More commitment to wind power could mean hitting global emission reduction targets. But it’s looking unlikely

November was an important month for climate change mitigation. The International Energy Agency made a historic first, initiating dialogue on climate change. It advises that to achieve the goal of keeping any global temperature rise to 2C, only one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed before 2050.

All eyes then turned to COP 18 in Doha, and the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change’s long-awaited energy bill. The latter signals a switch away from coal towards nuclear and renewables, particularly wind, but with consumers facing higher bills to pay for new power installations.

With the window of opportunity to stave off runaway climate change narrowing, the stakes are higher than ever. Even so, “the politics don’t look very good”, says the latest Global Wind Energy Outlook (GWEO) report.

To rein in climate change, annual global emissions must be pared down from the IEA’s 2020 business-as-usual scenario of 56bn tonnes of CO2, to a 44bn tonne goal. Today, however, there is already a “gap” of 10bn tonnes of CO2 per year between current confirmed national emission reduction targets and that 2020 goal.

“Even if the pledges made in Copenhagen and confirmed in Cancún are met in full, a gap of...

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