Wind power can help the world manage climate change
As the second half of 2009 begins in a blaze of summer glory, when many people are more focused on a well-deserved annual holiday than on potential catastrophes associated with global warming, it is important that European policy makers continue to work towards reaching a new post-Kyoto pact in Copenhagen in December.
In the last several years Europe has proven time and again that it is the global leader when it comes to promoting wind power and other renewables as a way of de-carbonising our future and helping to mitigate climate change.
True, there have been hiccups along the way, but overall the European Union and its Member States have established an enviable environmental benchmark that provides other nations with a path to a cleaner, healthier way of life.
And, judging by recent media reports alone, it certainly seems that the world is becoming increasingly focused on coming up with a new agreement curtailing greenhouse gas emissions at the UN climate change conference in Denmark.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said as much last week when his country, which has the highest levels of renewable energy in Europe, assumed the EU’s six-month rotating presidency.
“Perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation is managing climate change,” Reinfeldt said at a press conference with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. “There is no time to lose. We will do everything in our power to reach an international climate agreement in Copenhagen in December.”
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) hopes that Reinfeldt’s enthusiasm for brokering a new Kyoto agreement will influence US senators who will soon be voting on that country’s proposed legislation which would see greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 17% of 2005 levels by 2020.
Compared to EU emissions-reduction targets (at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020), the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which was narrowly approved by the House two weeks ago, is not aggressive enough to effectively deal with global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.
But, as they say in the political world, some legislation is better than no legislation. This will be especially true if the proposed US bill is given the green light by the Senate, an event that would then allow America to use its considerable influence while embracing a new international Kyoto treaty.
EWEA believes that while the American legislative process unfolds, Reinfeldt should take advantage of the EU’s global leadership position to encourage other countries to reach a new agreement in Copenhagen.
The Swedish prime minister should also promote wind power and other renewables as a way of kick-starting the lagging economy, providing increasing amounts of clean, sustainable, dependable and affordable electricity, and helping the beleaguered environment recover from 150 years of carbon dioxide heating up the atmosphere.
The world will be watching as politicians gather in Denmark five months from now to discuss our collective future. Reinfeldt has a golden opportunity to be at centre stage of those crucial negotiations. On behalf of close to 500 million EU citizens, he should use his tremendous influence accordingly.