LONDON: The UAE announced the launch of a major new initiative — the Global Sustainable Cities Network (GSCN) — at the third annual Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) on Thursday in London. This builds on the UAE’s already active role in international clean energy co-operation through several initiatives in efficiency and low-carbon energy supply.
The GSCN will provide a platform for pioneering sustainable city initiatives throughout the world, enabling knowledge sharing of city development best practices. It will publish a set of recommendations for driving the commercialisation, scalability and cost reduction, beginning with focus areas such as waste-to-energy and demand-side management within cities. The Network will also provide a platform to encourage collaboration between cities and drive public-private partnerships.
Founding members of the Ministerial’s latest initiative, in addition to the UAE, include China, Sweden and Denmark, who have worked closely in preparing for the launch and the initiative’s work plan. The Network is open to participation by additional CEM countries.
Masdar City, the UAE’s emerging clean-tech cluster and test-bed for renewable energy and sustainable technologies, will act as Secretariat to the Network.
“The Global Sustainable Cities Network is a platform that will foster collaboration among pioneering urban sustainability programmes applying clean energy technology in cities. For a nation such as ours facing exponential growth and resource demand, this network can be a critical tool for our rapidly evolving cities,” UAE Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, and Chief Executive of Masdar Dr Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber said.
The CEM is the only annual meeting of ministers from the world’s leading economies that addresses policies and programmes that promote the advancement of clean energy technology. The UAE has been a key driver of the CEM process through Masdar and the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which hosted the second ministerial in Abu Dhabi last year and the organising session for the inaugural ministerial with US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.
“The UAE believes that the future energy landscape will depend significantly on energy that is sustainable, affordable and secure. Our country has been at the forefront of oil and gas production for decades, and we’re now using that energy expertise as a foundation for international collaboration in the clean technology sector,” Al-Jaber said.
“Encouraging clean energy adoption will hinge on our ability to work collectively in sharing knowledge and delivering tangible projects similar to the London Array offshore wind farm being developed by Masdar and its partners in the UK,” he added.
At the Ministerial, the UAE also presented its Atlas Project, which will assess and map renewable energy resources, part of the global atlas led by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), headquartered in Abu Dhabi. During a special ceremony, ministers from participating countries, including Germany, India, South Africa and United States, joined the UAE in pledging their support for Irena’s Atlas project.
Through Masdar, the UAE is investing heavily in large-scale renewable energy projects and clean technology, both within the Emirates and across the globe in markets such as the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and China. The UAE has also encouraged clean energy in developing countries through smaller scale aid projects in Afghanistan, Tonga and Seychelles, and has committed $350 million over seven years for such projects.
Dr Al Jaber also participated in the High Level Panel of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. This was launched by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to promote universal energy access, doubling both energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption.
It is expected to make major announcements at the UN Earth Summit in Rio this June. The UAE will have a major presence in Rio, where negotiations will involve the clean energy economy and sustainable development, both key points as the UAE continues its exponential growth.
“As populations like ours expand and the risks of climate change continue to grow, creating a sustainable future for all will depends on empowering ourselves to use resources efficiently and responsibly,” said Al Jaber, stressing the point that the UAE was investing in measurable goals to achieve clean energy related objectives with real-world impact.