1.1. Paying the climate bill
10 September 2009, Greenpeace
Media briefing on the European Commission’s communication on climate finance & what’s next in the countdown to Copenhagen
The European Commission today presented a proposal entitled “A European blueprint for the Copenhagen deal”. The Commission communication puts forward proposals on how to generate and manage financial support for climate action in developing nations under a future Copenhagen climate treaty, to be agreed in December. Financial support would be made available for the development of clean and efficient energy and industry, the protection of forests and for measures to adapt to the already unavoidable impacts of climate change in developing countries.
Download Document at: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/eu-unit/press-centre/policy-papers-briefings/paying-climate-bill-10-09-09.pdf
1.2. EU-backed emergency climate fund raises the stakes for G20
17 September 2009, Greenpeace
As world leaders prepare to attend the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh next week, EU leaders have called, at an extraordinary Summit tonight, for emergency funding to allow developing countries prepare for climate action. European heads of state and government meeting in Brussels tonight want to see €5-7 billion distributed by rich countries annually before the future Copenhagen climate treaty takes effect in 2013. This funding proposed by the EU is meant to assist developing countries tackle urgent climate challenges.
“With only 80 days left before Copenhagen, the EU has made progress in its negotiating position and sends a clear message to leaders from rich nations attending the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh next week. Now that the EU and Japan are finally showing some signs of progress on climate, President Obama will soon find himself in the hot seat,” said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate and energy policy director.
1.3. Arctic ice melts to third-smallest area on record
17 September 2009, Reuters
The Arctic’s sea ice pack thawed to its third-lowest summer level on record, up slightly from the seasonal melt of the past two years but continuing an overall decline symptomatic of climate change, U.S. scientists said on Thursday.
The range of ocean remaining frozen over the northern polar region reached its minimum extent for 2009 on September 12, when it covered 1.97 million square miles (5.1 million square km), and now appears to be growing again as the Arctic starts its annual cool-down, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.
That level falls 20 percent below the 30-year average minimum ice cover for the Arctic summer since satellites began measuring it in 1979, and 24 percent less than the 1979-2000 average, the Colorado-based government agency said.
This summer’s minimum represents a loss about about two-thirds of the sea ice measured at the height of Arctic winter in March. By comparison, the Arctic ice shelf typically shrank by a little more than half each summer during the 1980s and 1990s, ice scientist Walt Meier said.
The lowest point on record was reached in September 2007, and the 2009 minimum ranks as the third smallest behind last year’s level. But scientists said they do not consider the slight upward fluctuation again this summer to be a recovery.
The difference was attributed to relatively cooler temperatures this summer compared with the two previous years. Winds also tended to disperse the ice pack over a larger region, scientists said.
"The long-term decline in summer extent is expected to continue in future years," the report said.
The U.S. government findings were in line with measurements reported separately by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, which reported this summer’s minimum ice extent at just under 5 million square km (1.93 million square miles).
Scientists regard the Arctic and its sea ice as among the most sensitive barometers of global warming because even small temperature changes make a huge difference.
"If you go from a degree below freezing to 2 degrees above freezing, that’s a completely different environment in the polar region," Meier said. "You’re going from ice skating to swimming. Whereas if you’re on a tropical beach and it’s 3 degrees warmer, you probably wouldn’t even notice it."
World leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday to discuss a climate treaty due to be agreed on in December.
The shrinking polar cap poses a loss of crucial habitat for polar bears and has implications for maritime shipping, opening up new routes to navigation.
Once again this year, the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic Ocean along the coast of Siberia opened, enabling two German ships to navigate the passage with Russian icebreaker escorts.
Russian vessels have traversed the passage many times over the years, but the maritime fleets of other nations are showing more interest in the route as the summer thaw expands.
This year, the Amundsen’s Channel through the Northwest Passage also opened briefly, as it did in 2008, but the deeper Parry’s Channel did not. Both opened in 2007.
Scientists have voiced concern for years about the alarming decline in the size of the Arctic ice cap, which functions as a giant air conditioner for the planet’s climate system as it reflects sunlight back into space.
As a greater portion of the ice melts, larger expanses of darker sea water are exposed, absorbing more sunlight and adding to the global warming effect attributed to rising levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by human activity.
Scientists also have measured a thinning of the frozen seas, as older, thicker ice more resilient to warming temperatures gives way to younger, thinner layers that melt more easily in summer.
Scientists monitor Antarctic sea ice as well, but the Arctic is considered a more critical gauge of climate change because more of the northern sea ice remains frozen through the summer, playing a bigger role in cooling the planet.
1.4. UN chief urges world climate deal by year’s end
18 September 2009, PTI
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has pressed world leaders to publicly commit here next week to reaching a global climate change deal in Copenhagen in December.
"No issue better demonstrates the need for global solidarity," he told a press conference ahead of next week’s UN General Assembly session.
"The current slow pace of the (climate change) negotiations is a matter of deep concern," Ban said, adding that world leaders due to attend Tuesday’s UN climate summit should "publicly commit to sealing a deal in Copenhagen."
"We want world leaders to show they understand the gravity of climate risks, as well as the benefits of acting now," Ban said yesterday.
"We want them to give their negotiating teams marching orders to accelerate progress toward a fair effective, comprehensive and scientifically ambitious global climate agreement in Copenhagen.
1.5. Upfront climate funding high on EU leaders’ agenda
17 September 2009, EurActiv
Upfront funding for a post-Kyoto climate treaty will be high on the agenda when European leaders meet this evening to prepare for next week’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh in a bid to make headway in stalled global negotiations.
Funding for emissions cuts and adaptation measures in developing countries remains a major stumbling block in the run-up to December’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen, where a new climate treaty is due to be agreed.
In an attempt to regain leadership in the negotiations, the European Commission last week put the first concrete figures for global funding on the table, suggesting that the EU would commit an annual 2-15 billion euros of public money.
National capitals are yet to accept the figures put forward by the EU executive, and at this stage discussions are most likely to concentrate on upfront financing.
Leaders are expected to clarify the EU’s position on how much money could be offered to developing countries before 2012 and whether the EU intends to push for a commitment to short-term funding in Pittsburgh, sources following the negotiations told EurActiv.
The Commission estimated that around €5-7 billion would be needed between 2010 and 2012. It recommended the EU to provide at least €500 million and up to €2.1 billion a year, starting from next year.
Moreover, observers are expecting heads of state and government to discuss what weight should be given to the two principles – responsibility for emissions and GDP – that the EU wants to use for calculating financial burden-sharing among developed nations.
The Commission’s calculations show that the larger the weight given to responsibility for emissions, the better off the EU would be.
The sources said the summit will likely discuss governance arrangements on the basis of the Commission’s proposal. This foresaw channelling aid through existing institutions, topped up with a central coordinating body to oversee the process.
The Swedish EU Presidency hopes to hammer out the details of the Union’s position, including concrete figures, at the October European summit.
Transatlantic rift threatens climate deal
The informal summit takes place amid warnings from European officials that key differences between the EU and the US could lead to a breakdown in the international negotiations.
The EU is at loggerheads with the US over how national CO2 reduction targets would be counted under a post-2012 treaty, EU sources close to the negotiations told a British newspaper.
While Europe wants to retain the architecture set up under the Kyoto Protocol, the Obama administration has told their European colleagues that they intend to replace the protocol’s structures with their own.
"In Europe we want to build on Kyoto, but the US proposal would in effect kill it off," a European official said. They warned that this could undermine the new treaty, crippling the world’s ability to halt dangerous climate change.
"If we have to start from scratch then it all takes time. It could be 2015 or 2016 before something is in place, who knows," the source said.
Despite the differences, the EU is cautious about openly criticising the US, which joined the negotiations with ambitious plans to pass domestic climate legislation after the election of President Barack Obama. But the new administration is not keen to accept the Kyoto architecture, as former president George W. Bush refused to ratify the protocol on the grounds that it did not set any obligations on China.
Scientists have been stressing the urgency of tackling global warming and regard the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December as the last-chance saloon for keeping temperature hikes at sustainable levels.
It is widely recognised that the 2°C threshold set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN scientific body, will be severely overstepped without immediate action.
If each country were allowed to set its own rules for meeting its emissions reduction targets, this would open loopholes and allow them to avoid making genuine CO2 cuts, officials said.
But the US has cautioned its negotiating partners that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen in December is not a "make-or-break" event.
According to reports from Vienna yesterday (15 September), US Energy Secretary Steven Chu argued that it would be possible to come back and fill in the details that cannot be agreed in Copenhagen. Moreover, he sa
"What the United States can bring and can agree to is certainly unknown, but I think probably 40 or 30% [cuts] might be too aggressive for 2020 for the United States," he said.
The EU is the only region which has set ambitious short-term binding targets to cut emissions. But even its offer to up its 2020 goal to 30% below 1990 levels if other industrialised countries make similar pledges falls far short of developing countries’ demands of 40%.
1.6. EU climate scientist casts doubt on geo-engineering
14 September 2009, EurActiv
Scientists should not meddle with the Earth’s complex climate by experimenting with futuristic geo-engineering options when softer approaches are available, Frank Raes, head of the climate change unit at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, told EurActiv in an interview.
Sophisticated geo-engineering programmes – including mirrors to reflect the sun’s radiation or plans to "fertilise" oceans – have already been imagined to try and manipulate the Earth’s climate in case global warming gets out of hand.
But Raes dismissed what he described as "hard engineering," such as launching rockets to release dust particles into the stratosphere to create a cooling effect by blocking sunlight from entering the atmosphere.
"It’s a temporary cure and doesn’t solve anything, and the second thing is that we don’t know the earth system enough to start playing with it," he said.
Moreover, he warned that some countries have already started to influence the climate by considering large-scale reforestation programmes in desert areas.
Dark tree coverage absorbs sunlight previously reflected by sandy deserts, heating up the system, he explained. The climate benefits of removing CO2 from the atmosphere only kick in years later when the trees have grown, he added.
"We have to stay very careful about how to use afforestation and deforestation so that we really have a benefit for the climate," Raes said.
As international climate negotiators are now considering how to introduce a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, called REDD, EU researchers are working closely with policymakers to evaluate the climate impact of different mechanisms and to create reliable methods to monitor deforestation via satellites, he added.
As an example of a "win-win" soft geo-engineering approach, Raes singled out biochar technology, which turns agricultural waste into charcoal to enhance soil, while the gases can be used as fuel. The process thus avoids releasing the methane which would be freed if the waste were left to rot naturally in the fields, as well as CO2 emissions which result from burning it, he explained.
"That’s something that is certainly of interest for developing countries that still live from agriculture and have a lot of agricultural waste," Raes said.
Nevertheless, the researcher said it was the job of scientists to research even the most extreme ideas around, even if to show that they are in reality too expensive or risky. The EU is also doing earth modelling to test how different geo-engineering approaches would impact upon the entire earth system: not just the atmosphere, but the oceans and the biosphere as well, he said.
"We’d rather go with what I call geo-renovating," Raes argued. "It is about discussing very sophisticated ways of solving the problems of climate change and air pollution rather than resorting to hard geo-engineering," he explained.
The scientist argued that climate policymakers are currently ignoring the impact of regular pollutants like ozone and black carbon particles. He pointed out that action to reduce their emissions could bring immediate benefits for the climate, whereas CO2 remains in the atmosphere for a long time.
"They have a strong impact on the climate and they are discussed in another forum, by air pollution policymakers, whereas the climate change people talk about CO2 emissions and the energy system," Raes stated, calling for the two agendas to be integrated.
Nevertheless, the researcher said that the climate negotiations are now finally being informed by science. He said recommendations from the UN’s scientific body (IPCC) that we should not overstep CO2 concentrations above 450 ppm to keep global warming at a maximum 2°C were now widely used, "at least by the European negotiators".
2.1. Seven green jobs for every job lost in dirty energy sectors
14 September 2009, Greenpeace
Investment in renewables and energy efficiency would create seven times more green jobs over the next ten years than would be lost in the coal and nuclear sectors in Europe, according to a report launched today by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), and backed by trade unions.
A switch from dirty energy to renewables and energy efficiency would not just avoid over 470 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in OECD Europe, but would create 30% more jobs by 2020 than if we continue investing in fossil and nuclear fuels. If Europe chooses a clean energy pathway, 1.2 million people would be employed in the power generation sector, compared to eight hundred and fifty thousand under business as usual. The report finds that over three hundred and eighty thousand jobs would be created in renewables and energy efficiency over the next decade, as opposed to some fifty thousand that would be lost in the coal and nuclear sectors.
“For each job lost in the coal and nuclear sectors in Europe, seven jobs would be created in renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next ten years. Green investments are an opportunity to revitalise the economy: postponing climate action is prolonging the economic recession and cheating us out of thousands of jobs. European leaders need to trigger an energy revolution and support and re-train communities affected by this technology shift,” said Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU energy expert.
“Now is the time to put in place a `just transition’ to sustainably transform the jobs of today and develop the decent and green jobs of tomorrow,” added Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). “The union movement, as well as the authors of this report, believe ambitious climate action by world leaders can and must be a driver for sustainable economic growth and social progress.”
The report: `Working for the Climate: Renewable Energy & The Green Job [R]evolution’ is based on Greenpeace’s Energy [R]evolution report and research from the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the Sydney University of Technology. The report shows that by 2020, 5 million people could work for the renewable power industry globally and more than eight hundred and twenty thousand in Europe.
"There are already 450,000 people working in the renewable energy industry in Europe, representing a turnover of more than EUR 45 billion. This research proves that renewable energy is key to tackling both the climate and economic crises," said Christine Lins, Secretary General of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
2.2. Consuming the world’s resources: Europe’s role, Europe’s responsibilities
15 September 2009, FOEE
Europe is using increasing quantities of the world’s natural resources, according to a new report  launched by Friends of the Earth Europe at the ‘World Resources Forum’ in Davos, Switzerland today . The report also shows that Europe is more dependant on imported resources than other global regions.
The extraction and use of natural resources such as food crops, fossil fuels, minerals, agrofuels and timber has major environmental and social impacts. Case studies in the report – including of oil extraction in Nigeria and biofuel production in Indonesia – demonstrate some of these impacts. Europe does not just import such materials directly, it also imports them as part of finished products, for example a computer imported from China will have large amounts of resources associated with its production.
overconsumptionDr Michael Warhurst, who leads Friends of the Earth Europe’s Resources and Consumption campaign, said: "Europe is using an ever-increasing amount of the world’s resources, and our society is already very dependant on imports of materials – yet we have no targets to reduce this resource use, and new policies are not assessed for their potential to increase our resource efficiency.
"Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the EU to take the first steps to tackle this issue through ensuring that our resource use is measured, and by adopting new policies to increase our resource efficiency, such as higher recycling targets. The EU must also start to devise long term targets and strategies in order to radically reduce our resource use."
Friends of the Earth Europe and Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) have analysed possible methods of measuring Europe’s resource use, and are proposing that four key aspects be covered: material use (the focus of this report), land use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions . Each of these analyses must properly account for the
impacts of Europe’s consumption on the rest of the world, by incorporating the ‘rucksack’ of the resources used to make products which are imported into Europe.
Dr Warhurst added: "In order to continue to thrive on this planet, our societies will need to become less resource dependent, so that we are able to protect our natural resource base and the fragile eco-systems on our planet.
"Europe is using more than its fair share of resources, and reducing our consumption will also free more resources to increase the quality of life in the developing world. In addition, a more resource-efficient economy will be a competitive advantage for Europe as resource availability becomes more constrained in the future."
3.1. Carmakers divided on CO2 cuts
14 September 2009, T&E
Carmakers reduced carbon emissions by wildly varying degrees last year with the best performers achieving four to five times larger cuts than the worst.
New figures published today by Transport & Environment (T&E) show BMW and Mazda led the field with 10% and 8.2% reductions to the average CO2 emissions for cars sold in Europe in 2008. But nine of the fourteen volume producers in the ranking achieved just 4% or lower (1).
Improvements to fuel efficiency are directly linked to reductions in CO2 emissions.
A new European law setting binding targets for average CO2 emissions was agreed at the end of last year. According to the report, the striking differences in performance by different carmakers reflect the amount of work each has to do to reach their new EU targets.
Progress slowed dramatically at Fiat and Peugeot-Citroën (PSA), who have Europe’s cleanest fleets on average and are close to meeting their EU targets. Conversely Suzuki and Mazda, who have been slow to improve efficiency in the past, and consequently have a long way to go to meet EU targets, made big steps forward in 2008.
Jos Dings, director of Transport & Environment said: “The new EU law is already having an impact. If the overall drop in average CO2 emissions was purely related to the financial crisis, fuel prices or changing consumer behaviour, we would have expected to see every company reducing much more equally. But what is actually happening is that carmakers are seeing how far they have to cut and changing their fleets accordingly.”
The positive impact of the cars legislation adds to the evidence that legally-binding targets should be extended to vans and lorries.
Dings said : "Clearly regulation is working, and if it works for cars, it will work for vans where progress so far has been even worse. Fuel efficient vans will be good for the environment, and save billions on fuel costs for the many businesses, small and large that depend on them."
According to media reports, the EU is set to announce legally-binding targets for vans in the coming weeks. (2)
3.2. Commission says farmers need help to cut carbon
16 September 2009, EurActiv
European farmers must slash agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, primarily by producing biomass and storing carbon in the soil, but they risk ruin without outside help, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said yesterday (15 September).
European agriculture emissions have already fallen by 20% since 1990 due in part to there being fewer cattle and also to better technology and farm management.
But the heat is on to find other ways to reduce emissions, ahead of a major global climate summit in Copenhagen in December and to meet tough goals already set for the next decade.
Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU agriculture commissioner, said on Tuesday (15 September) that the farm sector should cut emissions of methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
"It [the sector] can do more to store carbon in farmland soils," she told European agriculture ministers at a meeting in southern Sweden, in a speech seen by journalists.
Farmers can also fight emissions by supplying more biomass to produce energy and renewable materials, she said.
Farmers need support through reformed CAP
However, Fischer Boel said farmers would need support to make the changes needed to reduce emissions.
"We can’t just leave them to sink or swim: many of them would sink, with disastrous consequences for our food production base and our environment," she said.
Fischer Boel said Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) had helped set aside more money for farmers to fight climate change.
But she said Europe would "almost certainly" have to make changes to the CAP, mainly after 2013, to give farmers much-needed support to reduce emissions.
"We need to look very closely at giving stronger incentives for good soil management, especially for protecting carbon-rich soils, such as grasslands," she said.
Europe must strike the right balance between binding requirements and positive incentives, she added.
"It’s not an option just to bury our farmers in rules."
3.3. EU starts hammering out deal on buildings directive
16 September 2009, EurActiv
The Swedish EU Presidency will meet with MEPs at the end of the month to hammer out an early second-reading agreement on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, but concluding a deal by the end of the year appears to be a long shot, EurActiv has learned.
The talks between the European Parliament and the Council will start on 30 September.
The Swedish Presidency therefore hopes to have a mandate from national representatives next week to negotiate an early second-reading agreement that could be approved at a meeting of EU energy ministers in December.
One of the key points to be agreed upon is the directive’s implementation date. The latest Council working document, seen by EurActiv, shows that national capitals are seeking more time to apply the recast directive, which aims to improve buildings’ energy efficiency.
The European Commission originally proposed that the directive be transposed to national law by the end of 2010. It argued that as public authorities should set an example, public buildings should apply the new provisions from that date, while other buildings would have until the end of January 2012 to comply.
But member states are concerned that the proposed dates are "much too soon".
National delegations consequently want to delay the deadline for transposition until 18 months after the entry into force of the directive, according to the working document. Moreover, they are seeking to postpone full application of the standards for public buildings to two years and for other buildings to three years after the directive’s entry into force.
Even if the Swedish Presidency achieves its goal of reaching a compromise agreement on the law by the end of 2009, the deadline for transposition would likely be set back by a year. At the same time, public authorities would get more time to comply.
On a collision course with MEPs
The emerging Council position is set to pit member states against the Parliament, which has clearly stated that the recast directive should promote the fast uptake of "zero-energy buildings". In April, MEPs sought to include a provision that from 2019 onwards, all new buildings should produce as much renewable energy on-site as they consume.
Member states, however, appear to be seeking to abolish all reference to zero-energy buildings, preferring to limit the terminology to low-energy buildings, the document shows. Moreover, they would only give the Commission the power to establish "guiding principles" that allow member states to come up with a tailored definition of a low-energy building, while the Parliament has called for a common definition of net zero-energy buildings.
The preliminary Council position shows that member states are prepared to set "ambitious quantitative targets" for the number of low-energy buildings by 2020. But the targets would only be set for new residential and non-residential buildings, and new buildings occupied by public authorities.
The Parliament, on the other hand, wanted to see member states fix a minimum proportion of both new and refurbished buildings that have to be energy neutral by 2015 and 2020 respectively.
4.1. Reducing CO2 Emissions from New Cars: A Study of Major Car Manufacturers’ Progress in 2008
September 2009, T&E
Our use of the world´s natural resources, FOEE
5.1. Energy efficient heating and cooling of buildings – Will EU policies deliver appropriate
14th of October 2009 from 9.30 – 17.30, European Parliament, Brussels
Hosted by Members of the European Parliament
Anni Podimata, Fiona Hall, Claude Turmes and Dr. Peter Liese
If the European Union wants to meet its 2020 climate and energy targets in a sustainable and cost-effective way it has to make a real turn toward saving energy. The EU made a commitment to reduce energy use by 20% in 2020, but is far off track to achieve this target: policies will need to be strengthened. One quarter of energy in Europe is used for heating and cooling buildings, and around one third of this energy is unnecessarily wasted due to poor performing products.
More at: http://www.coolproducts.eu/cool_blog_archive_Save_the_date_Coolproducts_conference,_14_October_in_the_European_Parliament_57.aspx
5.2. Resumed ninth session of the AWG-KP and resumed seventh session of the AWG-LCA
2-6 November 2009
Barcelona Convention Centre
5.3. International Conference: Nuclear Waste Problems – from Mining to Reactor Waste
17-18 Oct. 2009, Sweden
Hosted by The Swedish Environmental Movement’s Nuclear Waste Secretariat (Miljörörelsens kärnavfallssekretariat, Milkas), a non-profit, non-governmental organisation founded in 2004 by the national anti-nuclear group The Swedish Anti-nuclear Movement (Folkkampanjen mot kärnkraft-kärnvapen, FMKK) and Friends of the Earth, Sweden (Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner, MJV), the Swedish branch of Friends of the Earth International.
The conference language is English.Participant fee (includes lunches and coffee/tea): organisations and institutions, €160 (SEK 1 500); NGOs €55 (SEK 500) for both days. For one day 300 kr. The price of the dinner Saturday 17 October is an additional €35 (SEK 350). Payment instructions will be e-mailed to the address provided in the form below. Travel and accommodation will not be covered by the organizers. The registration deadline is 6 October 2009.
More at: http://www.nonuclear.se/register
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