1.1. U.N. Cimate Chief De Boer To Quit In July
19 February 2010, Reuters
U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said Thursday he will step down in July to join a consultancy group, saying a new era of diplomacy was starting after the Copenhagen summit fell short of agreeing a new treaty.
Analysts said the departure of the energetic and often sharp-tongued de Boer was unlikely to dent U.N.-led climate talks meant to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol but stalled over sharing the cost of cutting carbon emissions.
The Dutch former environment official, who has run the Secretariat since 2006, will join KPMG in London. He was also considering part-time work at universities — Yale in the United States and Maatstricht and Utrecht in the Netherlands.
"I’ve found this job incredibly challenging," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "It was a very exciting place to be but it also takes a huge toll on you personally."
"I feel that Copenhagen has put a new era of climate policy on the tracks and that offers me an opportunity to come at this from a new direction," he said of his shift to focus on business involvement in combating climate change.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would decide on a replacement in coming months to head the Bonn-based Secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). De Boer’s two predecessors were from the Netherlands and Malta.
Janos Pasztor, Director of Ban’s Climate Change Support Team, said: "There is no prescription about where the new executive secretary should come from, whether it should be from a developing or developed country."
The Copenhagen meeting in December missed de Boer’s own benchmarks for success, neither specifying exact emissions limits for developed nations nor a timeframe to agree a pact.
But it was applauded for harnessing pledges from both rich and poor to curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. And as part of a Copenhagen Accord, rich nations agreed to provide $10 billion a year from 2010-12, with a goal of $100 billion a year from 2020, to help poor nations deal with climate change.
De Boer said that meant the Secretariat would have to shift to help implement the national plans as part of efforts to help slow droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
A successor would have to be "someone sensitive to the concerns of developing countries," he said. The shift did not mean giving up on securing more ambitious pledges to cut greenhouse gases. De Boer’s departure "won’t have any effect on the carbon market," said Seb Walhain, head of environmental markets at Fortis Netherlands. Carbon markets depend on the U.N. talks to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol from 2013.
U.N. rules require consensus among all 194 countries, partly hampering climate talks and leading some analysts to call for a new approach, for example through G20 world leaders.
"We must quickly find a suitable successor who can oversee the negotiations and reform the UNFCCC to ensure it is up to the massive task," said British Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband.
De Boer said "it remains to be seen" if the next annual meeting in Mexico in November and December would agree a full treaty. He said there seemed to be support for an extra set of U.N. talks in April, perhaps in Germany or France.
"Yvo de Boer has been an enormously dedicated leader in the fight against climate change and has made a major contribution in advancing that effort," U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said.
"I have always greatly appreciated Yvo de Boer; his engagement and his sharp tongue," EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. She said he was "not always the perfect diplomat" but communicated the urgency of climate change.
De Boer, born in 1954, is known for his quips — he compared his own large ears to those of Dr. Spock in the TV series "Star Trek" and compared the drawn-out process at the Copenhagen summit to cooking a Christmas turkey or baking a cake.
1.2. EU CO2 Eases, Ignores UN Climate Head Departure
19 February 2010, Reuters
European carbon emissions futures eased slightly in Thursday’s afternoon trade but showed no reaction to the resignation of U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer, traders said. EU Allowances for December delivery were off 7 cents or 0.54 percent at 12.84 euros ($17.40) a tonne at 1351 GMT, having fallen to as low as 12.65 euros in early trade. Volume was at heavy at 5,001 lots traded.
"The news won’t impact prices. If anything, it could dent the market’s reputation," an emissions broker said.
U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer will step down to join a consultancy group as an adviser, he said on Thursday, two months after a Copenhagen summit failed to support a legally binding climate pact.
Carbon markets depend on the U.N. talks and a Kyoto successor after 2012 to continue global trade in carbon offsets.
This morning, EUA prices sank to a two-week low as U.S. banks sold power and carbon, traders said. Prices had recovered slightly by mid-morning but failed to breach the 13 euro mark.
"There was stop-loss trading because nobody is ‘long’ anymore. The market is a poker table today — everyone has been surprised by the volatility on German power," a trader said.
German Calendar 2010 baseload power on the EEX was down 40 cents at 47.85 euros per megawatt hour on Thursday, while U.S. oil fell toward $77 a barrel, dragged down by high inventory levels and a stronger dollar.
U.N.-backed certified emissions reductions edged down 8 cents to 11.31 euros a tonne.
Ireland ‘s national registry will be unavailable from 2000 GMT on Friday until 0900 GMT next Tuesday due to planned maintenance of the International Transaction Log and a software upgrade on Monday, it said on its website.
Britain ‘s registry will be offline from 1430 GMT on Friday until Monday.
EU member states have approved proposals to revise the EU carbon market’s registry system to make it more standardized and secure, the EU executive Commission said on Thursday.
2.1. Leaked guidance rings alarm bells over sustainability of biofuels
15 February 2010, T&E
Environmental organisations have reacted with alarm to draft guidance from the Commission aimed at clarifying sustainability rules for biofuels. NGOs fear the guidance, if brought into effect, would lead to more greenhouse gases as a result of biofuel production, not fewer.
The Commission has been drawing up guidance on sustainability criteria for biofuels and which fuels can count towards the EU’s 2020 renewable fuels target. Some of that guidance has been leaked, and brought warnings from T&E and Friends of the Earth.
T&E says allowing biofuels made from waste to count double compared to other biofuels could cause indirect land-use changes with serious environmental impacts. In the case of animal fat, this would create a powerful incentive to divert use from cosmetics manufacturing to biofuels production, which in turn would cause the cosmetics industry to use more palm oil, which itself is a cause of deforestation.
FoE is also concerned about palm oil, in particular the Commission’s draft definitions for palm oil plantations. It says the Commission is proposing to define plantations as ‘continuously forested areas’, allowing them to meet criteria for sustainable biofuel sourcing, despite the fact that they are the primary cause of rainforest loss in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Commission’s proposal to exclude any installation that had biofuels production before January 2008 from an obligation to meet sustainability criteria is also controversial, as huge volumes of biofuels could be exempted as a result, causing more emissions.
Malaysian palm oil producers are reported to have been running an intense lobbying campaign in Brussels for fear of the EU banning palm oil imports.
The Canadian government has ordered a study into the environmental impact of making ethanol and biodiesel because of concerns over what its environment ministry calls ‘a range of new air- and water-related problems, as well as recent concerns over human health’. The study comes just six months before a new law takes effect requiring all petrol to have a minimum of 5% biofuel content.
2.2. US nuclear waste solution not needed for decades: DOE official
17 February 2010, Platts
The US Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear said Wednesday the agency is undertaking a wide-ranging research and development initiative to figure out how to deal with spent nuclear fuel.
But a long-term solution is not urgently needed, given that current dry-cask storage technology can safely hold spent fuel securely for many decades, Warren Miller told the winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
"We don’t have to deploy anything right now," Miller said. "We have a broad program that’s trying to develop options that, a few decades from now, a decision-maker can say, ‘This is the most economic process, the most environmentally sound process, and the most secure, safe approach for the back-end fuel cycle.’"
President Barack Obama recently announced the formation of a blue-ribbon commission to examine nuclear waste strategies in the wake of his decision to shutter the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
On Saturday at the meeting, a member of the nuclear industry’s Washington-based trade group said that three US communities and two large international companies have expressed interest in serving as private interim
storage facilities for spent fuel.
Marshall Cohen of the Nuclear Energy Institute did not identify the sites or the companies, but he said the leading contender has a 1,000-acre site in a sparsely populated area west of the Mississippi River.
Miller did not address those comments in his remarks Thursday.
2.3. EU on track to meet 20% renewable energy target by 2020: EWEA
16 February2010, Platts
The EU is on track to meet or slightly exceed its target of generating 20% of primary energy production from renewables by 2020 according to an assessment of national forecast documents, the European Wind Energy Association said Tuesday.
The EWEA analysis of all 27 member states’ national forecasts shows 13 member states meeting the renewable energy targets set by the European Commission, with a further eight expecting to exceed the target.
"Only six forecast they will not manage to reach their target through domestic action alone, although [Bulgaria and Denmark] say that with fresh national initiatives they can meet or exceed their targets," EWEA said.
None of the six expect to be more than one percentage point below requirements, the association added.
The analysis lists the highest achievers as Spain, which believes renewables will reach 22.7% of the country’s energy mix by 2020, and Germany, which expects to be 0.7% above its 18% target. Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden are also in the top eight.
The six countries that do not currently expect to meet their targets are Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Bulgaria and Denmark.
EWEA put Italy at the bottom of the league. To meet its national target, the Italian forecast document envisages importing renewable energy from neighboring non-EU countries such as Albania, Croatia, Serbia and Tunisia.
"Europe has witnessed a sea-change since the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive was agreed as in 2008 many countries were stating that their target would be difficult to meet. Now the majority are forecasting that they will meet or exceed their national target," said Justin Wilkes, EWEA policy director.
2.4. EU biofuels significantly harming food production in developing countries
15 February 2010, Guardian
EU biofuels 10% targets cause millions of peope to go hungry and increase food prices and landlessness, says report
EU companies have taken millions of acres of land out of food production in Africa, central America and Asia to grow biofuels for transport, according to development campaigners. The consequences of European biofuel targets, said the report by ActionAid, could be up to 100 million more hungry people, increased food prices and landlessness.
The report says the 2008 decision by EU countries to obtain 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 is proving disastrous for poor countries. Developing countries are expected to grow nearly two-thirds of the jatropha, sugar cane and palm oil crops that are mostly used for biofuels.
"To meet the EU 10% target, the total land area directly required to grow industrial biofuels in developing countries could reach 17.5m hectares, over half the size of Italy. Additional land will also be required in developed nations, displacing food and animal feed crops onto land in new areas, often in developing countries," says the report.
Biofuels are estimated by the IMF to have been responsible for 20-30% of the global food price spike in 2008 when 125m tonnes of cereals were diverted into biofuel production. The amount of biofuels in Europe’s car fuels is expected to quadruple in the next decade.
The report attributes the massive growth in biofuel production to generous subsidies. It estimates that the EU biofuel industry has already received €4.4bn (£3.82bn) in incentives, subsidies and tax relief and that this could triple to over €13.7bn if the EU meets its 2020 target.
The greatest support to the industry is exemption from excise duties. Duty at the pump is 20 pence less per litre compared to conventional fuels although this exemption due to end in 2010, a change which supermarket Morrisons cited last week as the reason for dropping one of its biodiesel blends. In 2009, the duty on low- sulphur petrol and diesel in the UK was 54.19 pence per litre; for biodiesel and ethanol it was 34.19 pence per litre.
"Biofuels are driving a global human tragedy. Local food prices have already risen massively. As biofuel production gains pace, this can only accelerate," said report author Tim Rice. He added thatbiofuels are not even an answer to climate change: "Most biofuels are worse than the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace." . Large scale biofuel plantations can increase carbon dioxide emissions, either directly by cutting down forests or ploughing up other carbon rich habitats, or indirectly by forcing farmers to move into these areas. Separately, the UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics is currently consulting on the ethics of biofuels – how to ensure a new generation of biofuels don’t increase greenhouse gas emissions and take food from the poor to fuel cars.
The ActionAid report says Europe is just one region now greatly increasing the amount of biofuels in transport fuel. Analysis of US farm data last month by the Earth Policy Institute in Washington showed that one-quarter of all the maize and other grain crops grown in the US now ends up as biofuel in cars. The grain grown to produce the fuel in the US in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels.
If all global biofuel government targets are met, says ActionAid, food prices could rise by up to an additional 76% by 2020 with an extra 600 million extra people going hungry – six times as much as European policies alone.
3.1. Poland May Seek 5.5% Increase in Its EU Carbon Quota (Update1)
16 February 2010, Bloomberg
Poland may seek a 5.5 percent increase its carbon-dioxide emission quota under the European Union’s cap-and-trade system after an EU court overturned limits imposed by the bloc’s regulator.
Poland , whose current annual emissions cap is 208.5 million tons, may “try to squeeze 220 million tons” in negotiations with the European Commission, Environment Minister Andrzej Kraszewski said today in an interview in Radio PiN. The central European country originally sought a 284.6 million-ton annual maximum for the period from 2008 through 2012, a request that the EU regulator rejected, prompting Poland to sue.
Since court verdicts in September 2009 struck down the commission’s decisions on pollution limits for Poland and Estonia, the EU’s executive has been scrambling to protect the bloc’s emissions-trading program and prevent an oversupply of permits. It has said that any review of allocations to those countries would probably result in the same limits because industrial discharges were reduced by the recession.
“It’s a fact that we won a case against the commission, but it doesn’t mean that we can reach our dream quotas,” Kraszewski said. “The commission has its arguments, I love negotiations, and we’ll see how they go, but surely it won’t be 280 million tons.”
The EU lower court said the commission has “very restricted” authority to review national plans for allocating carbon allowances. In response, the EU appealed the verdicts for Poland and Estonia in December, saying the court “has interpreted too narrowly the power of the commission.”
Until any new EU decisions on their national allocation plans, the two countries aren’t allowed to issue additional permits, according to the commission. Poland’s annual cap of 208.5 million tons in 2008-2012 represents about 10 percent of the overall EU limit on energy and manufacturing companies in the system, the world’s biggest carbon market.
EU permits for December rose as much as 1.5 percent to 13.33 euros a metric ton today on London’s European Climate Exchange. They are down 12 percent in the past six months amid concerns about oversupply and the failure of the global climate change summit in Copenhagen in December to set binding emission- reduction targets.
The commission wants to convince Poland that its court victory doesn’t justify a higher carbon ceiling because of the need for stability in the bloc’s emissions-trading system, Jos Delbeke, the commission’s deputy director general for environment, said in November. Any reassessment of the current cap may justify a tighter limit because of emission reductions resulting from the economic slump, he said.
15 February 2010, T&E
Expanding the EU’s Eurovignette directive to cover pollution, noise and congestion would not disadvantage peripheral member states and would bring net benefits of at least €2.3 billion a year.
Those are among the conclusions of a revised ‘technical note’ by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) following the breakdown of negotiations on the Eurovignette revision last year. Current EU rules on charging lorries for using road infrastructure prohibit governments or authorities from charging for ‘externalities’, despite EU transport policy being committed to internalising such costs.
The breakdown in negotiations came amid concerns that expanding the Eurovignette would make road transport more expensive and thus disadvantage peripheral regions. The JRC note says ‘the overall benefits of charging for external costs outweigh the limited negative price impacts on individual transport operators’.
It says the net benefits of expanding the scope for charging will be around €2.3 billion a year, plus additional benefits resulting from reduced congestion. And it shows that nations at the periphery of Europe will benefit as the shift of international traffic to less congested areas will compensate for increases in the costs of trade, as well as benefiting from more efficient, sustainable and safe transport systems.
Although the JRC note ought to increase the chances of getting agreement on an expanded Eurovignette, it comes at a time when Spain holds the EU presidency, and Spain has been strongly opposed to increasing road user charges.
4.2. First climate change commissioner targets lorries and cars for emissions cuts
15 February 2010, T&E
The EU’s new climate change commissioner is promising an initiative on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from lorries, and says the existing agreement to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars could be tightened to provide greater incentives to car makers.
Last month’s hearings in the European Parliament, at which MEP were able to question the nominated commissioner before approving them for their new posts, gave the first indications about Connie Hedegaard and her brief for the new post of climate change commissioner.
Hedegaard was adamant that targeting transport will be a central part of her job, suggesting her work will be at least as significant for T&E than that of the new environment commissioner Janez Potocnik and the new transport commissioner Siim Kallas.
On the subject of the current EU target for the average new car to emit no more than 130 grams per kilometre of CO2 by 2015, Hedegaard said, ‘It can be important to try and review whether we went far enough at the time, because this is a field where technology is really moving very fast.’
‘Often we’ve seen industry will protest and say it’s going to be extremely difficult, in fact it’s almost impossible, but then it turns out that when we do these things, we can often do it quicker than assessed before, and claimed before, and they can do it even more ambitiously.’
Her comments came as official data showed that emissions from passenger cars fell by 3.3% to 153.5 g/km in 2008. This confirms figures published by T&E last September and is evidence that the mandatory target is bringing down emissions much more quickly than voluntary agreements have ever done.
Hedegaard added, ‘We have still not done what the EU should do on lorries.’ Information from the Commission suggests she is keen to tackle emissions of greenhouse gases from the heaviest vehicles. She is also reported to believe that failure to reduce CO2 emissions from vans and lorries will be bad for business in the long term.
What form Hedegaard’s intentions will take remains to be seen. She says she will table an ‘integrated legislative package on climate and transport’ during her five-year mandate, but admits she may have ‘a bit of a fight’ with some other commissioners who see dealing with climate change as an obstacle to their own ambitions.
T&E director Jos Dings said, ‘It is encouraging to hear that Connie Hedegaard is keen to address transport’s excessive contribution to EU greenhouse gases, and coming straight from chairing December’s climate change summit in Copenhagen, she clearly has a strong grasp of what needs to be done.’
‘However, we will have to judge her on what she does, not what she says. The last environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, started with very few promises about what he would do but developed into an effective environment commissioner. We obviously hope Connie Hedegaard can be even more effective during her five years.’
In his hearing before MEPs, Kallas made commitments in principle to decarbonising transport and internalising external costs, as well as expressing reservations about longer and heavier lorries. ‘Transport is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions,’ he said, ‘and the only sector where emissions have significantly increased. Delivering the means to decarbonise transport will be a key policy goal for the new Commission.’
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