1.1. EU environment chief seeks 30 pct emissions cut
18 December 2006 , Reuters
The European Union’s environment chief said on Monday he will seek a 30 percent cut in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as the bloc tries to set an example for the world on how to fight global warming. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will propose a target for binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 for the EU as part of a wide-ranging set of energy and environmental proposals to be unveiled in January.
Speaking after a meeting of environment ministers on Monday, Dimas said he would support a 30 percent cut, though he declined to say what the formal proposal — which must be agreed by his fellow commissioners — would be in the end.
"This is what I am going to suggest, but there are a lot of ways to define a 30 percent target," he told reporters.
EU heads of state and government have previously said developed nations should aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15-30 percent by 2020.
"I always listen to what the leaders of the European Union tell us to do," he said.
On January 10 the Commission is slated to set out a series of policy options for fighting climate change after 2012, when targets set under the Kyoto Protocol expire.
The measures will likely serve as a blueprint for the EU position in international negotiations on a post-Kyoto regime.

1.2. EU presses Italy , Hungary , Denmark on emissions caps
13 December 2006 , Bloomberg
European Union regulators told Italy , Hungary , Denmark and Austria to draft new air-pollution caps for energy and manufacturing companies or face lawsuits.
The European Commission sent final warning letters to the four countries because they have yet to submit plans for allocating carbon-dioxide emission permits to power plants and factories beginning in 2008. The EU’s 25 governments faced a June 30 deadline to hand in the proposals, which the commission must approve. „We will have no choice but to take them to court if they do not send their allocation plans soon,” EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a statement released today in Strasbourg , France .
Lawsuits by the commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, would be filed at the European Court of Justice. The EU imposes carbon-dioxide quotas on 11,400 power plants and factories, forcing businesses that exceed their limits to buy permits from companies that emit less or pay a penalty. Existing caps cover an initial period from 2005 through 2007 and the new grants will be for the five-year period 2008-2012.
The legal threats against Italy, Hungary, Denmark and Austria come two months after they received initial warnings and two weeks after the commission ruled on 2008-2012 allowance plans by 10 countries including Germany and the UK The commission ordered those nations to allocate on average 7% fewer permits than the governments had proposed. In October, the commission also sent initial warning letters to Spain , Portugal , the Czech Republic and Slovenia for failing to submit 2008-2012 allowance-allocation plans. These four countries have since handed in their proposals, commission environment spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich said by telephone from Brussels .

1.3. EU heads off carbon rift with airlines
Financial Times
The inclusion of foreign airlines in the European Union’s carbon emission trading scheme is to be delayed to head off a transatlantic showdown.
The US and Asian countries reacted angrily to plans to force all airlines that land and take off in the EU to pay to pollute. Washington had served notice it could take legal action against the EU if it included non-EU airlines in 2011, when the scheme is extended from industry to air travel.
On Monday, however, officials in the European Commission, the EU’s Brussels-based executive, thrashed out a compromise confining the scheme to travel within the EU, and therefore to EU airlines, before extending it to all air traffic in 2013.
EU officials hope a global aviation carbon trading scheme could be up andrunning by then, defusing scope for a dispute with big trading partners.
In agreeing the staggered approach, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas bowed to Jacques Barrot, transport commissioner, and Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner. The proposal is set to be agreed by the Commission tomorrow and must be approved by member states and the European parliament.
"We will be able to learn how to integrate airlines in the system and promote the benefits from a political and practical point of view," said a Commission official, who did not wish to be named.
To avoid the problems that plagued the wider trading scheme, which saw national governments being overgenerous in the allocation of permits to industries, Brussels will take direct control of the allocation of permits to airlines.
Some 10 per cent of permits will be auctioned, helping to set a market price, with airlines receiving the rest for free. Mr Dimas had wanted more auctioning of permits but colleagues resisted as the ceiling for the wider scheme is 10 per cent.
But environmental groups called for more of the airlines’ emissions to be auctioned, for fear that airlines will try to profit from emissions trading, as UK power generators do at present, by passing on to consumers the notional costs of buying permits despite receiving 90 per cent of them free of charge.
The scheme will add up to €39 ($51) to the cost of a return long-haul ticket by 2020, according to an impact assessment seen by the Financial Times, based on a carbon price of €30 a metric tonne. Current prices are below €10 a tonne.
The extra charge could make private jet travel more attractive for business executives, since they would be exempt, though they pollute more per passenger.
However, the paper argues that "demand for aviation is, in general, not very price sensitive" so airlines could pass on the costs to passengers. Indeed, it anticipates that emissions trading will hardly affect air travel at all. Instead of growing by 142 per cent between 2005 and 2020, it would rise by 135 per cent.

1.4. EP calls for climate change and renewables to be the bottom line of EU energy strategy
14 December 2006
On the occasion of the adoption today by the European Parliament of the report on the EU Energy Strategy, which is due to be presented by the Commission in January, Greens energy spokesman Claude Turmes stated:
"The EP has today sent a strong message that climate change must be the bottom line for EU energy policy, and that energy efficiency and renewables should get prime place in the forthcoming EU energy strategy review. The report calls for a target of a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020, which would enable the EU to show leadership and drive forward international climate policy.
"Energy policy is key to our efforts to combat climate change and we welcome the strong focus on energy efficiency and renewables in the report. A sector-specific approach to renewable energy is crucial to ensuring that 25% of EU energy comes from renewables by 2020 and a huge majority of MEPs have supported this. Commission President Barroso claims to have gone Green but the approach he is championing would destroy renewables. The EP has now given a clear signal toprioritise the different sector-specific proposals in the pipeline on renewable electricity and renewables in heating and cooling, including binding targets for each."
Commenting on the section on ‘low carbon’ technologies, Greens energy spokesperson Rebecca Harms added:
"We welcome the decision of the EP not to promote nuclear power in the report by rejecting setting targets for ‘low carbon’ technologies, which has become the nuclear industry’s catchphrase for its energy. Setting targets for ‘low carbon’ energy is nothing more than a call to further extend the lifetimes of nuclear power plants or build new ones, wasting even more money on this dangerous option and diverting investments from sustainable energy technologies."

1.5. Biomass and biofuels: Parliament adopts sustainability criteria and preferences for bioenergy
14 December 2006
Following today’s vote by the European Parliament on the biomass and biofuels strategy, Finnish Green and vice-president of the Parliament’s environment committee, Satu Hassi, said:
"The EP has today called for biomass to primarily be used where it is most efficient: in the production of electricity, heating and cooling. It is crucial for our food safety and biodiversity that bioenergy is produced in a sustainable way and it is welcome that the EP has recognised this. Feeding people clearly must be the first priority for agriculture and must not be threatened by satisfying the appetite of our cars with biofuels.
"Parliament has indicated a clear preference for a second generation of biofuels, based on wood, straw or waste, giving a much better energy balance. However, all bioenergy must be produced in an environmentally-sustainable way and have positive climate balance. Increasing the use of bioenergy must be combined with changes in our lifestyle towards a more sustainable way of life."


2.1. Climate Change Melts Kilimanjaro’s Snows
16 December 2006