New opportunities, new challenges for Friends of Wind
December 4, 2015
Step One: Promises. Check. Step Two: Action Plans, Targets, Policies. Giddy Up!
This week I attended my first of CanWEA’s annual Winter Solstice Fundraisers for our Friends of Wind program. I feel full of optimism today. In fact, I haven’t stopped smiling since I started at the Canadian Wind Energy Association earlier this fall because there is much to be hopeful about.
As our sponsors and supporters listened to Greenpeace campaigner Keith Stewart delivering the evening keynote address over a sumptuous dinner, more than 150 world leaders were gathered in Paris to negotiate a new international climate agreement. Canada’s inclusive delegation is being led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose economic and environmental agenda focuses heavily on clean energy and climate action. He is flanked by premiers who, in just the last two weeks, have made bold and admirable commitments to deal with greenhouse gas emissions in their jurisdictions. Alberta will phase out coal-fired generation by 2030, replacing two-thirds of the electricity with renewable energy, tripling what is in place today. Saskatchewan is aiming for a ten-fold increase in installed wind energy capacity within 15 years. Ontario has set itself firmly on the path to a low-carbon economy with a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, a path that will require electrifying sectors of the economy beyond electricity production, like transportation, with clean renewable energy.
These goals are ambitious and far-reaching. Canada has just over 10,000 MW of wind energy in place today and the commitments in Alberta and Saskatchewan alone put, potentially, another 8,000 MW on the table. The challenge now is to make these important commitments a reality. The wind energy industry needs to work with governments and other stakeholders to develop the action plans, incremental targets and supporting policies. We need to bring industry and communities together to share ideas, solve problems and build trust.
We need Friends of Wind more than ever!
Friends of Wind was created to give our supporters a voice, to create a forum where they could join in the conversation about Canada’s energy future. To understand what a powerful tool Friends of Wind has become, I like to use the annual Power of Wind contest as a great example. This year, it was a refreshing delight to see that more than 200 post-secondary students cared enough about the energy and environmental challenges we face to express their hope for change, through blogs, poetry, songs, videos, and artwork! You can see some of the winning entries on the Friends of Wind website.
At CanWEA, we will continue to build on our successes, leveraging the Friends of Wind program to forge new partnerships and amplify the voices of supporters to help present a common vision of how wind energy and other renewables can drive a low-carbon economy.
Vice-President – Communications and Events at the Canadian Wind Energy Association