Heading for Kyoto with a united delegation

The American and European wind energy associations are joining forces to present a united lobbying front at the climate change summit in Kyoto this month. The new alliance comes as both groups are ramping up their efforts to make the most of political and public concern about global warming. It is the first time the two wind associations have come together to support common goals. Traditionally the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) have represented the often opposing interests of their corporate members, rather than the broad interests of wind power in an international forum.

In the face of global warming this will change, assure both AWEA's Kevin Rackstraw and EWEA's Christophe Bourillon. Last month they attended a pre-Kyoto conference in Golden, Colorado, organised by the US Agency for International Development. The meeting was designed to develop a model for a "technology co-operation framework" for wind technology transfer, which would inform donor countries of needs in various parts of the world.

"What I hope will happen as a result of that meeting is that at Kyoto then can present concrete proposals for action instead of talk and more talk," says Bourillon. He stresses that utilisation of wind energy is one way developing countries can take action to curb their rising greenhouse gas emissions. "In fact, Asia has installed more than six times the wind power capacity achieved by the US in recent years, so it is not true to say that developing countries are not doing their share," says Bourillon. "Wind power is today's answer to tomorrow's problem."

As well as deciding common goals the two associations will issue a joint communiqué at the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change -- the Kyoto summit's full title -- from December 1-10. "AWEA and EWEA will co-ordinate their activities in Kyoto," says Rackstraw. On the American side Rackstraw will be accompanied by Jim Dehlsen, a veteran of the US wind industry and chairman emeritus of former Zond Corp, now part of Enron Corp. Joining Bourillon will be most probably by the EWEA president, Ian Mays. Together they will man a wind energy display stand.

Bourillon sees Kyoto as a unique opportunity for the international wind industry to get its message heard and understood. "The world's countries will be represented by an average of ten to 15 officials from the ministries of energy, the environment and industry," he says. The two wind associations will be urging world leaders to provide greater incentives to companies and countries to produce energy from renewable resources.

"EWEA has been advocating for years the need for an international mechanism to oblige governments to further develop wind energy. We consider the UN negotiations on climate change as one of the best chances for obtaining a binding agreement to include wind in the electricity supply mix," says Bourillon.

"President Bill Clinton has made a number of concrete proposals that could give a huge boost to wind energy worldwide," he continues. The most important part of the US declaration is the proposition for a binding agreement to return greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. "This would mean that an increasing share of electricity generation would have to come from wind and other renewables." Clinton, however, will come under fire from the fossil fuel lobby and fossil fuel producing countries, warns Bourillon. "He will need all the help he can get from the renewable energy industry between now and December 12 in convincing the other negotiators that developing renewables does make sense."

EWEA is the only international renewable energy body to be accredited officially as a participant at the negotiations, stresses Bourillon. "In Europe, lobbying government representatives and UN diplomats is new to our industry, but it has become a necessity if the future of wind energy is to be secured."