1.1. Europe fails to find its feet after Copenhagen
15 March 2010, EurActiv
European Environment Ministers met today to discuss the next steps after the failure of the UN conference in Copenhagen last December. While it is positive that they stick to the existing negotiating texts under the Kyoto Protocol as the basis for a future agreement, Friends of the Earth Europe believes that the Council’s conclusions have shortcomings which prevent the EU from achieving a strong and fair solution to the climate crisis.
Esther Bollendorff, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said “It’s difficult to understand why politicians are so reluctant to take measures which will bring real change for the better. 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 2020 will not harm us, but will tackle climate change, create millions of new jobs, ensure energy security and create health benefits, while respecting the rights of the world’s poorest to development. To fully realise their responsibility for dealing with the climate crisis, the EU must also put sufficient money on the table that is additional to Official Development Assistance.”
The Council has been reluctant to increase the EU’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. This is in contrast with the Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who has expressed support for an unconditional move up to 30%. The Ministers’ position also stands in contradiction with the EU’s long term objective to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050, reiterated in these conclusions. Friends of the Earth Europe in partnership with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has conducted research showing that 40% cuts by 2020 and 90% by 2050 without offsetting are technically feasible in Europe. Scientists have confirmed that this is the scale of reductions needed to stay well below a 2°C global temperature increase.
Also, Minsters have not ensured that the EU’s short term finance commitments will be additional to already existing funds for Official Development Assistance. This will only result in cutting the basic development budget needed for poverty alleviation, building schools or hospitals and ensuring access to water. The research conducted by FoEE and SEI indicates that the currently proposed finance levels are light years away from what is actually needed to ensure that the most vulnerable regions in the world can undergo a sustainable development based on efficiency and renewable energy sources.
1.2. EU climate chief urges U.S. to act
19 March 2010, The Washington Times
The European Union’s point woman on global warming Thursday pressed the U.S. government to step up its efforts to forge an international climate deal, arguing that both the EU and the U.S. will reap benefits from an accord.
"In the end, we think that those who will be leading this economically will also be the ones who will lead politically in the world of the 21st century," said Connie Hedegaard, EU commissioner for climate action. "Those who become the most energy-efficient will also benefit economically."
Ms. Hedegaard helped chair the December U.N. climate change gathering in Copenhagen, one that even organizers said fell far short of its original expectations. President Obama’s major energy policy, including a "cap-and-trade" system to curb greenhouse gas emissions, faces an uncertain future in the Senate after passing the House last summer.
And new opinion surveys in the United States find growing skepticism among voters about some of the claims of the dangers of global warming.
A Gallup poll released earlier this week found that popular concern about many top environmental issues is at a "20-year low." It also found that public worries over eight green-related issues – from air pollution to the state of rain forests – have dropped by as much as nine percentage points in the last year alone.
In an address at the National Press Building, Ms. Hedegaard said the United States and the EU would receive a number of benefits from a joint effort to revive a global approach to climate change. "If we do this intelligently, we can pick tools in addressing climate change that at the same time will benefit energy security, it will benefit environment, it will benefit air quality and it will benefit gross and innovation," she said.
If the United States fails to lead, she warned, "others will harvest gains." Ms. Hedegaard said China, South Korea, Brazil and India are moving quickly to deal with climate change. She added it was "crucial" for Washington to send a signal to developing economies of its commitment and willingness to act.
Ms. Hedegaard said the EU’s new strategy is expected to help make Europe the "most climate-friendly region in the world" by cutting emissions by 20 percent in the next decade, compared to emissions levels in 1990. She said the European bloc would even increase the reductions to 30 percent if other major nations agree to corresponding cuts..
The next U.N. climate summit will take place at the end of the year in Cancun, Mexico. The EU climate minister said participating nations "must manage expectations carefully" and "focus on specific deliverables" to avoid the disappointments that came in the wake of the Copenhagen gathering.
"If it fails this time, then there will be a risk," Ms. Hedegaard said. "If nothing came out of U.S., where would that leave the rest of the world?"
1.3. Bolivia creates a new opportunity for climate talks that failed at Copenhagen
18 March 2010, The Guardian
Bolivia will host an international meeting on climate change next month because it is not prepared to ‘betray its people’.
In the aftermath of the Copenhagen climate conference, those who defended the widely condemned outcome tended to talk about it as a "step in the right direction". This was always a tendentious argument, given that tackling climate change can not be addressed by half measures. We can’t make compromises with nature.
Bolivia, however, believed that Copenhagen marked a backwards step, undoing the work built on since the climate talks in Kyoto. That is why, against strong pressure from industrialised countries, we and other developing nations refused to sign the Copenhagen accord and why we are hosting an international meeting on climate change next month. In the words of the Tuvalu negotiator, we were not prepared to "betray our people for 30 pieces of silver".
Our position was strongly criticised by several industrialised countries, who did their brazen best to blame the victims of climate change for their own unwillingness to act. However, recent communications by the European Commission have confirmed why we were right to oppose the Copenhagen accord.
In a report called International climate policy post-Copenhagen (pdf), the commission confirmed that the pledges by developed countries are equal to between 13.2% and 17.8% in emissions reductions by 2020 – far below the required 40%-plus reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to less than 2C degrees.
The situation is even worse once you take into account what are called "banking of surplus emission budgets" and "accounting rules for land use, land use change and forestry". The Copenhagen accord would actually allow for an increase in developed country emissions of 2.6% above 1990 levels. This is hardly a forward step.
This is not just about gravely inadequate commitments, it is also about process. Whereas before, under the Kyoto protocol, developed countries were legally bound to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage, now countries can submit whatever targets they want without a binding commitment.
This dangerous approach to climate negotiations is like building a dam where everyone contributes as many bricks as they want regardless of whether it stops the river.
The Copenhagen accord opens the dam and condemns millions. Various estimates suggest that the commitments made under the accord would lead to increases of between three to four degrees celsius – a level that many scientists consider disastrous for human life and our ecosystems.
For Bolivia, the disastrous outcome of Copenhagen was further proof that climate change is not the central issue in negotiations. For rich countries, the key issues in negotiations were finance, carbon markets, competitiveness of countries and corporations, business opportunities along with discussions about the political makeup of the US Senate. There was surprisingly little focus on effective solutions for reducing carbon emissions.
President Evo Morales of Bolivia observed that the best way to put climate change solutions at the heart of the talks was to involve the people. In contrast to much of the official talks, the hundreds of civil society organisations, communities, scientists and faith leaders present in Copenhagen clearly prioritised the search for effective, just solutions to climate change against narrow economic interests.
To advance an agenda based on effective just solutions, Bolivia is therefore hosting a Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth on 19-22 April, and inviting everyone to participate. Unlike Copenhagen, there will be no secret discussions behind closed doors. Moreover the debate and proposals will be led by communities on the frontlines of climate change and by organisations and individuals dedicated to tackling the climate crisis. All 192 governments in the UN have also been invited to attend and encouraged to listen to the voices of civil society and together develop common proposals.
We hope that this unique format will help shift power back to the people, which is where it needs to be on this critical issue for all humanity. We don’t expect agreement on everything, but at least we can start to discuss openly and sincerely in a way that didn’t happen in Copenhagen.
2.1. T&E and other NGOs take legal action against Commission
18 March2010, T&E
Officials are holding back evidence of biofuels’ land-use impact. A coalition of four environmental organisations, including T&E, has filed a legal action against the European Commission over its refusal to release documents that are vital to the debate on biofuels.
The Commission is sitting on studies that show the environmental impact of indirect land use change (Iluc) caused by producing biofuels. One leading ofcial is so alarmed at the studies that he says Iluc will ‘kill biofuels in the EU’.
It has taken a while for the issue of indirect land-use change (Iluc) to flter through to EU policy-making, but it is now happening in dramatic fashion.
With the EU committed to having 10% of its transport fuels coming from renewable sources – mostly fuels produced from biomass – by 2020, member states have already agreed that fuels that do not save less than 35% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels cannot count towards the 10% target. And they have asked the Commission to look at the environmental impact of Iluc and propose any changes regarding which fuels can count towards the biofuels target.
The Commission now has studies that show the negative impacts of deforesting or converting land to grow crops for biofuels production. A group of environmental activists and lawyers and associated correspondence want the studies – contained in around 200 documents – released for public view.
Two studies seen by T&E show that an additional 5.2 million hectares of land would be needed. The head of the Commission’s agriculture directorate Jean-Luc Demarty had reportedly written a note to a colleague in the energy directorate saying: ‘An unguided use of Iluc would kill biofuels in the EU’.
T&E requested access to the studies on 15 October 2009. Under EU ‘access to documents’ rules, the material should have been made available within 30 days, but the Commission delayed, and then on 9 February, 117 days after the original application, said it needed additional time, which in legal terms is the same as rejecting the request. Earlier this month, T&E and three NGOs led by the environmental law organisation ClientEarth, began legal proceedings in the EU’s General Court (formerly the court of frst instance), claiming the Commission committed several violations of fundamental EU laws.
T&E policy ofcer Nusa Urbancic said: ‘These reports need to be released so the public can see the full facts. Failure to do so sets a dangerous precedent that EU institutions may delay the release of documents until after a policy decision has been made. This is incompatible with democracy. In addition, what is especially worrying is that we are seeing a pattern of the science being ignored or modifed to fit policy objectives.’
While the Commission has declined to publish its Iluc information, the British government has released a report on what impact Great Britain’s 13% biofuels target for transport would have on forests and other undeveloped land. The fndings, produced by a consultancy called E4tech, show that some of the most commonly-used biofuel crops (such as palm oil, rape seed and soy) fail to meet the EU’s minimum sustainability standard and would in some cases be worse than fossil fuels when the impacts of Iluc are included.
3.1. EU blocks re-use of offsets, BluexNext to resume
18 March2010, Reuters
The European Commission said on Thursday it would prevent from August the re-entry into its emissions trading scheme of carbon permits which companies had already used for compliance with their emissions caps.
The BlueNext carbon exchange on Wednesday had suspended CER trading after it found that "used" permits had traded on its exchange, and said on Thursday that it would resume such trade on March 22, having made it "impossible to trade recycled CERs."
The European Union executive said it would from Friday suspend the process where companies counted carbon offsets against their emissions, except during a two-week period leading up to an April 30 deadline to comply with 2009 caps.
The move would not prevent carbon trading. It was precipitated by trade of permits called certified emissions reductions (CERs) on the Paris-based BlueNext exchange, after companies had already submitted the same allowances against their targets.
The Commission said in a statement that it would amend trading rules from August to prevent "re-entry of already surrendered CERs" into emissions trading accounts, in the scheme meant to fight climate change.
"There is an urgent need to address the market uncertainty," it said.
Last week Hungary said it had sold CERs to a Hungarian trading house, after Hungarian companies had already submitted these against their emissions targets, with the understanding that they could not be re-used in the EU scheme.
The Budapest trade was legal, exploiting a loophole under the U.N.-backed Kyoto Protocol, but it would be illegal for a company to count the permits against their emissions in Europe, making them invalid there.
The EU executive’s move on Thursday prevented such carbon offsets from re-entering the EU emissions trading scheme at all.
"It’s the right thing to do," said one trader.
Budapest said that when it had sold the CERs it made clear these were only valid for sale to non-European buyers.
That threw a focus on Thursday on the identity of the trading firm which had subsequently sold the CERs without a buyer beware warning, leading them to appear on BlueNext.
Hungarian environment ministry chief Jozsef Molnar told Reuters that it was agreed at a meeting with BlueNext on Thursday that the name of that firm would not be revealed.
Budapest did not rule out selling more CERs, using the same loophole. "We will not take any further steps until we learn the European Commission’s new rules," Molnar said.
The week’s developments were the latest setback for the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).
Last year fraudsters perpetrated a 5 billion euro pan-EU VAT fraud, adding to technical and over-supply glitches in its five-year history. The scheme now faces low prices in the wake of recession. Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62H3FT20100318
4.1. EU climate ambition is still too weak to spark green economic recovery
15 March 2010, Greenpeace
European environment ministers convened in Brussels today to discuss new EU climate policies. Greenpeace warned that the policies are unlikely to send businesses a clear signal to support green investments in innovation and energy efficiency. Both on international climate negotiations and on the more technical file of CO2 emission standards for vans, environment ministers are expected to favour a business-as-usual approach. Ministers are also expected to support European Commission plans to conduct new research on what policies are needed for an upgrade of the EU’s 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction target to 30%.
Greenpeace EU climate policy adviser Joris den Blanken said: “A higher EU carbon emissions reduction target would boost economic recovery and create millions of green jobs. Because of the recession, reaching a higher emission target is cheaper and would be an incentive for new green investments. The EU’s current emission reduction target of 20% will do little to encourage innovation and make Europe more competitive on the global market.”
Recent independent analysis by research group Ecofys showed that an increase of the EU’s emission reduction target to 30% would not result in extra costs. In many cases, the report says, increased climate ambition would bring about tangible economic benefits through, for example, energy savings with better insulated buildings. Greenpeace calls for the EU to adopt an unconditional emission reduction target of 30% by 2020, as a first step to a 40% reduction for all industrialised countries.
CO2 emissions from vans
Environment ministers will also debate proposals to set limits on CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles (vans) that are sold in the EU. Ministers from car-producing nations, such as Germany, France and Italy, are expected to oppose increased fuel efficiency by 2020, as put forward by the European Commission. Greenpeace believes that CO2 emissions from vans should be cut by 40% by 2020, in line with existing similar commitments for passenger cars.
5.1. Climate Justice and Energy Campaigner
We are looking for an energetic and enthusiastic person to join the international FoEE team (12 month cover for maternity leave). The position is based in Brussels, full time, and runs ideally from May 2010 until April 2011.
This is a unique opportunity to work with our Climate Justice and Energy team to influence the EU to take up its responsibility in fighting climate change and bringing people’s voices to decision-makers.
Jointly with national Friends of the Earth groups in 18 countries we are running the “Big Ask” campaign demanding that Europe cuts its emissions by 40% in 2020 and 100% in 2050 without offsetting, and provides its fair share of finances for helping developing countries to tackle climate change. Friends of the Earth is also starting to build up work on energy efficiency in housing.
FoE Europe campaigns for sustainable and just societies and for the protection of the environment. It unites more than 31 national organisations with thousands of local groups, and is part of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.
If you are interested in this position please send an e-mail letter, explaining your background and motivation with an attached CV and contact details for two references to [email protected] by midnight on Wednesday 8th April 2010. Your letter of motivation should highlight how your skills and experience are well-suited to the exact requirements of this position. Short-listed candidates will be contacted by 14th April.
Interviews are expected to take place in Brussels 22nd-23rd April.
Thank you for the interest you have shown in working with Friends of the Earth Europe.
We look forward to receiving your application.
More at: http://www.foeeurope.org/job/ClimateCampaigner_Mar10.html
5.2. Senior Public Affairs Officer, Marine and Fisheries Programme, Brussels, Belgium
WWF, the global conservation organisation, is looking to fill a full-time position in its Brussels European Policy Office (WWF-EPO) to work as Senior Public Affairs Officer, Marine and Fisheries Programme.
The post holder will represent WWF’s positions on fisheries and marine conservation matters principally to the EU institutions. She/he will provide strategic advice and leadership and support to the marine and fisheries team in the WWF European network of national organisations, including engaging with key industry sectors.
The successful candidate will have a university degree in a relevant discipline and at least six years of professional experience. He/she will have significant experience with EU institutions, and possess strong communications and interpersonal skills. Fluency in English and proficiency in another European language are required.
The post will be offered under a Belgian contract.
Application letter and CV should reach WWF-EPO no later than 31st March 2010 and be sent to [email protected]
6.1. Earth Hour 2010
In 2009 hundreds of millions of people around the world showed their support by turning off their lights for one hour.
Earth Hour 2010 will continue to be a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community. A call to stand up, to show leadership and be responsible for our future.
Pledge your support here and turn off your lights for one hour, Earth Hour, 8.30pm, Saturday 27th March 2010.
It’s Showtime! Show what can be done.
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].