DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates, one of the world's biggest oil exporters, has launched a "strategic initiative" targeting carbon neutrality by 2050, ahead of a UN climate conference late this month.
The UAE has in recent years verbally backed the battle against climate change, but -- along with fellow Gulf hydrocarbon producers -- remains one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide per capita.
As the global urgency of climate change accelerates, 2050 has become a focus. The European Union and Britain are committed to 2050 net-zero carbon emissions, and global airlines and banks are also targeting the mid-century goal.
"We have launched a strategic initiative of the Emirates targeting the achievement of climate neutrality here by 2050," Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE de facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayed announced Thursday.
"We are keen to support the efforts of the international community to achieve sustainable development, promote economic and social growth and contribute to the good of humanity," he said, quoted by the official WAM news agency.
Carbon neutrality, defined as achieving a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, is high on the agenda of the UN's 26th Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, starting on October 31.
The UAE's announcement is "an open invitation to the world to cooperate in finding practical solutions to climate change impacts," said Sultan al-Jaber, minister of industry and advanced technology.
Like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, the UAE remains one of the world's biggest hydrocarbon producers.
Their citizens lead highly carbon intensive lifestyles, including widespread use of four wheel drive vehicles and enormous reliance on air conditioning.
Yet the UAE is seeking to be the first country in the Gulf region to achieve carbon neutrality.
The announcement came during Dubai's hosting of Expo 2020, which has themes of sustainability and the planet's future.