1.1. ‘Clean Sky’ gets off the ground despite initial delay
3 July 2009, EurActiv
The €1.6 billion European programme to drive the aviation sector towards more environmentally-friendly development is now on track, according to Allan Cook, president of the Aerospace and Defense industries association of Europe (ASD).
Speaking at ASD’s annual press conference in Brussels yesterday (2 July), Cook revealed that his industry would supply half of the €1.6 billion programme, with the European Commission providing the other half.
The ASD president announced that industry’s carbon reduction target, as set by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), aims to reduce CO2 emissions and noise by 50% on 2000 levels for new aircraft entering into service in the year 2020.
Investing the €1.6 billion over a seven year period, the Clean Sky programme aims to “reduce the impact we have, flying today, on the environment,” said Cook. He disclosed that the project will focus on six sectors: smart fixed wing aircraft; green regional aircraft; green helicopters; sustainable and green engines; systems for green operations; eco-designs.
“The clean sky programme will develop and validate break-through technologies that are going to allow Europe to design and build the green aircraft of the future,” said the industry representative.
European Commission bureaucracy
But European Commission bureaucracy slowed, and nearly ended, the Clean Sky programme before it had even started, Cook told reporters at the meeting.
Despite the industry’s commitment to the project, Cook revealed that the project has been frustrated by “internal Commission bureaucracy”, which has slowed and frustrated the project to such an extent that the stakeholders have been “really struggling collectively to get this off the ground”, lamented to Cook.
“Last April these difficulties had reached a point where we feared, as an industry, that the programme would actually fall apart and fail to deliver the much needed results that we are looking for by 2020 on time,” recalled the industry chief.
However, Cook declared that the Commission has since answered the industry’s calls to “take rapid action” to ensure the success of the project. “We noted with some degree of satisfaction that we have actually set up an ad-hoc group with the Commission, to facilitate and speed-up the decision-making on Clean Sky related issues”, said Cook, announcing his satisfaction with the Commission’s more nibble approach to the project since April.
Other positive developments that have increased industry’s confidence in the project over the last few months, according to Cook, have been the appointment of Eric Dautriat as the executive director of the Clean Sky network, and the launch of Clean Sky’s first call for R&D projects on 15 June.
1.2. UN, WTO call for trade shift to halt climate change
1 July 2009, EurActiv
More open trade could lead to growing greenhouse gas emissions if nothing is done to shift "business as usual" trade practices and encourage the exchange of new low-carbon technologies, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a joint report.
The global trade organisation and the UN body for environmental awareness launched a joint report on Friday (26 June) exploring for the first time the connections between trade and climate change.
WTO and UNEP argue that international trade expansion will most likely be accompanied by higher CO2 emissions as more economic activity requires greater energy use, as well as increased transportation of goods. But the net impact of free trade on emissions is difficult to determine, as open trade will also have positive mitigation effects, they argue.
Opening markets will help developing countries tap into climate change technologies developed in industrialised countries, the report states.
Trade can also help level out differences in demand and supply, as countries hardest hit by climate change can import goods and services that they can no longer produce themselves, it adds.
The report concludes that the hardest blow will be dealt on the developing countries’ competitive advantage, as they often depend on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, sectors that will be worst affected by climate change, alongside tourism.
Although the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations aims to reduce tariffs and other trade-distorting measures on climate-friendly goods and services, policies targeted at cutting CO2 emissions could be exceptionally accepted under international free trade legislation, the paper underlines.
Border measures such as import taxes on products from a country that does not impose a price on carbon could fall under such exceptions, WTO says. Such measures are devised to discourage domestic industries from relocating to cheaper production areas and escape strict environmental laws (see EurActiv LinksDossier on ‘carbon leakage’).
"The general approach under WTO rules has been to acknowledge that some degree of trade restriction may be necessary to achieve certain policy objectives, as long as a number of carefully crafted conditions are respected. WTO case law has confirmed that WTO rules do not trump environmental requirements," the trade organisation states.
It adds, however, that such measures should not constitute "arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination" nor a "disguised restriction on international trade", warning off efforts to use climate policy as a guise for protectionist measures.
Considering the significant interconnections between climate change and trade, WTO and UNEP therefore call for a fair climate deal in Copenhagen in December to protect the most vulnerable countries, as well as a conclusion of the Doha trade round, opening trade in environmental goods and services to complement emissions reductions.
1.3. Shell climate crimes exposed in new report
29 June 2009, FOEE
Fresh evidence of oil giant Shell’s colossal contribution to global climate change and its continued investment in carbon intensive fossil fuels has been revealed today in a new report. The report also reveals new internal documents that show Shell knew of the environmental dangers of gas flaring in Nigeria more than fifteen years ago, but chose not to stop flaring purely for financial reasons.
As Shell’s new Chief Executive, Peter Voser, takes charge this week, Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International and PLATFORM have released new research showing that despite attempts by outgoing CEO, Jeroen van der Veer, to portray a green image, the company has opted for a way forward that is in stark contradiction with the need to reduce CO2 emissions. Shell’s heavy investments in the most carbon-emitting energy sources, such as tar sands, liquefied natural gas and crude oil from Nigeria – which is associated with huge levels of gas flaring – make it the dirtiest of all major oil companies with regard to CO2 emissions.
The three campaign groups call on the EU and the US to stop listening to Shell in discussions on how to tackle climate change. They say van der Veer has personally led lobby efforts in Brussels against improvements to the EU’s Emission Trading System, and threatened to move refineries out of Europe if Shell and other oil companies were made to pay for their emissions.
Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth International said: “Shell attempts to paint itself as a sustainable company when in reality it is the dirtiest oil producer of all. It continues to make huge profits but still argues that it cannot afford to pay for effective CO2 reduction measures. The EU should no longer listen to Shell in talks about tackling climate change.”
Since 1996 Shell has promised to stop gas flaring in Nigeria – the biggest contributor to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. But the company has repeatedly broken its promises and rejected statements by the Nigerian government that flaring should be stopped. Shell refuses to implement the 2011 deadline imposed by the Nigerian government for phasing out gas flaring and is now speaking about a 2013 phase out.
Steve Kretzmann from Oil Change International said: "Shell could stop flaring gas in Nigeria for only 10 per cent of last years’ profit for the company. The company’s new head, Peter Voser, has the power to stop gas flaring, spare Nigerians from inhaling deadly toxins, and help to curb climate change in one stroke. The question is: will he?”
Today’s report, ‘Shell’s Big Dirty Secret’, comes after a global backlash against the energy giant’s abuses of human rights and the environment. On June 8, Shell was forced to pay $15.5 million to settle an embarrassing lawsuit in the US for human rights abuses in Nigeria. The company is also facing legal action in The Hague concerning repeated oil spills which have damaged the livelihoods of Nigerian fisherfolk and farmers.
1.4. Sweden ‘ready’ to drive global climate talks
1 July 2009, EurActiv
Andreas Carlgren, Sweden’s environment minister, said he is gearing up for the EU’s push towards an ambitious international climate treaty in Copenhagen in December, as his country takes over the bloc’s rotating presidency from the Czech Republic today (1 July).
"As the country holding the presidency, Sweden will press for other industrialised countries and fast-growing economies to do their part," Carlgren stated last week when he presented Sweden’s environmental priorities to the other 26 EU environment ministers.
"Unless they also make an effort, we will not get a strong enough agreement on the climate in Copenhagen," he stressed.
Sweden will press EU nations to scale up its emissions goals for 2020 from a 20% reduction to 30%, he said, but will attach certain conditions to this in order to get the rest of the global community to do their bit.
"We cannot let go of this lever, and move from 20 to 30%, until we get sufficient commitments and measures from the rest of the world," he told his European colleagues.
Carlgren also warned that if the global community cannot agree on ambitious targets to curb emissions, then rich countries will be pressed to provide more funding for adaptation actions.
EU leaders have shied away from spelling out the sums that they would be ready to contribute, arguing that it is too early to make commitments when the US position is still unclear. They promised that all funding decisions would be taken at an October summit of EU leaders (EurActiv 25/06/09).
The Swedish environment minister stressed that the presidency would be prepared to call for extraordinary meetings, allaying fears that the EU would run out of time as decisions on make-or-break issues drag on.
Sweden will now step up dialogue with all major actors at upcoming meetings of the G8, G20 and Major Economies Forum, while also pushing the climate issue at all third-party summits, Carlgren said.
Linked issues at EU level
In line with an overarching climate policy, the Swedish Presidency has also indicated that it will drive the shift to an ‘eco-efficient economy’. It wants the EU to view the economic crisis as an opportunity to step up climate efforts while creating new growth in environmental technology, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable urban development.
Halting biodiversity loss will also be on the climate agenda, as it enables land and biomass to bind more CO2, Sweden said.
Expectations on the Swedish Presidency are sky-high on climate change. The country last held the EU presidency in spring 2001 during the last leg of negotiations enabling the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.
When the Bush administration withdrew from the global negotiations, Sweden toured world capitals arguing that there was no alternative to the protocol. The EU was consequently hailed as the saviour of the treaty by winning over key countries like Japan and Russia.
Environmentalists are now heavily lobbying the presidency to help conclude an agreement capable of keeping global warming below two degrees.
A large group of NGOs today launched a campaign in Stockholm to press Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to design a roadmap for the EU in the run-up to Copenhagen. Green and development groups want to see the EU reassert its position as the first mover in negotiations, and are calling on the presidency to convene an extraordinary meeting of EU heads of state and government before the UN climate summit in September to reach agreement on Europe’s finance offer.
Oxfam International said Sweden must secure a leading position for the EU. "The test for the Swedish EU Presidency will be whether it translates its good domestic record on both environment and development into real leadership in the EU," said Oxfam International campaigner Frida Eklund.
Action Aid urged Sweden to abandon neutrality and stand up for the EU’s climate agenda. "Sweden must push for rich countries to take responsibility for our climate debt and ensure that those affected the worst, poor and vulnerable women in developing countries, do not bear the burden of climate change," said ActionAid campaigner Karin Wall Härdfeldt.
Greenpeace called on the presidency to match rhetoric with action. "So far Reinfeldt has shown no political will to put forward sufficient targets on emission cuts. We also have not seen a credible offer on adaptation financing and how the government is going to protect the rainforest in developing countries," said Greenpeace head of campaigns, Patrik Eriksson.
WWF pointed out that 2009 is a crucial year for climate. "Sweden has been preparing this presidency for years. The next six months will decide how it is remembered for generations to come," said WWF head of climate issues Stefan Henningsson.
BirdLife International congratulated Sweden for being at the forefront of European environmental policy. "We really hope that this Presidency will lead the way out of the current crisis, by showing how inseparably linked economic and environmental problems are. There is no bail-out for the planet, we have to act now and finally take sustainability seriously," said Konstantin Kreiser, EU policy manager at BirdLife International European division.
1.5. Canada worst, Germany best on climate change: report
1 July 2009, AFP
PARIS (AFP) — Canada ranks last among the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations for tackling climate change while Germany is top, the green group WWF and the German insurance giant Allianz reported on Wednesday.
Their assessment, issued ahead of the annual G8 summit, blasts Canada for greenhouse-gas emissions that are surging "far above" its obligations under under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol.
"(Canada’s) per capita emissions are among the highest in the world," they said.
"(Its) mid- to long-term greenhouse targets are inadequate. A plan to curb emissions was developed last year but has not been implemented. The Kyoto target will stay completely out of reach."
The United States, which placed last in the 2008 rankings, moves up a notch, thanks to the pro-climate policies launched by President Barack Obama.
Russia, too, is criticised for a steady increase in carbon pollution since 1999 and the lack of policies to reverse the trend.
Japan and Italy, ranked fifth and fourth respectively, have relatively low emissions per capita.
But both are faulted for failing to set down programmes that will help to peg global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees) Fahrenheit above pre-industrial times, a widely-accepted goal.
Germany heads the G8 list, narrowly followed by Britain and then France.
Even so, these three countries are still two-thirds short of what they could achieve, the report said. The G8 summit takes place in L’Aquila, Italy, from July 8-10.
UN countries, under the 192-party Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aim to forge a new agreement in Copenhagen in December that will set targets for emissions curbs and channel help to poor countries beyond 2012.
Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. In 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, its emissions were 26.2 percent higher than in 1990.
1.6. Obama’s climate leadership faces test at G8 forum
2 July 2009, Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama, buoyed by a domestic victory on climate policy, faces his first foreign test on the issue next week at a forum that could boost the chances of reaching a U.N. global warming pact this year.
Obama, who has pledged U.S. leadership in the fight against climate change, chairs a meeting of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters at the G8 summit in Italy on July 9.
Known as the Major Economies Forum, the grouping includes 17 nations that account for roughly 75 percent of the world’s emissions, making any agreement from its leaders a potential blueprint for U.N. talks in Copenhagen in December.
Meetings of the forum, which Obama relaunched earlier this year, have so far failed to achieve major breakthroughs.
Developing countries want their industrial counterparts to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, while rich nations want developing states to commit to boosting their economies in an environmentally friendly way.
Those debates and others will be featured at the Italy meeting, the first at a heads of state and government level, and all eyes will be on Obama, whose climate initiatives European leaders have lauded while privately pressing him for more.
Europeans "want to seize this moment to push as hard as they can on the Americans to get significant … targeted commitments on carbon emissions reductions," said Heather Conley, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies.
"They know that this is going to be a very careful walk along the road to Copenhagen in December and they’re going to publicly praise and privately push hard."
A Democrat, Obama has reversed the environmental policies of Republican predecessor George W. Bush by pressing for U.S. greenhouse gas emission cuts and a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) output from major industries.
The House of Representatives helped turn that vision into a potential law last week by passing a bill that would require large companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.
But those figures are still below what many scientists say is necessary and — potentially more dangerous for the Copenhagen process — the measures face obstacles to their passage through the U.S. Senate.
Washington has resisted calls to endorse the aim of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius at the G8 summit, though a European official said on Wednesday the United States was now on board for that goal.
"The politics of climate change are stuck, despite Obama coming in," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He said the United States was still on the defensive in comparison to the more progressive European Union.
Despite those challenges, White House officials said the president would carry momentum to the G8.
"Bolstered by the great progress in the House last week, the president will … press for continued progress on energy and climate," Denis McDonough, the White House deputy national security adviser, told reporters.
Activists hope Obama’s presence will pay dividends.
"This is really a chance for President Obama to bring what he’s most known for here in the U.S. — hope and change — into the climate dialogue internationally," said Keya Chatterjee, director of international climate negotiations at environmental group WWF in Washington.
She said other industrialized nations had used the Bush administration’s reluctance to sign up to major emissions curbs as an excuse to avoid making their own strong commitments.
"In the past year it’s been very easy for Canada and Russia and Japan to hide behind the Bush administration, but they don’t have that to hide behind anymore," she said.
A draft copy of the statement to be released by the major emitters sets a goal for the world to reduce emissions 50 percent by 2050, but it does not include a base year.
The draft also gives a nod to the "broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees C" without specifically endorsing that goal.
2.1. Increase in Renewables Aids Human Rights
2 July 2009, Planet Ark
In recent years the legion of supporters of renewable energy has expanded to include labor unions concerned about jobs, as well as national security and energy independence experts such as George Schultz and James Woolsey.
These advocates of domestic and clean energy production strongly consider the geopolitical implications when dollars leave the country to potentially embolden individuals in unstable and unfriendly regions. While renewable energy depletes resources that could be used against U.S. citizens, it also can reduce the amount of money going to foreign governments that often have poor records in human rights.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act, would establish a National Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) provision, requiring investor owned utilities to purchase a minimum of 15% of their energy from renewable sources. This domestic energy production, combined with energy efficiency initiatives, will to a degree reduce the consumption of foreign petroleum. This will come in the form of the expansion of biofuels as a transportation and home heating fuel, as well as electricity from wind and solar to power the upcoming plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles that will slash the use of gasoline.
Since 2002, U.S. energy companies (along with the government) have increasingly looked to nations in Africa for crude oil as an alternative to Mid-East oil. While African nations pose less of an international threat, many of the governments of the leading oil exporting nations have a poor record in sharing the oil wealth and in respect for human rights.
The "curse of oil," which says that national per capita income often goes down after oil is discovered in a nation, is well documented in cases around the globe. Many nations in Africa, which have seen a boom in oil exploration during the past 5 years, simultaneously experience a decline in both human rights and financial equality as "strongmen" leaders have used the oil wealth for personal gain, and limited civil rights to remain in power.
Numerous examples of this, as documented in the book Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil by John Ghazvinian, include Angola Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. Recently Shell paid $15.5 million to settle an action brought by the Ogani people who alleged that the company looked the other way as civil rights were being violated, culminating in the death of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
In these unstable regions, energy companies negotiate with powerful leaders and sometimes make undesirable concessions in order to extract oil. This creates a windfall that even in "democratic" nations often hurts rather than helps the indigenous people.
This misuse of fossil fuel revenue is yet another incentive for using renewable energy both here and aboard. Renewable energy is almost always a local and distributed resource that does not concentrate wealth. Instead of the potential to prop up tyrants, it creates jobs and encourages innovation by small businesses.
2.2. EU issues template for national renewables plans
1 July 2009, EurActiv
The European Commission yesterday (30 June) adopted a template for national renewable energy action plans (NREAPS), requiring member states to detail how they intend to reach their national targets for the share of renewables in their energy mix.
The action plans are a feature of the new Renewables Directive, which entered into force last month, setting a binding target to source 20% of the EU’s energy consumption from renewables by 2020 (see EurActiv LinksDossier). Member states must now fill in the template with sectoral targets for the share of renewable energy in transport, electricity, heating and cooling, and offer a trajectory for getting there.
The EU executive hopes that the common template will guarantee the completeness of the national plans, while making them comparable with each other and future implementation reports that member states will need to submit every two years.
European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the template would help member states to produce a "credible plan which in turn will help the EU to meet its targets on time".
A progress report published in April showed that the EU was falling short of its 12% renewables target for 2020, and the Commission had initiated 61 legal proceedings since 2004 (EurActiv 30/04/09).
The 40-page document asks member states to specify what policies they plan to enforce on biomass resources and on implementing sustainability schemes for biofuel. National action plans will also have to include details on "enabling measures", such as revision of building codes, information campaigns, support schemes and the planned use of flexibility measures.
Member states will also have to state what steps they are taking to cut red tape on administrative procedures and to spell out any "unnecessary obstacles". To further help the integration of renewable electricity into the grid, infrastructure development plans should be reported, including reinforcement of interconnections with neighbouring countries.
Each member state will now have a year until 30 June 2010 to submit its plan to the Commission, which will assess whether it reflects national targets and trajectories. Should the EU executive rule a plan insufficient, it can start infringement proceedings against the member state concerned.
The wind industry welcomed the template, saying it would allow for the anticipation of new wind energy installations. "What the filled-out template will do is to effectively provide the wind energy sector with 27 national roadmaps for its development up to 2020, and show the expected share of the different technologies year on year," said Christian Kjaer, chief executive of European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
2.3. Sweden tables eco-efficiency roadmap for Europe
2 July 2009, EurActiv
A report by the Stockholm Environment Institute, entitled ‘A European Eco-efficient Economy’, will provide a basis for discussions during an informal meeting of energy and environment ministers in Åre on 23–25 July.
The reportPdf external argues that Europe’s leadership is "primarily evident" in its climate change commitments. But in order to continue attracting investment and businesses, greater efforts must be made to promote innovation and energy efficiency, it added.
Sweden, which took over the EU’s rotating Presidency yesterday (1 July), has pledged to put energy efficiency high on its agenda (EurActiv 25/06/09). One of its priorities for the 6-month term is to lead a shift to an eco-efficient economy where economic growth and climate-friendly policies go hand-in-hand.
"Sweden can set a good example by showing how the climate challenge can be combined with initiatives to strengthen the economy. During the Presidency we want to highlight EU job and growth opportunities by investing in energy efficiency, renewable resources and recycling," said Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren.
"A global transition to a low carbon economy in order to tackle climate change represents a major opportunity for all countries to embark on cleaner development," said Måns Nilsson, the leading researcher behind the report. The downturn highlights the investment opportunity in green cars, better insulation, energy-saving appliances and clean energy among others, he added.
The report maps out three areas where EU policy can promote a shift to a competitive green economy.
Pursuing greater resource system efficiency, particularly through energy efficiency and sustainable city planning (see EurActiv LinksDossier on ‘cities and climate change’), would be a politically appealing strategy as energy savings will pay off in times of economic hardship, the authors argue. Moreover, new technology markets such as renewable energies and sustainable transportation could offer solutions in sectors that are major contributors to climate change, they say.
Finally, global carbon pricing will be "unavoidable" if the world is to move to an eco-efficient trajectory for the long term, the report states.
The authors warn, however, that achieving climate objectives will not be easy because they require a profound change of thinking on the part of both consumers and industries in the whole world. They consequently present EU policy-makers an action plan on how to pursue both national and international cooperation for a more sustainable future.
The report urges EU policy-makers to adopt "package solutions" that combine taxes, standards-setting and other forms of governance in a novel way in the manner of the green package for renewables. Moreover, interventions to promote clean technologies and better platforms to assess the impact of climate policies will have to be developed it argues.
At international level, the EU should push for a gradual expansion of global carbon pricing as well as international standards, the report argues. In order to ensure a level playing field in the shorter term, the EU should also leverage commitments from emerging economies, it said.
2.4. French radioactive waste to double by 2030
30 June 2009, Reuters
France’s highly radioactive waste will more than double by 2030 mainly as spent fuel derived from nuclear reactors mounts up, the French national radioactive waste management agency (Andra) said on Tuesday.
Andra draws up every three years an inventory of sites polluted with radioactivity and details quantities per waste category as well as volume forecasts.
In 2007, high level waste, the most dangerous category, accounted for 95 percent of French waste radioactivity but only 0.2 percent in volume, it said in the inventory report. A complicated scale lists a wide range of different intensities of radioactive waste.
High level waste will rise by 120 percent to 5,060 cubic meters by 2030 out of a total of 2.2 million cubic meters, the Andra report said. The 2.2 million cubic meters itself is twice the 2007 level.
"The agency is taking this figure into account for the design and management of its storage centers," Andra said in a statement.
It takes hundreds of thousands of years for spent nuclear fuel to become non-radioactive and its storage is becoming a crucial issue as new nuclear reactors are due to come online in coming decades.
France has not found permanent underground storage with the capacity to hold the nuclear energy waste already generated and the waste it will generate in the future.
The highly radioactive waste generated so far is stored in above ground facilities at nuclear reactor supplier Areva’s fuel reprocessing plant in La Hague on the northwestern coast of Normandy.
Under French law, Areva, will have to bury the waste in a permanent repository by 2025.
3.1. Change farming to cut CO2 emissions by 25 per cent
3 July 2009, Ecologist
A new report has revealed that a change in the way we manage agricultural land could help sequester a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions every year
How to remove carbon from the atmosphere and put it back in the ground? Although the Government might like its big-ticket solutions such as unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies for coal-fired power plants, a more effective answer may lie right beneath our feet.
Soil is the third-largest carbon sink in the world (after the oceans and fossil fuels themselves), and a change in the way we farm could offset a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions annually, a new report reveals. Land use accounts for more than 30 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use, a report by the Worldwatch Institute and Ecoagriculture Partners, identifies five ways in which changes in agricultural practices could reduce and sequester carbon emissions.
The measures include enriching soil carbon through minimising tillage, using less fertiliser and adding biochar to increase its carbon-storage capacity; farming with perennials; adopting a more climate-friendly approach to livestock production, including a reduction in numbers and rotational grazing; protecting natural habitats by minimising the effects of forest and grass fires, and limiting deforestation and land clearances; and restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands.
The findings of the report are consistent with a shift away from harmful industrial practices towards the adoption of a more organic approach.
‘Organic farming plays a key role in soil carbon sequestration in comparison to conventional farming, which instead of returning carbon to the soil relies on chemicals,’ says Clio Turton of the Soil Association. ‘Organic farming has more grassland and organic red meat production is a grass-fed system, and therefore maintains huge carbon stores in permanent grassland. Organic techniques such as crop rotations and adding organic matter to the soil also play key roles in sequestering
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) acknowledges that industrial agriculture has a net negative impact on the environment. A spokesperson said the department was working to raise awareness of the issue, promoting emerging technologies such as anaerobic digestion, and conducting a research programme on other ways to reduce the impact of farming, such as emissions trading and incentives to increase greener land management.
‘Farming is on the front line of tackling climate change,’ said a spokesperson. ‘Through our Agriculture and Climate Change Project, we are aiming to equip the agricultural sector with the tools, expertise and support that will enable it make a strong contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of the changing climate – as well as making the most of the business opportunities that are presented by the emerging green industries.’
An International Trade Centre (ITC) report carried out in 2007 by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) found that organic agriculture techniques can contribute significantly to the carbon sequestration capabilities of soil. Under northern European conditions, converting to organic practices such as the use of animal manure, green composting techniques and rotational grazing would result in an increase of soil organic matter of 100kg to 400kg per hectare annually during the first 50 years. A steady state of organic matter would be reached in 100 years, the report found.
UK agriculture currently accounts for seven per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions, half of which occurs as a result of nitrous oxide emissions from tillage.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) was prickly towards the report.
‘The production of nitrous oxide is a side-effect of food production,’ said Jonathan Scurlock, the NFU’s chief adviser on renewable energy and climate change. ‘At the moment it’s not technically possible drastically to reduce these emissions.
‘In terms of actually mitigating greenhouse gas emissions there are a lot of embedded renewable energy options that are much easier to implement, from anaerobic digestion and the optimal management of slurries to wind turbines in fields and solar photovoltaics on farm buildings. We need policy measures that encourage the uptake of renewable energy and low-carbon opportunities within the agricultural sector.
‘Perennial crops have many advantages and the theory behind biochar is sound as a means of locking carbon into the soil, but I don’t agree that reducing livestock numbers is the answer. Farmers will follow consumer preferences, but most of the world is seeing an increase in meat production. We can reduce emissions through a variety of measures but there’s no magic bullet – it will be gradual and progressive. What is important is to transfer the best available technologies to emerging markets in developing counties.’
A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also supports a more natural approach to reducing emissions. Its authors claim trees and soil could sequester as much as 50 gigatonnes of carbon over a few decades – and do so far more effectively and cheaply than CCS.
According to the report, The Natural Fix? The Role of Ecosystems in Climate Mitigation, less intensively grown crops and a reduction in grazing rates would lead to an increase in the carbon-storage capacity of soil. It estimates the measures would cost as little as £6 per tonne of avoided carbon dioxide emissions. CCS – capturing carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants at source and pumping it underground – could cost anything from £12 to £170 per tonne.
‘Tens of billions of dollars are being earmarked for carbon capture and storage at power stations, with the CO2 to be buried underground or under the sea,’ said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner. ‘The Earth’s living systems might be capable of sequestering more than 50 gigatonnes [billion tonnes] of carbon over the coming decades with the right market signals.’
Cost aside, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing at a rate of three per cent a year, the speed at which carbon-capture technologies must be developed and built may make CCS unviable. As Greenpeace’s False Hope report made clear last year: ‘The IEA estimates that for CCS to deliver any meaningful climate mitigation effects by 2050, 6,000 projects each injecting a million tonnes of CO2 per year into the ground would be required. […] Currently, only three such storage projects exist worldwide.’
3.2. EU mulls €7 billion subsidy for carbon capture
30 June 2009, EurActiv
The European Commission yesterday (29 June) estimated that up to €7 billion could be made available to fund carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology from the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS). Meanwhile, renewables projects would get around €5 billion.
The assessment is based on projects that have been presented to the Commission so far.
Speaking at a stakeholder meeting in Brussels, a Commission official stressed, however, that there would be no upfront earmarking of money between CCS and renewables when the 300 million allowances, set aside in a so-called ‘new entrants reserve’, are allocated. Instead, funds will go to viable projects only.
The new entrants reserve is intended to pay for the incremental investments that utilities make in CO2 capture facilities, or for setting up renewable energy projects that are not yet commercially viable. As the ETS puts a price on CO2, the free allowances thus become direct subsidies to industries, provided that they share their knowledge with new businesses to get pioneering technologies off the ground on a commercial scale.
The issue at stake now is ensuring that the reserve generates the maximum amount of money, and that criteria are set for determining where it is allocated.
As one observer pointed out yesterday after the meeting, it is still early days in the debate, with different interest groups lobbying for as much money as they can. While the electricity industry called for clear priorities on CCS, environmentalists in particular have pointed out that only a clear shift to renewable energy can halt dangerous global warming.
Setting the ‘right’ criteria
The Commission is facing a difficult task in presenting fair criteria for allocating the allowances, as the scale of CCS and renewables differs widely. For each group of low-carbon technologies, the EU executive plans to introduce different criteria, which are not directly comparable.
A Commission paper issued earlier this month (EurActiv 10/06/09) points out that of 27 different categories of innovative renewables, the largest project provides 50MW of power, while CCS on the other hand offers up to 250MW.
According to participants in yesterday’s meeting, the Commission is now planning to introduce both minimum and maximum requirements for eligible projects. This could then potentially exclude some smaller renewables projects upfront.
A call-back clause may also be introduced to ensure that the funded projects really deliver CO2 cuts. The Commission is reportedly in favour of such a provision, which would require utilities to start returning the funding should they prove to be unable to demonstrate that they are achieving their key objective.
The funding will most likely be distributed through two calls for tender, as supported by member states. At first, the EU would only allocate some of the allowances, leaving room for assessment before the second call is issued.
The revised ETS directive states that the 300 allowances from the new entrants’ reserve will only be available until the end of 2015. Some observers noted, however, that there is pressure from some member states to extend it to projects that might not begin operating before 2015.
Both environmentalists and the CCS lobby, however, point out that the EU’s ambitious 2020 climate targets require urgent action, and any project that delivers after 2015 cannot be used as a model for further commercialisation. On CCS, the EU’s target is to have 10-12 demonstration plants up and running by 2015, which means that construction "should have started yesterday," one stakeholder argued.
Final word with member states
Ultimately it is EU governments that will decide the course of action, as the eligibility criteria are set by the ‘comitology’ procedure in Council working groups. The Commission wants a quick decision and is seeking a Council committee vote on full criteria in the autumn, in order to publish a shortlist of projects by mid-2010.
Germany and the UK are already showing signs of a "typical big member state point of view," according to one party to the talks. They have indicated that the allowances should be allocated to each country based on population or size of emissions, for example, which would favour larger countries.
This differs wildly from the Commission’s proposal, which suggests that a project-to-project basis will achieve the best value for money.
Moreover, member states are likely to take very different stances on CCS, because awareness of the technology among government officials and the general public is often very low.
4.1. Shell’s Big Dirty Secret
29 June 2009, FOEE
Download it at: http://www.foeeurope.org/corporates/Extractives/shellbigdirtysecret_June09.pdf
4.2. Impacts of regulatory options to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, in particular on car manufacturers
AEA Final Report
Download it at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/transport/co2/pdf/impacts_reg_options.pdf
5.1. CLIMATE JUSTICE AND ENERGY PROGRAMME INTERN
for four months
Full time and working in the Brussels office, with occasional travel in Europe. Start date: 1 September 2009
This is a unique opportunity to work alongside our Climate and Energy team to help influence the EU in taking up its responsibility to fight climate change, and to help bring people’s voices to decision-makers.
We are looking for an energetic and enthusiastic person to join the international FoEE team on a short term basis. The position is based in Brussels, full time, and runs from September until December 2009. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about campaigning in a green NGO working at the European level in Brussels – part of a vibrant European and international network.
Climate change can be stopped. Jointly with national groups in 18 countries we are running the “Big Ask” campaign demanding that Europe cuts its emissions by 40% in 2020 and 100% in 2050 within Europe, year by year, and provides its fair share of finances for helping developing countries tackle climate change. Together with Friends of the Earth International we are now preparing for the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. We are planning a huge mobilisation in Copenhagen and national actions and mobilisations in the months before.
FoEE campaigns for sustainable and just societies and for the protection of the environment. It unites more than 31 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.
* Support the climate team in their ongoing work and especially in relation to the preparations and mobilisation for the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen and activities leading up to it * Help with contacting groups and gathering information * Support national groups with their mobilisation activities * Liaising with national groups to collect creative messages from citizens all across Europe * Help with the coordination and practical organisation of a campaigner meeting with about 40 people from 15 countries * Support the climate and communications team with activities surrounding the launch of the climate study in Brussels * Help with background research and compiling information * Travel to the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen and help with the organisation and coordination of Friends of the Earth activities Essential requirements Good networking and communications skills, willingness to liaise with local groups * Project management experience, preferably working internationally * Logistical, problem solving skills * Fluency in English * Able to work in a team and independently with people from different cultural backgrounds * Commitment to the values, vision and mission of Friends of the Earth * Flexibility, ability to improvise and multi-tasking skills * Ability to work to deadlines and prioritise workloads * Educated to degree standard * Sense of humour and creativity Desirable * Knowledge of climate change topics Experience in ganising campaign actions/activist background * Experience in NGO work and/or volunteering We offer * A great learning experience in a highly motivating working environment * The opportunity to work in an international NGO with its office located in an environmentally friendly building (Mundo-B)* 5 days/week, 38 hour working week, compensation days for weekends/public holidays worked * A monthly contribution to living costs of €800 If you are interested in applying for the position of intern in the Climate Justice and Energy Programme please send your CV and a cover letter to [email protected] by midnight on 9 July 2009. Your letter of motivation should highlight how your skills and experience are well-suited to the exact requirements of this position. Short-listed candidates will be contacted latest 13 July. Interviews will likely take place on 15 July. We look forward to receiving your application. Read more at: http://www.foeeurope.org/job/climate_justice_intern_June09.html , www.thebigask.eu, www.foeeurope.org
6.1. Resumed ninth session of the AWG-KP and resumed seventh session of the AWG-LCA
2-6 November 2009
Barcelona Convention Centre
FIRA GRAN VIA
Carrer del Foc 47
08038 Barcelona, Spain
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected]