Wind power investments as a result of a new international climate change agreement will provide a steady supply of cheap electricity, create jobs, and help downsize our love affair with oil.
An extraordinary human drama that may well hold the key to the future survival of our planet is now unfolding in Poznan, Poland.
The approximately 11,000 participants expected at the 12-day United Nations Climate Change Conference will be immersed in the most complex conundrum facing humankind: how to rid the world of its dangerous addiction to polluting fossil fuels, jumpstart a largely comatose economic system and provide an explosion in green energy to power the needs of a growing population.
A participant at the conference, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) will be reminding policy makers of the many benefits of wind power as international delegates try to build momentum for a new and ambitious climate change agreement in Copenhagen in 2009 which would replace and strengthen the Kyoto Protocol.
Despite the current financial crisis, EWEA believes there is a ready-made answer to the triple-headed conundrum facing government negotiators in Poznan. Major investments in wind power and other renewables can significantly reduce the requirement for nations to import expensive, polluting fuels. Such investments will help our withering economic system by creating a surge of well-paying jobs while encouraging a massive wave of research and development. Lastly, the investments will begin to ease the carbon dioxide burden that our shared environment has been battling since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Indeed, the solution to our alarming conundrum is, as The New York Times recently put it, “a climate policy wrapped inside an energy policy wrapped inside an economic policy.”
Government officials attending the Poznan conference must know the stakes are daunting. At the same time science says the rise in greenhouse gas emissions must be stopped if we are to avoid catastrophic effects associated with global warming, population growth continues to fuel increasing demands for power. And since September, the battered world economy is in full retreat with no end in sight.
Accepting the severity of the situation, Yvo de Boer, who is responsible for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, nonetheless warned last week that the sorry state of economic affairs can’t become a rationale for halting plans to cut greenhouse gases.
“Climate change is an environmental problem looking for an economic answer,” de Boer told journalists in Warsaw. “The challenge,” he added, “is to achieve green economic growth.”
EWEA encourages politicians to rise to the challenge. After all, there are many examples in history where massive amounts of government money, even if it was borrowed money, actually helped a society grappling with tough times. The many benefits of then US President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal infrastructure spending during the Great Depression immediately come to mind.
That said, policy makers in Poznan should stay the course, invest in the future, embrace wind power, create a new economy, help our planet. There really is no other path to take.
1 December 2008