Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond speaks about investing in a ‘clean energy future’, in Masdar City, United Arab Emirates. In his speech he said: “I believe the time to invest in that future is now.” and praised the UAE’s: “vision and leadership which has enabled such a prosperous state to thrive in this desert in such a short time.” He stated that the “The UK shares [their] vision.”
Thank you to Minister al Jaber for his kind welcome.
It is wonderful to stand here in Masdar City, this facility that embodies a vision of the energy supply of the future. In particular I am very pleased that Masdar is investing in clean technology in the United Kingdom.
Last year, you acquired a 35% stake in Dudgeon’s offshore windfarm, and you have also purchased a 20% stake in the London Array offshore wind project, which is the world’s largest offshore windfarm. Together, these equate to an investment of around 1 billion pounds, making the UAE one of the largest investors in the UK’s wind energy sector.
It is investments like these that are catalysing remarkable progress in renewable energy technology around the world. This progress is evident from the dramatic fall in costs we have seen over recent years: the price of solar panels has fallen by 80% since 2008, and the price of wind turbines has fallen by more than a quarter since 2009. This is increasingly allowing these energy sources to compete on cost with fossil fuelled power generation, without need for subsidy.
I want to describe what I believe this means for our two countries, for this region, and for the world.
UAE and UK: Vision and Partnership
I praise the vision that your leaders have shown. It is this vision and leadership which has enabled such a prosperous state to thrive in this desert in such a short time.
Although you have achieved great prosperity, you have not stopped looking to the future. You have the world’s seventh largest reserves of oil and gas, and we all know these will continue to be important for decades to come. Even so, you are already planning for a future beyond oil.
Your country is investing in some of the world’s largest solar power plants, and is at the forefront of innovation in technologies such as high-efficiency solar-powered desalination.
Not only that, but as the hosts of the International Renewable Energy Agency, you are promoting best practice in the policy, technology and financing of renewable energy around the world.
The UK shares your vision. At the same time as investing in research into low carbon technologies, we have carried out far-reaching reform of our electricity market, paving the way for up to £50bn to be invested in renewable energy over the period from 2014 to 2020. We are on track to bring the share of our electricity coming from renewable sources up to 30% by 2020, from the nearly 20% it stands at now. Seven years ago we became the first country to pass legislation setting out a clear path to decarbonising our economy.
Since then, more than sixty countries have followed with climate legislation of their own.
We share your vision that the decarbonisation of the world economy is a great opportunity for innovation, jobs and growth. In the UK, firms related to low carbon goods and services employed over 460,000 people and contributed 45 billion pounds to the UK economy in 2013. This is an increase of almost 30% in 3 years.
Partnership between our two countries is already playing a role in this success. I already mentioned the UAE’s investment in renewable energy in the UK. Similarly, Shell and BP, having invested in the UAE’s oil and gas industry for decades, are now contributing their expertise to new ventures in renewable energy and clean technology.
The Wider Region: Follow UAE’s Lead
Here in the Middle East, it is solar energy that stands out for its vast potential. Some experts have estimated that the Middle East and North Africa region holds more solar energy potential than the entire world’s electricity demand. The abundance of this energy resource holds the promise not only of meeting domestic energy needs, or even exporting electricity beyond the region – but also of spurring the development of world-leading technology that will be in ever greater demand.
The countries of this region have great wealth, as a result of your traditional energy resources. If, like the UAE, you choose to invest it in renewable energy, then you will be investing in your futures. In a clean future, and as part of a fast growing global market.
The Global Transition: An Investment in the Economy of the Future
Globally, we are already seeing dramatic changes. Global investment in renewable energy grew by 17% to reach 270 billion dollars in 2014. In 2013, additions of renewable energy generating capacity exceeded that of fossil-fuelled power for the first time ever.
The global market in green bonds, which barely existed a decade ago, is now growing exponentially – from around 2 billion dollars in 2011, to some 66 billion dollars by June 2015.
The global low carbon economy is already valued at around 6 trillion dollars and is growing at between 4 and 5% per year.
These trends can only continue to grow, as ever more countries commit to reducing their emissions, and as far-sighted leaders begin to plan for the complete decarbonisation of their economies over the course of the century. An investment in clean energy is an investment in the economy of the future, and those who move quickly will have the advantage.
A Global Deal: Seize the Moment
I believe the time to invest in that future is now.
As we all know, this is not an investment decision like any other. An investment in clean energy is an investment in a safe climate.
If we take the wrong decisions, we will leave for future generations not only depleted resources, but a more dangerous world. While the UK would suffer from more extreme rainfall, storms and flooding, this region would be at risk from ever more extreme heat, water scarcity and drought. All our countries would face risks to our coastal cities, our food security, our public health – and even our national security. Climate change knows no borders, and will respect no sovereignty.
It is because of these stakes, that we must make not only economic commitments, but also political commitments.
In December, the world will gather in Paris for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Rightly, because climate change is a global challenge, our political response to it is also global.
A strong and effective global deal will give all countries confidence in the direction of travel. It will level the playing field, catalyse investment, and spur innovation.
The signs are that such an agreement is within our reach. More than 150 countries have made commitments to reduce their emissions over time. Not only developed countries, but also large emerging economies are taking real steps towards a safe, sustainable and prosperous energy future.
I warmly welcome the UAE’s/your own country’s commitment, announced last week. Your target to achieve a quarter of your energy from clean energy sources within six years is a bold one.
I urge the countries of this region to follow this example, to support a strong agreement – with ambitious national commitments, and with leadership in the negotiations. Support us in securing a deal where all countries can contribute to tackling climate change, and where all can benefit from the coming boom in renewable energy and clean technology.
Just over a month before the Paris Summit, all countries have a choice.
They can do very little, fail to support a deal at Paris, and hope that climate change won’t affect them.
Or they can take a lead from the UAE and institutions like Masdar, and invest their wealth in renewable energy and clean technology.
They can prepare for a future where they have taken advantage of the booming market in green technology. Where companies invest in this region. Where almost half of the world’s renewable energy may be generated.
And they can prepare for a future in which the world has come together to successfully tackle the threat of climate change.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.
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