Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United Arab Emirates

Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in the United Arab Emirates. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Published:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United Arab Emirates
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in the United Arab Emirates. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Published:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United Arab Emirates
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in the United Arab Emirates. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Published:

What percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions does the United Arab Emirates produce?

The United Arab Emirates produced 0.53% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 (the latest date with complete emissions data). This amounted to 249m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or MtCO₂e. These emissions represented an increase from 2020 by 2.5%.

In the period from 1990 to 2021 their emissions have increased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% and the United Arab Emirates has contributed 0.45% of global greenhouse emissions.

Countrythe United Arab Emirates
Population9.99m
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in USD$359bn
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2021249m
Change in Emissions since 20202.5%
Percentage of Total Emissions (2021)0.53%
Rank – Emitters in 202132
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions since 19905.39bn
Compound Annual Growth – Emissions since 19903.8%
Percentage of Total Emissions (1990-2021)0.45%
GDP Per Capita (USD)$35.9k
Emissions Per Capita25.0

In 2021, the United Arab Emirates was the world’s 32nd largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emitters in the same period were China, the United States, India, Russia and Brazil.

When looking at emissions over time the United Arab Emirates is the 35th largest emitter since 1990.

Emissions per capita in The United Arab Emirates – average household carbon footprint

The population of the United Arab Emirates is 9.99m. On a per capita basis, they produce 25.0 tonnes of CO2e per person, placing them 6th out of 191 on emissions produced per capita. The biggest per capita emitters are Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Turkmenistan.

What is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United Arab Emirates?

Gases

75.2% of emissions in the United Arab Emirates came from Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 22.7% came from Methane (CH4), and 0.79% came from Nitrous Oxide (N2O).

Sectors

The sector that produced the most emissions in 2021 was the energy industry, producing 216m of GHG emissions, constituting 86.5% of total.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were bunker fuels and waste, producing 28.2% and 9.2% of total GHG in the United Arab Emirates.

Energy

The industry that produced the most energy related emissions was the electricity/heat industry, producing 73.2m of GHG emissions, constituting 29.3% of total emissions.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were manufacturing/construction and transportation, emitting 70.7m and 37.3m tonnes of GHG each.

Land Use Change and Forestry

Land use change and forestry (LUCF), such as deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems to agricultural or urban areas, can have a significant impact on carbon emissions.

  • Trees and other vegetation absorb and store carbon through the process of photosynthesis, and when they are cut down or burned, that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.
  • Deforestation and other forms of land use change can also reduce the ability of ecosystems to absorb and store carbon in the future. Additionally, the conversion of land for agriculture or urban development can lead to the release of carbon stored in the soil.
  • On the other hand, sustainable forestry practices, such as reforestation and afforestation, can help to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in trees and other vegetation.

In the case of the United Arab Emirates, LUCF had no impact on the United Arab Emirates’s emissions, decreasing their carbon footprint by 0 tonnes.

After accounting for land use change and forestry, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the United Arab Emirates in 2021 was 249m metric tonnes.

How vulnerable is the United Arab Emirates to the impact of climate change?

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Index

The ND-GAIN Index measures countries’ vulnerability to global challenges, including climate change, and their readiness to improve resilience.

The United Arab Emirates scores 60.7 on the ND-Gain Index and is classified in the ‘low vulnerability and high readiness’ category of climate change preparedness.

The index aims to assist businesses, governments, and communities in prioritising investments for a more efficient response to global shifts.

It is measured by combining two main components:

  1. Vulnerability: This evaluates a country’s vulnerability to environmental risks and its ability to adapt. It considers health, food and water availability, infrastructure, and ecosystem services. A higher score indicates greater vulnerability to environmental challenges.
  2. Readiness: This measures how well a country can leverage investments to mitigate climate change. It considers economic stability, governance, technology, and infrastructure. A higher score means a country is better prepared to implement resilience strategies.

This ranking helps identify areas where resources and adaptation strategies can be most effectively directed to mitigate risks and enhance resilience.

By combining these dimensions, the index provides a comprehensive approach to measuring countries’ ability to cope with the impacts of climate change.

Low vulnerability and high readiness in the United Arab Emirates

In terms of readiness to adapt to climate change, The United Arab Emirates ranks in the top 25% group. Globally, the average readiness score is 0.424, with the United Arab Emirates posting a score of 0.585.

They show the greatest strength in economic aspects, while their performance in social aspects requires improvement.

  • Economic readiness refers to the business environment and its capacity to adapt to climate change, emphasizing the importance of a supportive regulatory framework for adaptation initiatives.
  • Social readiness refers to the societal factors like inequality, education, and technology infrastructure that affect a country’s ability to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Regarding vulnerability to climate change, The United Arab Emirates falls into the below average category. Compared to the global average vulnerability score of 0.431, the United Arab Emirates has a score of 0.371.

Their resilience is most notable in health areas, yet they face significant challenges in ecosystems.

  • Health vulnerability refers to the impact of climate change on diseases and medical resources. Innovations can enhance resilience to vulnerabilities affecting human health through food, water insecurity, and extreme weather events.
  • Ecosystem services refers to the natural capital and resources foundational to economies and societies. Climate change-induced shifts in geoclimes stress ecosystems, highlighting the need for adaptive responses.

The formula to calculate the ND-GAIN Index is

GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50

In this formula:

  • The Readiness Indicators are measured on a scale of 0 to 1, where a higher score means that the readiness is better.
  • The Vulnerability Indicators are also measured on a scale of 0 to 1, but a lower score indicates better vulnerability in this case. 
  • The difference between the Readiness and Vulnerability scores is calculated and then incremented by 1. 
  • Finally, the result is multiplied by 50 to convert the GAIN Index score to a range of 0-100, where a higher score means the situation is better.

Is there a correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth in the United Arab Emirates?

In 2021, the gross domestic product (GDP) in the United Arab Emirates grew by 18.8% from the previous year, with the economy moving from $349bn to $415bn. During the same period, carbon emissions increased by 2.5%. Over the ten-year period from 2011 to 2021, GDP grew 15.1%, while emissions increased by 16.3%.

To put this into context, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of GDP in the United Arab Emirates over the past ten years was 1.4%, and the CAGR for greenhouse gas emissions was 1.5%.

Sources

World Resources Institute, 2022. Climate Watch Historical GHG Emissions. [online] Washington, DC. Available at: https://www.climatewatchdata.org/ghg-emissions.

Global Carbon Project, 2023. Supplemental data of Global Carbon Budget 2023 (Version 1.1) [Data set]. Global Carbon Project. Available at: https://doi.org/10.18160/gcp-2023.

UNFCCC, 2023. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data. [online] Available at: https://di.unfccc.int.

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, 2023. ND-GAIN Country Index. [online] Available at: https://gain.nd.edu.

FAO, 2022. Land-Use Change and Forestry or Agriculture indicators from FAOSTAT Emissions Database. [online] Available at: https://www.fao.org/faostat/.

OECD/IEA, 2022. CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion. [online] Available at: https://www.iea.org/reports/co2-emissions-in-2022.

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