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Politics and wind: Climate and energy policies

Global warming and the greenhouse effect

Global warming is becoming more clearly perceptible. Eight of the 10 warmest years since temperatures have been recorded were measured in the past decade. The world experienced the highest average temperature to date in 1998, and the second highest in 2001. The average temperature of our planet has already increased by about 0.6 °C in the past 100 years.

Palm-tree in the Sahara-desert, Libya, (c) Christian Kaiser/GreenpeaceScientists agree that a large part of this warming is due to the effect of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of human activity. Carbon dioxide (CO2), released when fossil fuels are burned, plays the major role. The earth's atmosphere accumulates CO2 and other gases, trapping more and more heat like a greenhouse. The United Nation's scientific committee, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), expects that temperatures between 1990 and 2100 will increase by 1.4°C to 5.8 °C if energy consumption continues to increase.

Climate protection policy

Smoking smokestacks of a coal power station at Frimmersdorf/Germany, (c)Sabine Vielmo/GreenpeaceThe industrial nations have therefore made national and international agreements to protect the climate. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2. Within the framework of the United Nations climate convention, industrial nations agreed in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of five percent (compared to 1990 values) by 2012. Member states of the European Union have jointly committed themselves to reduce emissions by eight percent. Germany has set itself a national reduction goal of 25 percent by 2005. Even so, it is already clear that even more reductions will be necessary in the future.

Blowing-up of a cooling tower at Hamm-Uentrup nuclear power plant, (c)GreenpeaceNuclear energy phaseout

The German government had resolved to phase out nuclear energy, a decision that will have great impact on the national energy supply. About one-third of German electricity is currently produced in nuclear power plants. This will need to be replaced by environmentally friendly alternatives over the next 20 years.

A change of course in energy production

Climate protection and the impending nuclear energy phaseout require a comprehensive change of course in energy production. Energy efficiency must improve on a massive scale and the share of power production using renewable energy sources must increase. In the past decade, wind energy proved to have the highest capacity growth of all renewable energy forms. Installed wind capacity in Germany during this period soared up to about 8,750 MW by 2001. Growth potential for wind energy in the coming decade is also very promising. Wind energy, whether on land or offshore, will play a valuable role in the change of course in power production.

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 More Links

Renewable Energy Directive

German Advisory Council on Global Change

>Shell (PDF)
Energy scenarios for 2050 (PDF)

Energy site of the EU

>Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum (DKRZ)

>Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Climate pages of WWF

Climate pages of Greenpeace

>US-Klimaschutzbehörde NOAA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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International Panel on Climate Change

Climate Protection Programme of the Federal Government

Climate Protection in Germany

"Green Paper" on the energy policy of the EU

>more Links..

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