The [Mangrove] Tree Planting Scheme in the UAE

UAE Flag, Fossil Fuels, Imported wood from dead trees being sold for burning close to Al Qudra desert in Dubai. Safi Roshdy took the photo from her fossil fuel powered car while on her way to a desert cleanup on 25 December 2021. In the distance is a fossil fuel delivery vehicle operated by CAFU.
Imported wood from dead trees being sold for burning close to Al Qudra desert in Dubai. Safi Roshdy took the photo from her fossil fuel powered car while on her way to a desert cleanup on 25 December 2021. In the distance is a fossil fuel delivery vehicle operated by CAFU.
Map depicting mangrove habitat loss globally. Natural or Human Driven. Mangrove loss in the UAE has been primarily human-driven. NASA.
Mangrove loss in the UAE has been primarily human-driven. NASA.

Here’s a little bit of history

In August 2012, every UAE English language newspaper reported that destruction of mangroves on Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi by an unnamed developer had been stopped during a “routine visit” by inspectors from the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD).

Jubail Mangrove Park construction highway embodied footprint carbon emissions.
A photo showing a billboard leading to the entrance to Jubail Mangrove Park, taken by Safi Roshdy from her fossil fuel powered car on 29 May 2021. The billboard reads “Your home in the heart of nature,” in Arabic, and Naturally. Home.” in English.

Let’s do the math

To put numbers into perspective, the annual reported carbon emissions of the UAE in 2020, the year of the pandemic, are 150.27 million tonnes (1304 times the carbon to be captured by the 100 million mangroves, based on the estimates of carbon sequestration in the MOCCAE press release), i.e. to capture the sum of its annual carbon emissions, the UAE would need to plant more than 130,435 million mangroves.

The making of an Emirates ad, featuring a stunt person, involved an empty Airbus A380 flying around Burj Khalifa 11 times before taking a spin around Dubai. Emirates Airline Expo 2020 carbon emissions ad burj khalifa
The making of an Emirates ad, featuring a stunt person, involved an empty Airbus A380 flying around Burj Khalifa 11 times before taking a spin around Dubai.
An article in Forbes titled “Fly This Airline to Protect Abu Dhabi’s Mangroves” by Johanna Read. Abu Dhabi is host of 2021 Formula 1 Grand Prix. Formula 1 (F1) announced in 2019 that the sport would be carbon neutral by 2030, citing tree planting as a “highly effective biological way of capturing carbon from the atmosphere.” Screenshot of a Forbes article inviting readers to fly in order to protect Abu Dhabi’s mangroves.
Formula 1 (F1) announced in 2019 that the sport would be carbon neutral by 2030, citing tree planting as a “highly effective biological way of capturing carbon from the atmosphere.” Screenshot of a Forbes article inviting readers to fly in order to protect Abu Dhabi’s mangroves.
The National News UAE Mangrove Planting Companies for Good CSR DHL trampling on mangroves EMEG sanctuary Dubai.
It is easy to trample on the protruding roots of mangroves while attempting to artificially plant a sapling. This photo of a CSR event has been repeatedly featured in the recent numerous mangrove planting articles by The National.
Less than 1% of the UAE’s energy comes from renewable sources. Our World In Data. 2019
Less than 1% of the UAE’s energy comes from renewable sources. Our World In Data. 2019

An Immediate Drastic Cut

A briefing paper published by the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP) in November 2020, highlighted the Special Report on Land and Climate (2019) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which showed how it was necessary to protect and restore degraded ecosystems if we are to meet our climate targets, but also articulated very clearly that “land can only support a small portion of our efforts, which means it cannot be used to compensate for our current emissions levels, let alone a continuous increase in greenhouse gas emissions,” and that climate action required an immediate drastic cut in emissions.

Prince William planting mangroves at Abu Dhabi Jubail Island Park with school student. Screenshot from The National.
Inspite of all the evidence, the popularity of tree planting is being perpetuated by the media. Screenshot from The National.
The UAE’s annual CO2 emissions per capita, a number which continues to be among the highest in the world, was 15.19 tonnes in 2020. Our World In Data. A map of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions per capita
The UAE’s annual CO2 emissions per capita, a number which continues to be among the highest in the world, was 15.19 tonnes in 2020. Our World In Data.
Sultan Al Jaber and John Kerry on a private jet. Carbon Emissions. Climate Change. In just one hour, a single private jet can emit two tonnes of CO2. The USA & UAE share high per capita CO2 emissions.
In just 1 hour, a single private jet can emit 2 tonnes of CO2. The USA & UAE share high per capita CO2 emissions.

Fueling The Addiction

Progress, as it is commonly perceived in the world today, has been built upon the exploitation of resources and an imperial and colonial past.

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