1.1. Shame on EU ‘leaders’
12 December 2008, Greenpeace
Today’s agreement by EU leaders on the most contentious aspects of the EU’s planned response to climate change, known as the climate and energy package, has been condemned as a failure by Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF.
Green and development groups described today’s deal on the Effort Sharing law (which sets national emission targets for sectors not included in the EU’s emissions trading) as inconsistent with the EU’s long-standing target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
More specifically, EU leaders only made a weak and ambiguous commitment to the 30% reduction in EU emissions by 2020 they had trumpeted just last year. Furthermore, today’s agreement would mean that unacceptably high levels – around two thirds – of these reductions could be met by buying carbon credits from projects outside EU borders. EU leaders also refused to introduce measures, such as fines, to compel countries to meet their national targets – a fundamental flaw, which could prompt governments to think that they can get away with inaction.
Green and development groups are therefore calling on the European Parliament to show strong support for far greater European emission reduction efforts when it votes next week on effort sharing and reject today’s deal on this law. European citizens should express their outrage – and ask their national parliaments to stop external credits being used to buy the way out of real emission reductions within Europe.
In discussions over the future of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the European manufacturing sector was largely granted full exemption from requirements to buy carbon permits. This was done in the absence of any strong evidence that such a requirement would impact on the international competitiveness of these industries. As a result of pressure mainly coming from Poland, the polluting power sector was also awarded exemptions from having to pay for such permits in auctions, in spite of the huge windfall profits companies in the sector have reaped by passing on the costs of permits they have so far received for free to customers.
European environment and development groups insist that auctioning must become the norm for all industries covered by the ETS when the system comes up for review. Industries must pay if they don not reduce their pollution and the revenues generated must be used to fund tackling climate change in developing countries and in Europe.
Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF said: “This is a dark day for European climate policy. European heads of state and government have reneged on their promises and turned their backs on global efforts to fight climate change.
“Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi, Donald Tusk and Nicolas Sarkozy should be ashamed. They have chosen the private profits of polluting industry over the will of European citizens, the future of their children and the plight of millions of people around the world. The Parliament can and should amend the worst parts of today’s deal.”
The EU also abjectly failed to make binding commitments to provide funds to help developing countries adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, and to reduce the growth in their emissions – a move which has threatened the collapse of the ongoing UN climate negotiations in Poland. Campaigners demand that EU leaders immediately resume talks on financial commitments to developing countries and produce an adequate, binding proposal by March 2009. UN climate talks urgently need the EU to show it is willing to pay its fair share of the costs of tackling climate change.
1.2. CCPI 2009 report: no country on track to prevent dangerous climate change
10 December 2008, Germanwatch, CAN Europe
Rising absolute global emissions and increasing emissions per unit
of GDP on a world-wide scale over the last few years give the backdrop to the results of the 4th
edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The Climate Change Performance Index
published annually by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe compares the climate
protection performance of 57 industrialised countries and emerging economies. Together they
account for more than 90% of global energy related CO2 emissions.
“Their total emissions have grown more quickly than ever before,’’ explained Jan Burck, author of
the study with Germanwatch.
“Top to bottom, no country does well enough in their emissions reduction efforts to merit a top
prize’’ he continued.
In light of this the authors have skipped the first three places and awarded the best of the bad
countries with Sweden in 4th and Germany and France in 5th and 6th place respectively. Ironically,
Sweden, Germany and France are under heavy criticism for their policy shifts in the current debate
on the EU Energy and Climate Package. In the case of Germany – the latest policy repositioning is
not yet reflected. Italy (44) and Poland (45) – the two countries most actively blocking the package –
already have a poor rank, but this might become even worse next year depending upon the final
decision made this week.
“Chancellor Merkel risks a spectacular fall from grace. Just last year she was hailed for her
diplomacy and vision in dealing with the climate challenge but now she seems to fail to stand up to
polluting industries. This week will decide what Germany’s legacy will be on climate protection.
The Index shows how much they stand to lose’’ stated Matthias Duwe, Director of Climate Action
At the lower end of the ranking, Saudi Arabia comes in last in 60th, with Canada 59th and the US
58th. Some positive changes in the US on state level move them ahead of Canada. Russia, the US
and Canada have done badly due to their emissions trend, emissions level and climate policy. These
countries could improve their ranking if they embraced and engaged politically to avoid dangerous
There are encouraging signals from the incoming President of the US, Barack Obama, that this is
exactly what he wants to do, but those new pledges are not yet reflected in this index.
There are also some positive developments – in new emerging economies, which throw into stark
relief the backtracking of EU countries. China did impressively well in the partial indicator national
policy, though this has not yet substantially influenced their emissions trend. South Africa and
Mexico got positive rankings given their international climate policy position and India due to
improved national policy and low per capita emissions.
“Now that the EU is getting signs of growing support from around the world in leading on climate
protection, it is a shame they are falling behind due to short term interests. Any country that is
serious about averting dangerous climate change cannot give up action on climate due to the
financial crisis. Instead there is the opportunity to bring the economy back on track by making
highly necessary investments in climate protection” said Christoph Bals, Policy Director,
1.3. UN talks set programme to a landmark climate pact in ’09
13 December 2008, AFP
A planet-wide forum on climate change Saturday ended with a working schedule which is designed to formulate a treaty aimed at meeting the darkening threat to mankind from greenhouse gases.
In the pre-dawn hours, the 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set down a programme of work that, it declared, would conclude with a historic pact in Copenhagen next December.
Taking effect after 2012, the deal will set down unprecedented measures for curbing emissions of heat-trapping carbon gases and helping poor countries in the firing line of climate change.
"Poznan is the place where the partnership between the developing and developed world to fight climate change has shifted beyond rhetoric and turned into real action," declared Polish Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki, who chaired the marathon.
UNFCCC members will submit proposals for the treaty’s text in the early months of 2009.
By June, these will then be condensed from what is likely to be a massive document into a blueprint for negotiations.
Friday’s agreement sets the stage for a year-long process revolving around two big issues: who should make the biggest sacrifices on curbing greenhouse gases, and how to beef up support for poor countries exposed to climate change.
The 12-day meeting ended with a two-day ministerial-level gathering that, despite flourishes of rhetoric, failed to make any big advance on these core issues.
It opened the way to launching a so-called Adaptation Fund for helping poor countries that are most exposed to rising sea levels, drought and floods.
But it yielded no accord on how to boost its coffers to the scale of billions of dollars per year — a level that many experts say will be needed, just a few decades from now.
But the arduous process was given a boost in morale by the adoption at a European Union (EU) summit in Brussels of a deal to slash EU emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
Delegates in Poznan had held their breath, fearful that backsliding by the EU would fatally sap momentum in the UN track.
The final day of the Poznan talks was powerfully spurred by green guru Al Gore, 2007 co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and by US Senator John Kerry, acting as pointman for President-elect Barack Obama, who has vowed to root out the heart of George W. Bush’s policies on climate change.
"Our home, Earth, is in danger," Gore told a packed hall.
"We are moving towards several tipping points that could within less than 10 years make it impossible to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet’s habitability for human civilisation — unless we act quickly."
But, said Gore, momentum was at last building — in the United States, Europe, China, Brazil and elsewhere — towards a treaty in Copenhagen that could roll back the threat.
The EU’s so-called "20-20-20" deal seeks to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, make 20 percent energy savings and bring renewable energy sources up to 20 percent of total energy use.
It is the most ambitious scheme of any major economy for dealing with climate change and energy use.
It throws down the gauntlet to the United States, Japan and other rich countries to follow suit in next year’s negotiations.
Green groups blasted the outcome at Poznan.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) describing it as a "major missed opportunity" to thrash out concessions on slashing greenhouse-gas emissions.
"This was a moment in time when real leaders would have stepped up and taken the positions that would combat the economic and climate crisis at the same time," WWF said.
Scientists point the finger for climate change at human influence, especially the burning of fossil fuels in power stations, factories and by cars, as well as through deforestation and agriculture.
Gigatonnes of greenhouse gases spew each year into the Earth’s atmosphere, acting like an invisible blanket that stores solar heat and changes the climate system.
By century’s end, sea levels will rise, deserts will grow and storms floods and droughts could become more frequent.
Even though the peril now seems clear, addressing its source carries an economic cost, because it implies a switch away from fossil fuels that remain the backbone of the world’s energy supply.
This is why the negotiations in 2009 are likely to be tense.
Rich countries acknowledge their historic role in the problem but say emerging powers like China and India must also slow their surging carbon pollution.
Developing nations argue that the industrialised world should lead by example, and foot the bill for clean-energy technology and coping with the impact of global warming
2.1. EU agrees to switch off old-style light bulbs by Sept. 2012
9 December 2008, AFP
The European Union decided to phase out traditional household light bulbs by September 2012 in favour of new energy-saving models that use a fraction of the electricity.
From next September, 100-watt versions of the old incandescent bulbs will be banned from Europe’s shops and other bulbs with lower wattage will follow in the ensuing years, EU experts decided in a vote in Brussels.
"It’s very clear that this is a measure that will change the way that we consume energy," EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told journalists.
The European Commission estimated that the measure would save the electricity consumption equivalent to 11 million European households or the yearly output of ten 500-megawatt power stations.
It also said that the move should cut carbon dioxide emissions by 15 million tonnes as well as save households as much as 50 euros a year on their electricity bills.
At the moment, around 85 percent of household lights are considered to use too much electricity.
EU nations have agreed to make 20-percent cuts in energy use by 2020 as part of a wider climate change package.
New technology light bulbs, such as compact florescent lights (CFL) can save up to 80 percent of the energy used by the worst old-style lights in homes.
Piebalgs said that the phasing out had to be gradual so that "production facilities could adapt to the new lighting" and the quality of light could be ensured.
"We really needed to be sure that in phasing out conventional light bulbs, we would have the same quality of light," he said. "Money is being saved, CO2 emission are being saved, but the quality of light isn’t changing."
The decision still has to be endorsed by the European Parliament.
2.2. Landmark agreement on EU law to boost clean energy
9 December 2008, Greenpeace
EU politicians have concluded a landmark deal to boost the development of renewables in Europe and deliver a cleaner and safer energy supply to millions of people, said Greenpeace. The agreement that was struck between EU institutions is a ray of light amid the gloomy stone-age positions of EU member states on the other elements of the EU’s ‘climate package,’ according to the environmental group.
“We give the EU eight out of ten for its renewables deal. This agreement is a new dawn for a clean energy future that will benefit the climate and the economy,” said Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU renewables policy campaigner.
“The only drawback is that EU politicians are insisting on the large-scale promotion of biofuels. They are not sufficiently protecting the planet from the ravages that can be caused by unsustainable biofuels,” said Thies.
The directive defines binding national targets in each member state that will make up the EU’s overall 20% renewable energy target by 2020. It foresees new or improved support policies for renewable energy in electricity, heating and cooling, and transport. It gives member states the option of cooperating to achieve their targets and also includes provisions to streamline administrative procedures and ease the access to energy networks for renewables. Finally, although the 10% target for renewables in transport has been weakened, the directive still encourages a very large share of biofuels whose sustainability is not guaranteed.
“Some EU politicians have shown with this deal on renewables that they are capable of offering us a clean and sustainable energy supply. But this agreement could be like a sunny spell before heavy showers, as European leaders create loophole after loophole in other parts of the EU’s package of laws to tackle climate change,” said Thies.
A new Greenpeace report, the European Energy [R]evolution, demonstrates that developing renewables and improving efficiency could lead to €500 billion in fuel cost savings until 2020. The blue-print for a clean energy future carried out by the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) shows how the EU can reduce its emissions by investing in clean energy and phasing out nuclear power and coal.
3.1. MEPs capitulate on deadlines, targets and penalties on fuel efficiency deal
10 December 2008, T&E
The EU has concluded its long-running revision of the directive on carbon dioxide emissions from cars, but the final compromise was only reached after concessions on several fronts, prompting T&E to say ‘precious little will change in the short term.’
Representatives of national governments and MEPs agreed earlier this month to force the 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre limit on 65% of new cars from 2012, 75% from 2013, 80% from 2014 and all by 2015. But with various ‘loopholes’, the target for new cars for 2015 is in effect around 140 g/km.
The agreed deal also includes reduced penalties for non-compliance and a reviewable target for 2020.
The Commission had proposed penalties starting at €20 for every g/km above the limits, rising to €95. Following severe pressure from the Italian government, the starting level has been reduced to €5. A target of 95 g/km has been set for 2020, but this is dependent on an impact assessment and review by 2013, which many fear will lead to another round of diluting targets similar to the round just ending.
And car makers will be allowed to count certain ‘eco-innovations’ as part of their emissions reduction, something environmental groups were strongly opposed to.
Predictably, the car makers said the legislation was very tough, industry representatives said it was a satisfactory compromise, and environmental groups said it was a capitulation to outdated technology.
Ivan Hodac of the car makers’ association Acea described it as ‘an extremely tough piece of legislation, posing huge challenges to the automotive industry’.
T&E director Jos Dings said: ‘The purpose of this law should have been to fundamentally alter the direction of the car industry in the long term by setting a clear roadmap for cutting emissions in half. In the end, precious little will change in the short term, and the language on the long-term targets is not enough to guarantee that car makers will invest now in the technology needed to make the required leap.’
‘The European Parliament’s role in this issue has been a case of unfulfilled promise. At various stages, MEPs have voted for tougher targets, including in a report published late last month, but when it came to the ‘trialogue’ negotiations to find a compromise, MEPs capitulated on the targets, the deadlines for meeting them, the penalties for non-compliance, and allowing eco-innovations. Their actions have not matched their rhetoric.’
In a separate development, EU finance ministers have approved another €5 billion of cheap loans for the car industry to come from the European Investment Bank. The EIB denies these are subsidies, even though they are loans at a level of interest not available to other industries. The stated aim is to encourage the car industry to develop ‘greener’ cars, though developing such cars is not a condition for receiving money from these loans.
3.2. EU dampens market for high-carbon oil
10 December 2008, T&E
An informal agreement by MEPs, representatives from EU member states and Commission officials on the proposed EU fuel quality directive could prevent a market developing for the most carbon-intensive sources of oil such as tar sands and oil shale.
The agreement, reached last month, sets a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fuel production. The original target proposed by the Commission in early 2007 was for a 10% cut by 2020 – this has been reduced to an obligatory 6% and a voluntary 4%.
T&E says the target has the potential to cut demand in Europe for the most carbon-intensive oil production methods such as extraction of oil from tar sands and oil shale. California has adopted similar legislation.
A low carbon fuel standard in American and Europe would effectively create a secondary ‘sub-prime’ market for high carbon oil worldwide and would severely impact on the economic viability of such sources, which are expensive as well as extremely environmentally damaging to extract.
Greenhouse gases are emitted from fuel production during exploration, refining, distribution and combustion of the fuels. While emissions from combustion form by far the biggest part (about 85% of current lifecycle emissions), the revised fuel quality directive affects the remaining 15%. The 6% cut means these need to be cut to 9%, or roughly 60% of non-combustion emissions.
Among the non-binding measures, there are incentives for electrically powered transport. The 4% non-binding target will be reviewed in 2012 and could become obligatory.
Importantly, the revised directive in its current form would oblige the oil industry to reduce ‘flaring and venting’, two widespread practices that cause unnecessary greenhouse emissions. The potential for flaring and venting reductions is huge, possibly amounting to 10% of the emissions reduction target envisaged by the directive.
T&E policy officer Nuša Urbancic said: ‘As we have always said, this law makes quantitative targets for biofuels superfluous. We have always argued it is best to promote alternative fuels on their climate performance, rather than prescribe how much of them should be used.’
The directive also sets lower limits for sulphur in fuels, a move T&E welcomed because it is important for exhaust aftertreatment technology for NOx and particles.
The law still has to be formally approved by ministers and MEPs.
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