1.1. UN agency targets clean technologies
5 March 2009,
The intellectual property agency of the United Nations is to promote wider use of new technology to meet the global challenge of climate change.
Francis Gurry, the Australian lawyer who took over the helm of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) in October, plans to take a new look at how the intellectual property system can ensure that patents are not a barrier to trade.
In an interview, Mr Gurry said Wipo would look at ways in which patents on new “clean technologies” that cut greenhouse gas emissions could be used to promote rather than restrict access to those technologies, especially by developing countries.
Wipo does not want to “wait passively” for climate change technology to become mired in the kind of acrimonious public debate that has beset pharmaceutical patents, where there have been accusations that patents held by first world companies are restricting access to affordable medicines in developing countries.
Through its international patent filing system, Wipo has a huge repository of technical information and could offer an online platform to allow companies to share information about clean technology innovation.
Companies could use the online exchange to disclose their technologies with a view to collaborating on research with others on a commercial basis. Participants would pledge to licence green technologies “on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms”, enabling any company in the system to access them for use in research.
Mr Gurry said he planned to explore the possibilities of creating this “open innovation” platform with governments and “clean technology” industry leaders in the coming weeks.
“If we can develop mechanisms that show that the marketplace is working for developing and diffusing new technologies, we’re in a much better position to avoid recourse to compulsory licensing and other measures,” he said.
Wipo’s proposed initiatives on climate change are part of a nine-point strategy approved by its 184 member states in December. This is aimed at making the organisation more efficient and more active in IP policy debates, with a focus on issues of concern to developing countries.
However, Mr Gurry, a Wipo veteran of 24 years and former deputy director general, faces a difficult task in transforming an agency weakened by several years of scandal that forced his predecessor, Kamil Idris of Sudan, to leave office a year early.
The start of his six-year term has also coincided with a deepening of the world economic downturn. Figures published in January suggest this has already started to have an impact on international patent filings, which account for the bulk of Wipo’s income.

1.2. Rips in the Arctic Safety Net
6 March 2009, WWF
The final meeting of the EU-sponsored ‘Arctic Transform’ project being held in Brussels on March 5th, 2009, is an example of the sort of multilateral initiative that is necessary for states to realize that their common interests in a sustainable Arctic outweigh any other considerations.
A fluid and dynamic Arctic environment requires a fluid and dynamic response from Arctic countries. This is not the time to rely on blinkered state-level mentalities, but on multilateral agreements that can fix the gaps in Arctic governance, and limiting exploitation of the Arctic to sustainable use, for the continued benefit of all the Arctic states and their peoples. The Arctic is already being transformed by global change. Without a coherent and coordinated governance structure, that transformation could be catastrophic. While the ‘Arctic Transform’ project is drawing to a close, the job of transforming Arctic governance must continue.
The Arctic is the most rapidly, and catastrophically, changing region on Earth as a result of climate change. It has the potential to radically affect the climate of the rest of the world through feedbacks we may already have triggered, as Arctic ice diminishes, and thawing land gives off increasing amounts of greenhouse gas.
Yet most of the nations expressing interest in the Arctic have a blinkered view of the region. The dominant view is of the Arctic as virgin territory ripe for harvest and a possible forum for geopolitical conflict over its resource riches.
With a rapidly changing physical environment, and a mob of nations jostling to exploit its resources, the Arctic is in dire need of protection. A report released recently by WWF shows that the tools available to protect the Arctic are woefully inadequate. The report, “International Governance and Regulation of the Marine Arctic: Overview and Gap Analysis” surveys all of the tools available through international law, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The report finds that in many areas, either there are no legal protections, or that they are too weak to be effective. For instance, the only international regulation of oil and gas activity in the Arctic is a series of guidelines issued by the Arctic Council. The guidelines are not legally enforceable, and there is no systematic check of whether they are followed. This is a major gap, considering the potential impact of oil and gas activities in the Arctic. Industry officials admit that there is no effective method of cleaning up oil spills on ice covered waters, and spills are bound to happen. When they do, the impact is devastating. A small spill in the Varanger Fjord in Northern Norway killed as many as twenty thousand guillemots. The Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska killed about a quarter of a million seabirds.
Fisheries in the Arctic are also not covered well enough by international law. The Arctic contains many of the world’s richest remaining fishing grounds, but climate change is affecting these fisheries already. As water temperatures change, fish stocks are moving around, and as the Arctic ice continue to decline, untested fishing grounds open up. International agreements on fishing do not cover all species or all places in the Arctic, leaving loopholes that could be exploited. Previous experience elsewhere in the world shows that under-regulated fisheries can quickly lead to the collapse of fisheries and undermines whole ecosystems. The United States has taken a valuable first step, in imposing a moratorium on fishing in new areas in the US Arctic. However, that response has yet to be echoed by other Arctic nations.
In the face of the coming challenges in the Arctic, the standard response from Arctic states has been to assert their own sovereignty and to rely on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to fix any international issues. As the analysis in the WWF report clearly shows, such a response does not go far enough. UNCLOS does not fix everything, and a national response is insufficient to deal with migratory resources, and international activities such as shipping.

1.3. Obama’s Cap-and-Trade Plan
5 March 2009, BusinessWeek
As a candidate, Barack Obama said he’d tackle climate change by imposing caps on emissions of greenhouse gases. Now, as President, he’s doing exactly that. He proposes reducing U.S. emissions 14% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% below by 2050. And he’d raise $646 billion from 2012 to 2019 by auctioning the rights to emit such gases—in effect putting a price on carbon emissions. With Congress also serious about the climate, business knows the battle has been joined for real and is trying to shape a compromise bill likely to emerge this year. "We are now playing with live bullets," says the Environmental Defense Fund’s Mark Brownstein, who works with a group of companies that supports the plan.
The bullets are already flying—but mainly over details of the plan, not the general idea. While there are still fierce opponents of emissions limits, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, much of business is supportive. The Obama Administration "is very close to right on the climate plan," says John W. Rowe, chief executive of Exelon (EXC), a Chicago-based utility.
In theory, a workable cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions would give business executives more certainty about future energy costs, helping them make better investment decisions. A market price on carbon would boost energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts, already beneficiaries in Obama’s stimulus package. Nuclear power plants, such as Exelon’s, would become more valuable. "I have great hope for the ‘green’ stimulus, but it won’t fulfill its potential unless there is a price on carbon," says James E. Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy (DUK). Also, there’s little chance of getting China and India to agree to binding limits, which American companies insist is needed to keep the international playing field level, unless the U.S. takes action at home.The real fight, therefore, is not whether to impose carbon limits but how to do so and at what cost to business. Obama proposes that companies buy an allowance, or permit, for each ton of carbon emitted, at an estimated cost, to start, of $13 to $20 per ton. (Those permits could also be bought and sold.) Even at the lower range of $13 per ton, energy companies and utilities would likely pass along the added cost to consumers. It’s estimated the price of gasoline would go up by 12 cents a gallon and the average electricity bill by about 7% nationally—and far higher in states more dependent on coal. Unfair, say many executives. "It is a clear transfer of the middle part of the country’s wealth to the two coasts," says Michael G. Morris, CEO of American Electric Power (AEP), a coal-heavy power generator based in Columbus, Ohio, that supplies electricity in 11 states.
Morris intends to target the 50 U.S. senators in the 25 coal-centric states "to see if we can bring some rationality to the program," he says. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, plans to hold "climate dialogues" in as many as 16 cities, hammering home a similar message in coal-rich states with Democratic senators. The Obama plan "is now a very expensive tax used to transfer wealth. It has nothing to do with climate change," charges William L. Kovacs, a Chamber vice-president.
The Obama team points out that its cap-and-trade plan returns much of the money raised by permit sales to consumers nationwide in the form of lower taxes, so many people come out ahead. And the Environmental Defense Fund has created a map of 1,200 alternative energy or energy-efficiency companies in key manufacturing states that stand to benefit from the climate plan. While the Midwest will bear a higher cost from reducing carbon emissions, the region will also benefit from the most new jobs, the EDF argues.
Lots of other details remain to fight over. Dow Chemical (DOW) and others want credit for emission cuts they have already made, for example. So prepare for months of negotiations. But a deal is likely. Says Dow lobbyist Peter A. Molinaro: "Somewhere out there is a rational policy that could actually get the votes."

1.4. China clings to clean-up amid economic woes
5 March 2009, Reuters
Grappling with slowing growth and a rising tide of unemployment, China is still pushing for cleaner development and may step up efforts to tackle climate change, the country’s top economic planner said on Thursday.
Experiments with a cap-and-trade emissions trading system for air pollutants, more spending on technology to tackle global warming and another round of shutdowns at outdated power plants and factories are all on the agenda for 2009.
The election of a new U.S. president with a strong position on global warming, and a looming deadline for a world deal on fighting climate change, have focused attention on China as the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gasses.
But some experts have voiced fears that the global downturn will test the resolve of China and other leading emitters to fight global warming at a time when efforts to revive their economies dominate the policy agenda.
Beijing , in turn, is worried about its reliance on imported oil and gas, the health and economic consequences of its murky air and water and risks of protests and unrest from citizens threatened by pollution and now also unhappy about the economy.
"We will make every effort to save energy and reduce pollution," the National Development and Reform Commission said, laying out the "major tasks" for this year in a report to the annual session of China’s rubber-stamp Parliament.
A long-standing drive to cut wasteful energy use remained a focus of attention with pledges to improve management of power demand, fine-tune pricing of oil products and block construction of new power-hungry projects.
More closely targeted measures include income tax rebates for purchase of energy efficient equipment and tax credits for the manufacture of small, environmentally friendly cars.
The effort to improve "energy intensity" was actually speeded up by the economic downturn, which helped China to achieve a self-imposed energy-saving target for the first time in 2008, by pushing dirty metal firms and factories over the edge.
"The growth of production in energy intensive and highly polluting industries slowed down significantly," the NDRC said.
In a section on tackling pollution, the report pledged to "continue to experiment with the cap-and-trade emissions trading system." It gave no more details, but this likely referred only to pollutants such as acid-rain-causing sulphur dioxide.
However, officials have said in the past that a scheme for these gasses could lay the ground for a system tackling greenhouse pollutants such as carbon dioxide by putting monitoring equipment in place, building up a market and popularizing the concept of emissions trading.
The government also plans to set climate change programs for each province — which could help give local leaders eager for promotion greater incentive to clean up firms in their area — and will this year step up the hunt for clean technology.
"We will increase research and development on technologies for slowing down and responding to climate change," it said.
Beijing has called for rich nations to provide green technology to developing countries as part of a global pact to cut emissions of global warming gasses, due to be hammered out at talks in Copenhagen in December.
It is highly vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet, ranging from droughts in its already parched south to rising sea-levels along the heavily populated coast and storms in the typhoon-prone south.
Desulfurising equipment was added in power plants with another 100 gigawatts of capacity over 2008, meaning nearly two thirds of the nation’s generators now strip out the gas, the report said, and more plants will be upgraded this year.
China offers higher tariffs to power plants that clean the gas from their emissions and said it will step up oversight of the scheme. In the past, companies have installed the equipment but kept it switched off to save money.
Dirty water was also a target, with plans to ensure over two-thirds of urban sewage is treated by the end of the year.


2.1. Green VAT proposal likely to be scrapped
6 March 2009, EurActiv
The European Commission is poised to put forward proposals for a ‘green tax’ in early April, but reduced value-added tax (VAT) rates to promote green products are unlikely to feature as part of the package.
The legislative proposals will modify existing EU laws on taxation of energy products. They will be accompanied by a Commission communication and a staff working document on the role of taxes in energy and environmental policy.
The package also includes a draft law to amend the 2006 VAT Directive, with view to cutting value-added tax (VAT) on some environmentally-friendly goods, including energy efficient light bulbs and insulation.
EU heads of state and government called for green VAT to be considered at a summit in March 2008, under pressure from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (EurActiv 17/03/08).
Recent reports nevertheless suggest that the Commission might decide against proposing such reduced VAT rates. The concerns expressed reflect a consultants’ report, submitted to the tax department in December, citing negative cross-border effects and higher energy demands.
The European Environmental Bureau criticised the Commission for contradicting itself. It noted that the EU executive’s economic recovery plan of November 2008 clearly stated that the Commission would propose reduced VAT rates for green products and services, "aimed at improving in particular energy efficiency of buildings".
The package, drafted by the Commission’s tax department, appears to have had a rough passage through internal consultation in other departments. According to an EU official, some departments are likely to want to add their priorities to the proposal. For example, the energy department will probably try to include products such as boilers, while biofuels are a ‘must’ for the agriculture department, ENDS reported.
The legislative package is still at a drafting stage and details of its exact content are yet to emerge. The Commission is waiting to see what happens during discussions between economy and finance ministers on 10 March.
Bulk of member states object
But member states are not expected to endorse an eventual proposal on green VAT cuts. According to a draft political agreement for next week’s Ecofin Council, "more efficient tools and measures than reduced VAT rates for specific goods and services exits for achieving environmental policy objectives and are therefore to be preferred".
A Council official told EurActiv that many member states have "substantial reservations" on whether the scheme can play a significant role in promoting green products and ultimately the EU’s climate goals. Germany, Austria and Denmark are clearly against the proposals, and the Baltic states have expressed concerns too.
The UK and France thus appear to be exceptions in supporting VAT reductions for environmentally-friendly products. France has also been lobbying hard for lower VAT rates for labour-intensive industries, with an eye on its catering sector. The Commission’s proposals on this front will also be discussed by the Ecofin Council next week.
John Hontelez, secretary-general of the European Environmental Bureau, said that the Commission’s concerns were misguided. "Consider the reduced VAT schemes as a direct contribution to a more realistic and real domestic greenhouse gas reduction perspective. Contrary to the consultants, who think that a VAT reduction on energy efficient products will not lead to reduced emissions in the EU but only a lower energy price (because of the cap achieved with the emission trading system), the EEB believes that VAT reduction can lead to more emission reductions in the EU: increased energy efficiency can indeed lower the price of carbon emissions in the sectors under the Emission Trading Scheme (in particular the electricity producing sector)," he argued in a letter to commissioners.
Alisdair Gray, the British Retail Consortium’s Brussels director, said: "Reducing emissions is not just about homes. It’s about the equipment in them. The UK is in recession. Price is an even more important factor in customers’ buying decisions. Retailers are doing a great deal. They need and deserve help to achieve more. By cutting VAT on ‘greener’ household goods, the Commission will show it is matching rhetoric with policy."

2.2. Recycled nuclear fuel arrives at French port
4 March 2009, French News
The shipment of recycled nuclear fuel to Japan has been criticised by Greenpeace as unsafe, insecure and unnecessary. 
CHERBOURG – A convoy of recycled Japanese nuclear fuel arrived Wednesday in the French port of Cherbourg to be shipped to Japan, despite warnings its transport could pose a proliferation risk.
Five trucks bearing the symbol for radioactive material and accompanied by dozens of police vehicles arrived in the early hours at the northern port, according to a correspondent at the scene.
The mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel is a blend of plutonium and reprocessed uranium that Japan, which has virtually no natural energy resources of its own, wants to start using for the first time.
French nuclear group Areva, which reprocessed the Japanese fuel at a plant in La Hague, 20 kilometres (15 miles) from Cherbourg, insists the production of MOX is safe and that it helps reduce nuclear waste.
But environmental group Greenpeace has attacked the shipment as "unsafe, insecure and unnecessary," saying the two-month journey would be the largest ever plutonium transportation in history and a major proliferation risk.
Greenpeace, some of whose activists were prosecuted after trying to block the last French MOX convoy to Japan in 2001, says the recycled fuel contains 1.8 tonnes of plutonium, enough to make 225 nuclear bombs.
The environmentalist group said Wednesday’s convoy arrived from the Areva plant in La Hague, and expects a second convoy to arrive Wednesday night, to be loaded Thursday onto two British ships bound for Japan.
Greenpeace said two ships from Britain’s Pacific Nuclear Transport company, each with armed police on board, had already left their home ports to take on board the fuel at Cherbourg.
A spokesman for French nuclear group Areva has confirmed that the shipment is being prepared, but not its exact size, nor when it would leave for Japan.
MOX has been used as nuclear fuel in various countries across the world for more than three decades, the French state-controlled group noted.
But Greenpeace argues that the chances of nuclear weapons proliferation are increased because of the risks of the shipments being seized en route.
"The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes that MOX can be used to make nuclear bombs," said the group, which has written to the UN nuclear watchdog to ask it to prevent the shipment.
"You cannot say whether, if a malevolent person managed to separate the plutonium from the uranium, which is a difficult process, this plutonium, which is civilian not military grade, would be capable of making a nuclear bomb," said Thierry Dujardin of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.
"No-one has done this," he told AFP. "One cannot exclude the possibility that an organisation would try, and that is why these convoys are protected."
Areva said on its website that the two ships that will transport the MOX "are also armed with guns and are protected by a specially trained force, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary."
The fuel will travel from France to Japan using three possible routes – via the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn or the Panama Canal, it said.
The nuclear fuel reprocessed by Areva came from three regional Japanese power companies and is intended for use at light-water reactors of the companies based in southern and central Japan.
According to Greenpeace France’s head of energy questions, Yannick Rousselet, Japan is obliged to take back the MOX, as it did in 2001, but has yet to start using it as fuel in the face of local objections.
Japan , which relies on nuclear power plants for nearly one-third of its power demands, has also built its own reprocessing plant, which is expected to begin operating soon.
But the plant’s opening has been delayed after a series of minor accidents stirred up objections from the local community.
The Japanese government aims to step up the use of nuclear energy as the Asian economic power has virtually no natural energy resources.
But public fears rose last year when an earthquake caused a fire and a small radiation leak at the world’s biggest nuclear plant of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa northwest of Tokyo.


3.1. Europe’s new climate gambit – shifting the heat onto developing nations?
3 March 2009, WWF
Brussels, Belgium – European environment ministers, who today discussed Europe’s proposals for the Copenhagen climate summit in December, appear to be backtracking from a UN agreement by which developed countries take the lead on climate action.
The ministers, meeting as the EU Environment Council, call on developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15-30% from expected levels by 2020 – while the EU has set itself a 20% reduction target from 1990 levels, which should increase to 30% when the global deal is agreed.
Rather than strengthening their own targets, EU Ministers called upon a number of developing countries to consider taking on binding emissions caps. Other developing countries are also being asked to elaborate plans for low carbon development by 2012, but the EU Ministers have only pledged to provide support for the development of these plans to Least Developed Countries – rather than all developing countries.
"much take, little give"
“EU Ministers seem to be trying to exorcise the spirit of Bali, where industrialised countries agreed to take the lead in a global deal to keep climate change under control,” said Katherine Watts, International Climate Change Policy Advisor at WWF UK.
“The EU has long agreed to support developing countries to reduce their emissions, but today’s proposal is much take and little give.”
EU ministers acknowledged that global investment for climate change policies may amount to €175 billion per year in 2020, but have left it to EU Heads of State and Government to agree how it should be generated.
They have also failed to offer a concrete package to facilitate deployment of clean technologies in developing countries, placing excessive confidence in the markets’ ability to deliver. Adequate provision of finance and technology is necessary for a successful deal in Copenhagen.
“Europe is focusing excessively on the role of emissions trading,” said Watts. “Carbon markets are proving to be a useful tool but are not a silver bullet. Even here Europe sets a poor example with its reluctance to fully auction permits and back up trading with other instruments such as emissions performance standards.”
The world needs Europe
While the EU Environment Council proposals have to be approved later in March by EU Heads of State and Government, they fall surprisingly short of measures needed to fulfil Europe’s stated ambition to contribute to keeping global warming below the 2˚C threshold level for avoiding unacceptable risks of catastrophic climate change.
“The EU agreed its 2ºC target in 1996, based on the then best available information about climate impacts. We now know that impacts are predicted at far lower temperatures than once was thought,” said Watts.
“The targets being proposed by the EU, despite being one of the better gambits on the table, show a worrying reality gap. With the window for avoiding the worst climate impacts beginning to close, the world needs a Europe ready to collaborate and do its fair share.”
WWF asks that Europe lift its proposed 2020 emissions cuts from 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels, a target further weakened by offsetting, to a 45% target. Two thirds of this should be in the EU itself, and the financial equivalent of the remainder being used to support developing countries’ actions.


4.1. Has recession trimmed CO2 output? We’ll know by 2010
6 March 2009, Reuters
The financial crisis has slashed industrial output and trade but it will be months before there is an accurate picture of how much the downturn has curbed greenhouse gas emissions, two leading scientists said on Friday.
Preliminary data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows carbon dioxide levels rose last year to a global average of 384.9 parts per million, an increase of 2.2 ppm over 2007.
But since then, the financial crisis has deepened, and analysts have been hoping the long-term growth in emissions will slow or stall now that many big economies are in recession.
So far though, preliminary trends do not show this and it could be 2010 before an accurate picture emerges.
"To see the effect of this recession, if it’s reducing emissions, I’d say it would take one to two years to see that signal properly in the atmosphere. I don’t think we’ve seen any signal yet," said Paul Fraser of Australia’s state-backed Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
CSIRO runs one of a global network of monitoring stations that measure atmospheric concentrations of planet-warning greenhouse gases including CO2, methane and nitrous oxide. California-based Scripps Institution of Oceanography is also part of the network.
Measurements are done about every two hours at the site at Cape Grim in the far southern Australian state of Tasmania.
"You already have a huge bank of these gases in the atmosphere so the changes you’re making to the emissions each year have a relatively small impact on current concentrations," said Fraser, chief research scientist at CSIRO’s division of Marine and Atmospheric Research in Melbourne.
"You’re looking for subtle changes and there are lots of process that can contribute to those and sometimes it takes years to see the underlying pattern that you might think should have been there earlier," he told Reuters.
A major task was filtering out "synoptic noise" from weather patterns moving the gases around locally and across the planet.
He said his team studying the stream of data from Cape Grim regularly checked for trends.
"We keep saying one of the huge drivers of these CO2 increases is the 1 to 2 percent growth that’s been going on for a long time in the global economy and clearly that’s not happening at the moment.
"So you would expect to see a signal, yes. I just don’t know how quickly we can resolve that from the noise."
Preliminary data from a NOAA monitoring station at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii shows CO2 levels at 386.66 ppm in January this year, compared with 385.16 ppm a year earlier and 382.62 ppm in January 2007.
Ralph Keeling, director of Scripps’ CO2 program, said stopping a CO2 rise would require roughly a 57 percent drop in fuel emissions.
"What we would expect to see eventually is a slowing in the rise of CO2 tied to the reduction in emissions, not a cessation of the rise," he told Reuters in an email.
"But it will probably take a year or more to clearly pick out this change. Our records suggest that CO2 is still rising, as expected."


5.1. EU should not encourage subsidies for new cars
3 March 2009, T&E
European member state industry ministers will discuss how the financial crisis is affecting the European car industry at the Competitiveness Council meeting, in Brussels on Thursday 5 March 2009.
According to draft conclusions of the meeting, ministers will ask the Commission to coordinate so-called ‘scrapping schemes’, taxpayer-funded payments to buyers of new cars who scrap a very old model. The draft conclusions state that such schemes may have ‘significant positive effects on…reaching European environmental targets’.
T&E’s view In general such schemes do little for the environment and can even be harmful.
A study carried out by the OECD (1) says "these schemes have a high average cost per tonne of pollution avoided and they do not compare favourably with other alternative policy tools on purely environmental grounds".
The worst current example is in Germany where the government offers EUR 2500 to new car buyers regardless of the CO2 emissions of the new model purchased. That means someone who scraps a 1999 Volkswagen Lupo TDi 3L, the most fuel-efficient car ever mass-produced in Europe (2.99 litres/100km : 81g CO2/km) and buys a 2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo (14.9 litres/100km : 358g CO2/km) would receive the taxpayer-funded payment.
Kerstin Meyer of T&E said: "With schools and hospitals all expected to face budget cuts as this financial crisis starts to bite, it makes no sense to start subsidising new cars with increasingly scarce public money."
"It is ironic that the car industry has cried foul every time a piece of environmental regulation has been put forward and demanded impact assessment after impact assessment. But they are strangely quiet on the subject of assessing the environmental benefits vs costs of scrapping incentives, despite billions of public money being at stake."


6.1. Job opening at CEE Bankwatch Network — Energy coordinator
CEE Bankwatch Network, one of the longest established environmental NGO networks in central and eastern Europe, is currently seeking an Energy coordinator to help support the network’s campaign and policy work.
Bankwatch works on a diverse range of energy projects across central and eastern Europe. We collaborate with communities that are endeavouring to limit the environmental and social impacts of major energy infrastructure projects such as pipelines that are to be supported by international public finance institutions. We also seek to promote more sustainable energy approaches such as energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Candidates for the job should have:
— Excellent understanding of energy policies in the EU and/or CEE region, including EU energy legislation
— Strong organisational skills and proven ability to work as part of a team
— Excellent command of English, both oral and written knowledge of Russian language and experience of working on issues related to the EU and international financial institutions (IFIs) would be an advantage.
The Energy coordinator position will involve:
— Supporting Bankwatch’s national coordinators in their work on controversial energy projects that are in line for or have received funding from the EU and the IFIs
— Linking national energy campaigns and agendas with our work on EU and IFI policies, mainly through advocacy and outreach work
— Incorporating the elements of our national campaigns into Bankwatch’s position on energy related issues
— Contributing to the expertise building of our member groups on energy related topics.
We offer:
— A full-time position, subject to a three month trial period
— Work on a diverse and dynamic range of activities, in a multicultural environment
— A salary that is competitive for the non-profit or public sector in the region
— Life-work balance and staff benefits
— Work location in one of Bankwatch’s offices across central and eastern Europe.
To apply, please send a letter of motivation and CV in English to: jobs
The letter of motivation should clearly describe why you want the job and demonstrate how your skills and experience are relevant to the job requirements detailed above.
Closing date for applications: March 25, 2009.
Expected start date: May/June 2009
Preference will be given to candidates that are citizens of one of the central and eastern European countries.
We welcome diversity and encourage applications from all qualified women and men, including persons with disabilities and/or from racial minorities.
Further details about CEE Bankwatch Network’s campaigns and activities are available at:


7.1. 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:

7.2. Adaptation planning and practices workshop
10-12 March 2009, Havana, Cuba
The workshop will look at integrating practices, tools and systems for climate risk assessment and management and disaster risk reduction strategies into national policies and programmes.
More at:

7.3. The world in crisis: Economics and Policies for Global Transformation – Alternative Ecofin Conference
Date: March 30th – April 1st 2009
Venue: Michnùv palác, Újezd 450/40, Prague, Czech Republic
(i) Prague Conference
The meeting of EU Economic and Finance ministers (ECOFIN) is taking place for the first time in the Czech Republic. The historical conjuncture of this event is exceptional. The world is witnessing the deepest financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression in 1929. At the same time, the climate crisis seems to turn into a dramatic acceleration, while the planet is confronting an energy crisis. Poverty and hunger are increasing.
In such a situation, civil society has to raise its voice and to mobilise for change. The economic paradigm that has dominated in the last decades, has failed. We urgently need alternatives. The EU has to play an eminent role in the process of change. Our conference is meant to discuss such alternatives and to contribute to the process of reform ahead.
Prague conference continues in the tradition of Alternative ECOFIN Conferences held since 2006 in Vienna, Berlin and Ljubljana. In regard to deep and multiple crises the conference will go beyond the EU financial and economic policies.
More at:


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