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EWEA's Opinion

EWEA's opinion

28.07.2009

Using wind power to help save the world

With only five months to go until international negotiators converge upon Copenhagen to try and hammer out a new post-Kyoto agreement on climate change, it is worth noting that two senior UN officials last week publicly discussed costs associated with mitigating global warming.

Yvo De Boer, who is chairman of the negotiations, told the BBC that the world’s wealthiest countries will have to pledge at least €7 billion in order to facilitate a successful conclusion to the December meeting.

De Boer, who heads the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,  said the cost of global warming as a result of greenhouse gas emissions must be shared by all and the €7 billion from rich countries, which he described as a good beginning, would help developing nations.

“(It) will allow developing countries to begin preparing national plans to limit their own emissions, and to adapt to climate change,” he told the BBC.

Two days earlier, the world’s top climate change expert told the Guardian that plans to tackle global warming could actually save nations more money than they cost.

“The cost could undoubtedly be negative overall,” said Rajendra Pachauri, who leads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), adding that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would bring additional benefits beyond limiting global temperature increases.

The Guardian noted that prior to Pachauri’s comment, estimates of the price of preventing climate change have been significant. The Stern report of 2006 concluded that 1% of global GDP would be needed, the newspaper said, noting Stern has since revised his estimate to 2%.

Pachauri, who has won a Nobel Peace Prize for his scientific achievements, said the additional benefits include better energy security, protecting consumers from oil price hikes, new jobs in green industries, better agricultural practices, lower air pollution and decreasing health costs.

He told the Guardian that if the costs are negative, then “inertia and vested interests would be washed away.”

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is heartened by both of last week’s stories since they point out obvious truths that need to be accepted and then acted upon.

Firstly, EWEA believes that De Boer’s comments are logical in that there is only one planet Earth and we all share the same atmosphere. In addition, there will likely be no post-Kyoto agreement at all unless the wealthier nations, which produced most of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions during the last 150 years since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, help developing countries to work on their own emission-reduction plans.

Secondly, EWEA thinks Pachauri’s point is also well taken. While the world is naturally fixated on controlling unhealthy and destructive temperature increases due to burning fossil fuels, there will obviously be secondary benefits brought about from humankind pursuing a lower-carbon future.

Lastly, wind energy is already making a significant difference in the fight against global warming.  The 65 GW of EU wind energy capacity installed by the end of 2008 will avoid the emission of 108 million tonnes of CO₂ annually – equivalent to taking 55 million cars off the road and equal to 24% of the EU-27’s Kyoto obligation. Wind power, as the frontrunner renewable technology, offers emissions-free power and, unlike nuclear and carbon capture and storage, can be deployed immediately and begin reducing CO₂ emissions within the window of opportunity outlined by the IPCC.

With the historic Copenhagen conference already on the horizon, EWEA reminds politicians that by embracing a dramatic increase in global wind power they can use the many bounties associated with the proven technology to help mitigate climate change.

There is little time to spare; wind power should be unleashed.

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