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Environmental Issues in Abu Dhabi

The biggest environmental problem in the UAE seems to be energy consumption, which is unsurprising given the number of gas-guzzling cars on the roads and air conditioning systems being switched on 24/7. The government has introduced greening campaigns to try and reduce the negative environmental effects and lessen the region‘s ‘footprint’. Measures such as installing hundred of thousands of water metres to give more accurate readings, and reassessing the current electricity subsidies, are being looked at to try to encourage more responsible use from the population. Issues such as pollution are also being tackled, there are plans to eliminate the use of high-sulphur diesel in vehicles and industry by introducing a new ‘Green Diesel’ in the next five years. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is being looked at as an alternative fuel for vehicles and there are plans to build more than a dozen CNG stations across the UAE.

Abu Dhabi set up its Environment Agency in 1996 to assist the government in conservation and management of the natural environment, resources, wildlife and biological diversity. Projects include the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, avian, marine and terrestrial research, and environmental education programmes. Special projects are also underway for endangered species including the dugong, the houbara bustard and the hawksbill turtle. The aim of many of these projects will be to prevent new developments and construction work from disturbing the natural habitat or wildlife.

New legislation gives the Environment Agency more power to ensure that environmental safety measures are adhered to, and they can stop projects that do not comply. It also defines the scope and nature of the Agency far better, giving it greater responsibility in the management and protection of the environment in Abu Dhabi.

Sir Bani Yas Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, has an internationally acclaimed breeding programme for endangered wildlife in the Arabian Wildlife Park. Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre works towards the protection of endangered wildlife in general and African cheetahs in particular, through its breeding programme. The Arabian Wildlife Centre in Sharjah, has a similar and very successful programme for breeding endangered indigenous wildlife, particularly the Arabian leopard.

There is a branch of the WWF in Abu Dhabi. The WWF works closely with the Emirates Wildlife Society (EMS) and other national NGOs and government departments across the UAE to implement conservation initiatives, tackle environmental issues and re-educate through awareness programmes. The WWF is currently working with the Environment Agency on a project to preserve coral reef habitats in the Arabian Gulf and has launched a project aimed at conserving the indigenous Ghaf tree in Al Ain.




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