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World Future Energy Summit 2011 Opens

17 January 2011: The fourth World Future Energy Summit (WFES) 2011 opened in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), on 17 January 2011. The first day of this four-day event was organized around the theme “Policy and Strategy Forum,” and comprised opening statements from HE Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO Masdar, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Heads of State and other dignitaries, followed by special addresses and ministerial panels.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a clean energy revolution that contributes to reducing poverty, mitigating climate change, empowering women, strengthening economic growth and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and global security. He encouraged public and private spending for intellectual capital, suggesting that investment in green economies can provide an opportunity for growth and prosperity in developed and developing countries.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, said the Zayed Future Energy Prize has the potential to do for clean energy what “Alfred Nobel did for science and peace.” Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan, said innovation and conservation will “reshape the energy map,” highlighting the role of solar, wind and water. José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, Prime Minister, Portugal, called the Summit “one of the most relevant forums” in the world, adding that energy policies are key to addressing climate change and ensuring economic growth. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Bangladesh, said that, despite its negligible contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Bangladesh is striving for a mixed balance of all energy sources and to be ultimately GHG-free. Nikoloz Gilauri, Prime Minister, Georgia, welcomed growing global consensus that energy security is deeply linked to diversifying energy sources.

Crown Princess Victoria, Sweden, said innovation in products, services and human capital will be necessary to meet long-term challenges but added that adopting appropriate lifestyles is also an important way to “cope” with finite resources. Prince Guillaume, Luxembourg, highlighted the right to energy access and the role energy policy can play in lifting people out of poverty.

Adnan Amin, Interim Director General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), called on governments to: create enabling conditions for renewable energy investment; stop subsidizing fossil fuels; and ensure that markets fully reflect environmental costs of different energy sources. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said Cancun opened the door to the era of low-carbon growth, but its goals can only be achieved through rapid scaling-up of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. She stressed that appropriate national policies must be created to operate in tandem with the international agreement. Nobuo Tanaka, Director, International Energy Agency (IEA), said, politically speaking, climate change mitigation means doing something for someone else, while energy security means doing something for yourself, and suggested framing the mitigation discourse in terms of energy security. He emphasized the need for energy efficiency, decarbonizing the power sector through renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage, and decarbonizing transportation.

The WFES programme also includes roundtable discussions, an exhibition hall and numerous other side events and activities. [IISD RS coverage of WEFS 2011] [WEFS 2011 Website]