ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Speaking from a Gulf nation whose skyscrapers rose on oil wealth, Britain's foreign secretary called Thursday on the rest of the wealthy Arab world to put their money toward renewable and clean energy ahead of the landmark climate change conference in Paris later this year.
Philip Hammond's comments while on a Mideast tour came as he visited the Masdar City renewable energy and sustainable technology project in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Hammond applauded the Emirates for investing in the technology, as well as its pledge to have 24 percent of its electricity come from clean energy sources by 2021.
"I suppose the romantic in me says there is something rather nicely symmetrical about the idea that the wealth that's been generated from years of successful exploitation of fossil fuels would be reinvested ... in the energy technologies of the futures," Hammond said.
In December, officials from 195 countries will meet in Paris to discuss climate change and make pledges to slow global warming. Ahead of the meeting, Europe's climate chief has acknowledged that pledges already made fall short of meeting the international goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Hammond acknowledged that shortfall, though he said Britain and other participants want an "ambitious" plan to form in the Paris talks.
"If we don't, at Paris, secure something that keeps less than 2 degrees as an achievable target, then we will have failed and failed miserably," he said.
From the Emirates, Hammond said he'd be heading to Vienna, where world powers are gathering for talks on the Syrian civil war. He declined to take questions on those coming negotiations.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap .