With climate activists on the rise, and the words ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’, ‘plastic pollution’ echoes in the minds of every individual, what action is being taken to implement a change? Curated ME explores how the UAE are embracing new sustainable solutions and setting an example for others.
The race towards a sustainable future is not a new one. The concept of “sustainable development” came into existence post-industrial revolution, where several environmental and social crises shed light on the fact that the societies’ economic and industrial practices were significantly shifting the environment and social balance. One such crisis was global warming.
The effects of climate change came into everyone’s attention around 30 odd years ago, in 1988, when a climate scientist claimed that the greenhouse effect is here and is changing our climate right now. The impact could be seen as temperatures were rising, with the first 5 months of that year recorded to be the hottest, setting off alarms that something was not right. This trend continues on until today as greenhouse gas emissions are linked with an increase in forest fires, floods, heat-waves, droughts, and other such disasters. While this may sound disheartening, it is spurring action. Countries around the world have pledged to fight climate change, with countries in the Gulf also joining this movement.
Arid desert conditions coupled with an over-dependence on fossil fuels for energy consumption, pose many challenges for GCC countries to take upon sustainable responsibilities. Nonetheless, in 2017, UAE launched “The Energy Strategy 2050” which aims to increase the contribution of clean energy from 25% to 50% in 2050, and lower its carbon footprint by 70%.
A more prime example of this scheme coming to life is the development of ‘The Sustainable City’ in Dubai, where solar panels line up the roofs of houses, the use of bio-domes are encouraged to grow vegetables and herbs, and the availability of water-fountains in common public areas along with filtered water offered in restaurants promote the elimination of single-use plastics.
Their neighbors, Abu Dhabi, are implementing a similar project known as Masdar City located on the outskirts of the city. Part of the completed project boasts innovatively-designed buildings that allow for cooler temperatures to be captured within the pathways while solar energy lights up the development with the help of on-site panels as well as a nearby plant, known to be the largest renewable energy project within the Middle East.
Local based brands, too, are becoming more conscious. Year after year, brands are emerging with the sustainable model etched into their brand values. Sourcing eco-friendly fabrics to create materials for clothing, pushing consumers towards the model of repurposing old clothes, collaborating with charities and goodwill foundations to offer donations, striving for zero percent waste are some examples of how brands are playing their part in the climate crisis. Moreover, one of the sub-themes for Expo 2020 is ‘Sustainability’, where ideas and innovations around the topic will be discussed and shared in order to help build a better future.
Curated Me’s Take:
The climate emergency is giving rise to what is known as ‘conscious consumers’. The consumption habits of these individuals rely on brands being completely transparent and dedicating themselves to helping Mother Earth. As the impact of global warming becomes more noticeable and striking, consumers may begin to feel more obliged to adopt habits that can help in replenishing the planet rather than depleting it.