Monday, December 07, 2009

Tony Blair's speech in Azerbaijan

SPEECH BY TONY BLAIR

AZMECO Construction Site, 1 December 2009

Hello everyone, Minister, Excellencies, the Piriyev’s family, of course, who made it all happen, Kevin from EBRD. Thank you for welcoming me here like at home, the weather is just like we have in London. But the sun now is coming out, so let’s take it as good sign for the future!

I always wanted to visit Azerbaijan. I know this is a country rich with it’s traditions of art and culture. And today it is a proud and independent nation, taking it’s place in a community of nations. And I salute the people of this country and its leadership and all of you who had been involved in creating this wonderful project here today and deserve to be very proud of what you have achieved. I’ve just had an excellent meeting with the President of Azerbaijan who has been explaining to me a very positive and exciting vision for the future of the country. And of course, this plant is a part of that future.

The plant itself represents the diversification of Azerbaijan economy, but it also, in my view, holds a broader lesson for our development for our modern world and particularly how he makes sure that our growth is sustainable and responsible in terms of environment. And different phases of the plant, as it was explained earlier, are in a sense a journey towards developing not just Azerbaijan economy but also developing the ways in which we are going to have an industry, the petrochemical industry for the future that is responsible, forward looking and is dealing with pressing international problem of how we tackle the climate change.

I am not a technical expert, which is actually an example of British understatement, but I do understand how in every stage of this plant there is going to be a development to a new level of sustainability and responsibility in terms of environment. I have got my lesson earlier and as I understand the first phase will be natural gas to methanol, then the second phase will be purge gas which produces a by-product will then be turned to urea and ammonia. And then the phase three will be the methanol derivatives. Have I been a good pupil? (Applauses) Thank you.

To be honest until I looked at the list of what formaldehyde does, I had no idea of how many parts of my life was governed by the existence of this thing. When I go back home, I will tell to my nine year old boy: “Stop all other studies and concentrate on formaldehyde and you will be fine!”.

So, what is the significance to the debates that are going on now within the international community in how we find the solution to sustainable growth? The negotiations in Copenhagen, that will start in a few days time, will be an attempt to get a political agreement that is based around the goal of 2050 in cutting carbon emissions worldwide by 50-60%. Just to give you an idea how dramatic is the change it applies in economy worldwide. In economies like those in the West it would mean that emissions per capita in the USA by 2050 would have to be 1/10 of what we have today and in Europe 1/5. And then when we realize that even if America, Europe and Japan are prepared to take radical measures to cut emissions, China and India are each going to industrialize probably 3-4 times the scale of the United States and 5 times the pace. When we consider this we can see that the challenge is enormous. And the truth is, whatever the political agreement, we will need to find the economic means of achieving this. Otherwise we will have to face the choice between the economic growth and environment. One part of this will be to create an incentive to develop clean energy and clean energy products.

And AZMECO of course, shows the way. Secondly, we would have to accelerate the implementation of the development of the new technology, because otherwise it will take longer time to change our economies to a low carbon ones. That is why I particularly would like to congratulate the European Bank for having made this commitment. I know that European Bank has been working on this for a few years as Kevin was explaining. These are big commitments, right commitments, but without the help of the partners it is far more difficult to develop the plant like this. Thank you, it is very important!

And final reason why this particular plant holds lessons for the future is not just in development of derivatives and by-pass products and so on, it is important that one part of the plant will be about carbon capture. And carbon capture itself will be the major part of ensuring that we take low carbon path into the future and manage to ensure that even if we are using carbon we are not discharging the emissions to the atmosphere that are harmful. So there are many reasons to be pleased and proud of the achievement of this plant, but most of all how ever long politicians may talk about the agreement it is only if there are practical methods we can show that actually work and can translate a good intensions into the agreement that could be implemented in reality.

So, I think this project is not just of significance to Azerbaijan, but also the international community and for negotiations we are about to have in Copenhagen. Because it shows the way forward! I had this conversation with Al Gore about the environment, where Al says to me: “When there is a will, there is way”. But I always say to him: “It easier to have a will if you show that there is a way”. So this AZMECO plant shows that there is a way! And that is why it is important, and that is why I am delighted and honored to be here and I want to wish to all of you who has been engaged in this a good fortune for the future.

This is my first visit today to Azerbaijan and it certainly will not be the last. Next time I am going to come in summer. I would most sincerely like to thank you for inviting me to this beautiful country, it’s pleasure to be here, very best of luck and above all good wishes for the future. Thank you very much.

Reports in the media say that Tony Blair was paid a five figure sum for the above speech.

More detail on the plant on http://www.azmeco.com

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