x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Copenhagen quits Irena race

The Danish capital withdraws its bid to host the headquarters of a global green-energy body, boosting Abu Dhabi's chances of taking the honour.

NEW YORK // Copenhagen has withdrawn its bid to host the headquarters of a global green-energy body, leaving the contest wide open between the two favourites, Abu Dhabi and Bonn, and the trailing third contender, Vienna. Danish officials decided to pull out just days before delegates from 104 nations are due to head to Egypt to vote on which city will make a home for the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). Insiders say the withdrawal demonstrates how Europe's contenders are trying to galvanise support around Bonn and frustrate the UAE's ambitions.

"We have evaluated our chances of being elected as a host country, and our final conclusion has been to withdraw our candidacy because it is important to find a common understanding among the member states about one European Union candidate for the seat of Irena," said Martin Lindgren, a department boss from Denmark's Ministry of Climate and Energy. A spokesman for Austria's foreign ministry denied rumours that Vienna had scaled down its efforts in a de facto withdrawal from the contest, saying the nation was "still making efforts and still bidding".

However, speaking on condition of anonymity, an Austrian official in New York confirmed that diplomatic efforts were being curtailed to allow the contest to focus on Bonn. In the final days before the vote, the UAE and Bonn have both stepped up their efforts to convince voters. After Copenhagen's announcement on Monday, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, highlighted the importance of placing Irena in the developing world rather than a European city.

"We seek a voice for the developing world through an organisation that is innovative, international and one that will bring serious advances to the cause of renewables," Dr Gargash said. jreinl@thenational.ae