The UAE became the first country in the Gulf to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to a government announcement on Thursday at Expo 2020 in Dubai.
“The major economic opportunities offered by the path to net zero directly support a vision to develop the Emirates into the most dynamic economy in the world,” the government said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM.
UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said the country will invest 600 billion dirhams ($163.4 billion) in renewable energy.
“We are committed to seize the opportunity to cement our leadership on climate change within our region and take this key economic opportunity to drive development, growth and new jobs as we pivot our economy and nation to net zero,” he said.
The UAE began financing clean energy projects 15 years ago and has invested over $40 billion in the sector to date.
The UAE is a major oil and gas producer. Thirty percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is directly based on oil and gas output, according to OPEC.
The government doesn’t plan to move away from fossil fuels any time soon. State energy giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) is set to increase its oil-production capacity to five million barrels a day from just over four million within a decade.
Yet that expansion could still be compatible with a net-zero goal as defined by UN rules, which only account for emissions generated within a country’s borders. The UAE would only be responsible for implementing measures to cut emissions from the extraction and processing of exported fuel.