Opinion: Wind power is helping to provide the path to a better tomorrow
There are now less than two weeks before the UN Climate Change Conference opens its door to politicians trying to reach a new agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and there still seems to be no consensus emerging as to how the all-important negotiations will pan out.
Within the past month the world was told there simply was not enough time for nations to find a legally binding agreement before the conference in Copenhagen ends on 18 December. Instead, according to government spin doctors, a political agreement could be reached in Denmark that would pave the way for a binding agreement halfway through 2010, perhaps in Mexico.
Between these two quite opposite positions, between hope and dismay, media reports continue to reveal scientific studies showing that climate change is happening faster than scientists thought possible even three years ago and that it is unlikely humankind will be able to change quickly enough to keep global temperature increase to a somewhat manageable 2°C.
Other reports show that many people don’t really understand the potential severity of climate change, and have little trust in either the scientists or the politicians attempting to deal with the issue. There are even stories that show, at least in some parts of the world, that the public is becoming bored with the entire discussion of global warming.
This frenzied, disparate stalemate wasn’t the way it was supposed to evolve when negotiators and political leaders agreed two years ago at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia they would work towards a new, stronger international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.
Considering that global CO₂ emissions have to peak by 2015 to avoid climate catastrophe, perhaps politicians should take a moment to listen to the quiet advice of Margareta Wahlström.
Head of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Wahlström said Friday that not only is climate change already occurring, but that the world can expect more increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters aggravated by global warming.
“Those of us that have worked with disasters for a long time have already seen these extremes developing,” Wahlström said in an interview.
“What I really hope comes out of Copenhagen, whether we have a legally binding agreement or not, is a determined sense by world leaders that they have to continue to pursue practical action and to provide strong support for the collaboration that is required to move forward,” she said. “And, above all, not to let up until they have hopefully within a very short time frame a legally binding agreement.”
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, believes the Copenhagen talks will lead to a formal treaty within six months.
“There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that it [Copenhagen] will yield a success,” de Boer said last week, adding the three main points coming out of the conference must include transparent targets by industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, a list of actions by developing nations, and clear short- and long-term financing to support developing countries on both mitigation and adaptation.
Barring a last-minute legally binding treaty being reached at the Copenhagen talks, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) agrees with both Wahlström and de Boer.
It is crucially important, EWEA believes, that political momentum to reach a new international pact on curbing greenhouse gases, such as CO₂, caused by burning fossil fuels not be allowed to falter at this late hour.
The international community needs emission-reduction targets agreed to by both the developed and developing world. Wealthy industrialised nations responsible for much of the climate change debacle must also provide necessary financing to poor nations trying to deal with global warming.
EWEA reminds policy makers that the positive future we all want can only occur after a new legally binding agreement has been signed.
When that occurs, when we have begun to liberate ourselves from the tyranny of the expensive and destructive high-carbon world, we can begin embracing a healthier, cleaner tomorrow.
Emissions-free wind power — which is affordable, local, sustainable and dependable — is already proving a better tomorrow is possible.
Chris Rose, EWEA