Harness the wind to tackle climate change

Wind energy is already fighting climate change: in 2008, wind power in the EU avoided the emission of 91 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2. In 2012, wind power in the EU will avoid the emission of 146 million tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to 32% of the EU’s Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction target. EWEA says that it expects wind energy to avoid the emission of 333 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2020. This is the equivalent to 29% of the EU’s current greenhouse gas reduction target of 20% by 2020.

Wind power replaces fossil fuels and their sizeable CO2 emissions, and therefore helps combat climate change. Because wind turbines do not consume fuel and their operation and maintenance expenses are low, the marginal cost of wind power is minimal.

Therefore, an increase in the amount of wind power in the electricity mix means that more expensive and polluting technologies (oil, coal and gas) are pushed out of the market.

To calculate how much CO2 is avoided by producing electricity from wind power, it can be assumed that each kWh of wind power displaces a kWh created by the energy mix of coal, oil and gas at the time of production. On average in the EU in 2008, each kWh produced by wind energy saves approximately 666 grammes of CO2.

As soon as you turn the lights on you need a power plant, and all power plants have a CO2 impact during their construction. Lifecycle emissions include the building of the plant, fuel extraction and transport, operation and maintenance. A wind turbine reimburses the energy and CO2 it cost to build it in three to six months. Wind energy has the lowest lifecycle emissions of all energy production technologies.

The EU’s Emissions Trading System puts a cost on emitting CO2. By auctioning permits to the power sector for emitting CO2, major polluters have to pay for releasing greenhouse gases. It sends a clear message to investors: the cost of climate change, currently borne by society, will be increasingly shifted towards the polluter.

Wind power offers additional environmental benefits, compared to conventional plants, such as:
• No NOx emissions (precursors for ground level ozone causing health impacts and GHG warming).
• No other air pollutants like sulphur dioxide (causing acid rain) or particles which have carcinogenic effects and severely affect human health.
• No water use during operation.
• Zero fuel extraction.

Wanted: ambitious climate agreement in Copenhagen


Because without a global solution, temperatures will rise above 2°C, and climate change will overwhelm human civilisation.

By 2020, we need a target consistent with the range of 25%-40% identified by the IPCC to give us a 50% chance of avoiding
the 2°C temperature rise. By 2050, anything below an 80%-90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions falls short of recent scientific evidence.


Industrialised countries must agree a minimum 30% absolute, economy-wide reduction target by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, excluding offsets which must come on top. The more advanced developing countries must avoid the use of fossil fuels and move rapidly to a renewable energy economy, with ambitious 2050 targets. Least Developed Countries should not be burdened by reduction
targets but helped by financial means and project based mechanisms towards GHG-free development

CDM offsets must not supplement domestic action and need to be reformed. Renewable energy projects like wind power lock in truly clean development. Revised additionality rules should make it easier for wind CDM projects need a better geographical spread and lower administrative burdens.

Putting a price on carbon will make wind power more cost competitive by removing a market distortion. Carbon markets can raise revenues that can be used to support policies to mitigate climate change. Caps on emissions or reduction targets must be ambitious.
• Sectoral agreements and other tools should be explored as ways to reduce emissions.


Is a key solution in the fight against climate change! In order to meet the goal of the global average temperature increase being limited to not more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as advocated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global greenhouse gas emissions will have to peak by 2015 and decline thereafter.