Wind energy can meet 65% of tabled 2020 emissions reductions by industrialised countries

“Wind power is rapidly emerging as a key technology towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, when presenting the figures at a joint UNEP/GWEC press conference in Copenhagen. “A serious and significant deal in Copenhagen represents a golden opportunity to accelerate its uptake and widen its penetration into many more countries in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions, generate electricity, get clean energy to those without access to it and boost employment.”

The GWEC analysis puts into context the degree to which wind power can help achieve the current Annex I pledges in the 2020 timeframe. These pledges, including the US, the EU, Norway, Japan and Russia, add up to 13-20% of aggregate emissions reductions by 2020. According to GWEC’s most ambitious scenario for wind energy development, wind could produce 2,600 TWh of electricity and safe 1.5bn tons of CO2 in 2020. This would represent between 42% and 65% of Annex I pledges.

“These figures tell us two things,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. “First, that wind energy alone could contribute a very large share of the emissions reductions under the pledges put forward so far. Secondly, they show how woefully inadequate and lacking in ambition the pledges to date are. Efficiency, stopping deforestation and other renewable energy technologies can also make significant contributions. Much more can be achieved, and much more must be achieved, if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.”

Emissions reductions of at least 25-40% below 1990 levels are required avoid the worst impacts of climate change. With wind energy and other clean energy technologies that are available now, this and more can be achieved. According to GWEC, global wind energy alone could contribute 34% of a 25% emissions reduction and 21% of a 40% emissions reduction.

The GWEC document also outlines emissions reductions potentials from wind power in Europe, the US, India and China, concluding that wind power, if properly deployed, can take all of these regions a big step towards reaching their climate goals.

“The wind energy sector stands ready to contribute a total of 10 bn tons of CO2 reductions by 2020,” concluded Sawyer. “Industrialised countries can and must review their pledges for reduction targets and raise them very substantially, as well as assisting developing countries’ often ambitious programmes to decarbonise their electricity systems with both public finance and private investment through the carbon markets.“

“The economics and the benefits of renewables and in particular wind power are becoming increasingly convincing – Copenhagen is the moment for governments and world leaders to match this reality with convincing decisions on emission reductions, financing and technology,” added Mr Steiner.