In front of a packed house of dignitaries, delegates and energy industry leaders assembled for the 2012 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik each independently reaffirmed their country's commitment to nuclear power as an essential part of a low carbon future. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on Monday morning, the two leaders outlined their country's clean energy and energy efficiency accomplishments over the last several years, and outlined the framework for transitioning to a low carbon energy economy in the years to come.
"We will gradually change the current energy mix dominated by coal," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said at the opening session of the 2012 World Future Energy Summit, by raising the output of "natural gas, renewable energy and nuclear energy," referring to nuclear as "safe, reliable and technologically mature."
Premier Wen outlined a long list of Chinese accomplishments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, capping them off by reporting that China now gets 11% of its electricity from renewable energy.
But Premier Wen underscored that the transition to clean energy would not be sudden. "Fossil fuels will continue for a long time," Wen told conference attendees. "So we need to follow a low-carbon approach to carbon-intense technologies," Wen said.
Premier Wen was not alone in committing to nuclear energy in the long term. In the second keynote address at the opening session of the 2012 WFES, Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik told conferees that "To accelerate the worldwide spread of renewable energy and for it to replace fossil fuels we must promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy."
The message from Prime Minister Kim was very clear: climate change is a serious issue that poses a threat to people all over the planet. "Humanity faces a serious challenge with global climate change," Kim said.
And if you take Prime Minister Kim's words at face value, his government is backing up their clean energy talk with clean energy action. According to Kim, the "green government has invested 2% of GDP [gross domestic product] in renewable energy and clean technologies and has set a goal to be the worlds fifth largest clean energy economy."
Wrapping up the morning's powerhouse session of Asian leaders, UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon praised the promise of "sustainable energy," demanding that "energy poverty must end."
"It is not acceptable that 3 billion people have to rely on wood, coal and charcoal and animal waste for cooking and heating," said the Secretary General.