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What is United Arab Emiratesʼ pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Last update: June 2021

United Arab Emiratesʼ total GHG emissions by sector

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Energy
35351591591221221010−15−15
Industry (processes)
2219191818131377
Other
221212773344
Agriculture
199020102030205020701122111111

Power sector in 2030

Power generation in the UAE is currently dominated by natural gas. In recent years, there have been rapid developments in the installation of solar PV and CSP technologies, which reached 2.4 GW in 2020.6 In April 2021, the first nuclear power plant in the UAE started operations, a first step in reaching its target of a 6% share of the electricity mix by 2050.7 The UAE aims to reach installed capacity of 14 GW of energy from renewables or nuclear in its power mix by 2030.2
p(info-ccs). To be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit, the share of renewable energy generation needs to ramp up to 30-50% by 2030. The share of gas needs to be halved in the power mix by 2030 and phased out completely by 2040. This would result in a two thirds reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, reaching zero between 2040 and 2046.

Towards a fully decarbonised power sector

Phasing out gas from the electricity generation mix in the UAE between 2040 and 2047 is necessary to achieve a Paris compatible pathway. Emissions intensity from power grid would reach zero between 2040 and 2046.9

Some scenarios show emissions intensity becoming negative, reaching -40 gCO₂/kWh by 2050 mostly due to bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Delaying the phasing out of fossil fuels in the power sector would require the country to rely more heavily on carbon dioxide removal technologies in the future.

1 Climate Action Tracker. CAT Climate Target Update Tracker: UAE December 2020 Update. (2020).

2 Government of UAE. Second Nationally Determined Contribution of the United Arab Emirates. (2020).

3 IEA. World Energy Balances 2019. (2019).”:https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-balances-2019#data-service

4 International Energy Agency. Energy data and statistics. (2021).

5 US.Energy Information Administration (EIA). Country Analysis Executive Summary: United Arab Emirates. (2020).

6 International Renewable Energy Agency. Statistics Time Series. (2021).

7 Power Technology News. Barakah nuclear plant’s first unit begins operations. (2021).

8 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

9 In some of the analysed pathways, the energy sector assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

United Arab Emiratesʼ power mix

terawatt-hour per year

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Scaling
SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20172030204020505001 000
100%RE
20172030204020505001 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20172030204020505001 000
Low Energy Demand
20172030204020505001 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20172030204020505001 000
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass

United Arab Emiratesʼ power sector emissions and carbon intensity

MtCO₂e/yr

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Unit
−40−2002040608019902010203020502070
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • Low Energy Demand
  • Historical emissions
  • 100%RE
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance

1.5°C compatible power sector benchmarks

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Carbon intensity, renewable generation share, and fossil fuel generation share from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for United Arab Emirates

Indicator
2017
2030
2040
2050
Decarbonised power sector by
Carbon intensity of power
gCO₂/kwh
660
200 to 290
0 to 20
−40 to −10
2040 to 2046
Relative to reference year in %
−69 to −56%
−100 to −97%
−106 to −102%
Indicator
2017
2030
2040
2050
Year of phase-out
Share of unabated coal
Percent
0
0
0
0
Share of unabated gas
Percent
98
47 to 64
0 to 4
0
2040 to 2047
Share of renewable energy
Percent
1
30 to 53
91 to 96
95 to 100
Share of unabated fossil fuel
Percent
99
47 to 67
0 to 4
0

BECCS are the only Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies considered in these benchmarks

All values are rounded

Footnotes