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Arctic Circle
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Breaking the Vicious Circle in the Arctic to Keep the 1.5°C Goal Alive

By H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, United Arab Emirates Minister of Climate Change and Environment

As climate change unfolds, driving temperatures up, the Earth is fast approaching critical tipping points. Crossing these points threatens to irreversibly disrupt the natural systems that have kept the planet’s climate relatively stable for thousands of years.

One of the tipping points that experts believe could already be around the corner is the melting Arctic permafrost. The Arctic is warming at least three times faster than the rest of the world, causing the loss of glaciers and sea ice at an unprecedented rate. This exposes dark water directly to the sun’s heat, leading to more heating of the planet that causes more ice to melt. This vicious circle must be broken to keep the 1.5°C goal alive and avert worst-case climate change scenarios.

And because what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic, the impacts of ice loss are far-reaching and are dramatically affecting the millions of people who rely on water streams for their livelihoods, as well as disrupting global water security. If left unchecked, glacier melting will aggravate these challenges, in addition to triggering higher biodiversity loss and impeding economic growth.

If left unchecked, glacier melting will aggravate these challenges, in addition to triggering higher biodiversity loss and impeding economic growth.

As a responsible member of the global community committed to driving collective endeavors to protect the natural world, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) is taking interest in tackling the issue to avoid this bleak future. We have been a long-standing and consistent partner of Arctic Circle, supporting its noble mission and using its assemblies to join the call to protect the Arctic and present our vision for clean energy transition and climate action.

We recently took our involvement to a higher level by rolling out the Third Pole Process, a comprehensive effort to mitigate the threats of melting glaciers and water insecurity in the Third Pole region, a term that denotes the geographic vicinity of the Himalaya, which includes India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and several countries in Central Asia.

The Third Pole Process brings together governments, scientists, and experts to strengthen regional knowledge of the challenges of diminishing water resources. It represents an active engagement with governments and institutions to enhance scientific research and partnerships to inform policy making, guided by the Arctic experience of collaboration that streamlines the communication of scientific information to policy makers specializing in addressing climate change.

Furthermore, the UAE will participate in the 2022 Arctic Circle Greenland Forum, set to take place in August 2022 in Nuuk with a focus on climate, prosperity, geopolitics, and progress. Such platforms are integral to our success, as they drive collective action – one of the most effective tools at our disposal to face common issues. The location of the Forum is ideal, as nowhere are the impacts of rising temperature and melting ice on species that rely on a cold climate for survival more evident than in Greenland.

The UAE is also forging ahead in climate action. Last October, we launched the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, and we are building on the outcomes of our ongoing clean energy transition to fulfill its objectives.

We are keen to partner with friends and allies around the world to share knowledge and lessons learnt so that our accumulated experience contributes to global achievements.

The UAE is home to three of the largest-in-capacity and lowest-in-cost solar plants in the world. It is also the first country in the Arab world to build a commercial-scale carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) facility, launch an industrial-scale green hydrogen project, and deploy zero-emission nuclear power. Our clean energy capacity is on track to reach 14 gigawatts by 2030.

We also leverage nature-based solutions to enhance environmental sustainability. For instance, we seek to plant additional 100 million mangroves by 2030. Our mangrove forests help us sequester CO2, protect our coasts from storm surges, and provide critical habitats for biodiversity.

We are keen to partner with friends and allies around the world to share knowledge and lessons learnt so that our accumulated experience contributes to global achievements.

We have always believed our strength lies in solidarity and in collaboration – region to region, nation to nation, and community to community. Our success or failure depend on how well we work together towards a shared goal. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call that reminded us that no one is immune to global challenges and that we are all in the same boat.

With the same spirit of multilateralism, the UAE will host the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in 2023. We are dedicated to making it an all-inclusive event, where the voice of every nation – whether developed or developing – and every stakeholder is heard, and we will ensure that the specific geographic, climatic, and socio-economic conditions of every region and country are considered when charting a global roadmap to a climate-resilient future. At COP28, we intend to promote a just and inclusive transition to a sustainable way of life that truly leaves no one behind through deep, productive, and lasting synergies to form a united front against climate change.

The progress made so far proves the strength of joint efforts. The world needs to continue to push past its limits and raise climate commitments to safeguard people and the planet.

The world needs to continue to push past its limits and raise climate commitments to safeguard people and the planet.

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri

United Arab Emirates Minister of Climate Change and Environment

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri is Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE. In this capacity, she leads the Ministry’s mission of spearheading the UAE’s drive to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, protect the country’s ecosystems, and enhance its food and water security through developing and implementing effective measures, policies, and initiatives.

Prior to her current role, Her Excellency was Minister of State for Food and Water Security. Her responsibilities included monitoring national food stocks and water supply, channeling investments in food and water technology innovation, and building international partnerships in this area.

Previously, Her Excellency held the post of Minister of State for Food Security, where she oversaw the development of the necessary infrastructure to achieve the country’s food security objectives in line with the UAE Centennial 2071.