TBY talks to Lord Marland of Odstock, Chairman of UK Trade & Investment’s Business Ambassadors’ Group & Minister of the Department of Energy & Climate Change of the UK, on the green technology bond, and promoting international dialogue on climate change.
TBY What makes green spending such a pressing activity for the UK?
LORD MARLAND The transition to a low carbon world will not be possible unless developing countries are supported in their domestic efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change and develop their own low carbon economies. Accelerating the development and deployment of low carbon technology in developing countries is key to achieving this, and this is why technology has been a critical element of international negotiations on climate change under the UNFCCC.
In what ways is the UAE leading the way for the rest of the Arab world?
The UAE has been taking an active role in addressing the impacts of climate change and investing in renewable energy. Beyond hosting the ground-breaking Masdar City, and its university, carbon centre, and low carbon technology hub, the UAE is the host country of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA was created to promote the widespread and increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms or renewable energy. Being the host to this first truly global organization devoted solely to renewable energy technologies is a good sign of commitment and leadership of the UAE both in the Arab region and internationally. International discussion is nothing without domestic action. Abu Dhabi has created Masdar City, which is working on the 100 MW Nour and 100 MW Shams solar PV and CSP installations. It has also created a new obligatory sustainable construction index called Estidama. In Dubai, the focus has been on energy efficiency, with new targets on commercial and residential energy efficiency introduced, and the overall energy pricing structure reformed. The UAE hosted the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) for the fifth time this year. WFES is an annual event that draws major players of the renewable energy world to Abu Dhabi, from both the private and public sectors. During this year’s WFES, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially unveiled his Sustainability for All initiative, which seeks to lay the groundwork to elevate 3 billion people out of energy poverty in a sustainable manner. The UAE also hosted the Clean Energy Ministerial in 2011, which is regarded as a key forum with the potential to monitor and drive action on the development and deployment of low carbon energy, and “Eye on Earth,” a new symposium dedicated to sharing the best available information on climate change and natural phenomena.
How does the UK work with the UAE government to promote dialogue on international climate change negotiations?
We hold regular bilateral meetings with UAE government officials at all levels during the UNFCCC international climate change negotiations, both to discuss our mutual positions and ensure we are working together toward a positive outcome. For example, we are both actively involved in the negotiations on technology aimed at putting in place an international technology mechanism to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.
What’s next for the climate change agenda?
The ultimate aim for the UNFCCC negotiations is building the international climate change regime required to limit global average temperature rises to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The most cost-effective way of delivering the 2°C goal is to work toward a single, legally binding instrument, applicable to all. There is currently no plausible alternative. The UK is not letting up in its efforts to get a global legally binding agreement. The UNFCCC process moves a step at a time, but the substantial progress made at Durban conference showed what can be achieved. The outcome we want to see at Doha is one that delivers on each element of the Durban agreements. We need to adopt a second commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to begin on January 1, 2013, as part of a transition to a wider single, comprehensive, and global legally binding climate regime. We also need to further advance our work toward the adoption of a new legally binding agreement under the Convention by 2015 at the latest that is applicable to all. We need to take forward the work plan we launched in Durban to enhance the pre-2020 mitigation ambition. We also agreed some specific tasks for this year under the negotiating track on Long-Term Cooperative Action, which we agreed will close in Doha.
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