A recent carbon report issued by the British consultancy group Maplecroft, indicated that the UAE dominated the global ranking of top per capita carbon emitters. The list, which studied the carbon emissions of 183 countries, noted that the UAE was the world’s number one carbon emitter, due in a large part to the ballooning energy demand linked to the increased dependency on energy intensive desalination plants. The index gave a 50 percent weighting to current per capita emissions of greenhouse gases, 25 percent to total national emissions and the remaining 25 percent to cumulative historic emissions.
China, although it has the world’s largest aggregate carbon emissions, was at the 26th rank on a per capita basis, due significantly to its large population that still resides in relatively underdeveloped areas.
The UAE is cognizant of the need to battle its high per capita carbon emissions; it has launched several ambitious plans in recent years such as the hosting of the International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters (IRENA), the Masdar project (to build the world’s first carbon neutral city), as well as a giant concentrated solar plant, christened Shams 1.
The listing of the UAE at the top of a relatively unflattering ranking is likely to motivate Emirati policy makers to consider the feasibility of launching a carbon trading platform seriously. Much as the Chinese, the Emiratis have realized that there is an inverse relationship between energy efficiency and carbon intensity, to lower one implies an increase in the other. Therefore, undertaking a comprehensive carbon mitigation plan will have the beneficial net impact of reducing the UAE’s burgeoning energy demand.