Just ahead of Earth Day 2011, it’s the beginning of the end for Dubai’s waste era. Yesterday HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashhid Al Maktoum – Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai – inaugurated Dubai’s very first Global Energy Forum. Organized by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, the three day event that ends on April 19th, 2011, signals a very real shift in Dubai’s attitude towards energy.
It demonstrates an awareness on high that the glory days of fossil fuels are over and new heights need to be achieved in renewables. Although nuclear energy (and “clean” coal) features high on the Emirate’s list of alternatives, the forum being held at the Dubai World Trade Center has gathered some of the world’s most prominent leaders to discuss a cleaner future.
Among the most senior experts, policy makers, researchers, and corporate heads present at the event are Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Authority and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalm, the 11th President of India, Adnan Amir, the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and Simon Cooper, the Deputy Chair and CEO of HSBC MENA.
The forum aims to provide a platform for participants to exchange views on the different policies of energy, both regionally and internationally, from technical, commercial, financial and regulatory viewpoints. This includes technologies, investment opportunities, economic diversification, market indicators and maximizing investment revenues in the fields of energy, particularly oil, gas alternative and renewable energy.
In addition, the forum seeks to share current and future policies and best practices as applied by international major companies. Also on the agenda are the most important issues of environment and sustainability that affect both the region and the world.
On the other side of our warming planet, a significant gathering of 5,000 activists led by Bill McKibben will gather across from the United States White House to protest soft energy policies by the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions. Head of 350.org, one of the largest, most influential environmental organizations in human history, McKibben said in a recent Power Shift speech that if we do not change energy policies now, temperatures will rise by another five degrees by the end of the century.
Our current climate changes – the melting arctic, unbearable temperatures, and flooding that has left millions of Pakistani homeless – are the result of a mere one degree celsius change.
“This city looks clean and sparkling. No. This city is as polluted as Beijing, but instead of coal pollution, it’s money pollution,” said Bill McKibben of Washington D.C.
Let’s hope that the DGEF will initiate a more meaningful shift in Dubai’s policies than America has been able to achieve.
More on energy policy in the United Arab Emirates: