Helen Clark: Speech at the Global Launch of the 2014 State of Energy Report for Dubai

Dec 10, 2013

Speech by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, at the Global Launch of the 2014 State of Energy Report for Dubai
New York

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we mark the global launch of the first State of Energy Report for Dubai, which has been developed in a partnership between Dubai stakeholders and UNDP.

At the outset, let me thank HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum for the leadership he has given to addressing climate change and prioritising sustainable energy. Committed leadership is critical for achieving progress in these areas.

In recent years, UNDP has been proud to be a partner in the establishment of the Dubai Carbon Center of Excellence; the development of solar projects for registration through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism; and support for the Dubai State of Energy Report.  The Report being launched today is the first in a planned annual series, aimed at monitoring key trends and documenting best practices on energy in the public and private sectors.

Without doubt, sustainable energy for all is an enabler of poverty reduction, economic growth, and overall human and sustainable development. Yet 1.2 billion people in our world remain without access to electricity, and more than twice as many rely on traditional biomass for cooking and/or heating.  At the global level, growth in clean energy supply is also critical for tackling climate change.    

The UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4A) initiative is helping to promote action around three ambitious goals for 2030: to ensure universal access to modern energy services; double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. Next month the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024) will be launched. There is also momentum behind including sustainable energy for all in the post-2015 global development agenda.

The challenge now is to move from global dialogue and goal setting on sustainable energy to action. UNDP itself intends to create a hub for decentralized, off-grid, and “bottom up” energy solutions, building on the more than twenty years experience it has in working to bring energy to the poorest and most marginalized.  

Action at the sub-national levels on sustainable energy is vital.  A 2011 UNDP study found that most investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change are determined there. That is the case for fifty to eighty per cent of mitigation investments and up to 100 per cent of adaptation  investments. Yet relatively few integrated and comprehensive strategies and policies for tackling climate change exist at that level.  More are needed as decisions around transportation systems, building codes, and energy supply for example, are often taken there.
The Report being launched today is the first sub-national report in the Arab States region to report on trends and opportunities in the path to a sustainable energy future. It reflects Dubai’s drive to emerge as a centre of innovation, investment, and technology for sustainable energy, in line with Dubai’s Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.  

The Report is a collection of articles, interviews, and success stories, based on contributions from over fifty leading thinkers on sustainable energy solutions from the public and private sectors and international organizations.  It highlights trends in energy governance, including notable initiatives by the Dubai Municipality, and documents successful initiatives from low-carbon strategies to financing models, ways of reducing energy intensity through efficiency measures, and design of green buildings and transport systems.  

Dubai has set targets for renewable energy to make up five per cent of its energy mix, and to reduce energy intensity and demand by thirty per cent by 2030. This latter goal would be achieved by retrofitting 30,000 existing buildings; applying green building codes to all new construction (achieving about forty per cent energy savings); and employing a range of new energy-saving technologies, including a smart grid with time-use tariffs and line-loss reduction.

More broadly, the United Arab Emirates has a high level of political commitment to leading on sustainable energy, and to supporting other developing countries – particularly those with similar climates - on this.  

Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, which I had the pleasure to visit last month, is piloting renewable energy and clean technology solutions, and attracting technical talent, investment, and entrepreneurship in the renewable energy and clean technologies sectors. It is forecast to host 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters by its completion date of 2025, and will host clean technology companies and research institutes.

In Mauritania, Masdar Clean Energy is helping fund the construction of the country’s first large-scale solar-power installation. The project will increase electricity generation capacity in the country by ten per cent, and the plant, being built adjacent to the university in Nouakchott, will also serve as a learning laboratory for solar energy development. Similar ventures with UAE support are underway in Afghanistan and Tonga, and in the Seychelles where wind energy is being harnessed.

UAE hosts the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi – an important platform for international co-operation, research, innovation, and policy development.

The Report also points to the importance of integrating sustainability principles into the design of mega events, like the Olympic Games. In this regard, I congratulate the UAE on its successful bid to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, and its goal to make this a carbon neutral event.

I am also pleased to announce today that UNDP will support Dubai in its hosting of a new World Green Economy Summit in 2014. This Summit will bring together leaders in dialogue on how to advance sustainable development.

In closing, I would like to recognize the launch of the UAE’s National Green Economy Strategy in 2012 by Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. I understand that it is the first such national strategy in the Arab States region.  I commend the role which UAE is playing at the global level to promote sustainable development, not least as part of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and through its representative on the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, H.E. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chief Executive Officer of Masdar.

The 2014 Dubai State of Energy Report contributes to a growing body of knowledge on climate change and sustainable energy. UNDP is proud to have been a partner in the preparation of this important publication.

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