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Transcript: Foreign Secretary’s Clean Energy Future speech

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Thank you.

 

Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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Energy

What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?

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Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sdecoret

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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