Friday, 03 December 2021 10:16 GMT

UAE- Households greatest contributors to ecological footprint in Capital


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Households have remained the greatest contributors to the country's ecological footprint given their high water and energy consumption; the main contributors to carbon emissions, according to an Abu Dhabi environment report.

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) on Monday published the Abu Dhabi State of Environment Report (AD-SoER 2017), which provides a comprehensive insight into the current state of the environment of the emirate.

The report revealed 58 per cent of the UAE's ecological footprint are contributed by households, followed by the business/industry and government sectors, which account for 30 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

Given an increase in the emirate's population, and with the country's high temperatures and low rainfall year, high amounts of energy are required for cooling, water desalination plants and transport.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the EAD, said: "The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has experienced unprecedented growth over the last 40 years. Since 1975, the population has grown over 14 times, and in the past decade alone, it has almost doubled. Our GDP has similarly grown exponentially."

He added: "We believe that our continued growth must be sustainable, and for this to happen, a frank and realistic view of the current state of our environment and of significant human impacts is essential".

Shaikha Ahmed Al Hosani, executive director, environment quality at the EDA, said greater ecological footprint, efforts to promote a greener economy and environmental policies have been made and the situation has greatly improved compared to the previous years.

"The government has launched various sustainability awareness campaigns with the aim of encouraging everyone to make changes to their daily routines to help lower the country's footprint," she told Khaleej Times.

"Also, there have been several initiatives such as Masdar, the world's first carbon-free city, new green-building regulations and many others to reduce the emirate's footprint."

The government has also set standards to ensure lighting product imports are energy-efficient, especially for the housing sector, which represents 57 per cent of the country's ecological footprint. The government also aims to develop standards for fuel and cars, to reduce carbon emissions.

Air Quality

Using a number of indicators, the AD-SoE report revealed that 76 per cent of the time the emirate's air quality was within National Air Quality limits which is generally quite good, whilst emissions from transport, industry and naturally occurring dust events are a significant pressure on the quality of air in the emirate and need to be monitored and managed.

Soil Use

According to the report, extensive analysis of soil use, salinity and contamination, showed that 85 per cent of the land is naturally degraded and therefore the appropriate use of "our land is of fundamental importance for our future".

Water resources

For water resources, currently groundwater and desalinated water account for 60 per cent and 35 per cent of water use in the emirate, with recycled water contributing just 5 per cent.

According to the report, over the last decade, the emirate's overall groundwater level has continuously declined, particularly in the Eastern Region. The sustainability of the emirate's precious groundwater resources is one of the greatest sustainability challenges that the UAE faces.

Biodiversity

For biodiversity, the key indicator of the current state showed that 80 per cent of terrestrial and marine habitat baseline area retained in Abu Dhabi in 2015. The report noted that the emirate's harsh environment hosts approximately 3,800 known species with more being discovered. Whilst populations of many key species are stable, some are certainly in decline. At present, less than 2 per cent are considered threatened. Establishment and maintenance of safe havens for our wildlife are critically important to ensure that we do not witness or mirror the declines of other species around the world.

The report also shows that the emirate is already experiencing the effects of climate change including increases in air and sea temperatures, sea level rise, higher salinity and acidity of water resources.

Fisheries

According to the report, Abu Dhabi's principal fisheries resources have experienced severe over-exploitation. There has been an estimated 90 per cent decline in abundance over the past 40 years. Over-capacity in the fishing fleet, coastal development, cumulative desalination activities and pollution, as well as climate change, cause pressure on the emirate's fisheries.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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