The agreements made at COP21 in Paris and the actions now needed to implement them dominated the speeches on the opening day of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Carbon capture and storage came in for special mention at the conference, with Laurent Fabius (left), France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (and former Prime Minister) vocal on the potential it still holds in helping the world contain global warming.
Fabius said that “political and technological maturity” were the reasons for success in Paris, and went on to pick out one particular technology that he stressed must be brought into play: “The rapid deployment of carbon capture and storage will be necessary on a massive scale to hold global warming.”
He added that “the costs of clean technology will come down, but investment must go up”.
The gathering in the United Arab Emirates is the first high-level clean energy meeting since COP21 in December, and the deal struck in Paris between 188 countries was repeatedly praised.
“COP21 recreated global momentum in climate change that we had not seen for a decade,” said Adnan Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency.
“The determination from so many actors from so many countries was unprecedented. The political signal from Paris is transformational – it has given me tremendous cause for optimism. Paris is going to redefine the way we live our future.”
Christiana Figueres (right), executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that Paris was a “multi-decade agreement” and would mean “doing an honest report card every five years”.
“We are going to have to be transparent,” she said, “but that transparency gives us integrity”.
She said that the strength of the 188 climate change plans agreed in Paris was that each country’s commitment “is in their own national interest”.
Kyung-Ah Park, head of Goldman Sachs’ Environmental Markets Group, said that COP21 is “an incredible milestone” but warned that “capital does not move on political will”.
Instead she said what is needed is firm political action, and as an example, said that in the wake of COP21, US solar stocks rose by 5 per cent. However, when an extension for US tax credits was agreed, those same stocks “popped by 30 per cent”.
The UAE’s Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change Dr Sultan Al Jaber, sparked applause from the audience he said: “We have been saying for decades that: we can, we should, we will. Last month in Paris: we did.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that during COP21 “the sustainability agenda captured the attention of the world”.
He added that the Paris agreement had shown that “we can no longer burn our way to prosperity” and that “renewable energy will help provide the solutions to climate change and to poverty”.