A sunshine state of mind

The UAE is investing $15 billion into tackling climate change, more than any other government in the world.

COMMENT, Projects

If there's one region in the world that reacts quickly to negate any condemnation that might harm its image it's the UAE.

The desert region's exorbitant use of air-conditioning and penchant for large 4x4s and indoor ski resorts would have gone a long way to conclude a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report in November 2006 that the UAE was five times more unsustainable than any other country.

But the report has compelled the country's leadership to act quickly to address the issue.



At the World Energy Summit last week, the Abu Dhabi government pledged to commit US $15 billion towards alternative energy projects.
The investment is the largest any government in the world has made to tackle climate change.

Even US President Bush, whose government is yet to declare an interest in signing the Kyoto Protocol, expressed amazement during his recent visit that a region which had made its money ‘from the ground' was now ploughing millions into alternative energy sources.

With demand for energy projected to rise faster than population growth between now and 2050, the commitment to hydrocarbon, wind and solar power development can only be welcomed.

And as development becomes even more energy-intensive, taking the leap towards exploiting the power of the region's most abundant resource - the sun - ought to be pushed to the top of the agenda.

Although the topic of solar power has roused much debate, so far very little has happened in terms of moving things forward.

This could be down to the constraints of tight building schedules. Taking time out to learn about new sources of energy and their potential long-term benefits is one thing, let alone them replacing tested and proven products.

But while alternative energy production will bring about big business, all companies involved in development will have to get serious about climate change policy for it to be fully successful.

And with almost every area of construction in the region being pioneering, this massive investment will provide the industry with the perfect opportunity to lead the way with sustainable development.

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