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Blair supports UAE IRENA bid

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s bid to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is a major boost for the developing world in the global quest for a sustainable future, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

"The UAE has made a strong argument for hosting the [IRENA] in the developing world. Both the political and technical arguments are overwhelmingly strong," Blair said about the proposition during a recent visit to Abu Dhabi.

"Locating IRENA in the developing world would send a powerful signal that all nations must participate in the transition to a sustainable future, and that we are committed to not leave developing nations behind," said the former premier, who is currently the Middle East peace envoy appointed by the quartet comprising of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia.

The other countries in the race to host the headquarters of the 83-member organisation established in January 2009 are Austria, Denmark and Germany. The vote, which would mark a major endorsement of the need to switch to renewable energy, is scheduled to take place at a meeting in Egypt during the last week of June.

Encouraging the UAE's candidature, Blair added that "the toughest challenge and largest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions for the future is in the developing world," which host very few headquarters of international agencies of consequence.

The UAE's green groundwork ahead of its IRENA bid - especially attempts to reduce the reliance on hydrocarbons and change consumer energy patterns by adopting clean technologies - came in for particular praise.

"What is specifically commendable about the UAE efforts in nurturing the renewable energy industry is the unprecedented political will that has already manifested itself in the Masdar Initiative," he said.

The UAE proposes to host the IRENA headquarters in Masdar City - the world's only carbon-neutral, zero-waste city, completely powered by renewable energy. The city of the future is tipped to be a new global hub for the intellectual and technological development of clean energy.

Together with its innovative building practices and new standards in sustainable living, the headquarters of IRENA in an international city like UAE that bridges both the developed and developing world could serve as a breakthrough in bringing renewable energy know-how and technology to the countries that most need it, sending a strong signal to the international community that this agency will make a real difference.

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