China to sign up for green energy, Abu Dhabi summit hears

January 14, 2013 (Source: The National) — China, the world’s largest net producer of carbon emissions, is to join the International Renewable Energy Agency.

The announcement was made in the capital at the third annual assembly of the world’s green-energy body, attended by delegates from 133 countries, mostly Irena members and applicants.

Lin Qi, vice minister of the National Energy Administration of China, told the 579 delegates his country was preparing an application for membership.

China looks forward to becoming a full member of Irena soon,” Mr Lin said.

Irena has 104 member countries, plus the European Union. Another 55 countries have applied. Dr Adnan Amin, Irena’s secretary general, said China’s move was a “powerful signal” for the agency’s future.

“It is impressive what China is doing in terms of development of both wind and solar technologies. They have some state-of-the-art knowledge, which is very relevant for different parts of the world.

“They are a major player globally now in investment and this is a very powerful signal for the future of Irena towards becoming a universal framework which brings together all countries, especially those that have a big role to play.”

The agency has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi and holds its annual assembly sessions in the capital.

At yesterday’s opening, delegates, who include 75 ministers, were welcomed to the UAE by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE special envoy for energy and climate change and chief executive of the clean-energy company Masdar.

“Renewable energy is the most obvious choice for a lot of countries,” said Dr Al Jaber, who also used his welcome address to announce that the UAE has formally ratified the agreement to host Irena in Abu Dhabi.

The agreement was signed in June last year but it required ratification by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, to come into force.

“This means the traditional protections and immunities and privileges that international organisations – which require neutrality and protection of their intellectual and staff assets – need, all of those protections will be kicking in once the headquarters agreement enters into force, so Irena will become a full-fledged international institution,” Dr Amin said.

The world’s first open-access global atlas of renewable energy resources was also launched at yesterday’s session.

It is the largest initiative of its kind and seeks to bring together data and maps from leading technical institutes and private companies worldwide. It is designed to show the world’s renewable energy potential and help countries and companies with renewable energy investment decisions.

The atlas currently focuses on solar and wind potential. Dr Amin said Irena will work this year and next to expand it to cover biomass energy, hydro power and the potential for geothermal energy.

Yesterday, 24 countries including Belgium, Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia signed on to the initiative. They join 13 countries including the UAE, Qatar, France and Germany who are already part of the effort.

The Irena assembly coincides with the start of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, for which prominent clean-energy advocates and enterpreneurs and high-ranking government officials will gather in the capital.

It is expected to attract 30,000 people for the sixth World Future Energy Summit and the International Renewable Energy Conference. For the first time, water management will be a key part of the discussions in the form of the International Water Summit.

Hosted by the clean-energy company Masdar, the event opens tomorrow, when notable personalities such as Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Francois Hollande, the president of France, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the president of Argentina, are expected in Abu Dhabi.

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