an old photo from my previous blog (when I felt the need to put everything in colored boxes) plus my husband hugging a windmill
Back in 2010, through a random series of events, Joe & I ended up on a driving tour through Sierck-les-Bains and Luxembourg, then into Germany. (Sorry I’m dragging us back to Europe again.) Our driver (also our landlord) was talking about the particular type of grape growing on the hills & the distinct white wine it would become. Joe & I were staring at the hilltop, where an isolated windmill sat.
We mentioned the windmill to our landlord, and suddenly we were driving up the hill. We parked in a gravel lot and found ourselves in the middle of a small renewable education center. The building, with both types of photovoltaic panels & half of itself built into the hillside, served as a sort of education center (but it was closed & we can’t read German).
Our ears hummed with the low whomp-whomp of the whirling blades. With no authority figure around, Joe decided to see how close he could get to the windmill. The answer? Close. He hugged it–this, we were sure, was as close as we would ever get to renewable energy sources.
It’s no surprise that our brief jaunt into Germany brought us face-to-face with green energy. At present, Germany is spending 8% of their GDP on renewables. Earlier in 2012, they announced their goal to get “80% of their nation’s energy from wind and solar.”
This afternoon under the windmill came to mind when I read Roseland‘s chapter on climate change. The bit that struck me most in the chapter was the brief mention of a study by the United Nations Environment Programme. As UNEP’s press release explains,
Investing two per cent of global GDP into ten key sectors can kick-start a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy a new report launched today says.
The sectors? A great summary lists them straight away: agriculture, buildings, energy, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, tourism, transport, water & waste management. It goes on to explain that “[g]reening the economy not only generates growth, and in particular gains in natural capital, but it also produces a higher growth in GDP and GDP per capita.”
A Clean Technica article frames the two percent idea in a way I particularly enjoy–one that touches on the history and essence of sustainable development: Green energy is intrinsically connected to issues of human equality and food sovereignty. The article closes with this:
“A green economy was a low-carbon economy, and a departure from the ‘business-as-usual’ approach was needed when building it,” the information officer reported Efik as saying. “A ‘global commons principle’ should be applied and the benefits reaped from the green economy shared by all, emphasizing that the green economy was not only about the environment, but about reducing poverty and must be approached with an understanding that those concepts were all interconnected.”
Of course, this two percent can’t happen without serious international policy and support. Are he headed there? Could Obama’s second term (fingers crossed) be the moment when he returns to renewables? Time will tell. (Or you could tell me–I’d love your thoughts on this.) In the mean time, check out this piece on how your country compares on renewable investment.