1.1. Rudd talks tough on climate change
14 July 2008, theage.com.au
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is talking tough on climate change as the government prepares to launch a major paper on emissions trading on Wednesday.
The much anticipated "options paper" will sketch out how emissions trading will work, and give hints as to which sectors of the economy will be hardest hit.
On Monday, Mr Rudd seized upon a CSIRO report on the once mighty Murray River to talk up the need for urgent action on climate change.
This is despite the report pointing the finger at irrigators, rather than climate change, for the worst of the Murray’s problems.
"Tackling the problems in the Murray-Darling Basin requires serious action on climate change," Mr Rudd said as he visited the Hume Dam on the Murray River, near Albury.
"We’re moving to tackle climate change with a new scheme to reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change."
Mr Rudd also revealed a new name for the Emissions Trading Scheme – it’s now called the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
The CSIRO report predicts a drier future for the Murray River region – which covers southern NSW and northern Victoria – under climate change.
Under the "most likely" climate scenario, water levels would drop by 14 per cent by 2030.
The worst case scenario predicts a 41 per cent drop in water levels, while the flow of water out of the Murray’s mouth would be slashed by almost 70 per cent.
But the report shows climate change is not entirely to blame for the parlous state of the Murray-Darling basin.
Over half the water in the basin – 56 per cent of it – is taken out for development each year, an amount labelled "extremely high".
Dr Tom Hatton, director of the CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship, said over-extraction was a major factor in the state of the Murray-Darling.
"Even if the climate isn’t changing, we’ve changed the river," Dr Hatton told AAP.
"It would be up to our democracy, having done that math, what they wanted to do about it."
Victorian Farmers’ Federation (VFF) water spokesman Richard Anderson said irrigators should not be blamed for the Murray-Darling’s problems, which he said had been caused by the drought.
Mr Anderson said irrigators had been set a cap on how much water they could extract and had kept below that cap.
He said the cap "may well be" too high, but it was to be reviewed in the coming years. Drier conditions, partly caused by climate change, would lead to new plans for irrigators, Mr Anderson said.
Meanwhile, a new report warned emissions trading could cost 15,000 jobs in Australia’s aluminium sector.
The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) report warned if the emissions trading scheme (ETS) was poorly designed, it could force smelters and refineries offshore.
The report recommends a partial exemption of the aluminium industry from the proposed ETS for up to five years to allow it to invest in carbon neutral energy sources.
But a report by the Climate Institute shows Australia’s energy productivity lags far behind other developed countries across many sectors of the economy.
When it comes to manufacturing, Australia is the second most inefficient of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
Australia has the third most energy-hungry economy, after Canada and the US, and the third highest energy use per passenger kilometres travelled.
Many modern aluminium smelters overseas had better efficiency standards, institute chief executive John Connor said.
The only person not having their say on emissions trading this week is Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, who is on leave.
1.2. Barroso call isolates Bush on climate change
7 July 2008, Belfast Telegraph
The world’s wealthy nations were urged today to act first in setting targets for reducing greenhouse gases by the head of the European Commission.
Climate change has emerged as the most contentious issue at this year’s summit of the G8 top industrialised nations, which began today in Japan.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the G8 nations must reach agreement among themselves on climate change measures and avoid taking the approach that "I will do nothing unless you do it first," which he called a "vicious circle."
But US President George Bush says developing nations must take equal measures to make any deal work, and has shown little enthusiasm for setting goals without them.
G8 leaders are joined on Wednesday by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, when the summit is expected to focus on global warming.
China and India say it is up to the heavily polluting developed world to take the lead in the fight against global warming.
"If we agree, then we are in a much better position to discuss with our Chinese and Indian partners and others," Mr Barroso said.
Because of their huge populations and fast-rising economies, China and India are major emitters of greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.
1.3. G8 fails to make climate change breakthrough
11 July 2008, religiousintelligence.co.uk
Talks on how to curb greenhouse gas emissions came on the crucial second day of the summit in the resort of Rusutsu in Japan.
The world’s leaders did little more than re-state agreements made at last year’s summit in Germany. In 2007 they agreed that they would ‘seriously consider’ carbon emissions cuts of at least 50 per cent by 2050.
This year, the leaders of the world’s eight richest countries – Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada, Japan and the US – agreed to ‘consider and adopt the goal of achieving at least 50 per cent reductions in global emissions by 2050’.
The EU and Japan wanted fellow leaders to go further, setting interim targets to cut greenhouse gases.
The announcement has been greeted with dismay by campaigners. Calling the statement ‘very disappointing’, Tearfund’s Peter Grant said: “To do little more than re-state last year’s G8 commitment to halve emissions by 2050 is a very disappointing outcome, demonstrating a lack of leadership and vision.
“The science is telling us that merely halving emissions is no longer enough.” Ben Wikler from Avaaz [the lobby group that put an advert in Tuesday’s Financial Times] said: “People around the world want immediate action. The failure to act… is a failure to take responsibility.”
However, development agencies argue that those most affected by the effects of climate change are the world’s poorest people.
The G8 agreed to fulfil its promise, made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005, to increase aid to the world’s poorest people by $50 billion a year by 2010. Half of this will be to Africa.
Tearfund’s Peter Grant said: “No extra commitments were needed from the G8 on aid. But with only two years to meet this target, an extraordinary effort is required to deliver on existing promises.
“High food and fuel process are crippling for those who already live a hand-to-mouth existence. This is not the time to step away from hard fought commitments to help the world’s poorest people.”
Oxfam described the aid deal as ‘a pittance’. But its spokesman, Max Lawson added: “For poor Africans it could mean a future with life-saving medicines and the chance to learn to read and write.”
Aid agencies claim that G8 countries are likely to fail to meet their targets for aid by as much as $30 billion.
“G8 leaders now have to deliver the $50 billion in new assistance pledged at Gleneagles. The world takes these promises seriously even if the G8 leaders do not.”
2.1. MEPs support reduced EU biofuel target
7 July 2008, FOEE
Brussels/Strasbourg, 7 July 2008 – Members of the European Parliament this evening voted for significantly reduced targets for promoting biofuels in the light of mounting evidence of their impacts on food prices, people and biodiversity, and their failure to combat climate change.
The Environment Committee of the European Parliament voting in Strasbourg agreed to reduce the proposed 10 per cent target for the use of biofuels in transport by 2020 to 4 per cent by 2015 followed by a major review. The MEPs also supported the incorporation of electric or hydrogen cars into the target to potentially reduce the use of biofuels even further.
Friends of the Earth Europe welcomes the acknowledgement by MEPs that biofuels are doing more harm than good but has renewed its call for all targets to be dropped and for tougher emission standards for new cars to be adopted, which MEPs will vote on after the summer.
Adrian Bebb, agrofuels coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The political tide in Europe is now turning against biofuels. This vote gives a clear political signal that an expansion of biofuels is unacceptable. Politicians are waking up to the fact that using crops to feed cars is a disaster in the making for both people and nature. Biofuels are not a panacea to our energy and climate problems and we urgently need real solutions that cut greenhouse gases whilst not threatening food supplies or wildlife.
"Whilst this vote is a welcome move in the right direction the EU needs to go much further to avert the negative impacts of biofuels. All biofuel targets should dropped and real solutions such as forcing car manufactures to produce cleaner cars introduced."
2.2. Why Brown thinks we should all be happy that fuel costs are sky-high
15 July 2008, thisislondon.co.uk
Gordon Brown wants to see petrol-driven cars off the roads within 12 years as evidence that Britain can break its addiction to oil.
The Prime Minister, hailing a climate change agreement by world leaders at the G8 summit in Japan yesterday, insisted all new vehicles could be powered by electric or hybrid engines by 2020.
The driving force to achieve that goal, he suggested, would be fuel costs and road taxes.
But the argument that soaring oil prices could benefit drivers in the long term appeared a high-risk strategy at a time when motorists are suffering like never before.
Mr Brown also risked further alienating drivers with a robust defence of higher road tax charges for vehicles with higher emissions – and zero rates for cleaner cars.
That will be seen as a signal that Labour plans for more vehicle excise duty rises on larger cars – thought to have been dumped – are still on the Government’s agenda.
Mr Brown added that he would like to see petrol prices drop to ‘a reasonable level’, but the AA warned his comments could bring a backlash from drivers.
‘Motorists are already suffering from very high prices. This just piles on the pain,’ said spokesman Paul Watters.
The Prime Minister, who also wants motorists to learn ‘eco-driving’ techniques that reduce petrol use as part of an energy-saving campaign, insisted the future lay in switching to hybrid and electric vehicles.
‘I think a combination of car licence and petrol costs could, if we develop the new technology, be to the benefit of car drivers,’ he said.
There would be incentives for ordinary families to adopt hybrid cars, he added. ‘I genuinely think that this new technology – hybrids and so on – is there to be adopted widely to the benefit of the ordinary family, to change the family car and make it far more energy efficient and, over time, make it cheaper to use energy.’
He said: ‘We in Britain have a target for 2020 to reduce average CO2 emissions for new cars to 100g per kilometre. That leads to the hybrid car, the electric car and the plug-in car.
‘The general view is we can move quickly. This is not the odd vehicle that would be a hybrid but vehicles that are family cars.’
Mr Brown strongly defended rises in vehicle excise duty for motorists who insist on driving gas-guzzlers.
‘In 1997 when we came into power the licence fee for every car was exactly the same. Now there is a range of licence fees,’ he said.
‘If you have a 100g per kilometre car you don’t pay a licence fee at all. Most new cars will be below 100g, therefore they will not pay any licence fee.’
Mr Brown insisted that no walk of life will escape the drive to cut energy use as Britain attempts to lead the way by transforming itself into a low-carbon economy.
Educating drivers in ‘eco-driving techniques’ would, for example, involve learning how tyre pressure and accelerating or braking at the right time can cut fuel consumption.
From September, ‘eco-driving techniques’ will be included in driving tests. Candidates are already asked questions on eco-driving as part of the theory test and from September it will form part of the practical test.
Candidates will not fail if their driving is not considered eco-friendly, but the examiner will provide feedback at the end of the test.
Mr Brown spoke as G8 leaders agreed to aim for a global target of cutting carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 to reverse global warming. But the U.S. refused to set any interim targets for the cuts – and green groups condemned the progress as ‘pathetic’ and ‘futile’.
Friends of the Earth said: ‘G8 leaders today signalled their support for climate chaos by spewing futile rhetoric that will do nothing to stop the toll that global warming is taking on people and the planet.’
2.3. Nuclear power significant addition to traditional energy:Medvedev
9 July 2008, Platts
Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that nuclear energy could be "a serious addition" to fossil fuel after pointing out the potential for its use worldwide to the leaders of the Group of Eight countries.
"We especially stressed that a comprehensive, significant use of nuclear power could be a serious addition to existing sources of energy. There is potential [for its use] in Russia and other countries, including the G8," Medvedev told reporters after the closure of the three-day G8 summit in Toyako, northern Japan.
Energy security and the situation on the markets amid a recent sharp increase in crude prices was in the focus of attention at the G8 summit, he said.
Nuclear energy is cleaner and does not create greenhouse gas emissions, he said, adding that there is potential for cooperation between countries in this area.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT LAGS BEHIND GROWTH
Medvedev said, however, that the development of alternative energy sources has not kept pace with fast economic growth and traditional energy sources continued to dominate, although its supply was not sufficient.
"The situation in the energy sector is not easy. Development is very fast, but new energy sources do not appear that fast, while there is a far from sufficient [supply of] traditional energy sources," Medvedev said, adding that this affected prices.
"We must think how we need to provide energy security, taking into account new challenges," he added.
The solutions to food and climate issues will depend largely on how the situation on the oil and gas markets develops, he added.
BIOFUELS’ IMPACT ON FOOD A COMPLEX ISSUE
On other energy sources, he said the G8 leaders discussed the production of biofuels in connection with concerns about both high crude and food prices.
"In our opinion, the situation here is more difficult. On the one hand, it is a promising new energy source. On the other hand, and I spoke about it yesterday, in some experts’ opinions, biofuels create significant problems on the food market," he said.
He cited estimates that some 75% of the hike in food prices stemmed from changes in food policy and the allocation of fields for biofuels production.
"But we agreed that, first of all, we will develop second-generation biofuels that do not affect food security," he said.
Medvedev said energy security will remain in the focus of G8 attention in the years to come, "given the importance of this problem for the development of the global economy and, of course, separate economies."
3.1. T&E Reaction to the adoption of the ‘Greener Transport Package’ by the European Commission
8 July 2008, T&E
The European Commission adopted today a package entitled "Towards Greener Transport" which included a long-awaited strategy to allow transport to pay for the costs that they cause to environment and society. The package includes a legislative Proposal to revise the Eurovignette Directive that aims to remove a legal obstacle which prohibits trucks being charged for the costs that they cause in terms of congestion and pollution.
Commenting on today’s development, Jos Dings, Director of T&E said:
"Making road users pay for the negative impacts of their operations is critical to a sustainable transport policy in Europe. The EU has certainly taken its time. Seven years after Switzerland started charging road freight operators for the environmental and health impacts of their journeys, EU transport policy is finally catching up."
"Unfortunately this proposal seems to take EU transport policy two steps forward and one step back. Member States will no longer be banned from charging trucks for the negative environmental and health impacts of their journeys. But the charges will be capped to such a degree that the areas that suffer the worst environmental impacts will be unable to set charges which reflect the real costs. In particular the decision to set a cap on charges makes no sense economically, or environmentally and should be scrapped."
Mr. Dings concluded "The Parliament and Council have their work cut out to make sure today’s proposal will really make transport greener."
3.2. Major Economies Meeting turns into Major Embarrassment Meeting for G8
9 July 2008, WWF
Rusutsu, Japan: The deadlock paralyzing today’s Major Economies Meeting (MEM) at the G8 summit in Japan is a result of missing G8 leadership on emission reductions. According to WWF, strong actions by emerging economies – which MEM host George W. Bush demands – can only be made on the basis of stronger commitments by industrialized nations. But G8 climate talks yesterday failed to signal bold action by rich nations.
“The Major Economies Meeting has been a Major Embarrassment Meeting for G8 leaders who were coming to the table with too little while demanding too much from the developing countries,” said Kim Carstensen, Director WWF Global Climate Initiative. “The G8 are trying to fool the world in selling yesterday’s climate deal as progress. The ball remains in the G8 court and countries like India and China are rightly insisting on rich nations setting ambitious targets.”
The global conservation organisation welcomes the forward-leading interventions made by G5 countries in Sapporo yesterday, where Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa offered more domestic climate action. In turn they called on industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 per cent by 2050, insisting that mid-term targets in the range of 25-40 per cent by 2020 are necessary to trigger the energy revolution needed for reaching the long-term goal.
“While some rich nations get lost in tactics and seem to forget that the survival of people and nature crucially depends on their leadership, the developing world understands the magnitude of the threat and shows a strong will to act,” said Kim Carstensen. “Yesterday’s G5 announcement confirms the promising policy proposals made individually by these countries over recent weeks and months. Basically it’s an outstretched arm the industrialized countries cannot afford to ignore any longer.”
Despite little progress being made in Toyako, WWF urges the developing countries to keep up the helpful spirit and stick to their pro-active approach. UNFCCC meetings in Accra and Poznan later this year will have to accelerate the negotiations, while WWF calls for the MEM process to end. It has proven to be a complete waste of time, confusing rather than boosting the G8 process and the UNFCCC negotiations for a new climate treaty.
“The MEM process was made up by the US administration to distract public attention from the fact that President Bush’s climate politics suffer a disastrous lack of ambition,” added Carstensen. “Pointing the finger at emerging economies and blaming them for rising emissions won’t lead anywhere and is a shameless attempt to cloud the fact that a huge share of historic emissions is US-made and that US per capita emissions are among the highest in the world. MEM must end.”
3.3. Europe’s lobbyists under the spotlight as nominations open for the Worst EU Lobbying Awards
9 July 2008, FOEE
Nominations are now open for the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008, which this year includes a new category for the Worst Conflict of Interest in the EU.
The Worst EU Lobbying Awards are an important feature on the Brussels’ calendar, putting the spotlight on the activities of lobbyists behind closed doors which ultimately undermine democratic decision-making.
The 2008 edition of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards takes place against the backdrop of the European Commission’s failed attempt to make lobbyists’ activities more transparent. In June this year, the Commission asked lobbyists to register and to explain who they work for, and how much money is involved. But the new lobbying register is voluntary and does not require any meaningful financial information.
Christine Pohl from Friends of the Earth Europe and one of the organisers of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008, said: "The Commission’s new lobbying register allows lobbying to continue as usual, without effective public scrutiny. By putting some of this year’s worst examples of EU lobbying under the spotlight, we want to discourage such practices and foster transparency and democracy."
Nominations for the category of Worst EU Lobbying Award can be made for any lobbying campaign which relies on deception, misleading information, inappropriate favours or other improper lobbying tactics to influence decision making within the EU.
A new category for the Worst Conflict of Interest will also be awarded this year, with nominations sought for the MEP, European Commissioner or other member of EU staff whose background, other jobs or liaisons with special interest lobbyists raise the most serious concerns about their ability to act impartially and in the public interest.
Nominations can be submitted online at www.worstlobby.eu/2008 until Friday 12th September 2008. Voting opens online on Wednesday 15th October and closes on 27th November ahead of the final count. The Awards Ceremony will take place in Brussels in the second week of December.
The Worst EU Lobbying Awards is organised by Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, LobbyControl and Spinwatch.
4.1. Briefing on Merkel-Sarkozy car deal
10 July 2008, Greenpeace
This briefing describes the consequences of the proposed Franco-German deal on car emissions.
Mora at: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/policy-papers-briefings/briefing-on-merkel-sarkozy-car-deal
5.1. TWENTY-NINTH SESSION – 20 years IPCC
Geneva, 31August – 4 September 2008
More info at: http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session29/doc1.pdf
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