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Brussels in brief, WW200905

New EWEA paper presents six “W”s of climate change


As the countdown to the key United Nations climate change meeting in Copenhagen begins, EWEA has released a position paper calling for rapid and decisive action to avoid catastrophic long-term damage to civilisation and presenting wind energy as a key solution. The paper is structured around six ‘W’s – why, where, when, what, who and wind.

In December, the 192 nations involved in the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet to decide how to improve the climate regime after the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012. The latest reports from the scientists are dismal: oceans are acidifying and ice caps are melting much quicker than anticipated and emission trends are following the worst of the International Panel for Climate Change’s scenarios.

Wind power, which produces no CO2, avoids the greenhouse gases (GHG) that would otherwise be released through the burning of fossil fuels. The wind power capacity installed at the end of 2008 in the EU avoids the emission of 108 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 annually – equivalent to taking more than 55 million cars off the road. By 2020, a predicted 230 GW of installed wind power could avoid the emission of 420 Mt of CO2 a year, equivalent to 36% of the EU’s GHG target . Wind also stimulates the economy by creating jobs and encouraging investments at home, rather than transfers of wealth to fuel-exporting nations.

EWEA agrees with the IPCC that a target consistent with the range of 25%-40% by 2020 is necessary to give us a 50% chance of avoiding the 2°C temperature increase. However it calls for industralised countries to agree a minimum 30% absolute, economy-wide, reduction target by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Anything below an 80%-90% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 falls short of recent scientific evidence.

As for developing nations, EWEA believes they should follow a ‘significant deviation’ from the business-as-usual scenario, avoiding fossil fuels and moving straight to an approach based on renewable energies and energy efficiency. EWEA gives a set of economic indicators to ensure efforts are fairly shared between developed and developing countries based on GDP and other criteria. The least developed countries need to be helped to develop without GHG production by financial means and project based mechanisms.

In terms of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, EWEA believes that revised additionality rules should make it easier for wind projects to be eligible for CDM under a future agreement. It warns that without the incentive of the Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) awarded to CDM projects, companies may choose to remain in industralised countries where the regulatory framework is favourable. Other issues to resolve are the heavy CDM administrative burden and inadequate grid infrastructure.

Finally, EWEA argues for a price to be put on carbon in the energy sector. This will readjust the current situation where polluting technologies benefit from the socialisation of costs and privatisation of profits. Additionally, emission trading can generate substantial revenues, which can be used to support mitigation actions at national or international level.

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