Federal Councillor Leuenberger calls for investment in sustainable energy supply

Bern, 19.01.2009 - At the 'World Future Energy Summit 2009' international conference in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) today, Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger called for increased investment in a sustainable energy supply. The Swiss Minister for Energy and the Environment affirmed that investment in more fuel-efficient cars and equipment, the modernising of buildings and sustainable energy technologies could bring long-term benefits to society and, at the same time, could make a significant contribution to the global financial crisis and to combating climate change.

In his speech at the World Future Energy Summit 2009, which was a meeting place for government representatives from all over the world and representatives of important companies from the fields of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency, Federal Councillor Leuenberger stressed that efforts to overcome the global financial and economic crisis should not be made at the expense of climate protection. Instead it is important to invest now in clean energy technologies, low-consumption and low-emission cars, efficient equipment and in building modernisation, which would bring long-lasting, sustainable benefits. Such investment in the energy supply of the future creates and secures jobs, and contributes to both an economic upturn and to reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Without effective measures, climate change would bring with it immense environmental damage and therefore enormous economic costs.

Investment in climate protection pays off

Federal Councillor Leuenberger reminded the high-ranking attendees at the conference that the industrialised countries should be taking on responsibility now, and should be using their technological know-how and financial strength to make a contribution towards the sustainable reorganisation of energy supply and a worldwide reduction in CO 2 emissions. In this context, Leuenberger reiterated his proposal for the introduction of a worldwide CO2 tax. This could be used to finance measures to adapt to climate change, as well as the damage it causes. In this way, even economically weaker countries, which suffer the most from climate change yet have contributed the least to it, could be supported effectively.

A sustainable energy supply without environmental impact should already be possible with the technologies that are available today, asserted the Head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications. This is demonstrated by the example of Masdar, the world's first zero-carbon city, which should be built in Abu Dhabi by 2015. Investing in a sustainable energy future even in these difficult economic times is a bold step by the United Arab Emirates. Its strategy of switching from fossil fuels to a sustainable energy supply by means of the active promotion of new technologies was a sign of far-sightedness and a sense of responsibility.

After his talk, Federal Councillor Leuenberger visited the Swiss Pavilion at this year's World Future Energy Summit, where 23 Swiss companies from the sustainability sector were on show to present their products and services.

Increased co-operation with Abu Dhabi in the energy sector

Switzerland, as a traditionally innovative country, would like to enter into a close partnership with the Masdar Initiative and make available its know-how in the fields of energy, the environment and transport. Existing and future co-operation between the two countries will be significantly reinforced by a memorandum of understanding, which Moritz Leuenberger signed during his two-day working visit. The memorandum of understanding reinforces the will of the two countries to increase co-operation in energy research, the promotion of renewable energies, energy efficiency and sustainable development, and encourages an exchange of experiences and know-how at scientific, economic and political levels.

Swiss Village to be created in Masdar

Switzerland's relationship with the Masdar Initiative is to be further enhanced by a Swiss Village which is to be built as part of the future city. It is set to accommodate Swiss companies and research institutions. The Swiss Village Abu Dhabi Association, which over 30 Swiss firms have already joined as members, was formed by the Swiss Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Swiss Sustainability Initiative for the implementation of this project.


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