Global and regional urgency to tackle #climate change

Posted on May 16, 2012

UAE. The partnership of the Ecological Footprint Initiative confirms its ongoing commitment towards reducing the UAE’s Ecological Footprint, and highlights the need to continue establishing science-based policies, in light of today’s international launch of the Living Planet Report 2012.

Published by WWF every two years, the Living Planet Report measures the state and health of our ecosystems and the extent of human demands on these ecosystems. Using the Ecological Footprint Indicator, this year’s Living Planet Report highlights that humanity’s consumption of natural resources such as energy, food, fibre and timber is 1.5 times more than the Earth can regenerate.

With desert ecosystems, hot and dry climates, increased and wasteful consumption of natural resources and having experienced periods of rapid growth, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE feature prominently in the report with high per capita Ecological Footprints.

More than 70% of these countries footprints are attributed to the consumption of carbon intensive goods and services (such as energy), which echoes a global pattern where carbon is the main contributor to the world’s Ecological Footprint, at 54%. This highlights the need for more urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, which cause climate change, and adapt to its inevitable impacts.

Supporting the need for more action to address climate change and our over consumption of natural resources, HE Dr Rashid Bin Fahad, Chairman of the Ecological Footprint Initiative and Minister of the Environment and Water, said: “As part of the global community, the UAE is developing and adopting international best practices to promote clean energy and efficient use of resources. This is evidenced by the steps taken to include the environment as a core pillar in its development visions, such as the UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE’s Green Economy Initiative.”

Bin Fahad continued: “No sector alone can solve these issues and so there is a need for us to continue working collaboratively and constructively to realize a more sustainable path for the UAE and the world.”

The GCC region is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with potential implications such as increasing temperatures, sea level rise threatening coastal developments and tourism, threatened food production and water resources, adverse impacts on human health and negative impacts on biodiversity such as the bleaching of coral reefs in the region. This would be likely to affect the country’s development, economy and human health.

Encouraging the region to move forward with effective and urgent action to mitigate its Footprint and adapt to the impacts of climate change, Ida Tillich, Acting Director General of EWS-WWF, the secretariat of the Ecological Footprint Initiative said: “With the region’s unique circumstances, the GCC countries have a great opportunity to play a pivotal role demonstrating how countries can contribute to a low carbon future through adopting renewable energy options and managing demand of natural resources. The UAE in particular has started taking strides in this regard.

"One example is the Ecological Footprint Initiative, which is now developing an energy efficiency standard for domestic lighting for the country while conducting socio-economic analysis to prioritise policies to help manage both the demand and supply of energy and desalinated water.”

Continued Tillisch: “Our natural environment is the integral foundation for our heritage, and we are eager to continue working in partnership with all sectors of society to develop more sustainably within the limits of our one planet.”

A summary of the Living Planet Report 2012 has been translated and published by the UAE’s Ecological Footprint Initiative. This summary also includes a case study outlining the UAE’s journey towards reducing its Ecological Footprint and can be downloaded from

About The Ecological Footprint Initiative
The Ecological Footprint Initiative was launched in 2007 through a partnership between: the Ministry of Environment and Water, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EWS-WWF and the Global Footprint Network, transforming the UAE from a country with one of the highest per capita Ecological Footprint per capita the world, to one with some of the most advanced Ecological Footprint science.

From 2007-2011, the Ecological Footprint Initiative succeeded in verifying the UAE footprint, identifying the breakdown of the footprint by sector and developed a scientific scenario-modeling tool for decision makers that assesses the impact of different policies to reduce the country’s footprint to 2030.

In 2012, the partnership welcomed the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology. The Ecological Footprint Initiative is now continuing to verify the UAE’s Footprint, developing an energy efficiency standard for domestic lighting and conducting a socio-economic analysis to prioritise policies that will help manage both the demand and supply of energy and desalinated water.

The Living Planet Report
The Living Planet Report is WWF’s leading publication on the state of the planet. It is intended to be the monitoring instrument for measuring and assessing the state of global biodiversity (through the Living Planet Index) and human demands on nature (through the Ecological Footprint). The Living Planet Report 2012 uses data dated from 2008.

About Living Planet Index:
The Living Planet Index reflects changes in the state of the planet’s biodiversity, using trends in population size for vertebrate species from different biomes and regions to calculate average changes in abundance over time. It includes data from more than 9000 different wildlife monitoring schemes collected in a wide variety of ways – ranging from counting the number of individual animals, to camera trapping, to surveys of nesting sites and animal traces. The Living Planet Report 2012 highlights a global average decline of about 28% in vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2008.

About Ecological Footprint:
The Ecological Footprint tracks humanity’s demands on the biosphere by comparing humanity’s consumption against the Earth’s regenerative capacity, or biocapacity. It does this by calculating the area required to produce the resources people consume, the area occupied by infrastructure, and the area of forest required for sequestering CO2 not absorbed by the ocean.

The Living Planet Report highlights that it takes 1.5 years for the Earth to regenerate the renewable resources that people use, and absorb to CO2 waste they produce, in that same year.

The average global per capita footprint is about 2.7 global hectares; Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE have some of the highest per capita Ecological Footprint at 11.68, 9.72, and 8.44, followed by Denmark at 8.25 and the USA at 7.19.

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Posted in: Climate Change