Speech by Foreign Minister Westerwelle at the third meeting of the IRENA Council in Abu Dhabi

Jun 6, 2012

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you at this 3rd IRENA Council Meeting today. Germany very much welcomes the efforts of the United Arab Emirates to develop Abu Dhabi into a center for the international dialogue on sustainable energy policy. The UAE has gained international recognition with its vision.

We are confronted with the need to fundamentally transform our global energy system. How can the energy demands of nine billion people in 2050 be sustainably met? How can we at the same time ensure sustainable growth in economic, social and environmental terms while mitigating the pressure on our climate and our environment?

This challenge requires national answers by each and every country. This is also a global challenge. And global challenges need global approaches. Energy security has become a core issue in our international relations.

We regard renewable energy as the key to a sustainable solution. We are convinced that a global transformation of the energy system can be achieved. The run-up to the Rio+20 conference provides a unique opportunity to increase global cooperation.

Energy is the backbone of any economy.

As a highly industrialized country Germany decided after Fukushima to accelerate the phase-out of nuclear power and to shut down our last nuclear power plant by 2022.

By making this fundamental decision Germany accepted the challenge of transforming our energy system. Our so-called “Energiewende”, the energy shift, is built on two pillars: a significant increase in energy efficiency and a cost-effective and more rapid expansion of renewable energy.

The “Energiewende” is one of the greatest projects of the German government. Going along this path will make us one of the most competitive economies in the world. Our clear commitment towards renewables has already led to enormous economic dynamics. In 2010, investments in the renewables sector hit a new all-time record with almost 30 billion euros. This has also led to an all-time high in employment in this field.

At the global level investment in renewable energy also increased steadily in the last decade to more than 200 billion US Dollar in 2010. We expect this growth to continue. Economic advantages are not limited to industrialized economies. Today, over 100 countries in the world have renewable energy policy targets or support policies.

Germany has always advocated the creation of a framework for international cooperation in this field. The idea is to mutually benefit from our respective strengths and experiences. That is why Germany was one of the driving forces behind the founding of IRENA. IRENA and its member states have the responsibility to create an effective international framework for cooperation in the future.

I welcome the concrete results that IRENA has produced only two years after its founding.

I especially welcome our good cooperation in the run-up to the establishment of the IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre, IITC, in my home town of Bonn. It gave me great personal pleasure to inaugurate the IITC last October.

Renewable energies are closely related to climate protection, which is also a matter of high political priority in Germany. It is against this background that we have submitted a very attractive bid to host the Green Climate Fund in Bonn.

We believe the Green Climate Fund can benefit from synergies with other international organizations already based in Bonn, such as the IITC and the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It goes without saying that this bid also includes a financial commitment. We very much hope for the backing of as many IRENA member states as possible.

Germany has supported the establishment of IRENA from the outset. I would like to assure you that we will continue to do so in the future.

Thank you very much.

© GermanyUN