Climate & Energy | WWF




Supporting the UAE in prioritising climate change and moving towards a low carbon economy


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Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the planet and humanity. It has the potential to have devastating impacts on the world’s political, economic and social stability. Some consequences are already irreversible, while others can still be stopped.


Global temperatures have been rising for over a century – speeding up in recent times to the highest on record. Since the industrial era, societies have relied on fossil fuels – like coal, oil and gas – which power our cars, buildings and industries. When burnt, they emit carbon dioxide, which traps heat in our atmosphere.

In the last 100 years, human activity has increased the Earth’s temperature by 1°C. By the end of this century, it could be anywhere between 1.4°C and 5°C higher. This will be very serious – not just environmentally but also for human health and well-being.


Worldwide, we’re already seeing more extreme weather, melting glaciers and rising sea levels. Our oceans are becoming more acidic, water supplies are dwindling, some food crops are struggling and many communities are being changed or destroyed.

The Gulf region is not immune. We’re already vulnerable to extreme heat and water shortages, so imagine what higher temperatures and more humidity may mean for life here? Most of our cities and industries are located in flat coastal areas, so these developments and peoples' livelihood are going to be impacted by more extreme weather events and rising seas.


To address climate change, humanity needs to urgently change our lifestyles and the way in which we produce and consume energy. The Paris Agreement in 2015 was a huge step forward, where over 200 countries agreed to limit warming to 2°C during the 21st century and ideally to 1.5°C. However, current global pledges to limit atmospheric warming to these levels are insufficient. Much more needs to be done.


As a regional leader in climate change action, a major oil producer and the first country from the Middle East region to ratify the Paris Agreement, the UAE has set an important example. And as the country’s various related strategies and plans become a reality, both the economy and society will benefit from diversification away from oil. New economic sectors will be developed, jobs will be created and human wellbeing preserved.


The Paris Agreement entered into force on fourth November 2016, less than a year after it was agreed. This happened as a result of at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions ratifying the agreement – including the US and China, the two biggest emitters – triggering its early entry into force. The Paris Agreement aims to push all parties to put in place national strategies and policies that will collectively limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C.



If left unchecked, climate change will alter the UAE and the wider region forever.  However, EWS-WWF continues to support the significant steps required towards low-carbon living and development in the UAE. Through our leading research initiatives and science-based advisory role, we support governments, businesses and other stakeholders to ensure climate change remains high on the political and business agenda. And through raising awareness and educational activities, we help to promote energy and water efficiency, reduce the UAE’s ecological footprint and increase support for renewable energy. 

The good news is, momentum is building. Renewable energy is gaining traction, the uptake of energy and water efficient technologies is increasing, and hybrid and electric cars are being sold at an ever-faster pace. The more we all act, the quicker we can achieve a more sustainable UAE.


Improving energy and water efficiency is crucial to reduce the country’s carbon emissions and tackle climate change. We’ve collaborated on vital research to help accelerate this in the private sector. In addition, under the Ecological Footprint Initiative (EFI), we’re working with partners to inform future transport policies – such as increasing the proportion of fuel-efficient cars and decreasing emissions. We’re also looking into working with banks, businesses and government to offer financial incentives that would encourage uptake of efficient technology.


Imagine if our lives and industries were powered by cheaper, cleaner sources of energy – such as solar or wind power. EWS-WWF aims to support the UAE in achieving its 44% renewable energy target, as stated in the National Energy Strategy 2050. By assessing whether targets can be surpassed and identifying a policy roadmap for achieving them, EWS-WWF aims to support the review of the national energy strategy 2050 targets and development of policies. With many projects, already successfully underway with positive results, the UAE has a real opportunity not just to reduce carbon emissions, but to drive future growth through leadership in this field.


With wide scale urbanisation, and a rapidly growing economy and population, the demand for energy and resources has increased greatly. In order to address these consumption patterns, in 2007, the UAE launched the Ecological Footprint Initiative (EFI). The EFI aims to develop science-based policies that result in a measurable reduction in the UAE’s carbon footprint, as it comprises the majority of the UAE’s Ecological footprint. Key achievements of the EFI include the development of an energy-efficiency standard and labelling system for indoor lighting (currently under implementation) in 2014, and recently, the completion of a technical study to support the development of a UAE vehicle fuel economy standard to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from new light-duty vehicles.


Ultimately, success depends on ensuring climate change is a key consideration in the country’s planning, policies and lifestyle habits. So, through science, research and engaging with a range of stakeholders, EWS-WWF continues to highlight the risks that climate change poses, whilst proposing solutions to mitigate or adapt to these, and supporting the UAE towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

What You Can Do

We can all take climate action through smarter everyday choices, whether it’s energy efficient products and cars, or the way we use electricity and water. Even by making small changes to our daily routines – and inspiring others to do the same – we have the power to help safeguard our planet for this and future generations.

How You Can Help

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