve the UAE Energy Strategy targets which aim to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2050. Overseas, too, we are helping some 40 nations achieve their own clean energy goals, with our projects and investments reaching a gross value of more than US$20 billion.
Now, in 2022, and with the spotlight on the Arab world, Masdar is primed to further leverage its position as a global leader in clean energy. Under an investment deal announced in December, Abu Dhabi’s energy heavyweights ,ADNOC and TAQA, will join the emirate’s sovereign investment company, Mubadala, as partners in our Clean Energy business. By summer, when we expect our new shareholders to be formally on board, Masdar will be Abu Dhabi’s clean energy powerhouse, with a portfolio of 23 GW of clean energy capacity and ambitions to reach at least 50GW by 2030.
Further, with the support of ADNOC and TAQA, Masdar will consolidate Abu Dhabi’s efforts in exploring green hydrogen as a fuel of the future – another major topic of this year’s ADSW. The promise of hydrogen is huge: according to study by Dii Desert Energy, Roland Berger and Masdar, GCC countries alone could generate as much as US$200 billion in revenue from hydrogen by 2050, with the creation of between 400,000 and 900,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.
The UAE has significant natural advantages in the development of green hydrogen, with excellent solar resources allowing for competitive solar power . The nation’s clean hydrogen initiatives are also facilitated by its strong existing infrastructure, export facilities and central location between key export markets. Masdar, with its know-how, is well positioned to deliver on this promise.
Last year, this led to the signing of agreements with the UK’s bp and France’s ENGIE to develop up to 4GW of green hydrogen projects, while we also partnered with Siemens Energy and other stakeholders to build a green hydrogen demonstrator in Masdar City that will establish the commercial viability of sustainable fuel.
Masdar’s successes in clean energy and sustainable urban development in Masdar City are an important element in the UAE’s overall climate mission and will be fully on display at ADSW. Broad adoption of renewables is a vital component of climate mitigation efforts, and it is critical that this comes with equitable and sustainable economic development. In emerging markets, notably, Masdar acts as a catalyst, working hand-in-hand with developing nations looking to advance their clean energy roadmaps. ADSW is also putting the financing of Net Zero goals in the developing world at the top of the global agenda.
While the journey has just begun, we already have much to be proud of in showcasing the Arab world’s commitment to overcoming the challenges posed by climate change at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2022.