Opening of “Denmark and Masdar Global Partners for Sustainability” - 20 January 2014
Your Highness, Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Your Highness, it is wonderful to be back in Abu Dhabi. When I participated in the World Future Energy Summit four years ago, I was truly impressed with the sheer ambition and professionalism of the event. And I was struck by the fact that an impressive array of speakers, participants and attendees made this summit a genuinely global conference.
Furthermore, it was a brief respite from the rather dark and challenging January climate of Northern Europe. In that respect it is also a pleasure to be back in beautiful Abu Dhabi.
Your Highness, this year I have a very special additional reason to attend The World Future Energy Summit: In a few minutes Denmark and Masdar will sign a Strategic Framework Agreement, the first of its kind. To honour that occasion we have organized the event titled: Denmark and Masdar – Global Partners for Sustainability.
It is in many ways surprising that the UAE - one of the major exporters of fossil energy - has enthusiastically embraced renewables and clean energy.
It would have been much easier just to reap the huge economic benefits of its massive carbohydrate riches. Instead you squarely confronted some crucial facts about your energy future.
First: Even the abundant oil and gas resources of the UAE will eventually run dry.
Second: The country consequently needs to diversify its economy, sooner, rather than later.
Third: A diversified society and economy will provide richer and more varied opportunities for the many well-educated young Emirati men and women who enter the labor force every year.
And finally: In the long run we must embrace renewables to meet the growing energy needs of the world.
In this respect the UAE has adopted an admirable approach: You have formulated a vision, stuck to it, and acted:
Masdar has grown significantly since I was here in 2010. And,
A year ago SHAMS I, one of the largest Concentrated Solar Power Plants in the world was inaugurated in the Abu Dhabi desert.
Denmark, in all modesty, also brings something to our new partnership.
In one generation we have carried out a profound and complete energy revolution.
In less than 40 years, we created perhaps the leading sustainable and clean energy society in the world. Traditionally we were deeply dependent on fossil fuels, but visionary and ambitious energy policies enabled us to embrace a promising green future.
A longstanding world leader in sustainable and clean energy, Denmark has created an innovative green growth economy. Our aim: Renewable energy must meet more than 30 % of our total energy demand by 2020 and 100 % by 2050.
Our plans are the most ambitious in the world. And we are on schedule.
Denmark also focuses on energy conservation: Since 1980, the size of the Danish economy has roughly doubled. Yet energy consumption has remained constant. CO2 emissions have declined.
Innovative technologies and policies have driven this dramatic transition. Energy saved is just as good as energy produced sustainably. Probably even better.
Sustainable and clean energy is also good business. Denmark’s private sector is among the primary global providers of advanced sustainable energy and clean tech. It has actively promoted and supported our vision of an open, competitive and dynamic society committed to sustainability. And it has proved that sustainability is economically advantageous: Green technology products now constitute nearly 11 % of Denmark’s total exports - a share constantly growing.
It is no coincidence that the third company to win the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Price was Vestas, a Danish company who has made a unique contribution to the development and promotion of Wind energy. I find it gratifying that in a few minutes Vestas will sign a crucially important framework agreement with Masdar.
Your Highness, your father, Sheikh Zayed, who was also the founding father of the UAE once said:
"On land and in the sea, our fore-fathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so because they recognized the need to conserve it, to take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.”
We all share Sheik Zayed’s vision. It has clearly also inspired the next generation of leaders in the United Arab Emirates.