Yet again, the mainstream media hails wind farms as the saviour of our climate change crisis, even though this oversimplification of global warming mitigation does little to inspire the behavioural change we all need to make in order to meet the UK’s emissions targets. Whilst it may be true that our emissions deceleration isn’t moving at a fast enough rate for success, it’s horribly reductive to place the blame on a lack of wind power.
I’ve spoken before about the limited scope wind turbines have in generating energy in an eco-friendly way – primarily because the manufacturing cost is high in terms of emissions and their operational life is short, alongside questioning the single-minded reliance on such a variable source of renewable energy. So when the head of Scottish Power, Keith Anderson says we’ll struggle to hit climate change targets without onshore wind, I can’t help but question the credence behind such a claim. Somehow, it will cost us ‘significantly more money’ not to build new wind farms – a statement that is so clearly illogical I hardly need to pick it apart. When you want to save money do you partake in new activities, or fewer? Common sense tells us the latter will conserve money and expenditure. It’s also why the untrendy method of energy efficiency is the real catalyst for change.
The government are ending subsidies for plans to build more wind farms as they made the pledge in their manifesto, apparently due to local complaints. Since we all emit a collective moan when parties make empty promises to win elections, surely their delivery of a pledge is something we should be celebrating? Particularly at a time when newspapers are decrying the apparent thwarting of the ‘will of the people’, it seems treacherous to ignore the concerns of those who will face the immediate impacts of having wind turbines built within a close distance to their homes. Those who support wind farms seem to get their information from the sources who will benefit from their building (Scottish Power, MPs, to name but a few) and not those who have them on their doorstep, or the animals caught up in their blades.
If government subsidies were given to the area of energy efficiency we would see greater results in decreasing CO2 emissions. All of us, at work and in our homes, should be utilising technology to reduce our misuse of energy while learning to adapt our lifestyles to a more sustainable outcome. Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, has the right idea when he discusses the so-called ‘cow tax’: if everybody consumed less meat and dairy, the biggest contributor to climate change would be tackled with just a small, costless change. In the workplace, businesses could ensure they have systems in place that pre-programmed their heating to operate efficiently and as a result, buildings would no longer be responsible for making up 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. These changes would actually help us to meet our legally binding CO2 reduction target for 2050 and yet mainstream voices are more concerned with spending more money on investing in renewable power instead of acting when we need to: right now.