Using words like catastrophe, calamity and critical, Jordan’s Queen Rania, the Presidents of France and Argentina and other world leaders sounded the clarion yesterday morning at the opening ceremony of the 6th World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. Albeit a somber gathering that laid out the full weight of our shared responsibility to reverse the course of global warming and subsequent climate change, the day ended on a more hopeful note with $4 million worth of prize money doled out to several green innovators from as far afield as Mexico and Tanzania.
The 2013 Zayed Future Energy Award is a $4 million prize that is distributed among green innovators in four different categories.
President of Iceland, itself a leader in renewable energy development, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said that earning an internationally recognized accolade like the Zayed Future Energy Prize entails both great privilege and great responsibility.
The Lifetime Achievement Award and $500,000 went to Dr. Jose Goldemberg, professor of physics at the University of Sao Paulo and former Brazilian Minister of Environment. He is perhaps best known for introducing the Brazilian Energy Initiative, which called for 10 percent renewable energy worldwide by 2010.
US-based d.light scooped the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) prize and $1.5 million for solar-powered lighting solutions that are distributed to the developing world, while Ceres, another American group, distinguished itself as a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) that gently nudges companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
Lastly, the Global High Schools Prize – a new category added this year – will be divvied up among four different schools: one in Europe, one in Mexico, another in Tanzania and finally one school in the United Arab Emirates.
Additionally, a large corporation is honored for their contribution to advancing renewable energy and sustainable business, though there is no prize money associated with this recognition.
Siemens scooped that award this year even though the firm has recently pulled the plug on its numerous solar ventures to focus on wind energy. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Masdar and CEO and Director General of the Zayed Future Energy Award prize, said that the jury selected Siemens for its holistic and long-term approach to alternative energy and sustainability.
Peter Löscher, CEO of Siemens AG, is the first person from the private sector to speak at any WFES opening ceremony to date. He said in his impassioned speech the firms has produced enough renewable energy, which accounts for a full 42% of its entire portfolio, to slash as much as six times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that New York produces.
Stay tuned for our live coverage of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Summit!