COP26 and the Gulf countries participation: Kuwait, Qatar, UAE & Saudi Arabia

    03 Nov 2021

    News from COP26 is coming faster and faster. This article will summarize what politics said on November 2 about the Gulf countries at the conference in Glasgow.

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    Kuwait to adopt national low carbon strategy until 2050 – Amir’s Representative

    His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad AI-JaberAI-Sabah’s Representative, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah affirmed Kuwait’s keenness to adopt a national low carbon strategy until 2050.

    During his speech at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom, the Amir’s Representative said that the national strategy is based on a circular carbon economy to promote the reduction, disposal, reuse and recycling of greenhouse gases, KUNA reports.

    The strategy will be supported by the enactment of relevant legislation and laws to reduce emissions and adapt to their harmful effects at the national level, in line with local, regional and international environmental obligations, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled added.

    Furthermore, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled added that climate change is one of the severe challenges facing the international community in this time, and combating it has become a priority for all countries.

    “The State of Kuwait, in compliance with Paris Climate Agreement, updated its contributions document on October 12, 2021, whereby Kuwait contributes to a package of development projects based on a vision that would avoid an increase in greenhouse gases equivalent to 7.4 percent of its total emissions until 2035,” said Kuwait’s prime minister.

    Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said that Kuwait attaches great importance to diversifying the country’s energy sources by introducing renewable energies and replacing fossil fuels with liquefied gas to ensure the sustainability of energy supplies for future generations.

    Moreover, he noted that Kuwait has distinguished regional and international contributions to the preservation of the environment and natural resources in the world. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has mitigated the environmental repercussions resulting from the receding of the Aral Sea in Central Asia and Lake Korley in Ghana and the reduction of radiations resulting from the explosion of the Chernobyl reactor, he added.

    Recently, the Kuwait Development Fund contributed to implementing a project to reduce the dust, sand storms, and cross- border dust between Kuwait and Iraq, with the aim of reducing approximately 40 percent of the chances of their occurrence, said Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled.

     

     

    COP26: Qatar has outstanding achievements, ambitious plans, extensive international cooperation

     

    The issue of climate change is of great importance and a top priority at the forefront of the international agenda, as it has a very dangerous impact on the planet and the lives of humans, plants and animals, and other variables and risks that are near, medium and far in impact and damage.

    From this standpoint, the State of Qatar and the world have realized the importance of this issue, and the need for a sustainable healthy environment as a human right, at a time when global climate negotiations and biodiversity summits have demonstrated global readiness to move in this direction, which the State of Qatar constantly affirms its strong commitment to contribute to.

    The Qatari position in support of international efforts to combat climate change highlights the allocation of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, among its competencies, to limit emissions that cause climate change, which confirms the continuous keenness and unlimited support given by HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for the issue of the environment and climate.

    This keenness is also evidenced by HH the Amir’s participation in the 26th session of the COP26, in the Scottish city of Glasgow, state news agency reports.

    Within the framework of the meeting that HH the Amir held with HE Prime Minister of Britain Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the conference, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Automobile company announced that they have entered into a long-term partnership to create a global centre for climate technology innovation.

    The State of Qatar recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) on cooperation in the field of adaptation to climate change and green growth. Qatar is a founding member of this institute, which helps developing countries to follow development strategies based on the foundations of sustainability. This confirms the continuous interest and support for the issue of environment and climate change, which has placed the State of Qatar in a distinguished position as an active and vital member in all international and regional organizations concerned with environment and climate, and its contribution to support the efforts of developing countries to combat the effects of climate change.

    Qatar’s keenness on the issue of environment and climate change is also evident in the appointment of a Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Climate Change and Sustainability, and in Qatar’s inclusion of the issue of environment and climate change in its National Vision 2030, which is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the country’s ambition to reach a leadership position in the region through the implementation of many projects and initiatives that contribute to the efforts made, to reduce air pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions, and increase reliance on renewable energy sources.

    In a related context, on Oct. 28, the State of Qatar launched the Qatar National Environment and Climate Change Strategy, which contributes with the National Climate Change Action Plan 2030 to achieve a balance between the urgent need to work in the field of climate change and environmental protection, and the need to promote social and economic development in a sustainable economy based primarily on the export of liquefied natural gas and related products.

    The strategy affirms the State’s commitment to protecting and promoting the environment and establishing harmony between the economic, social and environmental components in line with the objectives of the Qatar’s National Vision 2030, in addition to the relentless pursuit to secure Qatar’s environment for current and future generations, as well as the unlimited great interest in the phenomenon of climate change as one of the most important environmental issues at the national and global levels, given its risks and challenges that require strengthening the global response and coordinating urgent cooperation between the concerned parties.

    The Qatar National Environment and Climate Change Strategy covers 5 areas: greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, biodiversity, water, circular economy, waste management and land use, with the development of a governance system to implement the strategy, to reach the specific goals by 2030, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, establishing 30 air quality monitoring stations by 2023, and increasing the number of biodiversity reserves.

    The strategy is characterized by being integrated in terms of land use, and it aims to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability in line with the Qatar Food Security Strategy, while using land more efficiently will improve the quality of life in Qatar by providing public transport and green spaces. The strategy also aligns with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations and Qatar’s ambition to reach a leadership position in the region, through the implementation of many projects and initiatives that contribute to efforts to reduce air pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions, and increase reliance on renewable energy sources. Above all, the strategy is the result of joint efforts between the government, the private sector, civil society and Qatari citizens, aimed at achieving great success and providing a more sustainable future for the Qatari people.

    Assistant Undersecretary for Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Eng. Hassan Jumaa Al Mohannadi said in a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA) that with regard to the first pillar of greenhouse gas emissions, for example, international cooperation will be a key factor in reducing emissions. He pointed out that the State of Qatar, to achieve its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent until 2030 compared to the usual path, will adopt low-carbon technologies and solutions based on natural materials, explaining that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will bring many benefits, such as improving the quality of air.

    Eng. Hassan Jumaa Al Mohannadi stressed that this strategy constitutes a starting point for the next station of the journey aimed at achieving harmony and balance between the economy, people and nature and also the focal point for unifying and expanding efforts to ensure optimal protection of the ecosystem, and is the cornerstone for managing Qatar’s water resources to achieve sustainability, as well as its contribution to improving waste management practices, which will enable a more circular economy, pointing out that when developing the strategy, great attention was paid to establishing a strong governance structure that would constitute a key enabling factor to ensure the success of its implementation. He stressed that the effective implementation of this strategy will be a model for other countries to follow to move toward a more sustainable future.

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    As the host of the FIFA World Cup 2022, the State of Qatar has affirmed on more than one occasion and forum its commitment to organizing an environmentally friendly tournament and the first carbon-neutrality tournament through the use of solar energy in stadiums, and the use of energy- and water-saving cooling and lighting technology, QNA states.

    The State of Qatar, under the directives of the wise leadership, seeks to occupy high ranks in the public transport sector and the use of environmentally friendly cars. In this regard, one of the ambitious plans of the Ministry of Transport is that, before the start of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, between 20 to 25% of public transport in the country will be environment-friendly, will use clean energy and enjoy the best safety standards and a high degree of quality and efficiency.

    Environmentally friendly transport options will reduce the carbon footprint of the tournament and build a sustainable legacy for future generations, as the provision of clean energy-powered transport solutions, such as the Doha Metro, Tram network, and energy-efficient buses, will reduce emissions from tournament operations, while the proximity of the distances in the Qatar World Cup ensures that fans, players, administrators and others do not need to fly within Qatar, which reduces the environmental impact of the tournament compared to previous editions of the World Cup.

    On the external level, the State of Qatar’s continuous interest and support for the issue of the environment and climate change is not only limited to the national level, but also includes supporting the efforts of developing countries to combat the effects of climate change, including HH the Amir’s announcement in his speech at the Climate Action Summit in 2019, of the State of Qatars contribution of $100 million to support small island developing states and least developed countries, to deal with climate change, natural hazards and environmental challenges, and to build the capacity to counter their destructive effects.

    All of this proves the great and pivotal role played by the State of Qatar in the field of cooperation with international organizations and bodies concerned with environmental affairs and climate change, especially since the State of Qatar was one of the first countries to accede to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1996, the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 and the Paris Agreement in 2016. Furthermore, the State of Qatar is also a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, knowing that Qatar hosted the eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP18) in 2012, which is considered one of the global negotiations on climate change that contributed to reaching the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015.

    Undoubtedly, the phenomenon of climate change is one of the serious challenges in this era, and it is a vital task that lies first in the coexistence of all in harmony with nature, and at the same time it raises many problems that intertwine in their economic, environmental and social dimensions. It is incumbent upon the developed and developing countries alike to give them great care they deserve and redouble efforts to confront their challenges and limit their repercussions, with all parties fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities and implementing their commitments enshrined in international agreements in this regard.

     

    $4 billion of increased investment for joint US-UAE initiative for climate-smart agricultural innovation announced at COP26

     

    The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) – a major new initiative led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United States (US) with the support of over 30 governments – officially launched on November 3 and announced an “early harvest” of US$4 billion of increased investment to accelerate innovation for climate-smart agriculture and food systems over the next five years. The UAE has pledged US$1 billion of increased investment as part of this initiative, WAM states.

    Launched as part of the World Leaders’ Summit at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the initiative aims to increase and accelerate agricultural and food systems innovation in support of climate action. Nearly 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. AIM for Climate is focused on leveraging high-potential economic returns and job creation from innovation investment in a sector that employs over 2 billion people and feeds the world’s growing population.

    Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said, “AIM for Climate is focusing on a sector that has been previously overlooked in terms of the opportunities it offers for global climate action. This initiative demonstrates the UAE’s holistic and inclusive approach to climate action, which characterises our offer to host COP28. The United Arab Emirates has already driven change in the energy sector through green innovation and growth, investing over US$17 billion in clean energy around the world. AIM for Climate is a smart extension of that investment strategy, and the UAE is pleased to pledge US$1 billion as part of the initiative.”

    John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, said, “The United States is proud to be launching the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate initiative alongside the United Arab Emirates and over 80 partners across the globe. Investment in climate-smart agriculture innovation is critical to addressing the climate crisis. Innovation can reduce emissions, feed the world’s growing population, and help farmers and ranchers mitigate and adapt to climate change. AIM for Climate has an impressive start, garnering US$4 billion in increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation thus far, but together AIM for Climate partners can and must do more to catalyse even greater investment in the years ahead. I look forward to seeing what AIM for Climate can accomplish and encourage more to join this effort.”

    Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, said, “A major part of the climate challenge revolves around food and agriculture. When we consider that about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, and the world’s growing population is increasingly dependent on climate-vulnerable food production, we can see the urgency of driving investments in agricultural innovation and R&D. AIM for Climate is the kind of bold move towards accelerating the global food systems transformation that we need, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 and eradicate world hunger by 2030. The initiative will go a long way in mobilizing a global movement to strengthen food security, transform our food systems into more sustainable ones and mitigate climate change.”

    “The climate crisis threatens to disrupt food systems around the globe, exacerbate food insecurity and negatively impact farmers’ livelihoods. We must invest in innovative, science-based solutions to help agriculture mitigate and adapt to climate change – and that’s what AIM for Climate is all about,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “We welcome our newest AIM for Climate supporters and urge additional nations and organizations to join us in this global effort to accelerate agricultural innovation through increased investment in research and development.”

    AIM for Climate’s diverse list of supporters includes over 30 countries from six continents including the recent addition of Azerbaijan, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as numerous other non-governmental agencies.

    The AIM for Climate partners intend to catalyze greater public and private sector investment in, and other support for, climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation to help to raise global ambition and underpin more rapid and transformative climate action in all countries, including by enabling science-based and data-driven decision and policy-making. AIM for Climate partners are committing to significantly increase total investment in agricultural innovation by 2025 versus the 2020 baseline.

    The initiative seeks to enable ambitious investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation to help create a surge of solutions, enabling the world to meet nutritional needs, increase agricultural productivity, improve livelihoods, conserve nature and biodiversity, build resilience to climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon.

     

    Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi participating in COP 26

    The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is part of the official UAE delegation headed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Climate Change Envoy Office participating in the COP 26.

    The EAD delegation is led by Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD. The Agency will be participating in different climate change areas of discussion including adaptation and methodological issues, as EAD is the custodian of climate action in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, WAM reports.

    The Agency is also a prime supporter of the UAE’s bid to host COP 28 in Abu Dhabi and will be the main advocate for the UAE proposal, which will be voted on during the conference. On the last day of the Glasgow event the winning COP 28 host nation will be announced.

    Dr. Shaikha said, “EAD is always keen to align with the larger vision of the UAE and of its leadership and we are extremely proud to be among the UAE delegation attending COP 26 this year. We have regularly partnered on several occasions with local and federal government agencies to advance collective action against climate change, and we support all related environmental initiatives in Abu Dhabi. We are also prime supporters of the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment during this conference.

    “We will also be keenly advocating for the UAE to host COP 28, and we are certain that we have all the resources and talent to make the event a great success as the UAE is a significant player when it comes to climate change. The topic is not new to our ambitious nation, and the UAE leadership has always placed climate change and the environment very high on the national agenda, which has driven us several steps forward in the past few decades.”

    She added that the proof of the UAE’s leading position is the announcement of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, at the beginning of October, of the UAE Net to Zero 2050 strategic initiative which we at EAD will ensure to transform into local action in Abu Dhabi.

    Within the scope of climate change, EAD is currently in the process of developing a climate change policy for Abu Dhabi, in consultation with key partners and stakeholders. This policy will address the challenges and opportunities of climate change in Abu Dhabi, while considering social and cultural drivers and balancing societal needs with environmental conservation.

    The policy will also be a significantly relevant platform to ensure that EAD and the emirate of Abu Dhabi play a leading role in making the UAE Net to Zero 2050 strategic initiative a reality in the capital.

    Similarly, in 2020, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of EAD, established the Abu Dhabi Climate Change Taskforce – a local framework to protect natural resources, infrastructure, and society from the impacts of climate change. The taskforce also has the mandate to strengthen coordination with federal and local entities to manage emissions and improve resilience to climate change.

    The taskforce represents 26 entities from the critical sectors in Abu Dhabi. EAD, while chairing the taskforce, has been working very closely with its members. The Agency has also been working closely with the custodians of the key emitting sectors of oil and gas, water, and electricity, industry, and transport, and others.

    EAD and all its partners are looking to lead Abu Dhabi’s efforts in achieving climate neutrality by 2050, and to support the Emirate as it looks to substantially reduce emissions in the interim while driving adaptation planning and management to build climate resilience.

    In essence, the focus of EAD’s climate change policy development is based on an interim target for emissions reduction – by 2030 – and understanding the impact of this transformation economically, socially, and environmentally. The Agency will be collaborating closely with the Department of Energy and other members of the Abu Dhabi Climate Change Taskforce, while analyzing scenarios for the policy’s implementation.

    Climate change is already one of EAD’s top strategic priorities for 2021-2025, as seen in its new five-year strategy, and has called for “securing the resilience of Abu Dhabi through mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and protection of our air and marine water.” Under the umbrella of this priority, EAD has been implementing several initiatives to mitigate or adapt to climate change in Abu Dhabi.

    During COP 26, EAD will be highlighting a series of projects, such as EAD’s unique Gene Bank, which launches next year and aims to document the genetic resources of the UAE’s diverse plant species, studying and conserving them. The main objectives are to document the UAE’s flora and its diversity in a herbarium form, to conserve native plants, their genetic diversity and ensure their longevity, as well as using conserved resources to derive ecological, environmental, social and economic benefits.

    Similarly, Dr. Shaikha will be sharing information about the Scimitar-Horned Oryx (SHO) Rehabilitation Programme – the world’s most ambitious mammal re-introduction program. The project involves the re-introduction of the SHO – bringing the species back from the brink of extinction, improving its survival chances and ensuring the longevity of nature.

    The SHO Reintroduction Programme aims to create a self-sustaining herd of over 500 animals nearly three decades after the species was declared ‘extinct in the wild’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Currently, there are around 377 Scimitar-horned oryx in the wild, with 30 new calves born this year. There are upcoming plans to relocate 50 SHO (25 in November 2021 and a further 25 animals in February 2022).

    The Agency will also be highlighting the launch of the largest coral reef rehabilitation project in the region to conserve nature. EAD will grow approximately 1 million pieces of coral reef through a restoration program, to restore the emirate’s coral and increase the total coral reef area.

    Through this program, nurseries for coral will be developed to reduce the negative impact of the natural pressures to which they are subjected due to climate change and high temperatures on the seafloor. The project will also increase the total coral area and rehabilitate affected areas to preserve the coral reef’s great heritage, and economic and scientific value.

    Finally, EAD will be shedding light on its Marine Research Vessel, which is currently under construction. The 50m, state-of-the-art, multipurpose marine conservation and fisheries vessel will use environment-friendly technologies to conduct specialized research in the Arabian Gulf – the hottest sea in the world and a natural climate change laboratory – as part of the UAE’s scientific and innovative initiatives.

    The vessel is part of EAD’s ongoing commitment to protecting the environment and Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s marine biodiversity and ecosystem. The Agency will complete new marine and fisheries scientific surveys in the previously largely unstudied waters at depths starting at 10m. The vessel will also enable EAD to respond to threats facing the marine environment, including marine debris, climate change and invasive marine species. 

     

    Saudi Arabia’s comprehensive stance at COP26

    This issue was covered by Frank Kane, an award-winning business journalist based in Dubai, in the article for Arab News.

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    As world leaders gather in Glasgow for a crucial summit on climate change, Saudi Arabia’s position on the significant issues of global warming has become refined and distilled down into a few key messages.

    The Saudi Green Initiative, and the wider Middle East version that followed it, added some key pieces to the jigsaw that has been put together over the past couple of years, since Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman became the energy minister and made green issues a priority of the Kingdom’s energy policy.

    Piecing all this together, it is possible to come up with a pretty accurate picture of where Saudi Arabia stands as it heads into the COP26 talks.

    The SGI added two crucial elements: A commitment to double the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by 2030 through new Nationally Determined Contributions, and the setting of a target date of 2060 to achieve net zero in the Kingdom’s economy. Saudi Arabia also joined the Global Methane Pledge to drastically cut the amount of that pollutant gas in the atmosphere.

    For the leading oil exporter in the world, and a major petrochemical force, these are extraordinary commitments, and go a long way to putting the Kingdom among the world leaders in combating climate change.

    These targets will be achieved within the circular carbon economy, the framework pioneered by Saudi Arabia and endorsed last year by world leaders at the G20 summit. The beauty of the CCE is that it allows individual countries to tackle global warming in their own way, at their own speed, and while taking into account their own national economic circumstances.

    This is far better than being straitjacketed into some ideologically driven formula – for instance, a move to halt all investment in fossil fuels – because it takes into account changing global circumstances.

    Saudi Arabia’s drive toward energy transition is best understood in the context of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil dependency.

    So, while Saudi Arabia is aiming for net-zero by 2060, it is also mindful that its economy depends on hydrocarbon exports and will continue to do so for many decades. So the Kingdom reserves the right to adjust its net-zero goal and its NDC commitments depending on the global demand for oil, gas and other hydrocarbon-derived products. That is eminently sensible.

    Saudi Arabia’s drive toward energy transition is best understood in the context of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil dependency. As the non-oil sector grows, it will be able to be a more dynamic engine for growth. But until the day that it becomes the dominant economic sector, the oil economy has to be kept healthy and productive.

    Remember too that the Kingdom is not seeking financial assistance from the outside world to achieve net-zero, as some emerging economies are. The Saudi energy transition has to be self-financing, and that requires an efficient oil industry.

    The other key enabler in the Saudi green drive is technology. The Kingdom has been pioneering research and development, as well as investment, in energy efficiency, new engine technology and other environmentally friendly measures for some years, but it recognizes that now is the time to step up the game.

    In particular, technologies for carbon capture, utilization and storage require big investment, while the holy grail of the energy transition — direct air capture of carbon dioxide — is still in its relative infancy. If DAC technology can be perfected and scaled up, it would be the biggest single step toward achieving the target of the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

    The Kingdom’s 2060 target can also be accelerated by advances in technology. If the techniques of CCUS and DAC are sufficiently improved ahead of that date, there is no reason why Saudi Arabia cannot be carbon neutral before its target date.

    All in all, it is a pretty comprehensive set of measures that the Kingdom is proposing at COP26. Will it be enough to satisfy the skeptics who will be vocally present in Glasgow? We will find that out throughout the next couple of weeks.

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