1.1. UN chief encourages world leaders to accept invitation to climate summit
13 November 2009, China View
UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Thursday strongly encouraged all heads of state and government to accept the invitation issued by Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen to attend the summit-level gathering on Dec. 17 to 18 at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen.
"The Secretary-general believes that direct head of state and government involvement is essential for governments to reach agreement on the core issues at the heart of a global climate change deal," Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The conference, set to begin on Dec. 7, aims to reach accord on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 pact — part of a larger UN climate change treaty — which has strong, legally binding measures committing 37 industrialized states to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the period from 2008 to 2012.
It will culminate in a summit-level gathering on Dec. 17 and 18,which Ban encourages all world leaders to attend.
"The Secretary-general believes it is essential to maintain political momentum at the highest level and from all sectors of society, and is optimistic that an ambitious, fair and effective climate deal can be reached at Copenhagen," the statement said.
1.2. Denmark invites 191 leaders to U.N. climate talks
12 November 2009, USA Today
Denmark ‘s premier sent invitations Thursday asking 191 world leaders to attend next month’s U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, saying their presence was "pivotal" to its success.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, will chair the Dec. 7-18 talks aimed at reaching a new global pact to curb emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
"Your personal attendance is a pivotal contribution to a successful outcome," Loekke Rasmussen said in the letter to world leaders, dispatched through diplomatic channels.
At least 40 leaders have said they plan to attend the conference, which follows two years of tough U.N.-led negotiations to draft a climate change agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
They include British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
President Barack Obama has said he may come if his presence would help clinch a deal. U.S. climate delegate Jane Lubchenco said Thursday in Copenhagen that Obama believes an agreement next month is "critically important" and he is "actively considering" attending the meeting.
High-level meetings of politicians at Copenhagen are expected to start Dec. 16, with heads of state and government joining in the following two days.
Loekke Rasmussen invited them to a gala dinner hosted by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe "followed by meetings and activities" on Dec. 18 — the final day of the conference.
"Many countries have already announced or passed significant legislation to reduce emission levels and adapt to the negative effects of climate change," the Danish leader said in the invitation.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil has indicated he might come to the conference, and a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she is keeping the date open.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly encouraged all heads of state and government to attend the summit.
"The secretary-general believes it is essential to maintain political momentum at the highest level and from all sectors of society, and is optimistic than an ambitious, fair and effective climate deal can be reached at Copenhagen," U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement issued at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Meanwhile, the European Union— which has said it hopes to lead global climate policy — said it will meet or exceed its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 8% below 1990 levels by the year 2012.
Europe "can be relied on to deliver" its promised reductions, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in Brussels. By 2020, the 27-member EU has vowed to slash emissions by 20%, and said it would step that up to 30% if the United States, China and other nations also pledge ambitious cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.
1.3. Climate pact text not fit for approval yet
12 November 2009, Reuters
The current negotiating text for a global climate agreement is not fit to be approved yet, the head of the European Commission’s environment department Karl Falkenberg told Reuters Insider TV on Thursday.
"The text on which we are working is not in a state where I am secure to say we can approve the treaty at Copenhagen," Falkenberg said.
"We are three weeks away from an outcome in Copenhagen and in substance we have a lot of work ahead of us."
World leaders will meet in Copenhagen on December 7-18 for a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen where leaders are scheduled to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Hopes for a treaty in December faded last week when delegates at U.N. climate talks in Barcelona said a deal may need an extra year or more, beyond the original December deadline.
Three major problems for leaders include agreeing on emission cut commitments, agreeing on technology to take countries away from high-carbon dependency and a financial package to help developing countries tackle climate change.
Concerns are mounting that a legally binding agreement will not emerge from Copenhagen talks, but rather a political framework for future discussions.
"I’m not sure we should focus so much on the terms ‘political’ or ‘legal’," Falkenberg said.
"There needs to be a deal agreed by the leaders in Copenhagen. We may need to take some time to transform it into the right form but the substance is key."
At the heart of clinching a deal to satisfy everyone is the involvement of the United States, the EU environment chief said.
"We would expect that on the international scene, the U.S. administration will make commitments (to 2020 and 2050) and then translate this at home into legislative acts (…) Whether this is achieved before or after Copenhagen is an internal problem," he said.
A U.S. climate bill cleared a hurdle in the U.S. Senate last week. When it gets final approval, the legislation would require U.S. industry to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.
1.4. China impetus on climate likely during Obama visit
12 November 2009, The Indian Express
With developed countries doing little to ensure that Copenhagen yields a comprehensive global agreement, the stalled climate change negotiations are likely to receive a big impetus later this week from China, which is learnt to be all set to announce some major concessions during US President Barack Obama’s visit.
Beijing has informed New Delhi that during Obama’s visit it intends to announce ambitious targets for reducing its energy intensity — the amount of energy it uses in generating one unit of its GDP — by 2020 over its 2005 levels, apart from enhancing targets for increasing the share of renewable energy in its energy mix.
China has not specified the absolute numbers, which are still being finalised, sources told The Indian Express. Beijing was also said to be considering framing a law to institutionalise these actions.
Though China and India have often taken similar positions on the climate change debate, their situations are vastly different, a fact that is cited by Indian observers to argue that Beijing’s announcement later this week would not result in any undue pressure on India to announce anything equally dramatic.
In private conversations, the Chinese have also been talking about the possibility of capping the growth of their emissions by 2030, in accordance with the findings of an ‘unofficial’ report that had come out of a think-tank earlier this year, sources said. But it is not clear whether that target too will be up for discussions during Obama’s visit.
China and India, the world’s largest and fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, have been under tremendous pressure from the developed world to take steps to reduce their emissions. Though both have initiated action to improve energy efficiency, promote afforestation and shift to a more renewable energy-based economy — all aimed at controlling the growth of their emissions — Beijing and New Delhi have steadfastly refused to take legally-binding emissions cuts.
1.5. Eurelectric Study Shows Europe Short on Climate Action
10 November 2009, WWF
A new industry-led energy study out today shows Europe has not yet planned sufficient domestic action to help head off dangerous climate change. Eurelectric’s ‘Power Choices’ report was developed by Prof. Capros of Athens Technical University and is based on a major update to his PRIMES computer model, the model used by the European Commission for its climate and energy legislation.
The scenarios of the Eurelectric report confirm that last year’s EU climate and energy package will not result in long-term emission cuts sufficient to meet overall climate objectives. Additional measures, including the strengthening of existing laws, are essential.
"Eurelectric’s report is a wake-up call for Europe’s complacent law-makers. It confirms that our domestic policies so far are insufficient to head off dangerous climate change. It’s imperative political leaders respond adequately to the existential challenge confronting all of us", said Mark Johnston, Coordinator of Power Plant CO2 Standards at WWF.
1.6. Climate change ‘playing havoc’ with health systems
10 November 2009, EurActiv
Global warming has brought an increase in heat-related deaths, food poisoning and tick-borne diseases, but flu pandemics may decline as temperatures rise, according to Jan Semenza, scientific advisor at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Since the outbreak of the swine flu pandemic, the ECDC has been in the spotlight as never before. However, at a conference in Stockholm last week (November 5), the agency sought to turn the spotlight on the ongoing public health risks posed by climate change.
Semenza said the heat wave that gripped France in 2003 caused 70,000 deaths and could be a sign of things to come. On top of this, floods and heavy rain have caused a spike in water-borne illnesses – a trend likely to continue due to climate change.
“Many infectious diseases have a strong climate link and ECDC aims to support EU member states to mount an effective response to these challenges in order to contain possible outbreaks and health problems,” said Semenza.
He points to the arrival of Chikungunya, a tropical disease spread by the Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, in Italy where 200 people were affected.
“The event per se was not caused by climate change, but climate played a role in the expansion of the mosquito that transmitted the disease,” he said.
The ECDC has been developing distribution maps for the Asian Tiger mosquito and documenting its relationship to climatic variables. Another vector-borne disease, Tick-Borne Encephalitis, has been shown to expand in altitude and latitude in the Czech Republic and Sweden, where it was previously unknown.
However, Semenza says he does not anticipate an increase in flu pandemics. “A shortening of the winter season, as a result of climate change, might actually shorten the transmission period for the influenza virus,” he said.
The ECDC has submitted a policy paper ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit next month and hopes health issues will become a bigger part of the climate debate, having been “largely overlooked” to date.
Semenza noted that greenhouse gas emissions originate predominantly in developed countries while the biggest impact of climate change will be felt in developing countries.
2.1. International Energy Agency fails to light the way to a safe climate future
10 November 2009, WWF
The keenly awaited 2009 World Energy Outlook contains some remarkable analysis but does not light the way to a safe carbon future, WWF said today.
Emissions cuts canvassed in the outlook, the flagship annual publication of the International Energy Agency (IEA), are too small and too slow to keep the world out of the danger zone of unacceptable risks of catastrophic climate change, said Dr Stephan Singer, WWFs Director of Global Energy Policy.
Scientists, the UN and many governments including the G8 group have accordingly endorsed an objective of keeping average global warming less than two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times – an objective WWF maintains would require developed nations cutting their emissions 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
But IEAs low emissions scenario sees OECD fossil fuel CO2 emissions down just 4.5 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
“The proposed CO2 emissions reductions by the IEA for the energy sector of the rich nations are dismal,” Dr Singer said. “The reductions seen as low carbon by the IEA are less even than the inadequate reductions so far on the table from developed nations for the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen next month.”
Also according to the IEA, global energy emissions would be one quarter more in 2030 than in the 1990 reference year.
"World-wide fossil fuel emissions in twenty years must be on a pathway to be reduced to more than 80% below 1990 levels by mid-century to curtail the climate crisis. The IEA’s scenarios violate this trajectory," Dr Singer said.
For WWF, with about two thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, the energy sector has to lead the way to a low carbon future.
And although its alternative lower emissions scenario is clearly inadequate, WWF is pleased that the IEA identifies energy conservation as the measure with the best potential to bring it about.
“The IEA also finds most of the emissions savings mechanisms it identifies will be cost effective through the saving of fuel costs and this is a useful rebuff to those urging slow action or no action on climate on the basis of costs,” Dr Singer said.
“It is a pity that the IEA couldn’t stay up to date with the science on the level of emissions the atmosphere can safely digest and use this to point the way to a fully renewable power sector by mid-century.”
“What they are suggesting is not only dangerous, but it is much below what is technically possible.”
2.2. EU biofuel rules likely to cause more harm than good
11 November 2009, T&E
There is a substantial risk that current EU biofuel policy will cause more harm than good, according to a new report published today by leading environmental and development organisations (1).
The report highlights the failure of EU law to account for the environmental impact of indirect land use change (ILUC) when calculating the greenhouse gas benefits of biofuels. When agricultural land is converted for biofuel production, land elsewhere will be converted for agriculture, releasing CO2 emissions, hence the term ‘indirect’ land use change.
Assessing the impact of ILUC and incorporating it in biofuels policy is critically important to ensuring biofuels reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector rather than increase them.
The Commission is set to propose how it will integrate the impact of indirect land use change into biofuels sustainability requirements in Spring 2010.
The report also warns that current EU legislation fails to address the risks to biodiversity and to vulnerable communities in some of the poorest regions of the world.
The report ‘Biofuels : Handle With Care’ will be launched this afternoon at an event in the European Parliament in Brussels hosted by MEPs Fiona Hall (ALDE) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP). The summary and recommendations are also available separately in English, French and German.
3.1. Power firms unveil low-carbon electricity ‘choices’
13 November 2009, EurActiv
Europe’s electricity companies have published a new report setting out a number of scnearios for shifting Europe’s electricity supply towards a carbon-neutral path by 2050.
The ‘Power Choices’ study was presented to MEPs, NGOs and industry groups in the European Parliament this week (10 November) as world leaders gear up for next month’s Copenhagen climate summit.
However, the report was dismissed by the renewable energy lobby, which said it failed to tackle climate change. It also came under heavy fire from Green MEP Claude Turmes, who accused the electricity industry of seeking to undermine new legislation designed to stimulate use of renewables.
The study sees carbon emissions from the power sector fall by 90% by 2050 as part of an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 75% in the EU.
Eurelectric, an umbrella group for electricity firms, said these targets are in keeping with official EU commitments to cut carbon emissions by 80% to 90% by 2050 through a combination of domestic action and the use of international crediting mechanisms.
Under the plan, renewables account for 19.1% of final energy demand in the EU in 2020. Hitting back at criticism from Arthouros Zervos, president of the Renewable Energy Association, Eurelectric said the scenario would see the EU "reach or overshoot" the 2020 target set in the recently-adopted Renewables Directive.
Technical realities out of sync with political timelines
William Kyte, chief advisor for international climate policy at Eurelectric, said it is important that any agreement at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen is based on technical realism.
He said major investment in power plants and "an almost equal" investment in electricity grids is required now if Europe is to reap the benefits in the coming decades. However, he said a limited amount of emissions reductions would be achieved by 2020, with deep reductions coming in the period from 2025 to 2040 as major projects come on stream.
"This all conflicts with the political timeframe for Copenhagen which looks at 2020 timelines. We need to square scientific and political timelines with technical realities," he said.
However, Green MEP Claude Turmes said the electricity industry’s plan went against the grain of mainstream EU priorities and seeks to pushback 2020 targets. He said utility companies were pushing for new investments in nuclear energy and coal-based technologies at the expense of renewables.
Industry accused of ‘twisting’ figures
Turmes asked two academics to subject the Power Choices study to a rigorous peer-review process. According to the Luxembourg MEP, they concluded that the assumptions underlying the scenario set out in the report are dubious.
He accused the industry of artificially inflating its forecast of future demand and said the data on future energy prices was highly questionable. The report assumes a barrel of oil will cost $129 in 2050, something Turmes believes is extremely low.
The report, he says, contradicts the EU’s own scenario which anticipates that energy efficiency and renewables will play increasingly important roles in reducing emissions. Turmes accused the electricity sector of deliberately urging EU governments to ignore legislations on renewable energy.
"Are you openly calling on member states to ignore binding targets of 20% on renewables? Do you want a boycott of the rules?" he asked.
He said he was mystified by Eurelectric’s expectation that investment in renewable energy would dramatically decline between 2020 and 2030.
"There’s no scientific explanation for this. Eurelectric is not being realistic and because it does not want to accept reality, the figures are twisted," said Turmes.
Giusseppe Montesano, chairman of the 2050 Project Steering Committee at Eurelectric, depended the report, saying it was "a scenario exercise, not a forecast".
He said the report is based on the same model used by the EU executive for its scenario exercises. Montesano said there was no manipulation of the data and the industry is not attempting to boycott the Renewables Directive.
The report, he added, is based on existing policies in place in the EU but does not include additional measures that might be added by member states to meet the targets set down in the Renewables Directive.
"Member states have a lot of autonomy in implementing the directive," he noted.
Hans ten Berge, secretary-general of Eurelectric, said the industry was looking at how to make the transition to a carbon-neutral 2050 in the most cost-efficient, reliable way, while meeting the demand from consumers.
He said the presumption that oil prices would be as low as $129 in 2050 was based on an expectation that demand will be "down the drain" in 40 years’ time.
Report is a wake-up call
However, not all environmental groups were critical of the report. The WWF said it should prompt European policymakers into action.
The green NGO said the report confirms that last year’s EU climate and energy package will not result in long-term emission cuts sufficient to meet overall climate objectives.
"Eurelectric’s report is a wake-up call for Europe’s complacent lawmakers. It confirms that our domestic policies so far are insufficient to head off dangerous climate change. It’s imperative political leaders respond adequately to the existential challenge confronting all of us", said Mark Johnston, coordinator of Power Plant CO2 Standards at WWF.
New loans for onshore wind projects
The controversial report was launched on the day the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced new loans of more than €1.5 billion for onshore wind farms in the UK.
The EIB will put around €780 million, with the remainder coming from RBS, Lloyds Bank Group and BNP Paribas Fortis. A forum in London was hosted by UK Energy Secretary Ed Miliband and Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling to help wind farm developers and bankers to broker deals on new projects which will begin over the next three years.
Simon Brooks, the EIB vice-president responsible for the United Kingdom, said the new loans were a core element of the bank’s support for renewable energy technology across Europe.
4.1. A captive Commission – the role of the financial industry in shaping EU regulation
Download it at: http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2009/ALTER-EU_CaptiveCommission_FINAL_Nov09.pdf
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