1.1. Kofi Annan Says Polluters Must Pay For Climate Change
22 April 2008, News VOA
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for united action to help the world’s poorest people adapt to climate change. He says the poor, who have contributed the least to climate change, suffer the most. Annan now heads a new organization called the "Global Humanitarian Forum." Its first annual meeting in June will focus on climate change and ways to help those most at risk. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.
Former U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, says climate change is responsible for a whole series of threats, including threats to health, security, political stability and social cohesion.
"You can imagine situations where there are scarce resources and people are fighting to control situations where people have to move simply because they cannot survive on land that sustained their parents and grandparents, situations where low-lying cities can be flooded if sea rise there continues," he said. "We believe that the world needs to focus on this."
That is where the Global Humanitarian Forum comes in. Leaders and world experts from business, science, information technology and the military, as well as from traditional humanitarian and development communities will attend its annual conference at the end of June. Forum officials say the leaders will work on solutions to help those most at risk.
The former secretary-general warns that climate change could derail the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, especially cutting poverty in half by 2015. It may even threaten development achieved so far.
He says failed harvests due to severe and unpredictable weather have cut regional output of food staples. And, this might lead to widespread hunger.
"We see in the climate issue, the poor are bearing the brunt," he added. "They pollute the least and they suffer the most. I think there has to be equity and some justice. And, the polluters must be made to pay."
Mr. Annan says the world has accepted the doctrine of responsibility to protect people from genocide, from ethnic cleansing and from systematic violations of human rights by their governments.
"Should not the same logic apply for the protection of people who may not have enough to eat, who may be at the mercy of nature and are helpless to protect themselves," he noted. "There are quite a few issues which are going to come up for discussion."
Mr. Annan says governments must come up with a system for tackling climate change that is not only effective, but equitable. He says the Global Humanitarian Forum can help focus attention on what needs to be done to help the poor and the most vulnerable.
1.2. Japan PM to push G8 climate agenda on Russia visit
25 April 2008, Reuters
MOSCOW, April 26 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will seek Moscow’s support for a new global initiative to curb greenhouse gases on Saturday when he has his first meeting with Russia’s outgoing and incoming presidents.
Japanese officials said a territorial dispute over four islands in the Pacific — a running sore in relations since World War Two — will be touched on only briefly.
Japan will host this year’s Group of Eight summit on its northern island of Hokkaido and has named finding a more effective replacement for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012, as the top item on the summit agenda.
Fukuda is to have talks on Saturday with president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, who will be sworn in as head of state on May 7, and with President Vladimir Putin, who is stepping down but will stay on as prime minister and remain an influential player.
The main aims of Fukuda’s visit are to "establish a personal relationship of trust with President Putin and president-elect Medvedev, and second, to prepare for the upcoming G8 summit," said a Japanese foreign ministry official.
Tokyo hopes the G8 summit will help draft a new climate change agreement that would embrace the biggest polluters such as the United States, China and India. None of these has signed up to the Kyoto Protocol’s limits on emissions.
Russia, a G8 member, was one of the biggest emerging economies to sign up to Kyoto commitments. Japanese officials hope Moscow will support a successor agreement in Hokkaido.
The disputed islands, known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories, lie just north of the G8 summit venue in Hokkaido.
The islands were seized by Soviet troops in the last days of World War Two, and since then neither side has recognised the other’s sovereignty over them. The issue has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a treaty ending wartime hostilities.
Tokyo has voiced frustration that talks on the issue have been stalled for the past five years. But Fukuda is expected to tread softly on the dispute in Moscow.
"I think he will touch on it … (But) to really discuss such a highly sensitive political issue first of all you have to have personal relations," said the Japanese official.
Russia has said it is ready to talk about the dispute, but has given no sign it is prepared to give up the islands. "There is no change in our position. We do not expect any breakthroughs (in the talks with Fukuda)," said a Kremlin official.
Trade between Russia and Japan was worth $20 billion in 2007, fuelled by automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research) which has set up a factory to tap into the booming Russian market.
But trade is far smaller than the volumes between Russia and its biggest trading partner, the European Union.
Japan says it is a natural partner to help Russia achieve its ambition of developing its Far East region, a huge and sparsely-populated area of largely untapped energy resources.
Japanese firms have taken stakes in vast oil and gas projects on Russia’s Pacific Sakhalin island, and a pipeline is under construction that will eventually deliver oil from eastern Siberia to the Pacific coast.
1.3. UN Climate Change Official: More Incentives Needed for Developing Countries
24 April 2008, News VOA
The top U.N. official on climate change says industrialized countries need to offer more incentives to China and other developing countries to reduce gas emissions. Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from Beijing that China is fast overtaking the United States as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, believed by many scientists to be warming the planet.
The U.N. official in charge of the framework convention on climate change, Yvo de Boer, says wealthy nations need to offer advanced technology and financial incentives to reduce China’s gas emissions.
China has sought to reduce its energy consumption and emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases, but has fallen short of its own targets.
China’s energy needs have been growing along with its booming economy, and the government needs fast growth to maintain stability.
De Boer said the government is making efforts, but it is trying to perform a delicate balancing act.
"The challenge really is to find a way forward that will allow China to engage further without jeopardizing goals in the areas of economic growth and poverty eradication," he said. "And, there I think the international community will have to put in place technological and financial incentives that would make it possible for developing countries like China to go that extra green mile."
De Boer made the comments in Beijing on the sideline of a forum concerning the role of science and technology in fighting climate change.
China has sought high technology transfers from developed countries, but foreign companies are concerned that the Chinese will copy their innovations.
De Boer said China has benefited the most financially, and received some advanced technology, from the U.N. convention on climate change. But, China has had trouble reigning in millions of small and medium-sized enterprises, and is fast becoming the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
De Boer says China is already experiencing the effects of climate change.
"We have seen in China a seven-fold increase in floods since the 1950s, unseasonably warm weather and reduced rainfall leading to drinking water shortages in northwest China, and a dramatic expansion of the Gobi desert, and increases in the frequency of heat waves," he added. De Boer says scientific projections indicate at the current rate of global temperature increase China’s future grain production will drop by 37 percent in the second half of the century.
He says rising water levels from melting glaciers might even completely submerge the coastal city of Shanghai by 2050 unless new action is taken.
1.4. Forecast for big sea level rise
15 April 2008, BBC News
Sea levels could rise by up to one-and-a-half metres by the end of this century, according to a new scientific analysis.
This is substantially more than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast in last year’s landmark assessment of climate science.
Sea level rise of this magnitude would have major impacts on low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.
The findings were presented at a major science conference in Vienna.
The research group is not the first to suggest that the IPCC’s forecast of an average rise in global sea levels of 28-43cm by 2100 is too conservative.
The IPCC was unable to include the contribution from "accelerated" melting of polar ice sheets as water temperatures warm because the processes involved were not yet understood.
The new analysis comes from a UK/Finnish team which has built a computer model linking temperatures to sea levels for the last two millennia.
"For the past 2,000 years, the [global average] sea level was very stable, it only varied by about 20cm," said Svetlana Jevrejeva from the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL), near Liverpool, UK.
"But by the end of the century, we predict it will rise by between 0.8m and 1.5m.
"The rapid rise in the coming years is associated with the rapid melting of ice sheets."
The model, she told reporters here at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual meeting, is able to mimic accurately sea levels reliably observed by tide gauges over the last 300 years.
There is little concrete evidence on sea levels for the thousands of years before that, explained POL’s Simon Holgate, who was not involved in the new study.
"There is some limited archaeological evidence [based on] the sill heights of fish enclosures that the Romans used, that’s probably the strongest evidence that there hasn’t been any significant change in sea level over the last 2,000 years."
Against that, he said, the currently observed rise of about three mm per year is significant, and many scientists working in the field expect to see an acceleration.
Last year, German researcher Stefan Rahmstorf used different methodology but reached a similar conclusion to Dr Jevrejeva’s group, projecting a sea level rise of between 0.5m and 1.4m by 2100.
The latest satellite data indicates that the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass, though the much bigger East Antarctic sheet may be gaining mass.
A full melting of Greenland and West Antarctica would raise sea levels by many metres; but the process, if it happened, would take centuries.
"We know what’s happening today from satellite data, but trying to predict what that means in the future is very difficult science," noted Steve Nerem from the University of Colorado, whose own research concerns global sea levels.
"There’s a lot of evidence out there that we’re going to see at least a metre of sea level rise by 2100," he said.
"We’re seeing big changes in Greenland, we’re seeing big changes in West Antarctica, so we’re expecting this to show up in the sea level data as an increase in the rate we’ve been observing."
However, a rise of even a metre could have major implications for low-lying countries – especially, noted Dr Holgate, those whose economies are not geared up to build sophisticated sea defence systems.
"Eighty to 90% of Bangladesh is within a metre or so of sea level," he said, "so if you live in the Ganges delta you’re in a lot of trouble; and that’s an awful lot of people."
Dr Jevrejeva’s projections have been submitted for publication in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
1.5. Climate change hitting Arctic faster, harder
24 April 2008,WWF
Climate change is having a greater and faster impact on the Arctic than previously thought, according to a new study by the WWF.
The new report, called Arctic Climate Impact Science – An Update Since ACIA, represents the most wide-ranging reviews of arctic climate impact science since the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) was published in 2005.
The new study found that change was occurring in all arctic systems, impacting on the atmosphere and oceans, sea ice and ice sheets, snow and permafrost, as well as species and populations, food webs, ecosystems and human societies.
Melting of arctic sea ice and the Greenland Ice Sheet was found to be severely accelerated, now even prompting the expert scientists to discuss whether both may be close to their “tipping point” (the point where, because of climate change, natural systems may experience sudden, rapid and possibly irreversible change).
“The magnitude of the physical and ecological changes in the Arctic creates an unprecedented challenge for governments, the corporate sector, community leaders and conservationists to create the conditions under which arctic natural systems have the best chance to adapt,” said Dr Martin Sommerkorn, one of the report’s authors and Senior Climate Change Adviser at WWF International’s Arctic Programme.
“The debate can no longer focus only on creating protected areas and allowing arctic ecosystems to find their balance.”
According to last year’s reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if the entire Greenland Ice Sheet were to melt, sea levels would rise 7.3 metres, making its status a global concern. While it is currently impossible to accurately predict how much of the ice sheet will be melting, and over which time, the new report shows there has been a far greater loss of ice mass in the past few years, much more than had been predicted by scientific models.
Likewise, the loss of summer arctic sea ice has increased dramatically, with record lows reached in 2005 and — way more dramatic — in 2007. In September 2007, the sea ice shrank to 39 per cent below its 1979-2000 mean, the lowest since satellite monitoring began in 1979 and also the lowest for the entire 20th century based on monitoring from ships and aircraft.
“When you look in detail at the science behind the recent arctic changes it becomes painfully clear how our understanding of climate impacts lags behind the changes that we are already seeing in the Arctic,” said Sommerkorn. “This is extremely dangerous, as some of these arctic changes have the potential to substantially warm the earth beyond what models currently forecast. That is because climate models don’t currently adequately incorporate important underlying drivers of the arctic changes we are already observing, such as the interaction between sea ice thickness and water temperature.”
The Arctic is not only one of the places on earth most vulnerable to climate change, but also a place where vulnerability is of urgent global relevance. WWF calls for a two-pronged strategy to minimize the impacts of climate change.
“We need to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases to levels that will avoid the continued warming of the Arctic and the anticipated resulting disruption of the global climate system,” said Sommerkorn.
“At the same time, we need to simultaneously reduce the vulnerability of social and environmental systems of the Arctic by reducing threats from human activity and building ecosystem resilience — the ability of ecosystems to remain stable when under a lot of pressure.”
WWF will launch this report at a meeting of the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental forum of arctic nations on Thursday. “It is now in the hands of the arctic nations to act upon this evidence for climate impacts,” said Sommerkorn. “They can make a difference if they act strongly, and fast. It is not too late to throw the wheel around. It is just way too late for business as usual.”
2.1. Green schemes for biofuel crops set to fail
22 April 2008, Friends of The Eart Europe
New research reveals food prices, environment and people left unprotected
Buenos Aires (Argentina) / Brussels (Belgium), April 22, 2008 – Attempts to use certification schemes to reduce the widespread environmental and social problems caused by growing crops for fuels and animal feeds are bound to fail, states a new report released today by Friends of the Earth groups.
The report is released on the eve of a controversial April 23-24 meeting in Buenos Aires set to discuss the certification of growing soy, a crop expanding rapidly to meet the increasing demand for fuel and the world’s most-used animal feed.
The report from Friends of the Earth groups comes amid global worries about the increasingly tragic impacts of rising food prices. Biofuels – plants grown to make fuel not food – have been blamed as one factor driving this trend.
Where they are grown in intensive agricultural systems, such as environmentally-damaging large-scale monoculture plantations, biofuels are called agrofuels. Their spread is creating even more pressure on land and further exacerbates existing problems.
"The expansion of massive monocultures leads to the destruction of our forests, savannahs and wildlife, raises land and food prices and directly impacts on rural communities who are forced off their land to make way for the plantations. Unfortunately certifying large monocultures as sustainable would mislead international consumers and not improve production methods. Increasing production for export, and increasing consumption in the North, are destructive trends that must be reversed," said Lucia Ortiz of Friends of the Earth Brazil.
"Whilst we feed cars and factory farms with cheap crops from the South, food prices rocket, forests are destroyed and people suffer. Certifying these crops as green, even if well intentioned, is a smokescreen that will fool the public and let the problems continue. The really green answer is to reduce the demand for these crops in the first place," said Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe.
The report investigates all the major certification schemes being introduced to minimise the environmental and social problems from growing soy and sugar cane in Latin America and concludes that:
* the rapid expansion of soy and sugar cane plantations pushes out other farming elsewhere causing deforestation, loss of wildlife and huge social problems, including violent conflicts and forced land evictions. All certification schemes fail to solve this major problem.
* knock-on effects such as rising food prices fall outside of all proposed certification schemes.
* it is highly unlikely that any of the certification schemes will be fully implemented and effectively monitored, thereby introducing considerable risk that schemes will be open to fraud and consumers will be deceived.
* many certification schemes are heavily dominated by large international companies that make their business from selling more and more commodity crops and have little interest in reducing the demand. This has led to widespread rejection from civil society groups in Latin America.
* genetically modified crops are accepted in some schemes as ‘responsible’ or as a mark of sustainability even where their use has led to a massive increase in chemical herbicides, environmental degradation and health problems for rural communities.
Friends of the Earth International also released a separate statement coinciding with the Buenos Aires meeting of the so-called Roundtable on Responsible Soy due to take place on April 23-24 in Buenos Aires. The Roundtable was widely criticised in the statement.
"The companies involved in the Roundtable on Responsible Soy are in a unique position: they control both demand and supply of cheap soy for feed and fuel. But the only solution to the massive problems caused by industrial soy production is to decrease soy production and consumption, which is exactly the opposite of what the companies involved aim at," said Roque Pedace from Friends of the Earth Argentina.
Recent studies including a Friends of the Earth report show that there are also grave environmental and social problems with palm oil, which is widely used in food, feed and agrofuels. The bulk of its production originates in unsustainable oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.
2.2. Bank consortium pulls out nuclear loans
25 April 2008, Greenpeace
Brussels, Belgium — An international bank consortium funding Slovak energy company Slovenske elektrarne (SE), including financial institutions ING, ERSTE, Société Générale and Intesa Sanpaolo, has pulled out of the Mochovce nuclear power plant project. The announcement follows a long campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental organisations highlighting the safety, security and financial risks associated with the project.
"The banks have finally woken up to their responsibilities. The announcement sends a strong signal: nuclear power is a risky business," said Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace EU dirty energy campaigner.
The banks(1) and SE have now agreed that no funding would go to nuclear projects in Slovakia, with the effect that the Slovak state and Italian utility company ENEL, SE’s majority stakeholder (66%), will have to foot the bill. The nine-bank consortium has pledged an €800 million investment plan, which will no longer be used to expand the Mochovce plant, setting back plans to add two reactors designed in the 1970s, several years before the Chernobyl disaster.(2)
SE has tried to dispute the move, but a spokesperson from the consortium has reiterated the announcement. "The bank consortium has clearly understood that the Mochovce project is completely outdated. This is a clear message for nuclear operators that the risks involved are taken seriously by the financial world," said Haverkamp.
Greenpeace filed a complaint with the European Commission on 11 April alleging a breach of competition rules by the Slovak state and market distortion in favour of SE.(3)
3.1. Treaty hot air chills the carbon traders
27 April 2008, Times Online
Uncertainty about the next response to global warming has hit the carbon credits market
Dominic Rushe, New York
THE Manhattan offices of Eco Securities were eerily empty last Thursday morning. Over the rows of unoccupied desks, two men could be seen peering out of the 19th-floor windows — a sight that might have aroused concern considering the company has been in the headlines recently for its plunging share price.
In his corner office, Bruce Usher, the London-listed firm’s chief executive, was quick to explain nothing untoward was about to happen. The staff members were looking for a hawk that had taken to perching on the floor above. The rest of his crew were off for the day to take part in Green Week — an annual eco-awareness jamboree — and were gathering up bottles for recycling.
Usually, Eco Securities staff are employed at the vanguard of another solution to the global ecological crisis. The company is the largest trader of carbon credits, a system established under the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement to tackle global warming, which aims to encourage free-market solutions to the problem.
Global warming is by definition a global problem, and Kyoto established the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a market for tradable credits that western companies can buy to meet their pollution requirements. These are then used to finance green schemes in the developing world.
The world is making ever more hot air. Trade in greenhouse gases, worth about ¤40 billion (£31 billion) last year, is expected to increase to ¤63 billion next year, according to Point Carbon, a market analyst. Most trading is done in London.
But while the principle of the CDM has taken off, policing the market has proved tricky and time-consuming for the market’s under-resourced watchdog, the United Nations. Meanwhile, Eco Securities and the rest of the industry have been hit by an ever-shifting maze of international legislation and byzantine discussions on the next stage of the world’s response to global warming. Eco Securities’ shares have fallen 70% this year.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what is happening and it’s very frustrating,” said Usher.
Despite this, he stressed that the CDM works, and calculates that by 2012 the scheme will have reduced emissions of carbon dioxide by between one and two billion tonnes.
“The problem is that we are emitting 20 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. So in the next five years we are going to emit another 100 billion tonnes. CDM works but it’s just not enough,” he said.
Most of Usher’s problems now centre on the approval of schemes. The UN appoints local inspectors, companies known as designated operation entities, to sign off on the creditworthiness of green schemes.
But the auditors are so overloaded with schemes that Usher said: “You literally cannot book their time. We are having to book designated operation entities a year in advance.
“They are all over capacity. There are about 2,000 projects — we have 400 — and there are only a few of these companies. They simply don’t have the ability to deal with all these projects quickly,” he said.
This would not be a big problem if Eco Securities was not facing such tight deadlines. The credits, like the Kyoto protocol itself, expire in 2012.
At present, those credits are valued to 2012 because nobody knows what will happen after Kyoto expires. Credits are given only once a project is registered, so a one-year delay is a 20% reduction in the value of that credit.
“That is the biggest challenge we face,” said Usher.
Guy Turner, analyst at New Carbon Finance, said that, in the long run, vigorous scrutiny from the UN was a good thing. “It used to be a bit of a black art getting a project through,” he said. “Now it’s much clearer what has to be done. The concerns are about the time it is taking, but the actual rejection rate is very low. The last thing the UN wants is for this scheme to fail.”
Usher said: “The system needs to be adopted not for a few thousand projects but ultimately for millions of projects. There is a will to do that and there are ways to do that.
“There is huge learning going on here. It’s very frustrating when the criticism of the market is so negative.
“We all know that this [global warming] is something t
at is going to be around for the rest of our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes. There is no way we are going to come up with a perfect system in five years. But you have to build on what you have.”
But even if the approval process is sorted out, real questions surround what happens after the Kyoto protocol expires.
Negotiations to replace the treaty began in Bali last December and are expected to culminate late next year. It is a tight timetable and the key nations are divided. If the talks fail, the market’s future may be curtailed.
The world’s governments meet again in Poznan, Poland, in December. America and Australia had been among the biggest countries to hold out against the treaty, but Australia has now signed up, and in America all three presidential candidates are far greener than George Bush.
If America finally signs up to the idea of carbon credits, companies such as Eco Securities could suddenly find their fortunes rising sharply.
America already has a domestic trading system for sulphur dioxide (the main component of acid rain) and analysts said it could be used as a model for a carbon-credit market.
But the uncertainty over the CDM looks set to continue even after Poznan, said Turner. Ultimately, governments may even decide that the CDM is not the best way of curbing the world’s carbon problems, he said.
“The carbon-credit market’s problem is that it affects the whole world and is therefore subject to the very different political and economic needs of all those different countries. It’s not for the faint-hearted.”
3.2. Bush: US to halt greenhouse gas rise by 2025
15 April 2008, APF
WASHINGTON (AFP) — President George W. Bush Wednesday called for US greenhouse gas emissions to be curtailed from 2025, but was roundly accused of doing too little, too late against climate change.
Despite having abandoned the Kyoto treaty on global warming, Bush said the world’s biggest polluting nation had shown it was serious about reducing growth in planet-heating gases such as carbon dioxide.
"Today, I am announcing a new national goal: to stop the growth of US greenhouse gas emissions by 2025," he said in a speech, without giving specific targets by which to reduce the emissions.
Bush said to reach the 2025 goal, "we will need to more rapidly slow the growth of power-sector greenhouse gas emissions so that they peak within 10 to 15 years, and decline thereafter."
But he did not detail new legal mandates on industry to bring down emissions, and warned Congress against passing new legislation that might "impose tremendous costs on our economy and American families."
Bush instead extolled the promise of new technology to clean up gas emissions, older technology like nuclear power and "clean coal," and a previously announced target to make US vehicles more fuel efficient.
The president’s address, delivered in brilliant spring sunshine in the White House Rose Garden, came on the eve of a meeting of the world’s major polluters in France Thursday and Friday.
Ministers from 16 economies that together account for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are gathering in Paris for the "Major Economies Meeting," the third in a series launched last September by Bush.
Kyoto’s binding commitments, which Bush has rejected, expire in 2012. The president came belatedly to the climate change cause, and now stands accused of trying to ram through a diluted new regime that will focus on voluntary action rather than mandatory cuts.
Elizabeth Bast, director of international programs with Friends of the Earth, said Bush’s 2025 goal was "clearly not enough to deal with the problem."
"It’s definitely too little and way too late, after eight years of doing nothing," she told AFP.
"It’s an effort to sidetrack what’s going on in the international negotiations, and the rest of the world shouldn’t be influenced by this given that the US administration is going to change soon."
The Sierra Club, the largest US environmental group, said Bush’s plan to halt emissions growth was "woefully deficient."
"Scientists tell us that we need to cut total emissions at least 15-20 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050, in order to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming," executive director Carl Pope said.
But Bush, having rejected Kyoto for its failure to apply binding gas targets on fast-growing China and India, said the United States would not take unilateral action that imperils US industry and jobs.
The United States supports a post-Kyoto regime that encompasses every major economy "and gives none a free ride," the president said, looking forward to climate change talks at a Group of Eight summit in Japan in July.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, said Bush had flunked the climate change challenge in his final year in office.
Pelosi said Bush should back efforts in Congress to "cap and trade" greenhouse gas emissions, along with individual efforts of states like California that his administration has fought in the courts.
"As we are honored by the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the president should heed his warnings about our moral responsibility to act, calling for a ‘strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible’," she said.
James Connaughton, chairman of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, said Bush was focused on realistic goals rather than "fancy rhetoric."
"I challenge any critic … to show us a path that gets us further and faster than the president has proposed in a way that doesn’t harm our economy," he told reporters.
3.3. Shell boss Jeroen van der Veer says EU carbon plan could destroy oil industry in Europe
25 April 2008, TIMESonline
Jeroen van der Veer, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, has given warning that a proposed European Union scheme to force companies to pay for carbon emissions permits previously handed out free threatens to destroy Europe’s petrochemicals and refining industry.
Mr van der Veer told The Times that the EU needed to be careful not to trigger an exodus of European jobs and investment offshore with no net reduction in global emissions.
Speaking in The Hague, he said that the proposals would undermine the competitiveness of a struggling industry and have a cascading impact on Europe’s wider economy because of the close links between the region’s oil, chemicals and plastics industries, which collectively support nearly two million jobs.
He said: “In the past 20 years the refining industry in Europe has been very difficult . . . But if we have additional penalties because we move away from a system of free allocations to a large extent, then in such a marginal industry that is a real problem.”
In January the European Commission announced measures designed to cut EU emissions of CO2 by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020. One of the cornerstones was a reform of the emissions trading scheme (ETS), which allocates a free, fixed quota of emissions permits to heavy industry.
The Commission has proposed that from 2013 oil refineries and airlines, and possibly other sectors, will have to pay for 20 per cent of their emissions permits, rising to 100 per cent by 2020. It hopes to formalise the plan by the end of the year.
“We don’t want to threaten draconian measures,” Mr van der Veer said. “We prefer to make the case in a positive way. But it’s a hell of a lot of employment.”
His comments were rejected by Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, the sustainable development charity, who said: “The EU emissions trading scheme is the most important initiative we currently have in the world to tackle climate change. Our major companies need to be getting behind it and investing in a low-carbon future and not trying to undermine positive action.”
Mr van der Veer said that a level playing field for industry was critical if the ETS were to succeed in cutting emissions. He said: “If the regional block is big enough, then that is OK. But it gets very difficult for energy-intensive industries. What will happen if you have to buy auction rights inside EU but not outside?”
He claimed that Europe’s oil-refining industry, which employs about 100,000 people directly and represents 18 per cent of global refining capacity, should be rewarded, not punished, for the progress that it has made to enhance energy efficiency.
“In Europe our industry is already quite efficient,” Mr van der Veer said, “and if [it] is more energy-efficient than elsewhere, then you should not drive that industry away. Maybe we need to benchmark EU industry with the outside world. If it is energy-efficient, you should get a lot of free allocations . . . You have to start with lots of free allocations to get the system to work. Then, over time, you can tighten the measures.” He indicated that the global nature of the oil and chemicals industries would force them towards lower-cost regions. Shell has sold three of its refineries in France because of concerns over profitability.
“The industries are very international,” he said. “A lot of our refining is Middle Eastern oil, a lot of which is then exported to the US.”
Europe’s petrochemicals industry has an annual turnover of €74 billion (£59 billion), according to the European producers’ association.
4.1. Slovenian EU presidency failing to take EU driving seat
24 April 2008, Greenpeace
Brussels, Ljubljana — With only two months of the Slovenian EU presidency left to go and a number of crucial environmental issues on the agenda, Greenpeace has warned that Slovenia must sharpen up its act if it wants to leave a lasting mark on the EU political scene.
“The Slovenian presidency must take the EU’s driving seat and not sit back while bigger EU players steer decisions to their own advantage,” said Nina Stros, Greenpeace policy coordinator based in Ljubljana.
Although one of the EU’s smaller member states and the first ever Eastern European country to hold the presidency, Slovenia has shown poor leadership in advancing the EU’s environmental ambition. In November 2007, Greenpeace launched the ‘Slovenian EU Presidency Watch’ to monitor the environmental performance of Slovenia during its six-month EU presidency from January to June 2008.
Greenpeace will judge Slovenia on progress in the following issues:
– On legislation to reduce car emissions: Slovenia must ensure that EU-wide negotiations are not hijacked by big car manufacturing countries, such as France and Germany, with a vested interest in weakening environmental requirements. Discussions must involve all member states at Council level and ensure a strong commitment to make cars more efficient by 2012.
– On climate targets: after the disappointing outcome of the March European summit, Slovenia must put Europe back on track to reach ambitious climate targets and reject protectionist pressures in favour of heavy industry. Slovenia must show climate leadership at the summer European Council in June and call for scientifically viable 30% emission cuts.
– On GMOs: Slovenia must respond to the concerns of a majority of member states and expose the flaws of the EU’s GMO authorisation process and the inadequacy of the European Food Safety Authority. A wide-ranging debate on these issues must be held at the environment Council on 5 June, as suggested by France.
“Slovenia might present itself as a good host and a capable organiser, but now time is running out and it will have to work hard to make up for a disappointing first term at the helm of Europe,” said Stros.
5.1. WWF position paper on Climate & Energy Package proposals
21 April 2008, WWF
This position paper summarises WWF’s response to the Climate and Energy package of four legislative proposals , which propose concerted EU actions to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. It also responds to the related proposal on emissions of CO2 by cars. Individual position papers are available on each legislative proposal.
Download it at: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/what_we_do/epo/index.cfm?uNewsID=131481
6.1. IPCC Expert Meeting on estimating emissions and removals from land-uses
13-15 May 2008, Helsinki, Finland
More at: http://www.ipcc.ch/
6.2. Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies, 2-13 June 2008, Bonn, Germany
The twenty-eighth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held from 4-13 June 2008.
The second session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 2) and the second part of the fifth session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 5 ) will be held from 2-12 June 2008.
More info at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
6.3. Workshop to prepare the second review of the Kyoto Protocol
Bonn, Germany, 28-29 April 2008
A workshop will be held in Bonn from 28-29 April to discuss the views of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (KP) on how to address a number of issues related to the Protocol. Topics under discussion will include meeting the costs of adaptation, and the scope, effectiveness and functioning of the KP mechanisms, such as the Clean Development Mechanism.
More at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
6.4. 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
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