Climate Conference in Abu Dabhi
- Prince saves his energy in dramatic appearance at climate conference
John Vidal in Abu Dhabi
Tuesday January 22 2008
In the many years in which the Prince of Wales has attended official
functions he has never appeared quite like this. At the alternative
energy conference in Abu Dhabi he was not exactly there in the flesh.
There was no video link either.
Instead, delegates were treated to a full-size, walking, talking,
fiddling hologram of his royal highness, who made a brief speech then
vanished back into thin air.
His appearance was the talk of the 2,500 delegates at the World
Future energy summit, most of whom had flown thousands of miles to
discuss renewable energy and climate change and how to save emissions.
The very sight of Prince Charles caused many to gasp, and they were
also surprised by his reference to a common "creator" figure.
"Scientists are now saying that the problem of climate change is now
so grave and so urgent that we have less than 10 years to slow, stop
and reverse greenhouse gas emissions. Common actions are needed in
every country to protect the common inheritance that has been given
to us by our creator..." said the prince.
He welcomed an announcement by Abu Dhabi of an investment of $15bn
(£7.7bn) of new money immediately, and far more later, into
alternative energy projects including wind, solar, and carbon capture
technologies. The money will be channelled through the new Masdar
initiative, which expects to raise more than $200bn for renewables in
the next decade.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, said
the small emirate, which controls 10% of the world's oil reserves,
intended to become the world's leading funder and researcher of
renewable energy. "The evidence is now overwhelming that our
responsibility must be balanced by a duty to find new sources of
energy and protect the world..." said the prince. He said Abu Dhabi
would join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US to set
up an alternative energy university and would build the world's
largest solar power station.
The US secretary of energy, Samuel Bodman, said that more than $22
trillion of new investment was needed to meet extra global demand for
energy within 22 years. "We cannot depend on hydrocarbons [such as
oil and gas]. The world needs safe, reliable, clean affordable energy
in considerably greater numbers than it now has. We require massive
global investments..." he said. He acknowledged that the recent US
switch to home-grown biofuels, made mostly from maize, was leading to
the escalation of food prices around the world. "It is a matter of
concern, but it is not devastating..." he said.
Jonathon Porritt, the UK government's adviser on sustainable
development, admonished the UN and energy companies for insisting
that oil and gas could be part of the energy mix for a century.
"Renewables are the only solution. The International Energy Agency's
projections [that oil and gas can be used for a century] are biased
and inadequate. The challenge we face demands the complete
transformation of economies. People do not understand the scale and
speed of what is going to have to happen," he said.
Vivienne Cox, chief executive of BP alternative energy, said there
was a "growing momentum" for change. "Renewables are growing very
fast. Wind grew 30% last year, biofuel 20% and photovoltaics by 40%.
Now is the time to build a sustainable energy industry alongside
traditional oil and gas."
Graeme Sweeney, of Shell International, said conventional supplies of
energy could not keep up with rapidly increasing global demand for
oil and gas. He called on governments and companies to make
renewables cheap and to reduce energy demand urgently.
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008
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