Industry adds voice to UN climate summit

Some of the wind industry's largest players have added their voices to the growing swell backing measures to tackle climate change at the United Nation's Climate Action Summit.

Left to right: Iberdrola chairman Ignacio Galán, Ørsted CEO Henrik Poulsen, Clean Air Fund executive director Jane Burston, and president of Slovakia, Zuzana Čaputová
Left to right: Iberdrola chairman Ignacio Galán, Ørsted CEO Henrik Poulsen, Clean Air Fund executive director Jane Burston, and president of Slovakia, Zuzana Čaputová

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Following student activist Greta Thunberg’s passionate speech at the UN summit in New York, Ørsted, Vestas and Siemens Gamesa entered their bids to do more against rising global temperatures.

"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," Thunberg told business and world leaders in New York.

UN general secretary António Guterres said the world must do more to combat climate change.

"This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit," Guterres said.

Student activist Greta Thunberg address the Climate Action summit in New York (pic: UN / Cia Pak)

Sitting alongside Iberdrola chairman Ignacio Galán, clean air fund executive director Jane Burston, and president of Slovakia, Zuzana Caputová, Ørsted CEO Henrik Poulsen said: "We must be ready to make near-term sacrifices to get it done.

"Business as usual is indeed not going to be enough. We can't tell our grandchildren that we failed to protect the planet because we were too focused on protecting our own wellbeing. We must act now.

"When governments around the world assembled in this room set ambitious targets and enact clear policies, the private sector can and will further accelerate the build-out of green energy.

"And this is urgently needed to speed up the retirement of old coal-fired power plants and to put an end to the construction of new coal-fired capacity," Poulsen added.

The leaders of Greece and Hungary have since announced plans to phase out coal power generation by 2028 and 2030, respectively.

Meanwhile, wind turbine OEMs Vestas and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, have joined a number of other major companies in signing a declaration to decarbonise the shipping sector.

The Getting to Zero Coalition aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping sector by 50% from 2008 levels by 2050 and to phase them out entirely this century.

"Electrification of fuels is the new frontier. We see great potential in substituting fossil-based shipping fuel with new cost-effective, renewables-based fuel that can save millions of tonnes of CO2," said new Vestas CEO Henrik Andersen.

Poul Skjærbæk, chief innovation officer at Siemens Gamesa, added: "We are constantly demonstrating how clean energy from wind is a highly competitive alternative to traditional fossil energy sources, both in terms of affordability and reliability.

"We have already proven this for our households and industry, and we are now ready to take on the next challenge towards combating climate change and reducing emissions: decarbonising shipping through new, green fuels."

Vestas also revealed it was part of a cross-industry project in Denmark looking at the feasibility of producing ammonia using wind power for use in the shipping industry.

The project is being led by electrolysis specialist Haldor Topsøe, with Vestas, Ørsted, Equinor, the University of Aarhus, and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

Elsewhere, GE Renewable Energy has announced plans to make its business carbon neutral by the end of 2020. It follows in the foot steps of its subsidiary LM Wind Power, which achieved this in 2018. 

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