1.1. Last-minute agreement at Copenhagen marks turning point for the world
13 January 2010, Guardian
Dramatic finish to summit has radically changed approach to tackling global warming and indicates accord will succeed.
Spin is the political language of Washington, but I have never encountered such conflicting currents of hype as those that have swirled around the globe since the gavel fell on the Copenhagen climate summit. Depending on whether you live in Beijing, Berlin or Boston the assessment ranges from catastrophe to success to somewhere in between. But what lies ahead?
First let us take stock. In important ways the Copenhagen accord signals significant and promising changes in the world’s approach to global warming under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, not just in what it says, but also in how it was negotiated.
The dramatic story of a last-minute agreement fashioned in a meeting among the leaders of the "Copenhagen 5", Brazil, China, India, South Africa, and the United States reveals a profound change in global politics. One in which, for the first time, the rapidly developing giants of Asia, Africa, and Latin America emerged as key to the solution.
The ad hoc leadership by the so-called Copenhagen 5 (C-5), representing 45% of the world’s population and 44% of global greenhouse gas emissions, constitutes a new and potentially historic alliance, a symbol, perhaps, of a new world order.
The Copenhagen accord signals other changes as well. It sets a goal of limiting global warming to 2C, and was accompanied by a requirement for explicit, quantitative pollution reduction commitments across the world.
The key obstacle that was overcome in the C-5 negotiations was the United States’ insistence that all parties agree to verification of fulfillment of their carbon-cutting commitments. When the major developing economies agreed to a form of verification, they set in motion a process can be the basis for building the trust necessary ultimately to strengthen the accord.
Finally, the fact that the accord was negotiated by heads of state, and the way it became the Copenhagen accord, may be a significant step toward overcoming a dysfunctional negotiation process which requires that decisions be reached by consensus among all 190+ parties to the UNFCCC. Despite opposition from a small minority of countries, heads of state found a way to move the accord ahead without unanimity. By doing so they demonstrated their seriousness and exerted the capacity of the majority of nations to move forward when they agree.
However, unlike the Kyoto protocol, the accord is not legally binding, and provides neither rules to structure international carbon markets, nor means to enforce compliance. This creates daunting uncertainties about how nations and markets will interact over greenhouse gas reductions.
Europe , which was not part of the C-5 meeting from which the accord emerged, but endorsed it almost immediately, faces important decisions. First, what is the future role of the KP? Will Europe pursue two paths, both a second commitment period under the KP, and participation in the accord? Second, will Europe which has led the world toward collective action on climate, put aside disappointment about how the Copenhagen process played out, and seize the lead in creating a process to implement the accord?
The next few months will offer strong indicators of whether nations whose heads of state endorsed the accord will treat it as binding. Various signposts will suggest which way the road is heading. The first deadline to watch for is January 31. By then, developed countries must register national commitments — and developing countries national plans of action — to reduce greenhouse gases. Major defections at this point would doom the accord, but early indications are that countries that offered commitments coming into Copenhagen will register them.
A second key indicator that the accord has legs will be how fast and effectively key countries seek to implement its terms. It remains unclear who "owns" the Copenhagen accord, who staffs its implementation and even who has the authority to convene the next meeting to keep the process going. Will negotiations around the accord’s implementation be included in the next UNFCCC meeting in late May, or does it require an entirely separate process? The accord includes promises of adaptation assistance, a green climate fund, and forest protection and technology "mechanisms". The question of who moves the process forward needs to be resolved in the next few months.
China has already invited the other emerging countries behind the accord, India, Brazil and South Africa, to meet this month to devise a united front on a way forward. Will Europe take the initiative to define a workable process?
There will be two more important signposts during 2010, from the two largest emitters. China will launch its 12th five-year plan, and much will ride on the strength of the measures they include to improve energy efficiency, and develop low-carbon sources of energy. Already since Copenhagen they have adopted new measures requiring electric utilities to purchase wind and solar energy.
Similarly, the US Congress will decide whether to complete action on legislation to reduce US emissions, as a bi-partisan trio of Senators — John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman — strive to find an acceptable compromise bill that addresses both climate and energy security.
One last hope. Because the accord may reflect a reordering of global political dynamics it may make possible a profoundly important shift in which action on climate change is no longer seen as a threat, but rather the key, to development and the future of poverty eradication is recognised as low carbon development. That would be an historic achievement.
1.2. China, 3 others to chart climate roadmap
15 January 2010, China Daily
China ‘s climate official yesterday confirmed that climate ministers from four emerging economies will meet in India this month, to help chart a roadmap toward a legally binding global climate change agreement in Mexico City this year.
While the official downplayed the scheduled conference on Jan 24-25 as an "ordinary event" among China’s international climate engagements, the government’s top-ranking advisors said the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) are likely to coordinate their follow-up actions required in the Copenhagen Accord achieved by 190 economies in December.
China will send a delegation headed by a minister to attend the meeting, which is aimed at a successful UN-scheduled Mexico climate change conference, said Li Gao, division director with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
As an official in charge of international cooperation in the commission’s department of combating climate change, Li said China has been playing an active role in seeking climate cooperation, without elaborating on the conference.
Li also did not name the head of the delegation. The government’s climate change envoy, Xie Zhenhua, who is also the NDRC’s vice-minister, is expected to attend the conference.
The next annual UN Climate Change Conference will take place toward the end of 2010 in Mexico’s capital and is preceded by a major two-week negotiating session in Bonn, Germany, scheduled from May 31 to June 11.
He Jiankun, vice-president of the government-sponsored Expert Panel on Combating Climate Change, said the upcoming conference is expected to activate a new round of global climate change negotiations after Western countries blamed China for "hijacking" or "blocking" the process.
"The upcoming conference has shown that the emerging economies, such as my country, are determined to move the negotiation agenda forward, instead of blocking or hijacking the efforts to combat global warming," said He, who sat on the Chinese government’s advisory body in Copenhagen last month.
He expected the ministers of the four countries to discuss approaches on submitting their carbon emission cut pledges before the end of the month, which was agreed upon by the majority of countries at the Copenhagen summit.
According to the Copenhagen Accord, the industrialized countries will commit to implement, individually or jointly, quantified economy-wide emissions targets from 2020, to be listed in the accord before Jan 31.
The developing countries agreed to communicate their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions every two years, also listing their voluntary pledges before the end of the month.
But the Copenhagen Accord did not specify how the pledges would be submitted and the four countries may do so in detail this time, He said.
China has agreed to cut intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 base and Premier Wen Jiabao promised that the country will uphold the commitment regardless of results from Copenhagen.
Reuters said China and India are taking the lead in organizing the upcoming gathering. To better prepare for the Copenhagen summit, China had invited climate change ministers of the other three countries shortly before December’s highly expected UN gathering to meet in Beijing. They arrived in Copenhagen with a draft with a common understanding on combating global warming, while a number of developed countries were blocking the Copenhagen negotiations.
During the meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Copenhagen, Wen said "the BASIC countries and other developing nations need to stay unified and step up coordination on stances at the climate negotiations".
Wen said Singh is a personal friend and that thei r friendship also helps strengthen ties between China and India.
"India attaches great importance to the strategic partnership between the two countries," said Singh, adding that the Sino-Indian partnership has been expanded during the G20 meetings, World Trade Organization meetings as well as other negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"If China has achieved common understanding with the other three (emerging economies), it can easily coordinate with other developing countries," He said.
Dennis Pamlin, a Sweden-based visiting scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the BASIC countries mechanism should go beyond the meeting among the climate change and environmental ministers.
They should coordinate the basic understanding, which is that of common but differentiated responsibility.
They will only start discussing commitments for reductions in relation to collaboration agreements when technology and smart trade is included, Pamlin said.
Pamlin said there are other key areas where the BASIC countries could take the lead in solutions for low carbon urban development, because the emerging countries have cities that grow fast and will be locked into a high carbon society if the right investments are not made.
Engagement with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society are also essential. Pamlin said the West is communicating better with NGOs, which are influential voices in the developed world and can help developing countries get "a much better deal".
1.3. Commission wants quick follow-up on Copenhagen
15 January 2010, EurActiv
During an informal meeting of European energy and environment ministers in Seville, the European Commission will tomorrow (16 January) call for swift implementation by the EU of the Copenhagen Accord on climate change, urging other countries to follow suit and reach a legally-binding agreement in 2010, EurActiv has learned.
"We should encourage the largest possible number of countries to subscribe to the Copenhagen accord and invite them to table their own reduction targets or actions as the case may be," reads the Commission non-paper tabled at meeting, obtained by EurActiv.
Jump-start EU climate diplomacy
Although the Copenhagen accord fell short of the EU’s expectations and was not formally adopted, it does provide the basis on which to work further, said EU sources.
"The EU should play an active role in strengthening and expanding support for the Accord. Doing so will require an active outreach by the EU, including at bilateral and regional levels, but possibly also through facilitating a meeting of ‘Friends of the Accord’ during the first quarter of 2010," the paper suggests.
After the disappointing outcome at Copenhagen, all parties must redouble their efforts to ensure we have a legally-binding UN climate deal by the end of 2010, said Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout.
"The EU needs to take a much more proactive diplomatic effort to this end, broadening the net of its diplomacy to ensure it does not repeat its mistake of exclusively focusing on one or two players at the expense of others," he added.
The urgency of implementation is dictated by the fact that the Copenhagen Accord sets an end of January deadline for all nations to submit plans for curbing emissions to the United Nations.
The EU committed to achieving a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990, as called for in its climate and energy package adopted in 2008.
During the home stretch of the negotiations, the EU said it would be willing to step up efforts and take on a 30% reduction target only if other developed countries commit to comparable emission reductions and economically-advanced developing countries – namely China and India – contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities.
Conscious that it needs to restore its credibility in international climate policy, the Commission believes "the EU could review/strengthen its commitment notably in the light of the pledges notified by other countries," reads the informal non-paper, stating that an analysis of pledges under the Accord should be carried out "at the appropriate time".
The EU executive considers that the negotiating texts drawn up within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks contain very difficult elements for the EU, sources said.
Legally-binding agreement a tall order for EU
It is therefore essential for the EU "to ensure that the next steps in the negotiations, currently planned for May-June in Bonn, integrate and build upon the Copenhagen Accord with a view to reaching a legally-binding agreement in 2010," reads the Commission non-paper.
Indeed, the Copenhagen Accord does not expressly foresee the conclusion of a legally-binding agreement in 2010.
"A bold move from the EU would clearly help put global climate policy back on track. The EU’s dated 20% emissions pledge clearly no longer cuts it. Europe’s environment ministers must immediately end their prevarication and step up the EU’s emissions reduction pledge to 30%," said Green MEP Eickhout.
The Commission also proposes immediate action on climate finance agreed in Copenhagen, including fast-start funding (US$ 30 billion) for 2010-2012 and long-term finance (US$ 100 billion per year in 2010).
"The EU should also, together with the other parties who have associated themselves formally with the Accord, explore how to implement the provisions," reads the text.
Ministers will also discuss the EU Energy Action Plan for 2010-2014, the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan, and sustainability and security of energy supply.
1.4. EU’s Hedegaard urges quick move to deeper CO2 cuts
15 January 2010, Reuters
The European Union’s nominee for climate commissioner said on Friday the EU should quickly commit to deepening its emissions cuts, while maintaining leverage on other countries to follow suit.
The 27-nation bloc currently plans to cut carbon emissions to a fifth below 1990 levels over the next decade. But it has promised other countries it will deepen those cuts to 30 percent if they follow suit.
"I would like us to go to the 30 percent as soon as possible," Denmark’s Connie Hedegaard told a European Parliament hearing to evaluate her for the job of EU climate chief.
But Hedegaard stuck to the current EU negotiating strategy of maintaining leverage by saying the move should be made "in a manner that can make others deliver more than they have done so far."
She signaled a cautious stance on highly-polluting coal power.
"We should not rush into this," she said when asked about imposing performance standards on new coal power stations. "If we have performance standards, how would we be guaranteed some countries would not just prolong the living-time of the old ones?"
Hedegaard, a member of the Danish Conservative Party, said she would push to extend the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) overseas, building it up to an OECD-wide carbon market.
"I will work very hard to bring about an international carbon market across as many countries as possible of the OECD by 2015," she said. "My objective is to link the EU ETS with the U.S., if possible by 2015," she said.
1.5. EU Nations Spar Over Climate Policy After UN Summit Deadlock
17 January 2010, Businessweek
European nations are struggling to hold a common line on climate policy after last month’s failed United Nations summit in Copenhagen, with the U.K., Germany and France defending deeper emission cuts in the face of Italian and Polish resistance.
Differences between the European Union countries are emerging after the UN failed to set binding worldwide targets to curb the air pollution blamed for climate change. The U.S. and China, the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, resisted EU demands for such an agreement at the Copenhagen summit.
The outcome leaves the 27-nation EU, which caps emissions by power plants and factories, in need of a new global strategy. The EU is already set to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent in 2020 compared with 1990 and had pledged to raise that to 30 percent if other wealthy economies follow.
“We should maintain the 30 percent offer,” U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband told reporters at an EU environment meeting yesterday in the Spanish city of Seville. “It’s very, very important. It has always been a conditional offer.”
Europe has led the campaign for a global treaty to tackle the heatwaves, storms and floods tied to climate change, saying rich countries must cut greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide by 2020 and the developing world should limit emissions growth by then. After Copenhagen, UN members face a Jan. 31 deadline to submit their emission pledges.
The offers by developed countries in Copenhagen would trim their discharges by 13 percent on average in 2020 from 1990 levels, says the European Commission. That’s insufficient to justify a deeper European reduction target of 30 percent, according to the commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, whose environment chief warned of tough negotiations ahead.
“It’s going to be difficult,” said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. He said the aim is to get a binding global agreement at a UN meeting scheduled to take place in Mexico at the end of the year. The European 20 percent reduction goal is underpinned by recent legislation that tightens CO2 caps on energy and manufacturing companies in Europe’s emissions-trading system and that requires each EU nation to limit discharges from industries outside the program.
Emissions Trading Program
Any EU move to a 30 percent cut would involve a further tightening of curbs in the emissions-trading program, the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas market. Current EU rules will lower the annual cap on the 11,000 installations now in the trading system by 11 percent on average over the period 2013 to 2020 compared with 2008 to 2012.
Europe ’s goal is to make fossil-fuel use more costly and make the European emissions-trading system the cornerstone of a global market. Dimas said a deeper EU reduction target would bolster EU CO2 allowance prices, which he said were currently too low to provide a “sufficient incentive” to switch to low- emission energy technologies.
German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said the EU should seek a 30 percent emissions cut by pressing the U.S., China and other countries to do more.
“We need to push the others,” Roettgen said. “We can’t fall back. We’re ready to go from 20 percent to 30 percent if the others come along.”
France is pressing the EU to consider tariffs on imports of manufactured goods from countries with weaker climate-protection rules as a way to protect European industry from unfair competition. Northern member states are more skeptical about any trade “mechanism” that would include the price of CO2 in imported goods.
“It’s not forbidden to look at whether the 30 percent target requires a carbon-inclusion mechanism to protect the European industry,” said French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.
2.1. Areva considers producing cheaper reactors
15 January 2010, FT.com
Areva is weighing whether to bring out cheaper, less sophisticated nuclear reactors after its flagship EPR lost out to a low-cost South Korean rival in one of the biggest civil tenders last year.
Top management at the French group last week launched a review of its product range to determine whether Areva should reintroduce the simpler second-generation CPR1,000 reactors – which it stopped building 20 years ago – for client countries that are new to nuclear power.
The review was sparked by the decision last month by authorities in Abu Dhabi to take an older-generation reactor in a hotly contested $20.4bn tender for four power stations.
Though Areva initially appeared in the lead with its third-generation EPR, in the end Abu Dhabi opted for an update of a cheaper second-generation reactor offered by a South Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power CorporationKepco
"We are targeting one-third of the market for new reactors and we had thought that market would be for reactors of the safety standard of the EPR. The question that Abu Dhabi poses is that perhaps that is not the case," a senior Areva executive said.
The decision was widely regarded as a serious setback to France’s ambitions to dominate the global market for nuclear power plants. But Areva remains confident that there will continue to be strong demand for third-generation reactors.
"Safety standards in the US and Europe would not allow a second-generation reactor to be built," the executive said.
Areva estimates that just 20 per cent of the global market could be open to second-generation reactors.
But the Abu Dhabi setback could also raise questions about the valuation of Areva at the very moment that its French government shareholder is negotiating the price of a sale of 15 per cent of its capital to outside investors, including sovereign wealth funds from the Middle East and the group’s Japanese partner, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Patrice Lambert de Diesbach of CM CIC Securities said the outlook for the nuclear market was no longer the same. "Yesterday we all thought the market was for third-generation reactors. Now we know this is no longer the case and that changes Areva’s valuation. Now all the others who were once considered the gypsies – makers of the second-generation reactors – can enter the game."
Areva’s EPR has been marketed as an advance in safety technology. The reactor updates existing technology with extra features, such as a double shell reinforced to withstand an airline crash, and a secure chamber to contain waste from a core meltdown.
The high costs of building an EPR with this sophisticated technology appear to have been one of the main reasons Abu Dhabi opted for the South Korean offer. EDF
2.2. Legal Complaint Filed Against Germany Over New Coal Plant
13 January 2010, WWF
WWF has sent the European Commission a formal complaint against Germany for its failure to fulfil a legal obligation introduced by the 2008 EU climate and energy legislative package.
The complaint concerns the apparent faulty approval procedure for a new coal-fired power plant at Mannheim (Baden-Württemberg), which was given the go-ahead on 27 July last year.
Under the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive, as now amended, Member States are required to ensure that companies planning to build new large power plants, assess certain conditions for the capture, transport and storage of the carbon dioxide they create, prior to approving any new project.
On the basis of all available evidence and after conducting reasonable inquiries, WWF believes that this requirement has not been fulfilled for the new Mannheim facility which is currently under construction. Consequently, WWF’s complaint asks the European Commission to investigate further with a view to starting infringement proceedings.
"While the current law is too weak, it must still be fully applied," said Mark Johnston, WWF’s coordinator for power plant CO2 standards.
"This case will be important not just for this project but for the dozens of other new unabated coal-fired power plants still being planned across Europe. The increasing scale and urgency of the climate crisis means that there is no time to waste in cutting our emissions. Without a clear requirement to prepare for and then use carbon capture and storage, new unabated coal-fired power plants are totally unacceptable."
Baden-Württemberg is the German region where European Energy Commissioner-designate Günther Oettinger currently serves as Minister President. The decision to go ahead with the new facility, the so-called Block-9, was strongly supported at the highest levels of the regional government. The Block-9 project, which is owned mostly by RWE and ENBW, two of the big four power utilities in Germany, is one of 25 new coal-fired power plants being either built or planned in the country.
WWF is campaigning for existing EU rules to be tightened by introducing CO2 performance standards on all new fossil power plants, and for the EU to adopt rules similar to those passed by the US House of Representatives last year. The remaining legislative stages of the new EU Industrial Emissions Directive are due to completed later this year.
2.3. Oettinger defends European vision on energy
15 January 2010, EurActiv
Germany’s Günther Oettinger, who has been nominated for the European Commission’s energy portfolio, sought to prove his European credentials at his confirmation hearing by outlining plans to enforce energy solidarity and spelling an end to bilateral energy deals with suppliers such as Russia.
The commissioner-designate eased through the cross-fire at the European Parliament by presenting a European vision of energy policy.
In future, energy supply contracts signed by individual member states with third countries would be replaced by European treaties, he said.
"I hope to win over the governments on this," Oettinger said, stressing that that the EU should be in charge of negotiations.
Germany ‘s bilateral deal with Russia on the Nord Stream gas pipeline raised criticism in Poland and the Baltic states, which feared that Russia could then bypass pipelines that run through Poland. The outrage grew when former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who had pushed hard for the deal, joined Nord Stream’s board.
But Oettinger pledged to enforce the principle of solidarity on energy policy contained in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty so that no member state could be left disadvantaged. He said he was prepared to work with lawmakers on how binding solidarity measures could "work in practice".
"I think it requires legal measures," he confirmed in response to probes from members of the Parliament who wanted to hear concrete initiatives.
The commissioner-designate said he would work with the new powers given to the EU in the Lisbon Treaty to achieve three main pillars: competitiveness, security of supply and sustainability.
"Over the next five years I want to contribute, with you, towards a Europeanisation of our energy policy," he told MEPs. However, he said Europeanisation would be limited by the fact that regional authorities have a say in EU decision-making.
The MEPs applauded his choice of priorities, which had already become buzzwords under his predecessor Andris Piebalgs, but questioned his commitment to Europe. They demanded assurances that the Baden-Württemberg premier was committed to putting aside the interests of the big power utilities he has worked closely with in his current job.
Green MEP Claude Turmes cited a potential conflict of interest given the personal relationships Oettinger entertains with the chief executives of E.ON and RWE. Moreover, the incoming commissioner raised concerns about his resolve to promote competition in energy markets, as Germany appeared hesitant about splitting up the assets and infrastructure of energy giants under the EU’s third energy liberalisation package.
"We must find the midway between too much regulation and too little," Oettinger replied. But he pointed out that he does not own any shares in RWE or E.ON and vowed to have always maintained his independence.
Top marks on green energy
Oettinger struck a chord with MEPs by basing his security of supply strategy equally on diversifying gas transportation routes from third countries and promoting indigenous renewable energy.
He stressed the importance of the Nabucco pipeline in counterbalancing reliance on Russian gas, as import volumes from the EU’s eastern neighbour are set to increase with the construction of the Nord Stream Baltic Sea pipeline. In addition, connecting Europe’s energy islands to the main energy network and the construction of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals would continue under his tenure.
But Oettinger had also done his homework on renewable energy, underlying Europe’s role in building transportation capacity. He said that a European super grid that can transport solar power from the Mediterranean as well as offshore wind electricity from the North Sea would be part of budget negotiations.
He promised to make energy efficiency and renewables priorities when planning funding.
Binding energy efficiency goal on the agenda
The incoming commissioner committed to proposing a binding energy efficiency target, but only if the currently voluntary approach fails.
"I’m prepared to talk to you about a legally binding goal in two years if we don’t achieve the results on a voluntary basis," he said.
He also promised to present data and facts about the EU’s energy efficiency action plan in the spring and bring out a new detailed plan at the beginning of next year at the latest. The updated action plan was originally in the pipeline of the outgoing Commission.
Nuclear to remain national prerogative
Oettinger was grilled on his stance on nuclear energy by MEPs, who have been advocating a shift to renewables as a more sustainable form of low-carbon energy.
As premier of Baden Württemberg, the German was lobbying to keep nuclear power plants open at a time when the German government was phasing out its atomic energy generation.
Despite previously stressing a stronger EU role in energy policy, Oettinger was very clear that decisions regarding nuclear power generation would remain with national governments.
The German commissioner-hopeful reiterated his vision for nuclear over the course of the hearing.
"The term of our nuclear plants should be extended as technology improves," the energy commissioner-designate said.
Oettinger said that although his country Germany sees nuclear as a bridging technology, he has no reservations against France’s plans to build more nuclear capacity nor Austria’s decision to abandon the technology altogether.
"The EU-level is important in terms of research and advice," he said, adding that the Union would concentrate setting the highest technically feasible safety standards.
3.1. EU Unlikely To Extend Emissions Cuts: Ministers
18 January 2010, Reuters
The European Union is unlikely to raise its commitment to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent from 20 percent until other countries show greater willingness to follow suit, ministers said on Saturday.
The EU has set a target of cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) by 20 percent from 1990 levels over the next decade. It promised ahead of climate talks in Copenhagen in December that it would deepen those cuts to 30 percent if other countries did likewise.
The United Nations has fixed a January 31 deadline for countries to commit to emissions cuts and the EU sees no sign that major economies will set comparable targets that soon.
"The final evaluation is that it probably cannot be done," Spanish Secretary of State for Climate Change Teresa Ribera told journalists after a meeting of EU environment ministers in Seville, Spain. The decision had been widely expected.
The EU, which accounts for about 14 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, is keen to lead climate talks despite its marginalization at last year’s meeting in Copenhagen.
Environmentalists had pushed it to adopt a more aggressive target in order to show the way.
It has not ruled out adopting a 30-percent cut at a later stage if it can gain concessions from other countries.
The nominee for European climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, told a European Parliament hearing on Friday that she hoped the EU’s conditions for moving to 30 percent would be met before a meeting set for Mexico later this year.
Prior to the Copenhagen talks, the United Nations had called for wealthy countries to cut emissions by 25-40 percent by 2020 in order to keep the average rise in global temperatures to within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels.
3.2. U.S. Official Says Talks on Emissions Show Promise
14 January 2010, The New York Times
Todd Stern, the chief American climate change negotiator, said Thursday that the flawed and incomplete agreement reached last month in Copenhagen could provide significant benefits if countries followed through on its provisions.
The three-page Copenhagen Accord is not legally binding, and the 192 nations that took part in the December talks did not formally accept it. But a sizable group of those countries said they would accept its terms and provide plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by Jan. 31.
Wealthy countries also said they would follow through on promises to come up with $30 billion over the next three years to help developing countries adapt to global climate changes.
“It is incredibly important that those things happen,” Mr. Stern told investors gathered for a conference at the United Nations in New York, in his first public comments since the Copenhagen talks ended on Dec. 19. “The accord is lumbering down the runway, and now it needs to get speed so it can take off.”
Mr. Stern also said that the Obama administration remained committed to securing passage of comprehensive energy and climate change legislation to meet its own promises to reduce global warming emissions by about 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.
He said that the House had made a promising start by passing a bill last June but that the legislation had been sidetracked in the Senate by the health care debate. He said it was “tremendously important” for the Senate to act on some form of climate change legislation.
“There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind about the president’s commitment to this issue, and he fully understands the importance of putting together the strongest possible domestic program,” Mr. Stern said.
In his remarks to the investor conference, organized by Ceres, a group of environmentally minded business leaders, and the United Nations Foundation, Mr. Stern reviewed the two-week Copenhagen conference, which almost collapsed in failure.
He acknowledged that he was biased but said that the intervention of his boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and President Obama in the final 36 hours of the meeting saved it from utter disaster.
He said Mr. Obama’s main focus was on making sure major developing countries, like China, India and Brazil, provide a transparent way of showing follow-through on promises to reduce releases of carbon dioxide.
3.3. EU carbon prices rise to one-month high
14 January 2010, Reuters
European carbon emissions futures rose to a one-month high on Thursday, as investors bought up permits as prices broke a key resistance level.
EU Allowances for delivery in December rose 41 cents or 3.13 percent to 13.50 euros ($19.63) a tonne at 1531 GMT, after hitting a one-month high of 13.59 euros. Volume was heavy at 7,575 lots traded.
"There was purely technical buying when we breached a 13 euro resistance level," an emissions trader said.
Dec-10 EUA prices broke above the 50-day moving average for the first time since December 17.
"EUA prices at those levels are tough to explain fundamentally," another trader said.
Prices started to rise from early trade, outpacing the broker market, which typically trades in near lockstep with the exchange-traded market, brokers said.
"The (exchange-traded) market was 5-10 cents ahead of the broker market at one point," one broker said.
"It’s not clear who was buying … they could be marking their intentions or it could have just been a fat finger."
Traders said it was difficult to see who was on the buy side because most of the volume was being traded over the European Climate Exchange, rather than over-the-counter between brokers.
Spot EUAs trading on BlueNext were up 41 cents at 13.33 euros.
U.S. crude oil futures rose to near $80 a barrel on Thursday after dipping to a 2010 low the previous day as expectations for rising demand growth in the world’s top energy consumer the United States shored up prices.
German Calendar 2011 baseload power on the EEX rose 28 cents at 50.40 euros per megawatt hour.
Benchmark CERs rose 30 cents or 2.64 percent at 11.68 euros a tonne, setting the EUA-CER spread at 1.82 euros.
3.4. Hedegaard eyes tougher emission cuts from transport
18 January 2010, EurActiv
Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s incoming climate policy chief, pledged to tackle transport emissions during a confirmation hearing in the European Parliament on Friday (15 January), saying she would table an integrated legislative package on climate and transport during her mandate.
The legislative package, akin to that on energy and climate change agreed in 2008, would include initiatives to rein in growing emissions from transport, Hedegaard said.
She spoke of the "huge challenge" facing the sector as continued growth in carbon emissions from transport is currently offseting efforts made in other areas.
One of the new climate commissioner’s first initiatives will be to introduce legislation on cutting CO2 emissions from lorries. She said she would also seek to revise EU legislation on CO2 emissions from cars, which she said is outdated considering the speed at which technology is moving.
In general, the future climate commissioner supported pricing CO2 emissions in the transport sector. In her opinion, "internalising externalities," which has been a guiding principle of the EU’s emissions trading scheme, would also work for transport.
Mainstreaming climate change
The exact scope of Hedegaard’s new Climate Action portfolio remains unclear as it was carved out of the Commission’s previous environment department.
Hedegaard said she sees herself as a horizontal coordinator, with the daunting task of mainstreaming climate action into all EU policies, she told MEPs during her three-hour grilling by the Parliament’s environment committee.
"It is not going to be easy to reconstruct [the climate directorate-general]," Hedegaard admitted. "Climate can be almost anything," she said, giving examples of overlaps between areas as diverse as industry, development and research on top of the obvious links between environment and energy.
But the Dane said it would not be possible to put everything under one hat. "Therefore you must do it the other way around by mainstreaming," she said.
Hedegaard pledged to work closely with other commissioners, saying legislative initiatives would often be triggered in conjunction with them. But she admitted that it would be "a bit of a fight" to push other commissioners with their own priorities to make room for a climate dimension in their portfolios.
"Climate, energy security and job creation must be the EU’s vision," she stressed.
Green growth, without protectionism
The former Danish energy and climate minister made strong statements in favour of green growth. But she argued strongly against measures to safeguard European industry from international competition, warning about "protecting our businesses out of business".
"We should be careful not to be so cautious, so balanced, that in the end we do not benefit our businesses," Hedegaard said. She warned that China will go on investing in green technologies and do it fast, so Europe’s industry cannot afford to miss the boat.
Moreover, MEPs demanded answers on how she planned to secure financing for her initiatives with the modest resources behind the new climate action department.
Hedegaard promised to work to redirect funds towards developing clean energy and phasing out fossil fuels. She also seemed to snub the new innovation commissioner, who in her hearing promised to boost nuclear research.
"I don’t think we should pump vast amounts of money to nuclear research at the expense of sustainable energy," she said. "In my universe, nuclear is not a renewable source," she added, to applause.
However, Hedegaard’s statement that she would not support a binding target on energy efficiency raised concern among environmentalists. "We don’t need that thing to be binding," she said.
‘Do not drop the UN process’
Hedegaard was adamant that securing a global deal on climate protection under the auspices of the United Nations should remain the top priority for the EU.
"We should not give up the UN, not at this stage," she said, setting her sights on securing a binding agreement at Mexico City by the end of the year.
The former Danish energy and climate minister had to defend progress made at the Copenhagen climate conference she hosted amid accusations that the talks had been a failure and a dent on her credibility as the EU’s climate chief.
"We should not forget that we have finance delivered," she said, adding that all developing countries had accepted co-responsibility for climate protection.
"I don’t think it’s fair to criticise those who spent years mobilising the world," she said, saying that the EU and the Danish Presidency of the UN process had done their best to achieve results.
The EU is set to report its 2020 emission reduction target to the UN at the end of the month. While some member states had hoped to make a unilateral move to 30%, Hedegaard signalled that the EU was more likely to stick to 20% and only take on a higher target if other countries follow suit.
"I have been a strong advocate for Europe going to 30%," she said. But in hindsight, it would be better to stick with a conditional offer "to squeeze out some more percentages" from other countries, she said, referring to the disappointing results of Copenhagen climate conference.
"There is a big risk that we cannot any more agree on the 30%," she said. She referred to deep divisions between member states, some of which have been airing numbers like 20% or 25% in recent talks.
Short on concrete proposals
Hedegaard was hailed for her commitment to climate protection and excellent communicating skills. But she was criticised for not committing to many concrete legislative initiatives, speaking on very general terms instead.
"Everybody keeps repeating that the environment must be combined with the economy," said one MEP. "The same words can mean anything."
A lack of individual vision has plagued the hearings of the new Commission. MEPs have not been impressed with the guidelines that the EU executive’s president, José Manuel Barroso, issued to the commissioners-designate, which the socialists equated to a vow of silence.
4.1. Copenhagen: Not done yet – Sandbag
Why the EU must renew its leadership on climate change?
More at: http://www.sandbag.org.uk/files/sandbag.org.uk/SandbagBriefing_EUNotDoneYet_0.pdf
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