The Climate Commissioner for the European Union, Connie Hedegaard, told reporters today in New Delhi that she believes the European Union should pledge to double their renewable energy supply by 2030 and spoke of hopes that the rest of the world would follow suit. She was speaking in advance of this year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which will be held in Rio this June (also called Rio+20), Hedegaard seemed to be opening up another moment for world leaders to agree to try to reduce emissions related to global warming before it is too late.
Rio+20 is being held on the 20th anniversary of the ground breaking 1992 Earth Summit also held in Rio that set up the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — which apparently isn’t working so well. It seems Hedegaard is prepping her own constituents and the rest of the world for a huge push for the development of clean energy in the next 20 years. The International Energy Agency says we have just 5 years to change our vital infrastructure before irreversible climate change occurs. That would mean beginning to phase out emissions-laden energy infrastructure — like coal-fired and natural gas powered power plants — in favor of putting that money into low-emissions technology, like wind, hydro, nuclear and solar power.
Hedegaard hosted the failed UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009, so she’s no stranger to the inability of world leaders to come to an agreement on reducing emissions. This past December in Durban, opinions were shouted from the rooftops as Canada and the United States refused to sign a legally binding agreement if big polluters like China and India weren’t bound to it and China and India refused to sign a legally binding agreement if they were held on the same level as fully developed countries. China and India felt it was unfair to hold developing countries to the same standards as rich nations as the rich nations were the ones who created the emissions currently harming the Earth. The U.S. and Canada argued that China and India are currently two of the largest polluters on the planet and we’ll be stuck in this mess if they — along with other nations — keep growing while leaning on coal fired power plants.
Though Hedegaard’s statement is just that, a statement, and not a pledge or a promise, it signifies that the leader of the EU’s climate team is on board to push for more sustainable change in the energy industry. Perhaps as the world leaders meet in Rio the shift from the talks being centered around reducing emissions and carbon markets to being centered around clean energy production could be a positive change for the talks. Though essentially the same thing, putting a positive spin on the situation might help give it a shove forward and having Hedegaard as the leader of the positive coalition, with her climate heavy career path behind her, could be a great thing for the Earth.