Enercon, Acciona urge climate action

Wind and solar have a pivotal role in fighting climate change, as the dramatic report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that urgent action is needed, renewables companies and associations stress.

“Renewable energies alone can supply the world with energy in a way that climate change – one of the biggest threats to mankind in this century – at least can be moderated somewhat,” Ruth Brand-Schock, head of governmental relations at Germany’s leading wind turbine manufacturer, Enercon, tells Recharge.

“Onshore wind energy offers large amounts of affordable electricity also for countries with a weaker infrastructure. But for that we need the political will of governments and an accompanying policy by the World Bank and other financial institutions to support a rapid transition towards renewable energies.”

Proof that the earth is warming up faster than previously expected is overwhelming, the IPCC concludes in its fifth assessment report on climate change, published today. The panel warns of more frequent heat waves in already dry regions and disastrous rainfall in wet regions that could flood coastal regions and entire islands permanently.

Spanish company Acciona, which is active in wind and solar, says the IPCC’s warning must provide a trigger for action.

“A comprehensive, effective and ambitious global response must be agreed at the UN climate change meeting in Paris in 2015, which means we need to start working now to greatly enhance global cooperation and build the foundations for a workable deal and investment in low-carbon solutions,” says Carmen Becerril, chief international officer at Acciona.

German environment minister Peter Altmaier also said an "ambitious new agreement" on climate protection needs to be reached by 2015.

"The EU has to take the leadership here," Altmaier said in Berlin. He added the emission trading system needs to be strengthened, while the EU also has to establish ambitious climate protection targets for 2030.

Germany's stance within the EU regarding the ETS could actually change now after the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) in elections last Sunday was kicked out of parliament.

The FDP had rejected measures to strengthen the ETS, in effect blocking the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel from pushing for it at an EU level.

Merkel now has to negotiate a new government coalition with either the Social Democrats (SPD) or Greens, both of which support a more progressive climate policy.

Renewables associations across Europe reacted to the IPCC’s report with a call for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pushing renewable energy to the forefront of power production.

"The new report from the IPCC is yet another demonstration of the urgency of fully embarking in an energy transition away from conventional fossil fuel generation, embracing the renewables revolution," said Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive at the European Wind Energy Association, or EWEA.

"Surely no European government can question the importance and economic sense of policies to decarbonise their electricity systems through wind power and renewables. The EU must maintain its political and technological leadership and adopt ambitious renewable energy targets for 2030," he urged.

Groups in the UK and Germany echoed EWEA's plea.

“Wind has a vital role to play in this, given that as a result of wind-power deployment in the UK we are reducing by ten million tonnes every year the amount of carbon that we pump in to the atmosphere,” urges Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of Renewable UK.

"This report shows that we cannot rest on our laurels though, we have to make sure that we hit our 2020 carbon reduction targets as well as looking beyond 2020 so we can create a decarbonised economy fit for the future.”

The results of the fifth climate report show more than clearly how crucial the Energiewende – Germany’s transition towards renewables – is, Urs Wahl, policy officer at the national offshore wind industry alliance OWIA, tells Recharge.

“In the future we need a reliable power supply around the clock, and offshore wind power can play this role as its energy production is close to a base load supply,” Wahl adds.

“Offshore wind-energy plants are slowing down global warming because of their climate neutral energy production.”

Solar groups also lobbied for a fast reaction to the IPCC's report. Germany's solar industry federation, the BSW, says renewables are indispensable for removing "climate killer" emissions.

"There's no contradiction between economy and ecology - to the contrary. Also, financially, we can't afford any longer to slow down the energy transition," Carsten Körnig, the BSW's managing director, tells Recharge, echoing remarks by IPCC members that the longer action against climate change is delayed, the more expensive it becomes for the world economy.

"The report of the IPCC must push politicians into action. They have to reform the emission trading system to end the renaissance of dirty coal and lignite," Körnig says, adding that solar would for long have been considered competitive if the costs of the consequences of fossil and nuclear power were priced in.