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Fuel for thought: Will limit UAE's carbon footprint

2015-08-20 10:38:30

Reduction in fuel consumption will reduce carbon emissions

Environmentalists are fuelled up for an energy-efficient UAE as the country announced its decision to deregulate petrol prices from August 1.

Brent crude traded around $49.81 a barrel on Monday.

Citing environmental benefits of the decision, Suhail Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy, said in a statement that deregulating prices would ultimately decrease fuel consumption and preserve natural resources for future generations.

He added this will also encourage individuals to adopt fuel-efficient vehicles, including the use of electric and hybrid cars.

In a report released in January of this year, the UAE's greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 saw the country's transport sector responsible for 22 per cent of the total emissions, amounting to 44.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Coupled with this was the UAE's oil and gas sector, which accounted for 15 per cent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions, releasing 29.6 million tonnes.

The country's per capita greenhouse gas emissions stood at 24.16 tonnes, according to the report.

UAE's carbon footprint cost

The 2015 UAE State of Energy Report, which was published by the government in January, further stated the country produced almost 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person in 2010, recording a 63 per cent increase from 2000.

Given such figures, Al Mazroui added that increasing the use of public transport and reducing dependence on individual vehicle usage will have a positive impact in lowering carbon emissions.
In this regard, the Minister of Energy also stated the UAE has an advanced public transport system with options that are environmentally friendly such as taxis that work on natural gas.

Earlier this year, in an interview with Al Bayan Arabic daily, Al Mazroui further spoke of the importance of liberalising fuel prices, saying: "The Ministry of Energy has completed a study in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance to consider proposals calling for enabling domestic consumers to benefit from the decline in global oil prices."
 
He added: "Liberalisation of gasoline and fuel prices needs to be considered to allow consumers to benefit from low global prices. We believe that the liberalisation of prices will help to optimise the use of energy resources and reduce wastage.

"A balance needs to be struck between maintaining corporate profits and avoiding losses at lower oil prices.

"The study thus takes into account both interests of businesses and consumers, and includes proposals to maintain the profitability of companies operating in the market in addition to considering the economic impacts on different segments."

The UAE subsidises raw vehicle fuel, with total losses of national oil companies amounting to nearly Dh38 billion in 10 years. In 2014 alone, Adnoc lost more than Dh6.4 billion in gasoline sales, Al Mazroui added.

The news of fuel deregulation had environmentalists encouraged by this move, with Angus Blair ‏tweeting: "The UAE is removing fuel subsidies August 1st. Good for climate change and government budget.”
Arnab Jain tweeted: “Ultimately, we are working towards a more efficient environment. The world needs such measures."

Phil Foster, CEO at UK-based Love Energy Savings, commented:  "Every country has to play its part if the world is to truly reverse the effects of climate change, so it's encouraging to see the UAE taking steps to slash its carbon emissions.

"While the theory behind the move to deregulate fuel prices appears to be well intentioned, it remains to be seen whether rising fuel costs will indeed prompt businesses and the public to adopt greener lifestyles."

He added: "As an energy comparison website, we want to see consumers getting a fair deal...."

In its last UAE's State of Green Economy Report, it was cited that natural gas was a viable cleaner alternative fuel to gasoline as it produces fewer  emissions and the running cost of vehicles is around 30 per cent less.

In Dubai, Emirates Gas (Emgas), an Enoc subsidiary, started an initiative to popularise compressed natural gas (CNG) as an automotive fuel as early as 2006.

A pilot project was conducted with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) that converted diesel-operated wooden abras (water taxis) running on the Dubai Creek to operate on CNG. The company also introduced CNG to fleet.

The company also introduced CNG to fleet users such as Dubai Municipality, DP World, Emirates Group, Transguard and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) among others.

In Abu Dhabi, more than 3,000 public transport vehicles have been adapted to run on CNG to date.

Adnoc's gas processing and fuel distribution subsidiaries are leading the way to expand the use of CNG for  vehicles by investing in the infrastructure to ensure that there are enough filling stations to support additional demand for such vehicles.

The first phase of the Natural Gas for Vehicles (NGV) Project involves the installation of CNG pumps at 16 stations in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain as well as Sharjah, with capacity to fill 10,000 vehicles per day.
 
The move is part of the UAE's 2030 plan, to have reduced energy use by 30 per cent and to generate at least 25 per cent of its power from renewable sources, including solar, clean coal and nuclear.

It also wants to eliminate waste sent to landfill within 20 years, and devise more sustainable methods of water generation.