The managing director of ScottishPower Renewables has said the Syrian crisis is “all about climate change”.
Jonathan Cole pointed to the role of drought, creating infertile land, in prompting the movement of some two million people from the countryside to cities in the war-torn country.
In turn that had led to food and housing shortages, as well as mass displacement, he told the South North Sea 2016 conference in Norwich.
Mr Cole chose to highlight global warming at the start of his speech to delegates.
He said: “It’s very easy to think climate change is something that will happen at some point in the future somewhere else in the world. That’s simply not true.
“It’s happening now and it’s affecting us now.”
With that in mind, he called for “immediate action”, adding: “We need to electrify our entire economy.
“We need to rapidly decarbonise our electricity sector,” he said.
“That’s the only way global demand will be satisfied and the only way greenhouse gases will be curbed; it’s the only way climate change will be brought under control.
“Even if you don’t accept the climate change phenomenon there is still good reason to electrify the economy.
“Because an economy based on hydrocarbons is an economy based on a finite, a scarce, resource.”
Mr Cole, whose organisation is investing £2.5billion in the construction of the East Anglia ONE wind farm project, conceded there was currently a “lot of cause for uncertainty” within the industry.
But he insisted there was “cause for optimism” too.
He added: “We will work our way through that uncertainty and see the opportunities.”
The conference, held annually, is organised by the East of England Energy Group.
It is taking place at the Norfolk Showground today and tomorrow.