Saturday, June 15, is Global Wind Day 2013
Saturday, June 15, is Global Wind Day 2013. Global Wind Day is a worldwide annual day for discovering wind, its power and possibilities – and yes, its impacts.
Climate change, mainly caused by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, is among the biggest threats to all species on this planet, including our own. The science is clear: if we are serious about avoiding potentially catastrophic effects from climate change, we must dramatically and quickly reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use. For this reason, WWF supports a rapid shift to generating electricity from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and biomass.
But no one should kid themselves: all forms of energy development have environmental and social impacts. We know hydropower can flood large areas of human and wildlife habitat, contribute to mercury emissions, and disrupt aquatic ecosystems. Biomass for energy, done poorly, can compete with food resources, hurting especially those most vulnerable. Wind energy can harm bird and bats, and contribute to the industrialization of rural landscapes. That’s the rock-and-a-hard-place in which we find ourselves, as a species, as communities and as nations trying to meet our growing energy needs.
So what do we do? Some things are obvious.
- First, prioritize conservation and efficiency above all else, so we are generating only as much as necessary. That just makes sense – it’s good for your pocketbook and the planet.
- Second, ensure we have good land-use planning, environmental assessment processes, community involvement, and a healthy, fact-based public debate. In the world of energy planning, no matter the type, such things can be in short supply. See here for WWF’s global position on the responsible development of wind power.
Canada is blessed with world-class renewable energy potential: with an ambitious Energy Strategy, we truly could be a renewable energy superpower, providing low-carbon solutions to the world. Unfortunately, our national ambition at the moment seems constrained simply to being the world’s biggest provider of high-cost, high-carbon, low-quality bitumen from the oil sands. At the same time, and in order to accelerate this fossil-fuelled vision, the federal government has rolled back the quality and rigour of environmental assessments and other environmental safeguards in Canada.
Responsibly capturing that enormous renewable energy potential will take a great deal of effort, but it’s possible. For our part, WWF-Canada is calling for a national conversation on a Canadian Energy Strategy that goes beyond oil sands and pipelines and tackles the issues – like conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, and carbon pricing – that can deliver on our climate change commitments, meet our energy needs, and contribute to our economic well-being. We’re supporting electrifying transportation – like electric vehicles and public transit – that helps get us off of oil. WWF is also partnering with the Waterloo Institute of Sustainable Energy on a multi-year project to map out Canada’s renewable energy potential and explore guidance and criteria to develop it sustainably.
We need more renewable energy – lots of it, and quickly. We also need to develop it responsibly. Those are not contradictory statements. Wind has a big role to play in this solution. It is not an exaggeration to say that our very future may depend on it. So I’m taking a moment to celebrate Global Wind Day. And then I’m getting back to work.
To help WWF demand major global investment in responsible, renewable energy, Seize Your Power! Sign the pledge.