1.1. Obama urged not to backburner climate change
31 January 2009, AP
Don’t put off action on global warming just because times are lean — that’s the message Al Gore, world environmental leaders and U.S. executives sent Friday to President Barack Obama.
Worries are mounting that economic troubles are sapping momentum, in the U.S. Congress and in other world capitals, for costly investment in clean energy and cutting carbon emissions.
"The oceans are being choked off of oxygen. They are dying as a result of this process we are seeing before our eyes the melting of the polar ice cap," Gore said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "The assumption that we can continue on this path is an assumption that is collapsing."
Many countries are looking to Obama for aggressive action after frustration at the Bush administration’s refusal to sign international pacts on reducing emissions of carbon, blamed for global warming.
Gore, U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer and executives were discussing the fate of a U.N. meeting in Copenhagen this December aiming for a global agreement on reducing emissions. Questions remain over the new U.S. government’s position on the Copenhagen meeting, which is seen as crucial.
"We need an agreement this year, not next year or some other time," Gore said.
Still, Gore expressed optimism in Obama, calling him "the greenest person in the room" for making environmental funding a big chunk of the $819 billion economic stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
But he and other panelists acknowledged that the financial crisis will be a key challenge. Governments could shy from forcing polluting industries to pay for their carbon emissions or using taxpayer money for expensive new clean energy investments — even if they prove more efficient in the long term.
"Undeniably the financial crisis is making things more difficult," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer, told Associated Press Television News. "There is a shortage of finance, you see that many renewable energy projects are being put on the back burner."
But he added, "If you look at the economic recovery packages of the European Union, the United
States, Japan, China — they are all using this as an opportunity to change the direction of economic growth, and that I find encouraging."
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who will host the Copenhagen meeting, urged countries to agree to reduce global emissions by 50 percent by 2050, and said industrialized countries should reduce by 80 percent.
"We have to be vigilant so that the crisis does not derail this," he told the AP.
The onus is not only on Obama. Climate negotiators are looking anxiously at developing giants and heavy emitters China and India. And Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin disappointed some activists with his non-committal stance on climate change in his keynote address at the Davos forum.
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp., joined the call to ensure that investment in clean energy doesn’t collapse.
"There’s a real risk that the alternative energy industry could die again," he said later. "I really hope that the new president will not let that happen."
The head of the New York Stock Exchange, Duncan Niederauer, agreed.
"We’ve got to stay the course on energy efficiency," he said. "It’s time we get serious about it and push it through."
1.2. Leaders Discuss Global Climate Change Policies
30 January 2009, RedOrbit
World leaders convened in Denmark on Friday to discuss revolutionary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
"It is essential to engage heads of state and government stronger in the whole process to ensure a positive result in Copenhagen," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark’s prime minister.
Proposals came in the lead-up to a year-end meeting at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, during which leaders are expected to draw up new plans and regulations for battling global warming and climate change.
Nobel Laureate Al Gore addressed those in attendance on Friday calling for “a clear, shared vision of where the world is going in the future.”
“The assumption that we can continue on this path is the assumption that we are collapsing,” said Gore.
World leaders have been encouraged by the new US President Barack Obama’s aggressive approach to tackling the climate crisis. Gore called on other leaders to follow his example.
“The new administration is very serious about this,” Gore said. “Obama is the greenest person in the room [White House]. He is pushing hard for a dramatic and bold move in the right direction. If other governments do the same then we can make the change to a low-carbon future.”
"For the last eight years a few countries have been hiding behind the U.S.," Steve Howard, head of Britain’s The Climate Group, a non-profit group working for climate change, told Reuters.
"Now there is no place to hide because the U.S. is assuming a leadership position, so the politics took a fundamental shift."
Rasmussen told leaders that it is most important leaders to commit to reducing their current levels of CO2 emissions.
“The essential thing is to agree on clear targets because it is a prerequisite for creating a private market,” said Rasmussen. “Policies we need to overcome financial crises are the same to combat climate change … green efficiency is sound economics.”
He said that the rich world should cut by 30 percent versus 1990 levels and developing countries by 15-30 percent against current trends by 2020.
The call to reduce climate change could also answer the world’s economic crisis, Rasmussen added.
"There is no contradiction between an ambitious climate policy and our endeavors to overcome the financial crisis," he said.
Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: “I think we already have a shared vision,” he said.
“This indicates that we have to get this right in Copenhagen.”
1.3. Europe needs to go much further towards Copenhagen
28 January 2009, WWF
Brussels , Belgium – New European proposals for this year’s crucial Copenhagen climate conference contain “some rhetoric in the right direction” but need to put forward more concrete commitments and accept a larger role in helping developing nations reduce their emissions and adapt to climate impacts, WWF said today.
In today’s communication towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen, the European Commission proposes how the EU should negotiate a global climate deal at the UN talks in December. EU Heads of Government intend to finalize the EU’s position at the Spring Council in March.
“Europe needs to stop anticipating what the rest of the world might do and concentrate on what Europe should do if it wants to reclaim the reputation of leading in the fight against climate change,” said Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF’s New Global Deal on Climate initiative.
“Europe’s starting points have to be its own stated objective of a world staying below the average 2 °C warming that is the threshold level for unacceptable risks, and the 25-40 per cent cuts in emissions by 2020 that developed countries need to achieve to stay within this margin of safety.”
WWF said Europe needed to go beyond restoring previous commitments to reduce emissions by 30 per cent over 1990 levels by 2020, and commit to achieving these reductions in emissions in Europe – with funds to be provided to developing nations for them to achieve emissions reductions equivalent to a further 15 per cent of Europe’s level of emissions.
WWF described money on the table as “the make or break issue” for developing nations to substantially reduce their emissions as well.
“Existing and proposed emissions trading initiatives need to be supplemented by measures such as emissions performance standards for Europe’s power stations,” said Mr Carstensen. “US States like California were beginning to demonstrate the effectiveness of such measures despite the hostility of the former US government and they have now received a green light from the new administration.
“Europe will increasingly be presented with the choice to follow suit or be left behind.”
“Substantial funding needs to be flowing before 2013 and the financing for mitigation measures needs to be matched with actual emissions reductions to be achieved,” said Mr Carstensen. “WWF also believes that the UN system, where developing nations have some real say, needs to retain a central role in the disbursement of the funds.
“The funding flows should also be sustainable, predictable and additional to existing aid.”
WWF said that the draft Copenhagen Communication at least recognised “offset loopholes” where carbon trading system credits for industrialised country emissions reductions could be generated by illusory reductions in developing countries.
“Identifying loopholes isn’t enough, however,” Mr Carstensen said. “They need to be closed and in this case we suggest a firewall for all required, low cost and win-win emissions reductions in developed nations so that traded reductions are truly new and additional reductions.”
2.1. California Waiver Start of Clean Energy Future
26 January 2009, Greenpeace USA
WASHINGTON —In response to President Obama’s directive to grant California and 13 other states a waiver to set strict vehicle emissions standards, Greenpeace Global Warming Campaign Director Steven Biel issued the following statement:
“For eight years, President Bush blocked the country’s progress on global warming solutions. At long last, the era of obstruction and denial is over.
“President Obama’s directive recognizes that America is ready to tackle global warming. For too long, Washington has taken a back seat to California, 13 other states and the District of Columbia that have long understood the solution to global warming and job creation are one and the same. This action will help the entire country benefit from their foresight.
“Detroit itself has indicated that this action is not only possible but also good for business. In its ‘modernization plans’ submitted to Congress as part of its request for a taxpayer bailout last fall, General Motors pledged fuel efficiency improvements that would allow the company to meet a national clean cars standard consistent with California’s, according to an analysis by Natural Resources Defense Council.
"The move gives the American economy a jump on the inevitable rise in the price of oil. The only long-term solution to our oil addiction is to use less of it and develop better alternatives. President Obama could go even further by fulfilling a campaign promise to put a million plug-in electric vehicles on the road. We also urge him to raise gas mileage standards to 50 miles per gallon by 2028 and commit to cutting greenhouse emissions in the U.S. by at least 20-23 percent from current levels by 2020—the level science says is needed to prevent the worst effects of global warming.”
In 2007, the Bush administration blocked California lawmakers from requiring automobile manufacturers to reduce tailpipe emissions by 30 percent by 2016. President Obama’s directive clears the way for California, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Vermont and Washington to adopt stricter standards than the federal government requires under the Clean Air Act. Other states, including Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Utah, are considering adopting the program. Together this would represent over half of the U.S. automobile market. The California Air Resources Board estimates the new rules would cut global warming pollution from passenger vehicles by 18 percent by 2020 and 27 percent by 2030.
2.2. Rebound of nuclear plants raising worries over waste
30 January 2009, Herald Tribune
As France presses ahead with building more next-generation nuclear reactors, new evidence emerged Friday to suggest that industry and governments may be unprepared to handle the increasingly toxic waste that will result.
Highlighting the importance of the technology in France, both as its main source of electricity and as a major export industry, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France announced late Thursday that Électricité de France, Europe’s biggest power producer, was awarded the contract to develop a second atomic reactor using next-generation technology.
EDF beat competition from the gas and power company GDF Suez to lead the construction at an existing nuclear site at Penly in northern France.
Areva, the company based in Paris that designed the so-called EPR, says the new system will generate far more electricity more safely than previous reactors, is easier to construct, and will last longer.
Areva, the world’s biggest reactor maker, also says the EPR – which is expected to generate more than 1,600 megawatts, making it more powerful than any other reactor in commercial use – will use about 15 percent less uranium and produce 30 percent less waste.
But an anti-nuclear group said that information it gleaned from industry reports – publicly available but which have received little attention so far – show that waste from the EPR will be more radioactive by a factor of seven because more uranium is burned up. That will make it more expensive to handle and store safely, according to Greenpeace, which provided the details on Friday to the International Herald Tribune.
"Despite the French government’s global marketing of the EPR as cheap and safe, the evidence proves otherwise," said Rianne Teule, an international nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace who is based in Amsterdam.
The next wave of reactors "poses an ever-increasing burden on people’s budgets and danger to their health, now and far into the future," Teule said.
Patricia Marie, a spokeswoman for Areva, said the claim by Greenpeace was "grossly inaccurate." She said the waste would be 15 percent more radioactive at the most.
There are currently 58 reactors in operation in France. There are no EPRs in operation anywhere in the world, but the first is under construction at Olkiluoto, an island in the West of Finland, and the second in Flamanville, in northern France.
Teule said the evidence about the radioactivity of the waste was drawn from a report by Posiva, a waste disposal company owned by Finnish nuclear operators, and from the Swiss organization Nagra, which oversees management of nuclear waste.
Teule said the waste would pose greater dangers to workers from higher radiation doses during transfer and storage than current waste. She also said the waste would need to be stored for longer in areas above ground, where it is potentially exposed to terrorists.
Those factors, among others, would increase the overall cost of nuclear energy – costs that Teule said were not properly accounted for by industry and governments.
There are no long-term facilities for disposing or burying high-level nuclear waste anywhere in the world, although Posiva is digging a tunnel at Olkiluoto in anticipation of final approval for storing waste a quarter of a mile underground.
U.S. authorities have sought to put high-level waste inside Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, but that plan is foundering because of local opposition.
Spokeswomen for Posiva and Nagra said they were unable to give any immediate comment about the reports.
Hans Riotte, the head of the Radiological Protection and Radioactive Waste Management Division at the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency in Paris, said waste from the EPR, although smaller in volume, would be more radioactive than existing forms of high-level waste because it would be denser. But Riotte was unable to say whether it would be more radioactive by a factor of seven, as Greenpeace contends.
Riotte conceded the waste would have to be stored above ground longer to cool, but said that waste-handling and storage procedures could be adapted to deal with much more toxic waste without much added expense.
"Any financial impacts are likely to be relatively small," Riotte said.
Marie, the spokeswoman for Areva, said the company "was confident that all costs have been taken into account" for construction and operation of EPR reactors.
Greenpeace has vowed to oppose construction of the new plant in France, but has not said how it would pursue that goal.
Areva reported rising sales this week for 2008 as its uranium mining and reactor construction businesses benefited from increasing demand for nuclear power.
But any reports about the cost, or safety, of its EPR model still are a sensitive matter for the company, which is competing to become the designer of reactors for the next generation of nuclear plants in the United States and elsewhere.
2.3. Reaction to Commission proposal on an economic recovery plan
28 January 2009, Greenpeace
“The Commission has missed another opportunity to help create an environmentally sustainable energy system that would stimulate the European economy. Today’s money for clean energy pales in comparison to the hundreds of billions of euros that have been made available by EU countries to confront the economic recession,” said Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU renewables policy campaigner.
The Commission’s €5 billion package calls for €1.75 billion for energy infrastructure for gas and electricity, €1.25 billion for carbon capture and storage technology, €500 million for investments in offshore wind energy. The plan also foresees €1 billion for IT (information technology) infrastructure projects and €500 million for agricultural development.
“Investments in carbon capture technologies would perpetuate Europe’s outdated energy system and its dependence on fossil fuels. ‘Clean coal’ is an empty promise and is far from being a viable technology. By contrast, renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are available and working today, ready to create employment for millions of people,” Thies added.
The Greenpeace EU Energy [R]evolution scenario demonstrates how the large-scale development of renewables and energy efficiency would require €190 billion additional investments until 2020, but save more than €500 billion in fuel costs in the same period, while creating millions of new jobs in Europe. (For more information see: www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/reports/EU-energy-revolution-report.)
3.1. Potočnik challenges car industry to go green
27 January 2009, EurActiv
Janez Potočnik, the EU’s science and research commissioner, has thrown down the gauntlet to Europe’s automotive industry, challenging them to come up with practical solutions for the electrification of European transport by next year.
Commissioner Potočnik said the deteriorating economic outlook, instability in global energy markets and the urgent need to address greenhouse gas emissions mean work on electric cars must be fast-tracked. "The initiatives we have been working on have to be sped up. We don’t have time for new long-winded visions and strategies," he said.
The commissioner called on the industry to present "greener, smarter and safer" cars at the next Transport Research Arena, scheduled for June 2010 in Brussels, and noted that transport accounts for 25% of CO2 emissions and 73% of all oil consumed in Europe.
"Let me respond to these challenges by setting you a challenge of my own. Can you, within the next year, provide workable solutions to the electrification of transport in Europe’s cities?" He said the automotive industry will be central to innovations in European transport and that progress in this area will depend on cooperation between the public and private sectors.
Commissioner Potočnik was speaking at the launch of the ‘Road Transport Futures 2030’ initiative in Brussels, hosted by the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC). The Council presented the commissioner with a report on the electrification of urban transport systems.
Helmut List, vice-chairman of the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) said he is fully convinced by the necessity of investing in the electrification of Europe’s transport system. He said the current crisis cannot be solved without cooperation between the automotive industry and governments.
"We are very committed to the green car initiative. The public and private sectors must share the risk for such a major long-term investment. We have to jump at the same time," he said.
Also speaking at the ERTRAC conference was Ingolf Sch ä dler, deputy director-general for innovation at Austria’s federal ministry for transport, innovation and technology. He said it is important to include all stakeholders in finding green transport solutions, particularly cities and regional authorities. He called for greater clarification from industry on how to get value for public investments.
"There is uncertainty among public authorities as to which technology to invest in. There are so many solutions now that we need the industry to give a clear signal as to what the right solution is for each problem," he said. Nevio Di Giusto, president and CEO of Centro Ricerche FIAT, said it remains unclear whether electric cars would provide the long-term solution to Europe’s transport needs.
"Although it is still unclear whether the simple concept of the plug-in car will prove to be the optimal solution given all the different requirements; it does correspond to a feasible, transitory solution which can be exploited in the medium term."
4.1. EEW Brochure "Promoting Energy Efficiency in Europe"
Download here: http://www.energy-efficiency-watch.org/
5.1. Seventh session of the AWG-KP and fifth session of the AWG-LCA
29 March-08 April 2009,Bonn, Germany
The provisional agendas for the seventh session of the AWG-KP and the fifth session of the AWG-LCA are now available online.
More at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
5.2. CDM-EB 45 – Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism
11-13 February 2009
The Proposed agenda for the 45th meeting of the Executive Board is now available online.
More at: http://cdm.unfccc.int/EB/045/index.html
5.3. ISC 14 – Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee
17-18 February 2009,Bonn, Germany
The proposed agenda for the 14th meeting of the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee is now available online.
More at: http://ji.unfccc.int/Sup_Committee/Meetings/014/index.html
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