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Road construction accelerates climate change

Road construction accelerates climate change

EUROPEAN WILDERNESS SOCIETY‘s Research on Road construction accelerates climate change as elaborated on by  Julia Ramsauer could possibly be not wrong. The feature picture above, for illustrative purpose, is of the UAE travel self-drive itinerary 12; credit Nina Travels

Road construction accelerates climate change

Roads are a tool of human dispersal that have allowed us to utilize land that otherwise would have been difficult to access. At the same time, however, they pose a substantial threat to wildlife through limiting its dispersal and the risk of road kills. Roads also severely impact adjoining forests, not only by causing a physical fragmentation of the landscape but also a thermal one. A road impacts the micro-climatic conditions in its surroundings which leads to an increase in temperature. This can have devastating effects on the trees and will most likely be accelerated by climate change. But how serious is the situation really?

Please also read: Are roads the biggest threat to Wilderness?

Road ecology

Roads fragment the Earth’s surface into more than 600.000 pieces. For Europe this means that 50% of the continent´s surface is located within 1.5 km from a road or railway, while the rest of the land is within 10 km of a road. Thus, it is not surprising that a vast amount of the Earth’s natural habitats is affected by the impact of roads.

Road ecology describes the discipline of research that studies the impact of roads on the environment. The core of the discipline is that the micro-climate of a site depends on the structure of its surface. Have you ever wondered why a hot summer day feels much cooler in nature than in a city? Surfaces covered by vegetation, especially by forests, have a cooling effect, while urban areas heat up quicker. To stop cities from heating up too much, green infrastructure in urban areas is important. Trees evaporate water, which immediately cools down its surroundings. At the same time they absorb CO2, which adds to the mitigation of climate overheating.

This cooling effect is diminished by the construction of roads. They change the micro-climatic conditions in their environment, which leads to an increase in temperature. This can have devastating effects, especially on forest edges.

Micro-climatic conditions with macro-scale effects

The micro-climatic change can lead to an increase of water evaporation, heat stress, tree mortality, and forest fire risk. This in turn impacts groundwater resources and the resilience of trees to climate change. A study in Oberhessen in Germany now confirmed these impacts, analyzing the environmental impact of a planned highway construction. They concluded that the highway would substantially reduce the cooling effect of the forest through tree mortality.

The impact of newly build roads are particular extreme because deforestation creates more forest edges. The trees are not used to the new climatic conditions like increased sun and wind exposure, and increased temperatures. The result is tree die-back, while the forest can even enter into a negative feedback loop were the damage of trees leads to higher surface temperatures, while in turn this leads again to increased tree mortality.

Road-free landscapes for climate change mitigation

The case of Oberhessen is not unique. The whole world and especially Europe is losing green spaces to the construction of roads, and other surface sealing activities in accelerating speed. By doing so we miss out on many ecosystem services that natural spaces provide. These include water retention, cooling effects, air purification, and CO2 storage. These services are crucial for the mitigation of climate change and for human well-being in urban areas. Given that nature is already under immense pressure due to the current level of landscape fragmentation by roads and urbanized areas, we should not continue with their construction but rather preserve road-free landscapes. The European Wilderness Network hosts the last landscapes in Europe that are road-free and, thus, gives wildlife and humans the opportunity to experience undisturbed nature.

National Rail Network to ‘transform the economy’

National Rail Network to ‘transform the economy’

WTX News‘ post on the UAE first national rail network to ‘transform the economy’ and to have a key role in reducing carbon footprint is a good lesson to inspire all countries of the MENA region.

November 23, 2020

UAE FIRST NATIONAL RAIL NETWORK TO ‘TRANSFORM THE ECONOMY’ AND KEY ROLE IN REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINT

Engineers in the Hajar Mountains between Dubai and Fujairah are making way for 16 Kilometers of tunnel, which will one day see trains shooting through it on a journey that stretches from coast to coast, and even possibly further afield. 

The UAE is known for its love of cars as well as its strategic ports and airports, but now is betting big on its first national rail network. The 1,2000-kilometre artery will connect the Gulf of Oman to the Persian Gulf, down through the emirates, into Abu Dhabi’s interior and to Ghuweifat on the border of Saudi Arabia, a key step in a long-mooted rail network crossing the Arabia peninsula. 

“The top line implication … is that it has the potential to transform the UAE economy — and not just the UAE, but potentially the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council],” says Richard Thompson, editorial director of the Middle East Economic Digest.

GOING GREEN WITH SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT

But the move also signals the country’s green ambitions. The UAE has one of the world’s largest footprints per capita, according to the World Bank, and sustainable transport is one way the government plans to reduce it. 

The diesel rail line could save 2.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year through its freight capacity alone, says the developer. That’s equivalent to taking 375,000 vehicles off the road and even has the potential to electrify in the future, which would massively benefit the environment by cutting emissions further by using renewable energy. 

“I think rail has a huge role to play in helping the UAE reduce its carbon footprint,” says Thompson. “Rail can provide a much more efficient mode of transport for goods and people movement around cities; it can help your cities function better.”

Led by Etihad Rail and funded by the UAE Ministry of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance, it has been designed first for freight, and passenger capacity to follow. There is no completion date announced just yet, through “the network is growing as planned” with all contracts awarded, Etihad Rail told CNN.

National Rail Network to ‘transform the economy’
For every two Dubai residents, there is one car

The network will include links to Jebel Ali Port, Khalifa Port and the Port of Fujairah and industrial hubs in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. The route across the UAE, according to Thompson, when connected to an in-progress Saudi network could create a direct link from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea across the peninsula, bypassing the Straits of Hormuz to the north and the Horn of Africa to the south, with big repercussions for the movement of international cargo. 

“You have a more efficient mode of transport, linking ports with each other and removing congestion on the roads and contributing to decarbonization,” he explains.

The executive director of commercial at Etihad Rail, Ahmed Al Musawa, expects 60 million metric tons of freight will move from road and sea to the rail network annually. 

Beyond consolidating the UAE’s position as an international transport hub, there will be benefits at a national level too, Al Musawa says. Stage one of the network in Abu Dhabi has transported 33 million metric tons of sulfur since 2016 and has turned the UAE into the world’s largest exporter of the element, he says. Sulfur is used in the manufacturer of everything from fertiliser to paper. 

Stage two, which stretches 367 miles began constructions earlier this year, could have even wider benefits. 

Kevin Smith, the editor in chief of the International Railway Journal, identifies the railway as a “key strategy … to diversify (the UAE’s) economy slightly away from oil and gas.”

“I think the steel industry, oil and gas industry, then the mining and quarrying industry, should be the main beneficiaries,” says Thompson. “(The network) has the potential to integrate the northern emirate economies much closer into the national economy and accelerate growth and investment in those places.”

OFF THE ROADS TO THE RAILS? 

It’s still unknown how the rail line will change the daily lives of the population. Passenger trains running at 124 miles per hour are touted by Etihad Rail – but no date has been announced. If the network follows through, it could change commuting forever. 

“When you have direct, fast access, naturally that does change the way we perceive (distance), or we select where we live or work or study,” Al Musawa says. “The access to materials, services and markets can evolve around such a network.”

But will it convince Emiratis to swap their cars for trains? Thompson says there are some obstacles, including the “last mile problem” — getting people from their homes to train stations.

Walking in the summer sun isn’t an attractive option, but Al Musawa says ride-sharing and “other micro-mobility solutions” may be the answer, adding Etihad Rail is learning from other countries’ experiences.

“I think there’ll be great demand,” Smith argues. “Their whole cities are built around the car, but I think the popularity of the metro (in Dubai) has shown that people will use it if it’s there.”

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Saudi Arabia to build 100% renewable holiday resort

Saudi Arabia to build 100% renewable holiday resort

The Red Sea Project will be the Middle East’s first tourism destination powered solely by renewable energy as Saudi Arabia to build 100% renewable holiday resort. Billions of dollars are planned to invested in mega tourism projects across Saudi Arabia; could this be the only green one?

Hugo Harrison-Carr on  

Developed by The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the Red Sea Project, is a luxury tourism destination located along 28,000 km2 of Saudi Arabia’s west coast. The development, due for completion in 2030, will consist of 50 hotels and around 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites.

The ACWA Power consortium has been awarded a public-private partnership (PPP) contract to design, build and operate the renewable power, potable water, wastewater treatment, solid waste management and district cooling for the 16 hotels, international airport and infrastructure that make up phase one of the project. 

Energy will be generated via solar panels and wind turbines to meet an initial demand of 210MW with the ability to expand in line with the development. 

In total, development is expected to generate up to 650,000 MWh of 100% renewable energy, which TRSDC believes will save 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions yearly. It will also have the world’s largest battery storage facility of 1000MWh, allowing the resort to remain entirely off-grid 24/7.

Three seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plants will also be constructed to provide clean drinking water, plus a solid waste management centre and a sewage treatment plant that will enable new wetland habitats to be created to supplement irrigation water for landscaping.

TRSDC chairman, John Pagano said: 

“This is a pivotal moment for us as we seek to build a new kind of tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, aligned with Vision 2030. We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of what it means to be sustainable and investing heavily in renewables is helping us to set new global standards in regenerative tourism”.

ACWA Power chairman, Mohammad Abunayyan said: “Powering the Red Sea Project and all utility services exclusively with clean, renewable energy sources is a commendable strategy, and enabling it through a public-private partnership contract underlines TRSDC’s groundbreaking approach which sets a new benchmark in sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

Record New Renewable Energy Capacity This Year and Next

Record New Renewable Energy Capacity This Year and Next

In these difficult days, Record new renewable energy capacity this year and next: IEA by Nina Chestney sheds some light in the unending and stuffy tunnel that the world’s economy finds itself stuck-in. Wind turbines lining the roads, roof mounted solar panels generating energy for all are more and more visible even in the MENA region, oil exporters or not.


LONDON, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Record levels of new renewable energy capacity are set to come on stream this year and next, while fossil fuel capacity will fall due to an economic slump and the COVID-19 crisis, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report.

Record New Renewable Energy Capacity This Year and Next
FILE PHOTO: Wind turbines, which generate renewable energy, are seen on the Zafarana Wind Farm at the desert road of Suez outside of Cairo, Egypt September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

In its annual renewables outlook, the IEA said new additions of renewables capacity worldwide would increase by 4% from last year to a record 198 gigawatts (GW) this year.

This means renewables will account for almost 90% of the increase in total power capacity worldwide this year.

Supply chain disruptions and construction delays slowed the progress of renewable energy projects in the first six months of this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the construction of plants and manufacturing activity has ramped up again, and logistical challenges have been mostly resolved, the IEA said.

Electricity generated by renewables will increase by 7% globally this year, despite a 5% annual drop in global energy demand, the largest since World War Two.

Next year, renewable capacity additions are on track for a rise of almost 10%, which would be the fastest growth since 2015.

“Renewable power is defying the difficulties caused by the pandemic, showing robust growth while others fuels struggle,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

Policymakers need to support the strong momentum behind renewables growth and if policy uncertainties are addressed, renewable energy capacity additions could reach 271 GW in 2022,the IEA said.

In 2025, renewables are set to become the largest source of electricity generation worldwide, supplying one third of the world’s electricity, and ending coal’s five decades as the topglobal power source, the report said.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Mark Potter

The ‘Longest Cantilevered Building’

The ‘Longest Cantilevered Building’

Desi Scene Dubai informs that Dubai is set to break another record for the ‘Longest Cantilevered Building’. It is by Viraj Asher.

30 October 2020

Fresh off from a Guinness World Record for the largest water fountain, Dubai is now looking to set the benchmark in architecture after completing the ‘longest cantilevered building.’

Simply put, cantilevered buildings are structures built horizontally and are supported only from one end, with the other half left suspended. Chances are you have spotted these gravity-defying architectural marvels in science-fiction or superhero movies.

Spanning a whopping 226 metres and standing tall at 100 metes above ground level, the aptly-named ‘The Link’ is set to break the world record for the ‘longest cantilevered building.’ The structure will connect the two towers of Dubai’s hotly-anticipated mega project, ‘One Za’abeel’ and is slated to complete construction in 2022.

Once completed, ‘The Link’ will play host to observation decks, Michelin-star restaurants, an infinity pool, a luxury spa and panoramic views of Dubai. The best part, ‘The Link’ will feature a glass-floor and glass-wall section where you can feel like you’re floating mid-air.

Ithra Dubai is the developer behind ‘The Link.’ Lifting the structure took over a span of 12 days and was “one of the heaviest lifting operations in the region” weight more than 8,500 tons. 55 jacks and 1.2 km of strands were used in lifting the building.

The ‘Longest Cantilevered Building’
Photograph credit: Ithra Dubai

“The completion of The Link at One Za’abeel is the sum of effort, imagination, collaboration and the desire to create a meaningful and timeless contribution to Dubai. We are thrilled to be part of the city’s narrative and to join its long list of firsts.”

ISSAM GALADARI, DIRECTOR AND CEO OF ITHRA DUBAI

Read: DUBAI IS ABOUT TO GET THE WORLD’S TALLEST HOTEL BY 2023

Read: ARABTEC, THE BUILDER BEHIND BURJ KHALIFA AND LOUVRE ABU DHABI, FILES FOR LIQUIDATION

(Featured photograph credit: Ithra Dubai)