1.1. Peaceful Greenpeace climate protesters released after 20 days of imprisonment without trial
6 January 2010, Greenpeace
Danish police today released from custody four Greenpeace climate protesters who have endured 20 days of pre-trial detention in Copenhagen prison following a harmless peaceful protest staged on the evening of 17 December. Their release comes a day in advance of their detention being reviewed by a Danish judge. The four activists still face trial in the Danish courts, and possible prison sentences.
The four ‘Red Carpet Activists’, from the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland, were arrested following a peaceful protest at the start of a State Banquet hosted by Queen Margrethe II for world leaders attending the Copenhagen climate summit .
Mads Christensen, Executive Director, Greenpeace Nordic, welcomed their release from custody but was scathing of the Danish authorities. He said, "The unnecessary imprisonment of these four peaceful activists has effectively been punishment without trial. It has piled a further ‘climate injustice’ on top of world leaders’ failure to agree a legally binding treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The alleged ‘crime’ is that the Four aimed to impress upon world leaders the urgency of acting to prevent catastrophic climate change. The length of their detention without trial is out of all proportion to what was a simple and harmless protest with a legitimate objective."
Following the arrests of the Four, Greenpeace guaranteed – as it does in cases where volunteers are involved in peaceful protests – that, if the activists were released, they would voluntarily return to Copenhagen to stand trial. To further facilitate the police investigation, Greenpeace consistently offered its full co-operation to Danish police and provided them with comprehensive details of the activity. A request from Greenpeace asking the Danish police to specify what additional information they needed to know in connection with the case was met with two weeks of silence on the part of the police.
Only on Tuesday 5 January, did Danish police finally request the names of other individuals who had been in the Greenpeace ‘motorcade’ on 17 December. Today, these individuals volunteered their details, removing the last conceivable reason for detention.
On the evening of 17 December 2009, three of the activists posing as a ‘Head of State of the Natural Kingdom’, his ‘wife’ and a security detail were waved through the security cordon around the Heads of State banquet, that was held immediately prior to the crucial final day of the Copenhagen climate summit. The ‘Head of State’ and his ‘wife’ unfurled banners reading, "Politicians Talk, Leaders Act". A fourth activist was later arrested.
The protest was far from a sophisticated operation. It relied entirely on simple, readily available materials and had elements of farce. For instance, Greenpeace logos displayed on the windscreens of vehicles hired by Greenpeace to arrive at the banquet were in one case wedged in place by a pair of socks. One of the car number plates included "007" – a reference to James Bond. Blue ‘police’ lights on top of another vehicle were purchased for DKK 50 (Euro 6.70) via the internet.
Leaders failed to heed Greenpeace’s call. The Copenhagen climate summit ended in failure by agreeing only to note the ‘Copenhagen Accord’, an empty document containing no legally binding commitments for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the summit being seen as the moment for decisive action, world leaders failed to set legally binding targets to prevent the Earth from warming more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Beyond this crucial threshold, global warming’s impacts are expected to severely affect the survival and wellbeing of millions of people and countless species.
British human rights lawyer Richard Harvey questioned whether such detention is in line with European and international norms . Harvey said, "The Danish authorities must regard legitimate protest as an essential element of democratic discourse and freedom of expression. Such prolonged pre-trial detention appears to be a flagrant violation of key articles of international human rights agreements requiring those awaiting trial to be released when they guarantee to appear in court and for them to be entitled to trial within a reasonable time."
The Danish situation is in stark contrast to that in the United States where, on Monday 4 January 2010, 11 Greenpeace activists were sentenced for a climate protest staged in July 2009 at the Mount Rushmore national monument.
Their banner, placed alongside the image of President Lincoln, carried the face of President Obama and the text, "America Honors Leaders, Not Politicians. Stop Global Warming" .
The court in South Dakota allowed the activists to return home pending trial. This also included an activist resident in the Netherlands. In sentencing the activists, the judge in South Dakota noted the care exercised by the activists, their motivations and the tradition of peaceful protest in the United States. The sentences ranged from 50-100 hours of community service to a maximum of two days in jail.
1.2. Australians Sweating After Hottest Decade on Record
6 January 2010, VOA News
2010 could be another hot year, with forecasters expecting temperatures to be as much as one degree Celsius above average this year.
The past decade was Australia’s hottest on record as a result of global warming. And the nation’s Bureau of Meteorology says 2010 will be even warmer, with temperatures as much as one degree above the average.
In its annual report, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology’s says the decade from 2000 to 2009 was the hottest since records began 100 years ago.
The average temperature during the decade was almost half a degree Celsius above the average seen since 1960.
Climatologists say 2005 was Australia’s hottest year on record, followed closely by 2009.
The past 12 months have been punctuated by three punishing heat waves, which have exacerbated bush fires, a long-standing drought and dust storms. Weather bureau officials say a single severe heat wave would be unusual, and that three in the same year was "extraordinary".
The bureau’s head of climate change analysis, David Jones, thinks temperatures will keep on rising.
"The statement is simply a fact of the observations we’ve seen. And the reality is that Australia is warming, it’s warmed by about a degree over the past 50 years, it’s continuing to warm," he said. "You know global warming is something we see in observations, you know, it’s not a statement, it’s not a deduction, it’s a fact."
2010 could be another hot year for Australia, with forecasters expecting temperatures to be as much as one degree Celsius above average this year.
Australia is one of the hottest and driest continents on Earth. Scientists say its environment and economy will be hit hard by climate change.
Australia’s reliance on cheap supplies of coal makes it one of the developed world’s worst per capita emitters of greenhouse gases, which many researchers blame for rising temperatures.
Climate change skeptics, however, doubt that man is responsible for global warming and say any increase in temperatures is a result of natural cycles.
The issue has divided the country’s main political parties. The Labor government thinks urgent action is necessary if the effects of climate change are to be minimized, while many conservative opposition lawmakers have sided with the skeptics.
That conflict is likely to make the environment a key issue in this year’s federal election.
1.3. Cold weather ‘doesn’t undermine global warming science’
6 January 2010, Telegraph.co.uk
The current cold weather gripping the UK does not undermine the fact the world is warming, experts said today.
Stephen Dorling, of the University of East Anglia’s school of environmental sciences, said it was not surprising the cold period raised questions over climate change – but the snowy weather should not be used as evidence against it.
He said: ”It’s no surprise that people look out of their window at the snow and find it hard to rationalise what’s going on with the longer term trend.”
But he said it was wrong to focus on single events – whether they were cold snaps or heat waves – which were the product of natural variability.
Instead they should look at the underlying, longer term trends for the climate which were more ”robust” evidence of the changes which are happening.
Dr Dorling said: ”There is no doubt we will continue to have unusually warm and unusually cold Decembers and Januarys but it will be superimposed on what the background climate is doing.”
He said the climate was similar to personal finance, where people could have good months and bad months in terms of their spending – for example being frugal in January after Christmas expenses – but if their salary was falling their bank account would be in trouble in the long run.
While individual and short term weather events could make the situation look better or worse, the background issue of climate warming caused by greenhouse gases was not going away.
The last decade was the warmest on record, with the last three each warmer than the previous 10 years, he said.
And more warming is already built in because of delays in the system – making it imperative urgent action is taken to prevent temperature rises breaching thresholds where the more dangerous impacts of climate change could occur.
The Met Office’s Barry Gromett said December and January’s cold weather was ”within the bounds of natural variability” within a global trend of rising temperatures – in which 2009 is set to be the fifth warmest year on record.
Despite temperatures in December which were half the average for that month in the UK, the country experienced another warm year which was 0.6C above the long term average.
”Climate change is likely to give us milder and wetter winters – that’s the general theme, but there’s always opportunities within that to have colder years.
”If you look at the temperature graph for the UK or the world, it is a series of peaks and troughs and there’s a lot of inter-annual variability within the climbing trend,” he said.
And while the recent shift to an El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific will warm global temperatures overall, there were indications the system could have a cooling effect on Europe in the second part of its winter.
He added that it was not currently ”universally cold” across the northern hemisphere, and while Siberia, the UK and parts of the US were very cold other areas including Alaska, Canada and the Mediterranean were warmer than usual.
1.4. EU to review climate strategy in February
7 January 2010, Europeanvoice.com
Council president adds climate change to agenda of informal summit of EU leaders.
Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, has added discussion about the EU’s climate-change strategy to the agenda of an informal meeting of EU leaders on 11 February, saying that the EU needs to find a way “to translate the EU’s ambitious climate change goals in global negotiating power”.
Van Rompuy said that there was a need for “reflection” in the wake of the UN’s climate-change conference in Copenhagen in December, which failed to produce a formal treaty with commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emission and help countries cope with the impact of climate change.
The outcome at Copenhagen is widely seen as disappointing for the EU, which had wanted other countries to agree to legally binding greenhouse-gas emissions targets, as the 27 member states have done.
Speaking at a meeting of the German Christian Social Union party in Wildbad Kreuth today, the newly appointed Council president said that the Copenhagen summit, which was meant to agree a new global agreement to tackle climate change, had left “an uncomfortable impression”.
He said there was “distance” between the result at Copenhagen, a political agreement to limit the global temperature increase to two degrees centigrade, and the “ambitious goals” of the EU.
Van Rompuy said there was a need to rebuild an “atmosphere of trust” in order to prepare for the next UN climate-change conference.
“It is only by bringing all the [EU’s] member states together in a common strategy that we may hope to translate the EU’s ambitious climate change goals in global negotiating power,” Van Rompuy said.
He also welcomed a proposal by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to upgrade to ministerial level a planned meeting on climate change in Bonn in June. The meeting was originally planned to be at expert level.
While disappointed by the outcome of the Copenhagen talks, Van Rompuy nonetheless emphasised that the UN summit had produced an agreement involving countries responsible for 80% of pollution.
He also said that goals in efforts to limit climate change were established not only to satisfy international norms, but also to “reduce pollution in our own countries and regions”. Companies and citizens were also taking initiatives to respond to the challenge of climate change, he said.
“The climate does not have to wait for climate conferences only”.
Van Rompuy said that climate, together with the economy, should be the theme for 2010.
He originally called the informal summit in Brussels on 11 February to discuss the state of the economy and how to raise the EU’s growth potential to 2%, from the 1% predicted for this year.
2.1. EU urged to prioritise tackling energy poverty
6 January 2010, EurActiv
To help households struggling to pay their energy bills, a group of NGOs has urged the EU to create strategies to combat fuel poverty in its energy legislation by improving efficiency and building social support structures.
The European arm of the International Network for Sustainable Energy (INFORSE-Europe) published a list of recommendations in late December to address fuel poverty, as more and more households struggle to heat their homes during the winter months. Difficulties in affording basic energy services – which arise from poverty and poor housing – are exacerbated by rising energy prices, calling for energy-related solutions, it said.
The NGOs claimed that energy poverty is triggered when a household’s energy costs are greater than 10% of its disposable income. This is the definition used in the UK, where fuel poverty is considered to be a significant social issue, but not every European country uses a clear definition.
As the problem is common to many European countries, with the worst symptoms seen in new member states in Central Europe, it should be made an EU priority, the NGOs argued.
Moreover, EU policies to reduce energy poverty are needed to counter price hikes caused by the internal energy market and the bloc’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), the NGO group said. EU legislation has tended to increase household energy bills by encouraging the privatisation of energy companies and adding a CO2 premium to prices, it explained.
Revised EU directives on electricity and gas markets require member states to clearly define ‘vulnerable’ customers, possibly by referring to energy poverty and prohibiting their disconnection from the grid.
But INFORSE argues that avoiding disconnection is only a short-term solution and must be accompanied by energy-efficiency programmes and social support.
Vulnerable households should be given financial assistance to make energy-saving improvements, the NGOs said. In addition, they should have access to free advice on reducing energy bills, they added.
Moreover, lower tariffs for basic consumption and limited price increases could provide further solutions, the organisation said.
Suppliers should consider reducing fixed payment elements and payment models where first units of consumption are charged at higher rates, taxing poorer customers with low consumption, it suggested. The EU’s Energy Services Directive could be used to require suppliers to support energy-efficiency improvements in vulnerable households, it said.
In order to finance the new priority, the NGOs advocated harnessing money from the EU’s structural funds to support energy efficiency in buildings, and switching from gas to biomass supplies or combined heat and power generation.
3.1. Carbon tariffs resurface in Copenhagen aftermath
8 January 2010, EurActiv
The idea of a carbon tax at the EU’s borders is gaining momentum after the Copenhagen climate talks, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy leading calls for a tariff on imports from China and other nations with less stringent environmental protection rules.
The European Commission is due to present its analysis of the outcome of the negotiations at an informal environment ministers’ meeting on 15-17 January to assist the bloc in formulating its strategy for moving forward.
But the timing is difficult as the commissioners-designate will not attend their hearings at the Parliament until next week.
"We’re a little bit stuck," one national diplomat told EurActiv, suggesting that the EU executive’s report would not come out before the Environment Council.
A Commission spokesperson said the publication of the report was indeed imminent, but could not confirm that it would make it on time for the environment ministers’ meeting.
Border tax back in the mix?
Experts expect carbon border tariffs to make a comeback in the post-Copenhagen debate as carbon-intensive industries seek to protect domestic production from international competitors.
"I think there is a very real risk following Copenhagen that governments, particularly within the EU, will argue more strongly for border tax adjustments," said Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform (CER), a think-tank. He cited the bleak economic outlook, the "extreme strength" of the euro and the disappointing contribution by a number of other major governments as the grounds for such calls.
A pet project of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, border adjustment measures, has gained little support from other EU leaders except Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Sarkozy restated his intention to see carbon tariffs introduced at EU borders at a speech to businessmen on 6 December.
"We will not accept goods that fail to conform to our environmental standards," the French leader was quoted in the French media as saying. "In future we will levy a climate tax at Europe’s borders."
The European Commission takes the view that it is too early in the negotiations to start talking about border adjustment measures, which could jeopardise any agreement. It maintains that the priority will be to reach a legally-binding global agreement in Mexico City at the end of 2010.
CER’s Tilford argued that although understandable, border tariffs would create more problems that they would solve.
"I think it would inevitably lead to retaliation and have a negative impact on overall trade volume," he said, warning that such measures would be "fiendishly difficult" to construct.
The economist urged the EU to look for alternative ways to compensate the most effective industrial sectors for the potential impact that Europe’s more advanced environmental protection measures may have on their competitiveness.
Under the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS; see EurActiv LinksDossier), 164 industrial sectors qualify for free emission allowances to avoid relocation to third countries with less stringent climate protection frameworks.
Tilford argued that much more research is required into how great the risk of "carbon leakage" is, but admitted that existing safeguards may eventually need to be beefed up.
"Given that […] there will be pressure from lots of European governments in light of Copenhagen for more drastic, draconian steps like border tax adjustments, I think the Commission will have little option but to revisit the leakage angle in order to provide some reassurance to those governments that will push for much tougher steps," he said.
Nevertheless, not all political thinkers view carbon border taxes as harmful protectionism. Daniel Gros, director of economic policy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), argued that EU tariffs on exports from developing countries could in fact increase global welfare.
In a December 2009 paper, he pointed out that assessment of carbon tariffs has so far concentrated on competitiveness, overlooking global welfare. It argued that a small carbon import tariff in the EU would lead to lower foreign production, accruing far greater environmental benefits than losses from reallocating consumption from domestic consumers to those abroad.
Political hurdles to the introduction of carbon tariffs could be overcome by having the EU use the proceeds from the tax to help poorer exporting countries to decarbonise their economies, Gros said.
Debate over mid-term carbon reduction goal
An imminent issue expected to spark debate in the coming weeks is the EU’s mid-term emission reduction target as all negotiating parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are to present their pledges to the UN by 31 January.
The EU has said it will increase its 20% reduction target by 2020 to 30% if other developed countries were to make similar commitments. But after the Copenhagen talks had closed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel among others judged that not enough progress had been made for the EU to revise its carbon reduction commitments.
Nevertheless, more ambitious member states, including the UK and Scandinavian countries, maintained that Europe should go for the highest level of ambition. Governmental sources said there might be an attempt to put a range on the table for the submissions to the UN at the end of the month, making it conditional on other countries’ efforts.
This would leave open the option of going to 30%, despite reservations from most new member states in Central Europe as well as France, Germany and Italy (EurActiv 14/10/09).
Many ardent climate protectionists now fear that EU business will take the opportunity to lobby for less stringent environmental measures, causing ambitions to wane after the disappointing Copenhagen Accord.
"We cannot get stuck," said Jo Leinen, chair of the European Parliament’s environment committee. He stressed that the EU must maintain its ambition and not submit to pressure from industry and other interested parties.
3.2. Analysis: Aviation and Shipping Emissions after Copenhagen
4 January 2009, T&E
The outcome of the Copenhagen summit proved extremely disappointing as regards international aviation and shipping emissions. Although more discussion amongst countries on bunker fuels at the UNFCCC occurred in the past three months than during the last ten years, it proved impossible to bridge the continuing differences.
The final draft text of the bunkers working group secured no consensus and no mention whatsoever was made concerning bunkers in the Copenhagen Agreement – save a single reference to innovative sources of finance which could be construed as including bunkers.
The conference failed to act on the question of setting global sectoral targets for international aviation and maritime emissions because there was neither agreement on whether the UNFCCC or ICAO/IMO should set them, nor the level of cuts required. A number of developing countries signaled that the EU’s proposed 10% cut for aviation and 20% for shipping over 2005 levels was too steep. Australia, beset with political difficulties with its green legislation at home, never followed through with specific numbers on its call for Copenhagen to set the cap. Norway sided with the US, Canada, Japan and potentially Australia in proposing no mention of targets in Copenhagen, calling instead, in a weak formulation, for medium and long term goals to be set in ICAO and IMO.
The EU ended up largely isolated even though the IMO went on record in the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) that it could live with targets set at Copenhagen. At one point during a side event, even Norway acknowledged this possibility.
In the last draft negotiating text prepared by the Canadian and Venezuelan co-facilitators, the EU targets re-emerged.
The US position, well known before Copenhagen, was that it wanted no mention at all of bunkers at Copenhagen ostensibly out of a concern not to see the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) injected into bunker discussions. The US subsequently opposed any linkage between bunker market-based measures and sources of climate finance and ended up siding with China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan and latterly Venezuela, Argentina and Cuba.
The major expectation on bunkers at Copenhagen was to resolve the competing principles of equal treatment of aircraft and ships (ICAO and IMO) and the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibilities governing climate negotiations. China, India, Saudi Arabia and a number of other key developing countries had made it very clear in prior ICAO and IMO meetings that discussion of potential market based measures – their global scope and application – could not be progressed pending the outcome of the Copenhagen negotiations. It was four days into the Copenhagen meeting before the bunkers drafting group met – and only after considerable pressure had been exerted on the Chair of the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) group to agree to such a meeting proceeding under the LCA umbrella of ‘other issues’.
Several draft texts then circulated within the closed Group proposing that all Parties should address bunker emissions reductions (rather than only Annex 1, or industrialised, countries as provided for in Kyoto Protocol Article 2.2) but that revenues from such measures should flow to developing countries. But the Norwegian version supported by the USA, Canada and Japan contained no reference at all to the finance issue. It turned out later that the United States was blocking any mention whatsoever of climate finance in the bunkers context.
Early in the second week, the Norwegian and Singaporean Environment Ministers sought to develop their own draft text which might be acceptable to Parties. It differed little from Norway’s original watered-down resolution, excluded mention of targets (goals were mentioned but goals are not targets) or of setting them in Copenhagen and still failed to gain a consensus. In the final days involving Ministers, a draft prepared by the Canadian and Venezuelan LCA co-facilitators also failed to gain support. This draft had the EU targets re-inserted.
More at: http://transportenvironment.org/News/2010/1/Analysis-Aviation-and-Shipping-Emissions-after-Copenhagen/
3.3. Miliband: UK will push EU to raise emissions target to 30 per cent
6 January 2010, Business Green
Energy and climate change secretary says he will work to persuade other countries to raise levels of ambition following "disappointing" Copenhagen Summit.
Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband yesterday said that he would continue to press other European countries to raise the EU’s emissions reductions targets as part of efforts to secure a legally-binding international climate change deal in Mexico at the end of the year.
Updating the House of Commons on the failure of last month’s Copenhagen Summit to deliver an ambitious and binding international deal, Miliband vowed that the government would continue to lobby other nations to adopt tougher emission-reduction targets.
"We will work to persuade other countries that we all need to show the highest levels of ambition on emissions as part of the commitments we make," he said. "For Europe that means, provided there is high ambition from others, carrying forward our commitment to move from 20 per cent to 30 per cent reductions by 2020 compared to 1990."
In the run-up to Copenhagen, the EU pledged that it would increase its emissions reduction target for 2020 from 20 to 30 per cent below 1990 levels if other industrialised nations made a comparable effort. However, with the US and other large polluters refusing to increase their targets, the EU failed to change its current target.
He added that the government would also work to increase support for the Copenhagen Accord agreed at the summit, adding that while the 49 countries who signed up to the deal accounted for over 80 per cent of global emissions, it was vital that the deal secured wider international backing.
Miliband admitted that the Copenhagen Accord’s failure to establish a clear timetable for a legal treaty and set demanding emission targets was " disappointing". But he insisted that it still represented considerable progress, noting that it would accelerate the rollout of climate funding and for the first time committed both industrialised and developing nations to taking action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
He also repeated calls for reforms to the negotiating process ahead of December’s meeting in Mexico, stating that "disputes about process meant that it was not until 3am on Friday, the last day of a two-week conference, that substantive negotiations began on what became the Copenhagen Accord".
On the domestic front, Miliband said the government will be making further announcements on energy generation, household energy efficiency and transport in the coming months.
He added that the Department of Energy and Climate Change would also soon report on the advice published last autumn by the Committee on Climate Change, which included a range of new proposals that the committee believes the government will have to introduce if it is to meet its long-term carbon budgets.
4.1. Cutting carbon emission from vans – a LowCVP webinar
This webinar will focus on the prospects for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the van sector. Speakers include Elizabeth Girling of the Department for Transport, Rob Walker of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and Kerstin Meyer of Brussels-based NGO, Transport and Environment.
On 28 October 2009 the European Commission adopted the proposal to reduce CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles (vans) through a regulation on van CO2.
Spain has made the environment a priority for its Presidency of the EU which begins on Jan 1, 2010 and sees progress on the proposals for van CO2 regulation as an important element in its plans.
The UK Government is now seeking to establish a position on the proposed van CO2 regulation as a matter of urgency and is keen to hear representations from stakeholders. This LowCVP webinar will assist in informing the debate and encouraging stakeholders to participate in forming the UK Government’s position on this important piece of legislation.
The speakers will cover the details of the vans and CO2 proposals and provide a perspective from the motor industry and environmental viewpoints. There is time allocated for questions and discussion.
More at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/694854755
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected]