The UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond has lauded the effects of a decarbonised world economy and its impacts on innovation, jobs and growth during a speech on climate change in the United Arab Emirates.
Addressing an audience in Masdar City, Hammond said that the UK shared “the vision” of the UAE of an energy system laden with low-carbon generation and energy efficiency technologies.
“At the same time as investing in research into low carbon technologies, we have carried out far-reaching reform of our electricity market, paving the way for up to £50 billion to be invested in renewable energy over the period from 2014 to 2020,” he said.
“We share your vision that the decarbonisation of the world economy is a great opportunity for innovation, jobs and growth. In the UK, firms related to low carbon goods and services employed over 460,000 people and contributed 45 billion pounds to the UK economy in 2013. This is an increase of almost 30% in 3 years,” Hammond added.
He went on to comment on a partnership between the UK and the UAE in which companies like Shell and BP are contributing to renewables and clean technology ventures in the country, and urged other nations in the region to do the same.
“If, like the UAE, you choose to invest [great wealth] in renewable energy, then you will be investing in your futures. In a clean future, and as part of a fast growing global market,” he said.
Hammond concluded by stating that the global low carbon economy is valued at US$6 trillion, adding that the time to invest in clean energy technologies was now. “As we all know, this is not an investment decision like any other. An investment in clean energy is an investment in a safe climate,” he added.
His comments in the UAE come just a week after the UK sought to forge a similar clean energy relationship with China, forming a partnership that incorporated several technology sharing and investment agreements worth several billion pounds.
But they are likely to stick in the craw of UK-based renewable and clean energy companies that have had to contend with a raft of policy cuts, many of which face having to restructure or close their business entirely as a lack or reduction of subsidies has forced the market to shrink.
Solar and onshore wind has borne the brunt of the attacks to date, but renewable heat measures have also struggled to attract consumers. Installations have dwindled as degressions to the RHI feed-in tariff have continued, and DECC’s own reasoning has concluded that standard degressions are resulting in a lack of interest.