This is the final installment of a five-part series on the changes and developments taking place in the United States and Europe in connection with global efforts to combat accelerating global warming, a major issue to be addressed at the upcoming Group of Eight summit meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany
High-ranking officials from 14 Asian and European countries gathered in a conference room at Vestas Wind Systems AS, a maker of wind power generators in Ringkobing, a town in western Denmark known for being the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen.
Vestas Chief Executive Officer Ditlev Engel reminded the officials, “Wind is free.”
Zhou Jian, vice minister of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration, and the first secretary of the Indian Embassy in Denmark, were among the visitors who listened keenly to Engel’s words.
Vestas’ sales of wind power machines have risen nearly 300-fold over the last 20 years, reaching 28.7 billion Danish krone, or about 630 billion yen, in 2006.
The company, whose machines generate about 30 percent of the world’s wind power, organized a tour of its plant for foreign officials to coincide with a meeting of environment ministers at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Copenhagen in April.
The 1973 oil crisis prompted the Danish government to develop wind power generation, and today, wind power accounts for about 16.8 percent of the country’s total electricity output.
In the 1980s, the government and electricity companies joined forces to implement policies for buying electricity generated by wind power, thereby paving the way for an increase in windmills.
The Danish government plans to raise its ratio of recyclable energy, including power generated by wind and solar systems, to more than 30 percent of its total by 2025.
The climate change issue has boosted recyclable energy across the world, and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) estimates that wind power can potentially provide as much as 29 percent of the world’s electricity by 2030.
In Asia, wind power has been enjoying rising popularity in recent years.
According to GWEC, the annual growth rate of power generated by wind reached 52 percent in 2006, 34 percentage points higher than Europe.
Industrial countries’ promotion of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which reduces greenhouse gas emissions in underdeveloped countries, has helped expand the market in the third world.
China and India in particular have seen rapid growth in wind power generation, and Vestas’ sales to the two countries ranks fifth and fourth respectively.
In anticipation of an expanding market, Vestas opened a factory to produce components for wind power generators in Tianjin, China, last year.
Vestas also succeeded in selling one of its wind power systems to a CDM project in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
Vestas Vice President Peter Kruse said, “We are very much interested in the future of China and India’s huge markets.”
Former Indian Environment and Forests Minister Andimuthu Raja–currently the communications and information technology minister–said on May 17 in Parliament that industrialized and developing countries were fighting a war over global warming, but since India had not polluted the environment, it could not commit to lower emission levels.
His remark demonstrates that although India and industrialized countries are conducting joint business, India is reticent about setting a greenhouse gas reduction goal.
On May 21 when former South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Han Seung Soo visited China as a special envoy of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan stressed that industrialized countries should take the initiative in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transferring technology, and providing financial assistance to developing countries.
He also said that China planned to take measures in line with the nation’s circumstances, thus distancing the country from the emissions reduction goal mapped out by industrial countries.
In October, the European Union announced it would establish a 100 million euro (about 16.4 billion yen) fund to speed up the spread of recyclable energy in developing countries. The fund is designed to encourage developing countries to accelerate energy investments.
Japan has high hopes for the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a U.S.-led initiative through which developed countries will attempt to find common ground with developing countries through technology assistance in specific sectors, such as renewable energy and steel.
In a meeting to be held in Tokyo next month, the partnership’s members will begin discussions on how to allocate funds for emission reduction projects.
There are no road maps for reducing greenhouse gas emissions after 2013, when the Kyoto Protocol expires, despite global warming having become a pressing issue.
It remains to be seen what kind of agreements will be reached at the Group of Eight summit meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany, this week. The G-8 leaders bear a heavy and unprecedented responsibility.
5 June 2007
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