Sunday, March 3, 2024

Following a Complicated COP28, Host City Dubai Doubles Down on Sustainability


After a swell of criticism over the COP28 conference hosted in Dubai late last year, the city-state is seeing a rise in sustainability-focused efforts across real estate and hospitality.

Dubai made its hosting debut for COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, last November and December. The event also marked the first time the UN climate conference hosted the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The organization represents the world’s largest oil producers, but OPEC aimed to make the case it plays a critical role in fighting the climate crisis even though fossil fuel burning is the leading producer of global greenhouse gas emissions.

OPEC said in a statement ahead of COP28 that petroleum-derived products including “fibreglass, resin, and plastic,” are vital to building renewable energy producers solar panels and wind turbines. “They are essential to the composition of a wind turbine and as of yet, cannot be substituted for this purpose at scale,” the organization said. The event received additional criticism over the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC, and his OPEC ties, as president of COP28.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber | Courtesy

COP28 increased its commitment to plant-forward menus across the conference but also received criticism over the inclusion of meat and dairy producers; the industry is a leading contributor to climate change.

But Dubai is shaking off the bad press with a string of projects it says will help move it toward a more sustainable future. Two of those projects come from the hospitality sector.

Millennium Hotels and Resorts, MEA, is stepping into a greener future by partnering with Switch Foods to integrate plant-based products into its offerings. This collaboration begins at Millennium Place Mirdif and Copthorne Hotel Dubai, incorporating plant-based options like loaded nachos and lasagna into their menus.

“Our collaboration with Switch Foods is a significant step in our journey towards a greener and more responsible approach to culinary excellence,” Fahad Abdulrahim Kazim, CEO of Millennium Hotels and Resorts, said in a statement. “We are proud to embrace this partnership, which aligns perfectly with our commitment to eco-conscious practices.”

Edward Hamod, founder and CEO of Switch Foods says the partnership with Millennium Hotels and Resorts underscores a “shared commitment to advancing sustainable practices in the hospitality industry.”

Hamod says that like Switch Foods, Millennium Hotels & Resorts have “always integrated local sourcing and sustainability” and made them a top priority. “Therefore, it was easy to find alignment and explore the opportunity of redefining dining experiences to promote a greener and more sustainable future for all across their hotels and outlets.”

Similarly, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City has embraced green technology by installing a Thermodynamic Solar System for domestic hot water production. The system, which reduces electricity consumption and carbon emissions by 65 percent, is part of Radisson Hotel Group’s broader commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050.

Radisson Blu
Radisson Blu Dubai | Courtesy

Kathiravan Selvarasu, Cluster Chief Engineer at Radisson Blu Dubai Media City and Park Inn Hotel Dubai Motor City, highlighted the system’s ability to work in various conditions. “I am pleased to see the transformative impact of the Thermodynamic Solar System on hot water production in our hotel.”

James Berry, Cluster General Manager, also commended the successful integration of this system. “The successful integration of the Thermodynamic Solar System is a clear step towards realizing our sustainability goals,” Berry said.

In the real estate sector, Meraas’s new villa launch, The Acres, is setting a benchmark for sustainable living. This LEED Cities & Communities Certified development, boasting ample green spaces and eco-friendly amenities like Fast EV chargers, represents a harmonious blend of nature and luxury.

A senior director at Empire & Nunn described The Acres as “a serene oasis in the heart of the world’s favourite concrete jungle.” The development, expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2027, offers villas with private pools, starting at AED 5.09 million.

The Acres Dubai
The Acres Dubai rendering | Courtesy

“The release of this project is highly anticipated as it offers a rare combination of nature and luxury, with every unit boasting its own swimming pool – we expect The Acres to be popular with homeowners and investors alike,” the spokesperson said.

The forthcoming community, expected to be completed by 2027, will feature units ranging from 3-bed townhouses to 5-bedroom villas.

The Crown Prince of Dubai has further strengthened the nation’s environmental stance with a resolution banning single-use products in a phased manner. The ban, covering a range of single-use plastic and non-plastic items, aims to foster an eco-friendly lifestyle and promote the use of reusable products. This move aligns with the UAE’s goal of advancing sustainable development and was first announced ahead of COP28.

According to the announcement from the Crown Price, the new regulation has the “ultimate goal of protecting the environment, encouraging people to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, and promoting the culture of using reusable products to advance sustainable development.”

The ban will also “encourage the private sector to promote the use of recycled products, aligning with circular economy practices that foster sustainable recycling of products in local markets.”

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