- The climate needs wind power

Gaute Eiterjord, the leader of Nature and Youth – Young Friends of the Earth Norway, warns against a wind power debate based on wishful thinking and fundamental opposition.

Mr. Eiterjord thinks that there are many wind power plants that should never have been granted permits, but also that it is possible to build those with acceptable consequences and which will provide more and necessary renewable energy.

- According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's emissions have to be halved by 2030. Developments mean that we need more renewable energy, if we are to succeed in replacing the current fossil alternatives. That is why wind power on land plays an important role in the solution to the climate crisis. When the technology exists, and has become profitable, we cannot afford not to use it, Mr. Eiterjord says.

Natural values are most important

The cue for the leader of Nature and Youth – Young Friends of the Earth Norway is that the projects have to be “sustainable”. Projects threatening important natural values or reindeer husbandry and Sami commercial interests do not have the right to exist, he thinks.

- At the same time, I do react when I hear that opponents of wind power on land have adopted a fundamental attitude. That is because the “yes to wind power, but not on land” argument has no root in reality. It is important to develop offshore wind power, but here too, there will be conflicts with ocean life and migration of birds. Both on and offshore it is important to evaluate each project on its merits. The level of conflict will hopefully be less offshore, but we are fooling ourselves if we think it will be without a hitch, says Mr. Eiterjord.

Furthermore, Mr. Eiterjord thinks that it is important to recognise that wind power on land has become commercially viable. For the time being, that is not the case with offshore wind power in Norway. When the time to save the climate is about to run out, the consequence will be that Norway will need good wind power projects on land.

“I am positive that wind power technology on land has come so far that commercial renewable energy players are developing large-scale production without government subsidies. However, this situation also means that there are more applicants for permits in areas where biodiversity is or could become under threat. Thus, the authorities have an important job to do in order to spare important natural values. The profit motive must never become more important than nature”, says Mr. Eiterjord.

Weak argument

One argument that the Youth and Nature leader does not appreciate in the wind power debate is when opponents claim that wind power constitutes a small part of the energy mix, or does not have a positive impact on the climate. And that is why it is not necessary to build new wind turbines on land.

“That type of argumentation is prejudicial to the fight for the environment. Because that means that they are also saying that it is meaningless to save electric power as a private individual, or make other deliberate climate choices. The climate needs all the help it can get. If you argue against wind power, it has to be based on the protection of important natural values. There are many projects that should not be built because they threaten endangered species or biotopes, or Sami economic activities. However, there are also projects with acceptable consequences, such as Høg-Jæren”, concludes Mr. Eiterjord.

(Photo: Eirin Torgersen/Natur og Ungdom)

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