Opinion: With six weeks to go, UN climate change talks take on critical importance
The international community should have greater confidence in achieving an ambitious outcome. Climate change negotiators should be buoyed by the knowledge that wind power alone can deliver a huge chunk of greenhouse gas savings.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has raised the ante in the run-up to the crucially important United Nations climate change conference that begins in December.
In a passionate speech to the Major Economies Forum, which represents 17 nations responsible for about 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, Brown has warned that the world faces a catastrophe unless governments work harder and faster to secure a new, strengthened post-Kyoto agreement in Copenhagen.
“In every era there are one or two moments when nations come together and reach agreements that make history because they change the course of history, and Copenhagen must be such a time,” Brown said last week in London.
Noting that as many as 325 million people are already affected by drought, disease, floods, and reduced food supplies, Brown said a further 500 million are at extreme risk. Every year, he added, climate change is already killing 300,000 people.
He said 98% of those dying and seriously affected live in the poorest countries, and yet their nations account for only 8% of global emissions. He also said that the threat is not confined to the developing world and pointed out the 2003 summer heat-wave in Europe resulted in 35,000 extra deaths.
Brown’s call to action was echoed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy who last week said the leaders of the world’s biggest economies (G8) should meet before Copenhagen to speed-up the negotiation process. “Given the complexity of the situation, a new summit is necessary,” he said.
Suggesting mid-November as a good time for the G8 to meet, Sarkozy highlighted the pressing need to agree on how to finance the plans to combat climate change, in particular aid for developing countries. The topic of climate financing is also high on the agenda of this week’s summit of EU leaders.
The politics may be complicated, but the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) believes the international community should have greater confidence in achieving an ambitious outcome. Climate change negotiators should be buoyed by the knowledge that wind power alone can deliver a huge chunk of greenhouse gas savings.
By 2020 wind energy should avoid the emission of 333 million tonnes of CO₂ per, equivalent to 29% of the EU’s current greenhouse gas reduction target of 20% in 11 years time, EWEA’s calculations show.
Wind energy is a proven technology that is local, affordable, sustainable and dependable and it is already delivering massive greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Yes, the negotiations will be complex, difficult and frustrating. But too much is at stake to allow pessimism the upper hand. EWEA remains confident that a deal will be sealed, but the planet’s future hangs on whether it will be ambitious enough.
Christian Kjaer, CEO, EWEA