1.1. SAARC leaders propose common stand for Cancun
28 april 2010, The Hindu
Having finalised a regional convention on environment, leaders from SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations are now working towards formulating a joint position on tackling global warming that could be voiced effectively at the Cancun climate talks in December.
The desire to have a common SAARC position at the 16th Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun, Mexico, was reflected in speeches of several leaders at the summit of the eight-nation grouping that began here on Wednesday.
“While we have been deliberating on environment as a priority issue for a number of years, it will be a sad commentary on SAARC if we cannot present a well negotiated unified position at COP-16,” Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchhen Thinley said in his address to the summit.
He also offered to host a meeting of the inter-governmental group on the issue.
Leaders from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal have finalised a regional convention on environment.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced ‘India Endowment for Climate Change in South Asia’ to help member states meet their urgent adaptation and capacity building needs.
Dr. Singh also proposed setting up of climate innovation centres in South Asia to develop sustainable energy technologies based on indigenous resource endowments.
The Prime Minister offered services of India’s Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem to the SAARC member states saying that the initiative could serve as a nucleus for regional cooperation in this vital area.
He also lauded Bhutan’s efforts in combining development with conservation of the environment.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pitched for a unified approach to climate change.
“There is now need to lock in the key global players in COP-16 at Mexico later this year for concrete commitments covering greenhouse gas emission cuts and guaranteeing fund and technology,” Ms. Hasina said.
Ms. Hasina also called for SAARC to establish a Himalayan Council modelled on the Arctic Council for assisting the affected countries in the region.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the South Asian voice on this issue guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities must be strongly heard in all international fora. “Those in the developed world who have historically contributed to the climate change must now bear the lion share of the burden to mitigate this phenomenon,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said: “we must also evaluate and take requisite steps to preserve the region’s eco-system and precious water resources.”
He also called for a Joint SAARC Study on Himalayan Glaciers to be commissioned.
On Tuesday, the SAARC Council of Ministers had agreed to seek observer status at the Cancun climate talks in December to better articulate the concerns of the region which is vulnerable to global warming.
1.2. UN report pushes for energy access and efficiency to fight poverty and climate change
29 April 2010, People’s daily online
Increasing access to clean energy and improving its efficiency will be vital to both enhancing global prosperity and combating climate change, according to a report issued Wednesday by an advisory group of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the nexus between energy and climate.
"We need a clean energy revolution — in developing countries, where demand is rising rapidly, and in the developed world, in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions," the secretary-general said at the launch of the publication at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Some 3 billion people worldwide rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, resulting in adverse health effects if used in inadequately ventilated buildings, with 1.5 billion having no access to electricity.
As well as lifting the world’s poorest out of poverty, a well- performing energy system will also propel success towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in spurring industrial development in low- and middle-income countries, according to the report by the high-level Energy and Climate Change Advisory Group.
"The decisions we make today on energy will have a profound impact on the global climate, on sustainable development, on economic growth and global security," the secretary-general said.
According to the World Bank, countries with underperforming energy systems could lose up to 2 percent of growth potential annually due to electric power outages, inefficient use of scarce energy sources and others.
The study by the Advisory Group, set up by Ban last year and comprising 20 business leaders, academics and representatives of the United Nations and civil society called on nations to commitment themselves to two key complementary goals.
First, it calls for universal access to modern energy services that are reliable, affordable, sustainable, and, if possible, from low-emissions sources by 2030.
"All countries have a role to play," the group emphasizes, urging high-income nations to make this a development assistance priority and secure financing, middle-income countries to share relevant expertise and experience; and low-income countries to help create the right local institutional, regulatory and policy environment for investments — including by the private sector — to be made.
The other challenge is to slash global energy intensity, measured by the quantity of energy per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), the study notes.
"Developed and developing countries alike need to build and strengthen their capacity to implement effective policies, market- based mechanisms, business models, investment tools and regulations with regard to energy use," which would reduce intensity by about 2.5 per cent annually and helping to curb carbon emissions in the coming decades.
"These are ambitious goals, but I think they are achievable," Ban told reporters at the report’s launch here Wednesday. "And they are necessary."
At an event earlier this morning, he stressed that tackling the energy challenge cannot be accomplished by governments alone, but will require global cooperation and coordinated action within the UN system.
1.3. Germany to lobby for tougher EU climate goal
28 April 2010, BloombergBusinessweek
Germany says it will lobby for a tougher European Union goal to cut greenhouse gases.
Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said Wednesday Germany wants the EU to commit to cutting its emissions by 30 percent by 2020.
The current unilateral commitment is a 20 percent cut.
He says the recession already has brought the 20-percent-goal within reach and Germany supports the switch to 30 percent.
He says he expects the EU commission to offer a proposal at the end of May.
The EU decided in 2007 it will bring down its emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 in any case, and 30 percent if other industrial nations commit to similar goals in an international climate change treaty.
Environmentalists have urged the EU to drop that condition.
2.1. World needs clean energy revolution: UN chief
28 April 2010, AFP
Rich and poor nations need a "clean energy revolution" in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said here Wednesday.
"We cannot achieve the (poverty-reduction) Millennium Development Goals without providing access to affordable modern energy," he said as he opened a day-long energy conference.
Noting that 1.6 billion people around the world lack access to electricity while two to three billion still rely on traditional energy sources such as firewood, peat or dung, the UN boss said access to energy must be expanded "in the cleanest, most efficient way possible."
Ban spoke as he launched a report by his advisory group on energy and climate change that calls for "universal access to modern energy services" by 2030 and stresses the need to cut energy intensity by 40 percent also by 2030.
Energy intensity is measured by the quantity of energy per unit of economic activity or output.
"The aim of providing universal access should be to create improved conditions for economic take-off, contribute to attaining (the development goals by the 2015 target) and enable the poorest of the poor to escape poverty," the report said.
It added that curbing global energy intensity would require developed and developing countries to strenghthen their capacity to implement effective policies, market-based mechanisms, investment tools and regulations with respect to energy use.
The report said these ambitious goals can be achieved due to technology innovation through adoption of appropriate national strategies and international finance, including innovative financial mechanisms and climate finance.
It said 35 to 40 billion dollars in capital would be needed on average per year to achieve basic universal access to modern energy services (for cooking, heating, lighting, communication and education) by 2030.
The study also said participation by the private sector was essential to meet those goals.
It pointed out that energy access has been dramatically expanded in countries such as China, Brazil and Vietnam while dramatic improvement in energy efficiency has been recorded in China, Denmark, Japan, Sweden and California.
3.1. EU Move to 30% affordable and feasible
30 April 2010, SandBag
There was some very good news for the environment and for supporters of emissions trading in Europe this week. The move to a higher 30% emissions reduction target is, according to the Commission, looking much more affordable and, importantly, the German Environment Minister, Norbert Roettgen, has said he backs it. Such a move would trigger tighter caps under the trading scheme helping to re-balance supply and demand, leading to less emissions and higher prices.
One of the first actions Commissioner Connie Hedegaard took on taking office was to ask for a report into the implications of a move to a higher climate change reduction target. The official report is not expected to be made public until late May but leaked copies of the consultation draft are already circulating. The EU’s number crunching appears to conclude that it would now cost only around €11 bn more to meet a 30% target than the original estimated cost of hitting 20%. The cost difference has reduced drastically as a result of the recession. The Commission originally predicted carbon would trade at around €30 tonne in this trading phase, however, the large surpluses of emissions accruing to industry under the recession have contributed to permits trading at around half this value.
When emissions data for 2009 was published at the start of April it revealed emissions had fallen by 11%, compared to the year before, which followed a fall in the previous year of 6%. The net result: emissions are now below the caps for the first time. Next week Sandbag will launch a new and improved interactive map of all the installations in the EU scheme, illustrating the huge number of installations currently sitting on caps that are comfortably above their emissions. The only way to re-create incentives for investment in abatement in these plant is to shorten the supply of permits. To do this Europe can and must move to a higher target.
Since the failure of Copenhagen, a number of countries have been vocal advocates of the EU adopting the higher target unilaterally, decoupling the decision from the fraught international negotiations. France and the UK have led the way but Germany, until now, has remained quiet. But on Wednesday Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen indicated his support for the policy, making it much more likely it will be adopted. The main blockers remain Italy and Poland but it remains to be seen how strong a resistance they can muster if all the other major countries are in favour. Since Connie’s arrival, the Commission, who had previously been cited as being against the move, have adopted a neutral stance and are busy preparing a scenario for how the higher target could be achieved if it were adopted.
The logic of a higher target and tighter caps is inescapable for those who support the principle of carbon pricing via emissions trading. Rather than creating regulatory uncertainty through discussions about price floors or limits to banking, a tighter cap would be the most efficient way to increase the value of investments in abatement technologies. There is more than enough slack in the system to reduce allocations and still not require drastic cuts from industry. The power sector has always been required to shoulder the effort to meet reductions and is almost certainly set to continue to do so. According to leaked information contained within the Commission’s report, all it would take is for 1.4 bn tonnes of permits to be set aside in a reserve and the ETS could comfortably take us to our higher target. This is important, as Yvo de Boer correctly said, it would be a piece of cake for the EU to meet its current unilateral target – if we want to keep pace with other countries who are embarking on large investments in low carbon solutions we need to up our game. The signs this week indicate that this is more likely than we had thought and this is very welcome news for the environment and for the carbon market.
3.2. Climate Bill Delay Stymies Voluntary CO2 Market
29 April 2010, PlanetArk
Delay to a draft of a U.S. climate change bill this week has frustrated some investors in the voluntary carbon market, who were tipping it to become the template of a federal climate change bill. Many investors are looking for any positive steps toward a U.S. climate bill before committing themselves to the voluntary market.
The so-called Kerry, Graham and Lieberman (KGL) draft was scheduled to be unveiled on Monday but a breakdown in bipartisan talks delayed it.
The bill was expected to indicate how many offsets could be imported under a U.S. emissions trading scheme.
"Factors such as sector, size, start date, auctioning limits and fungible credits were expected by many to be revealed with explicit information possibly jump-starting the moribund U.S. carbon market," said Grattan MacGiffin, head of voluntary carbon markets at brokers MF Global.
The KGL bill could be unveiled at a later date if Senator Graham rejoins talks or Kerry gets more support from climate moderates, but time is short to pass it before November elections.
Prices in the U.S. regional cap-and-trade market RGGI seemed to rise on the prospect of the draft launch but could fall on an extended delay as many participants believe they have a good chance of eligibility in a U.S. federal scheme, MacGiffin said.
"If the draft goes through we will see some speculative trading, particularly of CRTs (Climate Reserve Tonnes). Everyone is waiting for direction before they get into the market."
Voluntary carbon offsets allow individuals and companies to compensate for their own greenhouse gas emissions by funding projects that reduce emissions, often in developing countries.
Green Exchange LLC has filed for status as an independent exchange, the company said this week.
If approved by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the exchange could operate as an independent entity and list futures and options traded in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme as well as those traded in North American markets.
"Once Green Exchange is granted designation by the CFTC, our customers can be confident that their transactions on the exchange will be subject to a very high level of oversight," said Nancy King, chairwoman of Green Exchange’s board.
On Tuesday, the U.S. futures regulator ruled against more oversight for the carbon market in a crack-down on speculative trades in energy and metals.
3.3. Romania to launch carbon trading scheme
28 April 2010, AFP
The Romanian government on Wednesday gave its go ahead to a carbon trading scheme to cut greenhouse gas emissions, hoping to earn up to 2.5 billion euros (3.3 billion dollars) until 2012.
"Romania can trade about 300 million credits, divided into one-million-ton packages," economy minister Adriean Videanu said during a press conference.
The money is set to go to environmental projects, including the closure of polluting companies and investments in renewable energy production.
Carbon dioxide is regarded as the principal greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.
Environment Minister Laszlo Borbely last week said Spain and Japan were interested in buying Romania’s permits, with negotiations due to start soon.
He added Romania was lagging behind in this field, as the trading should have started in 2008.
The carbon trading scheme was adopted under the Kyoto Protocol which sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The reduction in emissions under the protocol should be around five percent over the five-year period 2008-2012 compared to the level in 1990.
3.4. Europe’s transport emissions keep rising
28 April 2010, EurActiv
Greenhouse gas emissions from Europe’s transport sector continue to grow as people and goods are travelling longer distances despite the development of cleaner vehicles, which is making Europe’s transport more efficient, shows a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The tenth edition of the EEA’s annual Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) report, published yesterday (27 April), presents a mixed picture of the transport sector’s environmental achievements in all 32 EEA countries during the period 1997-2007.
The report came ahead of the publication of the EU’s strategy on clean and energy-efficient vehicles today.
Greenhouse gas emissions from transport grew by 28% between 1990 and 2007 across the 32 European countries, accounting for 19% of total emissions, the data shows. And while Europe recorded some successes in reducing air pollutant emissions, road transport remains the largest emitter of nitrogen oxides and the second-largest source of particulate matter in 2007, it reveals.
Freight transport continued to grow somewhat faster than the economy, boosted by greater efficiency partly caused by the removal of intra-EU barriers, according to the report. The largest increases were recorded in road (43%) and air (35%) freight across the 27 EU member states.
Passenger transport, on the other hand, also continued to grow but at a slower rate than the economy, the report showed. Air travel remained the fastest growing means of transport in the EU, recording a 48% increase between 1997 and 2007.
The EU has spent the last decade trying to decouple transport emissions from economic growth while improving people’s mobility, but the bloc now needs to develop a clear vision for its transport system by 2050, the EEA argued.
"Today, we can see that the extensive investment in transport infrastructure has enabled us to travel further to meet our daily needs, but has not led to a decrease in the amount of time that we are exposed to noise, congestion and air pollution," said Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director. She added that Europe will have to focus not only on the mode of transport but also on the reasons why people travel.
"The core message of this year’s report is not only that there are challenges but that there are a number of solutions that can be packaged together," McGlade told journalists.
The report concludes that the most effective approach is to adopt a "policy package" that combines technological improvements reducing fuel consumption with measures to shift journeys to lower emission modes and to avoid travelling altogether.
This would include coupling measures ensuring an uptake rate of 50-80% for electric vehicles by 2050 or improved engine design with land-use planning. This could include bringing people closer to services or investing in passenger transport to offer high-quality services, the report foresees.
The European Commission is due to publish a White Paper on the future of transport by the end of the year, outlining an action plan for sustainable transport.
3.5. Brussels pushes for electric cars
28 April 2010, EurActiv
The European Commission has approved a new strategy to promote clean and energy-efficient vehicles in the EU, primarily focusing on the role of electric cars rather than biofuel-powered vehicles.
In a communication published today (28 April), the Commission stresses that it does not favour any particular technology. However, the document sets out the limits of engines run on biofuels, such as ethanol or biodiesel.
"Liquid biofuels can be blended with conventional liquid fuels and burned in existing combustion engines up to a certain ratio. However, a higher blend requires modification of the fuelling system and the engine of the vehicle," the Commission says.
On the other hand, the paper underlines the potential of electric engines, quoting a study by forecasting company IHS which predicts that the global market share of electric vehicles in new car sales could hit 20% by 2030. Electric cars are currently a niche market.
"The ultra low-carbon electric power trains and hydrogen fuel cells are the most promising options," according to a Commission memo on the way forward for clean vehicles.
Indeed, the development of electric cars is seen by Brussels as complementing the increased deployment of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which also use electric motors but generate electricity on board the vehicle itself.
Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani acknowledged that many EU countries are deciding to opt for electric cars. "This is a positive solution," he said, remarking that electric cars were being pushed forward on a global scale, notably in the United States and Far-East Asia.
"However, this does not prevent the Commission from looking at other solutions," Tajani stressed, dismissing concerns that the lack of a clear industrial choice at EU level could tip the race towards green cars in favour of Europe’s international competitors.
To support the massive deployment of battery-powered cars, the EU executive suggests encouraging the widespread installation of accessible charging points, as is the case now for petrol vehicles.
"The EU should take a leading role by working with member sates at national and regional levels on the build-up of charging and refuelling infrastructures," reads the document adopted by the Commission, which also remarks that "the European Investment Bank should explore how to provide funding to stimulate investment in infrastructure and services build-up for green vehicles".
The adoption of common standards across the EU is also crucial to make recharging possible across the continent.
The take-up of electric vehicles is expected to have a massive positive effect on the environment in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. However, in order to achieve these results, the Commission underlines that the electricity consumed by the new generation of smart cars must come from low-carbon energy sources.
Detailed legislation is also needed to regulate the usage and recycling of batteries, which could have a detrimental effect on the environment if not properly managed.
The strategy for electric cars falls within a wider plan to increase the overall uptake of green vehicles across the EU. The financial side of the strategy plays a key role in effectively replacing traditional cars with cleaner vehicles.
By the end of the year, the EU executive intends to present guidelines on financial incentives for consumers to buy green vehicles. Member states are encouraged to support the deployment of such cars, provided that they do not violate EU rules on state aid.
Brussels also intends to review the Energy Taxation Directive in order to increase "the efficient use of conventional fuels and the gradual uptake of alternative low-carbon emitting fuels," the communication reveals.
The Commission accepts that the replacement of traditional vehicles will not happen overnight, and acknowledges that it is necessary to work on improving the energy efficiency of the models currently in use.
This "twin-track approach" will include a number of measures to address the negative environmental impact of traditional vehicles with measures ranging from regulation of two- and three-wheelers to a plan to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.
4.1. How climate change will impact our ability to achieve the MDGs
More at: http://www.climnet.org/component/docman/doc_download/1650-article-how-climate-change-impacts-our-ability-to-achieve-the-millennium-development-goals-42010.html
5.1. Public Debate "Tar sands – undermining EU Climate Ambitions?"
European Parliament, Brussels , Room: P4B001 (Paul-Henri Spaak), Wednesday 5 May 2010, 09.30-12:30
More at: http://www.foeeurope.org/corporates/Extractives/tar_sands_debate/
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