1.1. G20 leaves climate challenge to UN
3 April 2009, Carbon Positive
Hailed as an historic achievement in international collective action, the G20 summit has agreed far reaching reforms to world financial system. But the London meeting has drawn criticism from environmentalists for missing a chance to achieve progress towards renewing the global response to climate change.
The summit essentially ducked the climate change question in favour of the immediate issue at hand – to secure the global financial system from meltdown and put in place long term reforms to prevent a similar crisis again. Instead, G20 leaders put the responsibility fairly on the UN negotiating process saying their nations should work to reach a new global treaty at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December.
The G20 is emerging as the key forum for international economic discussion between the world’s major powers and largest economies, taking over from the G7 and G8 groupings which have held this role for decades. Significant for the fight against climate change, the G20 includes the major developing and second-tier industrial economies, like China, India and Brazil. These nations are vital to securing a comprehensive global climate agreement to follow on from the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.
The full membership is Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, the USA and the European Union.
G20 leaders agreed a $1.1 trillion package of financial aid to stimulate the world economy as well as committing to increase regulation of banks, better control international money flows, avoid further trade protection, clamp down on tax havens and develop laws to link executive pay to performance.
Environmental groups had hoped there would be a substantial commitment for a coordinated global Green New Deal that would see conversion to renewable energy and other clean technologies form the cornerstone of economic stimulus to lift the world out of recession.
It was not to be. However, in the words of UK prime minister and summit host Gordon Brown, the meeting issued a vague pledge to “promote low-carbon growth and to create the green jobs on which our future prosperity depends”. The US, European and other countries have already made domestic commitments for billions of dollars in green spending.
Meanwhile, large and disparate G20 protest gatherings on the streets of London saw some instances of violence and confrontation with police. Climate change campaigners, however, were generally not involved in the ugly scenes, according to BBC reports. A Climate Camp protest outside the European Climate Exchange in the city’s financial district blocked the street but remained peaceful.
1.2. Climate-Change Policies Risk Protectionism, China, India Say
3 April 2009, Bloomberg.com
Global-warming policies being considered by the U.S. and Japan risk provoking trade barriers, Chinese and Indian officials said in interviews.
Protectionism, rejected yesterday by world leaders meeting in London, has been discussed in the U.S. Congress and in France as a response to the competitive advantage of developing nations like China that refuse to regulate greenhouse gases. Potential import fees could prompt trade retaliation, said Su Wei, China’s lead negotiator for a new global climate-protection treaty.
“If there’s going to be a border tax imposed, that would very much have the danger of triggering a trade war,” Su said in a telephone interview from Beijing. “That’s not something that we would be happy to see,” he said before the start of United Nations-led treaty talks in Bonn running to April 8.
China and the U.S., the biggest greenhouse-gas producers, are negotiating a new agreement to stem greenhouse gases with 190 countries. India and China reject emissions limits for developing nations, saying rich nations must act first.
“We should be very careful that climate change doesn’t become a peg on which we start hanging protectionist tendencies,” Shyam Saran, India’s special envoy on climate change, said in an interview in New Delhi two days ago.
President Barack Obama has said he’ll impose limits on domestic greenhouse gases. Because reducing the gases puts a cost on companies that rivals in unregulated countries don’t face, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in March 17 testimony to the House science committee “we should look at considering perhaps duties that would offset that cost.”
The U.S. imported $337.8 billion of Chinese goods in 2008, according the U.S. Department of Commerce. India exported about $21 billion to the U.S.
World leaders from the Group of 20 nations yesterday reiterated their rejection of protectionism, failing to take a tougher stance on proliferating trade barriers that threaten to deepen the global financial crisis.
“Increased protectionism is a sure ticket to a deeper economic downturn,” said Rajeev Malik, a regional economist at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Singapore.
Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. this week took steps to head off potential trade disputes. They proposed domestic climate legislation that would give rebates to energy-intensive steel and cement industries competing with cheaper imports.
Even so, the legislation would let the president impose border fees on imports if the rebates aren’t enough to keep U.S. companies competitive with foreign rivals.
‘Road to Protectionism’
Japan proposed an alternative to national caps that would apply to all countries. The most polluting industries would be given targets that would be divided among their companies. That approach hasn’t won favor among poorer countries such as India that reject any form of legally binding international target.
“It sounds very good to say we can’t agree on national level targets, so let’s agree on sectoral targets,” Saran said. “This could become the road to protectionism.”
Suggestions in the U.S. and France to tax imports won’t help coax developing nations into signing up to a new treaty, said Simon Retallack, head of climate at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London. French President Nicolas Sarkozy on March 24 said a carbon tax on imports may be needed to help European nations recover from the economic slump.
“Developing countries are concerned about those sorts of proposals, and they have good reason,” Retallack said today in a telephone interview. “It won’t be terribly helpful in persuading developing countries to take action.”
1.3. WWF’s statement on the EU Commission communication on “adapting to climate change”
1 April 2009, WWF
The European Commission painted a grim picture of extreme climate impacts in Europe in the communication on “adapting to climate change” presented today.
“The consequences of climate change are expected to be more substantial than expected and will occur regardless of the mitigation measures that are implemented” warns the Commission. But the official response is woefully timid.
The European Commission has identified vulnerable regions – Southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin for increasing droughts, the Alps and other mountain areas for melting of glaciers, coastal areas where 50% of Europe’s population lives facing the danger of sea level rise, densely populated flood plains exposed to floods and threats to nature everywhere on land and at sea.
In terms of economic sectors, agriculture, tourism, fisheries, forests, and road and rail infrastructures will be particularly affected. Despite that, most of the proposed actions in the next three years are limited to preparation of guidelines, exploration of potential new policies and assessment of needs.
“The Commission is baulking at taking real action” said Tony Long. “We are particularly concerned for a potential water crisis across Europe, whereby southern countries will suffer from reduced supplies and other regions will face increased extreme weather events and floods. Why isn’t action taken now, how much longer do we have to wait?” said Tony Long, Director of WWF’s European Policy Office.
WWF looks to the European Economic Recovery Plan announced last November as an appropriate way to take immediate action. But today’s paper barely mentions these opportunities.
“Billions of euros will be spent on infrastructures. It is vital that these investments are resilient to climate change starting now and not in 3-4 years time,” added Tony Long.
1.4. Obama climate pledges get cautious EU welcome
5 April 2009, Reuters
The United States is ready to take a leading role in tackling climate change, President Barack Obama said on Sunday, receiving a cautious welcome from European Union hosts at talks in the Czech capital Prague.
Obama made the commitment at an EU-U.S. summit intended to mend transatlantic ties stretched by the Bush administration and Iraq war, which triggered tensions between supporters such as Britain and critics including France and Germany.
The U.S. president stepped up calls for European governments to help him close the Guantanamo Bay prison, and reaffirmed the longstanding U.S. backing for Turkey’s EU membership hopes — in remarks that won a cool response from France and Germany.
But his European hosts were mostly interested in whether Washington would back European efforts to ensure U.N. talks in Copenhagen in December result in a global pact to replace the Kyoto protocol with tough pledges to cut greenhouses gases. "Together, we must confront climate change by ending the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, by tapping the power of new sources of energy like the wind and sun, and calling upon all nations to do their part," Obama said.
"I pledge to you that in this global effort, the United States is now ready to lead," he said to cheers from a crowd of tens of thousands outside the medieval Prague Castle.
Obama has taken a more assertive stance on global warming, which scientists say is caused by the release of gases such as carbon dioxide, than his predecessor George W. Bush.
Last month, he invited 16 "major economies" including the European Union to take part in a forum on climate change to help ensure a U.N. pact on global warming is reached at Copenhagen.
"We must not only reach an agreement among ourselves but also present a common approach that will bring other countries into the dialogue," he later told EU leaders at the summit.
"SOMETHING TO BUILD ON"
Jose Manuel Barroso, the head of the EU’s executive, the European Commission, said the United States and Europe had at least come closer to agreeing on the subject.
"We welcome the steps taken by the new American administration and the increasing convergence between the European and U.S. position on that matter," he told reporters after the summit in Prague, but added there was further to go.
"The statements made by President Obama are much clearer and more ambitious … Let’s build on this," he said.
The 27-nation EU has committed to reducing carbon gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and is ready to go further if developing countries also make ambitious cuts.
Obama’s Democrats launched a sweeping effort last week to control greenhouse gas emissions in the latest attempt by Congress to bring the United States into a global effort to tackle climate change. EU officials have welcomed the plan but some say it does not go far enough.
The Prague trip caps Obama’s first European visit as president in which he helped secure a G20 deal in London to fight the economic slowdown and appealed for more troops for the Afghan war from allies at a NATO summit in Strasbourg.
sitive tone on climate change, the EU-U.S. summit did not appear to yield any immediate result on key transatlantic policy issues.
There was a muted response from EU officials to Obama’s call to help him fulfill a pledge to close the Guantanamo prison by taking in some of its remaining 245 detainees — something for which there is little enthusiasm in Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU countries were ready to help but insisted Germany had not received a concrete request.
2.1. Aust ‘left behind’ in clean energy stakes
1 April 2009, ABC News
There’s been a big step in the United States’ newfound enthusiasm for dealing with climate change.
Two key Democratic Senators have released draft legislation, responding to President Obama’s challenge to ‘bring him a bill’ to deal with the issue.
The proposed "Clean Energy and Security" legislation would set substantive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among a raft of proposals to promote renewable energy and jobs in the sector.
Environmental groups in Australia are holding up the proposals as evidence of how Australia has missed an opportunity to lead on environmental policy.
But industry says it is early days yet and the US political process still has to get to work on the bills.
The new Obama administration’s climate change credentials have been on display this week in Germany.
In the city of Bonn, representatives from 175 countries are taking part in the latest round of talks under the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Representing the United States has been the Obama administration’s special climate envoy, Todd Stern.
Mr Stern says the new administration is hoping to soon approve laws to give effect to its policies.
"I am hopeful that that legislation can get done this year before Copenhagen but I have no idea whether it will," he said.
"Maybe yes, maybe no. It is extremely far reaching and ambitious legislation, so impossible for me to predict."
Within hours of his applauded appearance at the Bonn talks, senior Democrats were working to make that happen.
The chairman of the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman, released details of a new Clean Energy and Security Act, detailing its provisions in special briefings. It is divided into four main sections, covering clean energy, energy efficiency, global warming and transition and significantly it outlines the cap and trade system endorsed by the Obama administration.
Its targets have won applause here in Australia.
Climate Institute chief executive John Connor says the emissions are greater than those being proposed by the Australian Government.
"They equate for Australia – if you look at the reductions that they’re proposing from the 2005 levels – to a 25 per cent reduction by 2020," he said.
"It’s probably just shy of 20 per cent reduction for the US, but it’s [a] very important and interesting blend both of reductions at home, but also with additional topped up reductions from contributions to save the logging of forests which of course are a significant greenhouse pollutant."
The legislation is at a very preliminary stage in the lawmaking process.
But what environmentalists in Australia have seized on is its ambition, showing that Democrats are making big claims on big emissions reductions targets ahead of the Copenhagen climate talks later this year.
Greens Senator Christine Milne says the excitement for her is the transitional aspect of the US.
"They say they want to be global leaders in clean energy and technology and create millions of jobs and save money," she said.
"It’s exactly what the Greens have been arguing for here and it’s very clear that America is going to seize the initiative in the new technologies and, once again, Australia is going to be left behind."
But industry groups say the scale of the emissions cuts proposed is overstated.
Brendan Pearson from the Minerals Council says the legislation would only take US emissions back to 1990 levels, something he says the Australian scheme already exceeds.
And the bill is quiet on more difficult issues.
"It would be useful for us to know the sort of burden that the US legislation will impose on the US business community before we finalise our own," said Mr Pearson.
"That may not be possible but I think we should anticipate that the US will and I make this prediction: that the US scheme will impose a relatively measured transition into cost burdens in the US.
"I don’t think we’ve got that aspect right in the Australian legislation."
2.2. Greenpeace comment on European Parliament’s industry committee vote on energy projects in the economic recovery plan
31 March 2009, Greenpeace
The European Parliament’s industry committee voted today on the energy projects under the €5 billion EU economic recovery plan.
“MEPs have rightly acknowledged that projects like those on carbon capture and storage are unlikely to deliver in time for economic recovery. On the other hand, renewables and energy efficiency can create millions of jobs and are the true solution to climate change. It is therefore deplorable that the committee proposes to only redirect funds to energy efficiency and renewables if other projects have not started development by September 2010,” said Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU energy policy campaigner.
“The Parliament’s plenary vote on the EU’s economic recovery plan should ensure that the creation of ‘smart cities’ based on renewables and energy efficiency are given the priority they deserve,” she continued.
2.3. EU nations agree to broaden eco-design rules
30 March 2009, EurActiv
Representatives of the 27 EU member states and the European Parliament struck an agreement last week to extend the scope of the 2005 Eco-design Directiveexternal , which sets minimum efficiency requirements for products running on electricity such as hairdryers, computers, fridges, or office equipment.
A range of products were added to the directive, including windows, construction products, insulation materials, detergents and water-using products that have an impact on the final energy consumption of households.
The law is being updated so that products that have an energy impact also comply with ecological design standards in the future, obtain the CE label, and win approval to enter the EU’s internal market.
The Parliament had requested a clear timetable for extending the product list further. It said the Commission should come up with a proposal by 2012, broadening the scope to all products with "significant potential for reducing their environmental impacts throughout their whole life-cycles" (EurActiv 18/02/09).
However, this review was not supported by governments. Instead, the compromise text states that the Commission will simply "assess the appropriateness of further extending the scope" to cover all products, an aide to MEP Magor Imre Csibi, the Parliament’s rapporteur on the dossier, told EurActiv.
Focus on life-cycle
The Parliament did, however, manage to obtain the revision of a methodology for environmental impact studies that will be required before proposing new eco-design measures under the revised directive. The Commission had originally stated that there is no need for such a new methodology.
For MEPs, a review of the methodology was needed to ensure that the whole product life-cycle, including sustainable management of resources, is taken into account when assessing the environmental impacts of a product. Instead of focusing only on energy-efficiency, the compromise text puts greater emphasis on other issues too.
As a result, the Commission will now attach a declaration to the law stating that they will study different options, according to MEP Csibi’s office. This process will start immediately, the source added.
Member states’ EU ambassadors endorsed the deal at their meeting on 25 March. A Parliament vote is scheduled for April, and the regulation will be formally adopted by the EU Council of Ministers after that.
Implementation at full speed
In the meantime, the Council’s Eco-design Regulatory Committee has had a busy month approving implementing measures under the old directive to push through legislation before the Parliament goes into recess ahead of the elections (EurActiv 12/03/09).
On Friday (27 March), the latest vote by national experts endorsed a Commission proposal to reduce the electricity consumption of circulators, small pumps used to circulate water in heating applications or in boilers.
The regulation seeks to phase out low and standard-efficiency circulators. Allowing only high-efficiency circulators on the EU market in 2015 would save the bloc €2.2 billion in electricity bills by 2020, the Commission says.
3.1. High carbon stimulus not G20’s way to a sustainable financial future
2 April 2009, WWF
Many of the economic stimulus packages up for discussion at the G20 summit starting today risk locking the world into a continuing high carbon economy, a new analysis released by WWF and E3G reveals today.
“The content of the stimulus packages we’ve analysed runs counter to the G20 aims of facilitating – in its own words – a sustainable financial recovery and making progress on long-term issues such as climate change and international development,” said Kim Carstensen, Director of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative.
The study, conducted by Ecofys and Germanwatch, provides the most detailed and comprehensive analysis to date of the proposed ’stimulus’ packages of five key countries – France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US – as well as examining the package agreed by the European Union as a whole.
“These packages amounting to billions of dollars provide a clear opportunity to shift to a more environmentally-sustainable economy when planning a recovery from the world’s global recession,” said Carstensen.
“Unfortunately, close examination of the proposed packages reveals inadequate incentives for greener technologies or any pronounced move away from high carbon investment.”
“It is abundantly clear that the world must act now in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and that unless we invest in a sustainable, low-carbon economy now, we will certainly pay the price later – a price far greater than that of the current economic crisis. The packages currently on the table fail to reflect this reality.”
The report examined the environmentally-beneficial elements of each package in the context of the stimulus as a whole, offsetting low-carbon developments against any potentially carbon-intensive investments. It also considered whether the financing proposed is a direct investment – for example low interest loans to improve energy efficiency – or an indirect one such as tax incentives.
When analysed in this way, the data collected revealed that in the worst cases, the amount of carbon-intensive stimulus actually exceeded the amount devoted to climate-friendly measures. Preparatory work for the study also revealed that of all fifteen countries that have announced their plans for economic stimulus, only five (plus the EU as a whole) have the necessary data available to carry out a detailed analysis of their proposed expenditure on climate-friendly measures.
“The fact that we are unable to comprehensively analyse the results of two thirds of the countries which have announced packages is a real concern,” says Nick Mabey, CEO of E3G.
“Even the data for the six packages analysed in the report was relatively limited and it was often difficult to pinpoint which sector the money was actually intended for. This lack of transparency allows far too much scope for greenwashing, and equally, for the good work done by investment in clean technology to be completely undermined by parallel investment in carbon intensive sectors such as fossil fuels and new roads.”
WWF and E3G are calling on all countries putting forward economic recovery packages to provide comprehensive details of the environmental benefits and impacts of the proposed investments and to ensure that these investments help rather than hinder the global transition to a low carbon future. Link: http://www.panda.org/what_we_do/policy/wwf_europe_environment/?161201/High-carbon-stimulus-not-G20s-way-to-a-sustainable-financial-future
4.1. Seventh session of the AWG-KP and fifth session of the AWG-LCA
29 March-08 April 2009,Bonn, Germany
The provisional agendas for the seventh session of the AWG-KP and the fifth session of the AWG-LCA are now available online.
More at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
4.2. BIKETOUR 2009
The 2009 Biketour – the project for everyone interested in do-it-yourself ("diy") environmentalism, culture, nature, community life and the art of travelling without engines – the exact opposite of an all-inclusive flight to the beach.
Moving all our stuff by sheer pedal power, we will create an eco-mobile community building up strong connections between participants coming from different cultures and groups, as well as between ourselves and our hosts.
Beginning of July 2009 we will start cycling from Macedonia to Croatia, crossing Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We plan to start our tour on the Belgrade-Skopje train(!), and we will reach the MuM festival in Croatia, 28th of August.
More at: http://www.ecotopiabiketour.net/
4.3. 5th International Congress for South-East Europe
Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Sources, 6 – 8 April 2009, NDK, Sofia, Bulgaria
More at: http://www.viaexpo.com/congress-ee-vei/eng/congress.php
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].