DUBAI, 17th January, 2022 (WAM) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is keen to seize the economic opportunities presented by the energy transition, according to Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Special Envoy for Climate Change and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar).
Dr. Al Jaber made the remarks during the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and awards ceremony of the Zayed Sustainability Prize at Expo 2020 Dubai, in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
Delivering the opening address at the first major global sustainability event after COP26 (the UN Climate Conference), Dr. Al Jaber appreciated the wise leadership’s keenness to ensure the safety of UAE citizens, visitors and residents. "Thanks to the efforts and vision of the leadership, the UAE has become the most vaccinated country against COVID-19 in the world, and we have also strengthened our resilience while extending a helping hand to more than 135 countries in need." Speaking to a live audience that included heads of states, ministers and policymakers, Dr. Al Jaber went on to detail how the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed, laid the foundation for the country’s progressive approach to climate change and sustainability and explained that the country is well-positioned to capitalise on the opportunities created by the energy transition.
"As the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee, we have seen 50 years of incredible progress. Our founding father, Sheikh Zayed, invested the wealth of a nation in the health of a nation. He balanced economic development with environmental responsibility. He believed that sharing made good nations great and guided the UAE to become one of the world’s leading humanitarian donors. And, more than this, he taught the people of this nation to aim for the stars, so that one day we would explore Mars, Venus and beyond." Dr. Al Jaber noted the world has also been transformed for the better over the last 50 years but this has posed fundamental questions of how to keep moving forward, while turning back the clock on emissions and how to enhance global prosperity.
"Finding the answers to these questions has been the mission of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the Zayed Sustainability Prize. A mission that builds on the UAE’s position as a pioneer in clean energy. When we began investing in the renewables space more than 15 years ago, our leadership had a theory of the future that has been proven right over time. Today, the UAE is home to the largest and lowest cost solar plants in the world." Dr. Al Jaber added, "Globally, we see a bright future for the renewable energy sector as at least $3 trillion will be invested in renewable energy over the next 10 years. Through Masdar, we have invested in solar and wind energy projects in 40 countries around the world. Last month, under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, three of the largest energy companies in the UAE entered into a strategic partnership to consolidate Masdar's position and turn it into a global leader in the field of clean energy.
"Thanks to this partnership, Masdar doubled its total renewable energy capacity, and our ambition is to build on these solid foundations and reach 100 gigawatts, and then double it to 200 gigawatts. This represents a massive opportunity, and the UAE and Masdar extend an open invitation to all our partners, public and private, to join us on this ambitious journey. This growth will contribute to creating job opportunities, new sectors and skills, and opening a new door of hope for present and future generations." As the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to announce a Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, the UAE is adopting a low carbon pathway to a high growth destination and is keen to accelerate progress on this journey as hosts of COP28, according to Dr. Al Jaber.
Expanding on COP28, which is set to be held in Abu Dhabi in 2023, Dr. Al Jaber took the opportunity to thank President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea and the Asia Pacific Group for their support in confirming the UAE as hosts. He went on to provide an insight into the UAE’s approach.
"The UAE is looking forward to playing its role as host of COP28 and we take on this role with humility and a sense of great pride and responsibility. We will work closely with the COP presidencies of the UK and Egypt and build on their momentum. We will take a practical approach, that moves from pledges to action, focused on commercially viable climate solutions.
"We will give an equal voice to the developing world, align the public and the private sector, academics and engineers, civil society and industry. And that means all industry, including the hydrocarbon industry. Because, if there is one thing that the history of every energy transition tells us, it is that they take time. You cannot simply flip a switch," stressed Dr. Al Jaber.
"To successfully navigate a complex transition to the energy system of tomorrow, we can’t just unplug from the energy system of today. We must remain pragmatic, while being progressive. We should look for the solutions where the energy expertise exists. And we should always remember that our goal is to hold back emissions, not progress." While the world still needs oil and gas, the UAE is committed to making the current energy system work more efficiently with much less carbon, according to Dr. Al Jaber. He highlighted that ADNOC produces one of the least carbon intensive hydrocarbons in the world and, as of 17 days ago, 100 percent of ADNOC’s grid power now comes from zero carbon energy sources.
Dr. Al Jaber added that this is a first for the oil and gas industry and it is reducing emissions at scale, shaping the market for clean energy and making a direct contribution to the UAE’s net zero push, not tomorrow, but today.
Concluding his remarks, Dr. Al Jaber highlighted the importance of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s pioneering global award in sustainability.
"Fifty years ago Sheikh Zayed instilled in the UAE a commitment to inclusive sustainable and humanitarian development that continues to this day. In honour of this legacy, the Zayed Sustainability Prize has helped turn this commitment into concrete action. The prize has not only contributed to building a better world by addressing global challenges, but also engaged the younger generation in re-imagining our future. It has improved the lives of more than 370 million people to date in 150 countries and counting. This year we received a record 4000 prize entries. And I am really looking forward to seeing how this year’s finalists and winners will continue to drive our sustainable future.
"Creating that future is the reason we are all gathered here at this place at this time. We understand the challenges, but we know that behind every challenge lies a greater opportunity. Let us focus on what’s practical to produce real progress. Let us use the same determination that brought us here today to drive the solutions of tomorrow. And in the spirit of Expo, let us use the time we have together to connect minds and create an inclusive and sustainable future for all." Held annually since 2008, ADSW is a global platform for accelerating global sustainable development. It brings together a unique fusion of world leaders, policymakers, industry specialists, technology pioneers, and the next generation of sustainability leaders. This 2022 edition is taking place from 15th-19th January.