1.1. Delegates discuss way forward in UN climate talks
6 November 2009, AP
U.N. climate negotiators said Friday that, despite low expectations for setting legally binding emissions targets next month, it is still possible to conclude a strong, 192-nation deal to define future work in fighting global warming.
Countries most vulnerable to climate change said they were incensed that rich nations were rethinking the timetable for concluding a legally binding treaty.
Delegates were spending the final day of U.N. climate talks in Spain hammering out a draft accord in which rich nations would make hard pledges to reduce emissions and to finance aid to help the world’s poorest cope with the effects of Earth’s rising temperatures.
The idea of next month’s U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen ending with a political deal, rather than a legally binding agreement, disappointed developing nations already suffering severe droughts, floods and other catastrophes blamed on rising temperatures.
The shift follows acknowledgment that several countries, including the United States, may not be politically ready to sign a legal pact by next month.
Yvo de Boer, the U.N. official who is shepherding the talks, assured that negotiators were still aiming to achieve a significant deal that would set specific goals.
Nations would agree to stick to their promises while negotiating the details of the treaty, taking as long as another year.
"Governments can deliver a strong deal in Copenhagen, and nothing has changed my confidence in that," de Boer said.
While he said he could not guarantee promises would not be broken, it would be difficult for developed countries "to wiggle out" of written commitments they make in a Copenhagen deal.
The deal may take the form of consensus decisions, including an overarching statement of long-term objectives, along with a series of supplemental decisions on technology transfers, rewards for halting deforestation, and building infrastructure in poor countries to adapt to global warming, delegates said.
De Boer said he was looking to the United States to announce a clear emissions target for 2020. "A number from the president of the United States would have huge weight," de Boer said.
Legislation is making its way through the U.S. Congress that set slightly different goals for reducing carbon emissions, and Jonathan Pershing, the chief U.S. delegate to the U.N. talks, declined to say whether the U.S. will be ready to submit a target for the Copenhagen accord.
At the same time, he said President Barack Obama has the authority to make a commitment without congressional approval, "but a decision on whether or not we will do it has not yet been made."
The Copenhagen deal now expected would carry the authority of world leaders who would sign it. De Boer suggested 40 heads of government would be attending the Copenhagen summit, though the Danish government said that number was not yet been confirmed.
The head of the bloc of developing nations criticized rich nations for failing expectations after two years of tough negotiations for a legal treaty.
"Nonperformance, nondeliverance and noncommitment by the developed countries is acting as a brake for any meaningful progress," Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping said. "We need a real change of heart and mind by the developed countries," which he accused of seeking to "relieve themselves of the commitment by asking the poorest of the world and the most vulnerable and the most underdeveloped to subsidize their high standard of living."
Di-Aping also complained that rich nations so far were offering too little in emissions cuts. Scientists say industrial countries should reduce emissions by 25 to 40 percent from 1990 levels to avoid climate catastrophe. Di-Aping said their pledges amounted to 11-15 percent.
The head of the Indian delegation, Shyam Saran, said Copenhagen’s success would depend on rich nations presenting significant reduction targets, but that an agreement by all 192 nations could still be binding.
"We don’t share view that it is no longer possible. If it were no longer possible, we would rather pack up and go home," Saran said.
The delegate from Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency, downplayed the tumult in negotiations and said a serious deal can still be reached next month.
"We are going to change the fundamentals of industrial civilization, so it’s no wonder there is a lot of activity going on in a negotiation like this," Anders Turresson said.
Some delegates warned, however, that a watered-down deal could face trouble at Copenhagen.
"We look forward to Copenhagen with optimism, but we will not accept a weak, green-wash outcome," said Alf Wills, the chief negotiator for South Africa.
A bloc of 43 island nations urged leaders of the world’s industrial nations to double efforts toward concluding a legally binding pact during the December summit.
"Weak political declarations are not the solution," said a statement by the chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States, Grenada delegate Ambassador Dessima Williams.
The charity group Oxfam International said the outrage was "understandable."
"Rich countries must recognize that tens of thousands of forced climate migrants, increased food shortages and spiraling climate debt is not just a reality faced by poor nations, but will ultimately affect us all," said Oxfam climate adviser Antonio Hill.
A Copenhagen deal would hinge on decisions that can only be taken at the top political level. They include: carbon emission reduction targets by 2020 from industrial countries; firm plans by developing countries to reduce the growth of their emissions; specific short- and long-term financial commitments to poor countries to adapt to climate change; and a mechanism for distributing the funds that will be controlled by the developing countries.
Even an interim deal would clear the way to mobilize funds to help poor countries. The EU has said euro5 billion to euro7 billion ($7.4 billion to $10.4 billion) would be needed in the next three years for developing nations to begin planning their first steps toward controlling their emissions and protecting themselves against the effects of climate change.
By 2020, the EU says, $150 billion (euro101 billion) a year is needed to fight climate change in the developing world.
The delay in brokering a legally binding document is significant. The only instrument for controlling carbon emissions, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012. Unless a new treaty is in place by then, no regulations will exist, threatening chaos among industries relying on predictable rules for their business development.
1.2. UN official still hopeful for strong climate deal as latest talks end
6 November 2009, UN News Centre
s the last negotiating session before next month’s United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen concluded today, a senior official with the world body called on countries to push ahead to deliver on a strong international agreement to tackle global warming.
“Copenhagen can and must be the turning point in the international fight against climate change – nothing has changed my confidence in that,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“A powerful combination of commitment and compromise can and must make this happen,” he told a news conference in Barcelona, the site of the final round of talks ahead of the 7 to 18 December meeting in the Danish capital.
In Copenhagen, governments are expected to agree to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty – part of the overall UNFCCC – which has strong, legally binding measures committing 37 industrialized States to cutting emissions by an average of 5 per cent against 1990 levels over the period from 2008 to 2012.
Over 4,500 participants from 181 countries participated in the five-day gathering, during which progress was made on the issues of adaptation, technology cooperation, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and mechanisms to disburse funds for developing countries.
Little progress was made, however, on mid-term emission reduction targets of developed countries and finance, according to a news release issued by the UNFCCC. These are two key issues that would allow developing countries to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change.
“Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we will not have a deal in Copenhagen,” said Mr. de Boer, adding that “leadership at the highest level is required to unlock the pieces.”
At the high-level climate change summit held in New York in September, heads of State and government pledged to achieve a deal in Copenhagen that spells out ambitious emission reduction targets of industrialized countries, as well as nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support, and significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources.
“I look to industrialised countries to raise their ambitions to meet the scale of the challenge we face,” said Mr. de Boer. “And I look to industrialized nations for clarity on the amount of short- and long-term finance they will commit.”
Mr. de Boer said developed countries would need to provide at least $10 billion to enable developing countries to immediately develop low-emission growth and adaptation strategies and to build internal capacity.
At the same time, developed countries will need to indicate how they intend to raise predictable and sustainable long-term financing and what there longer-term commitments will be.
“Negotiators must deliver a final text at Copenhagen which presents a strong, functioning architecture to kick start rapid action in the developing world,” said the Executive Secretary.
“And between now and Copenhagen, governments must deliver the clarity required to help the negotiators complete their work,” he added.
1.3. Climate talks need infusion of political will
6 November 2009, CAN Europe
Despite key players in the climate negotiations
proclaiming this week in Barcelona that we are "out of time" to reach a deal in Copenhagen,
NGOs remain focused on the task: a fair, ambitious, legally binding agreement in Copenhagen next month to keep global temperature rise well below the dangerous 2 degree level. "Time is not the issue. The problem with negotiations now – and the solution- is political will. The urgency for world leaders to deliver results in Copenhagen remains," said Matthias Duwe, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Europe’s leading coalition of environment and development NGOs. "With two years now spent discussing the Bali Roadmap, all Parties know what is required for a global deal: deeper emission cuts, financing and a legal architecture to deliver them.” “We call on the EU’s Environment Ministers to firm up EU climate targets at their meeting on November 23rd,” said Ulriikka Aarnio, Senior Policy Officer at CAN-Europe. “They need to create trust with their negotiating partners, especially in the developing world, and demonstrate that the EU is ready to do what’s necessary.” Among the few positive signs from Barcelona, there was tangible progress on aviation and shipping, with the debate moving into real negotiation mode and Parties coalescing around options. Crucially, a number of African countries spoke up and highlighted how revenues from these sectors could serve as an additional source of climate finance and the EU responded warmly to this call. "It’s clear that where the EU can give positive signals, such as on finance, they get positive signals back", said Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK. "We saw it happen in the debate on aviation and shipping. Right here you have the outline of a deal where a global scheme is established in return for the revenues it generates."
1.4. Angry Mermaid Award to expose business lobby undermining climate action
2 November 2009, FOEE
Business attempts to undermine a strong and just global agreement on climate change are being put under the spotlight in the countdown to United Nations negotiations in Copenhagen with a special award, jointly organised by Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth International, Focus on the Global South, Attac and Spinwatch.
The Angry Mermaid Award – named after the iconic Copenhagen mermaid who is angry about the destruction being caused by climate change – will be decided by a public vote.
Candidates for the Angry Mermaid are corporations, major polluters and lobby groups which have been nominated because of their track record of lobbying to prevent effective action to tackle climate change, either by blocking positive solutions or promoting false solutions to tackling the problem.
A shortlist of candidates will be revealed online on Monday November 16 when voting opens. The winner of the Angry Mermaid will be announced at a ceremony in Copenhagen during the climate talks on December 15.
Nina Holland from Corporate Europe Observatory, one of the Angry Mermaid Award organisers, said: “Anyone monitoring the progress of negotiations on a global climate agreement will be aware of the incredible levels of destructive corporate lobbying going on, internationally, but also possibly even more forcefully at the regional and national level.
“The Angry Mermaid Award exposes some of the worst corporate culprits. Millions of people are calling for strong and just action against climate change. Now they can vote to expose the worst of the worst at angrymermaid.org”
Candidates have been sought from individuals and organisations working on climate change who were invited to put forward evidence of the lobbying activities of individual companies or industry groups. The shortlist will be selected by the award organisers on the basis of the evidence found.
For more information see www.angrymermaid.org
1.5. Christopher Columbus points the finger at US for blocking climate deal
6 November 2009, Greenpeace
As the last day of climate talks before the Copenhagen summit drew to a close, Greenpeace attached a banner reading “Climate chaos: who is to blame?” to Barcelona’s iconic statue of Christopher Columbus, which stands at the bottom of the famous “Ramblas” street and points to America.
The monument commemorates the explorer’s discovery of the New World. However, today Columbus is pointing at the nation that bears historic responsibility for climate change, and which has done most to obstruct a climate-saving deal in Copenhagen.
That US legacy has continued this week, with history’s largest emitter refusing to move forward to ensure the integrity of a legally binding agreement, allowing the EU and other industrialised countries to retreat from their commitments.
“Of course failure is still an option in Copenhagen. If the political courage of the industrialised world’s leaders, like Obama, Merkel and Sarkozy, remains missing in action, then the deal won’t get done,” said Greenpeace International Climate Policy Director Martin Kaiser. “However, all the pieces are in place. There is enough time. We know what a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty looks like."
“The history of climate talks has taught us to expect the unexpected. We got the climate convention, the Kyoto Protocol, its ratification and the US back into the negotiations in Bali – all in the face of deep cynicism. This is just the darkest hour before the dawn.”
“Consensus is not forming around a weak deal. That is just wishful thinking from the industrialised world. Developing countries are pushing back with their own political reality and they are fighting for their survival. There is still everything to play for,” said Kaiser.
As a final reminder of where the countries are at in the weeks before Copenhagen, Greenpeace released its “Guide to Climate Politics” that identifies President Obama as the head of state who has most failed to provide the leadership necessary to ensure a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty.
Behind the guide lies a detailed assessment of the positions of key heads of state on the issues that will make or break a climate deal at December’s Copenhagen Climate Summit. It assesses their positions regarding emission reductions, a finance mechanism, forest protection, the legal framework of the Copenhagen deal and their domestic action to reduce emissions. Full details are available at http://www.greenpeace.org/climate-politics-guide.
“We singled out President Obama because, more than any other head of state, his actions fall short of his promises to take action on climate change. At home, he stood aside while Congress let the fossil fuel industry hijack its climate legislation. On the international scene, he has been silent while his negotiators obstruct the progress on the most important treaty in a generation,” said Damon Moglen, Greenpeace USA’s climate campaign director.
1.6. Greenpeace statement on Merkel speech in US congress and EU-US summit
3 November 2009. Greenpeace
In an address to a joint session of the United States (US) congress today that preceded an EU-US summit in Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the US to tear down the walls of the 21st century, to commit to the goal of staying below a two degrees Celsius global temperature increase and to make binding commitments in the Copenhagen climate negotiations. The US is currently falling behind the rest of the world in the fight against climate change by refusing to make concrete commitments to cut carbon emissions ahead of the global climate conference taking place in Copenhagen in December. Greenpeace’s EU climate and energy policy director Joris den Blanken said: "Chancellor Merkel has sent a clear signal to the United States. As the country with the greatest historical responsibility for climate change, the US now needs to put substantial and concrete commitments on emission reductions on the table. President Obama promised to lead on climate change: it’s time he backed his pledge up with some action. Otherwise, Copenhagen could fail. "
Chancellor Merkel agreed last week with other European leaders on the EU’s position going into Copenhagen. The EU has pledged to conditionally cut emissions by 30% by 2020, under a global Copenhagen climate treaty that will supplement the Kyoto agreement. In September 2009, leading climate scientists called on rich countries to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40% in order to keep global warming below dangerous levels. With climate legislation still awaiting congressional approval, US President Barack Obama is yet to make a pledge. The US climate bill would reduce US emissions by a meagre 4% compared to 1990 levels.
Greenpeace calls on EU representatives attending the EU-US summit today to urge President Obama to personally attend the climate conference in Copenhagen and to make stronger commitments on emission reductions.
1.7. EU green revolution ‘must include low earners’
6 November 2009, EurActiv
The drive to ‘green’ the EU economy will only succeed if it provides real solutions for low income households and works towards a "renewed sense of shared prosperity," European Economic and Social Committee President Mario Sepi told EurActiv in an interview.
Sepi, a former trade union leader in Italy, believes "particular solutions must be devised for people with low incomes," specifying certain targeted direct benefits, such as climate vouchers for the purchase of solar-energy equipment and public transport season tickets.
In order for the "green revolution" to succeed, the EU will need to adopt a bottom-up as well a top-down approach, claims the EESC boss, notably through "enhancing cooperation with civil society and local authorities" in order to work with the industrial sectors concerned to establish specific targets and timeframes.
Civil society groups and local authorities will play a central role in winning over both public opinion and lawmakers to the necessity of a greener way of life, Sepi says.
"A major effort can be done at the local level, where civil society organisations are able to promote a new environmental model where participation and shared behaviours towards the environment should contribute to a process of awareness raising in favour of the principles of sustainability," he said.
Sepi believes the EESC – a strictly consultative EU body – is the best-placed institution to engage with citizens in winning "vital" public acceptance for the big potential changes ahead.
Many of these changes will be difficult, particularly the necessity of changing people’s habits to lead more eco-efficient lives. Green policies will only succeed if they are accompanied by a revolutionary new model of consumption, the EESC president believes.
Taxation could be one element of this. The EESC proposes that EU-wide finance mechanisms – including in the field of tax – should be examined, including the possibility of introducing a carbon tax.
Finally, the EESC president cautions against the risk of reverse-protectionism on this issue, warning that countries with weaker eco-sectors may not be able or willing to invest and commit themselves enough in the green economy.
"That is why the EU should also act in view of increasing and stimulating the exchange of good practises among countries in the green sector," argues Sepi, adding that "precautions also need to be taken to make sure that competition between member states in the common market is geared towards innovation and is neither counter-productive nor detrimental to social cohesion and environmental sustainability".
2.1. EU-US summit yields energy cooperation
5 November 2009, EurActiv
The EU and US have held the first meeting of a new transatlantic Energy Council, after the US President Barack Obama and EU leaders had agreed to establish the new energy forum for cooperation during a summit on Tuesday.
The agreement, struck at ministerial level during the EU-US Energy Council, will boost cooperation on energy policy and technology research. The council is set to provide a new framework for bilateral dialogue on global energy security and policies to move to low-carbon energy sources.
"The Energy Council is a timely initiative in the context of growing global concerns on energy security and the important role that the energy sector has in climate change. Elevating these discussions between us to a political level underscores the importance we both attach to this area of our relationship," said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.
Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik added that it was particularly important for research to feature in such bilateral cooperation as "political recognition of the importance of science to address our common challenges".
The first meeting of the Council was held yesterday (4 November), chaired by Sweden’s Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency.
Olofsson argued that the EU and the US are now further strengthening long-standing and well-functioning cooperation on energy issues. "I hope that we will achieve concrete results to promote innovation, renewable energy and to create new jobs. This is an enormous opportunity to convert to a sustainable energy system," she said.
Olofsson continued by saying that the US had shown an interest in exchanging experiences in the field of energy. "[US Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu would for example like to take a look at Europe’s political policy instruments," she said.
When asked what Sweden can learn from the US, Olofsson replied that the States is good at connecting businesses with politics and commercial development.
"Unfortunately, these areas tend to be more separated from each other in the EU, so I think we can learn from the US in that field," she said.
No progress on climate change ahead of Copenhagen
However, there was little progress on the main topic of the summit, climate change (EurActiv 04/10/09).
The summit declaration indicates no advances were made on the crucial issue of mid-term emission reduction targets. The document merely states that the post-Kyoto agreement should "aspire" to a goal of reducing global emissions by 50% by 2050 and refer to mid-term mitigation efforts by both developed and emerging economies.
The US has come under increasing pressure from the UN and the EU to clarify its reduction target
According to sources, the US had refused to accept any reference to binding targets, which the EU would have been keen to include in the conclusions.
Merkel appeals to Congress
At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear that an agreement in Copenhagen must keep global warming below 2°C. After meeting US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, she made an historic address to both houses of Congress, urging the US to sign up to a new climate agreement in Copenhagen.
The last German chancellor to address Congress was Konrad Adenauer in 1957.
"We have no time to lose," Merkel told US lawmakers. Domestic climate legislation has been delayed in the Senate and it now looks unlikely to be passed before Copenhagen.
The chancellor argued that other big emitters would be more likely to join a binding agreement if the US and the EU were to set an example.
"It is true that there can be no agreement without China and India accepting obligations, but I am convinced that if we in Europe and America show that we are ready to accept binding obligations, we will also be able to persuade China and India to join in," she said.
2.2. Businesses cashing in on energy savings
3 November 2009, Eur Activ
Businesses are looking to a new climate deal in Copenhagen to ensure a level playing field for industry, but in the meantime they are pledging to continue improving their energy efficiency and boosting investment in low-carbon technologies.
Companies are already cutting emissions by using energy more efficiently even without regulation or external funding, a BusinessEurope conference heard last week (28 October).
Saving energy makes sense as a business strategy and such investments pay themselves back within a few years, many companies pointed out.
At the same time, the business community is anticipating the inevitable transition to a low-carbon economy by hedging its bets on innovative technologies. Whirlpool, for example, is developing appliances that will function with smart grids, while Dow is actively working on making new alternative energy technologies readily available, such as bendable solar shingles, company representatives said.
Energy efficiency was identified as the one area where investment is often self-financing. But where markets cannot deliver, smart regulation is needed to create the right incentives.
Energy standards, for example, are particularly relevant for promoting energy-efficient products, said Henk de Bruin, senior vice-president for sustainability at Philips. He pointed out that efficiency levels are now a subconscious factor in many consumers’ buying decisions.
But small businesses are often worried that dealing with matters at EU level makes things too complicated, said Maude Olofsson, Swedish minister for enterprise and energy. For instance, the current revision of a directive setting energy performance standards for buildings is in danger of producing too much red tape, she warned.
"I want these rules and regulations, but I also see the risk that we’re making this too complicated for small businesses," she said.
If markets were to shoulder some of the responsibility for saving energy and developing low-carbon technologies, then politicians would not have to go into so much detail, Olofsson argued.
"I think it’s crucial that politicians and business sit at the same table and talk about these things," she said.
Global deal buffering competitiveness losses
Businesses in Europe and the US alike are eyeing the conclusion of a global climate treaty at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December to ensure that their efforts to cut emissions do not give their Asian competitors a competitive advantage.
Implementing a new deal will require the industry to pour massive amounts of money into new technologies. According to the International Energy Agency, most technologies to reduce industrial carbon emissions will cost between €34 and €68 per tonne of CO2, while some are as much as €135.
"This underlines the magnitude of the challenge that industry faces," said Jürgen Thumann, president of BusinessEurope.
BusinessEurope is urging the EU to ensure that any deal in Copenhagen commits all developed countries to equally strong emission reduction targets and sets either binding targets or policies for developing countries by 2020. They believe that subjecting companies that produce internationally-traded goods to similar conditions worldwide will help to create a level playing field.
But border tariffs floated by France and Germany and inscribed into draft climate legislation in the US (EurActiv 14/09/09) found little favour among business representatives, who want to avoid green trade wars at all costs.
Rather than slapping an extra tax onto products that come from countries where carbon prices are not a factor, many industries would prefer to remove tariffs on clean energy goods to stimulate demand.
Representatives of American businesses operating in Europe expressed clear support for the EU’s opposition to border tariffs, an AmCham EU debate heard last week.
"We should rather open up markets in low-carbon goods, technologies and services," said Richard Folland, senior climate change and energy adviser at JP Morgan and chair of AmCham EU’s climate group.
2.3. European electricity firms line up behind plug-in cars
4 November 2009, Eur Activ
Europe’s electricity suppliers have come together to push for a standardised recharging infrastructure for plug-in electric cars. The move will pave the way for consumers to refuel vehicles at charging stations across Europe.
CEOs from electricity companies gathered in Brussels last week (27 October) to discuss how greater harmonisation of the European energy supply market can be achieved without jeopardising competition.
The industry presented EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani with a declaration pledging their support for a carbon-neutral power supply in Europe and emphasising the need to prepare to electrify the transport network.
They called for a simplified licensing procedure for developing electricity generation and transmission infrastructures, and said access to liquid capital markets will be key to fostering investment.
Padraig McManus, chief executive of the Electricity Supply Board , said industry chiefs see cooperation on standardising apparatus as vital to allowing motorists in every country to avail of the same charging system.
Speaking on behalf of Eurelectric, which represents the electricity industry, McManus said the car industry, equipment manufacturers, electricity companies and consumers will benefit from agreeing on a common infrastructure for plug-in vehicles.
“Cross-industry agreement is an indispensable step to facilitate broad market penetration and will allow Europe to become a front-runner in the roll-out of mass-market electric vehicles," he added.
He said the hardware – the connector and cables – should be the same in every European country. Charging station pilot projects
The ESB estimates that 30% of its own carbon footprint can be attributed to the vans and trucks it uses to service customers and its infrastructure. It is in the process upgrading its own fleet of vehicles to electric models, and uses biofuels where possible.
The utility company has also begun a pilot project which will see the first charging stations installed later this year. It is buying the stations from Carra Ireland , a small high-tech firm which has already rolled out a similar scheme in the UK.
The commitment to pressing ahead with practical preparations for electric vehicles was welcomed by Commissioner Tajani, who said the move will help put the EU at the forefront of new transport technologies.
However, not all auto industry players agree on what the future of electric vehicles will look like. Some are investing heavily in plug-in cars, while others have invested in hydrogen and fuel cell technology.
Better Place, a US-based electric vehicle service provider, has developed a system which involves replacing car batteries at designated exchange points. The company is already working with authorities in Israel, Denmark and Australia to build and operate the infrastructure required to shift to electric vehicles.
A number of other EU countries have been in talks with Better Place, but progress has been sluggish in a number of cases due to concerns that the privately-held US firm could have a virtual monopoly over the recharging infrastructure, which would be part-funded by local utility companies. Link: http://www.euractiv.com/en/transport/eu-carmakers-receive-mixed-sustainability-grade/article-186996
2.4. European patent office to study green innovation
6 November 2009, Eur Activ
The European Patent Office (EPO) has embarked on a detailed study to map the growth in eco-innovation since the introduction of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The move comes ahead of the next month’s UN climate summit in Copenhagen and as major industry players line up behind green technology.
Business leaders are pinning their hopes on green innovation as a solution to the twin problems of climate change and the financial crisis. However, hard data in this area is scarce, making it difficult to quantify the true extent of Europe’s eco-innovation sector.
This will change in April next year when the EPO publishes early results of a major project looking at the growth in new patents for environmentally sound technologies.
The study will also look at how the green patent landscape has evolved since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and examine how companies have responded to incentives and policy signals.
An EPO spokesperson said the report was originally planned to coincide with the Copenhagen conference but it is now expected to be unveiled in time for a 2010 conference, hosted by the Spanish EU Presidency, on innovation in the renewable energy sector.
Raw data from the EPO shows that patent applications for environmental technologies indicate rapid growth. In the ten years from 1998, patent applications for new energy innovations grew by an average of 6% per year.
Wind power, fuel cells, solar thermal and photovoltaic energy technologies have shown the strongest growth since the late 1990s.
The US, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands are leading the way with the highest number of innovations in the new energy sector, with companies such as General Electric, Siemens and Nissan having made the most patent applications.
PPPs could be central to ‘eco-innovation’
Greater links between the public and private sector could become a hallmark of Europe’s emerging green industry, according to political and industry leaders who gathered in Brussels for a seminar on eco-innovation, hosted by the Lisbon Council.
Marcel Haag, head of unit with the strategic objective of solidarity at the secretariat-general of the European Commission, said the public and private sectors will have to work hand-in-hand to bring about innovations. "This cannot be delivered by the public sector alone or by the private sector alone," he said.
Haag said climate change and innovation will be key priorities for the new European Commission. He cited the bloc’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), which puts a price on carbon, as a potential driver of future innovation. However, Haag sought to temper expectations by adding that the EU can only act where Community intervention adds real value.
The intellectual property regime is a major bottleneck to encouraging innovation, he said, adding that progress on this perennial problem is a priority for the EU.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) will also help drive future green technologies, he said, pointing to the Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) and the European economic recovery plan, which provides for several PPPs in areas like electric transportation.
"We are currently looking at how we can get more mileage from PPPs through better coordination between stakeholders and simplification of the JTIs. which are very complex," Haag said.
However, Tom Barrett, a director at the European Investment Bank (EIB), warned that PPPs are not always the right solution. He said they can be complex instruments and can even become an obstacle to securing public support for major projects.
Barrett stressed the importance of understanding why some PPPs worked well and why others had proven less successful.
Industry big guns line up behind greentech
A-list tech industry giants, including Google, Philips and IBM, have thrown their weight – and financial muscle – behind the push for greener technologies.
Harry Verhaar, senior director of climate change and energy at Philips, said energy savings from lighting and improved insulation will help cut Europe’s carbon footprint while generating huge numbers of jobs.
"Energy technology is the next economic wave," he said, adding that the US, China and South Korea are already investing heavily in green energy.
Verhaar said lighting accounts for 19% of global energy consumption and the technology used in this sector is hugely inefficient.
€120 billion can be saved by using more efficient lighting and this will mean fewer power plants are needed. Further savings can be found by improving Europe’s building stock, as 99% of buildings need to be renovated, according to Verhaar. He said France, for example, would have to renovate 1,000 homes per day until 2050 in order to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.
"This is not a sacrifice. It will bring employment, comfort and lower bills," he said.
2.5. EU carmakers receive mixed sustainability grade
4 November 2009, Eur Activ
European carmakers are being outperformed by more efficient Asian auto manufacturers as regards use of economic, environmental and social resources, a new survey shows.
A new report on ‘sustainable value’ in car manufacturing, published last week, ranks the sustainability of the production processes of 17 leading global carmakers between 1999 and 2007.
The survey, funded by Germany’s BMW Group, was undertaken by researchers at the Euromed Management School in Marseille, Queen’s University Belfast and the Berlin Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment.
According to the report, BMW generated "the highest sustainable value per sale" from its resources over the entire review period, except for 2003 and 2006, when Toyota, a Japanese company, led the rankings. Honda, another Japanese company, also consistently featured among the top three.
The top performers use their economic, environmental and social capital more efficiently than their industry peers and generate more profit with these assets, according to the report.
Except for the stellar performance of BMW, the study shows "a mixed picture" as far as other European manufacturers are concerned. Peugeot-Citroën, Renault, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler "only occasionally keep pace with the industry leaders," it found.
Fiat performed particularly poorly, falling behind throughout the whole survey period. Meanwhile, its fleet has the lowest average CO2 emissions in the world, followed by Peugeot-Citroën and Renault (EurActiv 15/09/09). Fiat’s poor performance was echoed by North American carmakers Ford and General Motors (GM), with GM showing "the most striking downside trend" between 1999 and 2007.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) also recently published figures on sustainable car production, which show that "a lot of efforts have been put in and significant progress has been made," according to Sigrid de Vries, ACEA’s communications director.
Asian car makers awarded good grade
The authors note that compared with European and North American manufacturers, "a relatively high number of Asian carmakers achieve positive sustainable value" and use key natural resources more efficiently than their rivals.
Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Honda, and to a lesser extent Suzuki were all identified as having out-performed their North American competitors in particular.
Professor Frank Figge from Queen’s University Management School stressed that while issues such as fleet consumption and CO2 emissions from cars now figure on the policy agenda, "the equally considerable environmental impact of the production phase of car manufacturing has as yet been largely ignored". He expressed hope that the survey would help close this gap.
Tobias Hahn, associate professor at the Euromed Management School in Marseille, stressed that the study "analyses the sustainability performance of a whole sector" as the 17 companies reviewed account for some 80% of carmaking worldwide.
The companies reviewed include BMW Group, Daihatsu, DaimlerChrysler/Daimler AG, Fiat Auto, Ford, General Motors (GM), Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot-Citroën, Renault, Suzuki, Tata, Toyota and Volkswagen Group.
Companies that do not publicly make available enough data to be reviewed, such as Porsche, KIA and Chinese manufacturers, did not feature in the study.
The performance of the 17 carmakers was measured against a set of economic, environmental and social criteria, including capital use, water consumption, waste generation, the number of employees and work accidents, and emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).
3.1. The International Energy Agency launches its annual flagship publication: The World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2009
IEA Press Conference on 10 November 2009, 10h00 local time
At the Hotel Crowne Plaza, London
Conference Room: Edwardian I
London SW1E 6 AF
By IEA Executive Director Nobuo TANAKA,
IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard H. Jones and
Fatih BIROL, IEA Chief Economist and principal author of the WEO
Given the conference setting, accreditation is imperative. To confirm your participation please send an e-mail to the IEA Press Office: [email protected]
Interview requests with one of the main speakers need to be made in advance. Please contact:
Sylvie Stephan, Head of IEA Press Unit: [email protected]
Tel.: +33 (0) 1 40 57 6554
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