Governments told no more hot air over wind energy growth

The wind energy sector has called on governments to “get serious” about the energy transition and work with the private sector to rapidly scale up wind and renewable energy installations.

With the COP26 summit weeks away more than 90 of the world’s leading wind energy companies, led by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), including manufacturers, supply chain actors, investors and industry bodies from around the world have united to support a new manifesto issued this week.

GWEC said wind energy is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world, with a record 93GW of installations in 2020. However, current growth rates are falling behind a net zero trajectory and will only put us on-track for 43% of the wind capacity required by 2050, according to leading international energy institutions IRENA and the IEA. To get on-track, annual wind energy installations worldwide must quadruple within the next decade.

The manifesto calls for eight key actions which include:

  1. Increase wind power ambition and reflect this in updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), comprehensive national climate strategies and long-term energy plans.
  2. Commit to rapid phase out of coal-based generation now.
  3. Design and implement energy markets for the future.
  4. Implement streamlined and sensible permitting schemes for renewable energy projects to accelerate deployment and minimise project attrition.
  5. Initiate plans to rapidly build out clean energy grids and charging stations for electric vehicles.
  6. Develop cohesive and inclusive policies which dedicate public resource to the people-centred shift to a net zero economy.
  7. Align national and regional finance flows with benchmarks for a net zero, 1.5°C-compliant pathway.
  8. Advance voluntary cooperation on carbon pricing under articles 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris agreement.

“The renewables industry is already delivering decarbonisation of the global power sector,” it added. “Wind power already provides more than 1.2 million jobs around the world, while transforming economies and communities for good.”

The Manifesto urges governments to work with industry to enact a shift in energy and economic policymaking to a “climate emergency” approach.

Ben Backwell, GWEC CEO, explained: “Governments must respond decisively to the current climate emergency to ensure a viable future for current and future generations. Achieving a rapid transition from fossil fuels is a key part of the solution.

“This Manifesto sets out the meaningful actions that governments need to carry out to realise the energy transition. Governments need to aim higher and deeper – updating their NDCs to drive real change, cutting red tape and streamline permitting procedures, and supporting vital investments in infrastructure. The recent volatility in global energy markets shows the importance of moving decisively to phase out of coal and other fossil fuel based generation and create energy markets which are fit for purpose for a clean and sustainable future.”

Rebecca Williams, Director of COP26 at GWEC, added: “We already have the tools and the technology we need to tackle climate change. What we don’t have yet is the unprecedented political will we need to make this happen.

“Our Manifesto sets out eight clear actions policymakers and governments must take to seize the vast economic, environmental and social opportunities that wind energy provides, helping meet NDCs and achieve sustainable growth. World leaders gathering in Glasgow next month have a chance to get serious about driving the new era of renewable energy, not stifling it.”

The manifesto warned time is running out and actions not words are needed.

“There is no more time left to delay or deliberate,” it stated. “The climate science and global outlooks are clear: With three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions originating in the energy sector, rapid decarbonisation is urgent and vital.

“We need to act now to enable a worldwide energy transition within this decade or face the intensifying risks and perils of a hotter world, which will be unhabitable for much of humanity and the natural world. COP26 must mark the start of a new era of sustainable development powered by renewable energy. Wind energy is at the heart of climate change mitigation. With nearly 800GW of installations worldwide, wind power already helps the world to avoid more than 1.1 billion tonnes of CO2 emission annually – equivalent to Latin America’s entire annual carbon emissions.

“The wind industry is also a major provider of skilled jobs, socioeconomic benefits, innovation and investment, transforming economies and communities for good around the world. It plays a crucial role in revitalising nations by upgrading infrastructure and contributing to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy systems. It is a cross-cutting solution that can support the decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries such as transport, steel, cement and chemicals. And it supports nature, biodiversity and agriculture.”

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