ABU DHABI // The World Future Energy Summit closed yesterday with a ringing endorsement for a week during which Abu Dhabi, one of the world's biggest oil producers, established itself as a force at the forefront of the race to develop badly needed renewable energies.
Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland, speaking at the summit's closing ceremony yesterday afternoon, said: "As this remarkable summit comes at a close, we are indeed inspired by its success. "Climate change can indeed be avoided by the lessons of the World Future Energy Summit as a guiding beacon." The summit, he said, "has shown that we can all bring to the table valuable experience, technology, demonstrations of what can be done ... We will go forth away from this place inspired and full of determination to succeed because, as we all know, there is so much at stake".
More than 23,000 delegates from 130 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Middle East attended the event - a 25 per cent increase over last year's figures - and twice as many countries as last year hosted national pavilions. Among them were China, France, Spain, the UK, the US, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Mr Grimsson, who was addressing delegates at the plenary closing ceremony of the summit, said that renewable energy could be of particular importance to developing countries, helping them catch up with rich nations: "An abundance of clean energy gives a country a strategic advantage in the 21st century global economy."
Mr Grimsson went on to say that developing nations enjoy greater potential to tap solar, wind and geothermal power, compared with most industrialised countries. The closing session was also addressed by Prince Albert of Monaco, who spoke about the inequalities between rich and poor nations. A situation where "20 per cent of the world's population consumes 80 per cent of the world's resources" could not be allowed to continue, he said.
He called for "a new relationship with the world" and a "complete re-examination of how we produce and distribute power". "We have to do far more than merely tweak a few details of our lifestyles," he said. "We must be more reasonable, learn to consume less and be more efficient ... We must act swiftly despite the disappointing outcome of the negotiations in Copenhagen." Although the four-day summit ended yesterday, Future Energy Week concludes only today, with a meeting of the United Nations' Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change. The body, an initiative of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, includes 24 high-ranking representatives of international agencies, think-tanks and businesses. It is responsible for analysing information on the energy dimensions of international climate negotiations.
The group also has 24 members representing a variety of energy business interests, including Masdar, the Abu Dhabi clean-energy company. Ara Fernezian, the group exhibition director at Reed, the show organiser, said that the event "exceeded our original expectations by more than 15 per cent", and that "such record numbers of people involved is testament to Abu Dhabi's growing status as a hub for renewable energy".