1.1. UN demands more climate ambition
9 April 2009, BBC News
The year’s first round of UN climate talks has ended with delegates talking of a clear split between the visions of developed and developing nations.
Developing countries want big emission cuts from rich nations by 2020, as well as finance for climate protection and more transfer of "clean" technologies.
The top UN climate official said richer nations should show "more ambition".
The talks in Bonn were the first round in a series aimed at reaching a new global deal by December. This would supplant the Kyoto Protocol, whose targets for cutting emissions expire in 2012.
Earlier in the meeting, President Barack Obama’s lead negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, told BBC News that the US would only offer cuts that were "politically and technologically achievable".
The president is looking at measures that would bring US emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020.
But the EU has already pledged a cut of at least 20% from 1990 levels by that date; and developing countries, backed by environment groups, are calling for the industrialised world to act on recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and make a reduction of 25-40% – some say the science now mandates at least 45%.
Mr Pershing said the US wanted to concentrate on achieving larger cuts but over a longer period of time, saying some of the demands from developing countries were "implausible".
But the calls for stronger action were backed by the executive secretary of the UN climate convention (UNFCCC), Yvo de Boer.
"The numbers being discussed so far are still a significant distance from that range," he said.
"More ambition is clearly needed on the part of industrialised countries."
Campaign groups generally welcomed the fresh US enthusiasm for the process, but warned that much greater carbon cuts and finance were needed.
"We have reached a crossroads, and rich countries get to choose the route we all take," said Antonio Hill, senior policy adviser with Oxfam.
"One route leads us out of today’s economic and climate crises and towards a low carbon future.
"The other spells disaster for hundreds of millions of people across the globe."
The charity believes the West should commit about $50bn (£34bn) a year to assist poor countries in preparing for climate impacts.
Some observers contrasted the much smaller sums committed so far against the scale of the resources governments have made available to support beleaguered banks.
"Billions are flowing into recovery packages to save polluting industries and bad banks, but a financial stimulus to protect the UN climate talks from bankruptcy and to help those suffering from the impacts is missing," said Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative.
Delegates will reconvene in Bonn in June, by which time officials will have drawn up a draft negotiating text.
In an indication of how much negotiating lies ahead, delegates agreed to mount two extra meetings between the June gathering and the December summit in Copenhagen.
1.2. Bonn climate talks create better atmosphere, but few results
8 April 2009, New York Times
BONN, Germany — For the last 10 days, climate negotiators, diplomats and environmental activists have proved to be a hard-working lot, but their dedication does not seem to have been enough to produce tangible results for the climate discussions here, which are ending today.
These discussions are part of a series of meetings under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that are aimed at producing a new global emission reduction treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol at a U.N.-sponsored meeting in Copenhagen in December.
There has been a flurry of workshops, presentations, briefings and plenary sessions at the Hotel Maritim, which is hosting the conference. Attendees are everywhere, either hunched over laptops or swarming, alone or in groups, notebook to hand, cell phone to ear. Their days are not over until late in the evening, and the next day’s early start is easy to detect in heavy eyelids and nibbled breakfasts while the work goes on.
Activists representing environmental defense organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, have been delivering what appear to be nonstop comments to both national delegations and groups of countries. To one group they are trying to dispell misunderstandings. To another they are prompting delegates to intermingle and, if possible, find common ground.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), some positive momentum has gotten under way on deforestation — or, more precisely, on "reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries," also known as the REDD scheme.
EDF said that during the Bonn talks, several nations — including Colombia, India and Norway — called for a special session to be held to discuss how to compensate developing countries for protecting forest as part of a new global climate deal. A majority of nations stated that various approaches ought to be considered for compensating forest nations; many said that financing through carbon markets would be needed.
Among other changes observed by Bonn attendees is the fact that some members of the Group of 77 (G-77) developing countries — like Mexico, Argentina and South Africa — are shouldering more responsibilities.
China slightly softens its stance
Experienced hands are also saying that China has softened its discourse somewhat: In Bonn, during a debate on finance, instead of sharply stating, as it has done in the past, that industrialized countries must pay for their impact on world climate, China quietly observed that the use of the carbon market is just one of several options available for funding actions in developing countries, and should not take the place of other responsibilities.
Finally, the Bonn meetings included a workshop on agriculture, apparently a first. "It’s the first time this issue has ever been brought up in formal negotiations," noted Antonio Hill of Oxfam. "Of course, this happened in a workshop, but nevertheless, there’s more talk on how to include agriculture within the context of both adaptation and mitigation."
But for the major topics of negotiation, movement has been hard to detect. Yesterday, on the eve of the conference’s final session, targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized countries and the matter of financing mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries appeared to be stymied.
According to Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, the 175 nations gathered in Bonn have centered on what industrialized countries should do to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases while focusing on quantifying their emission reductions. Positions seem to be stalled on the matter of CO2 emission reductions targets, both medium- and long-term.
At a meeting here Monday, developing and industrialized countries at times expressed highly diverging views on the question of setting up a numerical global goal for long-term emission reductions. A few days before, an alliance of small island states, backed by a dozen African and Latin American nations, had urged developednations to collectively reduce emissions by at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020.
More at: http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/04/08/08climatewire-the-sound-and-flurry-of-climate-talks-create-10466.html
1.3. EU wraps up climate and energy policy
7 April 2009, EurActiv
The EU’s Council of Ministers yesterday (6 April) adopted the final legal texts of the energy and climate change package of legislation negotiated by member states in December last year.
The new legislation is intended to meet the EU’s 2020 climate goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% below 1990 levels and boost the share of renewables in the total energy mix to 20% by the same date.
The ‘package’ is composed of six measures. The revision of the EU’s flagship emissions trading scheme will enter into force in 2013, obliging power installations to buy all their emissions allowances at auction to correct the deficiencies of the previous scheme, in which free allocations resulted in massive windfall profits (see EurActiv LinksDossier).
For other ETS sectors, auctioning will be gradually phased in, with 20% of emissions permits bought at auction by 2013 and 70% by 2020. Full auctioning will not kick in before 2027. Moreover, member states with significant coal-based production negotiated substantial derogations to their industries that are deemed to be at risk of ‘carbon leakage’, that is, reallocation to third countries where environmental protection laws are less strict.
For the sectors outside of the ETS, such as transport and agriculture, the package contains an "effort-sharing" decision, which sets out binding emission-reduction targets for each member state, in line with their ability to pay, in order to reach an overall cut of 10% by 2020.
The package also establishes a regulatory framework for the capture and underground storage of CO2 to help support this new technology before it becomes commercially viable (see EurActiv LinksDossier).
Another of its major policy developments is a directive for the promotion of energy from renewable sources (see EurActiv LinksDossier). It sets out individual targets for the proportion of renewables in member states’ final energy consumption, to reach 20% EU-wide.
In addition, the directive stipulates that each country should reach a 10% renewables share in its transport sector, and establishes criteria for the sustainable use of biofuels.
The two remaining measures set CO2 emission limits for new passenger cars (EurActiv 02/12/08) and standards for fuel quality.
The EU has pledged to raise its emission-reduction target to 30% by 2020 if other industrialised countries, notably the US, commit to comparable goals in ongoing global climate negotiations. But as December draws closer, with the culmination of the talks in Copenhagen expected to produce a deal on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, it seems unlikely that the US will bring out a national climate bill that would satisfy the EU.
The draft bill that came out of the House of Representatives last week proposed to cut US greenhouse emissions by 20% (2005 levels) by 2020, which would only signal a 5-6% cut compared to 1990 levels. Moreover, the US faces opposition to emissions trading from coal-intensive Midwestern states, similar to that from the new EU members to the Union’s scheme.
2.1. 75 scientists call for end to biofuels targets
9 April 2009, T&E
A new study drawing on the work of 75 scientists from across the world has called for a total rethink on using biofuels for transport. It says current mandates and targets for liquid biofuels ‘should be reconsidered’, points out that relying on biofuels has potential for increasing the gap between rich and poor, and says the first thing governments should do is to limit demand for traditional fuels.
The study, which set out to provide ‘a comprehensive and objective, science-based analysis of the effects of biofuels on the environment’, originates from a committee of the International Council for Science. Its findings conflict with certain aspects of EU legislation on biofuels, notably Europe’s target for transport fuels to have a 10% share by 2020 and the EU’s reluctance to recognise that growing biofuel crops can have indirect effects caused by changes in land use.
The study ‘Rapid Assessment on Biofuels and the Environment’ says current crops grown for biofuels are ‘problematic’, and others proposed for future biofuels, which are supposed to avoid harming food security or the environment, require land, water, nutrients, and other inputs, and therefore compete with food crops and lead to deforestation.
It casts doubt on the idea of using land that cannot be used for growing food, saying there is no evidence that non-food crops can be grown efficiently for energy production on land that could not also grow crops for food. And while it says opportunities for biofuel production exist that maximise social benefits while minimising environmental impacts, it says the extent of these win-win situations is limited and their contribution to society’s energy budget will be very small.
T&E policy officer Nusa Urbancic said: ‘This is 75 scientists from 21 countries expressing all the doubts about biofuels that environmental groups have been raising over the past few years. It reiterates the point that we should be encouraging good biofuels, not just any biofuels.’
The scientists look for benefits from biofuels and do highlight some. They say fuels made from organic waste are generally more benign environmentally than those from energy crops, low-input cultivation of perennial plants may provide cellulosic biomass with environmental benefits, and new liquid hydrocarbon fuels produced from cellulosic biomass currently being developed seem likely to offer several advantages over producing ethanol from cellulose.
But they warn that any guidelines for sustainable biofuel production cannot be based only on product life-cycle and farming standards ‘as these cannot address the difficult issue of indirect land use resulting from growing demand’.
Another conclusion says the distribution of wealth is very uneven in many countries, and a high potential exists for the benefits of biofuels to fall largely to those with wealth.
And in a message relevant to the EU, the report says: ‘In light of the potential adverse environmental consequences, potential displacement or competition with food crops, and difficulty of meeting these goals without large-scale land conversion, Current mandates and targets for liquid biofuels should be reconsidered’.
3.1. EU emissions will be above cap in 2008, 2009 picture mixed
2 April 2009, Platts
Emissions of CO2 in the EU in 2008 will be slightly above the 2.083 billion metric ton cap set by the European Commission in 2007, leaving electricity utilities and the EU’s heavy industry sector with an overall short position in the books of EU Allowances (EUAs) at the end of last year despite the economic downturn, the carbon market’s leading analysts said in the week ending March 20.
The economic downturn will have a marked effect on companies covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2009.
But the economic downturn – and subsequent fall in CO2 emissions from the electricity sector and industrial sector as a result of reduced demand – will have a marked effect on companies covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2009.
It will leave them net long on EUAs for the whole year, according to Societe Generale analyst Emmanuel Fages, Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Lewis and Barclays Capital analyst Trevor Sikorski.
But New Carbon Finance analyst Olivier Lejuene and Cantor CO2e executive James Emanuel claimed March 20 that companies covered by the EU ETS will still be short EUAs in 2009, but only by 15 million tons, according to Lejuene.
"Industrial production is a big provider for the amount of electricity used – around 40% in the EU – so of course you’ll see electricity demand from industrial sectors going down, you’ll see less production. But certainly some utilities have announced they’re going to burn more coal because they think it would be more beneficial to do that because carbon prices are lower," Lejuene said of his firm’s EU emissions market forecasts for 2009…
More at: http://www.platts.com/Electric%20Power/Resources/News%20Features/euemissions09/index.xml
3.2. EEA: Transport still going in the ‘wrong direction’
9 April 2009, T&E
The head of the European Environment Agency says transport trends are still ‘pointing in the wrong direction’. She was speaking as the EEA issued a report saying greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the EU have increased by 36% from 1990-2006.
Delivering this year’s TERM report (Transport Environmental Reporting Mechanism) in Brussels last month, Jackie McGlade said: ‘A simple re-boot of our failed economic system will not be sufficient to build the low-carbon economy we need to deliver on a post Kyoto agreement. It is now time for a new economics.’
The main findings of the TERM report for the period 1990-2006 are:
• greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the 27 member states have risen by 27%, or 36% if international aviation and shipping are included;
• total freight increased by 35% (650 mt km), but rail and inland waterways saw a decline in market share;
• car ownership in the 27 rose by 22%, or 52 million cars;
The report says that if current trends continue, total transport emissions could grow by nearly 50% between 1990 and 2020 – almost all coming from road and international transport (road 60%, aviation and marine 39%).
4.1. Study: fuel efficient cars lead to lower oil prices
7 April 2009, T&E
European fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles will lead to a lower global oil price according to a groundbreaking new study published today by Enerdata energy consulting. National governments must respond by increasing fuel taxes to counteract the increase in oil demand and greenhouse gas emissions that would result, according to T&E who commissioned the study.
Economic assessments of energy efficiency measures normally use fixed oil prices when accounting for economic benefits. But the Enerdata study, for the first time, examined the future effect on the oil price itself when carmakers are forced to comply with European fuel efficiency standards from 2012.
The report found that for every 1% reduction in global oil consumption, the price of oil drops by up to 2%. Furthermore it found that the economic benefits of fuel efficiency measures in Europe are typically underestimated by up to 17% because of the failure to account for a drop in oil prices.
Jos Dings, director of T&E said:
"This study shows that the economic benefits of energy efficiency measures in transport have been seriously underestimated in the past because nobody ever looked at what happens to oil prices as a result."
"But our environment will pay a high price for cheaper fuel, so Europe needs to send a strong message that fuel tax increases at national level will have to go hand-in-hand with fuel efficiency standards if we are going to seriously tackle spiralling transport CO2 emissions."
"Europe’s technological standards for new vehicles are incredibly important, but national governments can’t hide behind them. Higher fuel taxes will have to play an equally important role in getting emissions under control."
"Although advocating higher fuel taxes may seem odd during the current economic crisis, governments could use the increased fuel tax revenues to reduce labour taxes which would boost jobs and the economy as a whole. It shouldn’t mean people being hit in the pocket."
Download it here: http://www.transportenvironment.org/News/2009/4/Study-fuel-efficient-cars-lead-to-lower-oil-prices/
4.2. Assessment of Direct and Indirect GHG Emissions Associated with Petroleum Fuels For New Fuels Alliance
The production and use of transportation fuels include a wide range of activities that contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over their life cycle. Traditional fuel life cycle analyses compare a range of alternative fuels to petroleum fuels on a well-to-wheel (WTW) basis including feedstock production, transport to refining, refining into multiple products, delivery to end markets and vehicle emissions. Recent analyses of the life cycle impacts of biofuels have expanded the boundaries to include indirect effects of ethanol production such as land use change (LUC) impacts on soil CO2 and N2O emissions, and the impact of land use change on crop production and cattle stock…
More at: http://www.newfuelsalliance.org/NFA_PImpacts_v35.pdf
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