Reporting An Obvious Absence from the World Future Energy Summit

abu dhabi mosqueIra reports on the World Future Energy Summit which he attended this January. The event hosted by Abu Dhabi is arguably the most important environment conference to fuel green change among Arab nations.

Israel was not among the 36 countries to officially participate in the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January. Some 2,000 delegates gathered from around the world to discuss strategies and to exhibit technologies for a sustainable global economy and environment.

In light of the numerous Israeli ventures in clean-tech technologies, Israel was conspicuous in its absence when a roundtable of energy ministers discussed regional cooperation at the conference.

However, Israel’s minister of national infrastructure, Uzi Landau, was in Abu Dhabi to participate in a pre-summit meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Israel is one of some 140 member states of the organization, which was established last year to advocate for renewable energy and to facilitate international collaboration in this field. IRENA is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and is slated to move to the emirate’s carbon-neutral Masdar City next year.

While he did not stay on for the World Future Energy Summit, Landau extended an invitation to those at the IRENA meeting to come to Israel’s own renewable energy conference, scheduled to convene in Eilat next week.

No show from Jordan, the PA, and Israel

Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, like Israel, were also not represented among the list of hundreds of exhibitors at the Abu Dhabi event, though two presentations featured solar projects planned for Ma’an in southern Jordan. Karim Kawar, who formerly served as Jordan’s ambassador in Washington, spoke about Kawar Energy’s (links to web page) plans to build a 100 MW power plant –Shams Ma’an – based on photovoltaic (PV) technology (links to press announcement).

Shukry Halaby, representing Millennium Energy Industries (MEI), presented similar plans to build a solar facility with the same capacity, also in the Ma’an area, but based on concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. MEI is currently conducting a U.S.-funded feasibility study for the project in partnership with California-based eSolar.

Both Kawar and Halaby noted that the Jordanian cabinet’s recent approval of the Renewable Energy Law should help facilitate such projects.

Presidents, PMs and Princes

The opening session of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi featured two presidents (Greece and Maldives), two prime ministers (Turkey and Malaysia) and two crown princes (Spain and Denmark), who all spoke passionately about the urgent need to curb global warming.

Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Republic of Maldives, warned that his country (and other low-lying countries, including Abu Dhabi) would simply “slip into the sea” unless there is vigorous international action to combat climate change.

A recurrent theme among the keynote speakers was disappointment at the outcome of the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. “We don’t have time for endless talk. We can’t cut a deal with Mother Nature and we must learn to live within the limits nature has set,” Nasheed declared. And there are also profits to be made in leading this effort, he asserted: “To my mind, smart money is green money.”

Crown Prince Frederik Andre Henrik Christian of Denmark similarly noted that the strong business presence at the summit demonstrates that clean-tech is “good for business.” He predicted that “sustainable energy will be for this decade like Internet was for the last decade.”

The Danish prince and his Spanish counterpart, Felipe de Borbón y Grecia, both cited impressive statistics indicating that their countries are far ahead of Israel in the percentage of energy they derive from renewable sources.

Perhaps more surprising was the list of green initiatives described by Malaysian premier Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib, including solar feed-in tariffs and the establishment of a dedicated agency to promote a green economy. “We have a moral responsibility to bequeath to our children a cleaner and more pristine planet – before it is too little, too late.”

::World Future Energy Summit website

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