18 January, 2010

World Future Energy Summit


His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed

bin Zayed Al Nahyan,

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces:

Your Royal Highnesses:

Your Excellencies:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

A very good morning to all,

1. First and foremost I would like to convey my heartfelt gratitude to our host, the Government of Abu Dhabi and to the patron of the summit His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for inviting me to share my thoughts on an issue that has far reaching consequences for nations and indeed for humanity itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2. Mahatma Gandhi said it all when he pointed out that the “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”. In Copenhagen, the international community failed to seize the opportunity and to rise to the occasion. We have time and time again chosen to take the path of expediency rather than boldly taking the bull by the horns and do what is needed and necessary to address the threat of climate change. The international community must and can do better to ensure a healthy planet earth.

3. One of the biggest policy issues that require our collective effort and wisdom is the unsustainability of the current global energy consumption. The World Energy Outlook 2009 points out that:

“Continuing on today’s energy path, without any change in government policy, would mean rapidly increasing dependence on fossil fuels, with alarming consequences for climate change and energy security”.

4. The growing world population and the quest for a better standard of living will put energy and fossil fuel demand on an upward trajectory a trend which was temporarily dampened by the global financial crisis. It is projected that if current laws and policies remain unchanged, world energy consumption will increase by 44 percent in the period from 2006 to 2030 with the strongest growth coming from non-OECD countries.[1]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

5. Addressing the voracious global appetite for energy seems daunting. Nevertheless it is a responsibility that we can neither shirk nor abdicate. It is the challenge of our times that requires a concerted effort in harnessing the global reservoir of scientific and intellectual capital. This summit could not have been better timed, allowing us to take stock of the critical task before us. Hopefully, we will all leave Abu Dhabi energised, with renewed hope and vigour.

6. As you are all aware, the cheapest kilowatt-hour of electricity or litre of petrol is the one we do NOT use. Thus, Energy Efficiency (EE) is clearly the lowest hanging fruit. We must instil a new sense of urgency to make Energy Efficiency a culture and a way of life. More initiatives are needed to effect appropriate actions from public and private sector entities. A simple initiative of say moving away from incandescent lights to energy efficient lighting could be a starter. The European Commission projects that a ban on energy-inefficient bulbs will save about 40 terawatt hours of energy and prevent 25 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.

7. Next, the pursuit for Renewable Energy (RE), In Malaysia, fossil fuels feature predominantly in our energy mix and we aim to raise Renewable Energy to about 2,000 MW by 2020 compared to the current 50 MW. Specific incentives are needed to promote Renewable Energy. We have a number of incentives and among them is the Small Renewable Energy Program (SREP) which provides for a higher purchasing price for electricity generated under this initiative by the grid operator. Currently we are in the process of instituting a Renewable Energy law and one of the mechanisms we are looking into is Feed-In Tariffs, to promote the usage of this type of energy.

8. Nature has given us more than enough. It is said that the amount of solar energy hitting earth is about double the Earth’s non-renewable resources. We have more than enough sunlight in Malaysia and increased use of solar power will be promoted aggressively. We have launched the Suria 1000 Program, which provides incentives for solar power use.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

9. Whilst energy prices and emissions are on the rise, there is a dire need for us, especially developing economies, to make our energy industries more efficient. A study has been commissioned to restructure and realign the Malaysian electricity sector. The findings will help lay the foundation for a more efficient industry through market mechanisms and liberalization.

10. Like Malaysia, I am sure that all countries have implemented moves to promote Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Nevertheless the breadth and depth of the initiatives taken should now be increased exponentially reflecting the urgency of the challenge confronting us. We have to adopt green technologies, to not only enhance efficiency and effectiveness of energy use, but also to effectively mitigate carbon emissions. For developing economies this is an area where developed nations of the world can lend a much needed help.

11. Malaysia established the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water early last year with the task of spearheading Malaysia’s transformation into a green nation. We will be looking at four main sectors to implement green technologies, i.e., Energy, Transport, Buildings and Water.

12. In the transportation sector we will endeavour to reduce the carbon footprint by enhancing public transportation. We are upgrading our intercity electric rail links to increase the current capacity to move people in a more carbon efficient manner. The government is also seriously looking into expanding the usage of bio fuels with a pilot project well underway.

13. We have been promoting energy efficient buildings for some time now. The introduction of the Green Building Index will hopefully see more buildings going green in Malaysia soon.

14. Water management is another area where green technology can be extensively applied. Although we have abundant rain in Malaysia, we are not taking this for granted including the harvesting of rainwater.

In order to benefit from a green economy while reducing our carbon footprint the government has launched both the National Biotechnology Policy and the National Biofuel Policy in 2005. These policies seek to leverage on the natural strengths of Malaysia, a nation where at least 50% of land area remains forested. Currently our natural forests and agriculture crop plantations combined cover 75% of the country’s land area.

15. Our embracing of green technology is not only to conserve and preserve our resources, but it is also envisaged to act as a new economic impetus for Malaysia.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our planet can no longer withstand man’s unsustainable consumption and wastage. We do not own this earth we merely hold it in trust for our posterity. It is our moral responsibility to bequeath to our children a more pristine and healthy planet. The challenge is to act now before it is a case of “too little, too late”.

Thank you.

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