The EU Ambassador to the UAE, Andrea Matteo Fontana, highlighted during the 11th IRENA Renewables Talk that the European Union successfully reduced emissions by 30% while growing its economy by 60% in the past 30 years. Fontana’s statement was a compelling reminder to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Permanent Representatives in attendance that the energy transition should be seen as an investment, not a cost, and offers a viable opportunity for climate-friendly economic growth. The 11th Renewables Talk, jointly organized by IRENA, the European Union, and the UAE, focused on discussing the European Green Deal, its challenges, opportunities, and best practices in meeting renewable energy objectives.
The Green Deal plays a vital role in the EU’s quest to decarbonize its energy system, which is currently responsible for over 75% of its greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative seeks to expedite Europe’s shift toward a clean, renewable-based energy system, transforming crucial sectors such as power, transport, industry, and heating and cooling while developing the necessary infrastructure and governance. A recurring theme throughout the event was clear: Europe cannot achieve its Green Deal goals alone—international cooperation is crucial for its success.
Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General, applauded the EU’s ambitious new Renewable Energy Directive in his keynote speech. The directive seeks to increase the EU’s binding renewable target for 2030 to a minimum of 42.5%, bringing Europe “one step closer to becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.” La Camera emphasized the importance of robust partnerships in achieving shared ambitions and pointed to the upcoming COP28 in the UAE as a unique opportunity to enhance cooperative efforts in driving lasting, transformative change.
Additional keynote speakers included Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, and Mattias Frumerie, Head of Delegation to UNFCCC at the Swedish Ministry of Climate and Enterprise. Hemetsberger reiterated that the challenges facing the global solar industry cannot be overcome by individual efforts. Instead, it demands deep collaboration to discover common solutions that benefit the industry, the energy transition, and people worldwide. She stressed that forging global alliances is essential to advance the energy transition agenda, highlighting the significant potential in collaboration between the EU and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
During the Q&A session, Mexican Ambassador to the UAE, Mr. Louis Alfonso de Alba Gongora, praised IRENA for steering the global conversation on energy transition but also mentioned challenges faced by the private sector. He urged climate discussions to focus on constructive conversations and initiatives rather than placing blame. Permanent Representative Dr. Nawal Al Hosany later stated, “We have clarity on the challenges, but also on the opportunities,” emphasizing the potential to improve lives in LDCs and SIDS, particularly women, through renewable energy.
Additionally, Dr. Al Hosany briefed the audience on “Empowering Lives and Livelihoods,” a COP28 initiative and multi-stakeholder cooperation with IRENA that aims to commit USD 1 billion to renewable energy for adaptation. This initiative will connect people and livelihoods through renewable solutions in agri-food and health sectors in LDCs and SIDS. In her closing remarks, Dr. Al Hosany asserted that IRENA Renewables Talk’s goal is not just to deliver speeches but to strengthen collaboration among IRENA Permanent Representatives, and the event successfully achieved that objective.