World leaders stress sustainable growth at WFES
South Korean PM calls on developed & developing world to work together
HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, inaugurated the fifth edition of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Under the theme of "Powering Sustainable Innovation," WFES 2012 is welcoming more than 26,000 attendees, including 3,000 delegates and 650 exhibiting companies over the four-day summit being held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). The summit is hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s long-term investment in the commercial realisation of renewable energy and sustainable technologies.
In his welcoming address, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the CEO of Masdar, outlined the huge advances the renewables sector has made in recent years.
“Over the last decade, the renewable energy sector has grown immensely,” he told delegates. “The production capacity for wind has increased by a factor of 10 to reach 200 gigawatts, while solar has increased by a factor of 30, to reach almost 35 gigawatts. Production and technology advances have led to a sharp decrease in the cost of production, and the market value of the renewable sector has increased from one billion dollars to 211 billion dollars.”
In his keynote address, the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, praised the UAE’s vision and courage in the field of sustainable development.
He outlined a four-stage process to address the world’s future energy challenges, with the priority being energy conservation and energy efficiency.
“To save energy does not mean simply to cut energy use, nor does it compromise people’s quality of life,” he told delegates. “What is needed is to rely on science and technology to increase energy efficiency, build a circular national economy featuring low input, high output and low energy consumption and emissions, and drive sustainable economic and social development with minimum energy and resource consumption.”
He also called on governments to “vigorously develop renewable energy and clean energy” as alternatives to fossil fuel, promote a “revolution of science and technology in the energy sector,” and finally, “effectively safeguard energy security”.
The Chinese Premier outlined the steps his own country is taking to address energy challenges, including shutting down coal fired generators, investing in wind, solar and hydroelectric power and increasing energy efficiencies in its traditional industries.
Recognizing the importance of the Middle East to the global energy equation, the Premier told delegates that China respects the independent choices made by the countries in the region, and supports their efforts in developing their economies based on their resources and strengths. He added that China, as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, would continue to work with the international community to promote peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa.
In his own keynote address, South Korea’s Prime Minister, Kim Hwan-sik, stressed the need for active co-operation between developing and developed countries in expanding renewable energy resources.
"To distribute renewable energy to the world, active financial support and technology transfers from developed countries to their developing counterparts are required," he said.
Kim also stressed the importance of "the peaceful usage of nuclear energy" under guarantees of "safety and non-proliferation" until alternative energy resources can fully replace fossil fuels.
He pledged that South Korea would continue its efforts to become a leader in the field or renewable energy. "We will maintain close cooperation with the UAE to expand the spread of renewable energy as well as measures for green growth in the future," Kim said.
Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, emphasized the importance of WFES 2012 in finding solutions to global energy issues and wished the summit every success.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his keynote address, called on governments, the private sector and civil society to make greater commitments in support of his Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. “Widespread energy poverty still condemns millions to darkness, to ill health, to missed opportunities for education,” he said, adding that one in five people still lack access to electricity.
“It is not acceptable that three billion people have to rely on wood, waste and charcoal for their energy needs,” he said.
His call to action underscores the importance of energy to sustainable development, and contributes to the global launch at WFES of 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
“This is the right time for this Initiative,” said the Secretary-General. “Across the world we see momentum building for concrete action that reduces energy poverty, catalyzes sustainable economic growth, and mitigates the risks of climate change. Achieving sustainable energy for all is both feasible and necessary. My Initiative will help us meet these objectives simultaneously. It can be a triple win for all,” he told delegates.
The welcoming ceremony concluded with a presentation by Bertrand Picard, the CEO of Solar Impulse, and a pledge by UAE students to commit themselves to furthering innovation to ensure a brighter, cleaner future.