07 JUL 2023
Clean energy is “the road to progress” and COP28 President-Designate has an “extraordinary track record”, says Iceland’s former president on ADSW Talks
Iceland stands as a “model of sustainable energy” because 100 percent of its electricity comes from clean sources, the country’s former President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, told ADSW Talks.
Mr Grímsson, who also described his hopes for COP28, said things hadn’t always been this way.
“Over 80 percent of our energy came from imported oil and coal,” he said. “We are now number one in the world in terms of clean energy transformation, we can offer constant energy prices 10, 20 years into the future.”
He said the core lesson from Iceland is that “a comprehensive clean energy transformation is good business, it’s the foundation of our prosperity, it’s the foundation of our economic success, it’s the foundation of our entrepreneurship.”
Mr Grímsson added, “sustainability is the road to progress through prosperity, to good health to good education, to food. We can create a good life for everybody and save the future of the planet.”
Speaking about the task ahead for HE Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Chairman of Masdar and COP28 President-Designate, he said “Even if he is the CEO of an oil company, people should not forget that he is one of a very small group of leaders in the clean energy transformation with an extraordinary track record… and what’s extraordinary about Dr Sultan’s appointment is that he is willing to let himself come forward and let the world test his leadership, that takes courage…” and a “strong vision.”
Commenting on the effects of climate change in the Arctic, he said, “The climate challenge is fundamentally all about ice, the reason why we have these extreme weather patterns all over the world and rising sea levels is that the glaciers on the ice are melting… It’s the interaction between the ice and the rest of the world, the reason why the monsoon system is now in disarray.”
He sees the role of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week as pivotal in bringing all parties to the table. He added that ADSW had developed into “the biggest annual gathering of the sustainability leadership in the entire world.” It’s success, he said, is tied to its inclusive approach through, “the political leadership, the environmentalists and the scientists, but also the businesses and the young people, which is in itself very important.”
Reflecting on Masdar’s progress since it was first formed in 2006, Mr Grímsson said, “It is a symbol of the 21st century… we don’t have to wait decades for the technologies to be creative… we can do it, we don’t have to wait for new technology that will solve all these problems.”