1.1. EU leaders aim to seal climate action plan this year
14 March 2008, AFP
European Union leaders were set Friday to agree to enact an ambitious global warming action plan by early next year, in order to set the tone for international climate talks in 2009.
"It’s a very good proposal and I believe that tomorrow we’ll be able to support it by way of council (summit) conclusions. We must reach agreement in the first months of 2009 at the latest," Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said after the first day of an EU summit in Brussels Thursday.
Jansa and other European leaders want the EU to be in a strong position for climate change negotiations with its global partners, particularly China, Brazil and the United States.
"The European Union will continue to lead in this area," he said.
In written conclusions from their summit in Brussels, the leaders are expected to commit to come up with a "coherent package" of laws that should be adopted "at the latest early in 2009", according to a draft.
The plan aims to meet the 27-country EU’s over-arching goal to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide — the main gas responsible for global warming — by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
They have committed to go to 30 percent if other countries would match them.
To achieve that figure, EU states are obliged to make renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, the source of 20 percent of the total energy consumption across the bloc by 2020. The current level is just 6-7 percent.
They have also given a political commitment that eco-friendly biofuels, made from plants, should make up 10 percent of total vehicle fuel in Europe by 2020.
However on Thursday Jansa cast some doubt on that initiative, telling a press conference that the biofuels target could be amended amid fears it will further hit soaring food prices as fuel crops such as colza take land from traditional crops.
"The EU is committed to maintaining international leadership on climate change and energy and to keeping up the momentum of negotiations" internationally, according to the summit’s draft conclusions.
The plan, presented by the European Commission in January, set targets for individual nations to help achieve the bloc’s goals, and would oblige industry to start paying for the gases emitted.
EU leaders argued a year ago that such targets would help put the bloc at the forefront of international efforts to fight climate change, but some countries fear they will struggle to meet them.
Several ex-communist nations have criticised the EU executive arm’s proposals, fearing the costs for their relatively poor, coal dependent economies.
Poland, in particular, has called for the package to afford a bigger role for investments in cleaner ways of extracting energy from fossil fuel.
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters Thursday that EU leaders now "have to translate this commitment into concrete legislation."
"The European Union would lose all credibility if one year after having given a strong signal, it was unable to meet its targets," he warned.
1.2. Mixture of warnings about climate change, backing for airport expansion and delayed fuel tax rise infuriates environmentalists
13 March 2008, Guardian.co.uk
Government efforts to live up to what was trailed as the greenest budget yet, were subjected to withering criticism from environmentalists who described a series of measures outlined by Alistair Darling as insignificant, contradictory, and lacking any encompassing vision of how to tackle climate change.
The chancellor said he planned to penalise the most polluting cars, raise green airline taxes and boost home energy efficiency. But he antagonised the environmental lobby by delaying a rise in road fuel duties, backing further airport expansion and failing to give a real boost to renewable energy schemes.
Darling insisted he was aware of the urgency and scale of the problem posed by global warming. "We need to do more and we need to do it now. There will be catastrophic economic and social consequences if we fail to act," he said in his first budget speech.
The chancellor outlined plans to introduce new bands of vehicle excise duty from 2009 which would reward drivers of the cleanest cars. He also promised to strengthen environmental incentives through the taxation of company cars and said he would give financial encouragement only to the most "sustainable" biofuels.
But Darling delayed the 2p-a-litre increase in fuel duty on road vehicles from April to October. While promising to increase a new per-plane duty on air passengers – due to come into effect on November 2009 – by 10% in its second year of operation, he voiced support for expansion at Heathrow and Stansted.
The government announced its "ambition" for all new homes to have zero carbon impact from 2016 and all non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon from 2019, while giving £26m for the Green Homes Service next year to help cut carbon and fuel bills.
Ministers would also launch a "full consultation" this summer on how to increase the use of renewable energy and relax planning rules for onsite household wind turbines, an initiative that pleased the wind companies.
The UK Green Building Council welcomed the zero-carbon targets on new non-domestic properties but said the UK was "running out of time" to deal with emissions from existing building stock. Environmental groups were unanimous in their view that the wider measures were woefully inadequate for the task of tackling what one called "the "greatest challenge the world faces".
Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: "This was billed as the greenest budget ever. But we didn’t get anything like what was necessary." Greenpeace head John Sauven accused Darling of "dropping the ball on climate change".
There was further criticism from the WWF, the World Development Movement and even the Royal Society. Russell Marsh, of the Green Alliance lobby group, said: "The chancellor says that our greatest obligation to future generations must be to tackle potentially catastrophic climate change, but there is nothing in this budget to indicate that he means it. This was just tinkering at the edges."
But Darling, whose room for manoeuvre has been restricted by a faltering economy and struggling government finances, said Britain would push for all future allocations of carbon emission permits to power generators to be auctioned.
The current European Union emission permits were all allocated free, handing the power generators billions of pounds in profits as they passed on the notional cost of the permits in higher energy costs to consumers.
Greenpeace said that suspending the promised increase in fuel duty had fatally undermined Darling’s boast that this was a green budget, and "tinkering" with taxes on planes and cars was not going to stop new runways and roads being built.
"The chancellor should have channelled cash into clean technologies, energy efficiency projects and support for the renewables industry. On all these counts, his measures have failed to match the scale of the challenge we face," Sauven said.
1.3. The European Council has agreed on a timeframe and key principles for the energy and climate change package
14 March 2008, eu2008.si
With today’s adoption of the European Council conclusions, the EU leaders confirmed commitments in three important areas and gave the EU adequate tools to meet the challenges currently facing the EU-27.
"We have put in motion a modern and concrete new three-year cycle of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. We have adopted an ambitious timeframe and confirmed key principles for the adoption of the energy and climate change package. We have addressed current concerns regarding the stability of the financial markets" said the Slovenian Prime Minister and President of the European Council Janez Janša at the end of the European Council meeting.
Adoption of timeframe and principles for the energy and climate change package
In Prime Minister Janša’s view, the most important outcome of this European Council is the adoption of a timeframe and key principles for the adoption of the energy and climate change package.
"The Slovenian Presidency has been working hard on this subject since January and I am pleased to confirm that we have made a commitment to reach an agreement on the entire package by the end of this year. In this respect, constructive cooperation between all EU institutions will now be crucial to ensure that the package is adopted by spring 2009," European Council President Janez Janša said.
In preparation for the discussion of the package in the coming months, the EU leaders today also agreed on key principles regarding the adoption of the package:
* Economic efficiency and cost-effectiveness: the measures should also contribute to other economic and social goals that the EU has set within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy.
* Fairness and solidarity in the distribution of efforts between Member States: the distribution of efforts should take into account the different starting points of each Member State as well as their individual capabilities, and respect the need for sustainable economic growth.
* Transparency: the debate on the package should be carried out transparently at EU level in order to boost mutual trust and reinforce credibility at international level.
"In the discussion of key principles for the adoption of the package, we also discussed the emissions cap at EU level. The present system based on national emissions caps does not provide sufficient assurance that the targets we set for emissions reductions in March 2007 will in fact be achieved. This is why we have agreed today on the maximum level of emissions at EU level, the so-called EU ETS cap," Prime Minister Janez Janša said.
The EU leaders also discussed the issue of carbon leakage and the concerns that some industry sectors might choose to move to third countries on account of tougher environmental standards in the EU. European Council President Janes Janša said that "the solution for this will be a timely global post-2012 agreement on climate change that will ensure the same environmental standards for everyone. But we know that our industries, especially those in energy-intensive fields, expect a predictable playing field as quickly as possible, which is why special emphasis will be placed on this in the debate on the ETS directive."
1.4. Blair wants ‘climate revolution’
15 March 2008, BBC news
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a "global environment revolution" to tackle climate change.
Mr Blair is on a visit to Japan to discuss global greenhouse gas targets.
In a speech to a meeting of G8 ministers building on the 2005 Gleneagles summit, he stressed the need for a "global deal".
He suggested it should be led by the UN and that failure to act on climate change "would be deeply and unforgivably irresponsible".
During his visit, organised by Climate Group, Mr Blair is due to meet climate change experts from China, Japan, Europe and the US.
The UN and the UN alone is the right forum to reach the global agreement
He is attempting to guide attempts to secure a deal involving China and the US to slash emissions by 50% by 2050, on the first part of a trip that will also take him to China and India.
He said: "Unfortunately the source of the emissions is irrelevant. It is the fact and amount of them that matters.
"The UN machinery is valiantly striving to put this deal together. The UN and the UN alone is the right forum to reach the global agreement.
"What I found, whilst still in office as prime minister, was that countries had their own environmental policy. They talked to other nations of course, but there was no centre where it was brought together."
He also said that he could "see no way of tackling climate change without a renaissance of nuclear power".
Mr Blair, who stood down as prime minister last year, is also a peace envoy to the Middle East Climate Group for the "quartet" of the EU, Russia, the US and UN.
He also works as an advisor to investment bank JP Morgan and insurer Zurich.
Last week it was announced he would run a seminar on faith and globalisation at Yale University in the US.
In February Mr Blair said he would work to attract investment to Rwanda, as the central African country rebuilds its economy following the genocide of the mid-1990s.
1.5. EU aims at climate being pioneer, despite problems
17 March 2008, HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Climate package to be compiled this year
EU aims at climate being pioneer, despite problems
The European Union will not falter in fighting climate change, insisted the leaders of Finland and 26 other EU member states in Brussels on Thursday.
The summit held on to the goal set a year earlier to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent from the 1990 level by 2020.
The proportion of renewable sources in the energy mix is to be increased. However, becoming the world’s forerunner in climate issues is not easy.
The EU has set as its goal the completion of a climate and energy package by the end of the year. The schedule is tight, and conflicts are to be expected among the member states, each of which have their own interests to protect.
Finland is most concerned about the competitiveness of its energy-intensive industries. If the European forest and metals industries need to pay for their emission rights, they will end up in a difficult position in international competition.
Finland would like as quick a decision as possible on special considerations for its heavy industry. If no international treaty is reached before that, special arrangements will be needed for securing competitiveness, say Finland and seven other industrialised countries.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso does not foresee a rapid solution in the near future.
"We do not want our industry to move elsewhere, but there is still time for consideration", Barroso said before the meeting began on Thursday.
The Commission hopes that an international agreement will be reached on climate matters by the end of next year. Negotiations are already taking place.
If such a broad agreement is reached, energy-intensive industry in the EU would not need special consideration, as everyone would be in the same boat.
The demands of Finland, Germany, and other countries with plenty of heavy industry have raised a few grumbles even among some EU countries.
Some accuse the group of protectionism, while others say that the goals on emissions cannot be reached if a large part of industry gets special consideration.
1.6. China tells developed world to go on climate change ‘diet’
13 March 2008, AFP
BEIJING (AFP) — The developed world should go on a climate change diet rather than lecture China over its rising greenhouse gas emissions, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Wednesday.
Yang told reporters that China’s per capita emission of the gases linked to global warming remained less than one third the average in developed countries.
"It’s like there is one person who eats three slices of bread for breakfast, and there are three people, each of whom eats only one slice. Who should be on a diet?" he said at a press conference on the sidelines of parliament.
"If per capita energy consumption is viewed in the context of the fundamental principle that people are all born equal, then I don’t think some people are justified in talking about the large emissions of China, as if they have the moral high ground."
China’s greenhouse gas output has soared in recent years as its largely coal-powered economy has expanded at double-digit pace, and it now ranks alongside the United States as the world’s biggest emitter.
However China has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, compared with around 300 million in the United States.
"China’s aggregate emission is large. This is because China has the largest population in the world, but China’s per capita emission level is very low," Yang said.
He also repeated China’s long-held position that developed countries are mainly responsible for the climate change problem.
"Climate change is mainly attributable to the long-term emissions by developed countries in the past and their current high per capita level of emissions," said Yang.
Yang also indicated that a large part of China’s emissions was the result of manufacturing products that eventually are bought by consumers in Western countries, leading to what he termed "transfer emission".
"I hope when people use high-quality yet inexpensive Chinese products, they will also remember that China is under increasing pressure of transfer emission," he said.
United Nations scientists and environmentalist have warned that, regardless of who is to blame, there will be devastating consequences for the world unless all countries take urgent action to fight climate change.
1.7. EU carbon market lagging in climate fight: analysts
11 March 2008, Reuters
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Evidence is slim that the European Union’s four-year old carbon market is sufficiently penalizing emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, in the fight against climate change, analysts said on Tuesday.
Carbon markets work by placing a limit on carbon emissions and allowing participating countries and companies to trade emissions permits within that cap.
The tighter the supply of permits, the higher the carbon price, and the more economic it is to improve energy efficiency or switch to low carbon-emitting sources of energy.
But the construction of coal-fired power plants, the biggest emitters within the carbon-intensive power sector, is continuing despite an EU carbon price, in part because some countries such as Germany are planning to phase out nuclear.
For example, half of investment by Denmark’s DONG Energy is now in renewable sources such as wind, but the company is also planning "a very big" new coal plant in northern Germany, Chief Executive Anders Eldrup said on Tuesday.
"It’s difficult to see the world surviving without coal for many, many years to come," Eldrup told a carbon market conference in Copenhagen.
Asked whether the carbon price was influencing DONG Energy’s investment decisions, Eldrup said the price was too low to make it economic to bury coal plant’s carbon emissions underground, considered a vital technology.
Europe’s carbon price now, if reflected globally for years to come, would do no more than limit global warming to about 3 degrees centigrades, said one leading climate scientist.
"We really need a higher price, clearly this is not good enough," said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, the U.N. climate panel which last year won the Nobel peace prize for raising awareness about the threat of climate change.
Pachauri was referring to prices of $20-50 per tonne of avoided carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2030, adding that a price of up to $100 by 2030 was a better target. EU carbon emissions permits were trading at around 22 euros ($34.04) on Tuesday.
The European Union’s executive Commission in January tightened the supply of emissions permits in its trading scheme after carbon prices plummetted to below 1 euro in the scheme’s first trading phase from 2005-07.
A new proposed rule that from 2013 power generators buy all their emissions permits, rather than get most free as now, was a contributory factor in the cancellation of at least four coal plants, German energy giant E.ON said last month.
Investment bank analysts now forecast carbon prices of 25 to 35 euros ($54.15) following those new, bolder Commission proposals, but even these are still way below Pachauri’s target.
And uncertainty over the global economic outlook and future energy prices means current prices still lag those forecasts, as doubts pare confidence in the value of emissions permits.
"I tend to agree it’s bullish, the difficulty is the uncertainty," said Paolo Coghe, gas and emissions analyst at Koch Energy.
Researchers Point Carbon on Tuesday pointed to the successful growth of carbon markets, saying that global trade was up 80 percent at 40 billion euros in 2007.
Point Carbon added that in a survey of EU carbon market participants, two-thirds of respondents were involved in or planning emissions reductions of some kind.
Events and Conferences
2.1. BioPower Generation Forum 2008
9-10 April 2008, Brussels
Delivering efficient, cost effective power generation from biomass
Interest is growing in the upcoming BioPower Generation Summit, taking
place in Brussels from 9-10 April. v This exciting event provides a forum for leading utilities, policy makers, financiers and solution providers and be fully updated on the business opportunities in large scale biomass production.
Link: http://www.greenpowerconferences.com/emarketing/biopower08/biopower08_broc-EM3.pdf and http://www.greenpowerconferences.com/renewablesmarkets/biopower_generation.html
2.2. Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation
The Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation will be held on 24-25 April 2008 in Beijing, China. It is expected that more than 200 participants will be attending the Forum, including government officials, experts and scientists from developing and developed countries, and representatives from international organizations and multinational companies.
More info at: http://www.acca21.org.cn/climatechange/index.html
2.3. Bangkok Climate Change Talks 2008 – AWG-LCA 1 and AWG-KP 5
The first session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 1) and the first part of the fifth session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 5 ) will be held from 31 March to 4 April 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
More at: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg-lca_1_and_awg-kp_5/items/4288.php
2.4. NEW GHG EMISSION TRADING SCHEME IN THE EU. CAN IT DELIVER WHAT IT PROMISES?
International conference on the future of GHG emission trading in the EU
Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 20-21 2008
On January 23 2008 the European Commission presented a set of proposals in support to reach at least 20% reduction of the GHG emissions till 2020 by providing 10% of renewable energy in transport, determining the share of renewable energy of 20% , increasing energy efficiency by 20% and by defining new EU greenhouse gases emission trading scheme ( EU ETS). Until now EU ETS has not fulfilled its promises to deliver effective and efficient reduction of the GHG emissions from the largest emitters thus in on the front line of the Slovene EU Presidency the new ETS should be in the focus of both climate protection and competitiveness of EU economy concerns.
More info at: http://www.se-f.si/en/ETS
2.5. European Patent Forum 2008, 6/7 May 2008, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Inventing a cleaner future: Climate change and the opportunties for IP
The drastic changes in world climate can no longer be ignored and the need to find intelligent solutions to mitigate the effects is obvious. That is why the European Patent Forum 2008 is dedicated to finding answers to the question:
How can the fields of patenting and intellectual property support innovations that benefit the environment and counteract climate change?
More info at: http://www.epo.org/about-us/events/epf2008.html
Technology and Investments
3.1. Japan Urges G-8, China to Cooperate on Green Energy Technology
13 March 2008, Bloomberg.com
Japan plans to urge the Group of Eight industrialized nations, China and India to combat climate change by cooperating on advanced nuclear plants and electric vehicles, a government official said.
Japan will propose developing 21 technologies by 2030 at this week’s energy and environment meeting in Chiba City near Tokyo, said the official, who declined to be identified before the talks start tomorrow. The technologies include coal- and gas- fired power plants that emit almost no carbon dioxide, steel- making processes using hydrogen, and a system to store carbon underground, the official said.
The three-day meeting, a prelude to a July summit on climate change in Japan, is part of an attempt to develop a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. World leaders spent a decade debating if global warming is happening and now need to limit its effects, Robert Watson, former chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said this week.
“Cutting-edge technology may be a key tool for Japan to step up its environmental-diplomatic efforts,” said Kuniyuki Nishimura, research director of Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc.’s global warming division. “Japan is promoting talks this weekend to pave the way for a meaningful summit in Hokkaido.”
The Kyoto Protocol requires 37 nations to cut emissions by a combined 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. The accord was never designed to solve global warming, and a new treaty must set a target to restrict temperature gains, Watson, now chief scientific adviser at the U.K. environment ministry, said March 11 at the Oceanology International conference in London.
Akira Amari, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Ichiro Kamoshita, the Environment Minister, will co-chair the Chiba City talks, which bring together ministers of the leading industrialized nations and 12 other countries, including Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea and South Africa.
Amari and Kamoshita will press participating countries to put up the cash to develop new technologies, the official said.
G-20 nations emit 19.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide, or about 80 percent of the world’s total, according to Japan’s environment ministry.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda pledged to provide $10 billion over the next five years for developing countries to combat climate change, and spend $30 billion on new technologies at home.
Together with the World Bank, Japan may join the U.S. and U.K. to raise a multi billion-dollar fund to finance projects to increase energy efficiency in developing countries like China, the official said.
The cost to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development nations of new infrastructure to withstand climate change may rise to between $15 billion and $150 billion a year, Nicholas Stern, a former U.K. adviser, said in a 2006 report known as the Stern Review.
Under the “Cool Earth 50” initiative, the Japanese government is pushing for a reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from the current level by 2050.
Japan pledged to trim annual emissions by 6 percent from the 1990 level under the Kyoto treaty. The reduction must be made over the five years starting next month. Emissions rose 6.4 percent in the year ended March 2007 from 17 years earlier.
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].