1.1. U.N. urged to freeze climate geo-engineering projects
21 October 2010, Yahoo News
The United Nations should impose a moratorium on "geo-engineering" projects such as artificial volcanoes and vast cloud-seeding schemes to fight climate change, green groups say, fearing they could harm nature and mankind.
The risks were too great because the impacts of manipulating nature on a vast scale were not fully known, the groups said at a major U.N. meeting in Japan aimed at combating increasing losses of plant and animal species.
Envoys from nearly 200 countries are gathered in Nagoya, Japan, to agree targets to fight the destruction of forests, rivers and coral reefs that provide resources and services central to livelihoods and economies.
A major cause for the rapid losses in nature is climate change, the United Nations says, raising the urgency for the world to do whatever it can to curb global warming and prevent extreme droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
Some countries regard geo-engineering projects costing billions of dollars as a way to control climate change by cutting the amount of sunlight hitting the earth or soaking up excess greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide.
"It’s absolutely inappropriate for a handful of governments in industrialized countries to make a decision to try geo-engineering without the approval of all the world’s support," Pat Mooney, from Canada-headquartered advocacy organization ETC Group, told Reuters on the sidelines of the October 18-29 meeting.
"They shouldn’t proceed with real-life, in-the-environment experimentation or the deployment of any geo-engineering until there is a consensus in the United Nations that this is okay."
Some conservation groups say geo-engineering is a way for some governments and companies to get out of taking steps to slash planet-warming emissions.
The U.N. climate panel says a review of geo-engineering will be part of its next major report in 2013.
Some of the geo-engineering schemes proposed include:
— Ocean fertilization. Large areas are sprinkled with iron or other nutrients to artificially spur growth of phytoplankton, which soak up carbon dioxide. But this could trigger harmful algal blooms, soak up nutrients and kill fish and other animals.
— Spray seawater into the atmosphere to increase the reflectivity and condensation of clouds so they bounce more sunlight back into space.
— Placing trillions of tiny solar reflectors out in space to cut the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth.
— Artificial volcanoes. Tiny sulfate particles or other materials are released into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight, simulating the effect of a major volcanic eruption.
— Carbon capture and storage. Supported by a number of governments and involves capturing CO2 from power stations, refineries and natural gas wells and pumping it deep underground.
Mooney said the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) should expand its de-facto moratorium on ocean fertilization agreed in 2008 to all geo-engineering, although the proposal was resisted by some countries, including Canada, earlier this year.
Canada said in Nagoya that it would work with the CBD.
"Canada was simply concerned about the lack of clarity on definitions including what activities are included in ‘geo-engineering’," Cynthia Wright, head of the delegation, said in an email response.
"Canada shares concerns of the international community about potential negative impacts of geo-engineering on biodiversity and is willing to work with other CBD Parties to avoid these impacts," she said.
Environmentalists said geo-engineering went against the spirit of the Nagoya talks, which aims to set new targets for 2020 to protect nature, such as setting up more land and marine protected areas, cutting pollution and managing fishing.
"We are certainly in favor of more (geo-engineering) research, as in all fields, but not any implementation for the time being because it’s too dangerous. We don’t know what the effects can be," said Francois Simard of conservation group IUCN.
"Improving nature conservation is what we should do in order to fight climate change, not trying to change nature."
1.2. Caught! EU business lobby funding climate legislation blockers in US Senate
25 October 2010, CAN-E
Today CAN Europe  released a new report  based on an analysis of publicly available campaign finance records, definitively proving that polluting European companies are funding climate legislation blockers in US politics. Their overseas support is all the more galling because the same companies argue that additional emissions reductions in Europe cannot be pursued until the United States takes action.
“It’s disturbing that these European polluters fund anti-climate crusaders in the US while simultaneously fighting against strong climate legislation in Europe,” said Tomas Wyns, CAN Europe Senior Policy Officer. “This newly released data proves the anecdotal rumours about European companies that have been circulating for some time.” The report was created using information that became available throughout the month of October, based on data released by the US Federal Elections Commission and accessible via the Open Secrets database . CAN Europe uncovered what appears to be a clear pattern of European polluters influencing United States climate and energy policies through targeted donations to candidates who oppose action on climate change.
Big European emitters BAYER, BASF, Solvay, Lafarge, BP, GDF-SUEZ, Arcelor-Mittal and EON supported senators blocking climate change legislation in the US for a combined total of $240,200. To put it in perspective, in 2009 these seven firms emitted 130 million tones of greenhouse gas pollution, roughly the same as the annual emissions of Belgium. Support from these European companies is going to numerous US candidates who not only block climate legislation, but also actively deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is caused by humans.
CAN-Europe is calling for an immediate and clear response from the companies involved and the European Business Federations of which these companies are members, such as Business Europe, CEFIC, EUROFER, CEMBUREAU, EURELECTRIC and EUROPIA. We call on these federations to denounce the actions of the companies that have been exposed and create a system for accountability and transparency for their members.
The exposure of these actions highlights the need for enforceable rules for proactive transparency for both lobbyists and EU institutions.
1.3. Top companies’ call for more EU climate action exposes rift in industry lobby group
14 October 2010, Greenpeace
Greenpeace welcomes the call by top European companies for the EU to up its game on climate change, as environment ministers meet in Luxembourg today to discuss EU climate targets. The call by 29 companies, including Vodafone, Philips, Alstom and Google, exposes a rift in EU industry lobby group Business Europe and questions its legitimacy to represent the business sector on climate issues, said Greenpeace.
In their joint declaration addressing European governments, business chiefs call on the EU to increase its unilateral 2020 target to cut carbon emissions from 20% to 30% (at 1990 levels). The declaration states that greater EU climate action will boost economic growth, create new jobs, strengthen competitiveness and improve energy security. But in a letter dated 11 October, Philippe de Buck, director-general of Business Europe, claiming to represent most European businesses, warns EU ministers against any increase in climate targets. All signatories of the call for a 30% target are members of Business Europe.
Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said: “Industry lobbyists shoot down attempts to boost the EU’s climate ambition, but they no longer represent the whole sector as more and more companies across Europe want greater climate action. Smart companies want to see the EU lead the global race for green technology and break free of business as usual. Dirty lobbyists in Brussels present climate action as a choice between the environment and the economy, but they are denying people and businesses new opportunities for jobs, green tech and services.”
Den Blanken added: “Business Europe, the Brussels industry lobby, claims to represent European companies, but is in fact the lobbying front group for a handful of oil and chemical industries holding back European competitiveness.”
2.1. EU cuts deal on using crisis funds for energy efficiency
21 October 2010, EurActiv
EU lawmakers have agreed to free up €146 million from uncommitted funds from the European Energy Recovery Plan to finance energy efficiency and renewables projects, MEPs said.
The deal was reached between Parliament negotiators and the Belgian EU Presidency on Tuesday afternoon (19 October). It creates a fund managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and German bank KFW, which can finance projects including building renovations that include renewable or energy efficiency solutions, grid-connected decentralised renewable energy generation, clean public transport, electricity storage solutions, smart metering and smart grids.
"Parliament has fought hard to make a maximum amount of money available for investments in energy-efficient projects. In times of financial constraint, Europe should work together to make our way of life cheaper and more sustainable," said MEP Lena EK (Sweden, ALDE), who was a shadow rapporteur on the file.
The Parliament’s industry committee last week voted to use €115 million, or all the money available from the recovery funds once the exact amount is known, for renewable and efficiency projects. The €146 million agreed between member states and MEPs is thus higher but excludes the option to raise the sum should more money turn out to be available.
"It is largely thanks to the opposition of five member states – Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria – that the final amount is so low," said Green MEP Claude Turmes (Luxembourg). "It now seems that hundreds of millions of euro, which could have been immediately channelled towards towns and regions of Europe to reduce their energy bills and their climate change impact, will now go unused."
However, a list of projects signed but not yet committed, released by the European Commission only a couple of weeks ago, shows that the amount of money that has not been committed could in reality reach over €800 million, Turmes said.
He argued that it is highly unlikely all the money will be signed off by 31 December and more could become available from the six CCS projects chosen for recovery funding as investors are becoming jittery about cost overruns.
Any money above to what is now being made available for renewables and energy efficiency projects would most likely be returned to member states’ empty coffers in the midst of austerity measures. Turmes also suggested that they could provide a backdoor for the Commission and France, supported by the UK and Germany, to find funding for the France-based ITER international nuclear fusion project, which has run into a funding crisis.
The Parliament’s industry committee is scheduled to endorse the agreement on 26 October. The full plenary will vote on it in November.
2.2. US launches renewable energy initiative
21 October 2010, Yahoo News
The United States launched a renewable energy initiative to boost biofuel production to create jobs, lessen the effects of climate change and wean the country off oil imports, an official said.
Part of President Barack Obama’s Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is a "national imperative" to assist the biofuels industry, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the National Press Club.
"By producing more biofuels in America, we will create jobs, combat global warming, replace our dependence on foreign oil and build a stronger foundation for the 21st century economy," he added.
The US Department of Agriculture said BCAP "provides assistance for the establishment and production of eligible renewable biomass crops," a statement said.
The program provides up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing eligible perennial crops, as well as matching payments for transportation of eligible materials sold to qualified biomass conversion facilities.
"The Obama administration is aggressively supporting our nation’s farmers, ranchers and producers of biofuels as they work to bring greater energy independence to America," Vilsack said.
He also announced a five-year agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop jet fuel from forest and crop residues and other "green" feedstocks in order to decrease dependence on foreign oil and stabilize fuel costs.
Giant aircraft manufacturer Boeing said the announcement was "welcome news" for the commercial aviation industry.
"Through test flights with a number of our customers, we have proven that fuels made from plant matter and algae can power jet aircraft safely and efficiently, and we look forward in the months ahead to the approval of these fuels for commercial use," said Boeing Vice President for Environment and Aviation Policy, Billy Glover.
2.3. Bulgaria surrenders to ‘South Stream’ pipeline
22 October 2010, EurActiv
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov have agreed to set up a joint venture for the Bulgarian section of the South Stream pipeline, giving it a competitive edge over the competing Nabucco project supported by the EU. Dnevnik, EurActiv’s partner in Bulgaria, contributed to this article.
In a telephone conversation yesterday (21 October), Putin and Borissov agreed to establish a Russian-Bulgarian joint venture by 15 November that will conduct a feasibility study for the Bulgarian section of the South Stream pipeline.
The two leaders also confirmed their commitment to completing construction of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant ( NPP) and discussed the possibility of attracting third countries to the project, according to a statement published on the Russian government’s website.
During negotiating with Sofia, Moscow has been pushing forward its energy projects in Bulgaria as a package (see ‘Background’).
According to sources cited by Bulgarian daily Standart, Putin and Borissov will meet on 15 November to sign the deal, which is expected to include steps for building the Belene NPP. The venue of the meeting is not yet known.
The telephone conversation appears to mark the end of Borissov’s strategy of giving equal treatment to the competing South Stream and Nabucco projects. It could also herald defeat in the prime minister’s attempt to reduce his country’s dependence on Russia for energy.
South Stream is designed to achieve full control over Bulgaria’s gas pipeline network, experts warned recently. While Nabucco is stumbling over legal obstacles to laying its pipes on Bulgarian territory, its Gazprom-backed competitor, through the recent so-called ‘Varna deal’, includes a compromise solution for transporting some of the gas from South Stream via the existing Bulgarian gas pipeline network.
The deal, which will see Bulgarian pipes carry 17 billion cubic meters (bcm) of South Stream’s expected 63 bcm, appeared to be a concession from Borrisov, who had initially ruled out this option.
In fact, both South Stream and Nabucco rely on sections of existing pipeline in the transit countries.
The cost of the Bulgarian section of South Stream is estimated at US$835 million and the construction of the Bulgarian section is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. It is unclear how Bulgaria, which is in a difficult economic situation, would secure funding for the project.
Putin and Borissov have reportedly noted "a positive development" in implementing the agreements on the Belene Nuclear Power Plant. They also discussed "inviting a third investor from a country experienced in nuclear energy production".
The new plant, which is only Bulgaria’s second and comes 20 years after the construction of the first in Kozloduy, is expected to become operational in 2013-2014, at an estimated cost of €4 billion.
3.1. Czech CEZ faces annual Eur135 mil burden from CO2 credits tax
21 October 2010, The Platts
The Czech government’s plan to start taxing carbon dioxide emissions allowances — currently distributed to companies for free — in 2011 and 2012, will saddle incumbent utility CEZ with an additional tax burden each year of Crown 3.3 billion (Eur135 million; $190 million), an analyst said Thursday.
Prime Minister Petr Necas announced the change Wednesday as one of a series of measures to curb electricity price rises for households and industry to a maximum 5.5% in 2011 and to cushion an ongoing solar power boom.
"Under the National Allocation Plan 2 (NAP2) CEZ receives 34.8 million mt CO2 emission quotas for free until 2012. Assuming an average price of Eur16.0/mt for CO2 emission quotas (the current forward price on the market), the total value of free CO2 allocation is about Crown 13.3 billion per year,"
Peter Csaszar at KBC Securities said in a research note.
"As a result, bearing a 25% tax burden, CEZ is facing an additional tax payment of Crown 3.3 billion per year which translates into about 3.6% and 3.3% of our EBITDA forecasts for 2011 and 2012, respectively," he said.
Compared to market capitalization, the total impact is limited to 1.6%, unless the government plans to prolong the tax beyond 2012.
"Nevertheless, the news is clearly negative as it implies a worsening political and fiscal environment for the company," Csaszar said.
3.2. Transport Ministers approve air and noise pollution charges for lorries
15 October 2010, T&E
Today, in Luxembourg, European Transport Ministers reached an agreement on revised road charging rules for lorries (the Eurovignette directive). Nina Renshaw, deputy director at Transport & Environment (T&E), welcomed the agreement but also stressed that a number of issues remain.
"Finally, governments across the EU will have the flexibility to include charges for air and noise pollution into their road tolls, ending a long-standing and counterproductive period of European wide prohibition", Ms. Renshaw said. But, according to T&E, the agreement is still a long way from allowing countries to charge the full costs of the damage that road freight transport causes, including congestion and climate change.
Furthermore, T&E urges the European parliament to overturn, in its second reading, the Council’s decision to exempt current generation (EURO V) lorries from the scope of the directive, "that’s rather like exempting smokers of low tar cigarettes from smoking bans," commented Renshaw.
Failing to tackle the problem of congestion; not charging lighter trucks (3.5 to 12 tonnes) and ruling out higher noise costs for montainous areas are some of the gaps left open by the approved directive.
The proposed revision to the Eurovignette directive does not force member states to introduce lorry charges, it merely sets rules for those that do.
Similarly the proposal to include ‘external costs’ into road charges to cover air and noise pollution from trucks will remain optional.
Road freight is the transport sub-sector with the fastest growing greenhouse gas emissions (together with aviation and shipping) and imposes a disproportionate burden on EU citizens and the economy in terms of congestion, accidents, noise and air pollution.
Road pricing reduces the negative impacts of pollution, congestion and accidents, but also allows a shift of taxation away from labour and enterprise. The primary effect of distance-based lorry charging is to stimulate efficiency within the road freight sector, via improved load factors, reduced empty driving, route optimisation, avoidance of congested times, etc. Charging will stimulate a more efficient freight sector, better prepared for future challenges.
For further information on the Eurovignette directive read T&E’s letter to the Ministers of transport and the letter by Nina Renshaw in today’s edition of the European Voice.
For further information on the effects of introducing road charging, based on the experience of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, see this T&E briefing. The briefing is also available in French and German.
3.3. EU carbon trading obstructing real climate action
14 October 2010, FOEE
European governments are being warned of the dangers of their reliance on carbon trading and offsetting of emissions as they meet to discuss climate change in Luxembourg today. With six weeks to go before crucial international climate talks in Mexico, Friends of the Earth Europe is urging European Environment Ministers to resist industry pressure and commit to higher emissions reduction targets.
The Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) is Europe’s principal policy mechanism for reducing emissions in the power generation and industrial sectors. Analysis by Friends of the Earth Europe shows that the EU-ETS is not delivering the CO2 cuts required by science, historical responsibility and sound financial practices. 
Over-reliance on carbon markets is also obstructing the use of other more effective policy measures such as regulation, investments, and taxation.
Europe must commit to at least 40% emissions cuts by 2020 without offsetting, says Friends of the Earth Europe. Its current target for 2020 is only 20%.
Brook Riley, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The ongoing love affair with carbon trading is obstructing real action on climate change. Paltry CO2 emissions caps and offsetting loopholes are cancelling out the emissions reductions science and climate justice demand. EU Environment Ministers must jointly call for an emissions target of at least 40% by 2020, and ensure that these cuts are made domestically.”
European Commission figures show that in the current phase of the EU-ETS, running from 2008 to 2012, seventeen out of twenty member states have negotiated a ‘cap’ on their emission limits that are actually higher than measured emissions in 2005. This will allow them to increase emissions over the coming years, or ‘bank’ permits for use in future phases. The availability of international offsetting credits within the EU-ETS also represents a massive loophole within the system. Buying credits from the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism means that companies are able to avoid making domestic cuts, while the projects that they are funding frequently fail to reduce emissions in developing countries, and may also cause significant social and environmental problems.
EU proposals to push for the increased use of carbon trading by joining up the EU-ETS with other national carbon markets, particularly in Asia, will multiply the problems with the EU-ETS, and bring further loopholes into the system. Carbon markets cannot be a replacement for mandatory targets under a binding international agreement, and adequate and appropriate public funding for climate finance in developing countries.
Any increase in the scale of the carbon markets is also likely to popularise the use of highly complex financial instruments – risking the creation of a carbon bubble with far greater economic, political and environmental consequences than the subprime crash, warns Friends of the Earth Europe.
4.1. Caught! EU business lobby funding climate legislation blockers in US Senate
25 October 2010, CAN-E
Download it at: http://climnet.org/component/docman/doc_download/1716-caught-polluting-european-companies-backing-climate-deniers-in-the-us-senate.html
4.2. Steering clear of oil disasters
20 October 2010, Greenpeace
Greenpeace EU’s independent report demonstrates that if the EU set a series of progressive CO2 emission standards for cars and vans up to 2030, oil consumption in Europe would fall by eight percent by 2030, compared to business as usual. This step would eliminate completely the need for imports of oil from dangerous and dirty sources, cut Europe’s CO2 emissions by 186million tonnes and deliver savings of $42billion per year on crude oil imports.
The aim of this report is to estimate how much the EU’s demand for oil might decline in 2020 and 2030 if more stringent CO2 emissions performance standards for new passenger cars and vans were introduced. Additionally, it assesses the potential impact of the resulting demand reduction on the level, origin and value of the EU’s oil imports and the types of feedstock that are used by the EU’s oil refineries.
Download it at: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/reports/steering-clear-of-oil-disaster
to work on the issue of resource use
Full time and working in the FoEE office in Brussels
Friends of the Earth campaigns for sustainable and just societies and for the protection of the environment. It unites more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International. Please see www.foeeurope.org for more information.
This is an excellent opportunity to join one of the leading green NGOs in Brussels and to be part of a vibrant network of national member organisations.
Profile of the position
The campaigner will work to enable FoEE (organisation and network) to progress towards our vision of a more sustainable and just society by maximising opportunities to leverage change within the area of resource use. The campaigner will work in the FoEE Resource Use and Consumption Programme under supervision of a Programme coordinator based in London. The person will work with FoEE member groups active in the issue as well as external partners. In the office s/he will collaborate closely with colleagues from other FoEE programmes.
More at: http://www.foeeurope.org/job/campaigner_resources_October10.html
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].