E – news update 25 March 2008

CLIMATE CHANGE

1.1. EU says targets needed to fight climate change
18 March 2008, Reuters
TOKYO – A senior European Commission official on Tuesday called again for numerical targets to effectively fight climate change.
"We want to frame such a discussion … as we do in Europe within the context of one numerical target within which emissions reductions would have to be structured," said Jos Delbeke, EU deputy director-general for environment.
Delbeke was speaking in Tokyo after taking part in a meeting of 20 of the world’s top greenhouse gas polluter nations, which was held near the capital over the weekend.
EU leaders agreed last week to enact laws by March 2009 to meet their goals of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and increasing the share of green energy in their energy mix by the same date.
Delbeke, at the same time, stopped short of endorsing Japan’s proposal for sectoral curbs on major polluting industries.
"We would, in the EU, agree with Japan that climate change policy is very different according to the different economic sectors we are talking about," Delbeke said.
"So a different situation amongst the economic sectors is useful," he said.
Japan, which hosted the three-day international climate change conference believes sectoral curbs on major polluting industries such as cement makers and power producers can rein in growing carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for global warming.
The idea, however, has yet to find wide support, and Britain has openly expressed disapproval.
British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told Reuters on Friday: "That’s not the overall approach that Britain favors."
He said governments needed to be accountable for hitting targets and that this would be difficult under a sectoral approach.
G20 nations ranging from top carbon emitters the United States and China, to big developing economies Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa took part in the weekend meeting.
Link: http://uk.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUKT31582820080318

1.2. EU’s dangerous decision on climate change that may lead to a trade war
24 March 2008, FT.com
Sir, A profoundly ill-conceived decision by the European Union leaders on March 14 could pave the way for a global trade war over climate policy. The decision opens up the possibility for the EU to impose trade barriers on countries with a less ambitious climate agenda than the EU. The risk of "carbon leakage" can be allowed to trigger compensatory tariffs on products imported from countries outside of the EU’s emission trading system. Sadly, the decision satisfies a cynical alliance of environmentalists and Europe’s energy intensive industry.
First, EU-initiated trade barriers could provoke a global trade war between the EU on the one hand and countries such as the US, China, India and Brazil on the other. European climate tariffs would in turn lead to raised tariffs on EU products exported to these countries. China, for instance, could insist on tariffs that reflect western Europe’s three times higher emissions per capita – a potentially high cost for European companies selling to China.
Above all, a global trade war would hurt the prospects of successful negotiations for a new global agreement on capping greenhouse gas emissions. Winning trade disputes in the World Trade Organisation could become a higher priority than an agreement fighting climate change. EU climate tariffs would be construed as confirming developing countries’ old suspicion that rich countries’ environmental arguments is protectionism in disguise. The follow-up agreement to the Doha round is another likely victim.
Second, German and French governments are wrong and follow lobbyists’ train of thought when they argue for border protection of energy-intensive industries. In fact, it is not sectors that compete with each other on the global market, but the quality and price of individual products are being compared. The steel industries in Europe, for example in my home country Sweden, rarely produce the same products as their competitors in China, India or the US. To survive, European steel companies should produce more sophisticated and skill-intensive products than China and India. The argument is also often applicable to EU competition with energy-intensive US companies. Border protection formulated to cover entire sectors and affecting hundreds, or thousands, of different products would in any case be far too encompassing.
Third, how should EU deal with countries outside the its climate policy, but with which it wants close relations and preferential trade agreements? Should they be exempted from the EU’s climate tariffs? This concerns all countries around the Mediterranean, EU candidate states such as Croatia and Turkey, countries with a "membership perspective" and a large group of former colonies. Exempting these countries would make them attractive places for re-exportation of goods to the EU from, for example. China, India, the US and Brazil, as the goods could escape the EU’s climate tariffs with the help of a little corruption and a change of origin.
From every perspective, climate tariffs would create a big bag of problems for the EU’s external relations and be a counter-productive climate policy. Carl B. Hamilton
Link: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7a1e2104-f942-11dc-bcf3-000077b07658.html

1.3. Japan to hold climate, Africa summits at G8: minister
18 March 2008, AFP
TOKYO (AFP) — Japan said Tuesday it will hold parallel summits on climate change and African development on the sidelines of the Group of Eight gathering of major rich nations in July.
Tokyo has invited heads of state and government from 15 nations for meetings involving the G8 members during the July 7-9 gathering in the northern mountain resort of Toyako, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said.
For the July 7 parallel summit on Africa, Japan has invited Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and the chairman of the African Union, Komura told reporters.
For the climate change meeting on July 9, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa have been invited, he said.
Japan hopes to use the climate change meeting to push ahead negotiations aimed at drafting a successor to the Kyoto Protocol by the end of next year. 
The parallel summit would be in line with a US initiative aimed at showing leadership on the climate issue that brings together negotiators from 16 major emitting nations.  
The United States is the only major industrial nation to reject the Kyoto treaty, which President George W. Bush argues is unfair as it makes no demands of emerging economies such as China and India.
Some developing nations have been sceptical about climate meetings outside the UN framework that drafted Kyoto, fearing being lumped together with rich nations as major emitters when their pollution is less per capita.
Japan played host to a 20-nation climate meeting in suburban Tokyo on Saturday and Sunday, which showed a continued rift between industrial and developing nations.
Jos Delbeke, the EU’s deputy director general for the environment, on Tuesday renewed the Europeans’ call for clear numerical targets in cutting emissions after Kyoto’s obligations expire in 2012.
The Europeans would see the July summit as a success "if a long-term ambitious target could be spelled out for 2050," Delbeke said, as quoted by Kyodo News.
Japan has championed the Kyoto Protocol but is far behind in meeting its own commitments as its economy wakes up from a long slumber.
Link: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gP-xQzFMB6G_N-DGjBO7LeBOWjGQ

1.4. EU says targets needed to fight climate change
18 March 2008, Reuters
TOKYO (Reuters) – A senior European Commission official on Tuesday called again for numerical targets to effectively fight climate change.
"We want to frame such a discussion … as we do in Europe within the context of one numerical target within which emissions reductions would have to be structured," said Jos Delbeke, EU deputy director-general for environment.
Delbeke was speaking in Tokyo after taking part in a meeting of 20 of the world’s top greenhouse gas polluter nations, which was held near the capital over the weekend.
EU leaders agreed last week to enact laws by March 2009 to meet their goals of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and increasing the share of green energy in their energy mix by the same date.
Delbeke, at the same time, stopped short of endorsing Japan’s proposal for sectoral curbs on major polluting industries.
"We would, in the EU, agree with Japan that climate change policy is very different according to the different economic sectors we are talking about," Delbeke said.
"So a different situation amongst the economic sectors is useful," he said.
Japan, which hosted the three-day international climate change conference believes sectoral curbs on major polluting industries such as cement makers and power producers can rein in growing carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for global warming.
The idea, however, has yet to find wide support, and Britain has openly expressed disapproval.
British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told Reuters on Friday: "That’s not the overall approach that Britain favors."
He said governments needed to be accountable for hitting targets and that this would be difficult under a sectoral approach.
G20 nations ranging from top carbon emitters the United States and China, to big developing economies Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa took part in the weekend meeting.
Link: http://uk.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUKT31582820080318

1.5. EU agrees tight schedule for climate and energy deal
17 March 2008, Euractiv.com
Europe’s leaders have pledged to find agreement on controversial CO2 reduction and renewable energy laws before the end of the year, in a bid to maintain a strong position in international climate change negotiations. Energy intensive industries were given assurances that the measures would safeguard their competitiveness.
“Comprehensive deliberations” between Council and Parliament on the Commission’s proposals should produce a deal “before the end of 2008 and consequently allow for their adoption within the current legislative term, at the latest early in 2009”, according to conclusions agreed during the Spring European Council in Brussels on 14 March.
With a major international meeting on climate change scheduled for Copenhagen in December 2009, the EU is under pressure to agree internally on how to deal with the threat of climate change before pushing other states to agree a post-2012 global climate deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
But member states still need to iron out a number of differences before they can present a united front in Copenhagen.
While the Commission’s proposals have been generally welcomed by national capitals (EurActiv 29/02/08 and 04/03/08), differences remain over how CO2 reduction and renewable energy efforts are to be divided between EU countries.
And Europe’s energy-intensive industries have put pressure on key member states, notably Germany, to get insurances from Brussels that their global competitiveness will not be undermined by the EU’s tightening ‘carbon belt’.
The argument put forward is that sectors like steel, cement and aliminium will be forced to take their operations outside of Europe if other states do not adhere to binding greenhouse gas (GHG) eduction measures. This would result in major job losses and so-called ‘carbon leakage’, meaning an increase in GHG emissions outside of the EU’s borders.
German chancellor Angela Merkel made industry’s case during the summit on 13 March, and pushed for the inclusion of specific language in the Council’s conclusions: "The European Council recognises that carbon leakage in energy-intensive sectors exposed to international competition needs to be addressed urgently" (EurActv 13/03/08).
The conclusions do address the apparent urgency of the matter. But the text also notes that "an international agreement remains the best way of addressing this issue", a reflection of the Commission’s position.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso on 14 March pledged that "clear assurances" will be made to energy-intensive in the post-2012 period of the Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
But Brussels remains optimistic a global deal can be reached, and will not elaborate until 2010 any details about what kind of protective measures would be applied in case international negotiations fail.
Link: http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/eu-agrees-tight-schedule-climate-energy-deal/article-170999

EMISSIONS

2.1. The very real cost of carbon offsets and trading
25 March 2008, bangkokpost.com
Halldor Thorgeirsson, director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (and organiser of the Bali climate change talks in December 2007), recently remarked that "effective carbon market mechanisms" would be the "key component" of any post-2012 climate change egime.
However, relying on market mechanisms such as carbon trading and carbon offsets to fight climate change could create disastrous consequences for the world’s poor and the global environment.
Long before the climate change debate became prominent, liberal market mechanisms were used extensively to address many of the planet’s ills, ranging from poverty to overfishing.
During the 1980s and 1990s, organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund embarked upon large-scale experiments that sought to free the market from the binds of the state in the interests of generating economic efficiency and development.
However, rather than extending the benefits of the market to all, what often resulted was the elite capture of resources.
Notably, in Russia, a country that was subjected to the "shock therapy" of market forces, the unleashing of the market precipitated the rise of a new oligarchic form of crony capitalism.
In the European Union and New Zealand, the creation of individual transferable quotas designed to reduce overfishing instead shifted the problem further to the high seas and locations with lax nforcement.
In sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, strong intellectual property rights regimes intended to promote research and development in HIV pharmaceuticals instead made such items prohibitively expensive for the world’s poor, concentrating the ownership of particular patents and life-saving drug packages.
Attempting to address climate change with market mechanisms may both fail to address climate change and reinforce highly dependent relationships of production and consumption for the underdeveloped world. There are at least three reasons to be wary of the market’s potential.
First, market mechanisms attempt to reconcile a pro-growth, economic expansionist model of development with improvements in the environment. The problem with climate change, however, is that infinite growth and environmental stewardship are irreconcilable. Nature, unlike the market, has finite limits. Climatologists and atmospheric scientists have recently warned of the likelihood of tipping points, or climate-forcing thresholds such as extreme melting of ice or rising sea levels, beyond which changes are impossible to reverse.
Most people are used to thinking of climate change as the turning of a dial, but scientists warn that a better metaphor is the flicking of a switch. Very real laws bind the natural world, and these limits are full of surprises, irreversible changes, and non-linear interactions. While we may be uncertain about what these limits are, nature is an accountant that makes no errors. Second, the promotion of global offsets (such as alternative transportation fuels or investments in wind and solar energy) will only exacerbate the developing world’s dependence on industrialised nations. Not only will the intellectual property rights for these approaches and technologies lie purely with Western technology firms, but such investors will be able to buy limitless amounts of cheap emission reductions in poor countries and then bank them indefinitely in the future.
This means that when developing nations become obligated to cut their own emissions, they will have to licence Western technology and will also be left with only the least cost-effective regions (since developed countries will already have taken best locations).
Third, carbon offsets and credits presume that a one-to-one relationship between pollution and abatement exists. The energy-intensive nature of some offsets, such as carbon capture and sequestration, proves no such thing: in many cases, two to three tonnes of carbon dioxide must be sequestered to offset every tonne emitted.
Moreover, efforts to offset carbon such as afforestation (planting of trees) and injection of CO2 into natural carbon sinks become less effective at fighting climate change the more they are utilised because of rapid saturation.
Most trading proposals currently discussed involve reforesting areas in developing countries or protecting existing forests and grasslands to absorb carbon emissions.
However, the actual capacity of the world’s forests and grasslands to absorb CO2 are quickly approaching saturation. That is, no matter how big some forests or carbon sinks become, they will still only offset a limited amount of carbon dioxide.
These projects also run the risk of contributing dangerously to climate change if many of the world’s forests, at the ever-present mercy of floods, more severe weather, new strains of disease and vested interests that could later decide to alter land practices, will turn from sinks (vegetation that absorbs carbon dioxide) to sources (vegetation that releases carbon dioxide).
At the root of these issues is a common theme – the market is an imperfect device to pursue public policy goals, and we would be foolish to place trust in those who say otherwise. What we need is a fresh approach based upon popular awareness of the need to alter our patterns of consumption and production, without recourse to market mechanisms, while remaining mindful of the development needs of others.
Dr Benjamin Sovacool and Dr Toby Carroll are Research Fellows at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Link: http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/25Mar2008_news018.php

2.2. Japan official suggests 2005 as emissions cut base
24 March 2008, AFP
TOKYO – A senior Japanese official said Monday that 2005 would be fair for a base year in a new deal on slashing greenhouse gases, suggesting the Kyoto Protocol was slanted towards the European position.
The unusually blunt remarks come a week before the latest round of negotiations start in Bangkok on drafting a successor to Kyoto, the landmark treaty on fighting global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol requires major developed nations to slash emissions blamed for global warming by an average of five percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
"Comparisons with 1990 levels are extremely unfair. That is the Japanese government’s stance," Takao Kitabata, vice trade minister, told a news conference.
Asked which year would be fairer, 1990 or 2005, Kitabata said: "We believe that setting 2005 as the base year would be more satisfactory."
Japan has championed the Kyoto Protocol, named after its ancient capital, but is well behind in meeting its own goals as the world’s second largest economy picks up steam from recession in the 1990s.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told the World Economic Forum in Davos in January that Japan wanted to review the base year for emissions cut but did not state a preference.
Like the United States, the main opponent of Kyoto, Japan has been hesitant in ongoing negotiations about EU-led calls for further binding cuts in emissions from 1990 levels.
Kitabata noted that in 1990, sizable parts of what is now the European Union was in the Soviet bloc.
"Japan has been pursuing energy efficiency during the oil crises, long before the fall of the Berlin Wall," he said, arguing that Tokyo has less room to make further cuts.
At the time the 1997 Kyoto accord was being negotiated, "Japan had to accept disadvantageous conditions for diplomatic reasons," he said.
The year 1990 was also before the privatisation of Britain’s coal sector, which led Europe’s second largest economy to switch rapidly to natural gas.
The European Union has set a self-binding target of cutting the bloc’s overall greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.
Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080324/sc_afp/japanclimatewarming_080324104230

CONFERENCES

3.1. "Local climate protection crosses borders"
International Annual Conference of the Climate Alliance,
1 – 4 April 2008 in Aachen (DE) and Heerlen (NL)
Local politicians and experts from whole Europe meet from 1 to 4 April 2008 to address the cross- order significance of local authorities in climate protection and to demand a stronger political and financial support of the European as well as the national level. The conferees will discuss goals and strategies in climate protection together with Frans Timmermans, state secretary for European affairs in the Dutch foreign ministry, Michael Müller, state secretary in the German environmental ministry, and Katarina Dobranovic of the DG energy and transport of the European Union.
With the Covenant of Mayors, in which the signing cities and municipalities commit themselves – the same as the members of the Climate Alliance – to step beyond the targets of the EU in reducing the CO2 emissions through energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies, the European Commission recognised the importance of local authorities for climate protection. A resolution that should be adopted by the General Assembly of the Climate Alliance deals with the use of fuels from biomass. The resolution demands to consider social, ecological and economic effects of the use of biomass in Europe and the countries in the South. Although biomass – beside wind, sun and eothermal power – is regarded as hope for the future by searching alternatives to fossil energies, the indigenous partners of the Climate Alliance have already warned 2004 of an endangering of fragile ecosystems and sustainable used living spaces.
The workshops deal with the applied implementation of climate protection measures. The following topics will be offered: `Climate protection and local economy´, `Adaptation to climate change´, Energy efficient public procurement´, `Retrofitting of existing buildings´, `Energy alternatives in transport´ and `Energy bridges between North and South´.
The Mayor of Aachen Dr. Jürgen Linden and his colleague of Heerlen Toine Gresel represent together cross-border the host Climate Alliance cities of Aachen and Heerlen during the conference and will welcome the 200 expected participants. The conference is supported by Stadtwerke Aachen AG.
Please find further information and the program at:
http://www.climatealliance.org/aktuell/mv2008-uebersicht.htm

3.2. Bangkok Climate Change Talks 2008
Three months after the landmark agreement on a road map towards strengthened international action on climate change reached in Bali, Indonesia, the next round of negotiations shifts to the neighbouring country of Thailand and its capital, Bangkok. The talks will take place from 31 March to 4 April 2008 at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
More info at: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg-lca_1_and_awg-kp_5/items/4288.php

3.3. Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation
Beijing, China, 24-25 April 2008
The Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation will be held on 24-25 April 2008 in Beijing, China. It is expected that more than 200 participants will be attending the Forum, including government officials, experts and scientists from developing and developed countries, and representatives from international organizations and multinational companies.
More at: http://www.acca21.org.cn/climatechange/index.html

3.4. European Patent Forum 2008, 6/7 May 2008, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Inventing a cleaner future: Climate change and the opportunties for IP
The drastic changes in world climate can no longer be ignored and the need to find intelligent solutions to mitigate the effects is obvious. That is why the European Patent Forum 2008 is dedicated to finding answers to the question:
How can the fields of patenting and intellectual property support innovations that benefit the environment and counteract climate change?
More info at: http://www.epo.org/about-us/events/epf2008.html

3.5. BioPower Generation Forum 2008
9-10 April 2008, Brussels
Delivering efficient, cost effective power generation from biomass Interest is growing in the upcoming BioPower Generation Summit, taking place in Brussels from 9-10 April. v This exciting event provides a forum for leading utilities, policy makers, financiers and solution providers and be fully updated on the business opportunities in large scale biomass production. 
Link: http://www.greenpowerconferences.com/emarketing/biopower08/biopower08_broc-EM3.pdf and http://www.greenpowerconferences.com/renewablesmarkets/biopower_generation.html

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