Opinion: Wind power is already replacing expensive, poisonous fossil fuels
Last week, events on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean emphasised how energy and climate change issues will dominate the 21st century as the world begins to reduce its destructive dependence on oil, gas and coal.
On Tuesday, Czech President Vaclav Klaus finally ratified the Lisbon Treaty which, after eight years of back and forth negotiations, will allow a streamlined Europe to become more efficient at home while solidifying its position as a major player in the global community.
The Treaty gives the EU, for the first time, clear competence for energy, and states that “Union policy on energy” shall ensure the functioning of the energy market and security of energy supply in the Union, while promoting energy efficiency, new and renewable forms of energy, and the interconnection of energy networks.
The same day in Washington, the EU and the US established a new transatlantic Energy Council which will promote cooperation in energy security, technological research and policies allowing the two regions to move towards a necessary low-carbon future.
Both the events will help Europe, and the world, deal with increasingly complex problems such as reaching a new, strengthened post-Kyoto agreement on limiting greenhouse gases caused by carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels.
As EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs stated, the new Council is a welcome, timely initiative considering growing concerns regarding energy security and climate change.
Indeed, unrelenting global media coverage reminds us daily of the escalating importance of mitigating global warming and embarking on a green energy revolution that casts aside expensive, polluting and environmentally-destructive oil, gas and coal while embracing wind power and other renewables.
Both the new EU-US Council and the Lisbon Treaty should also put the spotlight on negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol which begin at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in less than a month.
Yet despite the enormous global threat posed by unchecked climate change, it is now quite obvious that political leaders are struggling to come up with a new agreement in Denmark.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reminds policy makers that credible scientists have been warning for years that CO₂ levels have to peak by 2015 and then decline rapidly if humankind is to avoid an unmanageable temperature increase of more than 2°C.
EWEA also notes that affordable, local, dependable and sustainable technologies such as wind power are presently in place and can greatly help in the necessary transformation to a renewable energy society.
Evidence of what is already possible occurred in Spain early on Thursday. For almost six hours, wind met over 40% of total electricity demand - providing at its peak a new record of 45.1% - and proving once again just how beneficial wind energy can be.
Science tells us that global warming has put the world on the edge of a precipice. Technology tells us that climate change solutions already exist.
Decision-makers need to put two and two together and act in Copenhagen to reach an ambitious agreement that recognises the huge potential of proven wind technology in slashing carbon emissions around the world.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her address to both US houses of Congress last week while encouraging Washington to sign up to a new climate agreement in Copenhagen, “We have no time to lose.”
Chris Rose, EWEA