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Emirates work on first zero-carbon city





inphurno
Environmentalists skeptical as Emirates work on first zero-carbon city

Quote:
This Gulf desert nation, one of the world's most environmentally unfriendly with its ubiquitous air conditioning, swimming pools and SUVs, may be looking to redeem itself. It has begun building what it calls the world's first zero-carbon city.

Environmentalists say the new city - powered mainly by solar energy and recycling waste and water - is a nice idea, but the Emirates shouldn't stop there.

"Every little bit helps," said Jonathan Loh, a British biologist who co-authored a 2006 World Wildlife Fund report that measured consumption by nations around the world. "It would be best if the UAE reduced energy consumption throughout the country not just in one location."

The WWF runs several programs based on its 10 principles of sustainability in Europe, North America, China, Africa and in the Middle East.

A $1.6 billion project in development in Portugal would build 5,000 zero-carbon, zero-waste homes, hotels and shops. The project includes Europe's largest-ever nature restoration plan in order to return more than 12,000 acres of surrounding land currently occupied by degraded logging plantations and quarries to native Mediterranean woodland.

The United Arab Emirates has the world's largest ecological footprint per capita, according to the WWF report. That means each of its residents uses up more of the world's resources than any other person in the world.

A glance at Dubai makes it clear why. Nearly every indoor space - including sprawling malls and giant villas - is air conditioned, seen as a necessity in a country where the winters are hot and the summers blazing.

Extravagances like swimming pools with chilled water, an indoor ski slope that produces snow when it's close to 50 C outside and an all-ice restaurant push up the electricity bill. The unusual mode of transport is SUV or Hummer - there is no public transportation, or even sidewalks in most parts of the city.

According to the WWF, the Emirates' ecological footprint measured 11.9 global hectares per person. A global hectare is a unit of the amount of productive land and water a person requires to produce all the resources he consumes and absorb all the waste he generates in a year. In contrast, the U.S.'s per capita footprint is 9.6 hectares per person, and the global average is 2.2 hectares a person.

The Emirates - which has a population of five million, the large majority of them foreign expatriates - has a heavy per capita carbon footprint as well - it takes 9.06 global hectares of land to absorb each person's carbon dioxide emissions in a year. The United States' carbon footprint is 5.66, and the world average is 1.7.

But the plan is for Masdar City, where the groundbreaking on construction took place earlier this month, to be completely carbon-zero.

Cars will be banned, with a light rail serving residents inside the 600-hectare city as well as taking them to the nearby city of Abu Dhabi. Organic food will be grown in the area and encouraged, garbage will be recycled and waste water will be reused in Masdar, Arabic for "Source."

Most of the city's energy is to be generated by solar power - though developers have not given an exact percentage - and water will be provided through a solar-powered desalination plant.

Masdar City, which is being developed by an Abu Dhabi state-owned company, is expected to be completed by 2015 at an estimated cost of $22 billion. It is intended to become home to about 50,000 people and host 1,500 companies, developers said.

Khaled Awad, development director for Masdar, insisted the city is an honest attempt "to curb the trend of being environmentally irresponsible." He said the companies in it will make it a "Silicon Valley for renewable energy sector," researching clean energy technology.

Under a deal with the Emirates government, the WWF is monitoring the city closely to ensure it reconciles its promises.

"It's a rigorous process . . . that at the end will prove if Masdar is sustainable or just claims to be such," said Eduardo Goncalves, a London-based spokesman of WWF International's One Planet Living program.

Habib al-Shuwaikhat, a professor of urban planning and sustained development at Saudi Arabia's King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, said Abu Dhabi's eco city "looks like a good initiative," but one that cannot remain "isolated" from the rest of the country.

"You hear a lot about sustainable development, but to be honest, I don't see it on the ground," Shuwaikhat said. Serious efforts to safeguarding the environment in the time of an unprecedented construction boom in the Gulf have yet to "get into the minds of decision makers" in the Gulf, he said.

Last year the Emirates became the first government to sign an agreement with WWF to study the country's ecological footprint and reduce it to a sustainable level through expert assessment of economy over the next three years, Goncalves said.

"Masdar is critical to our strategy," Goncalves said. People in the Emirates are leading lives that are "absolutely unsustainable," he said. "There is no better place to set an example and show that an ecologically friendly lifestyle is not only better, but also commercially successful."


http://www.cbc.ca/cp/science/080224/g022404A.html

You could look at this as a skeptic and say that the Emirates is probably trying to do this for some good publicity or you can say they are trying to create their own base of innovation/skilled workers to create their own solution instead of importing one....
coolclay
I'd look at as they are trying to find a new market to make more millions of dollars when their oil runs dry. They know that the oil will be running dry soon, and they have the millions to devote to sustainable R & D, so they are developing a place they can rule the market once again.
MaxStirner
coolclay wrote:
I'd look at as they are trying to find a new market to make more millions of dollars when their oil runs dry. They know that the oil will be running dry soon, and they have the millions to devote to sustainable R & D, so they are developing a place they can rule the market once again.


Although I have heard a bit about some of these projects, mostly coincidentally on CNN or some other media, I don't know nearly enough about them or of the intentions of those financing these enterprises, but the simple fact that they are intended as basically profitable undertakings, at least in the long run, would not disqualify them. Quite the contrary: design and technology of such projects must not only fulfill ecological goals, they must be cost-effective or at least cost-neutral in order to be of interest to a wider public. I recall the first attempts in building solar collectors and wind generators and the reason these began to mature is because they wre not ecologically but also financially viable. In any case, it seems to me that these pertrodollars (or are they petroeuros?) are being put to better use than in buying the odd Hollywood studio or spending them on shopping sprees in European capitals.
icecool
everybody seems to be jumping on the sustainable resource bandwagon.
and about time - if not to late on a global scale.

but then again, it should be done in an intelligent manner and that one is NOT.

to put a new city into the middle of nowhere is plain crazy - a good markrting stunt if you have the budget - and even the $ 22 billion they quote is pocket money for this country. but to say that by using solar farming for power and recycle your water = cero carbon is wrong.

have they worked out how much in carbon emmissions it "cost" to build the whole thing?
manufacture and transport of materials
transport and housing of a massive labour force
feeding of the same
flying in uncounted so called experts on greenhouse gas emissions and so on and so on

as it said in the article, people living there in that kind of climate expect a minimum level of living quality. going down that route, this would mean no air con, swimming pools...
all consumer items would have to be imported fo feed cloth and house the 50000 residents
i mean, the list is endless

i do applaud every effort made by every individual on every level in this survival fight of the human race but maybe this is the time in humanities history where we should be more honest about what and how we do things and call them by their names - and this is pure marketing at a crazy level of expenditure.

cheers
burqe
Emirites can establish industry to manufacture usefull stuff. They can invest money in good business all around the world and they are already doing this as well.

As I said in another thread, there is huge anount of resources in this world but thier use is extreemly poor. Thus at one side, some one is fitting gold taps in his toilet where as hundreds of people are strifing in the same city and many others dying in hospitals because they cannot buy medicine.

Humans should think positively. We can help each other sensibly and this can reduce the crimes all around the world.
whitehole
Thanks for posting this interesting article. I hope it's a great success and we can quit spending money on fuel in the future.
inphurno
whitehole wrote:
Thanks for posting this interesting article. I hope it's a great success and we can quit spending money on fuel in the future.


lol Laughing i don't think we will stop spending money on fuel any time soon.......
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