Collaboration at all levels, across countries and continents was the central theme that emerged at Masdar City today during high-profile remarks by government dignitaries from the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates on how to tackle climate change. Coordination and unity of purpose on this issue was critical to the global community’s long-term sustainable development and security.
This was aired at a special session that looked at, among other issues, how countries were working together to address climate change and advance renewable energy in the run up to COP21 in Paris.
The UAE Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, His Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber, opened the session, highlighting the role that the UAE through Masdar and the Masdar Institute were playing in addressing climate change and advancing the clean energy industry.
The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, The Right Honourable Mr Philip Hammond, delivered a special address at the gathering hosted by Masdar – Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. Other speakers were the British Foreign Secretary’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, His Excellency Sir David King, and the Director-General of IRENA, Adnan Amin.
Just this week, the UAE submitted its Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC), a comprehensive plan of actions to mitigate climate change, to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The proposed climate actions plan – which reflects the UAE’s economic diversification strategy and its commitment to sustainable development – sets the UAE’s national target to generate 24 percent of the country’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2021. It also harnesses innovation and green growth to ensure prosperity and environmental protection.
HE Dr Sultan Al Jaber said the UAE and the UK enjoy a deep-rooted and mutually-beneficial relationship that spans trade, investment and commerce.
“A central part of our partnership is our shared belief in clean energy – the role it plays in economic development and the pathway it represents to securing a sustainable energy future. For example, offshore wind energy in the UK is a tremendous success story, and one that has played a key role in the country’s renewable energy transformation. The UAE is proud to have contributed to this success through the investment made by Masdar,” he added.
Mr Hammond – who praised the UAE’s commitment to reach its target outlined in its INDC plan as “bold and impressive” – said the UAE was investing in some of the world’s largest solar power plants, and was at the forefront of innovation in technologies such as high-efficiency solar-powered desalination. With a 35% stake in the Dudgeon offshore windfarm, and a 20% stake in the London Array offshore wind project in the outer Thames estuary, the UAE’s investment of around 1 billion pounds made it one of the largest investors in the UK’s wind energy sector.
“You have the world’s seventh largest reserves of oil and gas, and we all know these will continue to be important for decades to come. But it is much to your credit that, despite that, you are already planning for a future beyond oil,” he said.
Commenting on the upcoming COP21 gathering in Paris, he said that because climate change was a global challenge “our political response to it also has to be global”. He was positive that a strong and effective deal among participants at COP21 was within reach, which would contribute to level the playing field, catalyse investment, and spur innovation.
“More than 150 countries have made commitments to reduce their emissions over time. Not only developed countries, but also large emerging economies, are taking real steps towards a safe, sustainable energy future – and the prosperity it will deliver,” he added.
The UK currently has 5GW of offshore wind energy installed – half of the world’s total capacity. Of this 5GW, Masdar has delivered 12% of that capacity through the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array.
Dr Al Jaber concluded: “By 2020, the UK plans to source 15% of its energy from renewables and we are committed to supporting this growth through Masdar’s investment in the 402MW Dudgeon offshore wind project, with our partners Statoil and Statkraft.”
Jury members of the Zayed Future Energy Prize who convened in Abu Dhabi today, also attended the event. They included President of the Republic of Iceland and Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, HE Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water and Vice-Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, Dr Han Seung-Soo, First Deputy Speaker of the Federal National Council and Member of the Executive Council – Abu Dhabi and Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Council, HE Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, and Chairman of Global Marketplace, Abu Dhabi, HE Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh.