x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Hannah praises push towards renewable energy at Abu Dhabi tourism summit

Daryl Hannah started to adopt a more environmentally friendly approach to life 20 years ago.

Activist and actress Daryl Hannah at the summit. Lee Hoagland / The National
Activist and actress Daryl Hannah at the summit. Lee Hoagland / The National

Film star and environmental activist Daryl Hannah has praised Abu Dhabi for embracing renewable energy.

"Everyone has to look for what the solutions are," Ms Hannah said at the summit. "Information is key. We cannot make wise decisions if we don't know what is out there.

"You are stuck if you think you don't have any choice, the information is there – but it's still hard to decipher."

Ms Hannah started to adopt a more environmentally friendly approach to life 20 years ago. She took her house off the national power grid in favour of solar energy and used biofuels and vegetable oil in her cars.

One is a 1984 Chevrolet El Camino pickup truck and the other is the 1979 Pontiac Trans Am she drove in Kill Bill, which she described as "badass pinup" for biodiesel.

Ms Hannah has been arrested five times for her environmental activism, most recently in August last year for protesting against an oil pipeline designed to bring crude oil from Canada to Texas.

She said most people she knew who behaved in an environmentally responsible way did so because it lowered the cost of living.

"The truth is, the fuel I get for my car, which is from remediated sewage, is a dollar less than the gasoline at the pump," Ms Hannah said. "It would be $3 less if I made it myself."

The actress said she was angry with corporations that were more interested in "branding and marketing" sustainability, and making it seem exclusive rather than incorporating it into their business ethic.

She said this had created a backlash among less well-off people, who "cannot afford to spend an entire paycheque at Wholefoods".

Consumers have a responsibility to ensure corporations were accountable and to make sure businesses took notice of good customers, Ms Hannah said.

This is her first trip to Abu Dhabi and she praised the emirate's efforts to diversify from oil and gas to renewable sources of energy.

"From what I understand, in this part of the world they are already making a switch to solar power and then saving the oil that they pump to sell to other countries who are still hooked to the drip," she said. "That is already a very smart move."

Ms Hannah said another important source of energy was waste.

lgutcher@thenational.ae