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COP26

Today marked the closing of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference held over the last two weeks at the SEC, Glasgow, UK. Known as COP26 (UNFCCC); CMP16 (Kyoto Protocol); CMA3 (Paris Agreement), it was presided over by Alok Sharma, the UK’s Minister for the Cabinet Office. The summit brought global parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Paris Agreement

calls on all signatories to develop strategies for a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit global temperature rise to below 2 °C and encourages us to aim for warming of no more than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels (those experienced in 1850-1900’s). At the current rate, the increase in the Earth’s long-term average temperature will reach 1.5 °C by c.2033, with a 2 °C increase being reached c.2059.

A main take away from this year’s summit is the almost universal consensus that Net Zero Carbon (NZC) targets are the way forwards, with well over 90% of all global economies demonstrating policies to achieve NZC targets within individually specified timescales over the next generation.

The United Arab Emirates became the first Arab and OPEC country to commit to becoming net-zero by 2050 in the days leading up to COP 26 with the launch of its Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative.

Like many GCC countries the UN has specified that the UAE faces some of the highest risks from climate change, experiencing some of the harshest environmental conditions with already extreme summer temperatures, scarcity of water, risk of food security and from its low-level position on the Arabian Gulf, risk of flood from sea level rises as most of its urban infrastructure is located within 20KM from its shoreline.

These risks are exacerbated by the challenges brought by global decarbonisation targets for any country which has traditionally relied on a hydrocarbon economy and is one which has witnessed a rapid urbanisation over the past 30 years bourn by an unprecedented population growth. Bringing challenges of its own increasing demand for water and energy, increased air and water pollution along with ever growing waste generation, all resultant from its ability to feed a global reliance and need for the hydrocarbons it exports. A spiralling cycle that must be broken, and the UAE must adapt and innovate to survive.

During the summit the UAE:

  • with the USA launched an initiative to Invest in Agricultural Innovation for Climate Action
  • with IRENA (the International Renewable Energy …) announced an Energy Transition Accelerator Financing Platform for renewable energy projects in developing countries
  • launched a Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap to achieve its national Net Zero Ambition
  • and encouraged its youth to get involved in Global Climate Action.

On the final day of the proceedings, the UAE were selected to host COP28 in Abu Dhabi in 2023. H.H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nayan, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation stated that COP28 must be a “solutions-based COP”, and the UAE will “advance practical, viable and shareable solution’s to the world’s most pressing challenges”.

Tags #COP26 #CMP15 #CMA3 #netzerocarbon #climateaction #COP28 #UAE

Sandra Woodall

This blog was created by tangram’s Design Director and founder of tangramTERRA Ms Sandra Woodall, a passionate environmentalist, architect, urbanist, researcher, pre-covid travelholic and baker of vegan treats. She is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), and the Academy of Urbanism (AoU). Sandra is an award-winning designer who leads our MENA region studio who were recognised as the “2019 MENA Architecture Firm of the Year” by the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), and who have received accolades including six international sustainable design awards for five different projects in four years. She is the RIBA Regional Ambassador for Sustainability, promoting and developing UK design and management skills across the MENA region, and is the UAE country representative on the RIBA Gulf Chapter. She founded, curates and presents the Chapters’ ongoing “Sustainable Development Series” to share awareness, knowledge, skills, tools and best practice with built environment professionals across the GCC and to showcase projects, methods, procedures and strategies to empower and equip us all to meet the challenges faced in delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals across the region.

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