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Come on Irena

Abu Dhabi is now world HQ for renewable energy

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Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan is ready to welcome all nations into Irena.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan is ready to welcome all nations into Irena.

The headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) will be located in Abu Dhabi, positioning the city as a global leader for renewable energy.

Announced at a summit held in Egypt late in June, the decision featured a European-style compromise. When it became clear that Germany and Austria would both miss out on securing the HQ, they stepped aside with a little muttering, collecting consolation prizes along the way.

Bonn in Germany will host Irena’s centre of technology and innovation to help the energy agency’s work in developing countries, while Vienna in Austria will host a satellite office to help the agency liaise with other international organisations. Both OPEC and the IAEA are headquartered in Vienna.

A statement on the Irena website described it as reflecting ‘the spirit of cooperation that is needed for Irena to grow into a strong and effective organisation’.

There have been grumblings that Irena would be hijacked by a ‘low-carbon’ lobby, a euphemism for the nuclear industry. France backed Abu Dhabi early on, further fuelling the grumblings, which focused on the city’s high per capita carbon footprint. Helene Pelosse, a French ministerial official, was named director general of the new agency, beating off challengers from Denmark, Greece and Spain.

The numbers did some talking too. As well as Abu Dhabi’s high-profile investment in Masdar City, figures in the region of US $500 million have been quoted as the kind of direct and indirect funding that will be offered to Irena, by Abu Dhabi, over the next decade or so. That is putting your money where your mouth is.

The UAE is one of 136 countries to have signed up as statutory members of Irena. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the only GCC countries that have not signed up as yet.

In speaking about the victory the UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan described it as a great honour. He also made it clear that the agency should be an international asset, open to everyone to be involved.

The words have been spoken and the money pledged. Now we just have to await the action.

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