With just six months to go, trends are emerging in post-Kyoto pact talks
Last week saw a flurry of developments from nations attempting to reach an agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions in time for the crucial United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December.
One of the most important developments was China’s claim that it will easily match Europe’s target of producing one-fifth of its energy requirements from wind, solar and other renewables by 2020.
According to The Guardian, the vice-chairman of China’s national development and reform commission, Zhang Xiaoqiang, said the country is now thinking about levels more than three times higher than its current 2020 target of 15% renewable energy.
If China’s newest plans are successful, the nation could soon eclipse the EU’s international leadership position of using wind power and other renewables to enhance energy security, provide a boost to the moribund economy through a new green industrial revolution, and help heal the environment deal with global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.
Another development from last week was evidence that greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for many countries and/or regions are still way too low, according to international climate scientists. They say there needs to be cuts of between 25% to 40% by 2020 if humankind is going to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
Japan’s new target, announced last week, would see a 15% reduction by 2020 from 2005 levels. This compares with the United States’ proposed target of 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, Australia’s target of 5% to 15% from 2000 levels by 2020, and the European Union’s recent legislation which vows to slash emissions by at least 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, and possibly by 30% if other industrialised nations set similar targets.
Lastly, what became crystal clear last week is that there is some movement towards reaching a new agreement. For instance, the US indicated on Friday that it would drop its long-held demand that China and other developing nations commit to cutting greenhouse gases. Instead, while industrialised countries set emission-reduction targets, poorer nations trying to boost their economies and catch up to the affluent West could help by developing more renewable energies and raising energy efficiency standards.
Following two weeks of international talks that concluded in Bonn on Friday, the UN’s top climate change official, Yvo de Boer, appeared upbeat that a post-Kyoto pact could be attained by December, despite the need to still resolve outstanding key issues. “Governments have made it clearer what they want to see in the Copenhagen agreed outcome,” de Boer was reported by Associated Press as saying.
Considering the rather bleak alternative of unchecked global warming, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) urges politicians and their climate change negotiators to further intensify efforts to reach a meaningful and workable post-Kyoto pact in December.
EWEA also encourages EU policy makers, despite the economic downturn, to continue to make large-scale investments in wind power and other renewables as a way of providing a welcome explosion in new high-technology jobs, exports, research, and lower electricity prices.
Such investments in our collective future will pay off for Europe, and the rest of the world. As the clock continues ticking, there is no other way forward.