1.1. How Denmark Sees the World in 2012
4 August 2008, CNN Time
Copenhagen is a very nice city in a very nice country. And if you’re like me, that’s all you might know about the place, along with the fact that was once home to Hans Christian Andersen, Kierkegaard and Hamlet. But next winter, Copenhagen will become the center of the climate change world. In December 2009, the capital of Denmark will host the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, better known as the UN climate change summit. It happens every year — the most recent one was held last December on the Indonesian island of Bali — but Copenhagen will be special. The Kyoto Protocol, which now commits nearly every developed nation except the U.S. to specific cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions, expires in 2012. Given the lag time in such mind-bendingly complex international negotiations, we need to have a plan in place by the start of 2010 to ensure that there isn’t a fatal gap between the expiration of Kyoto and whatever comes next. (If a year or two should pass without a clear international cap on CO2 emissions, both government and industry might lose the incentive to invest in greener technology.) All of which puts a lot of pressure on little Copenhagen.
The good news is that there may be no country in the world better prepared than Denmark to play host to a climate summit that could — just maybe — decide the fate of the world. As you leave Copenhagen’s airport, you see soaring wind turbines along the side of the road, spinning in the nearly always present breeze. Get used to the sight — Denmark is a world leader in wind energy, and produces more than 10% of its power from turbines. That’s meant cleaner air and greener jobs. The homegrown wind company Vestas is a world leader earning $8 billion a year, an impressive figure in a country that has barely half the population of Hong Kong. The taxi ride into the city won’t take long either — some one-third of urban transport within Copenhagen is done by bicycle, and two-wheelers cruise the bike-only lanes throughout the city. (And they have right of way, which is a good thing to keep in mind unless you want to be run down by a pedal-pushing Danish grandmother while stepping off the sidewalk.)
More important than its uber-European urban livability, Denmark is taking its responsibility as the host of the 2009 climate summit seriously. Last year the government split its Environment Ministry in two. The original, now smaller, Ministry of the Environment was tasked with covering local pollution and wildlife issues, while the new Ministry of Climate and Energy was formed to focus specifically on global warming and alternative energy, with an eye toward preparing the way for Denmark’s leadership on climate change — at the UN summit and at home, by further reducing its own carbon footprint. "We know we have a responsibility for Copenhagen," says Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy. "We’ll live up to it."
Of course, if Denmark really were running international climate negotiations, the world would be in much better — and cooler — shape. But ultimately, the road to a new climate deal runs through one city: Washington. "The U.S. has to be a part of any new climate agreement," says Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "In the absence of that, you won’t have a response from the large number of countries needed for a collective response." If Washington leads, the big developing countries like India and China will be forced to follow, or stand alone against an emerging international consensus. Will that happen? We will have a new Administration by 2009, and both John McCain and Barack Obama are considerably greener than the current White House occupant. But with Americans obsessed over the price of gas — but not rising global temperatures — it’ll take real political leadership to from Washington to make Copenhagen a success.
1.2. NEW UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE CHANGE CAMPAIGN TO CUT EMISSIONS, COOLING COSTS AT NEW YORK HEADQUARTERS
31 July 2008, Media-Newswire.com
Taking aim at climate change in the landmark United Nations building in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today launched a new campaign, "Cool UN," that will reduce the use of air conditioning, cut greenhouse gas emissions and save money.
Taking aim at climate change in the landmark United Nations building in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today launched a new campaign, “Cool UN,” that will reduce the use of air conditioning, cut greenhouse gas emissions and save money.
The campaign calls for raising the thermostats in most parts of the United Nations Secretariat building from 72° F ( 22.2° C )to 77° F ( 25° C ) and from 70° F ( 21.1° C ) to 75° F ( 23.9° C ) for the world body’s conference rooms. The campaign, which will run on a trial basis for the month of August, also involves a shutdown of the building’s heating ventilation and air conditioning system over the weekends and a relaxation of the generally formal dress code in place among diplomats and staff at the United Nations.
Secretary-General Ban said: “We have succeeded in moving climate change to the top of the international agenda for action, and this means that the UN must take action itself. We must lead by example, and if we are to ask others to take action, we must do so as well.”
During the month of August, “Cool UN” will save approximately 4.4 billion pounds of steam, equivalent to 300 tons of carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. It will also produce a cash savings of approximately $100,000, since less steam will be purchased.
This marks the first time the dress code will be relaxed at United Nations Headquarters. At last December’s Bali Climate Change Conference, formal negotiations were held in more casual attire and at the upcoming climate change negotiations later this month in Accra, Ghana, conference participants have been invited to dress more comfortably.
If the experiment is successful, the initiative could be extended beyond August. During the winter months, the process could be reversed and staff and delegates could be asked to dress more warmly, which would also reduce energy consumption, emissions and heating costs.
The Secretary-General has called on all parts of the United Nations system to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Several agencies, including the United Nations Environment Programme ( UNEP ), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development ( UNCTAD ) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization ( UNIDO ), have moved towards becoming climate neutral.
For more information, please contact Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, e-mail: [email protected], tel: +1 212 963 9495.
2.1. Less dependency on biofuels in EU climate plan
29 July 2008, Reuters
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Biofuels are down and energy efficiency measures are up as the European Union’s ambitious plan to fight climate change works its way towards becoming law.
When EU leaders adopted bold headline goals last year to cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy sources, they set a binding target of drawing 10 percent of transport fuel from biofuels derived from crops and biomass by 2020.
But with soaring world food prices blamed partly on competition for farmland from agri-fuel producers, biofuels are no longer the flavor of the month.
"What was hailed as a miracle solution 18 months ago is now being damned," French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said after debating the issue with EU environment chiefs this month.
Ministers now believe — not least due to high oil prices — that the biggest opportunity for a quick win in the battle against global warming lies in energy savings.
Constructing more environmentally friendly buildings, making idle appliances consume less electricity and installing energy-saving lighting in homes, offices and streets are the New Great Hope for saving the planet and saving money.
As a result, an indicative objective adopted in March 2007 of reducing the 27-nation bloc’s energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020 from current levels may be made mandatory.
With both candidates in the U.S. presidential election vowing to join a global drive to curb greenhouse gas emissions, pressure is mounting on the EU to live up to its leadership claims by enacting its climate change legislation by March 2009.
That means that EU governments must reach political agreement on the package in December — a tough challenge.
BAD FOR CREDIBILITY
"It would be very bad for our credibility if Europe, that took the lead in this very important file (policy) for the future of our planet, was now to send a signal of stepping back, now that others are changing," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned last week.
Second thoughts about biofuels are not the only problem facing the EU package. Energy-guzzling industries from steel to chemicals and paper are in revolt against the prospect of having to buy carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions permits at auction, while competitors elsewhere in the world may face no such constraint.
New central European members are rebelling against plans for their electricity sector, heavily dependent on burning coal or importing Russian oil and gas to generate power, to have to pay for 100 percent of emissions allowances from 2012.
The Polish government says that would force up household electricity prices by some 70 percent — a figure contested by Brussels — risking a political backlash.
Borloo’s solution to the newcomers’ problems would be to use some of the forecast 55 billion euros ($86.36 billion) revenue from emissions trading to help the new member states clean up their power sector and improve energy efficiency.
However, wealthy old members such as Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands say the money will belong to national treasuries and object to the proceeds being redistributed to poorer states that already receive generous EU regional aid.
EU governments are preparing stringent "sustainability criteria" for biofuels to be allowed on to the European market that would mandate big savings in CO2 emissions compared with fossil fuels. The rules aim to protect rainforests from destruction and preserve existing food production.
Borloo said the 10 percent target should embrace other alternative transport fuels such as electricity and hydrogen.
The European Parliament, which has equal legislative powers with member states on the package, is backing away from the 10 percent target. A key committee voted for a goal of just 4 percent of road transport fuels from renewable sources by 2015.
But European industrialists, who need to plan beyond this month’s headlines on food prices, are not happy that the basis for long-range investment in second-generation biofuels, not made from fuel crops, has been cast into doubt.
Peter Sutherland, chairman of oil major BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said his company had put $500 million into research in U.S. universities on biofuels and their impact on development.
"The difficulty is that at end of the day, one has to provide some assurance to shareholders that it is going to provide some economic benefit. It’s not a question of altruism," he said.
2.2. Crane accident triggers German atomic reactor shutdown
31 July 2008, mathaba.net
A remote-controlled crane struck an electric power cable outside a nuclear power plant in the southern city of Biblis, leading to the shutdown of one of two reactors, the press reported Wednesday.
The operator of the Biblis nuclear power plant said the turbine linked to reactor B was automatically turned off after the crane clipped a high-voltage cable during construction work at a water treatment plant.
The working capacity of the reactor has been lowered to 40 percent as a result of the incident at the Biblis atomic plant which is Germany’s oldest nuclear reactor.
The Environment Ministry in the state of Hesse which is in charge of the safety of the nuclear plant, had been immediately informed.
The German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety reported over the weekend that 122 incidents were subject to reporting at the country’s 17 nuclear power plants last year, according to the Munich-based Focus news magazine.
Based on a seven-stage international evaluation scale (INES), 120 incidents were reported to be on the lowest notifiable category.
They had either "no or very little" security and technical significance.
In two cases, it was registered as the second lowest category, however it had no radiological relevance.
Last March, a short circuit of a malfunctioning pump at the north German Brokdorf nuclear plant caused a fire in the facility.
In February, a fire broke out at a deactivated nuclear power plant near Hamburg which had been the scene of repeated mishaps in the past.
Owned by the Swedish Vattenfall company, the Kruemmel nuclear plant was shut down after a fire broke out in a transformer on June 28, 2007.
The German government cited last year "considerable security deficits" in some of the country’s 17 nuclear reactors following a series of recent incidents and technical blunders.
Berlin had also asked the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) to review all security and technical supervisory aspects of its nuclear program. Germany’s nuclear power plants reported 944 incidents between the period of early 2000 and late 2006, according to statistics released by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).
Meanwhile, the number of registered breakdowns in German nuclear power plants since 1993 stand at 1,945.
The latest figures point to the high number of incidents in especially older nuclear power plants.
Topping the list are two nuclear power facilities, Brunsbuettel and Neckarwestheim both of which were built in 1976.
Brunsbuettel reported 437 and Neckarwestheim 1 registered 408 mishaps.
One-third of German atomic reactors are reportedly shut down because of either technical problems, repair work or system check-ups.
German nuclear power plants account for 26 percent of the nation’s energy consumption.
Faced with a gradual phase-out by 2021, Germany’s nuclear reactors are still working at full strength, having raised their electricity production in 2006.
German atomic power plants generated 167.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2006, up from 163 billion kilowatt hours in 2005.
2.3. Plutonium leak detected after accident at IAEA laboratory
4 August 2008, Sify news
Vienna: Plutonium leaked after an accident at a research laboratory at the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) near Vienna early Sunday morning, the UN nuclear watchdog said.
The accident occurred at 2:30 a.m. in the IAEA Safeguards Analytical Laboratory in Seibersdorf, 35 km southeast of the Austrian capital.
"Pressure build-up in a small sealed sample bottle in a storage safe resulted in plutonium contamination of a storage room (at the laboratory)," a statement from the IAEA said.
Radiation was not released to the environment, the statement said, but further monitoring would be carried out. "The laboratory is equipped with multiple safety systems, including an air-filtering system to prevent the release of radioactivity to the environment," the statement said.
There was nobody working in the laboratory at the time of the accident, and access to it would be restricted until the affected areas were decontaminated.
The IAEA said it had informed the environment ministry in Vienna of the incident.
3.1. SAfrica’s ambitious climate change strategy may include carbon tax
3 August 2008, AFP
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — South Africa’s government has set out an ambitious proposal to deal with climate change in the coming years, including slapping a possible carbon tax on carbon dioxide-spewing industries.
Saying the world faced "a global climate emergency," the environment ministry unveiled the strategy geared toward reducing greenhouse gases last week.
"The world faces a global climate emergency. It is now clear that only action by both developed and developing countries can prevent the climate crisis from deepening," environment minister Martinus Van Schalkwyk said in a statement.
The plan, which includes stringent energy efficiency measures, has been endorsed by the cabinet, though parliament must still approve it. Finance officials are investigating ways of implementing the tax.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said evidence for warming was now "unequivocal" and that there was a more than 90-percent probability that humans were the cause for it.
Human-generated greenhouse gases rose by 70 percent between 1970 and 2004 from 28.7 to 49 billion tonnes per year in carbon dioxide (CO2) or its equivalent.
South Africa emitted about 446 million tonnes of CO2 in 2003 and forecasts growth to a maximum of 550 million tonnes a year by 2025, according to the environment ministry.
Van Schalkwyk said greenhouse gas emissions must stop growing at the latest by 2020 to 2025, stabilise for up to 10 years, and then decline in absolute terms.
"The aim is to limit global temperature increases to two degrees above pre-industrial levels," said Van Schalkwyk.
The plan has been welcomed by business associations and environmentalists as a major step towards galvanising rich industrialised nations into addressing climate change.
"The time is right for the country’s private sector to show leadership by partnering with government to develop a solutions-driven national climate change mitigation and adaptation response," said Andre Fourie, chief executive of National Business Initiative, a group advocating sustainable development.
"The cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of mitigating the effects of climate change."
South Africa’s reliance on coal to generate electricity makes it a major emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases per capita.
State-owned power generator Eskom gets 90 percent of its electricity from coal-generated plants, according to the company. The supplier plans to develop three more coal-generated power stations in the next eight years.
The government’s proposal includes shifting to cleaner-burning coal by introducing more stringent thermal efficiency and emissions standards for coal-fired power stations.
It also proposes providing incentives to renewable energy through a tariff system due to be finalised by the middle of next year.
Other aspects of the strategy include reducing transport emissions by imposing stringent fuel efficiency standards and promoting hybrid electric vehicles.
"Our emissions per capita are higher than many other developing countries. South Africa’s emissions per capita are also high, due to our coal-based energy system," professor Harald Winkler from the University of Cape Town climate change department told AFP.
"Our analysis shows that putting a price on carbon has the single largest impact on emissions. By using the price signal, it sends signals to all actors in the economy, and can shift behaviour," said Winkler.
3.2. Government blamed over fuel costs
28 July 2008, BBC News
More than a third of people in the UK think the government is most to blame for high fuel prices, a poll for the BBC’s Panorama programme suggests.
Some 38% said the government was primarily responsible, while 22% mostly blamed oil producing countries, and 20% pointed the finger at oil companies.
And 35% of those questioned said they were more likely to vote for a party offering to lower car and fuel taxes.
Just over 1,000 people were questioned for Panorama: Can We Afford to Fill Up?
The 1,021 people were selected at random and included 64% who described themselves as frequent drivers.
Hitting the pavement
The poll suggests that the current high prices of petrol and diesel are having a significant effect on how much driving people are doing – with 32% of those questioned saying they are driving less than they were three months ago.
And, according to the poll results, people are turning to other modes of transport, with 60% saying they were walking more, 34% saying they were using public transport more, 21% saying they were car sharing more frequently and 20% saying they were cycling more.
Oil prices hit record levels above $147 a barrel in early July, and though they recently dropped to about $132 a barrel, many motorists are still feeling the pinch.
Edmund King, president of the AA, told Panorama that "there is no doubt that some people are being priced off the road".
"They cannot afford it out of the disposable income that they’ve got because their costs have gone up by 30 odd per cent."
Mr King told Panorama he believes high fuel prices could be a vote loser for the government.
"Normally in politics when it comes to elections, health and education are right up there, rightly so, but you don’t hear much about transport. But now motoring is becoming much more of an issue," Mr King said.
In the poll, 60% answered "No" when asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a political party that promised to lower car and fuel taxes, but 35% said they were more likely to do so.
Treasury minister Angela Eagle said the government had to get the balance right.
"If there’s a sudden price spike in oil that is causing real hardship to businesses, families and individuals in the country, then we have a duty as a government to make sure that we can do something about that in the short-term.
"But we don’t lose sight of our medium to long-term goals, which are to re-engineer the way our economy works in order to reduce our carbon footprint, and that is what we are doing."
Even though a number of UK supermarkets cut their prices last week, Britain’s fuel prices are still among the highest in Europe.
About 50p of the price of a litre of petrol goes to the Treasury as fuel duty – before VAT is taken on top.
Though oil prices have risen t
They have been taking extra VAT, but the government insists this is cancelled out as motorists are spending less in other areas.
The government has pledged to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 26% over the next 12 years.
From next April road tax prices will be based on a car’s fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.
The Panorama poll suggests that when choosing a car, vehicle tax and fuel efficiency are now much higher priorities.
Eighty per cent of those polled said that if they were changing their car, vehicle tax cost would be an important factor in their choice – versus 18% who said it was not important to them.
Eighty-nine per cent said that fuel efficiency was important, while only 11% said it was not.
And in a sign that green initiatives and incentives might be starting to take hold, 50% of those polled said they were likely to consider buying a car that used alternative fuels, such as electricity, hydrogen and bio ethanol.
4.1. Countdown to Poz’n’Hagen: The Young Friends of the Earth Climate Tour
More info and application here: http://www.youthclimatetour.eu/
4.2. TWENTY-NINTH SESSION – 20 years IPCC
Geneva, 31August – 4 September 2008
More info at: http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session29/doc1.pdf
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].