The rapid growth of Dubai has led to a massive rise in urban pollution, so much that the gulf state is listed as the 29th highest emitter of carbon dioxide in the air; this contributes to global warming which is poised to change our world’s climate for the worse. The UAE is a country that is still heavily dependent on the production of oil and energy from burning fossil fuels, and so carbon dioxide emissions increased from 60.8 in 1990 to 146.9 million tons in 2008.
The booming tourism industry and large scale deployment of tall skyscrapers require energy demands that are mostly met by oil and gas production with only 1 percent being fulfilled by renewable sources of energy. The UAE has been desperately trying to wean itself from too much fossil fuel usage by switching to energy production from nuclear energy and is scheduled to produce a whopping 5.6 GW of power in 2030.
The sewage system in Dubai have been unable to keep up with the burgeoning tourism industry and it is common to sometimes see tourists swimming in waters contaminated with untreated sewage water. The attitude of ‘business comes first’ is taking its toll on the country and its climate. In fact, a recent study by the World Bank on global environmental indicators shown in a book called the “Little Green Data Book” reported that the United Arab Emirates has the world’s worst air pollution.
The entire idea that a tiny Middle Eastern country could make it to the top of the list of worst violator of air pollution is shocking. That honor usually goes to the most populous countries in the world, India and China. The 2015 study showed that the UAE has air containing 80 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter. In contrast China has a rating of 73 micrograms and India boasts a figure of 32.
This is a disturbing revelation since toxic particulate matter in the air has harmful health effects on people that live in those areas. Problems range from premature mortality, limited neurological development among children, mental disorders, cardiac health problems and complications with respiratory problems – all of this means that the thriving gulf state is slowly poisoning its own denizens in the name of urbanization, development and modernization.
To make the matter worse, the Ministry of Environment and Water, Fahad Hareb made light of the situation by claiming that the World Bank’s figures were wrong. We believe that authorities should adopt a more serious role in tackling air pollution. It doesn’t matter how the World Bank came to their conclusions, one simply cannot deny the worrying pollution levels in Dubai.
The UAE government has apparently taken notice and even partnered up with Singapore in July 11 to tackle climate change in a joint effort. The UAE will be adopting various practices from Singapore -one of the cleanest nations in the world – such as recycling waste, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, handling water and electricity generation to name a few.
The government will try to cut down on waste taking up useful space in landfills, since 75% of the waste goes unrecycled into the landfills.