Clinton pitches for clean energy, green economy

ABU DHABI - Former US president Bill Clinton on Tuesday made a clarion call for a green economy fuelled by clean energy.


Silvia Radan

Published: Thu 15 Dec 2011, 12:37 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:19 AM

In a passionate speech about the environment at the Eye on Earth Summit being organised by the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD), Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and United Nations Environment Programme, Clinton said, “The lack of environmental data hurts.

“But even so, you are better off with clean energy than dirty energy.” He was speaking to a large audience including Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and chairman of the EAD, and top UAE officials at the summit which focuses on the necessity of environmental data collection and sharing, with the aim of a declaration being signed that will be presented for approval at Rio + 20 sustainable development international gathering next year.

Clinton’s speech at the summit was very much inspired by the work he has been doing with his Clinton Foundation, established with the mission to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment worldwide.

“When I worked on the tsunami with the UN, I had a fascinating experience in the Maldives, which lost 64 per cent of its GDP from the tsunami. They were so traumatised by the tsunami that they decided to concentrate their population on 14 of their thousand islands, on raised lands,” he said.

These raised platforms will still be flooded, though, if the predicted sea level will rise by 4-5 metres in the next few decades.

The world gets as much as eight per cent of its fresh water from Greenland. Due to global worming, largely triggered by green gas emissions and other pollutants and over-consumption of natural resources, Greenland’s icecap is melting into the Atlantic, which eventually will result in the most productive economies of northern Europe collapsing because of returning to the climate conditions of 700 years ago, similar to the Ice Age, creating further world economic imbalance, Clinton said.Another global worry he presented is the controversial debate about oil-rich countries leasing farmland in Africa, and where top soil has been taken care of pretty well.

“It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it all depends how it is done, for if you come here with money and heavily mechanised agriculture, which is not sustainable, and the top soil and the water resources are eroded, then the African continent will never catch up with the rest of the world.” While Africa still struggles with starvation, developing countries are concerned with serious environmental issues. In the Caribbeans, for example, energy resources come from conventional means (oil), which is highly polluting, used inefficiently and it is all imported too, when green, solar, wind, hydro and other alternative sources of energy would be a lot cheaper, create more jobs and, not to mention, cleaner.

On top of all environmental issues, the financial crisis is making the world’s stability even worse. The only way out, though, is a green economy.

“Certain amount of instability is good for creativity,” he pointed out. “Too much instability, though, freezes people up. The economic model we have been following proved to be unsustainable because of the way we consume energy and the depletion of resources.

“In this context, this is a very good meeting and those of you focused on giving us good data are profoundly important,” declared Clinton.

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