Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the Chairman of Masdar & UAE Minister of State, gave the opening remarks at the start of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Summit. Listening to them, it’s hard not to get the impression he could be labeled a climate hawk. Or maybe it’s just that speech on top of so many others, and so many Q&As I’ve seen with him, that makes me think so.
In either case, this recent speech is worth closely listening to. It was at the end of the “Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Opening Ceremony” video I already shared, so I’m afraid many didn’t see it at all. If you watch the video starting here, but I’ve also pulled out the key sections to highlight in text format here:
Renewable Energy Has Graduated
“Our interconnected energy landscape has evolved beyond the point where the price of oil determines the fate of clean energy, simply because… renewable energy has graduated from an expensive alternative to a competitive technology of choice. Over the past 12 months, we have seen investments in clean energy rise by 16% to $310 billion. And installations of solar and wind increased by 26% to 100 GW [of capacity]. This growth has been driven by the sharp decline in costs, and the steady rise in technology efficiency. In fact, the drop in solar prices has been so dramatic that in many parts of the world, it is now competes with traditional sources of energy.”
Opportunity to Revisit Fossil Fuel Subsidies
“Ladies and gentlemen, what today’s evolving landscape presents is an opportunity to improve the overall economics of energy, economics that can support governments, industry, and people. With oil at a 5-year-low, there is indeed an opportunity to revisit fossil fuel subsidies, especially in countries where subsidies have become a heavy financial burden for their economic development and progress. In only 2013, fossil fuel subsidies cost countries $550 billion. Yes, $550 billion in one year only, money that can be otherwise redirected to improve energy systems and transform economies, by creating jobs, stimulating economic growth, and educating future generations.
“Ladies and gentlemen, to embrace opportunity is the very reason why we are gathered here today at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, so let us do our part. Let us shape a future energy mix that will bring light to those without it, to electrify cities that do not yet exist, to power inventions that we cannot today imagine, and to ultimately ensure that growth is as sustainable as it is enduring.”
*Full Disclosure: My trip to and accommodation in Abu Dhabi for the Zayed Future Energy Prize, World Future Energy Summit, and other Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week events is being covered by Masdar. That said, I have full editorial control over the work and am even publishing it without feedback. I am only covering things that I find very interesting or important, and that I think others will find interesting or important.
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