Climate negotiators need to pay attention to more recent science
Recent scientific findings indicate government officials should set much higher greenhouse gas emission reduction targets than currently being negotiated, a conservative Member of the European Parliament said today in Poznan.
Anders Wijkman told attendees at a European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) event held during the annual UN Climate Change Conference that the gap between recent science and data currently being used to reach an EU agreement on global warming is widening.
He said some elements of the proposed European climate and energy package are based on science gathered as far back as 2005.
“The problem is much, much more serious than a few years ago,” said Wijkman, a member of the group EPP.
Wijkman acknowledged that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2007 has been helpful in driving the proposed European climate goals of reduced emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2020.
But he said recent reports suggest industrialised countries need to reduce their domestic emissions by 25% to 40% by 2020. “Some of the science is really from an earlier date,” Wijkman said, giving the rapid rate of glacier retreat and summer ice melt in the Arctic as examples.
“We ought to go about reductions much more aggressively that what we are doing,” he said, calling the proposed EU climate package “very modest.”
Wijkman added there is a need for yearly IPCC reports to advise politicians of the latest science instead of only having a report from the UN unit every five years, as is the current situation.
Today’s event occurred not only while global negotiators here are attempting to define goals for reaching a post-Kyoto agreement next year December in Copenhagen, but while energy ministers now in Brussels are trying to finalise a long-awaited new legislation for renewables.
Attendees at the EWEA event in Poznan heard that wind power is perfectly placed to be a key solution in fighting global warming in addition to helping the European Union reach its ambitious target of 20% renewables by 2020.
Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive, told attendees at the Poznan event that the proposed Renewable Energy Directive, if passed later this week in its current form, will become the most important piece of legislation in the world to boost wind energy.
He reminded the audience that the not too distant future will be a fuel- and carbon-constrained world, and that wind power can help in the necessary shift away from oil, coal and gas.
Kjaer noted that wind power dovetails neatly with the proposed EU renewables legislation which calls for 20% renewable energy by 2020, up from 8.5% in 2005. That means more than one-third of the EU’s electricity will need to come from renewables in 12 years’ time. In 2007, wind energy met 3.7% of the total EU electricity demand. By 2020, wind is expected to provide up to 14% of EU electricity.
Using a slide show designed for policy makers, Kjaer pointed out that non-polluting wind power is already a proven technology. In Denmark, for example, wind power already provides more than 20% of the country’s electrical demand.
One of EWEA’s main positions is that wind is not only local, sustainable and dependable, it can be deployed quickly compared to other energy sources.
In addition, wind is already helping the EU reach its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. For example, in 2007 European wind power avoided the emission of 91 million tonnes (Mt) of CO₂, equivalent to taking 46 million cars off the road and equal to 20% of the EU27’s Kyoto obligation. By 2020, a predicted 180 GW of installed wind power could avoid emitting 328 Mt of CO₂, equivalent to neutralising 165 million vehicles. That equals 44% of the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020.
Agreeing with Wijkman, Kjaer said the proposed EU package on climate issues is “far from being ambitious enough.”
Sandra Stevens, from the European Commission, said the proposed legislative package is only a start.
“It’s a first step but more will be needed to follow in the future, that is for sure,” Stevens said.
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