Will a zero-carbon city change the world?

The world's first zero-carbon city could bring changes to the construction industry.
Will a zero-carbon city change the world?
By Hugo Berger
Sat 26 Jan 2008 11:20 AM

Plans for the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste and car-free city in Abu Dhabi could herald huge changes in the construction industry.

That was the view of Khaled Awad, director, property development unit, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, the firm behind the Masdar City.

Plans for the city were announced at last week's World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The plans were unveiled alongside a $15 billion (AED55 billion) commitment from the Abu Dhabi government to encourage renewable sources of energy.

The investment is the largest any world government has committed to the cause.

It will be used to fund solar power, wind turbines and geothermal energy projects, as well as building a hydrogen-generated power plant.

Awed said: "I think the [construction] industry has been waiting for something like this to change its reputation.

"It has been a very aggressive, competitive industry in the past.

"This is a chance to reposition construction and to create a new business model which is looking after the planet."

The initiative was announced by HH general Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, during the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit.

He said: "The evidence is overwhelming that our responsibility must now be balanced by a duty to find new sources of energy, protect the world in which we live and to provide the right legacy for future generations."

The investment will be channelled through the Masdar Initiative, a company that aims to explore, develop and commercialise future energy sources.

The government also announced the establishment of the annual $2.2 million Zayed Future Energy Prize to honour individuals and organisations for their excellence in the development of sustainable energy solutions.

But Neil Crumpton, energy specialist for UK-based environment charity Friends of the Earth, believed the initiative did not go far enough.

He said: "This seems like a lot of money, but solar power technology has been around for a while and, considering the Middle East is drenched in sunlight, it has hardly been utilised.

"However, if the $15 billion is invested in technology which could reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, like synthetic hydrocarbon technology, it would give the UAE a chance to lead the world in this field."

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