ABU DHABI -- Fighting climate change is a global business.

That was the message delivered by former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair Wednesday at the close of the second annual World Future Energy Summit, a conference hosted by Abu Dhabi to extol the virtues of renewable energy technologies. It attracted roughly 16,000 attendees from 95 countries.

Blair brought up many familiar themes: The adoption an effective global treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol; the need to involve developing countries and major pollution emitters such as China and India in the worldwide effort to reduce emissions; and the use of existing and new technologies to curb the effects of climate change.

But he injected a new sense of optimism by noting the inauguration of Barack Obama at the beginning of speech, a mention that brought enthusiastic applauses.

"There was a sense of history: An American with African origin, a Christian with a Muslim heritage," said Blair about Obama's taking the oath of office the day earlier. "President Obama, we salute you and we wish you well."

Blair also answered a question that had been often asked throughout the conference: Will a depressed economy and low oil prices divert people's attention away from supporting renewable energy generation and technology development.

"It's hard at this moment of crisis to focus on the longer challenge of environmental crisis. But it's necessary," Blair said. "Problems do not come sequentially. The decisions of 2009 will determine the world of 2029 and 2049."

He was referring to the politically touchy effort by the United Nations to adopt a climate change treaty in Copenhagen at the end of this year. Delegates met in Poland earlier this year to hash out their differences for the new pact, which would mandate new emissions reduction efforts and affect the carbon credit trading and technology markets worth billions of dollars (see U.N. Climate Talks Pose Big Impact on Greentech).

The United States is expected to play a major role in the treaty negotiations and sign it, something that former President Bush wasn't willing to do with the Kyoto Protocol. Each person in the United States emits 20 tons of greenhouse gases a year while the figure is 10 tons for Europe and Japan, Blair said. The goal is to cut it to 2 tons per person per year by 2020.

Blair added that the massive economic stimulus package being drafted by Obama's administration and Congress would also play a key role in fighting climate change. Obama has pledged to boost renewable energy production and invest in green technologies in order to create jobs (see Obama Calls for Doubling Renewable Energy In Three Years).

Blair mentioned all the usual alternative energy technologies as weapons for shrink the carbon footprint: solar, electric cars, carbon capture and storage and nuclear. He pointed out the need to embrace energy efficiency technologies, particularly when some of them are readily available today.

He emphasized the urgency to include fast-growing countries with high-energy demands - notably China and India - in any global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also acknowledged that developing countries wouldn't play ball if they have to pay high economic prices.

"Without a global agreement, the task cannot be done. We must throw off our cynicism and defeatism," Blair said.