E-news update July 16 2007

CLIMATE

1.1. India makes climate change move
13 July 2007 , BBC news
India has taken the first steps towards developing a national plan on tackling the effects of climate change.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting of top government officials and environmental experts which agreed to draft a national policy by October. But the body has not set any targets to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
India and China are among the world’s largest polluters and are coming under international pressure to agree to mandatory emission cuts. Other countries want them to make the cuts ahead of a key meeting in December.
Melting glaciers
A recent report by environmental experts said India would be among the countries worst affected by climate change.
In his opening remarks at the meeting of India ‘s National Council for Climate Change, Mr Singh acknowledged the scale of the problem. The growing needs of the Indian economy put pressure on national resources, he said.
The council will work on a strategy to offset the impact of melting Himalayan glaciers which feed many of the country’s rivers and are a major source of water and power. A tree planting programme will also be launched to replenish 15m acres of degraded forests. And the council will come up with a road map for energy-efficient approaches to economic development.
But no mention was made of cutting carbon emissions.
India has long resisted signing up to any mandatory cuts, saying the impact on its growing economy will be too severe. Under the existing Kyoto agreement, India is exempted from emission cuts. But it is under pressure to do so ahead of a UN meeting in December aimed at replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which lapses in 2012.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/6898173.stm

1.2. MEPs urge EU transport carbon reduction target
12 July 2007 , ENDS Europe DAILY 2359
MEPs have urged the EU to set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector by 20 per cent to 2020 over 1990 levels. The call comes in a non-legislative resolution that responds to a European commission mid-term review of the EU’s transport white paper of 2001 ( EED 23/06/06 ).
The EU has set targets for biofuel use in the transport sector ( EED 09/03/07 ) and is planning both to place limits on CO2 emissions from vehicles ( EED 27/06/07 ) and to reduce life-cycle CO2 emissions from all transport fuels ( EED 31/01/07 ). But it has no overall climate target for the transport sector and the parliament’s demand is thought to be the first time one has been called for.
The resolution was backed by a large majority of MEPs in Strasbourg on Thursday. In it they deplore the "insufficient application" and "incomplete execution" of EU transport legislation. These are among the main barriers to achieving objectives set in the white paper, they say. They call for "pragmatic and cooperative" interactions between transport and other areas of EU policy such as energy, environment and innovation.
The resolution highlights areas where transport policy should focus, including rapid completion of the trans-European network and the financing of infrastructure. Shifting transport from road to rail is key to reducing environmental impact, it says.

1.3. Europe can be happy and low-carbon, shows new index
16 July 2007 , FoE Europe
Europeans can live long and be happy without the need for soaring carbon dioxide emissions, shows the European Happy Planet Index launched today by nef (the new economics foundation) and Friends of the Earth Europe. The Nordic countries demonstrate that low carbon living is compatible with high levels of well-being, but Europe is overall less efficient today at delivering well being for its carbon dioxide emissions than 40 years ago.
The European Happy Planet Index ranks 30 European countries for their carbon footprint, life expectancy and life satisfaction, which are then combined to rank the countries for the efficiency with which their resource use translates into relatively long and happy lives:
Iceland , Sweden and Norway top the Index, because they achieve the highest levels of well-being in Europe at a comparably low environmental cost
Major European nations trail behind: Spain is 12th, Italy 14th, Germany 15th, France 18th and the UK 21st in the league of 30 countries
New EU Member States and Portugal , Greece , and Luxembourg rank the worst, because they have the biggest carbon footprints with relatively poor life expectancy and life satisfaction
Europe as a whole has become less efficient, not more, in translating fossil fuel use into relatively long and happy lives. In fact, the Index reveals that Europe is less carbon efficient now than it was in 1961.
Across Europe people report comparable levels of well-being whether their lifestyles are resource-efficient or resource-hungry. The message to politicians is that people are just as likely to lead satisfied lives whether their levels of consumption are very low or high and therefore they should not be afraid of policies to reduce demand.
"Countries like Iceland , the highest scoring nation on our Index clearly show that happiness doesn’t have to cost the earth. Iceland ‘s combination of strong social policies and extensive use of renewable energy demonstrate that living within our environmental means doesn’t mean sacrificing human well-being – in fact, it could even make us happier. By learning from the differences between European countries and by copying the best practices, we believe it will be possible to both greatly reduce our carbon footprint, and increase our well being," says Nic Marks, founder of nef’s Centre for well-being.
"The European Happy Planet Index report shows that people in countries that pump out carbon dioxide emissions aren’t even any happier than those that control their carbon footprints. Europe ‘s economic development can be climate friendly without impacting on our well being – and all European governments can make this happen, by committing to year on year reductions in carbon dioxide emissions," said Fouad Hamdan, Director of Friends of the Earth Europe.
The Index reveals that with regard to life expectancy and life satisfaction (happy life years):
North European countries like Denmark , Switzerland , Iceland , Finland and Sweden do best in terms of life satisfaction.
The UK comes a disappointing 15th in both league tables for life satisfaction and life expectancy. Contrasted with nations such as France and Germany this puts the UK just ahead in terms of life satisfaction, with Germany 16th and France 19th; but behind on life expectancy with France in 7th place and Germany just ahead in 14th.
New EU member state economies such as Bulgaria , Lithuania , Latvia , and Romania do worst in both tables, differing only slightly in rank order.
Where the carbon footprint is concerned, a more interesting and less obvious picture begins to emerge:
Luxembourg is by far the worst country for its carbon footprint per person (so bad in fact that we couldn’t fit it on our scale), but also from a league of 30 nations the UK comes in fourth from the bottom. Finland and Estonia join the UK and Luxembourg at the bottom of the table as the other countries with worse consumption per head of population.
The Scandinavian nations have some of the lowest per capita carbon footprints in Europe , despite also being amongst the richest and happiest nations. Some of the differences can be explained by access to domestically available renewable energy sources, but not all. Even wealthy, high consuming Switzerland has only the ninth largest footprint.
Europe as whole is responsible for almost three times its fair, global share of carbon emissions.
"Countries that have most closely followed the Anglo-Saxon, strongly market-led economic model show up as the least efficient. These findings question what the economy is there for. What is the point if we burn vast quantities of fossil fuels to make, buy and consume ever more stuff, without noticeably benefiting our well-being? We know that someone is just as likely to have high life satisfaction while living within their environmental means, as someone who recklessly over-consumes. So, what is preventing us from radically changing direction, and reaping the benefits? If Europe doesn’t lead, India , China and Brazil will not follow," says Andrew Simms, nef’s policy director and head of the climate change programme.
On current performance, Europe is not remotely close to navigating an economic course set to reach its desired location on climate policy. It needs to achieve a carbon footprint small enough to help prevent the planet warming by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
This requires cuts in emissions by industrialised nations of between 70 and 80 per cent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels according to Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the Treasury’s influential report on the economics of climate change.
Worse still, as the European Happy Planet Index reveals, Europe is heading in the wrong direction, its carbon footprint still growing, and its level of carbon efficiency in terms of fuelling happy, long lives is lower than at any level in the last 40 years.
To reverse this trend, we need to look to the example of those European countries that are already the most efficient – some of the most socially progressive and technologically advanced nations anywhere in the world.
Innovative policies will need to be developed that significantly reduce per capita carbon footprints whilst enhancing well-being. This will require comprehensive action, but the key targets for policy makers are:
Reducing consumption overall and setting legally binding targets for carbon reduction: Every European government needs to set legally binding targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, setting carbon budgets for 3-5 year periods, to ensure each country does its part in keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.
Reducing inequalities: Inequalities – not just of income, but also of education, health and social opportunity – have a damaging impact on well-being. Governments should aim to halt and reverse rises in inequality, and provide more support for local communities to thrive.
Support meaningful lives: It is time that European governments invested in and implemented national well-being accounts to inform policy making across government, ensuring that the impact of policy decisions on people’s well-being is taken into account.
nef and Friends of the Earth Europe call on European governments, and the European Commission to adopt this analysis and embrace and apply new measures of progress, like the HPI. Only then will we be equipped to address the twin challenges of delivering a good quality of life for all whilst remaining within life-supporting environmental limits.
The impacts of global warming, both within the EU and around the world, means that we can no longer justify the marginal benefits reaped from our current high and inefficient levels of resource consumption. The price paid by future generations and people alive today in poorer countries, who have far fewer resources with which to adapt, is simply too great.
Europe needs urgently to find a new development path where good lives don’t cost the earth.

ENERGY

2.1. China ‘s premier urges action in energy-saving drive
11 July 2007 , Reuters
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has urged local governments to shut polluting plants and encourage families to save energy, marking his second appeal in just three days aimed at achieving energy efficiency.
Wen also said China would "proactively participate" in global talks on climate change, a statement published on the government Web site (www.gov.cn) said. He did not elaborate.
His appeal to local governments to further crack down on polluting factories in the second half of the year comes as China is rapidly overtaking the United States to become the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases.
Beijing is under rising international pressure to accept mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions from its factories and vehicles. China has refused to comply, but the government has shown greater efforts in addressing energy and environment issues.
Wen told a routine conference of the State Council, or the cabinet, on Wednesday that China would find it hard to achieve its energy consumption and pollution reduction targets, considering the current situation, the statement said.
"All levels of governments must clearly realize the difficulty and urgency of the energy-saving and pollution reduction task," Wen said in the statement, ordering them to give higher priority to environment and climate change-related work.
Local governments were instructed to "leverage all possible resources to enhance work and to seek substantial progress."
Detailing policy instructions for the second half of 2007, Wen said local governments must curb excessive growth in energy-intensive and polluting industries by measures such as keeping credit supply in check.
Inefficient facilities in thermal power, steel, alumina, iron alloy and cement sectors were ordered to be shut.
Wen said the government would focus on energy-saving projects and environment protection in polluted areas, and the government would also encourage energy saving by companies through price, tax, legal and administrative measures.
In addition, Wen hoped that "every company, every community, every organization, every household and every citizen" would take part in programs designed to reduce consumption of oil, gas and coal and to rein in emissions causing global warming.
Beijing has said that it aims to reduce emissions of major industrial pollutants by 10 percent and cut the amount of energy used to generate each dollar of national income by 20 percent between 2006 and 2010.
China was already behind target last year.

2.2. The European Union deepens energy relations with Brazil
5 July 2007 , EC
On the occasion of today’s visit of Brazilian President Lula da Silva to the European Commission, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Brazilian Minister of External Relations, Celso Amorim, signed the terms of reference for the EC-Brazil Regular Energy Policy Dialogue.
"This document lays the foundations for a fruitful and constructive energy partnership, based on a permanent dialogue with the Federative Republic of Brazil", said Commissioner Piebalgs ahead of the signature ceremony.
The Energy dialogue will provide a good basis for strengthening energy cooperation with Brazil , one of the major players in the world economy that enjoy a privileged relationship with the European Union. The agreement recognises the leading role played by Brazil as a stable and reliable partner in Latin America and its importance in the area of biofuels, security of energy supply and climate change.
The main objective of this new Energy Dialogue, set up in the context of the EC-Brazil Framework Agreement for Cooperation of 1995, is to facilitate the exchange of views between the EU and Brazil in all aspects related to energy security and sustainability. The agreement also aims to develop bilateral cooperation in areas of common interest, most notably in biofuels and other renewable energy sources, low carbon energy technologies, and the improvement of energy efficiency. Last but not least, it will help both parties work towards increasing joint international action in the field of energy.
The first meeting of the Energy Dialogue will take place in the autumn of 2007.

CONFERENCES

3.1. Scientific framework of environmental and forest governance — The role of discourses and expertise
27 and 28 August 2007 in Goettingen , Germany
Further information at: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-6/60000/61200/61202/activities/ or http://www.iufro.org/download/file/1648/3058/goettingen07-call-for-paper.doc.

3.2. European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
3 – 7 September 2007 in Milan , Italy
More info: http://www.photovoltaic-conference.com.

3.3. International Congress on Plant Oil Fuels
6 – 7 September 2007 in Erfurt , Germany
More info: http://www.pflanzenoel-kongress.de/index.php?lng=en.

3.4. General Conference of the Union of the Baltic Cities
27 – 28 September 2007 in Pärnu , Estonia
More info: http://www.reiser.ee/conference/ubc.htm.

3.5. RENEXPO 2007 – International Trade Fair and Conference for Renewable Energies
27 – 30 September 2007 in Augsburg , Germany
More info: http://www.renexpo.de/?lang=en.

3.6. European Sustainable Energy Seminar and Tour
1 – 5 October 2007 in Samsø , Denmark
More info: http://www.inforse.org/europe/seminar07_samso.htm.

3.7. European Meeting Point: Energy for Development 2007
10 – 12 October 2007 in Beja/Alentejo, Portugal
More info: http://www.energyanddevelopment-2007.net.

3.8. UN Millennium Development Goals – discussing practical examples on a local level
18 – 20 October 2007 in Bonn , Germany
More at: http://www.service-eine-welt.de/en.

3.9. COP 13, COP/MOP3
Venue of the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) and the third session of the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 3) Nusa Dua, Bali, 3 to 14 December 2007.
The Bureau of the UNFCCC met on Tuesday, 13 February 2007 and decided to accept with gratitude the offer by the Government of Indonesia to host COP 13 and COP/MOP 3 at the Bali International Conference Centre and the adjacent facilities and services in Nusa Dua.
The Bureau requested the secretariat to complete the corresponding host country agreement with Indonesia in time for the sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies in May 2007.
Further information on the Conference will appear on the UNFCCC website.

ANNOUNCEMENT

4.1. Vacancy announcement – Online Communications Manager – 2 Year contract
Due to the growth of its global Climate Witness initiative (www.panda.org/climatewitness), WWF, the global conservation organisation, is seeking an experienced Online Communications Manager. The position will develop and deliver a global online communications strategy for Climate Witness with a particular focus on delivering outcomes with a range of corporate partners. In addition, the position develops and maintains the global network of Climate Witness websites together with their associated online services and provides support to WWF’s national offices in developing national Climate Witness websites.
Essential to the position are experience delivering online communications products, knowledge of online communication channels such as emails, newsletters, forums and social media channels (e.g. blogs, YouTube, Flickr), excellent organisational, project management and negotiation skills and experience managing creative/technical projects.
Suitable candidates from around the world are encouraged to apply as there may be no requirement to work from WWF Australia’s office, where the Climate Witness Initiative is currently hosted. Interested candidates should email their CV, cover letter, and names and contact details for three references to: [email protected] by 30 July 2007 . For further information please contact Alexander Quarles van Ufford on +61 400 218 925 or [email protected] Terms of reference for the position can be obtained from Matt MacKenzie ([email protected]).

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