1.1. China urges agreement on climate change
14 February 2008, ChinaView
BEIJING,China’s special representative to the UN climate change talks has urged the international community to substantive negotiations to secure a new global agreement on climate change.
Yu Qingtai said the Bali roadmap, adopted at the UN climate conference last December, is only a beginning.
Yu Qingtai said, "The international community must continue with the task of conducting substantive consultations and negotiations, to ensure a final agreement on post-2012 international cooperation on climate change within the next two years."
Yu Qingtai says a framework for future agreements must be based on the principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol… particularly the principle of shared responsibilities.
Yu Qingtai urged developed countries to further strengthen policies and measures aimed at emission reduction.
Yu Qingtai said, "The effectiveness of participation by developing countries will depend to a significant extent on whether developed countries will take substantive action on financial and technological assistance."
Yu Qingtai said China takes climate change very seriously and has made considerable efforts to respond to the challenge, with noticeable success. China will also help other developing countries to improve their ability to adapt to climate change.
1.2. UN hosts post-Bali ministerial session on climate change
13 February 2008, AFP
UNITED NATIONS — Developing and rich nations on Tuesday urged speedy UN-led action to seal a new global pact to reverse climate change by late 2009, with special attention to the needs of vulnerable countries.
Representatives of 117 countries and regional organizations attended a ministerial session of the General Assembly to take stock after last December’s Bali conference in Indonesia.
The Bali conference yielded an action plan that set a late 2009 deadline for a landmark new treaty to cut global-warming greenhouse gases once the current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
"The Bali Action Plan … reflects a common understanding that no country is immune to climate change," Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar told the gathering.
He stressed that while rich nations should take the lead in implementing the plan, its success requires broad participation around the globe.
"More action can be expected to take place in the developing world with more ambitious commitments by developed countries," he added.
Speaking on behalf of the 132-nation Group of 77 and China alliance, Antigua and Barbuda’s UN Ambassador John Nashe cautioned that "the road to Copenhagen" where talks on the Bali plan are to be concluded late next year "will be a difficult one, particularly for developing countries and the poorest and most vulnerable."
He called for an "effective and comprehensive global response to cover the four building blocks of the plan — mitigation (action to reduce the extent of global warming), adaptation (action to minimize the effects of global warming), technology transfer and financing.
"Without rapid and tangible efforts by developed countries in this regard, climate change will lead to increased poverty and will negate our efforts at achieving sustainable development," Nashe said.
However, Sri Lankan Environment Minister Patali Ranawaka countered that "it is not fair to expect the developing nations to shoulder the full burden of responding to climate change impact.
"Historically their contributions to climate change have been minimal and will continue to be."
China’s special representative for climate change talks Yu Qingtai pressed for establishment of "effective mechanisms … as soon as possible to insure that measurable, reportable and verifiable assistance be provided to the developing countries with regard to financial resources, technology and capacity building."
He insisted that Beijing was taking climate change "very seriously."
"While making our own due contribution, we will also help other developing countries to enhance their ability to adapt to climate change," Yu pledged.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Slovenian Environment Minister Janez Podobnik however pointed out that under the Bali deal, "all developed and developing countries need to take appropriate action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."
Dutch Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer said billions of dollars will be needed over the next 20 years "to place the world on a low-carbon, sustainable energy path, to take measures to protect vulnerable populations from the impact of climate change and to tackle the issue of deforestation effectively."
She said the bulk of the extra financial flows for that purpose would have to come from the private sector.
Cramer urged governments to "create a favorable investment climate and provide the right incentives" through "a post-2012 arrangement that is cost-effective, flexible and fair."
Meanwhile Podobnik noted that the EU fully backed efforts to "achieve a coordinated UN approach to climate change" and called on all member states to support the process.
Several other speakers made it clear that the United Nations, through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), was the only appropriate forum to deal with the issue.
1.3. Prince Charles calls for greater EU efforts on climate change
15 February 2008, AFP
BRUSSELS — Prince Charles urged the European Union Thursday to show even greater leadership in the fight against global warming as the "doomsday clock of climate change" ticks down.
In a speech to members of the European Parliament in Brussels, the prince urged the EU to strive to unite the public and private sectors and non-governmental organisations to help save the world’s rain forests.
"Determined and principled leadership has never been more needed. Surely this is just the moment in history for which the European Union was created," he said.
"Can that moment not be captured before it slips lifeless from our grasp?"
The prince praised the EU for sweeping measures announced last month to try to cut emissions of the gases — chiefly carbon dioxide — that cause climate change by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
But he said to implement them would "require substantial adjustment" in the way Europeans think about energy, industry, transport and agriculture, and that Europe would probably have to go further to keep down the global temperature.
"The doomsday clock of climate change is ticking ever faster towards midnight. We are simply not reacting quickly enough," he said, on the final leg of a two-day trip to Brussels.
"We cannot be anything less than courageous and revolutionary in our approach to climate change. If we are not the result will most likely be catastrophe for all of us, but with the poorest in our world hit hardest of all."
The 59-year-old heir to the British throne said the public and private sectors must unite and that European industry needs governments to set "principled long-term policies" to step up the fight against global warming.
"It is a task that calls for the biggest public, private and NGO partnership ever seen," said Charles, who has been accompanied on his trip by representatives of a number of environment-oriented charities he heads.
Priority number one, he said, would be to save the world’s tropical rain forests.
"I believe this to be a matter of the gravest urgency," he said. "We are destroying our planet’s air conditioning system."
1.4. Nations seek compromise in climate change talks
15 February 2008, APF
TOKYO — The UN’s climate chief called Thursday for rich and developing nations to reach a compromise as they held talks here in their bid to forge a new deal on fighting global warming by the end of next year.
Officials from the United Nations and 21 countries, whose greenhouse gas emissions account for 70 percent of global emissions, opened two days of closed-door talks in Tokyo to help find common ground.
The informal talks come ahead of negotiations in Bangkok from March 31 to April 4 on reaching a deal to succeed the landmark Kyoto Protocol, whose obligations on slashing gas emissions expire in 2012.
"It will be important to find out what industrialised countries can do, what developing countries are willing to do, and how these two can be able to run together like well-oiled cog wheels," UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said.
"But all of this will only work if developing countries identify their role in global low carbon development," he told reporters.
The Tokyo talks include the United States, the only major industrial country to reject the Kyoto Protocol, as well as fast-growing polluters China and India.
The meeting opened ahead of a joint declaration expected Friday by major companies pledging to play their part in fighting global warming.
"Climate change needs an economic solution and the negotiations are an opportunity to find solutions that are economically viable worldwide," said de Boer, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The UN chief was expected to meet Japanese business officials later in the day to push for a "cap-and-trade" system, in which companies face limits on greenhouse gas output and have economic incentives to do better.
Japan is the home of the Kyoto Protocol but is far behind in meeting its own commitments. The government has refused to legally bind companies to cap gas emissions, fearing risking an ongoing recovery from recession in the 1990s.
"While nearly all industrialised countries have commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and are working towards a cap-and-trade approach, there is still considerable industry opposition to this in Japan," de Boer said.
A summit last year of the Group of Eight rich nations agreed to "seriously consider" halving global emissions by 2050 in hopes of halting global warming, which poses catastrophic consequences for both humans and animals.
But in a sign of the challenges ahead, a Japanese study said Thursday that Japan, the United States and European Union would all need to slash emissions by more than 80 percent to meet the 2050 goal.
The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 in the ancient Japanese city, requires major developed nations to slash emissions causing global warming by an average of five percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
A UN conference on the Indonesian island of Bali called in December for negotiations on a treaty to succeed Kyoto to wrap up by the end of 2009, when a meeting is due in Copenhagen.
But the Bali conference also exposed divisions, with US President George W. Bush’s administration fighting any clear numerical targets for now on how much to slash emissions in the post-Kyoto framework.
Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the environmental unit of the European Commission, which is also taking part in the Tokyo talks, called for action to break the impasse.
"If you look at the international climate negotiations over the last years, they were stuck and deadlocked," he told a press conference Tuesday ahead of the meeting.
"The United States has been walking away from the Kyoto Protocol on one side, and on the other side you know that major developing countries are not making any moves forward in order to see how the climate change can be tackled."
1.5. U.N. leader Ban presses Bush on climate change
15 February 2008, Reuters
WASHINGTON – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday pressed President George W. Bush to take more of a leadership role in negotiations on a new global pact to fight global warming.
The United States, which has been a reluctant partner in climate diplomacy under Bush, abruptly reversed course at climate change talks in Bali, Indonesia, in December and joined 190 nations in agreeing to negotiate a new accord by late 2009.
"It would be … very much important for the international community to sustain the momentum established in Bali, December last year, in climate change," Ban told Bush after an Oval Office meeting.
He said the United States, with its innovative technologies and financial capabilities, had a critical role to play in advancing the globally accepted framework from the Bali summit.
"I count on your leadership and active participation," Ban told a nodding Bush. "I do appreciate your constructive engagement in this. … I count on your leadership."
Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto climate protocol shortly after he took office, saying it was fundamentally flawed, and has been reluctant to agree to any deal that exempts developing nations from curbs on emissions of greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming.
The Kyoto agreement bound industrial countries to cut emissions of greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012, but it exempted developing nations.
The negotiations agreed to at Bali seek to bind all countries to emission curbs from 2013. The United States initially opposed the agreement but reversed course at the last minute.
The United States is a leading emitter of greenhouse gases, along with developing nations like China and India.
2.1. Ethanol Revolution Links Agriculture, Energy Sectors In New Model
15 February 2008, ScienceDaily
The recent boom in production of ethanol from corn grain has tightly linked the agriculture and energy sectors in an unprecedented fashion.
Purdue University researchers developed a model, based on a range of possible oil prices, that predicts impacts of federal economic policies on future consumer and government costs, ethanol production and many other aspects of the two sectors.
"We are living through a revolution in American agriculture," said Wally Tyner, a Purdue professor of agricultural economics. Tyner presented his results Friday (Feb. 15) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.
Tyner said the prices of corn and crude oil, which prior to 2007 fluctuated almost independent of one another, have become more closely linked thanks to the use of massive quantities of corn to make ethanol. This year that’s about one-third of the total national harvest.
"Now, oil and ethanol are both big players in agriculture," he said. "In the future, they will march together, and their march will depend upon government policies."
The model shows that the fixed 51-cent per gallon subsidy paid to ethanol producers will become increasingly expensive for the federal government as oil prices – and levels of ethanol production – rise.
One alternative policy option, a variable subsidy that changes relative to crude oil prices, would only be paid by the government when crude oil sinks to less than $70 per barrel. When oil prices are higher, ethanol production should be profitable and would not need to be subsidized, Tyner predicts.
Tyner analyzed four policy options – the current 51-cent fixed subsidy, the variable subsidy, no subsidy and a renewable fuel standard – at oil prices ranging from $40 per barrel to $120 per barrel. The renewable fuel standard contained in the 2007 Energy Act mandates that energy companies purchase 35 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, with a maximum of 15 billion gallons coming from corn.
"Regardless of the policy, results become similar at high crude oil prices where the market dominates," Tyner said. "At low oil prices, however, government policies have huge effects, and all the results are enormously different. The policy choices we make will be critical."
With oil at $40 per barrel, for example, ethanol production is not profitable without a subsidy or higher fuel costs. With a fixed or variable subsidy in effect at this oil price, the government spends $5 billion per year to subsidize ethanol production, Tyner said. Ethanol is considerably more expensive than fuel made from petroleum in this scenario, but with the renewable fuel standard in effect, fuel companies are required to buy 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol per year. At $40 crude, the standard would cost consumers an extra $12 billion per year at the pump, Tyner said.
Subsidies are paid out of taxpayer dollars by the federal government, while the renewable fuel standard costs consumers at the pump, Tyner said.
Therefore, the standard does imply costs at low oil prices, when buying ethanol would otherwise be uneconomical. His model calculates the hidden cost of the standard, which tacks on an extra $1.05 per gallon when oil is $40. In such a situation, in other words, ethanol costs $1.05 more per gallon to produce from corn grain than gasoline costs to produce from crude oil, and the consumer indirectly makes up the difference, he said.
If oil surpasses $100 per barrel, however, the renewable fuel standard costs consumers little or nothing extra. That’s because at this price, ethanol production costs are very close to gasoline production costs, he said.
With today’s oil greater than $90 per barrel, $40 oil might seem unlikely. In the last two decades, however, oil has only surpassed $40 since 2004 and cost an average of only $20 per barrel for most of that period, Tyner said. Reduced oil demand, global recession or any number of factors could cause oil prices to sink to $40 once again, he said.
One of the most dramatic aspects of the ethanol "revolution" is a ballooning percentage of corn crops being made into ethanol, which prior to 2004 had always been lower than 10 percent. This year, for the first time, ethanol replaced exports to become the second largest use of the grain behind that of domestic animal feed. With a fixed subsidy in effect, the amount of corn used for ethanol increases from 12 percent for $40 oil to 52 percent for $120 oil, the model predicts. With the renewable fuel standard, the ethanol share is quite stable, ranging from 44 percent for $40 oil to 47 percent for $120 oil, Tyner said.
With the fixed subsidy in effect, ethanol production ranges from 3.3 billion gallons a year at $40 oil to 17.6 billion gallons with $120 oil, according to Tyner. The variable and no-subsidy policies yield 6.5 billion gallons at $80 oil and 12.7 billion for $120 oil.
The renewable fuel standard seems to guarantee ethanol’s future, but further decisions need to be made to develop a "bridge policy" to spur investment in cellulosic ethanol, Tyner said. Cellulosic ethanol – derived from grasses, waste materials and agricultural residues – has potential to be more efficient than ethanol from corn grain, he said.
Cellulose, a complex carbohydrate present in all plant tissues, is more abundant in plants than starch. The renewable fuel standard mandates that fuel companies purchase 20 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022. But exactly how this will be achieved remains to be seen, and future policies need to take into account the newly emerged oil-corn link, he said.
Predictions from Tyner’s model point to a time in the future, roughly 2020, when gasoline and ethanol pricing follow a more stable long-run pattern, he said.
Ethanol has potential to reduce America’s dependence on foreign petroleum and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are goals that cannot be fixed by the market alone, Tyner said. Economists call these "externalities" and suggest fixing these market failures through taxes, subsidies or some form of regulation. In this work, Tyner has focused on subsidies or regulations because taxes have not generally been used in this situation in the United States, he said.
Tyner’s paper, Policy Options for Integrated Energy and Agricultural Markets, will be published this year in the Review of Agricultural Economics, co-authored by Purdue researcher Farzad Taheripour. The authors evaluated two future scenarios: one assumes that fuel standards will increase sufficiently to reduce oil demand while the other assumes global oil demand will grow faster than oil supply, resulting in what economists call a demand shock.
"In the past, when you asked people what policies were important for agriculture, they would talk about target prices, loan rates and efficient payments," Tyner said. "For now all of these are gone, inoperative with high corn prices. It’s a whole new paradigm."
2.2. Bank concedes to anti-nuclear pressure
7 February 2008, World Nuclear News
The Dutch ING Group has decided not to invest in the Mochovce nuclear build project after pressure from Greenpeace.
Mochovce is a four-unit nuclear power plant in Slovakia owned by Slovenské Elektrárne (SE). Work is currently underway to complete two of the Russian-design VVER-440 pressurized water reactors. The other two were completed in 1998 and 2000 to supply 440 MWe each.
"Taking into account the concerns raised by Greenpeace and others, there will be no financing of this specific project," ING’s spokesman Peter Jong told World Nuclear News. He would not elaborate on whether this was evidence of a firm anti-nuclear policy at ING, or an indication of ING’s opinion on the ethics of nuclear power investments.
In October 2007 ING was part of a group of nine banks that extended a revolving €800 million ($1.1 billion) credit line to the company over seven years. The loan facility – meant to help SE finance its $4.7 billion investment program – would be unaffected by ING’s decision, said Jong.
In recent months Greenpeace has mounted a campaign to persuade European banks not to invest in nuclear projects. It has claimed some success in stopping finance for Bulgaria’s forthcoming Belene project. Jan Haverkamp of the group said it had convinced the Italy-based UniCredit group of banks not to invest in Belene. It then applied pressure to UniCredit to maintain the ‘no nuclear’ policy of its subsidiaries HypoVereinsbank and Bank Austria and avoid the Mochovce project.
UniCredit told WNN that the "perceived risks of nuclear power to future generations" provided a "difficult dilemma". After engagement with stakeholders, including NGOs like Greenpeace, the bank has developed a "selective" internal business policy on nuclear energy, which "allows it to engage in the financing of nuclear power plants, but only under very strict conditions" including the highest technical, legal, health and safety standards and full consultation and environmental assessment. This policy is being implemented by the whole group.
Greenpeace has also attacked SE’s Italian parent company, Enel. In April 2007 protestors appeared outside the Italian embassies in Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw and Prague appealing to Italy not to allow Enel to ‘export nuclear risk abroad’ by investing in Mochovce. It repeated the message at the World Energy Congress in November 2007 by unfurling a banner behind Enel CEO Fulvio Conti during his speech.
Greenpeace said Italy was "peddling nuclear power outside of Italy like bad olive oil," and noted that the country voted to end domestic nuclear power in 1987 but still relies on imports of nuclear power from close neighbours France and Switzerland.
3.1. World oil market could slowdown: energy agency
14 February 2008, AFP
PARIS — The world oil market could be set for a lengthy slowdown, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday, signalling a sharp shift in the climate that pushed the oil price to 100 dollars last month.
In light of weaker global economic prospects, the IEA cut its forecast for world demand for oil this year by 200,000 barrels per day.
It said it expected world demand in 2008 to grow by 1.9 percent instead of 2.2 percent forecast last July.
"Just as the demand shock of 2004 shaped the oil market for the next three years, so too could the pending slowdown," the agency, which coordinates energy policies for the main industrialised consuming nations, commented in its monthly review of oil trends.
"One of the most indicative factors since we released the last (monthly) report was the negative news on the world economy, especially in the United States, yet the oil price remained unchanged," IEA chief analyst Lawrence Eagles told AFP.
The latest study, which noted that crude oil prices were little changed from mid-January at just over 90 dollars a barrel, said "an economic slowdown has the potential to change the landscape over the next few years: depending on how deep it is and how long it lasts."
But it also noted that projected robust economic momentum in China and the Middle East, two key centers for oil demand growth, stood in contrast to sluggish performances expected in the world’s principal industrialised nations.
The IEA findings, according to Natexis bank analyst Moncef Kaabi, point to a "globally balanced oil market this year, apart from geopolitical tensions, but there will be no real price stability as long as Asian demand does not slow."
China’s demand for oil is forecast to grow 5.8 percent this year to 7.9 million barrels a day after a 4.5 percent rise in 2007.
But the IEA cautioned that recent widespread power shortages and severe weather in China "have cast a shadow over the 2008 prognosis."
While power cuts could point to a surge in oil demand for energy generation, recent snowstorms have disrupted transportation during the Lunar New Year holiday and could therefore depress demand for transportation fuel.
The IEA found that in January, world oil supply had risen by 745,000 barrels per day to 87.2 million barrels "on new output from Brazil and recovering non-OPEC output elsewhere."
Supplies from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had remained close to 32.0 million barrels per day on increased output from Angola, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, while production had eased in Iraq, Nigeria and Qatar.
However, OPEC’s real spare capacity had risen to 2.4 million barrels per day in January.
"We’ve got low stocks and relatively low spare capacity," Eeagles said.
"Spare capacity is due to grow this year," he continued, adding that much would depend "on whether it is made available by OPEC."
"Spare capacity belongs to OPEC. The non-OPEC producers are producing flat out."
Non-OPEC January output is estimated by the IEA to have come to 50.2 million barrels a day in January, an increase of O.7 percent from December when production from Mexico, the former Soviet Union and China was much lower than preliminary estimates.
Overall, according to the agency, non-OPEC total production — apart from Ecuador — for 2007 and 2008 is predicted to remain at 49.7 million barrels a day and 50.6 million barrels a day respectively.
The IEA said that industrial stocks of oil in the area covered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had fallen by 39.5 million barrels in December. The agency warned that oil inventories remained low, "as does spare capacity."
Geopolitical issues in Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq and Iran had helped push up prices. Despite the pressures now bearing down on demand, there was "clearly" a need to rebuild stocks, the IEA said.
4.1. EU ministers urge caution on cost of climate plan
12 February 2008, Guardian
BRUSSELS – The European Union’s move to a low-carbon economy to fight climate change must not harm its competitiveness, the bloc’s finance ministers said on Tuesday.
The executive European Commission last month proposed an ambitious package of measures to help the 27-nation bloc cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, partly by using more green energy sources.
"The Council supports the leading role of the EU when it comes to energy and climate change. However we have to make sure this transfer to a low carbon economy will be carried out in a sustainable manner so economic growth is sustainable and public finances do not suffer too much," Andrej Bajuk, finance minister of EU president Slovenia, told a news conference.
Finance ministers discussed the economic impact and cost of the energy and climate change strategy at their monthly meeting, including such issues as subsidising renewable sources such as wind, wave and solar power, and biofuels made from plants.
"We need to take into account all costs incumbent from the climate energy package proposals. We are talking of very expensive programmes which we believe should be kept within the framework of market forces and efficiency," Bajuk said.
EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said he had told the ministers Brussels estimated the measures would cost "something like 0.5 percent of gross domestic product of the EU" — equivalent to 60 billion euros ($87.18 billion) a year.
The proposals aim to implement targets set by EU leaders last year to cut CO2 emissions by at least one-fifth by 2020 from 1990 levels, to increase the share of renewables in power production to 20 percent and to boost the share of biofuels used in transport to 10 percent by the same date.
The finance ministers watered down a draft statement that would have made the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme the undisputed vehicle for cutting pollution.
Instead, ministers agreed more guardedly that the ETS was the most efficient allocation method "in principle".
The Commission has shelved until a review in 2011 the idea of imposing tariffs on imports from countries that do not join international efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Sectors such as steel and aluminium have voiced worries that they may be forced out of Europe by having to buy CO2 emissions permits while non-European rivals face no such constraints. Free trade supporters said such a tariff would hurt global commerce.
EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the climate change package was based on a cost efficiency analysis and that the most efficient instruments to tackle the problem were market-based mechanisms like ETS.
Implementing the package was cheaper than paying for the consequences of climate change, Almunia said.
4.2. Ken Livingstone declares war with £25 congestion charge
The Mayor of London confirmed today that drivers of 4x4s and high emissions vehicles will be hit by a £25 charge every time they enter central London (writes Nico Hines).
The new congestion charges will be introduced in October with more than 30,000 cars driven every day in London, including high-powered sports and some saloons, joining four-wheel drives in the top bracket of charging.
All vehicles emitting more than 225 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/k), as well as those registered before March 2001, which have engines larger than 3,000cc, will be forced to pay £25 to enter central London between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday.
Most cars will continue to pay the current £8 fee, but cars with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions will be able to drive across the capital for free.
Ken Livingstone, the architect of the scheme, said: “Nobody needs to damage the environment by driving a gas-guzzling Chelsea tractor in central London. The CO2 emissions from the most high-powered 4x4s and sports cars can be up to four times as great as the least polluting cars.”
“The CO2 charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport and ensure that those who choose to carry on driving the most polluting vehicles help pay for the environmental damage they cause.
“This is the ’polluter pays’ principle. At the same time, the 100 per cent discount for the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles will give drivers an incentive to use the least polluting cars available.”
Mr Livingstone said he hoped the changes would make an impact across the world and encourage other cities to follow suit.
He said Transport for London would monitor the scheme and vary the charges and exemptions in the future according to the success of the plan.
For the first time, from October 27, cars categorised as Band A and B that emit 120 g/k of CO2 or less and meet the Euro4 European air quality standard will be given free entry into the congestion zone.
A spokesman for business group London First attacked the reduction in charges for some drivers. “This is just daft – we know this is election year, but encouraging gridlock in the centre of London is no vote winner,” he said.
“Band A and B cars do not reduce CO2, they add to it, and they add to congestion which drives up CO2 emissions from the vehicles stuck in the queue behind them. The Mayor’s policy on congestion is in tatters.”
Of cars currently being driven in the congestion charging zone, 17 per cent would be liable for the £25 charge and just 2 per cent for the total discount.
It is estimated that approximately 33,000 vehicles that will fall into the £25 charge category drive into London every day.
Transport for London claim that around a third of these will no longer come into the charge zone but the remaining vehicles will generate between £30 million to £50 million a year. They say most of this money will be spent on new cycling and walking initiatives.
The congestion charge was introduced in February 2003 and covered just central London, with the daily charge set at £5. Since then the charge has gone up to £8 a day and a western extension, incorporating such areas as Kensington and Chelsea, has been added to the congestion area.
Mr Livingstone said today that there would be no change to the size of the congestion zone.
Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: “Road traffic is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Measures that get people to choose greener cars as well as to drive less are urgently needed.
“Charging gas-guzzling vehicles more to drive in central London is extremely welcome and supported by most Londoners. We are delighted that Mr Livingstone is taking a lead on this issue.”
4.3. Nobel winner urges oil execs to help cut emissions
13 February 2008, Reuters
HOUSTON (Reuters) – Rajendra Pachauri said he thought he was "walking into the lion’s den" on Tuesday when he told oil executives they need to take a lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in order to save the earth.
Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, said the oil industry has been both lion and lamb when it comes to seeing the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming.
"It’s a very mixed response," Pachauri said on the sidelines of the CERA Week Energy Conference held at the heart of the U.S. oil industry in Houston.
"I was very struck by (ConocoPhillips Chief Executive) Jim Mulva’s presentation when he talked about the pressure that the public is going to put on legislators and on companies," Pachauri said. "And those who do not accept that reality will face a huge reputational risk."
Mulva on Tuesday told the conference that the U.S. government should enact climate change policies that would tie into programs abroad. Mulva also said the petroleum industry must cut greenhouse gas emissions and that those in it "no longer have the luxury of standing on the sideline."
Pachauri noted Europe’s BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have long said emissions must be cut.
"They have been several years ahead of what you see over here," Pachauri said. "There are others who are still apparently not convinced that something needs to be done. So it’s a mixed picture."
Pachauri, 67, said he will make a decision in "two or three weeks" whether he will run for another term as IPCC chairman. He joked that the IPCC could be dissolved since "captains of industry" are having the same discussions on climate change.
The IPCC issued its fourth assessment of climate change three months ago, saying greenhouse gas emissions — mainly carbon dioxide — must begin to fall by 2015 to avoid dire consequences from seas rising to droughts and agriculture production declines.
Pachauri said fossil fuel combustion accounts for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without policy changes by industry and governments, that figure will rise by about 50 percent by 2020. He said burning coal will account for the biggest share of that global emissions increase.
Business interests including major U.S. oil companies will cut emissions, he said, adding that he hopes they see the financial rationale now to help global emissions start to drop in 2015.
A major reason for this hope is that a price for carbon will soon be set by carbon trading or caps, setting a clear market signal, Pachauri said.
"The world will be moving to a low-carbon future, therefore companies that take the lead will meet with success in both business and in the eyes of society," Pachauri said.
"Those who don’t will be left behind. I think that’s becoming more and more apparent. Business in the future will be dominated by concerns related to production of greenhouse gas emissions."
4.4. Firms will act on CO2 only if its cost triples, says Shell
15 February 2008, Guardian
A carbon price close to $100 per tonne of CO2 – more than three times higher than it is today – is needed before industry will invest in the thousands of carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) schemes needed for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Shell warned yesterday.
Jeremy Bentham, the vice president of business environment at the company, also called on the EU to quicken the pace of regulatory change and take vital decisions "within five years" that would largely shape the pattern of energy supply and global warming in coming decades.
His comments came as Prince Charles took a similar message to the European parliament in Brussels telling MEPs that business leaders were ahead of politicians and "the doomsday clock of climate change is ticking ever faster towards midnight".
Shell reiterated the view expressed by many in the business world that the price of carbon – the amount companies must pay for permits to emit CO2 – needed some certainty if vital investment was to be made in a range of technologies necessary to reduce CO2 output. Carbon capture was one of the answers to the problem but needed to be introduced on a huge scale around the world along with renewables, biomass and other forms of energy.
The technology needed in carbon sequestration – whereby CO2 is pumped into storage spaces such as old North Sea oil fields – was already there, said Bentham. What was needed was the right regulatory framework and pricing structure with carbon pricing at "above $50 and below $100 per tonne," he added. Asked whether it should be closer to $100, the Shell executive said "probably".
Shell says unless decisions are made within the next five years, the energy sector will be left to "scramble" with a whole range of technologies jostling with each other – leading to price spikes, volatility and uncertainty. EU action, which would set a precedent for the rest of the world, would allow more orderly progress as oil gradually runs out and other forms of fuel take over.
Bentham said the EU needed to be careful about how it made decisions, pointing to potential environmental harm from first-generation biofuels. He said it was "not a smart move" for the EU not to differentiate between different types of biofuels.
He denied that the scenarios he outlined, with a large and continuing role for fossil fuels, were influenced by the needs of a company with huge investments in heavily polluting power sources.
5.1. Renewable Energy in Islands: markets for the future 29-30 May 2008
In the frame of the RESTMAC project, EREC is issuing a Call for papers for the Renewable Energy in Islands: markets for the future conference on 29-30 May 2008 in Tenerife, Spain. Please submit you abstract before 5 April 2008! More information is available on http://www.islandsonline.org or by contacting GAIA at Tel.: + 34 922 20 09 51; Fax: + 34 922 20 91 52; E-mail: [email protected]. Hotel and Registration: [email protected]
5.2. HIDROENERGIA 2008 Early Bird Registration available till 31 March 2008
ESHA, together with the Slovenian Small Hydropower Association (SSHA) have published the Second Announcement for Hidroenergia 2008, the largest and most important conference on the Small Hydropower sector in Europe, which will take place in the stunning town of Bled, Slovenia, from 11-13 June 2008.
In order to benefit from the early bird discount rates, please register to the conference before 31 March 2008 on the ESHA website.
For further information on the venue, sponsorship opportunities, exhibition space, and registration fees, please visit www.esha.be.
5.3. IEA: Meeting Energy Efficiency Goals: Enhancing Compliance, Monitoring and Evaluation
28 – 29 February 2008, Paris
Many policies now exist, both mandatory and voluntary, for improving energy efficiency and minimising greenhouse gas emissions, but there is frequently a gap between expectations of what such policies will achieve and their actual impacts. This gap represents a substantial lost opportunity to maximise saved energy, reduce the cost of energy services and greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance energy security.
More info: http://www.iea.org/Textbase/work/workshopdetail.asp?WS_ID=349
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