Chris Wickham

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Climate change is off the agenda in Dubai

October 28, 2009

The headline in the Gulf News English language daily reads ‘UAE tops world on per capita carbon footprint’.

For a place so reliably bathed in sunlight, the Dubai property explosion seems to have generated enough construction noise to drown out the environmental debate raging elsewhere in the world.

For the first-time visitor, the scale of the global construction superlatives – The Palm, made from reclaimed land jutting out defiantly into the Gulf, the skyscrapers built in a region where there is no shortage of space – is staggering.

The amount of environmentally ‘sinfull’ concrete poured over the last decade is ncalculable. Billboards lauding the benefits of solar power look like a bit of an after thought.

Climate change was just beginning to take hold as an issue for property developers when the economic downturn struck and put paid to nascent environmental ambitions.  “Green is not cheap,” says Markus Giebel, chief executive of Dubai property group Deyaar Development. “Dubai was on the right track, but there’s no money now. People are thinking about survival.”

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