Expo City decarbonisation roadmap: Raising the bar on responsible urban development and supporting UAE net zero goals

03 Oct 2023 – 3min. read

A Night View of Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion

Expo City Dubai has detailed its pathway to net zero by 2050 and its plans to curb embodied carbon in the built environment in its newly released decarbonisation roadmap, setting a new benchmark for growing urban centres while also contributing to the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative and global climate goals.

Expo City’s long-term 2050 net zero goal is supported by shorter-term targets – in 2030 and 2040 – to drive action in operational carbon[1] reduction. The roadmap aligns with the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Inventories (GPC) and the goals follow the relevant guidance of the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) – applicable to urban-scale decarbonisation targets – whereby achieving net zero requires significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction before offset purchases are considered.

As a hub in the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan and a growing community that recognises the impacts of carbon in city development, Expo City also outlines separate interim and long-term targets to reduce embodied carbon in the built environment, such as in construction materials. By setting such targets, it is going beyond the requirements defined by the GPC for urban centres, demonstrating its efforts to responsibly balance environmental and economic sustainability.

Reflecting a commitment to making a meaningful impact with a downward emissions trend across all activities, Expo City’s roadmap exemplifies the ‘Today for Tomorrow’ theme of the UAE’s Year of Sustainability and builds on the success of carbon management programmes initiated under Expo 2020 Dubai.

Matt Brown, Chief – Sustainability, Expo City Dubai, said: “Expo City Dubai is a blueprint for sustainable urban living, committed to maximising its social, environmental and economic impact. We can only realise our potential by taking purposeful action to address climate change. Our roadmap integrates decarbonisation across every aspect of our business and city, enhancing existing policies and programmes and introducing new initiatives with a regenerative mindset.

“Taking care of our planet and each other is embedded in our culture. As our city grows, we will engage every tenant, resident and visitor in our journey, exploring synergies and new opportunities and maximising prospective benefits. We look forward to sharing key learnings and achievements along the way – reinforcing Expo City’s role as a responsible member of, and contributor to, the UAE and global community, as hosts of COP28 and beyond.”

Reduce, remove, offset Expo City will take an ongoing ‘reduce, remove, and offset’ approach to meet its objectives. Alongside 15-minute city planning principles that encourage micro-mobility and prioritise pedestrians, Expo City will reduce emissions through energy and water efficiency measures and the use of renewables, as well as through low-carbon materials and the integration of circular economy principles.

The city will then look to additional measures, such as sustainable soil management and exploring the long-term use of the latest carbon capture technologies, to remove emissions. Meanwhile, it will carefully select or develop offsets from outside its boundary – such as verified, high quality mangrove restoration projects – to compensate for residual emissions within its carbon boundary.

Implementation and interim targets
In line with international standards, Expo City’s reduction activities will take place across both its geographic-based and consumptive inventory, and its offsetting of residual, or unavoidable, emissions via removal and offset projects will see the prioritisation of projects that create social and economic, as well as environmental, benefits.

Expo City targets operational carbon reductions, from baseline as defined in the GPC, of 45 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2040 ahead of net zero by 2050, in line with the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative. For embodied carbon in the built environment, and to minimise GHG emissions during construction projects in particular, Expo City is targeting a 40 per cent reduction by 2030, and 100 per cent reduction and offset by 2050.

Alignment with international standards Expo City’s alignment with GPC standards reflects that GHG emissions related to its growth and operations as an urban centre are broader and more significant than those resulting from its corporate activities, for which Expo City is aligned with the Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard.

Both were developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute. Expo City also utilises the PAS 2070 specification, which is aligned to the GPC, for its consumptive inventory. Meanwhile, Expo City’s targets for embodied carbon are aligned with those of the World Green Building Council.

A legacy of transparency Expo City builds on Expo 2020 Dubai’s achievements, detailed in annual sustainability reports covering the mega-event’s social, economic and environmental impacts, and carries forward many of its programmes and initiatives. The city also furthers the legacy of transparency by continuing to publish annual reports that adhere to reputable sustainable reporting frameworks.

Illustrating how its activities support national and global climate efforts, Expo City Dubai was referenced in the UAE’s third update to the second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), submitted by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and published by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The NDCs sit at the heart of the Paris Agreement and outline each country’s efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Expo City Dubai’s decarbonisation roadmap is available at www.expocitydubai.com/sustainability.


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