Climate change poses one of the greatest challenges to the world community, and energy technology will play a central role. Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the driving policy framework for the EU.
The 2005 Spring Council endorsed the target of limiting the future global average temperature increase to 2ºC above pre-industrial level and indicated its willingness to explore with other countries the possibility of reducing greenhouse gas emission from industrialised countries by 15-30% by the year 2020.
CO2 is by far the most important greenhouse gas in the EU, accounting for 82% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Of that, electricity and heat production comprises the largest source. Since 1990, C02 emissions in the EU15 have increased by 3.4% and from 2002-2003 increased by 1.8%, 59 million tonnes. This was mainly due to an increase in power production using coal.
Renewable energies such as wind power are today providing a central role. The European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment on greenhouse gas emission trends in Europe concluded that “the promotion of renewable energy has the greatest impact on emissions in most EU Member States for both implemented and planned policies”. According to EEA analysis, “the largest emissions savings for the EU-15 are projected to be from renewable energy policies, followed by the landfi ll directive”.
By 2010, wind energy in Europe is predicted to have saved over 500 million tonnes of CO2. The 75 GW of wind energy installed in Europe by 2010 is expected to meet one third of the EU’s 2010 Kyoto target.
Limiting carbon from fossil fuels is at the heart of climate change policies. Wind energy is a leading part of the solution.