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Renewables part of Kyoto protocol

Development of renewable energy is now enshrined as an official goal of the world's major industrial nations. In a sub-clause of Article 2 of the global warming agreement to have come out of Kyoto, "promotion, research, development and increased use of new and renewable forms of energy" is one of a series of policies and measures that each signatory should "implement and/or further elaborate" to achieve its "quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments." The overall goal of the agreement is to promote sustainable development.While the European and American wind delegations in attendance at the third Conference of Parties (COP3) on the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change would not claim to have directly influenced the outcome, they feel the days spent in Kyoto were well worthwhile. Being seen to be there was important, says Christophe Bourillon of the European Wind Energy Association. There were many delegates from especially developing countries who, after a visit to the Kyoto wind stand, were made aware that in wind energy there is both a technical and an economic answer to clean electricity generation, he says.Kevin Rackstraw of the American Wind Energy Association's Kyoto delegation agrees with Bourillon. "The wind industry in general did a pretty good job of raising consciousness," he says. Rackstraw is particularly satisfied with the emissions trading agreement. "That's one of the major things that will drive wind, marked by the level of awareness amongst US delegates of the potential contribution of wind -- and of the news coverage during the conference, say on CNN, that included serious mention of the wind industry," he says. Bourillon was accompanied to Kyoto by Dale Vince of the Renewable Energy Company, the UK's leading supplier of green electricity and by Nick Goodall of the British Wind Energy Association. Goodall, too, feels the wind delegation played an important informative role. "It is amazing how many of the emerging and majority world countries know nothing about the potential of wind energy. There is a huge market out there that we need to tap into," he says.Being thereBourillon notes one of the most worthwhile implications for the wind lobby in Kyoto was an opportunity for self criticism. "The main message for the wind industry from Kyoto is the extent of the lack of information about what wind energy can provide," he says. "We were three people from wind energy, the only renewable energy industry officially present, against 250-300 highly organised fossil fuel lobbyists." Each lobbyist had a specific area of responsibility and specific actions on a day-by-day basis, says Bourillon. "The delegates think coal and breathe coal. Wherever they go, even when they sit down to eat, they are sitting next to a coal lobbyist."

EWEA's display stand, complete with posters and a revolving wind turbine model, won a prime position at the entrance to one of the main meeting halls, with no other stand nearby. Within three days nearly all the wind energy literature in 20 boxes shipped to Kyoto had been distributed to press and delegates, says Bourillon. On the role of wind energy in the international arena, Bourillon comments: "We were buried among the noises coming from the green groups. We do not yet have a clear identity for ourselves. If wind energy really wants to make its mark there has to be a very serious strategy behind it."

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commits its signatories to reducing their greenhouse gases by 5.2% on aggregate by the average of the five years 2008-2012. Thirty-nine developed countries agreed the protocol in Kyoto. As well as an emissions trading system between the countries signing the protocol, there will also be a mechanism under which the signatories may finance emissions reductions projects in other industrialised countries and receive credit for doing so.

"It is going to be one more bullet in our gun, but it is not going to be the gun," says Bourillon. "Wind energy has to find another wave to ride."

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