E-news update 27 October 08

CLIMATE

1.1. Danish PM Says China Onboard For Climate Pact Goal
24 October 2008, Planet Ark, Reuters
BEIJING – China is committed to seeking a climate change pact at key talks next year, the prime minister of Denmark said on Thursday, urging countries not to use global economic upheaval as a reason for delaying a deal.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is among the European leaders in Beijing for an Asia-Europe meeting. And with Copenhagen to host end-game talks late next year on a new climate change pact, he has been courting China, with its bulging output of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas behind global warming.
Rasmussen said on Thursday he had emerged from Wednesday’s talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao with a commitment that China is "committed to reaching agreement in Copenhagen".
"The two sides … affirmed the common goal to reach an agreed outcome and adopt a decision at the climate conference in Copenhagen in December 2009," he told a small group of reporters, citing an agreement the two countries sealed on Wednesday.
The negotiations, culminating late next year, aim to create a treaty building on the current Kyoto Protocol climate pact that expires at the end of 2012. Its host role has given Denmark an unusual prominence in seeking agreement.
With the world preoccupied with the financial crisis and its fallout, and with many issues dividing rich countries from poor ones over how to combat global warming, Rasmussen said China’s commitment was an encouraging sign to others.
He said other countries should not use the economic downturn as a reason to delay or stymie a new pact.
"No doubt, the financial crisis will be used as an excuse to water down the climate change agenda," said Rasmussen, adding that he believed increased spending on environmentally friendly technology could help stimulate an economic rebound.
Under the current Kyoto pact, China and other developing nations do not have to agree limits on their output of the greenhouse gases from industry, vehicles and land-use that are dangerously warming the atmosphere.
But China’s fast-rising emissions, which experts believe now far outstrip the United States’, have driven other countries to say it must accept firmer limits.
EU environment ministers this week said developing countries should commit to keep emissions 15 to 30 percent below unconstrained "business as usual" levels.
Rasmussen said the EU proposal, which would not set an absolute ceiling on poorer countries’ emissions but oblige them to take measurable steps, could be the way to draw China and other developing countries into the commitments.
"The contributions from the industrialised countries will not be enough," he said. "We need engagement from the big emerging economies."
At the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) opening on Friday, the 27 EU member states and the European Commission will also discuss climate change policy with Japan, China and India and 13 other Asian countries.
Rasmussen said he also hopes that meeting will agree on aiming for a pact in Copenhagen.
Link: http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50735/story.htm

1.2. EU’s Climate Change Role May Be Weakened By Credit Crisis
22 October 2008, Environmental Reader
Just recently, European Union countries agreed to maintain their targets and schedule to tackle climate change. But once again, Europe’s leadership in tackling climate change may be weakened by the credit crisis as Italy, Poland, Latvia and others at the EU meeting last week threatened to veto Europe’s carbon plan unless they were softened, New York Times reports.
At a recent meeting in Luxembourg, Stefania Prestigiacomo, the Italian environment minister said her country had “many requests for changes,” and would support the EU’s plan only if the issue could be reviewed again next year.
“There is now a greater possibility that the E.U. misses a deadline it set for itself,” Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told the New York Times. “That would call into question Europe’s willingness to back up an offer that was applauded by the whole world with specific policies.”
Link: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/10/22/eus-climate-change-role-may-be-weakened-by-credit-crisis/

1.3. Ban calls on European Union leaders to take urgent action on climate change
22 October UN News centre
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed to leaders of the European Union (EU) the need to wrap up the bloc’s energy and climate package by the end of the year.
In letters to the leaders of the 27 EU members and the head of the European Commission (EC), Mr. Ban emphasized that this would serve as a positive signal to the international community – and developing countries in particular – before negotiations on an ambitious successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol are expected to conclude next December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The correspondence follows his talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and EC President José Manuel Barroso last week during the 12th Francophonie Summit in Québec City, Canada.
Michele Montas, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, told reporters that Mr. Ban commended the EU for its years of strong leadership on global warming, which includes its flagship climate and energy policy package.
“While he sympathized with EU members who may find it challenging to be as ambitious in such times of economic constraint and uncertainty, he suggested that EU’s forward-looking policy has the potential to deliver a clean economic growth, which will create millions of new jobs,” Ms. Montas said.
The Secretary-General underscored that clean industry and investment have proven to be of high quality and also offer long-term profits and returns.
“Thus, the current financial turmoil is not a justification for delaying action on climate change, but rather an opportunity to address both the financial and climate change crises that we face,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, a new report on the partnership between the UN and the EC was presented to the President of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, today.
In the foreword to that publication, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro wrote that the two organizations worked together in more than 100 countries in all regions of the world last year, and she commended the EC for its wide-ranging support to the UN.
UN-EC collaboration has helped feed 48 million people, register 80 million voters, clear landmines from 50 million square metres of land and administer oral polio vaccines to 400 million children, the report noted.
Link: www.un.org

1.4. Climate change accelerating far beyond the IPCC forecast, WWF says
20 October 2008, Telegraph.co.uk
Climate change is happening much faster than the world’s best scientists predicted and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report warns.
Extreme weather events such as the hot summer of 2003, which caused an extra 35,000 deaths across southern Europe from heat stress and poor air quality, will happen more frequently.
Emissions from a power station – Climate change accelerating far beyond the IPCC forecast, WWF says
Power station emissions: The report predicts the collapse of eco systems on both land and sea
Britain and the North Sea area will be hit more often by violent cyclones and sea level rise predictions will double to more than a metre putting vast coastal areas at risk from flooding.
The bleak report from WWF – formerly the World Wildlife Fund – also predicts crops failures and the collapse of eco systems on both land and sea.
And it calls on the EU to set an example to the rest of the world by agreeing a package of challenging targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to tackle the consequences of climate change and to keep any increase in global temperatures below 2ºC.
The report says that the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a study of global warming by 4,000 scientists from more than 150 countries which alerted the world to the possible consequences of global warming – is now out of date.
WWF’s report, Climate Change: Faster, stronger, sooner, has updated all the scientific data and concluded that global warming is accelerating far beyond the IPCC’s forecasts.
As an example it says the first tipping point may have already been reached in the Arctic where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions and may be gone completely within five years – something that hasn’t occurred for 1m years. This could result in rapid and abrupt climate change rather than the gradual changes forecast by the IPCC.
The findings include:
* Global sea level rise could more than double from the IPCC’s estimate of 0.59m by the end of the century.
* Natural carbon sinks, such as forests and oceans, are losing their ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere faster than expected.
* Rising temperatures have already led to a major reduction in food crops resulting in losses of 40m tonnes of grain per year.
* Marine ecosystems in the North and Baltic Sea are being exposed to the warmest temperatures measured since records began.
* The number and intensity of extreme cyclones over the UK and North Sea are projected to increase, leading to increased wind speeds and storm-related losses over Western and Central Europe.
The report was issued to coincide with a meeting of EU Environment Ministers today (mon) to discuss new laws aimed at tackling climate change. Some countries, including Italy and Poland, have already rejected proposals for higher cuts in emissions claiming they are unaffordable and unrealistic when many countries are facing recession.
The UK is the only country so far to commit to a legally binding 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 which the Government claims can be achieved by a switch to renewable energy sources – such as wind and wave – combined with a new generation of nuclear power stations.
In the report WWF urges the EU to commit to a reduction target of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 without relying on offsetting overseas and to provide financial support so developing countries can cut their own emissions and prepare for unavoidable impacts of climate change.
WWF-UK’s Head of Climate Change, Dr. Keith Allott, said: "Climate change is a major challenge to the future of mankind and the environment, and this sobering overview highlights just how critical it is that EU Environment Ministers, who are meeting today to discuss EU legislation to tackle climate change, commit to a strong climate and energy package, in order to ensure a low carbon future.
If the European Union wants to be seen as leader at UN talks in Copenhagen next year, and to help secure a strong global deal to tackle climate change after 2012, then it must stop shirking its responsibilities and commit to real emissions cuts within Europe."
The report has been endorsed by Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the newly elected Vice Chair of the IPCC, who said: "It is clear that climate change is already having a greater impact than most scientists had anticipated, so it’s vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious."
Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/10/20/eawwf120.xml

ENERGY

2.1. European climate leadership runs down blind alley
20 October 2008, WWF
Environmental NGOs have today accused the EU Environment Ministers of supporting old-fashioned, inefficient and wasteful industries at the expense of those that innovate and create new jobs.
During the discussion on the EU climate and energy package, ministers also watered down the emission reduction proposal for non-industrial sectors, undermining the best chance to help European households suffering from high energy bills.
At the meeting of the EU Environment Council today in Luxembourg protectionism was the call of the day, with ministers defending as a priority the short term interests of a small portion of European industry, rather than pushing to protect European citizens from the most dangerous impacts of climate change and put an end to our dependency on expensive fossil fuels. The ministers opened the door for free CO2 permits for electricity production and weakened rules for free permits to manufacturing industries.
Climate Action Network Europe, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Europe and WWF said: “Today’s level of debate was extremely poor and gave more room to the opportunistic demands of the Polish and Italian governments, who want to give old fashioned, inefficient and wasteful industries a free ride at the expense of innovation and job creation. These positions are particularly ironic since ministers also expressed high hopes for the UN climate summit next year in Copenhagen.”
One week after EU countries agreed to release 2000 billion euros in support of the financial sector, Environment Ministers are backtracking on the 70-90 billion euros investments needed by 2020 to safeguard future generations through the EU climate and energy package.
Italy and Poland fail to grasp where Europe and the world’s future lie and what unabated climate change will cost the world. Furthermore the Polish government has shown itself to be unfit to lead the next international climate negotiations taking place in December in Poznan. The international community should actively look for a new chair.
Link: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/what_we_do/wwf_europe_environment/index.cfm?uNewsID=148

2.2. The heat is on – climate change gathers pace faster than scientists expected
20 October 2008, WWF
Global warming is accelerating at a faster rate than climate change experts had previously predicted, according to a new compendium of scientific research released today by WWF.
In 2007, the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their Fourth Assessment Report – a study of global warming that involved nearly 4,000 scientists from more than 150 countries.
However, the science of climate change has moved on in the year since this respected report was published. WWF’s new report, “Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner”, amalgamates this new scientific data and reveals that global warming is accelerating beyond the IPCC’s forecasts.
The report has received the support of climate change experts including Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Professor of Climatology and Environmental Sciences at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, and newly elected Vice Chair of the IPCC, who said: “It is clear that climate change is already having a greater impact than most scientists had anticipated, so it’s vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious. The last IPCC report has shown that the reasons for concern are now stronger, and this should lead the EU to plead for a lower temperature target than the 2°C they adopted in 1996. But even with a 2°C target, the IPCC says that emission reductions between 25 and 40% compared to 1990 are needed by 2020 from developed countries. Reductions by 20% are therefore insufficient."
The latest science shows that the Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions. It is now predicted that the summer sea ice could completely disappear between 2013 and 2040 – something that hasn’t occurred in more than a million years.
Based on recent scientific studies, the number and intensity of extreme cyclones over the British Isles and the North Sea are projected to increase, leading to increased wind speeds and storm-related losses over Western and Central Europe. The level of ozone, an air pollutant, is projected to be similar to that in the 2003 heat-wave, with major increases over England, Belgium, Germany and France. Annual maximum rainfall is also projected to increase in most parts of Europe, with associated flood risks and economic damages.
Marine ecosystems in the North and Baltic Sea are being exposed to the warmest temperatures measured since records began, while the Mediterranean is expected to experience increases in the frequency of long-term droughts. Glaciers in the Swiss Alps will continue to decrease, with reduction of hydropower production.
At a global level, sea level rise is expected to reach more than double the IPCC’s maximum estimate of 0.59m by the end of the century, putting vast coastal areas at risk. Rising temperatures have already led to a reduction in global yields of wheat, maize and barley.
“If the European Union wants to be seen as leader at UN talks in Copenhagen next year, and to help secure a strong global deal to tackle climate change after 2012, then it must stop shirking its responsibilities and commit to real emissions cuts within Europe,” says Dr. Tina Tin, Climate Scientist and author of the report.
WWF calls on the EU to adopt an emission reduction target of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020, to be delivered within the boundaries of the EU rather than relying heavily on offsetting overseas. The global conservation organisation also asks the EU to commit to providing substantial support and funding for developing countries, in order to help them tackle future climate change and adapt to those impacts that are already unavoidable.
“Climate change is a major challenge to the future of mankind and the environment, and this sobering overview highlights just how critical it is that EU Environment Ministers discussing the EU legislations against climate change today commit to a strong climate and energy package, in order to ensure a low carbon future,” said Dr. Tina Tin.
Link: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/what_we_do/wwf_europe_environment/index.cfm?uNewsID=148141

2.3. Do we need to go nuclear to stay green?
21 October 2008, New Scientist
It’s the billion-dollar question. Will nuclear energy save the world from global warming? Nuclear power plants produce virtually zero carbon emissions throughout their lifecycle, but they are costly to build and environmentalists claim the money would be better spent on building renewable resources.
However, increased energy demands and rising fossil fuel prices may persuade governments to adopt nuclear energy anyway, according to a new report published by the Nuclear Energy Agency in France, which considered three scenarios.
Firstly, if renewable energy sources and carbon-capture technology proves to be highly successful, and public acceptance of nuclear energy is low, ageing reactors will be replaced with newer reactors of a slightly higher capacity, but no additional power stations would be built.
Overall, the NEA estimates that nuclear installed capacity would increase to 580 gigawatts of electrical energy worldwide by 2050, compared to just 370 GW in 2007.
In the second scenario, renewable supplies don’t meet their expected capacity, so our reliance on nuclear energy will need to be even higher. In this case, nuclear energy would provide 1400 GW of electrical in 2050 – roughly 12.5% of the predicted energy demand.
Finally, the authors considered whether governments could phase out nuclear energy, but they believe it "unlikely" that other sources could completely fulfil the increased demands.
‘White elephant’
Fabien Roques, an energy expert at Cambridge Energy Research Associates in Paris, France, believes the 1400-GW scenario is unrealistic given the slow pace of construction.
"Given the bottlenecks for major parts of nuclear plants it is unlikely that the pace of nuclear deployment could be realistically stretched beyond 680 GW in 2030," he says.
Environmental campaigners also say they are unconvinced by the report.
"Government plans to replace the current generation of nuclear plants are unlikely to deliver more than 10% of our energy needs," says energy campaigner Neil Crumpton from Friends of the Earth, UK.
"Expansion beyond this would take decades," he says. "Urgent action is needed to cut emissions, but throwing more money at the nuclear white elephant is an expensive and dangerous distraction."
Elsewhere, further evidence could be seen today that more countries are now investigating whether to invest in nuclear power.
Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, today announced that "no fewer than 50 countries have informed the IAEA that they are considering introducing nuclear power", in a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the NEA.
These countries include Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam and Nigeria. In addition, he points out that China will increase its nuclear capacity five-fold by 2020, and Russia plans to double its nuclear energy production in the same period.
Link: http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn14999-do-we-need-to-go-nuclear-to-stay-green

TRANSPORT

3.1. The world is watching
20 October 2008, T&E
Parliament’s vote on car emissions will be a test of the EU’s willingness to lead the world in tackling climate change, argues Jos Dings in this month’s edition of The Parliament Magazine.
In the debate on Europe’s proposed fuel efficiency law for new cars, MEPs could be forgiven for thinking that the only people that care about the outcome are carmakers and the environmental movement.
The discussion, as a result, has often reverted to a polarised and outdated ‘industry versus environment’ argument. That is a shame, because rarely has there been an opportunity at European level to create so many winners with a single piece of legislation; so many winners, and though carmakers will tell you differently, no losers.
Let’s start with the car industry. First, carmakers are only one part of the broader car industry. About 70 per cent of the value-added of a car comes from suppliers – producers of stop-start devices and hybrid drive trains, specialist automotive engineering firms, ICT suppliers, makers of light-weight plastics and metals … the list goes on.
Their voices are not heard because they are afraid that if they speak out for their own interest they will upset their customers: the carmakers. Yet they stand to get a massive boost from new car fuel efficiency standards.
One exception has been the boss of one of the biggest suppliers, Valeo, who asked a reporter last year, "Why isn’t there a law stating that the target of 120 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometre applies today, rather than in five years?"
He went on to say that Valeo has already developed systems capable of reducing current car emissions by 30-40 per cent. But this is one exception; the rule is that carmakers complain and their suppliers obey and stay silent.
There are other positive impacts: CO2 emissions from cars are directly linked to consumption of petrol and diesel, and therefore this law does not just have huge environmental benefits, but its implications for Europe’s energy needs are equally impressive and will reverberate around the world. The huge instability in the price of oil is felt by every European when they fill up their car or buy goods and services that depend on transport.
A car that is 25 per cent more fuel efficient typically saves its owner €5000 over its lifetime. That makes this law the single most important measure the EU can take to help Europeans cope with their fuel bills. That the EU now spends €1bn every day on oil imports, from just a handful of politically sensitive countries, should be felt by every policymaker.
Strangely enough, there are plenty of MEPs who worry about Russian power play and at the same time resist tough standards for car fuel efficiency. We are truly addicted to oil and this law can help us end that addiction.
The media coverage of parliament’s environment committee vote highlighted, with great clarity, the way Europeans view this issue. It was seen as a victory of the public interest over the narrow interests of a handful of politically powerful carmakers. That is the way democracy is supposed to work.
Conversely, the compromise package hammered out by the car industry and their supporters, and rightly thrown out by the committee, would have been seen as a sop to special interests by a public already cynical about how in touch politicians are with their concerns.
If passed, that deal would have been no more effective than the failed and discredited voluntary agreement signed a decade ago. It would have meant less progress in the next five years than has been made in the last five.
Europeans need to be convinced that the car industry is going to have to make credible and substantial improvements in fuel efficiency and that robust penalties will be in place to ensure they deliver this time. We urge parliament and environment ministers to back a strong law, with no loopholes. Europe, and the world, will be watching.
Link: http://www.transportenvironment.org/News/2008/10/The-world-is-watching/

PUBLICATIONS

4.1. Laying the Regulatory Foundations for Carbon Capture and Storage in the EU
A Legal Review of the Draft European Directive on Geological
Storage of Carbon Dioxide
October 2008
More at: http://www.clientearth.org/clientearth_ccs_directive_legal_review_oct08.pdf

CONFERENCES

5.1. "Towards a low carbon energy: the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan"
The European Council and the Parliament have expressed their support to the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), proposed by the European Commission. The SET Plan is the part concerning low carbon, innovating technologies that will allow Europe to reach the goals of the "Climate Energy Package" in 2020.
This conference will be held at the Carrousel du Louvre on 28 October 2008, in Paris. It aims at preparing the implementation of the SET Plan for a better efficiency of Research and Innovation in Europe.
More at:
http://energiebascarbone.eu/pro/fiche/quest.jsp;jsessionid=09290D7E9621E0B1AA50970B6805E835.kl1?surveyName=&main=&pg=accueil&pg2=&pg3=&locale=1&index=non&_zz1_=&_zz2_=&_zz3_=&_zz4_=&_zz5_=&_zz6_=&_zz7_=&_zz8_=&_zz9_=&_scrollX=0&_scrollY=0

5.2. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznañ, Poland – COP 14
The 14th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 14) will be held in conjunction with the 4th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 4) in Poznañ, Poland, from 1 to 12 December 2008. The conference will also include the 29th sessions of the Convention’s two subsidiary bodies – SBSTA and SBI – as well as the 4th session of the AWG-LCA and the 2nd part of the 6th session of the AWG-KP.
More at: http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_14/items/4481.php

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