1.1. Merkel and Sarkozy throw down climate gauntlet to Obama
19 November 2009, Greenpeace
Greenpeace calls on EU environment ministers to back upgrading of emission reduction target
Greenpeace welcomed this evening’s statements by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen on the Copenhagen climate negotiations. Speaking ahead of a EU summit in Brussels, President Sarkozy urged world leaders to deliver “binding rules” and “binding commitments” in Copenhagen in December. Greenpeace fully supports the call to avoid “negative compromises” in Copenhagen.
“Merkel and Sarkozy have shown the world that the ball is firmly in Obama’s court. For Copenhagen to be more than a photo op, Obama must turn his campaign promises into action. Copenhagen must deliver what the planet needs: a comprehensive and binding climate deal,” said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate policy director.
The EU can also do more to improve the chances of success in Copenhagen. On Monday 23 November, European environment ministers will meet in Brussels, in the presence of UN climate chief Yvo de Boer, for a final discussion on EU pledges for the future climate agreement. EU governments have so far committed to a unilateral 20% emission reduction target by 2020 and a 30% target under a new climate agreement. But thanks to various loopholes, such as carbon offsetting, and emission reductions stemming from the economic slowdown, the EU is on the verge of meeting its 20% target already with no new effort whatsoever.
“If the EU is really committed to getting a strong deal in Copenhagen, it must unilaterally upgrade its emission reduction target for 2020. This would send a powerful signal to the negotiations,” said den Blanken. Scientists are calling for a 40% reduction in emissions in industrialised countries by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, in order to keep global warming below dangerous levels.
1.2. Copenhagen summit will be ‘success’: UN climate chief
20 November 2009, Yahoo
Efforts to craft a comprehensive climate treaty in Copenhagen next month will certainly "yield a success," the UN’s top climate official pledged on Thursday.
"There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that it will yield a success," said Yvo de Boer, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
"I’ve seen some recent reports that said that Copenhagen has failed even before it starts and I must say that those reports are simply wrong," he insisted ahead of the December 7-18 meeting in the Danish capital of negotiators from 192 countries.
"Almost every day now we see new commitments and pledges from both industrialized and developing countries," de Boer said, citing announcements from Brazil and South Korea on national plans to reduce emissions "in a very, very significant way."
Japan has also tabled a "very generous offer of upfront financing to help developing countries on mitigation and adaptation" to climate change, he said.
"The political leadership that so many leaders promised at the UN climate change summit in September is alive, it is well and it will lead to success in Copenhagen," de Boer added.
US President Barack Obama, he said, has demonstrated "incredible courage and leadership" and wants a "strong" policy agreement on the issue.
"I am confident that the president of the United States can come to Copenhagen with targets and a financial commitment," he said.
The UN climate chief framed the summit positively following the meeting of 44 environment ministers from key countries in Copenhagen that aimed at laying the groundwork for a political agreement at next month’s conference.
Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard described the preparatory talks as "very constructive."
Obama earlier this week, meanwhile, said China and the United States wanted the Copenhagen summit to culminate in a global accord that had "immediate operational effect."
We "agreed to work toward a successful outcome in Copenhagen," Obama told journalists after talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.
China and the United States together account for 37.5 percent of global emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Their positions are seen as key to the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, a two-year process that aims at building a post-2012 planet-wide treaty on tackling climate change to replace Kyoto, which remains the only international agreement limiting the output of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases.
Late last month, de Boer signalled caution ahead of the summit, saying it is "physically impossible under any scenario to complete every detail of a treaty in Copenhagen."
Developing nations have called for wealthy economies to cut their emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, and to provide around one percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) per year, or around 400 billion dollars, in finance.
So far, no rich country has come anywhere close to meeting such a demand.
De Boer has also recalled, however, that it took eight years to negotiate, sign and ratify Kyoto.
1.3. Voting opens for Angry Mermaid Award for worst climate lobbying
16 November 2009, FOEE
The damaging impacts of corporate lobbying on international efforts to fight climate change are exposed today with the announcement of the eight candidates for the Angry Mermaid Award 2009.
The Angry Mermaid Award is named after the iconic Copenhagen mermaid who is angry about the destruction being caused by climate change.
Thousands of members of the public are expected to vote at www.angrymermaid.org between today and Sunday 13 December for the candidate which they believe has done the most to sabotage effective action to tackle climate change.
Lobby groups representing oil, coal, aviation, the chemicals industry and emissions trading are all on the shortlist for the Angry Mermaid Award 2009, alongside biotech company Monsanto, oil giant Shell and energy company Sasol.
The winner of the angry mermaid award will be announced at the Copenhagen climate talks on Tuesday 15 December 2009.
The eight nominees for the Angry Mermaid Award are:
* American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity – for pushing “clean” coal and for employing a lobby firm which ran a fraudulent letter writing campaign, sending fake letters to the US Congress on the US climate bill.
* American Petroleum Industry (API) – for spending millions of dollars on lobbying against US climate legislation, including setting up an “astroturf” campaign to create the illusion of strong grassroots opposition.
* European Chemical Lobby (Cefic) – for lobbying for free permits under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, undermining the EU’s main measure to cut carbon emissions
* International Air Transport Association (IATA) – for promoting weak voluntary efforts to cut emissions from aviation in an attempt to pre-empt international legislation.
* International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) – for promoting emissions trading and carbon offsetting as the solution to climate change, despite the lack of evidence of real emissions cuts.
* Monsanto – a biotech giant, for lobbying for carbon credits for genetically modified crops and promoting GM crops as a solution to climate change.
* Sasol – for lobbying for carbon capture and storage as a way to clean up synfuel manufacture – where coal is converted to petrol using vast amounts of energy and generating huge levels of carbon emissions.
* Shell – for lobbying for financial and political support for carbon capture and storage while investing massively in environmentally destructive oil extraction from the Canadian tar sands.
Paul de Clerk from Friends of the Earth International, one of the groups organising the awards, said: “All the candidates for the Angry Mermaid Award have lobbied to protect their own profits and prevent effective action to tackle climate change. As world leaders struggle to reach agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the influence of major polluters and lobbyists, and many others, needs to be exposed. We cannot tackle climate change and continue with business as usual – and that is what these companies and lobby groups want to do.”
The Angry Mermaid Award is organised by Attac Denmark, Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth International, Focus on the Global South and Spinwatch.
For more information see www.angrymermaid.org
1.4. EU ministers to outline expectations for Copenhagen
20 November 2009, EurActiv
EU environment ministers will meet on Monday (23 November) to define what a successful outcome of Copenhagen’s UN climate conference next month would entail.
The Swedish EU Presidency hopes that the additional meeting will help clarify the EU’s take on an acceptable agreement now that it has become clear that only a political agreement will be possible at this stage.
One difficult question to be answered is how tightly Europe wants the UN meeting to bind the process towards a legally-binding text, an EU diplomat told EurActiv.
"It’s in the EU’s interest to get as part of the deal a very precise road map," he said, adding that ministers would probably discuss a concrete timetable towards a legally binding text.
EU leaders are demanding that the framework to be settled in Copenhagen must contain binding commitments, even though the text to give it legal effect will not be hammered out until next year (EurActiv 20/11/09).
Moreover, the EU’s own pledge to up its 20% emissions cut target to 30% by 2020 in case of an ambitious agreement will probably come up in the lunch discussions, the diplomat said. He explained that as any agreement in Copenhagen will not be legally enforceable, the EU must decide whether it can still commit to higher obligations.
Nevertheless, the EU is still officially working on the assumption that the conclusions of the conference next month must include binding targets for all developed countries.
Ultimately, EU heads of state and government will retain the right to finalise the Union’s commitment when they meet in Brussels on 10-11 December, with most of them set to travel to Copenhagen afterwards to take the temperature of where negotiations are heading, the official pointed out.
While the European Commission and many Western EU member states are keen to push forward an ambitious climate protection goal, most of the new member states from Central and Europe are expected to try to put a break on further commitments (EurActiv 14/10/09).
Minor clarification on funding expected
Another major outstanding point, funding for the new agreement, is not likely to progress at Monday’s meeting, the diplomat said. Environment ministers are not ideally placed to influence financial flows as doing so might be considered stepping on finance ministers’ territory.
EU heads of state and government last month said that in total, €100 billion a year would be needed to fund emissions reductions and adaptation in poor countries. They estimated that international public financing would have to cover between €22 and €50 billion a year, but did not commit the EU to any specific sums before other parties come clean with their own offers.
The Swedish Presidency would, however, like to clarify the EU’s take on US proposals to set up a climate fund that would be administered at least partially by the UN, the diplomat said. Although debated internationally, the EU has yet to take a unified position.
Before discussion over lunch, environment ministers will be briefed on the state of negotiations by UN climate chief Yvo de Boer and Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, who is hosting the Copenhagen talks. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will give an account of progress towards commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and greenhouse gas reduction proposals by other countries.
2.1. WWF Disappointed by Poor Energy Efficiency in Buildings Directive
18 November 2009, EurActiv
Yesterday, the new Energy Efficiency in Buildings Directive (EPBD) was finalised with a highly disappointing outcome. The agreed text reflects neither the ambitions nor the urgency required to put a stop to the waste of energy in European buildings, responsible for 40% final EU energy use and 36% greenhouse gas emissions.
The new EPBD was presented as a breakthrough. Indeed, new buildings will be at nearly zero energy consumption under the new EPBD, and this energy should be supplied by renewables to a very significant level. However, the deadline for nearly zero energy consumption is not until 2021, and new construction accounts for just a very small percentage of all buildings (1% per year).
Contrary to the previous text, this Directive covers all buildings irrespective of size, starting in 2013. Still missing are clear targets requiring Member States to renovate their existing building stock in a specific time frame. Also, no additional financing was foreseen either from EU or from national budgets to speed up renovations.
“Unfortunately there is no provision at all which ensures that laggard Member States will improve their building regulations. As a consequence, citizens will continue to spend a lot of money to warm the climate instead of their homes”, says Arianna Vitali, Energy Policy Officer at WWF.
2.2. EU agrees on new energy-efficiency labels
19 November 2009, EurActiv
The Swedish EU Presidency struck a deal on 17 November with the European Parliament on a new energy label for household appliances which will add more classes to the closed A-G format.
After months of wrangling over the format, EU lawmakers settled on an energy label to which additional ‘A’ classes can be added on top of the traditional best-performing ‘A’ category. The highest possible class will now be A+++.
Updating the scale became necessary because a large number of products have ended up in the highest energy-efficiency class after years of technological development. The Parliament fought to retain the closed ‘A to G’ scale, which has become familiar to European consumers, but industry and some member states were adamant that their efficiency rating should not be downgraded.
MEPs managed to limit the additional ‘A’ classes to three, but the solution was nevertheless criticised by environmentalists and consumer groups as confusing for consumers. The compromise deal stipulates that the new scale will be revised once "a significant number of products" have reached the top two classes.
The different classes will marked with a colour code ranging from dark green for most efficient products to red for most wasteful ones. This is designed to help consumers navigate their way towards the most efficient products.
Extending to energy-related products
The agreement also extends energy labelling from household goods to all energy-related products, like windows and outer doors that do not directly use energy but help to save it. Energy-consuming commercial and industrial products like cold storage rooms or vending machines will also come with an energy label in future.
Label to be included in adverts
The agreement requires advertisement promoting the price or energy efficiency of white goods to indicate the product’s energy class. In addition, all manuals, brochures and other technical promotion will have to indicate the product’s efficiency class or energy consumption to allow consumers to make energy-saving purchases.
Member states were also urged to consider energy-efficient products in public procurement, but the new directive will not include any binding requirements.
EU ministers must formally approve the compromise agreement before the Parliament can sign it off at the beginning of next year.
Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs argued that the new Labelling Directive will contribute significantly towards the EU’s energy savings target. "This agreement paves the way to adopt legislation on a wide range of products in the future that helps us to honour our commitment on the reduction of CO2 emissions," he said.
Green MEP Satu Hassi regretted that even if the European Parliament managed to restrict the A grades to three above a standard A, too many products will still be awarded an A grade of some sort. "It devalues the difference between the better energy efficiency performers – equivalent to replacing Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals with gold+, gold++ and gold+++," she pointed out.
Hassi added that the provisions for public procurement were disappointing: "Member states have the scope to require that public procurement contractors use the most energy-efficient products and I call on them to take this easy step to boost climate protection efforts in their countries."
MEP Lena Ek (ALDE, Sweden), shadow rapporteur on the file, is convinced that the directive will improve energy efficiency standards in the industry. "An eco-efficient economy will only be possible where consumers have the power to make informed choices. That is what we have fought for," she said.
WWF accused decision-makers of buying time until the 2014 revision with the three additional A-grades. "Already now, the text introduces a possibility of reclassifying the labels during the next revision – which clearly shows a lack of confidence in the new system. We can only hope that despite all the back and forth on labelling, consumers will learn to identify the most efficient products and even more so, buy them," said Mariangiola Fabbri, energy policy officer at WWF.
Which? , a UK-based consumer association, argued that rescaling the closed A-G label would have been the simplest option for people to understand. In September 2009 a survey conducted by the group found that the traditional scale was the preferred option among the majority of respondents, with 86% ranking it ‘very easy’ or ‘fairly easy’ to understand.
3.1. Electric cars likely to lead to more CO2 because of EU legal loopholes
12 November 2009, T&E
Electric cars can play a role in cutting Europe’s carbon emissions but current EU legislation contains loopholes that are likely to lead to emissions and oil use going up, according to a new report published today by Transport & Environment.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called in September for transport to be ‘decarbonised’, highlighting the development of electric cars as a key aim. (1)
Binding EU targets for car CO2 emissions agreed last December include ‘supercredits’ that enable carmakers to sell up to 3.5 gas-guzzling SUVs for every electric vehicle they sell and still reach their official EU target. Electric cars are also counted as ‘zero emissions’ despite the fact that the electricity they use can come from high-carbon fossil fuels such as coal. (2)
The combined effect of these loopholes would be that carmakers who choose to market electric cars to meet EU targets, would have to do less to reduce emissions of conventional cars. The overall effect would be higher CO2 emissions and oil use.
Supercredits are also included in legislation proposed last month to improve the CO2 emissions of vans.
Transport & Environment is calling for current and future loopholes to be dropped and CO2 / fuel efficiency standards to be tightened further.
The report argues that industry and policymakers have relied in the past on distant ‘dream’ technologies to solve environmental problems rather than setting targets for CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency. Hydrogen, biofuels, and earlier interest in electric cars all came to nothing for different reasons but what they have in common is that they all distracted policymakers from forcing carmakers to improve fuel efficiency across the board.
Jos Dings, director of Transport & Environment said: “The game for policymakers is cutting emissions and reducing our dependence on oil, not promoting electric cars. The EU must not take its eye off the ball again, and get distracted by technological hype. For electric cars to be a success for the environment, and for the industry, pressure on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions for all cars must be kept up. Promoting electric cars without maintaining pressure on fuel efficiency standards, will kill any chance of success.”
The report also examines the implications of electric cars for the power sector. It argues that the EU needs to think hard about how it will ensure that the extra demand for electricity is met through renewable electricity and not more dirty coal. It notes that every car will need to be fitted with ‘smart meter’ technology to measure how much electricity is being consumed, and where that electricity came from.
Download the report at: http://www.transportenvironment.org/News/2009/11/Electric-cars-likely-to-lead-to-more-CO2-because-of-EU-legal-loopholes/
3.2. EU proposes global aviation and shipping targets for Copenhagen
16 November 2009, T&E
The EU has proposed a specific global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and shipping, but it has stepped back from committing the money that could be the key to making it happen. Last month, EU environment ministers agreed to put forward a proposal to cut emissions from aircraft by 10% and from shipping by 20% over the next 10 years (relative to 2005). The proposal, which has been approved by EU heads of government, is now a negotiating mandate for next month’s international climate change summit in Copenhagen.
The proposal was worked out as part of difficult discussions within the 27 member states on what the EU’s negotiating position should be in Copenhagen. Despite the agreement on aviation and shipping targets, finance ministers failed to find enough finance for developing countries for a meaningful successor to the Kyoto Protocol to be achievable. Developing nations have made it clear they will only agree to a new treaty if the developed world pays for their costs of reducing emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change.
In a worrying sign, EU finance ministers failed to agree to the kind of levels of finance likely to be required for a post-Kyoto agreement. They were also unwilling to say income from financial instruments used to reduce greenhouse gases from aircraft and ships – which could be up to €40 billion a year – should mainly be used for developing countries.
T&E gave a cautious welcome to the agreement, but condemned the low levels of ambition and stressed the need for climate finance to be part of the proposals. ‘We question why aviation and shipping are still being given special
treatment,’ said T&E policy officer Bill Hemmings. ‘The 10% and 20% reduction targets will still allow emissions from the two sectors more than one third above 1990 levels, while the EU says it will reduce emissions from other sectors by 20%, and possibly even 30% if a global agreement is reached at Copenhagen.’
The EU’s support at Copenhagen for global agreements on aviation and shipping is significant, but there are still many obstacles to be overcome before such an agreement becomes a reality. One is that the Kyoto Protocol required emissions cuts only from developed nations, something the developed world says must be extended to all countries because aviation and shipping are global sectors.
Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel said, ‘We have from the environment Council a complete negotiating mandate for Copenhagen, except for the finance.’ But with finance likely to be the key, the news that the EU is unlikely to be able to find the level of money needed to placate the developing nations could be a serious blow to the chances of a global agreement.
Even within the EU, there have been protests from nine of the poorest members of the 27-nation bloc, saying their economies cannot withstand a major contribution to developing nations. Many of the nine have significant numbers of surplus emissions rights called Assigned Amount Units which they want to sell, but western European nations fear there are so many of these that they could undermine the whole EU emissions commitment.
Hemmings added, ‘In this context, the potential of a global emissions trading scheme could be important, if revenue from the sale of emissions permits could be used to fund investment in low-emissions technology. Without financial help, the poorest nations will never agree to cutting aviation and shipping emissions at Copenhagen.’
Aviation and shipping together generate over 5% of total global carbon dioxide, but the figure is rising quickly. The two sectors are not covered by the Kyoto emissions reduction targets, and NGOs are keen to get an agreement at Copenhagen to avoid the International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Maritime Organisation being given continued responsibility for emissions reduction, as no agreements have been reached to reduce these emissions since the Kyoto summit 12 years ago.
3.3. Vans regulation carries fingerprints of strong industry lobbying
16 November 2009, T&E
Europe ’s first legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new vans has been published by the Commission. Although a significant development, the draft regulation has the fingerprints of fierce lobbying by the automotive industry, and even the EU’s environment commissioner regretted its reduced level of ambition.
The proposal is for the average new van to emit no more than 175 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2016. Yet that has been criticised both for being a weakening of the Commission’s initial proposals from 2007 – it suggested 175 g/km should be reached by 2012 and 160g by 2015 – and for being well below what the diesel car sector has achieved in the last two years.
Leaked reports suggested the Commission was willing to weaken its 2007 suggestion by accepting 175 g/km by mid-2013. But the automotive industry – through the leading van maker countries: France, Italy and Germany – lobbied the Commission for a phased introduction, saying the cost of new technology was still too much in the middle of a global recession.
As a result, the draft legislation proposes a phased introduction that says the average of 75% of new vans must meet the 175g target by 2014, 80% by 2015 and all by 2016. As the industry can select the lowest-CO2 vans for compliance in 2014 and 2015, the ‘phasing’ is effectively a delay. The EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said, ‘The level of ambition is not as high as it was initially, but it’s still an important decision.’
T&E, who had written with Greenpeace to the Commission president José Manuel Barroso asking for the toughest standards if the commitment he made in June to decarbonise the transport sector was to be taken seriously, was critical of the draft regulation. ‘The EU is once again weakening vehicle fuel efficiency standards,’ said T&E policy officer Kerstin Meyer. ‘It would be far better to invest precious financial resources in low-carbon technology than to waste them on importing oil.
‘EU governments have spent billions in recent months on subsidies for new vehicles, bailouts for automotive companies and loans of public money for developing low-carbon technology. By lobbying against fuel efficiency standards, the industry is showing it is more than happy to take taxpayers’ money and run.’
Average emissions from new vans in 2007 were 203 g/km, which means if the average new van meets the 175g target by 2016, it will mean a 14% reduction over nine years. By contrast, the best diesel cars have improved by up to 27% between 2007 and 2009, and with much of the technology for diesel cars being adaptable to vans, environmental NGOs say the standards should have been a lot stricter.
Further weakenings of the Commission’s original proposals are the postponement of plans to include bigger vans and minibuses, and the fact that a target of 135 g/km to be reached by 2020 will now be subject to review rather than fixed.
The British transport ministry has launched a colour-coded Used Car Fuel Economy Label, giving buyers of used cars ‘at a glance information’ on running costs, fuel consumption and environmental performance. If enough car dealers participate in the scheme, it could prove influential as experience has shown fuel consumption to be more important to buyers of used cars than buyers of new cars.
3.4. Biofuels reports: separating the good from the bad and the ugly
16 November 2009, T&E
The worst biofuels can emit 2000% more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, while the best can genuinely cut down on emissions. Those are two conclusions of a new United Nations report, one of several papers published in the last month that reaffirm that only certain biofuels can be environmentally beneficial – and only then if produced in certain ways.
The UNEP study looks not just at which biofuel crops are good and bad, but also the conditions for biofuels production. Compiled by UNEP’s International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, it says one of the best biofuel options is using wastes and residues as this offers a way out of the land-use dilemma, but it also looks at the worst example – biodiesel from palm oil grown in tropical peatland forests cleared for fuel-producing purposes – which records the eye-catching 2000% figure.
The study also reinforces a point made for several years but not often highlighted – that generating electricity at power stations using wood, straw and other crop or waste material is ‘generally more energy-efficient and also offsets more emissions than converting biomass to liquid fuels’.
A Commission statement said the report’s findings are ‘already integrated into EU biofuels policy’, but that claim is effectively thrown into doubt by another report launched this month by T&E and five other Brussels-based NGOs.
‘Biofuels: handle with care’ is an analysis of EU biofuels policy with several recommendations for action. Among them are that the EU should scrap its energy-based target for biofuels in transport and replace it with a greenhouse gas reduction target; and that an absolute priority is to include estimates for the carbon impact of indirect land-use change.
The impact of biofuels on the overall use of land is a central feature of a paper by Jerry Melillo published last month in Science magazine. Melillo says growing biofuel crops can lead to both displaced food crops and extra fertiliser which can release the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. He says CO2 emissions from land clearance might reduce satisfactorily by mid-century, but NO2 emissions are unlikely to.
Another paper in Science magazine, from Tim Searchinger, says the rules for assessing compliance with the Kyoto protocol are biased in favour of biofuels, because they automatically count all biomass as ‘carbon neutral’ without taking emissions from land cleared to grow biomass crops into account.
Credits for worst biofuels?
Millions of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits could be created after the CDM executive board approved a new methodology for producing biodiesel from crops grown specifically for fuel. The credits would be based on biofuels from plantations established on degraded lands, but environmental groups are concerned that there is no definition of ‘degraded land’.
This loophole could mean palm oil produced on deforested and drained peatlands – the UNEP’s ‘2000% worse than fossil fuels’ scenario – could qualify for CDM credits. Indirectly, this could also create incentives for unspoilt land to be deforested and degraded.
3.5. Russia makes emissions pledge, but WTO confusion remains
19 November 2009, EurActiv
Russia set a new target for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions at a summit with the European Union yesterday (18 November), but failed to clear up confusion over its plans to join the World Trade Organisation.
The EU said the promise to make further reductions to those planned was a boost for climate talks in Copenhagen next month, and the good atmosphere at the meeting was a sharp contrast to previous EU-Russia summits that have been marred by disputes.
The EU also welcomed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s commitment to join the WTO quickly but he failed to answer their questions about whether Moscow would join as a separate state or as part of a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan.
One sour note at the talks in Stockholm was a disagreement over human rights, with the EU expressing concern over the situation in Russia. But the sides said they hoped soon to agree a new framework agreement for economic and political ties and avoided any conflict over Russian energy supplies to Europe.
"With the Copenhagen conference starting in just over two weeks, I very much welcome the signal from President Medvedev today of their proposed emissions reduction target of 25 percent. This is indeed very encouraging," European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said.
Asked to confirm the figure, Russian officials later said Medvedev had set a target of reducing harmful emissions by 22-25% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The previous target was 10-15%.
The EU is at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change and has urged other countries, including the United States and Russia, to make deeper emissions reductions and to help secure a new deal to fight climate change in Copenhagen.
A legally binding agreement is now thought out of reach in Copenhagen but Barroso said: "We have made very important progress in our talks with Russia on this very important issue."
No clarity on WTO entry
Russia , a country with vast natural resources and a population of about 142 million, hopes to win more foreign investment from the EU following the global economic crisis. No direct mention was made of this after talks.
Relations are improving only slowly after the Georgia war in August 2008, which prompted Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at the time to compare Russia’s military intervention to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s invasion of parts of central Europe.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the EU presidency, said the 27-country bloc representing nearly 500 million people had urged Moscow to carry out all the commitments it made at the end of the fighting in Georgia.
"We exchanged views on developments on human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Russia, especially on the situation for human rights defenders in Russia. It’s an increasing cause for concern," he added.
There was harmony, however, on energy issues. Both sides welcomed the signing on Monday of a memorandum requiring them to notify each other of any likely disruption to energy supplies and to work together to resolve the problem.
Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine, a route that supplies a fifth of Europe’s gas, were halted for more than two weeks in January because of a quarrel between Moscow and Kiev, and fears are growing of a new dispute this winter.
Medvedev said Russia would seek quick entry to the 153-nation WTO but said no decision had been taken on whether to join alone or with Kazakhstan and Belarus, the two former Soviet republics which are part of a customs union with Russia.
"In my opinion both ways are possible," he said. "For us the main thing is speed. Whatever way is faster, we will take it."
Russia ‘s powerful prime minister, Vladimir Putin, said in June Moscow would join the WTO only as part of the customs union, causing concern in the WTO over Russia’s commitment to joining the body which would open up Russian markets.
3.6. EU reaches agreement on energy savings in buildings
18 November 2009, EurActiv
EU lawmakers last night (17 November) forged a long-awaited compromise on the recast buildings directive, agreeing that all new buildings would have to comply with high energy-performance standards and supply a significant share of their energy requirements from renewable sources after the end of 2020.
The recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (see EurActiv LinksDossier) will require the public sector to take the lead by owning and renting buildings with "nearly zero" energy standards by the end of 2018, two years in advance of the private sector. Moreover, member states were tasked to promote the conversion of existing buildings to comply with the standard.
The Swedish EU Presidency admitted that the concept of a ‘nearly zero’ energy building was "not a very exact expression," but said it would ensure that the legislation gives member states incentives to make significant efficiency improvements in a sector that produces a third of the EU’s CO2 emissions. Sweden has been instrumental in pushing for a deal on this crucial piece of efficiency legislation before the end of its term.
Each member state will be responsible for defining its own standards, in a nod to the fact that a common system would not work in Europe as local conditions vary, for example from Finland to Greece.
Provisions for exisisting buildings disappoint
The compromise on improving the energy performance of existing buildings disappointed environmentalists, as no firm standards were laid down. The text simply states that major renovations must increase energy-savings if doing so is technically, functionally and economically feasible. But member states will have to develop national plans to encourage owners to take the opportunity to install smart meters, heat pumps and heating and cooling systems using renewables.
MEPS had sought to require member states to set percentage targets for making a minimum share of existing buildings produce all their energy on-site from renewables, effectively becoming zero-energy (EurActiv 24/04/09). Moreover, they wanted all new buildings to reach the energy-neutral standard by 2019.
But national capitals considered the Parliament’s starting position to be unrealistic and were concerned about too much red tape (EurActiv 08/07/09).
Parliament and Council negotiators, seemingly relieved with the conclusion of a long progress, expressed their content with the compromise. They stressed that while the legislation will have an impact on citizens’ lives by steering housing towards sustainable choices, member states will be able to implement it without an excessive administrative burden.
The energy performance certificates foreseen in the recast directive will provide further incentives for developers and building owners to invest in efficiency improvements during renovations.
Whenever a building is sold or rented out to a new tenant, a certificate must be issued with information on the energy performance level of the building and recommendations on how to improve it. The certificate will have to be displayed at buildings with over 500 m2 occupied by a public authority and which are frequently visited by the public. The threshold will fall to 250 m2 five years after the legislation has entered into force.
Member states will be responsible for putting in place their certification schemes, but the European Commission will develop a voluntary European-wide system for non-residential buildings by 2011.
More public funds
The lawmakers agreed that the key to the implementation of the reinforced legislation will be appropriate funding. As a result, an article was added to the directive on financial incentives, at both the national and EU levels.
The new legislation will require member states to list incentives from technical assistance and subsidies to low interest loans by mid-2011 for the transition to near zero-energy buildings.
Silvia-Adriana Ticãu (Socialists & Democrats, Romania), the Parliament’s rapporteur on the file, also stressed that member states should strive to make better use of existing EU instruments like structural funds.
EU leadership reinforced in Copenhagen
Talking to media representatives after the final meeting, the negotiators stressed that the new legislation would boost the EU’s credentials in climate negotiations at the UN over a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. EU energy ministers are expected to confirm the agreement on 7 December, the day the Copenhagen climate conference starts.
"The agreement is a strong message to negotiators in Copenhagen," said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. He underlined that the ability of 27 countries to agree on difficult issues to fight climate change would reaffirm the EU’s leadership.
4.1. Cheating the atmosphere
16 November 2009, Greenpeace
Why the EU can do much more for the climate
This report demonstrates how the European Union’s current commitment to a 20% reduction in emissions represents nothing more than business as usual. If the EU is to play its part in avoiding catastrophic climate change, it must make emission cuts of 40% by 2020.
Download Document at: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/eu-unit/press-centre/policy-papers-briefings/cheating-the-atmosphere-16-11-09.pdf
5.1. Second all-Africa Carbon Forum to be held in Nairobi
Kenya on 3–5 March 2010 – Conference, Trade Fair and Capacity Development to build on CDM gains on continent — IETA, UNEP, UNDP, WB, UNITAR, UNCTAD and UNFCCC
In an effort to build on growing interest in the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM) in Africa, partner UN agencies and the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) have announced they will organize a second all-Africa Carbon Forum, at the United Nations Gigiri complex in Nairobi, Kenya, on 3–5 March 2010.
More at: http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/20091111_pr_2nd_carbon_forum_africa.pdf
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].