Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister for Industry and Advanced Technology of UAE, and the special envoy for climate change highlighted how climate challenge needs to be considered as an opportunity to bring economic growth.
During a conversation with Frederick Kempe, president and chief executive of US-based think tank, the Atlantic Council, Dr. Al Jaber stated that “Progressive climate action is not only necessary, it can also be a powerful economic driver, and if we do it right, it can put the world on a new low carbon/high growth development trajectory. So we need to start looking at the climate challenge as an opportunity.”
The movement restrictions put in place last year, to control the spread of COVID-19 have led to a fall in carbon emissions and this sets a path for countries and energy-intensive companies to adopt measures that could continue to lower their carbon footprint.
Citing the recent data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which confirmed that 2020 witnessed the largest rise in installed renewable capacity in the history of the sector, Dr. Al Jaber noted the commercial case for investing in clean energy has never been stronger than last year.
Despite the pandemic, the world added renewable energy capacity of 260 gigawatts last year, representing $300 billion worth of investments, Dr. Al Jaber added, “and this is something we should all be optimistic about, and we should very much build on.”
Speaking days before the White House convenes a Leaders Summit on Climate that will bring together 40 countries, including the UAE, Dr. Al Jaber highlighted the significance of US Special Envoy John Kerry’s recent visit to the UAE for the MENA Regional Climate Dialogue convened in Abu Dhabi.
“This kind of relationship, dialogue and this type of climate diplomacy, delivering tangible outcomes, really reinforces our real deep strategic partnership with the US,” Dr. Al Jaber told Mr. Kempe.
Further, Dr. Al Jaber highlighted UAE’s future energy plans. The country is investing in new, zero-carbon fuels such as hydrogen although currently, it has a limited market, it could form a sizeable segment of the energy system in the next 20 years. The emirates will then have the capacity to become a significant supplier of both blue and green hydrogen.
Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), along with other major state-backed entities Mubadala and ADQ, formed an alliance to produce hydrogen. ADNOC will focus on increasing the output of blue hydrogen.