Okay, now the hard work begins Wind power benefits can help European heads of state remain resolute
The wide-spread euphoria generated by the December decision of European politicians to finally endorse the Renewable Energy Directive and other aspects of the EU climate and energy package sure didn’t last long.
As a matter of fact, 1 January 2009 delivered a brutal wake-up call to policy makers who may have thought that their new legislation guaranteed that global de-carbonisation and ensuring greater use of green electricity would be an easy and orderly affair.
Indeed, deep in the midst of our post-Christmas slumber, the giant Russian energy utility Gazprom once again flexed its muscles in a bitter contract dispute and reduced its natural gas supplies to Ukraine, which slowed down the fuel feed to several southeastern EU nations as well. That this occurred while the cold winds of winter were blowing seemed not to matter to Gazprom at all. Once again, security of energy supply became an issue, especially considering that the EU depends on Russia for one-quarter of its gas. Once again, it was a case of the old politics as usual.
And on another front, one of the most respected climate scientists in the world crafted a personal message to US President-elect Barack Obama which, in effect, implored him to make good on the progressively green agenda he promised during the hotly-contested election campaign. In his letter to Obama, James Hansen of NASA also said that current science indicates that carbon-reduction goals have to be drastically increased if our planet is to be saved from the worst effects of global warming caused by humankind’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) believes that the meaning of these two stark New Year’s Day messages is inescapable, especially for EU politicians. While the world’s largest trading bloc still leads in both climate legislation and wind power, to remain successful Europe has to stay focused on implementing, or even improving, the goal that heads of state agreed to in December.
Policy makers from the 27 nations need to remain united, find ways for Member States to determine how to reach their share of the 20% by 2020 renewables target and reduce CO₂ emissions at the same time. Steady progress towards a better future needs to be the new political mantra.
Politicians also have to find the will to encourage non-EU countries to reach consensus on a post-Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the UN’s next annual climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. If they do so, Europe will increase its goal of reducing GHGs to 20% less than 1990 levels by 2020 to 30%.
Despite the immense complexity of the task at hand, and the many detours that will no doubt occur in the next 11 months, EWEA urges policy makers to remain resolute.
By doing so, Europe can prove to the world that a unified call to action on confronting climate change while endorsing the many benefits of wind power and other renewables is eminently achievable.
If ever there was a time to put aside narrow national interests and act on a broader solution, it is now.
07 January 2009