As countries turn their attention to increase their ambition in tackling climate change, companies are increasingly taking responsibility for their role in reducing emissions.The will from the private sector to become more energy and water efficient has been clear to us ever since we worked closely with companies through our Heroes of the UAE - Private Sector project.
But findings from our survey, confirmed our primary understanding that many businesses face important barriers which hinder them from taking advantage of the energy and water efficiency opportunity. To truly unleash the potential for a low-carbon economy, these key barriers faced by businesses in energy and water efficiency must be addressed.
To fully understand the barriers to energy and water efficiency and identify solutions, we commissioned a survey covering 363 companies across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. The survey was conducted in both Arabic and English, through a series of face-to-face interviews, across a two-month period and was completed in January 2015. The types of companies interviewed were split into categories of SMEs (small medium establishments), medium corporates and large enterprises.
It is the first statistically representative survey of the private sector on energy and water efficiency barriers in the UAE.
What we discovered
Our report documents the key barriers to why companies are unable to successfully implement the full scale of energy and water efficiency measures in the UAE workplace and acts as a springboard for the private sector to do more. The study found that the private sector primarily faced issues related to:
- High costs of energy and water efficient technologies
(37% identified this barrier)
- Low availability of products
(34% found this an issue)
- Lack of market accessibility
(27% saw this as a problem)
- Limited understanding of electricity and water subsidies
(25% experienced this barrier)
Did you know...
- Companies are 13% more likely to implement efficiency measures if they set targets
- 70% consider bills to be a considerable cost to their company
- 80% of those who consider utility bills as a significant cost are large corporates
- 41% have not implemented energy efficiency measures because they said their company had not yet considered it while 31% said there was a lack of funding
- Side Based Solutions: For example, the financial barriers to retrofitting for small offices are important and should not be forgotten. Therefore a series of solutions specifically developed for SMEs needs are required to drive the uptake of energy and water efficiency measures.
- Driving efficiency through setting ambitious targets: efficiency can be achieved by setting targets, engaging stakeholders, dedicating resources and gaining buy in from senior management.
- Government considerations: government meanwhile can implement policies that will spur action on energy and water efficiency. Policies such as decreasing subsidies would allow for a greater return on investment of energy and water technologies incentivizing companies to act.
The report will inform policy making, research and action planning by government institutions as well as inspire UAE-based companies to champion sustainability by providing them with more insight into the issues in order to break down those barriers.
A low carbon future is achievable if the private sector makes energy efficiency commonplace. The baton is being handed over to all businesses to educate themselves on the challenges, to learn potential solutions from their peers and to act to help break down those barriers even further. It is also an opportunity for CEOs in businesses, UAE utility companies and policy makers in the energy and water sector take heed of the findings in this report and act now to support the UAEs transition to a low-carbon economy.
However to understand the top three barriers in more detail, we will continue our research and develop issue papers on each of the barriers prioritized in the survey and we will take the recommendations to the heads of key utilities, regulators and standards agencies in the country.
Finally, on the heels of this research, we will investigate alternative financing solutions to advance renewables and energy efficiency. This will involve working with UAE stakeholders, to help improve the uptake of sustainable technologies by financially incentivizing businesses and consumers.