Al Gore confident UAE and world can overcome climate change

The Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US vice president UAE, who was in the UAE for the Global Assent summit, said clean energy technology is advancing at an incredible rate
One of the world’s most vocal campaigners on climate change says the growth of solar power is an unstoppable revolution.

Al Gore, the former US vice president, compared it to the explosion in mobile technology and said the quality of solar technology has risen, while prices have fallen.

“I feel certain that we are going to be successful in this effort, the only question is how much more time it will take,” said Mr Gore, on whether humanity can reduce levels of greenhouse gases so that dangerous changes to the world’s climate are avoided.

After his tenure as US vice president under Bill Clinton, Mr Gore launched a failed presidential bid of his own.

He made the Oscar-winning documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006. A year later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Last week, he was in the capital for the opening of the Abu Dhabi Ascent Summit, where he delivered an upbeat message about the future of the planet and made a powerful case for the role of renewable energy, and especially solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions, to help to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

A day later, during an interview with The National, he further elaborated on why it was more than justifiable to feel hope. “I am optimistic and one reason I am optimistic is that the dramatic improvements in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of low-carbon alternatives has made the pathway to a low-carbon economy much easier to see and much easier to travel.”.

In nearly 80 countries, electricity from solar PV is equal in price with grid energy, he said. The growth of the industry seems to follow a logic witnessed earlier in the development of computer technologies and mobile phones.

Projections made 12 years ago, showed the world would be adding one gigawatt per year of solar PV by 2010, he said. “Last year, we exceeded that projection by 39 times. This year, we will exceed that projection by 54 times.”

As with early predictions of mobile-phone technologies, analysts had underestimated the speed with which prices fell and quality increased, he said.

“This is an unstoppable revolution, new business models are appearing, new finance arrangements are appearing,” he said.

“We are seeing the cost continuing to come down by an average of 15 per cent every single year.”

He said the climate crisis could be averted if governments put a price on carbon pollution. Another important milestone will be a consensus over a global treaty with countries pledging to reduce carbon pollution, which should be finalised by December next year, when a high-level meeting in Paris is set to take place.

The Abu Dhabi Ascent was organised in preparation for a high-level summit on climate, to be held in New York in September, under the aegis of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. Yesterday, Mr Ban explained to journalists in Abu Dhabi that the initiative ultimately aims to mobilise political support to ensure agreement was reached by the time governments gathered in Paris. He said a lot had already been achieved in Abu Dhabi.

“The momentum achieved here towards a successful special session in New York at the September 23 meeting is palpable,” he said.

“There have been advances in understanding and towards agreement in each of the working-policy groups and I think that the mood and spirit have been extremely positive, and that has not always been the case in climate meetings where so many countries are involved,” he said. “Indeed it has rarely been the case, but it has been the case here in Abu Dhabi.”

Another success of the event was the presence of “delegations from nations that in the past have been far less amenable to moving toward a set of agreements”, he said.

vtodorova@thenational.ae

Published: May 10, 2014 04:00 AM

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