Complex Made Simple

World Environment Day 2021: Solutions and views from the UAE

The theme of World Environment Day falling on June 5 this year is Ecosystem Restoration. UNEP on May 27 said that a total investment in nature of $8 trillion is required between now and 2050

It is expected that by 2050, renewables will account for more than half of UAE’s electricity production Smart water technologies can accurately and efficiently manage, treat and distribute water to minimize losses Post-COVID-19, the efforts to operate hotels more sustainably have accelerated further

The theme of World Environment Day falling on June 5 this year is Ecosystem Restoration.

It’s fitting as ‘The State of Finance for Nature report’ released by the UNEP on May 27 said: “A total investment in nature of $8 trillion is required between now and 2050, while annual investment should reach $536 billion annually by 2050, in order to successfully tackle the interlinked climate, biodiversity, and land degradation crises.” 

Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP said: “Biodiversity loss is already costing the global economy 10% of its output each year. If we do not sufficiently finance nature-based solutions, we will impact the capacities of countries to make progress on other vital areas such as education, health, and employment.” 

Eaton on decarbonization and smart energy grids

Ashraf Yehia, Managing Director at Eaton Middle East at Eaton,  a multinational power management company, reminded us that we’re now less than 10 years from the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and still a long way to go before the objectives are met. 

“However, the good news is that government policy and economics are starting to move things in the right direction when it comes to the decarbonization of the Middle East’s electricity grids and electrification of transport,” said Yehia.

“It is expected that by 2050, renewables will account for more than half of UAE’s electricity production. In addition, the electrification of transport is gaining momentum as the price of electric vehicles declines inexorably towards parity with internal combustion engines.”

According to Yehia, the combination of a grid powered predominantly by renewables along with vast new distributed loads that can also store electricity, are together upending the traditional electrical power delivery model. 

“This emerging new energy ecosystem comprises an intricate network of “prosumers”: consumers and businesses who can produce and store their own energy locally, use what’s needed and, in many cases, sell excess power back to the grid,” Yehia said.

“Unfortunately, across most international markets today, current regulation is designed for a centralized power system, curtailing the incentive to invest in flexible assets.”

Eaton’s Yehia urges governments and regulators to create a clear and stable regulatory and market framework that will quickly, and at zero cost to governments, provide a way for consumers and businesses to benefit from new revenue streams and faster payback on the flexible assets they own such as heat pumps, battery-based storage or grid-connected EVs. 

Saving water

Francois Frigaux, Regional Director, Sensus, a Xylem brand providing solutions for water, gas, and electric utilities, said on the occasion of World Environment Day 2021 that “It’s no secret that the survival of our planet is intrinsically linked to the health of our ecosystems. However, in recent years, our natural world has faced challenges of epic proportions including the adverse effects brought on by climate change, and we’re seeing our ecosystems and natural resources suffering as a result.”

“Water plays perhaps one of the most integral and multifaceted roles in sustaining every aspect of our ecosystems, environment, and our very existence. One of the key steps we as individuals, and as businesses can each take to help protect our precious ecosystems is to be more conscious in our consumption of water,” he added.

He said smart water technologies can accurately and efficiently manage, treat and distribute water to minimize losses and in turn create a domino effect that benefits the entire ecosystem.

 “But it’s not just businesses that can make a difference. Here are four simple but highly impactful switches you can make in your everyday life to play your part in helping to reduce unnecessary water going down the drain:

1- Turn the tap off in between rinsing when brushing your teeth and you could save up to 200 gallons of water per month;

2- Switch the tap off during those 20 seconds when you’re scrubbing your hands with soap to help save up to 6 gallons per day;

3- Lather up your hair with shampoo with the tap off and you could save up to 150 gallons of water in a month;

4- Wash your vegetables and dishes in a sink of water instead of under a running faucet to massively reduce water wastage.”

Read: Billionaires and their eco-tourism attempts at saving the earth’s climate

Read: Earth Day: Is humanity finally waking up to the serious issue of climate change?

Hotel linens

Dr. Linen is an eco-friendly range of products created by Rent-A-Towel, a Dubai-based company providing end-to-end linen management solutions to help hoteliers become more sustainable.

Narayanan Raghavan, CEO of Dr. Linen and Rent-A-Towel said: “Post-COVID-19, the efforts to operate hotels more sustainably have accelerated further. This focus has also gained ground because of the imminent Expo 2020, which has sustainability as one of its key pillars.”

Left to right – Avinash Mane, Lenzing fibers & Narayanan Raghavan, Dr. Linen & Rent-A-Towel

The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) has also recently announced an investment of 500 million dirhams ($136 mn), across 20 sustainable tourism development initiatives.

Linen management, with the water usage it entails, is a key sustainability concern for hoteliers. Rent-A-Towel offers the industry multi-faceted benefits, which include:

1- An innovative and proven linen rental model which reduces the water consumption and operating costs for the property.

2- An embedded water usage is lowered because of the bulk processes that Rent-A-Towel can implement, to process the laundry needs of multiple properties.

3- The Dr. Linen range, made from eco-friendly wood-based fibers, reduces water use per article by nearly a third.

 “Our Dr. Linen range, created in partnership with global sustainable fiber heavyweights Lenzing fibers and their TENCELTM brand, maximizes those outcomes, because of the low carbon footprint of their lyocell fiber, during processing, use, and eventual disposal,” Raghavan said.

 TENCELTM fibers of Lenzing, Austria, is revolutionizing the textile industry with raw materials sourced from sustainably grown forests. 

These fibers significantly reduce water consumption, boast a longer lifespan, remain luxurious to use after repeated washes, and are fully biodegradable at the end of their lifecycle.