The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Minister of the Environment and president of the United Nations Climate Change conference, confirmed hydro power’s contribution to fighting climate change at an event held during the 11th Conference of the Parties and the first Meeting of the parties to Kyoto.
‘There is no doubt that hydro power can play a significant role in meeting many environmental goals, including climate change,’ said Minister Dion. ‘In our increasingly carbon-constrained world, renewable energy forms, such as hydro power and wind power, have the potential to meet the economic, social, environmental and sustainability criteria demanded of our times.’
Minister Dion sees the future of wind power linked to that of hydro power. Hydro, particularly when coupled with reservoirs, provides a uniquely flexible source of energy. Because it can be accessed and stopped at the touch of a button, it is the best source of electricity to support the development of other renewable but intermittent sources of energy.
‘In Canada, hydro power provides 60% of our electricity, displacing at the same time millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions,’ explained Canadian Hydropower Association president Pierre Fortin. ‘We are pleased that Canada’s climate change plan will recognize hydropower’s contribution to reducing emissions in provinces such as Québec.’
When hydropower includes a reservoir, this provides a wide range of ancillary benefits, most importantly, protection against floods and droughts, as well as fresh water storage for drinking and irrigation.
‘Hydro power is a clean and renewable source of energy that can contribute to fighting climate change and air pollution in countries around the world, as well as providing electricity and water in areas where it is most needed,’ added International Hydropower Association president Dogan Altinbilek. ‘And in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, only a third of the hydro power potential has been developed.’
Altinbilek believes it is crucial to move full speed ahead with the development of hydropower and other renewables if the electricity and water needs in developed and developing countries are to be met, while displacing at the same time GHG-emitting electricity.