UAE receives praise and skepticism after revealing first net-zero pledge in the region

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates will invest more than $160 billion to become the first Gulf state to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as part of a significant but detail-light climate initiative revealed Thursday.

“We are committed to seize the opportunity to cement our leadership on climate change within our region… as we pivot our economy and nation to net zero,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.

The announcement, while lacking specifics, still makes the UAE the first Gulf state to commit to a national drive to eliminating carbon emissions. The 2050 target aligns the UAE with most major global climate commitment pledges, and comes ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate talks in November.

“Big step forward, major challenge,” tweeted Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy, a UAE based energy consultancy. “Will face welcome, also some skepticism, ahead of COP26. But may be more doable than some expect,” he added.

The UAE initiative is in line with the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to prepare long-term strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the rise in global temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

The decision will likely elevate the UAE’s standing as it seeks to distinguish itself as a global climate leader in a region still dominated by fossil fuels. The government has also been lobbying to host the COP28 global climate summit in Abu Dhabi in November 2023.

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