The key themes emerge at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi

The calibre of attendees at this years show indicates that climate change is fast becoming an area of high politics. Among those here are Ed Miliband, UK Energy and Climate Change Minister, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan, and Greek President Karolos Papoulias. Not too mention Princes from Denmark, Spain and Monaco, and 1400 CEOs.

The number of highly technical projects that will flow from this new industry, such as large, smart grids, combining a number of renewable sources to provide a viable energy system, is obviously a contributing factor to every country wanting to be represented, which further cements the feeling that climate change is finally in the mainstream.

Ratings systems

Another sign of the increasing interest in sustainability is the number of countries designing or wanting to design their own ratings system for buildings. Abu Dhabi's Estidama system is in pilot stage, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have ratings in the pipeline and India's Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) system was released late last year. LEED and BREEAM have been used throughout the region in the past, however it is a sign of a growing industry that the region is developing systems applicable to the local climate.


Ramboll and The Energy Research Institute (TERI) held a roundtable event here this afternoon, on the subject of retrofitting existing buildings to improve energy efficiency, which is a hugely important topic in the Middle East. With some of the highest energy consumptions per capita in the world, finding ways to improve efficiency in Middle Eastern cities will be crucial to meeting international obligations.

Dr R K Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Director-General of TERI, speaking at the event, reiterated how complex this task is, and how, even with great effort, it will take a co-ordinated approach from international governments down to the end user to get the best result.

I agree with this, as did others at the event. A 'roadmap' with defined goals, clear targets and education at all levels is one of the first key steps to achieving this. Agreeing these goals and targets, increasingly stringent reductions on emissions, is imperative.

Oil Firms

BP, Exxon, Total, Conoco: There are many of the world's biggest firms here. It is interesting to see their shift from them being 'oil companies' to 'energy firms'. In the past this shift has been put down to greenwashing, but there is a sense that they see their future fortunes tied closer and closer to renewables, which is an excellent thing. When you hear from oil rich countries' officials that financial incentives need to be explored to make renewables more competitive with fossil fuels, you know something is changing.