1.1. China climate chief: EU should not backtrack on Kyoto
23 March 2010, EurActiv
Urging Europe to maintain its leadership in ongoing global climate talks, China’s top climate negotiator said the EU should not step back but instead put pressure on other developed countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol to make comparable emission cuts.
Speaking to journalists yesterday (22 March) in Brussels, Su Wei, general director of the climate change department at the Chinese Development and Reform Commission, stressed countries should continue negotiations under the two-track approach embodied by the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Wei was in Brussels for a meeting with EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard. During their "candid and very frank exchange of views," he spelled out China’s intention to form a constructive partnership with the EU ahead of the UN-led climate conference in Cancún next December.
China has underlined the need to implement the Copenhagen Accord with political consensus between all parties to sustain the political momentum on fighting climate change that has attracted the attention of millions of people.
"The EU wants to maintain a leading role and it should maintain it," said Wei. "But it should do so under the Bali roadmap," he added, stressing that China has always favoured a dual-track negotiation process whereby rich countries maintain under the Kyoto Protocol their legally-binding emission reduction commitments and other countries make comparable efforts along the UNFCCC track.
Wei said he hoped the EU would stick to its commitments and even raise its target to 30% emission reductions by 2020. "It should go up to 30% but not before the US states its target," he said.
The Chinese climate chief noted that unless the US comes up with a legally-binding emission reduction target, the outcome of the Cancún climate conference will be difficult to predict. "We are not pessimistic now that the US has passed the health bill," Wei said, noting that Washington could now turn its attention to climate legislation.
Last June, the US House of Representatives narrowly passed a cap-and-trade bill that would require reductions in industrial greenhouse gas emissions and would allow pollution permits to be traded on a new regulated market, modelled on the EU’s emissions trading scheme. But the global warming bill is stuck in the Senate, where some members have been trying to find a compromise.
Wei is convinced that if the EU tries to bridge the divide between developed and developing countries, which triggered the collapse of talks several times last year, the resulting trust and solidarity could lead to a global deal.
"The EU, united with developing countries, should jointly prompt the US to come up with more vigorous efforts," he stressed, describing such an approach as a winning climate diplomacy tactic.
1.2. Letter to Climate Commissioner on Fuel Quality Directive Implementation
24 March 2010, T&E
More at: http://transportenvironment.org/Publications/prep_hand_out/lid/575
1.3. Ethiopia calls for common stand from developing countries at climate change negotiations in Mexico
26 March 2010, People’s Daily Online
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Thursday that developing countries should have common stand at the climate change negotiations expected to be held in Cancun, Mexico.
Meeting here with Xie Zhenhua, the vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Meles said that developed countries have to pay compensation to developing countries under the common but differentiated responsibilities initiative. Xie Zhenhua said China supports that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown co- chair a new high-level advisory group on climate change financing to mobilize the finance promised for addressing climate change during the UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen in December.
He told journalists after the meeting that Ethiopia and Africa have similar stand with China on issues related to climate change.
Hence, China is keen to work together with Ethiopia and the African Union in particular at the climate change negotiations to be held in Mexico, Xie said.
1.4. De Boer: UN climate deal ‘possible in 2011’
25 March 2010, EurActiv
The UN conference in Cancún next December needs to set the basis for a new climate change treaty in 2011, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.
"For me the first challenge for Cancún is to turn the Copenhagen Accord and turn the other decisions which were near agreement in Copenhagen into a functioning architecture," De Boer said.
Such an agreement, he said, would gather adaptation, mitigation, technology and finance together "into a functioning architecture that really gives developing countries the confidence that it’s going to be in their interest to move forward," de Boer said.
"I think it is possible to reach a final agreement in 2011 in South Africa," De Boer argued.
But before a deal is struck, a common understanding is needed on what it would actually mean for an agreement to be legally-binding in nature, the UNFCCC chief stressed. Although the EU and many developing countries insist on the need for a legally-binding agreement, there is little understanding at the moment of what this would mean in practice.
"Is it a treaty that’s binding at the international level, is it a treaty that’s binding at the national level, or is it a treaty that’s binding through the implementation rules that it’s given, or is it all three? That needs to be clear first."
De Boer said the EU could play an instrumental role in furthering such debates and driving the negotiations forward.
In his eyes, the EU has not lost leadership on climate change diplomacy despite being sidelined on the final stretch of the Copenhagen negotiations (EurActiv 19/12/09). European leaders, he stressed, made "significant contributions" to getting the final accord signed.
"Europe also made proposals which ultimately didn’t make it into the Copenhagen Accord but maybe will make it into a future agreement," he added.
"I think the priority for the EU now is to move its part of the $30 billion short-term finance in a credible way to support the priorities of developing countries," de Boer said.
Financing will be key to bridging the divide between the rich and poor countries, de Boer further stressed. He said that in addition to prompt delivery of fast-start financing, a financial architecture to dispatch the $100 billion pledged by industrialised nations will be needed to reassure the poorest countries that the funds will support their priorities.
"What we should be doing under the context of the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] is setting the parameters for finance, identifying the countries that should receive priority support, identifying the issues that should receive priority support, identifying how support should be provided, for example within the context of nationally-approved adaptation and mitigation strategies," the UN climate executive said.
One of the stumbling blocks to agreeing a fully-fledged treaty has been the attitude of the US. The political agenda in Washington has been hijacked by healthcare reform, delaying the passing of climate legislation. De Boer was nevertheless positive about the Obama administration’s ability to contribute to the negotiations in Cancún even if there is no domestic legislation in place by then.
"There is a continuous communication between the [US] Administration and the Senate to ensure that whatever is agreed will meet the basic conditions which the Senate has," he said. He stressed the importance of making sure that any agreement struck would subsequently be acceptable to all national parliaments.
"I think it’s important to remember that not a single one of the countries that signed up to a target in Kyoto had the national legislation in place," de Boer said, stressing that the UN process has demonstrated its capacity to work.
2.1. UK lawmakers slam national policy statements on energy planning
23 March 2010, Platts
UK lawmakers have heavily criticized the policy statements that the government had hoped would speed up planning decisions on new energy infrastructure.
A report published Tuesday by the cross-party House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee calls for parliament to be given a vote on the statements, asks the government to review its projections of future power and gas supplies, and slams the lack of public consultation on the documents.
The report may raise concern in the energy industry about the ability of the government to get its new infrastructure planning system in action, raising the possibility of further delay for new nuclear power plants and gas storage facilities. There was already considerable uncertainty about the planning process because the opposition Conservative party has pledged to make changes to the Labour government’s new system if it comes to power in an election expected in May.
CALL FOR VOTE, REVIEW OF PROJECTIONS
Paddy Tipping, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, called for parliament to debate and have the possibility to vote on whether to accept the national policy statements. The statements would set out government policy on the need for new energy infrastructure. They would guide the actions of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, which opened to business March 1. In the future the IPC, independent of government, would decide whether to grant planning permission.
In the past planning permission had often got caught up in delays at local council level, or with long appeals to government ministers. "As ministers will no longer determine planning consent for nationally important infrastructure in the future, it is vital that the national policy statements are underpinned by full democratic mandate," Tipping said. The report also suggests government review its projections of future supply and demand, raising doubts about current projections.
The government is aiming to source around 30% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. The report says the need to build more renewables may not be "expressed adequately" in the national policy statements. But crucially the committee also raise doubts about the ability of the government to bring on so much green power. "We are concerned that there are perceived doubts over the credibility of the target for renewable generation," it says.
The government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in July 2009, suggested increased renewable and nuclear power, and energy efficiency, would cut UK gas demand by 29% by 2020. But the committee doubts if this will be possible, and says network operator National Grid’s view differed.
"We recommend the government looks again at its predictions for gas demand and adjusts its assessment of the need for new gas supply infrastructure accordingly," the report states.
NEED FOR GREATER CLIMATE CHANGE INPUT, CONSULTATION
The committee also believes that climate change policies should have a greater impact on the new planning commission’s decisions. The report says the government should adopt the independent Committee on Climate Change’s proposal that the power sector should be fully decarbonized by 2030. That would give a better framework for the IPC’s decisions. The CCC should also be consulted on all future decisions by the IPC, the report argues.
Some of the harshest criticism in the report is directed at the lack of consultation on the national policy statements. "It is clear that the government’s consultation has not gone far enough," the report says. "It is unfortunate too that the publication of the draft national policy statements has come so late in the current parliament, thus constraining the time available for consultation and parliamentary scrutiny."
That raises the possibility that the statements, if adopted, may face legal challenges, as witnesses had suggested to the committee’s evidence sessions. Legal challenges could slow the whole planning system down further. It wouldn’t be the first time government policy had been derailed by a legal challenge. In February 2007 Greenpeace won a court order quashing a government energy white paper in favor of new nuclear power because the government had not consulted adequately during 2006. The government was forced to consult again, delaying its plans by months.
The Conservative party already argues that the new IPC system is not democratic enough–a criticism picked up by Tipping’s comments that the statements must be given a democratic mandate.
The Conservatives said last Friday in their new energy policy paper that they would make the IPC part of the government Planning Inspectorate and that they would give a minister, not the chair of the IPC, the final say on applications.
2.2. German program cleared to turn defined energy savings into ERUs
25 March 2010, Platts
Imtech has been cleared by Germany’s Emissions Trading Authority DEHSt to run a program that transforms clients’ energy savings into Emission Reduction Units, the technical services provider said in a statement Thursday. Imtech’s Climate Protection Program bundles energy savings and reduced carbon emissions resulting from certain tightly-defined actions, and "transforms these into carbon emission rights and subsequently trades them on the European market," it said.
The revenue from the sale of ERUs is then transferred pro rata to the participants’ accounts, Imtech said. "This way, Imtech gives its clients a financial incentive to invest in sustainable solutions like geothermal heat storage, the generation of own energy from biomass and thermal energy," it said.
"The program is restricted to German clients who are going ahead with pre-term conversions of heating systems, or fuel switching from oil to gas, or gas to biomass," Imtech’s Peter Eilers told Platts. "These are small-scale projects, and the investment must be voluntary, not enforced by external conditions."
2.3. EU report signals U-turn on biofuels target
25 March 2010, Reuters
The European Union appears to be backtracking on its biofuels policy with a new study showing that more than 5.6 percent of biofuel in road fuels can damage the environment.
EU leaders agreed in 2008 that 10 percent of transport fuels should come from renewable sources by 2020 — mostly biofuels as electric cars would still be in their infancy.
But environmentalists criticized the target, saying it would affect the way land is used around the world, forcing up food prices and encouraging deforestation.
The EU’s most comprehensive biofuels modeling exercise yet was made public Thursday, but is based on having just 5.6 percent of biofuel in road fuels.
Experts say the 10 percent figure was shaved to 5.6 percent partly by exaggerating the contribution of electric cars in 2020, forecasting they will represent 20 percent of new car sales. That figure is between two and six times the car industry’s own estimate.
They also say the study exaggerates to around 45 percent the contribution of bioethanol — the greenest of all biofuels — and consequently downplays the worst impacts of biodiesel.
Bioethanol’s contribution is around 19 percent today.
But it was not clear if the Commission had intentionally given unrealistic data to the consultancy that handled the project, or whether it was preparing for a policy change.
"The 5.6 percent figure is not based on an honest reflection of reality, or else the Commission is preparing to backtrack on its target," one EU official said.
At the center of the debate is an issue dryly referred to as "indirect land use change," which has put palm oil producers in Malaysia and Indonesia in the cross-hairs of environmentalists.
Critics say that regardless of where they are grown, biofuels compete for land with food crops, forcing farmers worldwide to expand into areas never farmed before — sometimes by hacking into tropical rainforest or draining peatlands.
Burning forests and draining wetlands can pump vast quantities of climate-warming emissions into the atmosphere, cancelling out any theoretical climate benefit from the fuel.
But the study found the effects were not significant until EU biofuel use reached a certain point.
"Indirect land use change effects do indeed offset part of the emission benefits, but are not a threat at the currently estimated volume of 5.6 percent of road transport fuels required," a European Commission statement said.
The report said that if the amount of biofuels were raised above 5.6 percent, "there is a real risk that indirect land use change could undermine the environmental viability of biofuels."
"The EU is gambling with the future of tropical forests and with climate-damaging greenhouse gases," said campaigner Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe. "This demands an urgent review of EU biofuels policy."
Vegetable oils can be used in biodiesel, which has led to worries of increasing food prices as food crops get diverted to feed Europe’s growing car fleet. But the study found little impact at 5.6 percent.
"The effect of EU biofuels policies on food prices will remain very limited, with a maximum price change on the food bundle of plus 0.5 percent in Brazil and plus 0.14 percent in Europe," it said.
This finding contradicts other studies by the Commission, which showed that EU biofuel targets could raise the price of cereals and vegetable oils by 10 percent and 35 percent respectively, creating food shortages in the developing world.
The European Biodiesel Board said its members faced tougher scrutiny than other vegetable oil buyers in the food industry, power generation or oleochemicals.
"Once this directive is in place, EU biofuels will be the most monitored and scrutinized product in the world," said secretary general Raffaello Garofalo.
3.1. U.N. panel suspends two more carbon emissions auditors
26 March 2010, Reuters
The reputation of a Kyoto Protocol carbon finance scheme was dealt another blow after a UN climate panel late on Friday suspended the third emissions cut verifier in 15 months, and partially suspended a fourth.
The scheme’s executive board suspended emissions auditors TUEV SUED and partially suspended Korea Energy Management Corporation (KEMCO) after spot checks at the companies’ offices revealed procedural breaches.
The board, an arm of the UN’s climate change secretariat, said it will work with TUEV SUED and KEMCO to ensure timely resolution of the issues.
Under Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), companies can invest in greenhouse gas cuts in developing countries and in return receive carbon offsets which they can sell for profit.
In the tightly regulated $33 billion market, clean energy projects need to be validated by private sector certification firms called designated operational entities (DOEs). DOEs also verify the emissions cuts before projects can receive offsets from the UN.
Germany ‘s TUEV SUED is the second largest CDM validator having approved 1,147 projects or nearly one fifth of all validated to the end of February.
The firm is also a major emissions cuts verifier, confirming from some 100 projects reductions of nearly 84 million tonnes of CO2, or 21 percent of the 395 million tonnes verified to date.
By contrast, KEMCO is much smaller, validating only 0.8 percent of all projects so far and verifying the cuts for a single project.
The CDM’s executive board said it suspended TUEV SUED for not following procedures and for giving "a positive validation opinion to some projects even though it had concerns about additionality."
Additionality refers to projects needing to prove they are financially unviable without the prospect of receiving funding through the CDM.
The board said it also had concerns over the qualifications of some of TUEV SUED’s personnel.
The board rejected KEMCO’s re-accreditation application due to issues also including employee qualifications.
Both firms can continue with existing work but are barred from taking on new validations or verifications, the board said.
"There’s such a backlog of offset issuances (at the UN) that a suspension merely means TUEV SUED’s issuances will be replaced by other ones," said Alessandro Vitelli of IDEAcarbon, adding that it likely will not immediately affect offset prices.
The CDM’s board suspended DOEs SGS UK last September and DNV in December 2008. Both have since been reinstated, but analysts said the effects of the suspensions on offset supplies have not yet been fully felt by the market.
The board also confirmed on Friday the accreditation of another DOE, TUEV NORD, after it passed a similar spot check.
The board registered around 40 projects, mainly in China, including some 24 hydroelectric dams and six wind farms.
It rejected registration requests from three projects in China, two cement plant waste heat recovery projects and a hydroelectric dam, collectively expected to generate over 500,000 tonnes in carbon cuts by 2012, according to UN data.
Britain ‘s Climate Change Capital and Dutch bank Rabobank were listed as offset buyers for the projects.
The board’s meeting report can be read at cdm.unfccc.int/EB/index.html. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for May 24-28.
3.2. EU sees 2009 emissions data release on April 1
26 March 2010, Reuters
The European Commission said it will likely publish preliminary 2009 carbon emissions data from European energy-intensive industry on April 1, it said on its website on Friday.
The Commission usually releases the data after 80 percent of it has been collected from almost 12,000 installations.
When the threshold is reached an announcement will be made on the Commission and Community International Transaction Log website at 0700 GMT (0900 CEST) and access to the data will be granted at 1000 GMT (0600 EDT).
"Experience in previous years indicates that the 80 percent threshold will most likely be attained on 1 April 2010," the Commission said.
However, the Commission will be closed for Easter holidays from April 1 to 5, prompting some to speculate that the data would not be available until April 6.
A press officer for the Commission’s Climate Action Unit told Reuters there would still be a skeleton staff in place over the Easter holiday.
The data is closely watched by the carbon market and can impact carbon prices in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.
Figures for 2009 are expected to show a decline in carbon dioxide emissions due to lower industrial output in the economic downturn.
4.1. Single voice, single chair? How to re-organise the EU in international negotiations under the Lisbon rules
This paper by CEPS Research Fellow Piotr Kaczyñski explores the possibilities offered to the EU as an actor in international negotiations as a result of the provisions and the ‘spirit’ of the Treaty of Lisbon and against the background of the complex internal political situation in the EU. Following a review of the previous decision-making system, which many stakeholders would like to see preserved, he examines the relevant provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon. He then looks at how the system can be reformed in order to improve the EU’s leverage and effectiveness in international negotiations. The EU’s experience in the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen is used for purposes of illustration.
Download it at: http://www.ceps.be/ceps/download/3040
4.2. Is efficient sufficient?
Physical limits in the atmosphere’s ability to absorb additional greenhouse gas emissions without causing fundamental changes in the earth’s climate lend a new urgency to efforts to reduce energy consumption. Central to those efforts is the art of defining, testing, and specifying the energy efficiency of particular products such as appliances, televisions, homes and vehicles that account for the majority of consumer energy use.
Read the report here: http://www.eceee.org/sufficiency
5.1. The 40% Seminar
Friends of the Earth Europe is happy to invite you to:
The 40% Seminar
40% emission cuts in the EU by 2020:
Mobilising Europe to achieve climate justice
Tuesday, April 27th 2010
14:00 to 18:00 followed by drinks
European Parliament – Room PHS 7 C50
A study released by Stockholm Environment Institute in partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe has proved for the first time that Europe could more than double its current greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2020.
Join the 40% seminar to discuss:
– what scale of emission cuts are technically feasible in Europe by 2020 (and 2050)
– why the EU’s current climate and energy policy is insufficient
– how EU policy can be improved in the short and medium term
Speakers include representatives from:
Cabinet of DG Climate Action
Stockholm Environment Institute
EURIMA (European Insulation Manufacturers Association)
UK Government (tbc)
Please register at www.thebigask.eu before Friday 16 April
This seminar is organised by Friends of the Earth Europe, working with members of The Greens / European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, The European People’s Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
The speakers at this seminar will show that the EU can do a lot more to combat climate change than its current commitments, and needs to adopt stronger targets for emission reductions, as well as an overarching climate policy framework.
Panellists will discuss how new legislation such as a legally binding EU energy efficiency target, in addition to the already existing renewables target, can help to achieve the necessary 40% domestic emission reductions. They will also look at how an overarching policy tool modelled on the UK climate law can be applied at the European level.
More at: http://www.thebigask.eu/40percentstudy/seminar/
5.2. European Sustainable Energy Policy Seminar
Inforce Europe, April 27, 2010
More at: http://www.inforse.org/europe/seminar_2010_BXL.htm
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected]