x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE energy expert to advise UN chief

The head of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company will join a panel preparing Ban Ki-moon for climate-change summit in Copenhagen.

NEW YORK // The head of a UAE state-owned environmental company has been selected to join a panel of experts to advise the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on negotiating a new global climate-change treaty.

Sultan al Jaber, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, will assist the UN secretary general in advance of this year's summit in Copenhagen to finalise a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on targets for greenhouse gas emissions. "I am honoured to join Ban Ki-moon in the global dialogue regarding energy transformations and climate change mitigation and look forward to participating in the secretary general's Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change," Mr al Jaber said.

"My nomination is recognition of Abu Dhabi's continued leadership in and commitment to future energy solutions." As the driving force behind the Masdar Initiative - the capital's multi-billion-dirham alternative energy project - Mr al Jaber is recognised as a key player in government strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change. He joins luminaries such as Ratan Tata, chairman of India's Tata Group; Shi Zhengrong, founder, chief executive and chairman of Suntech Power Holdings, China's massive solar energy firm; and the former Costa Rican president José Figueres.

The panel's chairman, Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the UN Industrial Development Organisation, said it was important to have an expert from the oil-rich Gulf among his advisory group. "Mr al Jaber's country, and some other hydrocarbon-rich countries, are investing heavily in renewable energies," Mr Yumkella said. "We believe it sends a powerful message that while you may be a major oil producer, if we want to save the planet you can still invest in renewables. They are not mutually exclusive."

Following the panel's first meeting at UN headquarters in Manhattan on Wednesday, members will assemble in August and September to discuss ways of making energy production cleaner and more efficient, particularly in developing countries. The group's strategy will contribute to a treaty on carbon emission targets that is being negotiated for world leaders to sign in Copenhagen in December. Another of the panelists, Lars Josefsson, chief executive of the Swedish power utility Vattenfall, said the group would strive to "increase the likelihood of a deal in Copenhagen and also then afterwards the execution of the deal".

Rich and poor nations remain in a deadlock on how to cut emissions. Nearly 200 nations will try to hammer out a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the first phase of which is due to expire at the end of 2012. Poor countries want the rich to commit to deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions because they have historically emitted most of the planet-warming gases. China and many other developing countries want the rich to cut by at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Offers made by rich countries so far work out to cuts of between 8 and 14 per cent below 1990. Delegates from 183 countries concluded two weeks of negotiations in Bonn this month after drafting elements of the new treaty.

As the protagonist behind the UAE's carbon-neutral and waste-free development, Masdar City, Mr al Jaber is orchestrating efforts to win support for Abu Dhabi's bid to host a global green energy agency. Later this month, members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) will vote on whether Abu Dhabi, Bonn, Vienna or Copenhagen will host the headquarters of the new multinational body. Masdar City, the world's first large-scale carbon-neutral development project, which is being built close to Abu Dhabi International Airport, will house the Irena offices if Abu Dhabi's bid is successful.

Earlier this week Dr Hermann Scheer, a member of the German parliament and a key figure in Irena's establishment, said the UAE and Germany were emerging as the strongest candidates to host the agency. The organisation's 98 member states will make a decision at the two-day summit, which starts on June 29 in Sharm el Sheikh. jreinl@thenational.ae