E-news update 20 October 2008

CLIMATE

1.1. Italy and Poland fail to scupper EU climate change deal
16 October 2008 , FOEE, Greenpeace, WWF, CAN Europe
European leaders have today pledged to press ahead with their planned response to climate change, despite attempts by some EU member states to scupper the measures in order to protect polluting industry, say Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace and WWF.
During the EU summit, Poland and Italy threatened to veto crucial measures to curb CO2 emissions and reduce European dependency on fossil fuels. But at the end of two days of heated talks in Brussels , EU leaders confirmed their commitment to finalise the climate and energy package before international climate negotiations take place in December. However, last minute changes weakening the final document have been made.
Environmental groups reiterated that the proposals must not be weakened by countries seeking to protect a small part of their industries and warned that European citizens will hold EU leaders to their promises when it’s time to go to the ballot box.
Reacting to the conclusions Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace and WWF said: "EU leaders have resisted attempts by countries who wanted to put short-term interests of some polluting industries above the long-term interests of the environment, economy and people.
"Frantic efforts to derail EU climate action by Poland and Italy have been ignored so far. The French President Sarkozy must stand up to countries like Italy which has made no effort whatsoever to comply with the Kyoto Protocol and implement decent climate policies.
"Environment Ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday must live up to their responsibilities and deliver a strong response to climate change."
www.timetolead.eu
Link: http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2008/Oct16_Italy_and_Poland_fail_to_scupper_EU_climate_change_deal.html

1.2. Climate change measures ‘could be watered down due to financial crisis’
15 October 2008 , Telegraph.co.uk
Environmental campaigners fear that measures to reduce carbon emissions could be overshadowed by discussions over hundreds of billions of pounds of banking rescue schemes at a meeting in Brussels .
However, some countries fear that meeting the EU’s target – reducing carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 – may be impossible due to constraints caused by the economic downturn.
Maciej Nowicki, the Polish Environment Minister, has said his country wants to reform Europe ‘s proposed carbon reduction package because of its costs.
He said: " Poland does not fear reducing emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, but the way of achieving this is at present is not acceptable."
Italian and German officials have also argued that existing targets will heap pressure on power companies and manufacturers at a moment when several European countries are set to fall into recession.
Stavros Dimas, the EU Environment Commissioner, has said the European Parliament and EU governments could amend the climate and energy package.
However, he insisted the present measures were "consistent with solving the financial crisis".
"At the moment, people are focused on the economic crisis, but our package is part of the solution," he said.
"Fighting climate change means investment in energy efficiency, promoting renewable sources and providing incentives to stimulate the economy and contribute to growth."
Mr Dimas also said that states will be able to pay developing countries to fulfil some of their emission cut obligations for them.
Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/3200852/Climate-change-measures-could-be-water-down-due-to-financial-crisis.html

1.3. Environment officials meet in Warsaw to address climate change
14 October 2008 , China News
Environment ministers and officials from more than 30 countries held an informal meeting in the Polish capital this week to prepare for a major UN climate conference.
Progress in battling climate change, long-term climate strategies and the impact of the current economic crisis on climate protection were among the themes of the meeting organized in preparation for the forthcoming climate summit in Poland , Polish news agency PAP reported on Tuesday.
Poland is preparing to host the UN climate summit in December in the city of Poznan that aims to work out a climate change accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Polish Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki said the current financial crisis would not affect climate protection. "Sometimes it’s easier to launch cost-saving measures in a crisis than when everything’s going well with the economy," Nowicki noted.
He added that the two days of informal meetings that started Monday also focused on the expected results of the Poznan conference.
UN Climate Convention secretary Yvo de Boer said the Warsaw meeting "is not intended to get into the substance itself, and can’t replace a full meeting where everybody is present and able to participate, but it can give us a sense of direction of what’s achievable."
De Boer also reminded that the Poznan conference will start off negotiations aimed towards the signature in 2009 in Copenhagen , Denmark , of a climate agreement extending the Kyoto Protocol.
Link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-10/15/content_10195119.htm

1.4. UN: crisis must not stop climate change action
15 October 2008 , AP
Environment ministers agreed Tuesday that the world financial crisis must not halt efforts to combat global warming, the top United Nations climate official said.
Officials from the U.S. , China , Canada , India , the European Union and more than 30 other countries met for two days of informal talks in Warsaw ahead of a climate conference in December.
"There was a very strong consensus that the current financial turmoil should not be an excuse to slow down action on climate change," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told The Associated Press after the talks.
"Many ministers said that addressing climate change can deliver important economic benefits that are important in the light of the current financial situation as well," de Boer added.
Scientists say the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases, mostly from fossil fuels, must peak within 10 to 15 years and then drop sharply to avoid potentially catastrophic changes in the climate.
The discussions in Warsaw were aimed at laying the groundwork for a major U.N. climate change conference in December in Poznan , Poland that will include delegates from more than 190 countries. The conference will work out the details of a climate change accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
The U.S. rejected the Kyoto accord, arguing it would harm American business and that it made no comparable demands on emerging economies. China , India and other large developing countries refused to accept a binding arrangement that they said would limit their development and their declared mission to ease poverty at home.
De Boer said a number of ministers at the Warsaw meeting pushed for industrialized nations to lead the way by setting specific targets for cutting emissions by 2020.
"That is the kind of clarity that the private sector also needs in terms of taking investment decisions in these difficult times," he said.
A debate similar to the one in Poland is also under way in the EU before its two-day summit beginning Wednesday. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has urged EU leaders to keep their promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions, despite worries that the economic slowdown will make it harder for governments and businesses to shoulder the extra costs.
"Saving the planet does not disappear because of the financial crisis," Barroso said in Belgium on Tuesday.
The 27-nation bloc’s year-old deal would reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020. However, the package faces opposition from a number of members — including Poland — who fear it will curb economic growth.
Polish Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki called the plan "unacceptable" saying it was plagued by a "slew of shortcomings." He did not provide specifics, but said the problems could still be weeded out in further negotiations.
Nevertheless, he said Poland , which is heavily dependent on coal for its energy needs, "does not fear" cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020. "We could even go beyond that level of emission reductions," Nowicki said.
A final deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be signed in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.
Link: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iVNkthqWXZuZD9P6lr9Kh3AxSkBQD93QFMTO0

1.5. Merkel Says EU Sticks to December Climate Deadline
17 October 2008 , Reuters
BRUSSELS – European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to stick to a December deadline for agreeing ambitious measures to fight climate change, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
She told reporters on leaving a two-day summit early that the leaders agreed the package must take account of each country’s specific situation, which suited Germany as a major industrial power.
"The discussion was about how we should of course implement the climate protection goals and to find solutions by the end of the year, that is to say by the summit," she said, adding: "Country-specific conditions must be taken into account, that is naturally in Germany ‘s interest."
EU leaders were putting finishing touches to a final statement that pledged intensive work in the coming weeks to ensure the measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy sources are rigorously cost-efficient in view of the current financial crisis.
Link: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50646/story.htm

EMISSIONS

2.1. Britain pledges 80% emissions cut
16 October 2008 , Guardian.co.uk
Britain became the first country in the world to make a legally-binding commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of the century, in a dramatic effort to counter global warming.
The pledge came as the European Union reaffirmed its target of slashing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020, despite complaints from Italy and Poland that the tough standards will be unaffordable during the current economic downturn.
New Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband told MPs an amendment to the Government’s Climate Change Bill will increase the UK ‘s target for emissions cuts in all greenhouse gases by 2050 from 60% to 80%, compared to 1990 levels.
"In tough economic times, some people ask whether we should retreat from our climate change objectives," he said.
"In our view it would be quite wrong to row back and those who say we should, misunderstand the relationship between the economic and environmental tasks we face."
The announcement was hailed as a "great step forward" by environmental campaigners, who believe that industrialised countries must lead the way in reducing global emissions by at least 60% to stave off potentially catastrophic changes in weather patterns.
But there were warnings that the impact of the pledge will be blunted because there is no immediate provision to include the UK ‘s share of emissions from international aviation and shipping.
And campaigners cautioned that Britain must hit its new target by changes in behaviour at home – such as scrapping plans for coal-fired power stations – and not by emissions trading with less developed states.
In his first statement to the House of Commons in his newly-created role, Mr Miliband also pledged to introduce feed-in tariffs to allow small-scale energy producers – such as homes with wind turbines or solar panels – to sell electricity at a guaranteed price.
And he issued a warning to energy companies to come up with plans to reduce charges for customers with pre-payment meters within a month or face legislation to force them to do so.
Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/feedarticle/7884240

2.2. EU, Kyoto carbon link to cut climate costs
16 october 2008 , Reuters
A link between European Union and Kyoto Protocol carbon trading schemes will allow EU companies to pay developing countries for cheap greenhouse gases emissions permits from Thursday, EU officials said. The Kyoto and EU schemes form the hub of a global carbon market expected to exceed $100 billion in trades this year.
The long-awaited link will cut the cost for European industry to comply with an ambitious EU climate programme, which some industry groups want watered down after growing signs of imminent recession. "It’s up and running," a press officer for the EU’s Environment Commissioner said.
"Transactions are taking place and everything seems to be fine," she added of the trading link which has suffered more than a year of technical delays. The linked schemes allow European industry participating in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) to import cheaper offsets generated from investing in clean energy projects, in countries such as China and India under Kyoto .
Market participants had been nervous that the absence of a functional link would cause sellers to default on futures contracts for December delivery, the only means of EU trade in CER offsets until now. "In some ways it’s a collective sigh of relief," said Trevor Sikorski of Barclays Capital.
That boost to the global carbon market, plus vows of climate commitment from EU leaders this week, has been overshadowed by a plummeting oil price – which has dragged down carbon prices in developing countries and threatens to dent profits. Kyoto ‘s clean development mechahism (CDM) has also suffered a long-term bottleneck in UN project approvals.
The United Nations climate change secretariat has issued only 196.8 million tonnes of Kyoto offsets to date, called Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), while analysts forecast global demand of around 2.4 billion by the end of 2012.
That bottleneck has led project developers to cut repeatedly their projected CER deliveries, and Thursday’s long-awaited market link would boost cash-raising through CER sales. "The implementation of the CITL-ITL connection will further enhance the underlying value of our portfolio," said Neil Eckert, Chairman of Trading Emissions PLC (TEP).
TEP in April lent 1.5 million euros to project developers Carbon Capital Markets, in which it has a 40 percent stake, to tide them over a cash crunch. Kyoto CERs trade at a discount to EU emissions permits and that spread may now narrow in the near-term, after Thursday’s news lowered CER delivery risk.
But the spread will widen again as the bottleneck eases, to 10 euros in 2010 from 3 euros now, said analysts Point Carbon. "The spread could widen even further beyond 2010, potentially with separate prices for "high-quality" CERs," Point Carbon added, referring to a preference from some regulators for a narrower choice of emissions-cutting CDM projects.
Analysts also said spot EUA prices may hold in the near term, since supply remains limited. EU governments have been reluctant to distribute EUAs to industry ahead of the ITL-CITL connection. As a result, only around a quarter of the 2.08 billion permits expected in the market this year have been issued.
Link: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/International_Business/EU_Kyoto_carbon_link_to_cut_climate_costs/articleshow/3604502.cms

2.3. Europeans split over goals to cut emissions
16 october 2008 , Herald Tribune
Confronted by fears of a sharp economic slowdown, Europe ‘s ambitious climate-change reduction plans were called into question Thursday when several countries threatened to veto proposals unless they are made more affordable.
At an European Union summit meeting dominated by the fallout from the financial crisis, discussions on how to achieve cuts in carbon emissions within the 27-country bloc led to fierce exchanges among European leaders.
Italy and several eastern European countries said that they could not accept current proposals, insisting on the right to veto them. That promises to make the process of agreement the contentious measures more difficult than ever.
At stake is the credibility of the European claim to lead the push to combat global warming. Officials say that a failure to reach a deal in December would be particularly damaging because it would undermine Europe ‘s ability to negotiate with a new administration in the United States , which is expected to be more open to efforts to tackle climate change.
Against a backdrop of mounting economic gloom, an effort by France , which holds the EU presidency, to expedite the climate change plans backfired as countries refused to commit themselves to a French target of striking a deal in December. France insisted that its targets remain in place.
In order to meet a 20 percent target, the legislation would tighten EU emission ceilings on energy and manufacturing companies beginning in 2013. The package would also set renewable-energy targets for individual countries aimed at driving the EU to adopt cleaner power.
"We have to find a solution before January," said President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, the chairman of the two-day summit meeting. "We are not going to hide behind the crisis. Europe must set an example."
But combative exchanges at a dinner for heads of government Wednesday night set the scene for a protracted battle over who will shoulder most of the cost of the goal – the reduction of CO² emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
The EU talks are based on a package of draft laws proposed by the European Commission, which spell out how the 20 percent reduction target would be achieved by each of the 27 countries. Swift agreement is needed because the legislation will have to be approved by the European Parliament which reaches the end of its mandate in June.
Moreover a failure in December would hand the task of clinching agreement to the Czech Republic , which takes over the EU presidency in January and whose governing coalition is divided over climate change.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy led the assault on the package, saying that he was not in office last year when it was agreed on. "We don’t think this is the moment to push forward on our own like Don Quixote," he said. "We have time."
The Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, welcomed a concession, implicit in the conclusions of the meeting Thursday, that decisions will be taken by leaders under a rule that requires each country to agree. "The EU will decide by the unanimity rule," Frattini said.
Backed by seven of the newer EU member states, Poland led a concerted move to weaken the text of the summit conclusions that initially stressed the need for a deal in December.
The group of skeptics includes Bulgaria , Hungary , Latvia , Lithuania , Romania and Slovakia . Like Berlusconi, Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland also said that the targets had been set before he was in government.
Tusk underlined the problems confronted by Poland ‘s reliance on coal-fired power stations, compared to countries like France that have a bigger nuclear-based component in their energy mix. "We don’t say to the French," said Tusk, "that they have to close down their nuclear power industry and build windmills, and nobody can tell us the equivalent."
"We have achieved this veto right in order to use it if there is no other possibility," he said.
Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis of Latvia said that his country would veto the package unless there were more concessions for countries that joined the EU in 2004. And Germany has already made clear its concern about the competitive impact of the EU emissions trading system on energy-intensive industries should other blocs not adopt similar arrangements.
But David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, accused countries of trying to wriggle out of commitments they had made just last year. "There is no setback," Miliband said, emphasizing that he expected an agreement on the current timetable.
"A number of countries have shown buyer’s remorse for the agreement in 2007," he said. "There is no going back. No going back on determination to have agreement by the end of the year."
The scale of the backlash against the proposals has caused concern including in Denmark which will host crucial climate change talks next year. "There is not reason to hide the fact that we face some very difficult negotiations up to December," Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark said.
In an effort to assuage concern over the impact of the economic slowdown on industry, Sarkozy called for consideration of a stimulus package for the economy. Sarkozy pointed particularly to the automobile industry, which has asked for a multi-billion euro bailout fund.
"Can you ask the European car industry to provide clean cars, change the whole industrial apparatus, without giving them a helping hand?" he asked.
He said European automakers might need help similar to that being offered by the U.S. government to its auto sector. This weekend Sarkozy and the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, will meet with President George W. Bush to discuss proposals to revamp global financial structures.
Sarkozy said there was a need to "recast the capitalist system" and questioned the future of credit-rating agencies which, he said, had failed to prevent the recent financial meltdown.
EU leaders have backed calls for a meeting of economic powers – including China , Russia and India – to plot an overhaul of the financial markets similar to the meeting in Bretton Woods in 1944 that set out the rules of international trade and financial relations.
Link: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/16/europe/union.php

PUBLICATIONS

3.1. The co-benefits to health of a strong EU climate change policy
The Co-benefits of Different Ambition Levels for Greenhouse Gas Abatement in the EU by 2020
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Climate Action Network (CAN) and WWF Europe commissioned this report to demonstrate the huge health benefits of meeting internationally recommended targets on climate change.
More at: http://www.climnet.org/Co-benefits%20to%20health%20report%20-september%202008.pdf

CONFERENCES

4.1. Pre-sessional workshop on the second review of the Kyoto Protocol pursuant to its Article 9
Athens , Greece
22-23 October 2008
This pre-sessional workshop is being held in preparation for the second review of the Kyoto Protocol pursuant to its Article 9, which will take place at Poznan in December.
More at: http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/4359.php

4.2. Forty-third meeting of the CDM Executive Board – CDM EB 43
Santiago , Chile
22-24 October 2008
The proposed agenda and its annotations for the forty-third meeting of the CDM Executive Board are now available online.
More at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php

4.3. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznañ , Poland – COP 14
The 14th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 14) will be held in conjunction with the 4th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 4) in Poznañ , Poland , from 1 to 12 December 2008 . The conference will also include the 29th sessions of the Convention’s two subsidiary bodies – SBSTA and SBI – as well as the 4th session of the AWG-LCA and the 2nd part of the 6th session of the AWG-KP.
More at: http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_14/items/4481.php

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