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KHALEEJ TIMES, Sunday, Jun 28, 2020 | Zul Qaadah 07, 1441

Economic stimulus measures should also address climate change, DFF report says

Emirates: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led to a notable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions around the world, and has presented global economies with an opportunity to ramp up their sustainability drives and initiatives in the post-Covid-19 recovery period.

In its 'Life After Covid-19: Climate Change' report, the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) noted that the lowering greenhouse gas emissions around the world are a result of the decline in industrial production and the contraction of economies. Governments around the world have announced that they are pouring trillions of dollars in stimulus measures into their economies to keep them afloat. The UAE is providing $34.4 billion in economic stimulus to overcome the impact of Covid-19. The report noted that these funds can be directed towards initiatives that not only rescue economies, but also address climate change.

In the future, the report recommends that governments should promote a green recovery from the global crisis through directing economic stimulus packages towards initiatives that simultaneously rescue economies and address climate change. In addition to reducing emissions, it urges countries to focus on adopting carbon removal technologies, and invite the brightest entrepreneurs and innovators to pitch unconventional approaches to removing the buildup of carbon dioxide.

Speaking at a recent event, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said that the escalating impacts of climate change and the dedication of the GCC region to sustainable development make it imperative for everyone to join forces and fast-track the shift to a green economy across all sectors, including building and construction. "The transition towards green buildings is a much-needed move, as the building and construction sector is the largest contributor to energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide at 39 per cent, while accounting for 36 per cent of global energy use."

Dr Al Zeyoudi also noted that the UAE is on track to meet the 15th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) set by the United Nations that focuses on land restoration and biodiversity conservation.

Highlighting the importance of new technologies in this regard, he said: "Agricultural technologies have helped us address the many challenges we face while growing crops, such as water scarcity and lack of arable land. In addition to the growing number of hydroponics and vertical farms, we are currently exploring the potential of using renewable energy to power climate-controlled agricultural facilities and to desalinate water for irrigation."

According to a global Ipsos poll conducted to mark World Environment Day, three in four people in 16 major countries expect their government to make protection of the environment a priority when planning a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Ipsos' data also showed that 68 per cent of the public globally agreed that if their governments do not act now to combat climate change, they will be failing their citizens.

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