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Viewing cable 09ABUDHABI329, U) WHY THE UAE IS PRESSING FOR IRENA HQ

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ABUDHABI329 2009-04-01 12:12 2010-12-03 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abu Dhabi
VZCZCXRO6331
OO RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHAD #0329/01 0911235
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011235Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2314
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0129
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0898
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 000329 

SIPDIS 

FOR S/SECC TODD STERN AND DSECC JONATHAN PERSHING 
ALSO FOR NEA/ARP AND EEB/ESC/IEC/ENR (MONOSSON, SECOR, THOMPSON), AND 
S/SRAP HOLBROOKE 
AMMAN FOR ESTH HUB OFFICER (BHALLA) 

E.O. 12958 03/24/2019 
TAGS SENV, ECON, PREL, PGOV, AE 
SUBJECT: (U) WHY THE UAE IS PRESSING FOR IRENA HQ 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR RICHARD G. OLSON FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D
REFS: A) ABU DHABI 301  B) ABU DHABI 199  C) ABU DHABI 170  D) STATE 27497

1. (C) Summary. The UAE’s push (refs A-C) to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) complements its political and financial commitment to encouraging renewable energy production and consumption. Although the fourth largest oil producer in the world, the UAE is expanding its commitment to environmental protection, and more importantly, positioning itself for what it sees as a post-hydrocarbon based future. The UAE has launched a major effort to promote renewables by encouraging research, development and innovation in the UAE and abroad. This includes an ambitious effort to build the first zero-carbon, zero-waste city, Masdar City. The UAE has serious resources to put into the international search for alternative energy sources, and as such, UAE interest in these issues should be seen as an opportunity for the USG. Moreover, the UAE is clearly signaling that it wants United States to support its IRENA bid, given UAE support for many of our political, security and financial priorities and the Administration’s focus on environmental issues. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Since the creation of IRENA in January, the UAE has actively campaigned to host the headquarters in Abu Dhabi. Though the argument that an oil producer should host a renewable energy agency may seem counter-intuitive, Emiratis view IRENA as a natural complement to their efforts to protect the environment and reduce UAE dependence on fossil fuels. The founder of the UAE Sheikh Zayed is widely known in the UAE as one of the Arab world’s first environmentalists, and the new generation of leaders is advancing his efforts through the application of modern environmental technology, policies and practices.

3. (SBU) The most prominent example of UAE commitment is Masdar (www.masdar.ae), the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, which was launched in 2006 as part of Abu Dhabi’s efforts to diversify its economy away from petroleum, while leveraging its historic expertise in global energy markets. Masdar has established the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology (MIST), in collaboration with MIT, to support graduate level research on advanced energy and sustainability, begun construction on the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste city (Masdar City), and launched the World Future Energy Summit and the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Putting UAE money where its mouth is, Masdar has also invested over USD 1 billion in foreign wind and solar technology projects, including Torresol Energy (Spain), WinWinD (Finland) and the London Array offshore wind farm (UK), among others. Domestically, Masdar is developing solar production capacity and working with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) on carbon capture and reinjection into oil fields. Masdar’s efforts will help the Emirate of Abu Dhabi reach a target of 7 percent power generation from renewables by 2020.

4. (SBU) The UAEG wants Masdar City to be the host of IRENA, but its argument is based on more than just Masdar’s credentials. Officials note the important symbolism of putting an international renewable agency in an oil-producing country. They also highlight that no other international organizations are headquartered in the Arab World, with the exception of UNRWA, which they view as an aid organization more than a policy body (and one that they hope can eventually disappear as a two-state solution materializes). Further, the UAE is centrally located between developed and developing nations and bridges north-south, east-west divides.

5. (C) COMMENT: Whether the USG can support the IRENA candidacy of the UAE ultimately depends on USG policy toward IRENA itself, and we do not have the overall context for a policy recommendation on that issue. However, several points about the UAE position need to be factored into such a policy decision:
-- First: The UAE, unlike many supporters of renewables, has serious resources to put into the development of technology. This is a point that has not been lost on the US and other countries private sectors who have worn a deep path to Masdar’s door seeking participation in its projects.
-- Second: The UAE has been one of our most helpful security partners in the Middle East. UAE troops are in the fight in Afghanistan (in greater numbers and more dangerous places than many NATO Allies); the UAE has cancelled Saddam era debt in Iraq and opened an Embassy; it is perhaps the only Arab country to have fully paid up its dues to the Palestinian Authority; and it has taken a leading role in the Friends of Pakistan initiative. While the UAE
ABU DHABI 00000329 002 OF 002
has not expressed any direct linkage between any of these initiatives and IRENA, it has clearly signaled that, having been helpful to the USG on a number of issues important to us, it expects the USG to be helpful on an issue of importance to the UAE.

6. (C) UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayid Al-Nahyan (AbZ) will raise this issue with Secretary Clinton during their 7 April meeting. OLSON