Steve Sawyer

Job title:
Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council

Steve Sawyer joined GWEC as the first Secretary General on 2 April 2007. He has worked in the energy and environment field since 1978, with a particular focus on climate change and renewable energy since 1988. He spent 30 years working for Greenpeace, primarily on a wide range of energy issues. He was the CEO of both Greenpeace USA (1986 - 1988) and Greenpeace International (1988-1993), and he served as Head of Delegation to many Kyoto Protocol negotiations on climate change, as well as heading delegations to the Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002 and numerous sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Steve Sawyer is also a founding member of the REN21 Renewable Energy Policy Network and was a member of the Steering Committee of the Renewables 2004 ministerial conference in Bonn. He has also been an expert reviewer for the IPCC’s Working Group III.

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COP15: Wind power most visible climate solution

16 December: Amidst the up-and-down of the climate negotiations and the chaos of the registration system to get people into the building, at least one thing is going to plan: The wind industry’s efforts to make wind power highly visible to negotiators and media during the climate summit.

Wind turbines have now become a symbol of climate change mitigation here at the climate summit in Copenhagen, and delegates are greeted by images, models, as well as real turbines before they even get close to the conference venue.

This includes an operating 850 kW Vestas turbine at the VIP entrance, as well as a 61.5 meter LM Glasfiber blade. Mini turbine models are proving very popular, and thousands of people queuing for many hours in the freezing cold to get into the venue have been appreciating a free ‘COP of coffee’ courtesy of the wind industry every morning. Another way of making friends…

But of course, the Wind Power Works campaign is not all about publicity, so we also put on some serious lobbying and media events.

On Sunday night, we organised a high-level dinner for wind experts and negotiators. Special guest at this dinner was the new Danish climate minister Lykke Friis, and she was joined by US Under Secretary for Energy, Dr Kristina Johnson, as well as negotiators of key countries and CEOs of the leading international companies. Perfect company for the interesting and inspiring discussions that followed.

Other side events, panel discussions and a joint press conference with UNEP provided other good opportunities for getting our message across, and we’ve been making good use of them. For the press conference, which involved a rather dramatic rescue operation to get the key speakers, including Tulsi Tanti from Suzlon and Han Junliang from Sinovel, into the conference venue, we presented new data on just how much wind energy can contribute to reaching the currently tabled climate pledges – 65% of the current rich country pledges for 2020 can be met by wind alone!

But sometimes, seeing is believing, and what better place is there to show wind power in action than Denmark? Numerous boat trips to the Middelgrunden wind farm just outside Copenhagen have been a great vehicle for proving that already today, wind is doing a powerful job.

We were especially glad to host some US dignitaries on these boat trips, including Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. On Sunday, on a crisp sunny day, we took around 50 journalists to see the wind farm and experience wind power in action first hand and interview senior industry experts. You can find a video of the boat trip here.

Over the past year, and especially during the last week, we have spent a lot of time explaining how wind power can help meet the climate goals. Now it’s over to the negotiators to use this information to help them sum up the courage and vision needed to trash out a new climate deal. Time is running out here in Copenhagen to achieve this – only three days to go!

Posted 17/12/2009 by Steve Sawyer

Tagged under: COP15 , Copenhagen , Climate change

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