By Dr. Sultan Al Jaber | Jan 17, 2023
ABU DHABI – “Over the next seven years, we will need to more than triple renewable energy capacity worldwide,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber delivering the opening speech at the most recent General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is headquartered at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Al Jaber, who is the President for the upcoming COP28 climate change conference in the UAE, as well as the UAE Special Envoy For Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, delivered the keynote on behalf of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
In his speech, he reaffirmed both IRENA’s crucial role in driving forward the global energy transmission, as well as the UAE’s pledged support for the Agency and its worldwide efforts. The 13th General Assembly was held under the Presidency of India, and was chaired by the Indian Cabinet Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy, HE Raj Kumar Singh.
Dr. Al Jaber opened his speech by welcoming all the assembled delegates and congratulating the Director-General of IRENA, Francesco La Camera, and the entire Agency staff for promoting the adoption of renewable energy and clean technologies across the globe.
“No sector offers as much potential as renewable energy, and never has IRENA’s mission been more important than in the crucial years ahead of us,” he stressed. “Since its foundation, IRENA has paved the way for the extraordinary growth in renewable energy capacity that we have seen worldwide. IRENA has been at the forefront of this growth, guiding supportive policies and encouraging new technologies that have led to lower costs.”
Dr. Al Jaber then expressed the UAE’s full support for IRENA’s mission, particularly considering the former’s role as the host of the upcoming COP28 conference. Many sessions at the IRENA Assembly also focused on the importance of identifying global economic transition priorities in preparation for the Global Stocktake (GST) of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was signed by most of the world’s countries in 2015. The GST aims to evaluate the world’s progress against the Paris Agreement’s objectives.
“COP28 will be a milestone moment as the world conducts the first Global Stocktake to assess progress against the goals of the Paris Agreement. But we don’t need to wait until the Global Stocktake to know just how much work there is ahead of us as we seek to close the gap between ambition and reality,” Dr. Al Jaber emphasised.
“We must avoid an environmental catastrophe, considering that renewable energy is the guarantee of energy security,” said HE Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a televised speech that was broadcast during the Assembly’s opening session, echoing sentiments expressed by Dr. Al Jaber and other delegates.
Continuing his speech, Dr. Al Jaber pointed out that the world has already made significant progress, but more needs to be done. “Last year, renewables accounted for 81 percent of all new energy capacity installed, and the sector is now on course to expand more in the next five years than over the last 20 years combined,” he said. “With wind and solar now the most affordable new energy sources, the economic case has already been proven, and that is in no small part thanks to the tireless work and efforts of everyone at this very important organization, IRENA.”
He added: “[IRENA’s] most critical phase now lies ahead – that is, accelerating project implementation in a very short period of time. Over the next seven years, we will need to more than triple renewable energy capacity worldwide. The world must move much, much faster than ever before, and IRENA has a critical role to play in leading that global acceleration across all sectors, regions, and all communities.”
The UAE Climate Envoy emphasized the country’s commitment to supporting IRENA as it continues to evolve, adapt and innovate to match up to the scale and speed of the energy transition the world requires. “The UAE will continue to support IRENA as you continue to challenge yourselves,” he said.
He also went on to elaborate how the UAE has already seen many of the advantages of embracing renewables as part of its energy mix over the past few years, and highlighted several notable milestones. “Eighteen years ago, we launched a plan to explore renewable energy’s potential, and the benefits soon became clear and very evident. We have built the world’s largest and lowest-cost solar plants that are fundamental to our Net Zero development pathway. We have also invested $50 billion in renewable energy on six continents around the world. Through these investments, we have seen that you can be pro-climate and pro-growth. Throughout this journey, IRENA has been a supportive guide and continues to show the way,” he said.
He also remarked how the UAE aims to leverage its partnership with IRENA and secure the Agency’s support to work on a clear plan to combat international climate change at COP28. “Working hand in hand with IRENA, the UAE will champion innovation and ambition to transition global energy systems,” he said. “We will propose transformative solutions that are based on science and fact, backed by policy and endorsed by business and industry. In short, we will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of inclusive climate progress.”
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