WFES: Gore confident of climate agreement in Paris

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International leaders and the global cleantech industry are meeting this week in Abu Dhabi at the WFES currently underway. The winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize were announced today, with the majority of them coming from the solar PV sector.

Vice President Al Gore was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award, with the statesmen telling the assembled press that an international agreement on global climate change emissions is likely to be achieved at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting, to be held in Paris later this year.

“This year the investment in new generating capacity represented by renewables excluding hydro is far greater than the global investment in fossil [fuel] sources and that investment gap is widening,” Mr Gore said. “Paris is likely to be a real turning point… the answer is yes, we are likely to reach an agreement.”

Former Vice President Gore pointed to the historic agreement struck between China and the U.S. as being a crucial turning point in international climate politics. He also noted that in laggard states such as Canada, climate initiatives amongst the provinces were becoming pervasive.

Vice President Gore was joined on the Zayed Future Energy Prize winners’ stage by representatives from the Large Corporation, Small and Medium Enterprise, Non-profit Organization and the Global high Schools winners.

Award winners

The Zayed Future Energy Prize winners shared a prize pool of US$4 million. Companies and organizations working in solar formed the majority of the award winners and included Kenya-based K-Kopa Solar and Liter of Light. Managing Director and Co-Founder of M-KOPA Solar Jesse Moore said that it was telling that an African small and middle-sized enterprise (SME) had been selected for the award.

“There is great news and great opportunities in Africa,” said M-KOPA Solar’s Moore. “What we are proving in selling for a little over two years and supplying 150,000 homes with affordable solar power is that it [solar PV] is cheaper than what households were spending on kerosene.”

M-KOPA Solar’s business model is based around the provision of small solar systems, to provide sufficient power for small-scale solar lighting, radio and mobile phone charging to offgrid communities in Eastern Africa. M-KOPA solar uses mobile money infrastructure for kWh payments on its solar systems, after the householder pays a small down payment on the solar and lighting and charging equipment. The M-KOPA solar founders have previous experience in the East-African mobile payment business and M-KOPA Solar marks their move into the energy business.

“The [Zayed Future Energy Prize] money will be invested in a new initiative, the M-KOPA University, which will train 1,500 full time [M-KOPA] staff and sales agents, marking a tremendous part of their personal growth and our growth as a company,” said M-KOPA founder Jesse Moore. “We are looking forward to coming back as a part of the corporate category in the future,” Moore rather ambitiously added.

Panasonic picked up the corporate Zayed award and Liter of Light the award for the NGO segment. Five schools representatives shared the stage with Gore and company and outlined the programs their schools had engaged in to pick up the Zayed award.

“It is a rare privilege to live in an time when individuals can have so much meaning in their lives but such a massive impact,” said former Vice President Gore. “Those of us who are privileged to be alive during this extraordinary period in time have the opportunity to make an impact on the future of human civilization,” he said.

“Take heart that we are going to prevail in this. The outcome is foreordained because the question that has been paralyzing humanity for a couple of decades is now being resolved into a very simple questions: what is right and what is wrong? Then the answer is foreordained,” the climate change leader concluded.

The WFES continues through to Thursday this week.

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