1.1 Denmark opts for open trade under EU climate plan
24 January 2008, Reuters, UK
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union should avoid trade protectionism when implementing its energy package on fighting climate change, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday.
Rasmussen said he was against forcing importers in the 27-nation bloc to buy carbon emissions certificates if they brought in certain goods from countries that did not strive to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.
"I’m all in favor of reciprocity. However, it is a very defensive answer to the challenges of globalization to introduce protectionism and trade defensive instruments," he said after talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
"The only way for Europe to ensure competitiveness, to ensure job creation, is openness, is free trade, is investment in competitive, improving measures like research, development and education," Rasmussen told a joint news conference.
The Commission proposed on Wednesday sweeping measures to reduce emissions of gases blamed for global warming and increase the amount of energy produced from renewable sources.
Many businesses complained obeying the rules would harm them in global competition by making their products more expensive.
The Commission said if there were no global deal to curb emissions, succeeding the Kyoto Protocol on climate change after 2012, the EU may consider forcing importers to buy permits.
The United States has strongly criticized the idea.
(Reporting by Marcin Grajewski; editing by James Jukwey)
1.2. Climate change ‘significantly worse’ than feared: Al Gore
24 January 2008, AFP
DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) — Climate change is occurring far faster than even the worst predictions of the UN’s Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change foresaw, Al Gore warned Thursday.
New evidence shows "the climate crisis is significantly worse and unfolding more rapidly than those on the pessimistic side of the IPCC projections had warned us," the former US vice president and climate campaigner told delegates at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
There are now forecasts that the North Pole ice cap may disappear entirely during summer months in as little as five years, Gore said.
"This is a planetary emergency. There has never been anything remotely like it in the entire history of human civilisation. We are putting at risk all of human civilisation," he added.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report the size of three phone books on the reality and risks of climate change, its fourth assessment in 18 years.
In October both Gore and the IPCC, comprising around 3,000 experts, jointly won a Nobel prize for their roles in highlighting climate change.
Gore said a "little bit of progress" had been made at December’s climate conference in Bali, Indonesia.
He added though that there was a "big, large blank spot" in the road map agreed in Bali, reserved for the United States’ environmental policy once a new president is elected in November and inaugurated in January.
He said that the single most important policy that could be implemented would be a tax on carbon emissions that is applied across the whole world, "so that those who don’t pay the price for carbon don’t have an advantage over those who do."
"I think it is really important from a climate change point of view to move away from the idea that personal actions from each of us represents the solution to this crisis.
"These are important… but in addition to changing the light bulbs it is important to change the laws," Gore said.
He stopped short of endorsing any US presidential candidate but said that "whoever is elected will have a better position" on climate change than the current administration of US President George W. Bush.
Gore was appearing at Davos beside Africa activist and U2 frontman Bono in an effort to combine the fights against climate change and poverty.
"The brunt of this climate crisis is going to be felt in the developing world. All your work… will be undone if you don’t focus on this," Bono said.
"It is clear that those people who have least created this climate crisis… are the least equipped to deal with it."
Gore added: "I want to say to everyone who wants to solve the climate crisis, they have to take Bono’s agenda on extreme poverty, on fighting disease and dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis and make it an integral part of the world’s effort to solve the climate crisis."
1.3. EU countries more talk than action on efficiency: EC report
24 January 2008, Platts
Brussels – EU countries appear to be failing to back up their political commitments to energy efficiency with the measures and resources needed, the European Commission concluded in a report published Wednesday.
The report is the EC’s first assessment of EU countries’ national energy efficiency action plans detailing how they plan to save 9% of their energy use compared with business as usual by 2016. "Although the action plans provide some encouragement, there appears to be a gap between the political commitment to energy efficiency and the proposals aimed at facing up to these challenges," the EC said in a statement.
EU countries agreed to the indicative 9% target in the 2006 EU energy efficiency law. This law required them to submit their first national action plans by end-June 2007.
But only two of the 27 EU countries–Finland and the UK–met the deadline, and only 15 more were submitted in time to be assessed in this first report.
Of the 17 plans assessed, "several present comprehensive strategies that are likely to deliver important savings," said the EC. "While most seem to present a business-as-usual approach, some are more progressive, but without a clear definition as to what the new measures will be and how they will be implemented.
Five EU countries have adopted higher targets than the 9% by 2016 minimum: Cyprus (10%), Lithuania (11%), Italy (9.6%), Romania (13.5%) and Spain (11% by 2012).
Some EU countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK say they intend to achieve higher targets, said the EC’s report, without giving "clear formal commitments." This could "confuse the strong signal" to market actors to increase energy efficiency.
Six of the plans don’t cover the full nine years, said the report, making it difficult to assess their likelihood of meeting the 2016 target.
In March 2007 EU leaders backed EC proposals that the EU should aim to save 20% of its final energy use by 2020 compared with business as usual, and EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs has said that energy efficiency is his top priority for his remaining time in office to 2009.
The EC plans to propose more measures by 2009 to promote energy efficiency, including for buildings, combined heat and power plant and energy-using products.
1.4. EU agrees goal for climate deal by April 2009
24 Januar 2008, Reuters
BRUSSELS – EU President Slovenia and the three countries that will succeed it in the EU chair agreed with European Parliament leaders on Thursday to aim to enact ambitious laws on energy and climate change by April 2009.
Slovenian Environment Minister Janez Podobnik told a joint news conference with his French, Czech and Swedish counterparts the aim was to pass legislation on the measures proposed by the European Commission before the June 2009 European elections.
The Commission outlined ambitious proposals on Wednesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, increase the use of renewable energy in power production to 20 percent and use 10 percent of biofuels for transport by 2020.
"We would like to arrive at first concrete results as soon as possible … leading to final adoption of the package by spring 2009 at the latest," Podobnik said.
He said the main political groups and committees in the European Union legislature had pledged to work fast to achieve an agreement on first reading with the 27 EU member states, rather than the slower procedure of a second reading.
French Secretary of State for Ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told reporters she hoped they might even reach a political accord late this year under France’s six-month EU presidency, in time for a climate conference in Poznan, Poland.
The ministers did not discuss objections to the package from energy-intensive industries, which want a better guarantee of protection from competitors in less environmentally regulated countries, and from some member states to national CO2 targets.
Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said a quick deal based on the Commission package would enable Europe to take the lead in negotiations on an international agreement to fight global warming due to conclude in Copenhagen in December 2009.
"It’s also a way to show that Europe should really and will really be prepared for Copenhagen in 2009," he said.
(Reporting by Paul Taylor, editing by Dale Hudson)
1.5. EU faces tough climate change road
23 January 2008, BBC news
The climate change targets were never going to be easy to reach by 2020, but some EU countries have already suggested they might be too hard. Here is a selection of responses from across Europe.
On top of a 20% target for cuts in emissions not part of the trading sector, Denmark will have to double its share of renewable energy by 2020.
Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard told the BBC News website the targets were "rather harsh" and the emissions target in particular would be a "very, very tough burden".
She wanted to know how the commission had come to the figure of 20% when Germany (14%) and the UK (16%) were being asked for smaller cuts.
Ms Hedegaard said the problem was that a great deal had been done to improve domestic heating, so the main areas the government would have to look at were transport and agriculture.
She said Denmark had doubled the share of renewables in energy use since 1997 and suggested that Brussels should be careful about rewarding other countries for their inaction.
Like Denmark, Sweden feels hard done by. It has the highest share of renewable energy consumption across the EU (40.8%) and is being told to increase that to 49%. Its carbon cut is also among the highest at 17%.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Sweden was "well-placed" to meet the targets and told reporters "we plan to take on a leadership role".
The view from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise was less compromising. Its chief executive, Urban Backstrom, was quoted as saying: "The government needs to negotiate down the Swedish targets… we have not been given credit for the work we’ve already done."
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn described the commission’s package as "a message of hope".
He said that what had been announced was very ambitious and it was going to be "quite challenging for a number of member states, including the UK".
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn
Mr Benn says the UK will play its part, if everyone else does
"That increase in renewables (from 1.3% to 15%) is going to be a big step up from where we are now but we’re confident that we can do it. We’ll have to work very hard on it."
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the report and said business was "willing to meet the challenge". Director general Richard Lambert called on the commission to follow through its plan for free allocation of emissions permits to vulnerable sectors of industry.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England warned the government not to sacrifice the quality of the countryside to meet targets to provide biofuel for cars.
The EU’s biggest economy faces a steep increase in the share of renewable energy it produces (from 5.8% to 18%). And Economy Minister Michael Glos fears jobs could be at risk from the 14% target to cut CO2.
"We really don’t need this plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it will destroy jobs in industries which consume a lot of energy," he said.
"We don’t want the European Commission to dictate the rules to us."
But Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel was happier. "It is very balanced, economically viable, very courageous and an ambitious plan for the protection of the climate," he said.
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was broadly supportive of the proposals. In a statement, he said: "The approach signalled by the commission raises very serious economic and social issues for Ireland, and requires very careful consideration."
Dublin said its proposed 16% target for final renewable energy consumption was "broadly in line" with its own aims.
But the government was more cautious about the proposed 20% cut in all of the Republic’s greenhouse gas emissions, both those covered by the emissions trading scheme and those in other sectors of the economy.
It questioned the use of Ireland’s gross domestic product in calculating the target, reminding the commission of its population growth, large agriculture sector and what it termed its "infrastructural deficit".
Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo was upbeat about his country’s target of a 14% cut in CO2 and increase in renewable energy share (9.5%-23%).
In a statement he said France "will maintain its position as a leader in the fight against climate change, and will in 2020 become the most sober carbon-emitting economy in the European Union".
1.6. Business Leaders in Davos Call for a Clear Post-2012 Climate Change Agreement
27 January 2008, Insnet.org
Leading business figures expect clear results from a future framework agreement that includes internationally agreed emission targets to optimize its contribution to tackling climate change, guide investment decisions and avoid market distortions.
Meeting at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, these leaders called upon governments to engage with companies in the process leading to the UN’s 2009 climate change conference Copenhagen.
Post-Bali negotiations and discussions center on determining and agreeing upon actions to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Business, which provides technology and technological innovation, investment capital and management capacity, will be a key player in any efforts to deal with and mitigate the effects climate change.
Business leaders have clearly proclaimed their willingness to step up to the plate and play a pivotal role in any solution. However, business cannot do this in isolation. The development and implementation of technological solutions require clear policy frameworks from governments, including clear emissions targets and legislation tailored to specific technology sectors. Efforts to counter the effects of climate change will require concerted engagement by all stakeholders.
Discussions in Davos provided an opportunity for business to express its need for clarity and engagement during the negotiating process leading to Copenhagen.
"We have the future in our own hands. A global agreement to combat climate change must be reached; for example, a rational handling of the climate change challenge must be made politically possible in every major economy of the world. I firmly believe that global business has a key role to play since political reservations often are based on a fear that local business will be disadvantaged through a global agreement," said Vattenfall AB President and CEO Lars G. Josefsson.
WBCSD President Björn Stigson said: “Our members are in a unique position to make an important contribution that will help govern emissions after 2012, not least because it makes good business sense. They need clarity about policy frameworks; particularly they need governments to be clear about emissions pathways. Business is willing to partner with governments and other stakeholders to create these frameworks.”
“Any solution to address climate change must make good business sense and offer business enough clarity to make the right investment decisions in the upcoming years. This is crucial to successfully fight climate change. This event will give business a firsthand opportunity to engage with governments and express their needs,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, the head of the UNFCCC.
“A clear outcome from negotiations in Copenhagen is essential for the continuity of the rapidly growing carbon market. There are substantial investments flowing through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), but uncertainty about the future of the market after 2012 could easily undo the momentum and hinder future expansion,” said Andrei Marcu, President and CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).
Nobuo Tanaka, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said: “The IEA is pleased to partner with business. We are convinced that the business community will help identify the policies and pathways needed and, with governments taking a leadership role, will use their innovation and ingenuity to overcome the climate change challenge.”
1.7. Japanese PM puts forward new initiative on climate change
26 January 2008, www.chinaview.cn
DAVOS, Switzerland, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda Saturday put forward a "Cool earth 50" initiative aimed at halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The "Cool Earth Promotion Program" will be implemented through three parts: the post-Kyoto framework, international environmental cooperation and innovation, said Fukuda addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting.
Concerning the post-Kyoto framework, Fukuda called on the United Nations to examine at the "earliest possible time strategies and measures" to bring about the peak and halving of greenhouse gas emissions.
At the Bali conference, agreement was reached to establish by the end of 2009 a new framework governing greenhouse gas emissions reductions that would follow up the Kyoto Protocol now in force.
In order to ensure the peaking-out of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is absolutely critical to create a mechanism in which everyone participates, including all major emitters, among other things, said Fukuda.
CLIMATE AND ENERGY PACKAGE REACTIONS
2.1. CAN EU, 23 January 2008: EU Climate and Energy Package Reaction: Lessons learned but class not dismissed!
2.2. FoE Europe, 23 January 2008: Greenhouse gas target too weak to stop climate change http://www.predsedovanje.si/files/package_-_foe_europe_-_press_release.pdf
2.3. Greenpeace Europe, 23 January 2008: EU CLIMATE PACKAGE: A GOOD START But ambitions still do not match the challenge
2.4. WWF, 23 January 2008: WWF complains at EU performance on climate change http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/what_we_do/epo/index.cfm?uNewsID=122420
3.1. Swedish Society for Nature Conservation – 40 % greenhouse gas reduction up until 2020 – how to do it? More: http://www.climnet.org/EUenergy/SSNC.pdf
4.1. Sustainable Energy Week 28 January to Friday 1 February, Brussels, Belgium
Under the umbrella of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign (SEE), the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, the European Institutions, the Slovenian Presidency and major stakeholders concerned with sustainable energy are together putting on the second EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW). It will take place in Brussels, Belgium, and in other cities across Europe from Monday 28 January to Friday 1 February, 2008.
More info: http://www.eusew.eu/
4.2. Renewable Energy Policy Workshop
30 January 2008, Brussels
The workshop will be the first occasion to discuss the draft Directive and is aimed at policy makers at the local, national and European level, i.e. decision makers from the different EU institutions, national governments and local administrations; Renewable Energy market players and other relevant stakeholders (environmental NGOs, consumers groups etc.).
Co-organised by the European Commission, Directorate-General Energy & Transport, Regulatory policy & Promotion of renewable energy unit D.1 (DG-TREN) and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
More info: http://www.erec.org/calendar-of-events/event-sites/workshop.html
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].