What should UAE do?

It is unlikely that UAE’s stance against climate action will change because of its reliance on oil revenues:

  • The UAE has so far remained silent on whether or how economic recovery policies and accelerated climate action could be combined. Choices made now will leave a lasting legacy for the economic future of the country but also its GHG emissions.
  • Deciding to incorporate climate change considerations as an integral element in coronavirus economic recovery strategies and expanding the scope of climate change policy beyond the co-benefits of economic diversification and adaptation would help set UAE on more sustainable, low-emission, and climate-resilient trajectories.
  • GCC refers to the region’s recent industrialization and suggest that end users of fossil fuels, rather than producers, should be held responsible for oil and gas related emissions.

In the renewable energy is driven by a strategic decision to reduce reliance on natural gas in power generation and, in the longer term, transportation.

  • The strategic alliance between Saudi Arabia and the UAE creates a global giant of fossil fuel extraction (an alliance much more efficient than the OPEC or the GCC).
  • Among the first tasks in moving climate change higher on the UAE recovery agenda in 2021 include:
    • Creating strong institutional mandates for the development of science-based, comprehensive climate change policies; mandating each sector and line ministry to integrate climate change considerations into its crisis recovery plans.
    • Initiating work on a new set of NDCs, for submission by the 2021 U.N. Glasgow Climate Change Conference, which establish ambitious, quantitative medium-term mitigation targets that contain clear definitions of sectoral scope, are based on up-to-date emission data, and build on realistic and transparent baselines.

What you need to know about UAE?

  • Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) explores and produces petrochemical products. The Company offers processing, refining, marketing, and distribution of crude oil, petroleum, gas, sulfur, and petrochemical products.
  • MASDAR, as state-owned clean energy company, research center, and economic free zone.
  • Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) was established in 2009 to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program to meet the UAE’s growing energy demands.
  • The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) is the governing body tasked with policy development, planning and coordinating with concerned authorities.
  • Dubai and Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Companies, DEWA & ADWEA, are major investors in renewables, and the main actors in demand side management.
  • Emirates Global Aluminium is the world’s largest ‘premium aluminium’ producer, aluminium production in the UAE is integrated to the electricity water nexus.
  • NGO’s and Think Tanks: some grassroot movements exist in the UAE as well as think tanks and research canters e.g. International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA).

Recent developments, threats and levers for action

Recent developments

  • Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber (Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change) met with John Kerry earlier this year (on February 1, 2021) in preparation for the Biden Leaders Summit on Climate.
  • Lowered the costs of solar power produced in the country.
  • The implementation of commercially viable carbon capture and storage at scale has started.
  • Hydrogen investments are increasing.
  • Increased investments in innovation and R&D.


  • Strong potential for renewables.
  • Willingness to lift subsidies.
  • The region most diversified economy (bit still heavily relying on fossil fuels extraction).


  • Post Covid-19 low oil prices increase pressures towards economic diversification.
  • Decoupling electricity generation from desalination doubles the needs for renewables.


  • Electricity and desalinated water generation dependent on natural gas
  • 99% of water consumption comes from desalination.
  • Decoupling electricity generation from desalination is challenging.


  • Partial failure of economic diversification strategies.Current low oil prices disincentive the tightening of renewables targets.Dubai’s reliance on Qatar for gas through the Dolphin pipeline.Regional conflicts and geopolitical instability.

About Climate Diplomacy Snapshots

The data is clear. Accelerated and enhanced action is needed now to build resilience and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As they seek to address the ongoing health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, governments should seize opportunities to invest in a recovery that will build social, economic and climate resilience on the long-term.The Climate Diplomacy Snapshots aim to provide the climate community with a clear overview of what each country should do, on climate and recovery, to pursue these joint objectives and keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Each has been prepared with the help of national experts, and will be regularly updated. The snapshots aim to support climate advocacy in the lead up to COP26.

Check other Snapshots