Dubai, November 19, 2019 – Solving energy, climate, and health challenges is the most pressing task of the 21st century, asserted His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Chairman of Arctic Circle, and former President of Iceland (1996-2016), as he kicked off the first session of the sixth annual Knowledge Summit at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
During his session, titled ‘The Icelandic Geothermal Model: A Solution to the Urban Energy Challenge’, H.E. Grímsson outlined the successful model Iceland has adopted, adding that other countries such as China were now following suit.
“For the first time in history, we are living in an era where over half of the global population live in cities,” he noted. “The challenge is how – when billions of people live in urban areas – are we going to heat and cool these cities?”
While there had been initiatives, such as bringing electric vehicles to the streets, the issue remained the amount of energy required for heating and cooling cities, H.E. explained, applauding the youth movement in calling for climate action. “In my part of the world, the ice keeps on melting. The floods seen in recent days in Venice are just a very small prelude to the consequences of the melting of the Greenland ice.”
The former Icelandic President explained that emissions from fossil fuels, especially in Asia and Africa, were a major cause of this melting. It is also a health issue, he added, “the World Health Organisation published last year for the first time a report revealing that every year, seven million people now die from urban pollution. It’s the fourth-largest killer in the world.”
“The good news is there is a solution based on a successful business model. The solution is based on heat found under the ground everywhere on the planet – geothermal energy – we have a fireball inside the planet,” he said.
H.E. Grímsson noted that Iceland has 100% clean energy, and during the last 10 to 15 years, the Icelandic model had been brought to other countries. “As many as 80 Chinese cities are now using it, allowing the population to breathe easily and enjoy a cost-effective energy resource,” he said, adding that the Masdar area of Abu Dhabi has also adopted the model.
“It is a proven energy model. If we don’t succeed in providing a solution that is pollution-free, the ice in my part of world will simply continue to melt. The ice is neither republic nor democratic, it just melts,” H.E. concluded.
Organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) under directives from MBRF Chairman His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 2019 Knowledge Summit – held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from November 19-20 – bears the theme ‘Knowledge for Sustainable Development’, and is set to showcase relevant experiences and best practices that have helped countries on their development journey in various sectors.