Your Highness, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to be here, at this very important meeting.
I would like to warmly congratulate His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of theUnited Arab Emirates and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for their vision and for their commitment to the issue of renewable energy sources. Thanks to the tireless efforts of your leadership Abu Dhabi has become the seat of IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency. This is a success not only for the United Arab Emirates but for the whole Middle East.
Today’s Summit is taking place almost one month after the Copenhagen Conference, the results of which did not fulfill our expectations and did not rise to the circumstances. Climate change is the greatest challenge facing mankind today. It is a threat to the sustainability of the planet and to the future of coming generations. It is this challenge that world leaders had to face. They should have come up with a global, meaningful and legally binding agreement, with specific targets and schedules instead of limiting themselves to agreeing on the lowest common denominator.
The failure of Copenhagen becomes dramatic if seen as part of a greater picture. The greater picture is of a deep crisis with multiple dimensions: economic, social, energy and environmental, a crisis linked to the growth model which we, the “developed world,” have adopted in recent years. This is a model of greed and irresponsibility in the name of profit for the few, a model of high consumption and waste of natural resources, a model which increases old inequalities while creating new ones. This is the ‘greater picture’ and it is bleak. But of course, as we all know, each crisis brings an opportunity.
Eminent economists have been pointing out for some time that policies and measures promoting Renewable Energy Sources and energy efficiency can play an important role in bringing the world economy out of this crisis and can lead to a faster recovery. A social movement in favour of clean energy is gradually being formed, pushing politicians in the direction of green growth.
As you know, the EU is committed to limiting the carbon dioxide emissions and increasing the share of RES in the final energy consumption by 20% by 2020.
This is not merely the realisation of one more goal, it is something much wider. It is all about maintaining the lead in the fight against climate change. It is about a radical change of direction in production and consumption. It is linked to Europe’s effort to strengthen the security of its energy supply and limit its energy dependence on third countries. Finally, it is about a structural change in the philosophy of growth, about making sustainability a key word. Sustainability of natural resources but also of the markets- through the creation of new sustainable investment opportunities- sustainability of employment through the creation of new decentralized jobs.
More importantly, the greatest possible development and use of the Renewable Energy Sources, a new energy and growth model, could be decisive in dealing with inequalities and promoting social cohesion. Starting from the local level and moving to the regional, the national and of course to the European and the global level.
The Renewable Energy Sources can be the key to bringing about greater democracy in the field of energy. The big, powerful countries or the huge energy multinationals will stop being the only players in the world energy market. Small and medium sized countries, not necessarily industrialized ones, and even small and medium sized businesses, the force behind European competitiveness, can have a say and play a role in the energy chessboard. Even globally, RES with their inexhaustible potential could play a role in making energy more democratic in the developing countries as well and especially in the most vulnerable ones. As a result, huge opportunities for growth and prosperity could open up for the peoples of these countries and the gap between North and South could become smaller.
It is therefore possible for the poor countries to acquire power and the potential of prosperity for their peoples by harnessing the power of the wind, the earth, the sun and the sea.
Let us finally not forget that the growth of alternative energy sources is the only credible alternative to the problem of the exhaustion of the deposits of mineral fuels and of global warming. It is also the only peaceful alternative for acquiring resources to promote global economic growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Greece is setting its priorities in the direction of Green Growth.
In Greece the human resources, the know-how to promote scientific and business partnerships in the fields of the renewable energy sources and environmental management are already available. We aim at using these at a regional level in order to become a business and diplomatic reference point in the field. For this reason we attach special importance to the Greek initiative for Green Growth and to the cooperation with the countries of the Western Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean in dealing with climate change.
We can and we must join efforts in order to proceed to a new era of growth which will benefit all and will be compatible with the protection of the environment and of natural resources. Energy will no longer be a means of domination and power but will become a means of promoting democracy, prosperity and a sustainable future for our children. Let us not waste this opportunity which may be the last one.
Thank you for your attention.-