1.1. Nations must ‘act now’ on climate change
12 February 2009, The Financial Times
Countries must begin adapting to the effects of climate change as a matter of urgency or face serious effects from global warming, a leading industry group warned on Thursday.
Water and sewage infrastructure, the electricity network and transport were all at risk from the effects of climate change, including floods, droughts and severe storms, said the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, an inter It urged governments around the world to face up to the challenge of adapting to the effects of global warming, rather than putting all their efforts into cutting greenhouse gases.
If the world is unsuccessful in cutting greenhouse gases to the extent necessary – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said global emissions must peak by 2015 to 2020 to avoid the worst effects of climate change – then adaptation to more severe and unpredictable weather will be needed.
But if governments leave adaptation measures – ranging from flood defences to changing the design of buildings – for too long, then it will become impossible to put them in place in time to protect vital national infrastructure.
Tim Fox, head of environment and climate change at the IMechE, said: “Yes, we need to mitigate [greenhouse gas emissions], but the evidence shows this isn’t working alone.”
Environmental groups have been reluctant in the past to espouse the cause of adaptation in developed countries, out of concern that it would be seen as a fallback option that would obviate the need for them to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But they have supported allocating funds from rich countries to the developing world in order to help poor countries to adapt to climate change, which they otherwise would not have the funds to do.
However, funds from rich nations have been slow to be agreed under the current Kyoto protocol. Developing nations are hoping to gain more from negotiations currently under way to forge a new agreement by December this year that would replace the current provisions of the protocol, which expire in 2012.
The IMechE identified sea level rises, and an increase in droughts, floods and storms as the main worries arising from global warming. Various measures can be put in place to counteract these effects, ranging from seawalls in some areas to abandoning tracts of land to the sea, and designing transport networks to be more resilient.
Infrastructure that is in use today is likely still to be in use many decades from now, the IMechE pointed out, and so it is important for companies developing such infrastructure today to build the probable effects of climate change into their plans national body for the engineering industry.
1.2. Commission looking to introduce climate in transport TENs policy
12 February 2009, the Star Online
Future funding for trans-European transport networks should be determined by climate concerns, according to an EU green paper published earlier this month.
Launched 15 years ago, the trans-European networks (TENs) were supposed to symbolise the EU’s ability to assist with transnational projects, and they have cost around €400 billion in total. Now the Commission wants to review the policy for developing the transport TENs in the light of ‘new challenges’ so has published a green (consultation) paper in which it floats certain ideas.
‘Climate change objectives should first and foremost guide any approach towards the development of a possible priority network,’ the paper says, adding that a revised TEN-T policy should seek ‘to make a noticeable contribution to the Community’s 20/20/20 climate change objectives.’ It says climate issues were ‘simply not at the forefront of public debate’ when the TEN-T programme was established in the mid-1990s.
Elsewhere in the green paper, the need to fully assess the environmental impacts of TEN-T projects is recognised, and it talks of undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the whole network.
In a new development, the Commission for the first time notes the importance of demand management measures, including internalising external costs in user charging, and intelligent transport systems.
T&E policy officer Nina Renshaw said: ‘There are some good things, but also some worrying signs in this paper. It is encouraging to see the recognition for climate change, and we hope the mention of an SEA for the network will lead to a commitment to investigate the impacts of both construction and operation of the network, including different demand scenarios.
‘But there are plenty of signs that many lessons have not been learned. The green paper talks about the inevitability of freight increasing and the parallel need to expand transport infrastructure, despite the failure of "predict and provide" policies in the past. There are mentions of longer lorries and expanding airport capacity, and an implicit acceptance of the discredited mantra that economic growth requires transport growth.’
While climate change gets a prominent position in the green paper, many mentions of it talk of ‘the need to adapt to climate change’ and how to ‘climate-proof transport infrastructure’, rather than transport helping to reduce the EU’s contribution to climate change.
The green paper is now available for public consultation until the end of April.
1.3. Model sees severe climate change impact by 2050
13 February 2009, the Star Online
Current efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions will do little to ease damaging climate change, according to a report issued on Friday that predicts Greenland’s ice sheets will start melting by 2050.
A computer model calculated that if carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow at the current rate over the next 40 years, global temperatures will still rise 2 degrees Centigrade compared with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
This would push the planet to the brink, sparking unprecedented flooding and heatwaves and making it even more difficult to reverse the trend, according to the report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in Britain.
"Indeed organisations such as the European Union believe that an increase of 2 degrees Centrigrade relative to the pre-industrial climate is the maximum acceptable temperature rise to prevent uncontrollable and catastrophic climate change," the report said.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of hundreds of scientists, says its best estimate is that global temperature will increase this century by 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius.
Temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 degrees Celsius since before the Industrial Revolution.
The researchers from the engineering group used the 1.9 percent average annual increase of carbon dioxide emissions over the past 25 years for their model and assumed that rate would continue until 2050.
"What we are saying is that even with mitigation there will be significant changes in the climate," said the Institute’s Tim Fox, who helped write the report.
The computer model also calculated effects over the next 1,000 years, predicting that by the end of the first decade of the 22nd century, atmospheric carbon dioxide would be four times the pre-industrial level even with a decreasing rate of emissions.
Temperatures would continue to rise. By the year 3000 there would be little left of Greenland’s ice sheets and the circulation of the Atlantic ocean would be fundamentally altered.
"This temperature increase will have global consequences, with nearly all regions experiencing their own particular climate-related challenges," the report reads.
2.1. Commission expert groups biased towards business
12 February 2009, FOEE
Groups set up to advise the European Commission on controversial issues are unbalanced and undemocratic, warn environmental campaigners in a new report published today.
The composition of most High Level Groups established by the European Commission’s Directorate General (DG) Enterprise and Industry is skewed in favour of industry interests, and their recommendations and conclusions are geared towards improving the competitiveness of European business at the expense of other public interests, the research by Friends of the Earth Europe concludes.
Friends of the Earth Europe urges the Commission to stop setting up new High Level Groups, or any other advisory bodies, until fair and transparent mechanisms for their creation have been established, including clear and solid criteria that guarantee all stakeholders are consulted equally.
The author of the report, Friends of the Earth Europe’s transparency campaigner Christine Pohl said: "The European Commission has a duty to protect the environment through its policies so it cannot be right that it is advised by groups dominated by commercial interests. The Commission’s failure to take into account a broad range of different views is in clear contradiction with its own consultation standards."
‘Whose views count? Business influence and the European Commission’s High Level Groups’ finds that on important and controversial policy issues such as climate change, chemicals and food, policies are formulated on the advice of bodies strongly biased in favour of commercial interests. These findings raise serious concerns over the democratic nature of decision-making within the European Commission. Of the seven High Level Groups run by DG Enterprise and Industry during the term of Commissioner Verheugen (since 22 October 2004), two were dominated by industry representatives (industry representatives made up more than 50% of all members) and four were unbalanced in favour of industry (industry made up more than 50% of the non-governmental membership). Only one was not significantly unbalanced.
The corporate dominance of the groups is reflected in the recommendations and progress reports of the groups.
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe’s corporate accountability campaigner said: "Many discussions focus on controversial technological fixes like nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage or genetically modified crops, but the advice given by the groups puts profits of large companies ahead of people and the planet. Environmental and consumer interests are often sidelined or not given proper attention. No new groups should be established until the Commission can ensure they are transparent and unbiased."
Transparency levels of the seven groups were found to be inconsistent, with the Commission’s register of expert groups  proving to be incorrect, often outdated and not consistent with the website DG Enterprise and Industry. Only four of the High Level Groups are listed in the register, two of which are no longer active. The third still active group, the HLG on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food industry, is not listed, even though it first met six months ago (June 2008).
3.1. EU enlists support of award-winning animators to teach children about energy saving
9 February 2009, WWF
A pioneering new animation project to help European children understand energy conservation is being launched in Brussels today to coincide with the beginning of the EU’s Sustainable Energy Week .
Young Energy Savers (YES)1 will develop a series of cartoon animations to help get youngsters between 5 – 8 years old animated about energy conservation, renewable energies and sustainable transport. The animations will be developed over the next twelve months with support from character designer Curtis Joblin2 , best known for Bob The Builder™.
The project brings together a pan-European partnership including award-winning animators3 , leading environmental and climate experts, WWF4 and the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe5 , children’s museums6 and 500 children from Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy and Poland.
Project leader Luigi Petito7 said; “To communicate effectively with children, we have to speak their language. Animation works like magic, it crosses geographical boundaries and gender, age and cultural barriers. We are confident these projects are going to be a huge hit, reaching millions of European children and hopefully their parents too”.
“We have already carried out our first survey in schools and the initial views from the children on energy are fascinating“, says Petito.
“The animators are now working with this information to create characters and story lines that will fit to their ideas and current animation trends”.
To ensure maximum dissemination across TV and satellite networks, the animations will be made available for free to broadcasters in several European languages. “We are talking to broadcasters across Europe and initial feedback is very positive”, says Petito, “And why wouldn’t it be? The economic crisis is hitting the mass media hard; in parallel there is an increased pressure on broadcasters to demonstrate their commitment to socially responsible and green programming. We are them offering topical, educational and evaluated content for free – it is a win-win deal”.
YES is the first of three European Commission-supported animation projects to be developed over the next couple of years. The second project, ACTIVE will create series of animations to help children understand the importance of healthy eating and physical activity, and the third project, Eco-Animation will teach children the importance of water conservation. See www.animate-eu.com for more details.
3.2. Greece wins acclaim saying yes to clean energy, no to new coal and nuclear
10 February 2009, WWF
Pleasing result to a campaign including events such as this No-to-coal rally outside the Greek Parliament
Athens , Greece – Greece yesterday outlined an energy future of strong support for renewable energy, with development minister Kostis Hatzidakis ruling out investment in new coal-fired or nuclear power plants.
The announcement was especially gratifying to WWF-Greece, founder with other partners of a “No-to-coal” coalition which has enlisted strong community support – particularly in areas proposed or suggested for new coal-fired plants.
“We congratulate Mr Hatzidakis for ending the coal drama and the rumors regarding the introduction of nuclear energy,” said WWF Greece CEO Demetres Karavellas.
“We feel that our efforts to prove that Greece does not need coal power plants and nuclear energy have been justified. Today, we can be more optimistic that Greece might make the necessary shift towards a more sustainable and competitive green economy.”
WWF Greece last November published a low carbon energy vision for the country which proposed CO2 emissions reductions of close to 70% by 2050, outlining specific ways to achieve the reductions.
“No-to-coal” involved WWF Greece working together with local authorities in seven different sites that would have been affected by new coal power plants as well as organizing mass rallies for outside the Greek Parliament.
The initiative also involved locally specific “yet-to-renewables” campaigns, offering alternative less polluting, destructive and disruptive power solutions.
The government change of stance on the issue was signalled by legislative changes to streamline and assist investment in renewable energy and by Mr Hatzidakis emerging from a cabinet meeting in late January to say "We want 2009 to be the year of renewable energy sources ."
WWF Greece plans to intensify its efforts over the next few months to ensure that Greece plays a positive role within the EU in the critical negotiations towards getting a new and adequate global climate deal at the UN climate change conference at Copenhagen in December.
4.1. Whose views count?
Business influence and the European Commission’s
High Level Groups
4.2. Economic Assessment of Post-2012 Global Climate Policies – Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Scenarios with the POLES and GEM-E3 models
Authors: Peter Russ, Juan-Carlos Ciscar, Bert Saveyn, Antonio Soria, Laszló Szábó, Tom Van Ierland, Denise Van Regemorter, Rosella Virdis
EUR Number: 23768 EN
Publication date: 2/2009
This report documents the JRC/IPTS modelling activities of the 2009 European Commission Communication "Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen", which establishes the EU’s position in the Copenhagen negotiations. According to the POLES model, the estimated global direct abatement costs of an emission reduction scenario compatible with the EU 2 degrees target are €175 billion by 2020. The report also highlights the crucial importance of energy efficiency improvements in achieving the overall emission reduction targets. Finally, the analyses with the POLES and GEM-E3 models underline the fundamental role that a global carbon market can play in implementing climate policies in a cost-efficient way.
Documents available at: http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=1980
5.1. Seventh session of the AWG-KP and fifth session of the AWG-LCA
29 March-08 April 2009,Bonn, Germany
The provisional agendas for the seventh session of the AWG-KP and the fifth session of the AWG-LCA are now available online.
More at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
5.2. ISC 14 – Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee
17-18 February 2009,Bonn, Germany
The proposed agenda for the 14th meeting of the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee is now available online.
More at: http://ji.unfccc.int/Sup_Committee/Meetings/014/index.html
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