x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abu Dhabi's green push wins support

The Arab League chief, Amr Moussa,backs Abu Dhabi's campaign to host the headquarters of a global green-energy body.

NEW YORK // The Arab League chief, Amr Moussa, has joined a chorus of influential decision-makers to back Abu Dhabi's campaign to be host to the headquarters of a global green-energy body. The secretary-general said putting the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in the UAE capital would represent a historic achievement. "It would be the first time a global agency would have its headquarters in the Arab world - and there has to be a first time," Mr Moussa told The National. "This organisation should be established and located in Abu Dhabi. The Emirates is quite capable of giving all kinds of support to such a centre."

Abu Dhabi is vying for Irena in a four-way contest with the European cities of Vienna, Copenhagen and Bonn, with members scheduled to vote in Egypt next month. Once established, Irena will compile data and encourage the use of wind, solar and wave power instead of fossil fuels and atomic energy. Officials have campaigned hard to win support and build a home for Irena on the fringes of the capital, in Masdar City, saying more global agencies should have their headquarters outside the West.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said the Government had presented a "strong argument" that locating Irena in Abu Dhabi would send a positive message to the developing world. But the campaign probably will be hampered by a relatively poor record on renewable energy and carbon dioxide emissions. According to the World Bank's Little Green Data Book, the average UAE resident produces 30.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide - significantly more than the citizens of Denmark (8.5), Austria (8.9) and Germany (9.5).

The UAE Ambassador to the UN, Ahmed al Jarman, previously told delegates to a UN conference that putting Irena in Abu Dhabi would "have a positive effect on developing and Arab countries". Rapidly industrialising nations are contributing more to greenhouse gas emissions and are widely seen as key actors in global efforts to combat climate change. Reem Ibrahim al Hashimi, a Minister of State, recently outlined Abu Dhabi's case to members of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, has been canvassing support for the Emirates' bid.

This month, Mohammad al Tuwaijri, the Arab League's assistant secretary-general for economic affairs, reiterated the 22-nation group's support for Abu Dhabi's campaign. jreinl@thenational.ae Only a handful of international agencies have headquarters outside a major western city., including the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi.