New EWS-WWF and Acclimatise report identifies climate change risks and opportunities for UAE

A report produced by the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), co-authored by Acclimatise and sponsored by Farnek Services, has revealed a comprehensive summary detailing the projected risks and impacts of climate change in the UAE. The report titled, ‘UAE Climate Change Risks & Resilience: An overview of climate change risks to 12 key sectors,’ is available online today and demonstrates how climate change can affect various sectors such as food, energy and water.

The report aims to improve awareness and understanding of the risks posed by climate change among public and private sector decision makers and policymakers. It is hoped that the findings and recommendations will act as a catalyst for action, increasing the prioritisation of climate change in the UAE, and encourage greater implementation of evidence-based adaptation measures.

The report incorporates feedback from over 30 UAE and regional entities, and outlines the key risks to 12 essential sectors in the country, including: energy & water, transport & logistics, marine and terrestrial ecosystems & biodiversity, health & well-being, oil & gas, industry, buildings, construction & real estate, financial services, cultural heritage, hospitality & tourism, and food security (domestic production and international imports.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF’s global Climate and Energy Practice leader, said: “The well-being of societies, the growth and diversification of economies, and the preservation of the natural world, are at great risk from climate change. The latest findings in this report confirm that unconstrained carbon emissions have wide-reaching ramifications, and pose a sobering risk to nearly every sector of economy, business and society.”

Key highlights from the report include:

  • Food Imports, Production & Security: 87% of the UAE’s food supply is reliant on agricultural production abroad, and thus prone to climate change impacts. This will affect the reliability of international food markets and could contribute to a rise in food prices, with consequences for lower-income households making them more vulnerable to price shocks as a larger share of their budgets will be spent on food. Climate change will also impact the nation’s domestic agriculture, leading to an overall decline in agricultural output.
  • Energy Sector: By 2050, average temperatures in the UAE are projected to increase by 2oC, along with humidity, which is likely to increase by up to 10%. The resulting increased demand for cooling from buildings and industry are likely to create an energy demand-supply gap over time, hamper energy security, increase costs to end-users and produce additional greenhouse gas emissions. For example, air conditioning demand (for cooling and fans) in typical UAE residential villas could increase by between 10% – 35% by 2050, depending on the future CO2 emissions scenario.
  • Health & Well-being: Higher temperatures and humidity will decrease the productivity of outdoor workers and increase their overall risk, which is projected to cause losses of up to USD2trillion globally due to health-related impacts. Outdoor employees will likely slow their pace, take longer breaks and shift their work to cooler dusk and dawn hours.
  • Economy: Climate change trends can also affect private equity investments. Due to their longer-term nature, some investments could be more exposed to climate change-induced business risks, making projections of returns and exit strategies more uncertain if climate change consideration are not properly taken into account from the outset.

Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Deputy Director General at EWS-WWF, explained: “The UAE is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as are all countries around the world; its effects are already being felt, and are set to increase if we don’t act further. If these impacts and risks are left unmanaged, it could be more challenging and costly to achieve the UAE’s national strategies and plans. We encourage all private sector champions, public sector policymakers and civil society leaders to share the responsibility, and play a part in developing and implementing adaptation strategies to boost resiliency and safeguard the economy, society and environment— as outlined in the report.”

The final report, which summarises findings from an extensive literature review of over 100 scientific reports and data, was developed over the course of 2016, during which EWS-WWF conducted roundtable sessions to present findings, and engage on content with 60+ stakeholders in the public and private sector, academia and civil-society.

Highlights of the findings will also be shared through a webinar on April 10th, 2017. To sign up for the webinar, register online at this link.

Download the report from our resources library and make sure you visit the EWS-WWF report website.

Click on the image below to see the report’s infographic in full size.