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UAE reduces Nitrogen Oxide emissions by a fifth from power plants

May 25, 2023

Staff Report

Dubai, UAE

The UAE has achieved a 20 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide, a harmful and poisonous gas, resulting from power generation activities, according to a study by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE).

The study focused on measuring the intensity of nitrogen oxide emissions associated with power generation to establish a baseline and monitor the reduction in emissions intensity within this sector. The findings were based on data from 2020, highlighting a noteworthy decline in nitrogen oxide emissions compared to the recorded data from 2015.

The study’s outcomes align with the National Air Quality Agenda 2031, introduced by the (MOCCAE) and approved by the Cabinet. This agenda provides a comprehensive framework to guide and coordinate efforts across federal and local government entities and private sector institutions in monitoring and managing air quality effectively. Its objective is to mitigate pollution, improve air quality, foster a safe and healthy environment, and enhance the overall quality of life in alignment with the UAE Centennial 2071 targets.

Nitrogen Oxides are a family of poisonous, highly reactive gases. These gases form when fuel is burned at high temperatures. NOx pollution is emitted by automobiles, trucks and various non-road vehicles (e.g., construction equipment, boats, etc). Man-made emissions of nitrogen oxides dominate total emissions in Europe, with the UK emitting about 2.2 million tonnes of NO2 each year. Of this, about one-quarter is from power stations, one-half from motor vehicles, and the rest from other industrial and domestic combustion processes.

This announcement aligns with the Year of Sustainability and the UAE’s preparations to host the Conference of Parties (COP28) for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It underscores the country’s commitment to reducing harmful emissions, particularly those from power generation activities.

The executive plan of the National Air Quality Agenda 2031 encompasses several initiatives, including continuous monitoring of emissions associated with power generation, which led to the study of nitrogen oxide emissions resulting from power generation activities.

“Reducing harmful emissions is one of the most important strategic directions for the UAE to fulfil its climate obligations and contribute to mitigating global climate change. As the Conference of Parties (COP28) approaches the UAE at the end of this year, the announcement of the reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions resulting from power generation activities reflects the UAE’s commitment and seriousness in presenting a practical model to confront climate challenges with concrete steps on the ground. It also demonstrates the implementation of the UAE’s strategic goals for climate neutrality by 2050.” Essa Al Hashmi, Assistant-Undersecretary for the Sustainable Communities Sector and the Acting Assistant-Undersecretary for the Green Development and Climate Change Sector at the MOCCE, emphasised reducing harmful emissions. 

Air pollution most severely impacts already vulnerable populations. More than 90 percent of pollution related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries. Children under 18 years old, pregnant women, and older adults all have increased risk of developing or worsening health conditions from air pollution exposure.

Data for the World Air Quality Report was aggregated from measurements taken from over 30,000 global air quality monitoring stations. Hourly averaged data from both government-operated regulatory instrumentation and non-government operated, ground-based air quality monitors was collected and aggregated over the course of a year and used as the basis for the content of the report.

Al Hashmi also added: “The UAE has taken proactive measures to reduce emissions from power generation over the past years, most notably the operation of several power generation complexes from renewable energy sources such as Noor Solar Power Station and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, Barakah Peaceful Nuclear Energy Plants, and other projects. The partial operation of these projects contributed to reducing nitrogen oxide emissions resulting from power generation. In addition, many power generation networks have been upgraded, contributing to reducing these emissions.”