A Breath of the Future - Today’s decision by the European Union to create a new law requiring that 20% of Europe’s energy supply come from wind power and other renewable energy sources by 2020 marks a historic moment.
Today’s decision by the European Union to create a new law requiring that 20% of Europe’s energy supply come from wind power and other renewable energy sources by 2020 marks a historic moment.
The Renewable Energy Directive also helps protect environmental systems that have become threatened by global warming.
By requiring that more than one-third of the European electricity demand come from renewables within 12 years (up from 15% in 2005), and with an expectation that the growing wind power technology supplies 12% to 14% of that demand, the EU has demonstrated great leadership. It has shown other regions how to be kinder to our planet while developing our domestic renewable energy resources and halting the unproductive transfer of wealth from European citizens to a handful of fossil fuel exporting countries.
The European Wind Energy Association believes today’s agreement will start to reduce the pervasive use of coal, oil and natural gas, which together are most responsible for global warming.
Elected EU officials have had the courage to choose a different, cleaner, healthier and more predictable future for Europe’s 27 member states and its 497 million people.
The new directive will also allow the wind power industry to further expand, both onshore and offshore, and meet an ever increasing share of the European electricity demand with a steady supply of local, affordable, non-polluting power.
In short, today’s directive is a win-win situation for everyone, everywhere.
Of course this is only the beginning and there will still be many hurdles to overcome, even if key barriers have been addressed by the new legislation, before we can relax our vigilance regarding the immense challenges associated with the energy and climate change file. Implementation is the real key to success and the coming two or three years will determine if we meet the 2020 objectives.
There are now more than six billion people on the planet and all nations will require energy supplies that are dependable, affordable and clean in order to help their citizens have a better future.
As the population increases, more and more power will be required for the world’s electrical needs, for heating and cooling, for transportation, and other activities.
Sustainable energy sources such as wind power will be needed to clean up the gigantic environmental mess left behind by fossil fuels burned during the carbon age.
We also have to control our temperature rise in order for us, and Earth as we know it, to survive. EU leaders say we can’t allow the temperature of the planet to increase by more than two degrees Celsius relative to what it was before the Industrial Revolution if we are to avoid permanent and catastrophic carnage. It would be good to see the same degree of commitment, coherence and clarity when it comes to the climate negotiations and the EU’s targets for reducing CO₂.
Unfortunately, the EU is completely out of tune with science when it comes to the domestic reduction efforts needed to stay below the two degrees threshold, primarily because of its intention to meet a very large part of the effort through external credits.
Then there are the staggering economic costs. Two years ago Nicholas Stern, head of the UK government economic service, warned that immediate action was required to mitigate the worst effects associated with global warming. Stern said starting now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby avoiding the worst aspects of climate change, would cost only 1% of global Gross Domestic Product each year. But doing nothing for the next 20 years, he added, would eventually cost the annual global GDP up to 20%.
The adoption of the Renewables Directive is a great first step towards solving these immense problems.
The ball is now in the Member States’ court. Good and speedy implementation of the new legislation at the national level is now needed.
Wind power is ready to play an integral role in being part of the solution.
9 December 2008