Thousands of exhibitors from around the globe marked the opening day of this year's World Future Energy Summit in the UAE capital yesterday - and it started with a bang.
Renowned US economist and sustainable development expert Jeffrey Sachs delivered a strongly worded address warning that the world is sleepwalking towards an irreversible and dangerous rise in global temperatures.
Taking to the stage at the event, he began a blistering criticism of the global response to climate change with a simple: "Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are in trouble."
The world remains on a "very dangerous" trajectory, Sachs told delegates, as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise despite efforts to reduce them. "I do think we are seeing - if we care to open our eyes - a rather alarming reality about climate change," he said. It is no longer a problem of the future, but one of the present, said the New Yorker, pointing to superstorm Sandy's effects on his hometown last year - and other recent weather woes.
"In every part of the world, in every year, there are a number of calamities that vastly outnumber anything that we experienced even 20 years ago," said the Columbia University expert. With carbon dioxide emissions climbing at about four per cent a year, the world needs an entirely different energy system within 25 years, he said. Sachs warned: "We need plans to do that we don't have right now. We don't have scenarios, we don't have trajectories - and we don't have public policies in place to do that."
World leaders delivered a wake-up call on the dangers of not developing cleaner energy sources on the opening day of the World Future Energy Summit. On a day his nation inked a deal with Masdar that will see French companies work closely with the UAE renewable energy company, President Francois Hollande said the world would face "catastrophe" if countries didn't collaborate on a renewable future. "We have to have confidence to invest in the new energy. We can act together to create this world of renewable energy," he told delegates.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, HH Lieutenant General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said the UAE would continue to do its part to "ensure energy, water and food security". Meanwhile Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, appeared to show the frustration smaller developing countries feel with the path chosen by the world's biggest carbon emitters when she said "some countries have more responsibility than others" for the climate challenges facing the globe. And Dr Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Abu Dhabi's Masdar City, said that the nations of the world now find themselves "confronted with a shared responsibility".
Of the French deal, Al Jaber said the two countries were both "equally committed to making a concerted effort to address energy security and sustainability" and making "bold investments in large-scale renewable energy projects and developing carbon reduction strategies". The high-profile summit continues for the next two days in the UAE capital, with experts from across the globe continuing to share news of the latest advances in clean energy.
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