1.1. Then there was one: US now alone as Kyoto holdout
24 November 2007, AFP
supporters of the Kyoto Protocol were gleeful on Saturday after Australian elections left the United States in the wilderness as the only major economy to boycott the UN’s climate pact.
The ouster of Prime Minister John Howard stripped President George W. Bush of a key ally barely a week before a conference in Bali, Indonesia, on the world’s response to climate change beyond 2012, they said.
"It’s great news for the Kyoto Protocol," Shane Rattenburg, Greenpeace’s political director, told AFP.
"It’s a very important event in the international climate debate, and for Bali. It will leave Bush and the United States more isolated."
Industrialised countries that have signed and ratified the Protocol are required to meet targeted curbs in their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012.
In March 2001, in one of his first acts in office, Bush declared he would not submit the deal to US Senate ratification.
He has been steadfastly supported by Howard, a fellow conservative who argued that Kyoto was a waste of time as it lacks the world’s biggest emitter and tougher commitments from China and other emerging giants.
Howard’s successor, Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, has said that he will seek ratification of Kyoto as soon as possible and also attend the Bali gathering.
The December 3-14 conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) faces a Herculean task.
It must set down a roadmap for negotiations over the next two years that will have to deliver massive emissions cuts beyond 2012 and shore up support for poor countries facing the brunt of climate change.
A European diplomat said Howard’s departure would hamper US efforts to coax support from two other countries whose governments, eyeing the cost of meeting their Kyoto pledges, could waver at Bali.
"We’re pleased about the (election) outcome," he told AFP. "It puts more pressure on the United States and it helps us better handle the Canadians and the Japanese."
Rattenburg said that Australia, under Howard, had often played a "wrecking role" at the annual UNFCCC negotiations, such as demanding concessions for its forestry and striving to weaken or unpick deals.
WWF’s climate-change director, Hans Verolme, thought it unlikely that Rudd would have time to settle into office and play "a stronger, more positive role" at Bali itself. "But at least they (the Australians) won’t play a negative role anymore," he said.
He also believed that US isolation would boost the fast-growing climate lobby in Washington, which is clamouring for America "to return to the negotiating table and take on an absolute emissions-reduction target."
Such a prospect is only possible after Bush leaves office, said Verolme.
Australia accounts for less than two percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases, although it is a huge exporter of coal, one of the principal sources of the warming problem.
If it ratifies Kyoto, that will still mean only around 30 percent of planetary emissions will come under the treaty’s binding targets.
The world’s biggest polluters are the United States and China, which account for roughly half of the total. But the US snubbed Kyoto and China is a developing country, so neither have binding emissions goals.
A total of 172 countries and government entities have ratified the Protocol, which came into force on February 16, 2005. Thirty-six of them, plus the European Union (EU) as a party in its own right, are required to make targeted emissions curbs, concerning six greenhouse gases.
Despite his victory, ratification of Kyoto raises a dilemma for Rudd.
Meeting the country’s original 2012 target would entail stringent, costly and probably unpopular measures in raising energy efficiency and switching to renewable sources.
Australia had originally pledged to keep emissions growth to eight percent above 1990 levels. As of 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, it was 25.6 percent above the 1990 benchmark, according to UNFCCC figures issued last week.
The country, a voracious burner of fossil fuels, has the highest per-capita emissions in the world.
1.2. Rich nations fail to honour climate pledge
24 November 2007, The Guardian
Poor countries receive little of promised £600m. Money intended to tackle effects of global warming.
A group of rich countries including Britain has broken a promise to pay more than a billion dollars to help the developing world cope with the effects of climate change. The group agreed in 2001 to pay $1.2bn (£600m) to help poor and vulnerable countries predict and plan for the effects of global warming, as well as fund flood defences, conservation and thousands of other projects. But new figures show less than £90m of the promised money has been delivered. Britain has so far paid just £10m.
The disclosure comes after Gordon Brown said this week that industrialised countries must do more to help the developing world adapt to a changed climate, and two weeks before countries meet in Bali to begin negotiations on a new global deal to regulate emissions which is expected to stress the need for all countries to adapt.
Andrew Pendleton, climate change policy analyst at Christian Aid, said: "This represents a broken promise on a massive scale and on quite a cynical scale as well. Promising funds for adaptation is exactly the kind of incentive the rich countries will offer at Bali to bring the developing world on board a new climate deal. This is the signal we are seeing on all fronts, that the developed countries are unwilling to fulfil their moral and legal commitments."
Under the terms of the climate adaptation agreement, made at a UN meeting in Bonn in 2001, the EU, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and New Zealand said they would jointly pay developing countries $410m (£200m) each year from 2005 to 2008. They called on other countries to donate as well. The money was supposed to compensate developing countries for the severe effects over the coming decades of global warming, which is largely caused by carbon emissions from the developed world.
The vast majority of the promised money was expected to be channelled through funds run by an organisation called the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Washington DC, which was to distribute it through programmes run by the World Bank and United Nations. But accounts presented to a GEF council meeting last week show that only $177m (£86m) had been paid into the funds by September 30 this year, much less than the $1.2bn due by the end of 2007 under the Bonn agreement. Another $106m (£51m) has been pledged to the GEF by specific countries, but not yet paid. Britain has pledged to pay another £10m over the next three years, which makes it among the largest donors, but still below its promised level of commitment.
Saleem Huq, head of the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, said Britain should have paid between a fifth and a quarter of the £600m promised to date, based on past contributions to international aid. He said: "Most people in the climate change debate focus on how to cut emissions and how to bring the US, China and India into an agreement. The impact of climate change on poor countries, and the responsibilities of rich countries to help them, gets much less attention." The Department for International Development insisted Britain’s share was closer to £30m a year, and that it had "fully met its commitments". It said Britain had given an extra £100m since 2005 to climate change work in the developing world through routes outside the GEF, such as bilateral aid given directly to poor countries.
Huq said this money cannot be counted towards the Bonn agreement because it was part of general overseas aid. "The Bonn agreement is clear that the money paid to help developing countries cope with climate change must be additional. Just counting overseas development aid as money for climate change adaptation cuts no ice and is double counting."
Christian Aid said climate change was already having a devastating impact on poor communities around the world. A report from the charity today says people from Bolivia and Bangladesh to Mali and Tajikistan are being affected. It says: "It is the rural poor who are the most exposed. In many countries, they were struggling with droughts, floods and hurricanes even before climate change started to bite. Now their problems are intensifying."
1.3. India and China ink climate change agreement
23 November 2007, BusinessGreen
Top polluters join 14 other Asian countries in agreeing to stabilising atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases.
India and China, together with leaders of 14 other Asian countries, have this week signed an agreement to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions, according to Reuters reports.
The news agency reported that it had obtained a copy of the final agreement, signed at this week’s East Asia Summit (EAS), which states that the 16 nations at the summit would "commit to the common goal of stabilising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in the long run, at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".
The EAS countries, including major polluters China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia, also agreed that "all countries should play a role in addressing the common challenge of climate change, based on the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities; and that developed countries should continue to play a leading role in this regard".
The move is a further signal ahead of next month’s UN climate change summit in Bali that China and India could be willing to support a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions should developed nations, including the US, sign up and agree to more stringent targets.
At US President George Bush’s recent Washington summit on climate change both India and China signalled they would be willing to agree to binding emission targets as long as the US did the same.
1.4. Trade Unions Advocate Ambitious Climate Change Goals
23 November, 2007
Over 85 trade union representatives from 25 countries are scheduled to play a prominent role in the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP13) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) taking place 3-14 December in Bali, Indonesia.
Philip Pearson, Chairman of the Trade Union Working Group on climate change, announced today that a vigorous response from trade unions around the world to calls for worker and trade union involvement in efforts to save our planet have made it possible to file a record list of trade union participants with the UNFCCC, this year.
"We accept the conclusions of recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and will support efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 2 Co through an 85% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2050. We will lobby for all countries to become involved, including those that have or will become major GHG emitters".
Philip is senior policy officer at the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC), with responsibility for climate change and energy policy. He recently became the first Chair of the Global Union’s Climate Working Group, after unions obtained formal constituency status with the UNFCCC, which allows them the same level of recognition as Business and NGO’s.
"Climate change presents massive challenges for trade unions globally, in developed and developing nations. We intend to mount a strong lobby in Bali for targets in the post-Kyoto period that will substantially increase cuts to Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG), as well as to work for the adoption of a Green Jobs strategy to deal with employment impacts of change," said Pearson.
"At COP13, we will be in a position for the first time to pursue a well-targeted lobby with many government delegations, to track negotiations and to become involved in the technical decision-making on issues relating to the Nairobi Plan of Action, deforestation, mitigation & adaptation, capacity building & education. As well, we can ensure that due attention is given to such social issues as poverty, HIV/AIDS and the UN sustainable consumption-production (SCP) objectives".
See the full trade union submission to COP13 (available soon in French and Spanish): http://www.global-unions.org/pdf/ohsewpP_12Bc.EN.pdf.
"Employment and workplace issues are at the top of our agenda, as is the need to ensure worker and trade union participation in climate decision-making to implement change at the point of production as well as in communities around the world. Attention should be given also to programmes for greening workplaces and communities".
The COP13 delegation will be coordinated by International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) with other trade union bodies through a trade union Working Group on Climate Change.
"Workers who are organised into trade unions are in a good position to join in the search for solutions to GHG emissions, and to deal with effects of climate change. Even where jobs might be threatened, the resolve of our members has been strengthened by recent employment studies conducted by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) which show that proper transition planning can lead to the creation of large numbers of green jobs in a number of key sectors."
"The recent release by the UNFCCC of the latest scientific report from the IPCC should remove any doubt that climate change is a reality, and that it has the potential to seriously harm eco-systems as well as economic and social development worldwide."
"It is not too late, but immediate action is needed if we are to prevent the most severe impacts. Climate change is a global issue and efforts to reduce and tackle its impacts can only be successfully coordinated at the international level through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change."
Pearson said that comprehensive negotiations on a new climate deal must begin without further delay. Parties attending the Bali Conference are expected to engage in this process as a main order of business, and trade union delegates will be working diligently with them to ensure that they make a good start on negotiations towards a new international GHG reduction targets.
"COP13 must act decisively to ensure that a new international climate change agreement is in place to guide action at the national and international level after 2012, when the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires," he said.
The Trade Union Sustainable Development Unit (SDUnit) maintains country-by-country profiles on the progress made by governments along sustainable development indicators, including climate change and energy: http://www.tradeunionsdunit.org/profiles/profiles.php.
1.5. Canada blocking Commonwealth global warming agreement
23 November 2007, Climate Action Network Canada Press Release
Canada is derailing progress towards a joint Commonwealth statement on climate change by refusing to accept “further binding commitments by developed countries,” the Climate Action Network-Réseau action climat Canada (CAN-RAC) has learned.
According to well-placed Commonwealth officials at the meeting in Kampala, Uganda, Canada stands virtually alone in opposing the joint declaration. Of the 53 countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, only Canada and Australia refuse to endorse the joint position.
Prime Minister Harper is representing Canada at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which runs from November 23 to 26. The two main agenda items are climate change and the question of democracy in Pakistan. The Commonwealth meeting comes just two weeks before a crucial UN climate negotiation gets underway in Bali, Indonesia.
CAN-RAC has learned that Canada is refusing to accept “further binding commitments by developed countries” unless developing countries accept “further binding commitments” of their own.
Canada ’s position appears to violate a fundamental principle of the Kyoto Protocol, which states that countries have “common but differentiated responsibilities” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This means that developed countries like Canada, which have higher per-capita emissions, more per-capita wealth and a greater share of historical responsibility for global warming, must take the lead in reducing emissions.
“Canada’s position is completely out of step with its responsibilities to the world and with the urgency of climate change,” said Graham Saul, Climate Action Network. “As a Canadian, I’m ashamed that my government has become a barrier to progress on the world stage.”
“Canada’s government has abandoned its responsibilities under Kyoto and the UN climate convention,” said Emilie Moorhouse, Sierra Club of Canada. “As a result, it has virtually zero credibility in asking developing countries to take on new responsibilities of their own.”
1.6. UN climate panel co-head pessimistic about progress in Bali
22 November 2007, AFP
The co-head of the UN climate-change panel that shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize said Thursday he was pessimistic about progress at next month’s global environmental summit in Bali.
The world may have to wait until the Copenhagen summit two years later before governments summon the political will to budge, said Martin Parry, co-chair of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The body is regarded as the world’s top scientific authority on global warming and its impact.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Bali aims to see countries agree to launch a roadmap for negotiating cuts in climate-changing carbon emissions from 2012, when current pledges under the Kyoto Protocol expire.
"I’m not an optimist," Parry told reporters in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, where he is attending a conference on the impact of climate change on the world’s crops.
"I know that politicians going into Bali will have to say, ‘I’m an optimist’ — it seems to be an important passport for all politicians."
Meetings leading up to the key talks begin in the Indonesian resort on December 3 and the summit concludes on December 14.
"Realistically the big change is probably going to take perhaps two years to create, in terms of a political decision," Parry said.
"I don’t think one should see Bali throwing up any bright lights, a whole new set of targets that governments would sign on to."
"From those I speak to, it’s Copenhagen two years down the line where there is hope that a new regime of mitigation will be in place," he said.
"Bali will be the first step towards that."
The IPCC shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president turned environmental activist Al Gore.
The panel, comprising around 3,000 experts, has released grim reports warning about the impact of global warming on the human race and global resources.
Parry cautioned that the world has little time to lose in combating global warming as it rapidly approaches the tolerance threshold.
"I always thought climate change was something for our grandchildren to worry about, but we are now witnessing the impact," he said.
If governments don’t make progress at least in Copenhagen in 2009, "then it’s quite serious," he warned.
The scientific community wants to limit the increase in global warming to less than two degrees above "the so-called pre-industrial levels," Parry said.
"We have experienced half a degree of warming already that’s measurable," he said. "There is another point six degrees in the physics of the oceans which we can’t do anything about even if we stopped all emissions now."
"So we are more than half way to two degrees," he said.
"If you were to think about the political delays in making a decision and the time taken to implement it, it is going to be very difficult to keep below two degrees."
1.7. Asia disappoints in climate change efforts
20 November 2007, earth Times
Amid warnings that Asia will bear the brunt of the impact of drastic climate change, environmentalists are calling on the region’s leaders to do more than issue rhetorical declarations in the fight against global warming. Leaders of 16 countries, led by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), have agreed to increase the region’s forest cover, promote the use of renewable energy sources and protect marine ecosystems in Singapore.
But activists lamented that the leaders’ declarations on environment and climate change during the ASEAN and East Asian Summits in Singapore were empty rhetoric that do not commit countries to action.
Athena Ballesteros, a climate campaigner with international environment watchdog Greenpeace, singled out ASEAN in expressing disappointment over the region’s lackluster efforts to address global warming.
She noted that the ASEAN Declaration on Environmental Sustainability, which the leaders signed on Tuesday, "does not communicate the scale and ambition of the need for governments to act with regards to climate change."
"There is no turning back," she said. "We know more than enough to act. But instead of talking about real solutions, the leaders continue to talk about false solutions such as clean fossil fuels and nuclear energy."
Ballesteros said ASEAN should be adopting targets, developing clean energy resources and abandoning coal or nuclear technologies.
She noted the ASEAN – which groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar – is home to abundant alternative energy resources that should be tapped.
In the declaration, ASEAN leaders expressed concern that environmental degradation and worsening global warming could jeopardize the region’s robust development, and called for greater cooperation and stronger commitments to address negative impacts.
The group agreed "to collectively work towards achieving an aspirational goal of significantly increasing the cumulative forest cover in the ASEAN region by at least 10 million hectares by 2020."
The leaders also pledged to "forge ASEAN-wide cooperation to establish a regional nuclear safety regime" while acknowledging that "fossil fuels will continue to be part of the energy landscape" in the region.
ASEAN’s declaration came after a new report, compiled by more than 35 developmental and environmental groups, warned that global warming was set to reverse decades of social and economic progress across Asia, home to more than 4 billion people or 60 per cent of the world’s population.
According to the report, Up in Smoke: Asia and the Pacific, there is growing scientific consensus that all of Asia will warm during this century, and the results could be less less predictable rainfall and monsoons affecting the food supply.
It also warned that tropical cyclones such as the one that devastated Bangladesh last week would become more frequent and destructive.
Ballesteros said one positive step taken by ASEAN was its separate declaration on the Bali conference in December, when negotiations for a post-2012 agreement would be launched.
"That was a positive step and a welcome statement because we don’t want to see the Bali conference become a mere talk fest," she said. "These statements must be coupled by action."
ASEAN leaders agreed to work closely "to pave the way for establishing an effective, fair, flexible and comprehensive multilateral arrangement in addressing climate change beyond 2012," when the Kyoto Protocol expires.
They also urged industrialized countries to continue in "substantially reducing their emissions" and to "further implement their commitments in the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building."
1.8. Climate change: IPCC report highlights urgent need for negotiations on global emission cuts
17 November 2007, EC media feed
European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas welcomed as ‘vital reading for decision-makers’ the synthesis report published on Saturday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The synthesis report summarises the key conclusions of the IPCC’s latest scientific assessment of climate change, the Fourth Assessment Report, which was released in three parts earlier this year.
»The Fourth Assessment Report is a milestone in our scientific knowledge about climate change and the grave threats global warming poses to the planet,« Commissioner Dimas said. »The report’s findings amount to a stark warning that the world must act fast to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to prevent climate change from reaching devastating levels. The good news is that it also shows that deep emission cuts are both technologically feasible and economically affordable.«
He added: »This synthesis report is vital reading for decision-makers everywhere ahead of the UN climate change conference in Bali starting in just over two weeks. It fully supports the EU policy that global warming must be limited to no more than 2ºC above the pre-industrial temperature. The global community must respond to this scientific call for action by agreeing in Bali to launch negotiations on a comprehensive and ambitious new global climate agreement. Efforts will be needed by all major emitters if we are to have a chance of controlling climate change before it is too late.«
The key findings of the 4th Assessment Report confirm the analysis underlying the EU climate and energy package presented by the Commission last January and endorsed by the European Council in March:
Climate change is accelerating and is almost certainly caused by emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities.
Climate change is already affecting people.
Global emissions of greenhouse gases must be reduced drastically and urgently.
These emission reductions can be achieved.
Society must adapt to climate change.
Responding to this strong call for action, the EU has embarked on a transition towards a low carbon economy and is now putting in place bold concrete actions to slash emissions in the EU, including efforts at the European level as well as by all Member States.
The key elements of EU action are:
a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, that will be strengthened to 30% reduction in the context of a fair global agreement;
a firm target to increase the use of renewable energy to 20% by 2020;
a broad range of measures to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2020;
further evolution and strengthening of the EU’s emissions trading scheme;
an ambitious limit to CO2 emissions from cars;
a framework for introducing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in power production;
development of an effective adaptation strategy;
The synthesis report forms the final part of ‘Climate Change 2007’ the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. The other three parts were released earlier this year and covered the physical science of climate change (see IP/07/128), impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (see IP/07/491) and ways to mitigate climate change (see IP/07/610).
2.1. China considers national strategy to boost rural energy development
23 November 2007, Xinhua
The Chinese government is drafting a new rural energy strategy to boost energy development in the vast rural regions where some 10 million people in remote areas are still suffering from energy poverty, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in China.
It was revealed at the International Conference of Rural Energy Development held in Beijing on Friday, which was jointly organized by UNDP and China’s Office of the National Energy Leading Group.
The UNDP said it was assisting the Chinese Office to draft the strategy, which could be released early 2008.
"We are actively carrying out researches on the draft national strategy of rural energy development," Ma Xiaohe, a top researcher with the academy of macro-economic research under NDRC, said at the conference.
Wu Guihui, deputy director of the Energy Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said the country certainly needs such a national strategy and they are planning more research to sort out clues on the rural energy development scheme.
The UNDP in China said in a press release that the national strategy would "establish a vision for future rural energy development and increase access of the poor to sustainable energy".
No specifics about the strategy were available from any of the sources.
China ‘s rural residents rely on coal and low-efficiency traditional biomass, such as directly burning straws and firewood, for a large share of their energy consumption.
Most of China’s rural regions are not equipped with pipelines for the supply of commercial energies like natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas, which led to a small proportion of clean energy use in rural areas, according to Wu.
The current use of electricity in rural areas is also lagging far behind urban use due to the lack of infrastructure facilities. Statistics shows that China’s rural population consumed less than 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity per capita in 2006, only a fourth of urban consumption.
China will further boost the development of new and renewable energies including biogas and solar energy to reduce rural reliance on traditional biomass for energy consumption, said Wu.
He said China will also extend power grids in more rural areas to enlarge electricity coverage for rural residents, and promote renewable energy technologies such as micro hydropower, wind power and solar energy at places where extension of the power grid is not economical.
Ma also called for actions to increase supply of cleaner and more qualified energies such as natural gas to meet the energy demand in rural areas.
He added that rural residents should be allowed equal access to these energies at the same prices as urbanites, or even at subsidized prices to persuade them from cutting wood and exploiting grassland for energy consumption, which was not sustainable for the whole economy.
He stressed that the government should take the major responsibility in investing in rural energy development, especially in public infrastructure construction.
Experts and officials attending the conference also agreed that power supply services such as oil and gas stations and maintenance services for facilities of new and renewable energies needed to be upgraded in rural areas.
Otherwise, they said, rural residents would be discouraged from using cleaner energies due to lack of access or lack of expertise.
They were also encouraging data about the improvement in rural energy use disclosed by experts at the conference when they tried to fix problems there.
The Chinese government has arranged a total investment up to nearly 2.6 billion yuan in rural energy development via the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) between 2001 and 2006, said Kou Jianping, director of the energy and ecology division of the MOA.
China had built 21.75 million household biogas facilities by the end of 2006, amid efforts to promote clean energy use and improve energy efficiency in the countryside, according to Kou.
These household facilities could produce 8.5 billion cubic meters of biogas annually, equivalent to saving about 13.3 million tons of standard coal or preserving 4.5 million hectares of woodland.
Kou said the country is actively promoting straw as solid and gas energy as well as power generation with straw to make better use of existing energy resources in rural areas.
There were nearly 200,000 people working for the rural energy system in China by the end of 2005, with 170,000 being licensed farmer-technicians maintaining facilities, according to Kou.
2.2. European Commission proposes a plan to accelerate energy technologies for a low-carbon future
22 November 2007, European commission
Energy technologies will be crucial to successfully fighting against climate change and securing world and European energy supply. Achieving Europe’s 2020 and 2050 targets on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency will require action on energy efficiency, standards, support mechanisms and putting a price on carbon emissions. It will also require the deployment of more efficient and new technologies. So a significant research effort is necessary. Europe’s potential to develop a new generation of decarbonised energy technologies, such as off-shore wind, solar technology, or 2nd generation biomass, is enormous. However EU energy research is often under-funded, dispersed and badly coordinated. If the opportunity facing the EU is to be seized, actions to develop new energy technologies, lower their costs and bring them to the market must be better organised and carried out more efficiently. This is why the European Commission is proposing the Strategic Energy Technology Plan, a comprehensive plan to establish a new energy research agenda for Europe. The Commission believes that Europe should lower the costs of clean energy and put EU industry at the forefront of the rapidly growing low carbon technology sector. This Plan is to be accompanied by better use of and increases in resources, both financial and human, to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies of the future.
"The Energy Policy for Europe calls for a new industrial revolution. Like all industrial revolutions, this one is going to be technology driven and it is high time to transform our political vision into concrete actions. Decisions taken over the next 10-15 years will have profound consequences for energy security, for climate change and for growth and jobs in Europe. If we fall behind in the intensifying global race to win low carbon technology markets, we risk meeting our targets with imported technologies," said European Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs.
Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for Science and Research said: "We have the chance to be world leaders in low carbon technologies, but if Europe doesn’t act together more effectively, we will squander that opportunity and the economic benefits of the transition to a low carbon economy will go elsewhere. The ideas that the Commission is putting forward today will allow Europe to develop a world class portfolio of affordable, clean, efficient and low emission energy technologies."
Europe faces real challenges linked with energy supply and climate change. With current trends and technologies, the EU and the world will not achieve its climate change objectives at a cost that is economically sustainable. Research and innovation in energy technology are therefore vital in meeting the EU’s ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60-80% by 2050. But unless there is a major change in the EU’s approach such technologies, there is a serious risk that these objectives will not be met, or the technology to do so will come from outside the EU. The energy innovation process, from initial conception to market penetration, suffers from structural weaknesses. There is neither a natural market appetite nor a readily discernible short-term business benefit for such technologies. In addition, public energy research budgets in the EU Member States have generally declined substantially since the 1980s. It is clear that many of the technological challenges faced by the EU energy policy cannot be overcome by the instruments or models of cooperation that are in current use. A new mind-set is required.
The European Commission is therefore proposing a new approach, which focuses on more joint planning, making better use of the potential of the European Research and Innovation area and fully exploiting the possibilities opened up by the Internal Market. In particular, the Plan includes the commitment to set up a series of new priority European Industrial Initiatives focusing on the development of technologies for which working at Community level will add most value. The Plan proposes the strengthening the industrial research and innovation, by aligning European, national and industrial activities; it also proposes the creation of a European Energy Research Alliance to ensure much greater cooperation among energy research organisations as well as improved planning and foresight at European level for energy infrastructure and systems. The Commission clearly signals the need for increased funding in this field, and will present its ideas on financing low carbon technologies during 2008. It will set up an information system to ensure a clear picture of energy technologies across Europe and establish a process with Member States so that energy technology research can be planned together. A European Energy Technology Summit will be called in 2009 to review progress.
Details of all of the above are available in MEMO/07/493 and the SET-plan document, which is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/setplan/communication_2007_en.htm; MEMO/07/494 provides answers to some frequently asked questions.
2.3. Renewables, gas-fired power to drive Europe’s plant growth: SG
22 November 2007, Platts
Europe’s installed electricity generation capacity is set to grow by 2% year to 2010, reaching 844.8 GW (2006: 763.5 GW), with renewables (+55 GW between 2005 and 2010 or +15.7%/yr) and gas-fired power plants (+54.6 GW or +6.6%/yr) driving the growth, according to new research by investment bank Societe Generale published Thursday.
SG’s report, ‘Electricity in Europe–Evolution of supply balances by 2020’, said investments in the other energy sources will decrease to 2010, with oil down -1.5%, nuclear power -0.9% and coal -1%.
Two scenarios were most likely for the period 2010-2020, SG said. The first one featured slower demand growth, with natural gas and renewables still developing to the detriment of nuclear, coal and oil but at a slower pace (respectively, 2.6% and 5.4% per year).
The second scenario assumed stronger demand (especially in eastern Europe), which would be offset by larger investments in natural gas (+6.6% annual growth rate over the 2010-2020 period). "In both cases, the production trends for each energy source will depend heavily on CO2 emissions," the report said.
Higher output, higher emissions
Higher electricity production will mean higher greenhouse gas emissions, the report said. "These will rise by 73 Mt between 2010 and 2020 for a demand growth that remains on trend (first scenario) and 170 Mt if demand is strong (second scenario)," the report said.
The share of renewables in electricity production (excluding nuclear power) is set to reach 20% to 22% in 2020 depending on scenarios, SG said. Fossil fuels would continue to dominate Europe’s generation portfolio, with 55% to 58% of production in 2020.
CO2 emissions would increase more slowly than electricity production. If growth remained on trend, CO2 emissions would rise by only 5% against a 9% increase in electricity production between 2010 and 2020, or 11% and 16% respectively using SG’s strong growth scenario. "Because of the EU’s 20% emission reduction target by 2020, we see growing divergence between economic growth, energy demand and CO2 emissions, but this will not be enough to reduce the electricity sector’s emissions," the report said.
3.1. U.N.: Greenhouse Gases Hit High in 2006
24 November 2007, AP
Two of the most important Greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere reached a record high in 2006, and measurements show that one — carbon dioxide — is playing an increasingly important role in global warming, the U.N. weather agency said Friday.
The global average concentrations of carbon dioxide, or CO2, and nitrous oxide, or N2O, in the atmosphere were higher than ever in measurements coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization, said Geir Braathen, a climate specialist at the Geneva-based agency.
Methane, the third of the three important greenhouse gases, remained stable between 2005 and 2006, he said.
Braathen said measurements show that CO2 is contributing more to global warming than previously.
CO2 contributed 87 percent to the warming effect over the last decade, but in the last five years alone, its contribution was 91 percent, Braathen said. "This shows that CO2 is gaining importance as a greenhouse gas," Braathen said.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose by about half a percent last year to reach 381.2 parts per million, according to the agency. Nitrous oxide totaled 320.1 parts per billion, which is a quarter percent higher than in 2005.
Braathen said it appears the upward trend will continue at least for a few years.
The World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin provides widely accepted worldwide data on the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Studies have shown that human-produced carbon dioxide emissions heat the Earth’s surface and cause greater water evaporation. That leads to more water vapor in the air, which contributes to higher air temperatures. CO2, methane and N2O are the most common greenhouse gases after water vapor, according to the meteorological organization.
They are produced by natural sources, such as wetlands, and by human activities such as fertilizer use or fuel combustion.
There is 36.1 percent more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there was in the late 18th century, primarily because of combustion of fossil fuels, the World Meteorological Organization bulletin said.
A report presented by a U.N. expert panel said last week that average temperatures have risen 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 100 years, and that 11 of the last 12 years have been among the warmest since 1850. Global Warming also led to a sea level increase by an average seven-hundredths of an inch per year since 1961, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The panel’s report, which said human activity is largely responsible for global warming, noted that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is far higher than the natural range over the last 650,000 years.
The World Meteorological Organization also concluded that "Greenhouse gases are major drivers of global warming and climate change."
The World Meteorological Organization said it based its findings on readings from 44 countries.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast that by 2020, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages, residents of Asia’s large cities will be at great risk of river and coastal flooding, Europeans can expect extensive species loss, and North Americans will experience longer and hotter heat waves and greater competition for water.
3.2. UNFCCC: Emissions of industrialized countries rose to all time high in 2005
20 November 2007, UNFCCC media feed
According to data submitted to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the total greenhouse gas emissions of 40 industrialized countries rose to an all-time high in 2005, continuing the upward trend of the year before.
The increases in emissions came from both the continued growth in highly industrialized countries and the revived economic growth in former East bloc nations. At the sectoral level, emissions from the transport sector grew at the highest rate.
Taken together, the countries that signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol are projected to achieve reductions on the order of 11 per cent for the first Kyoto commitment period, from 2008 to 2012, provided policies and measures adopted by these countries deliver the reductions as projected. The Kyoto Protocol commits industrialized countries to a 5 per cent reduction target in 2008-2012 compared to 1990 levels.
But whilst the European Union as a whole is projected to achieve its objective making use of the Kyoto mechanisms such as emissions trading, other Kyoto Parties are projected to see an upward trend in emissions.
»For the totality of Kyoto signatory countries, reductions of 15 per cent are feasible should additional policies be planned and implemented« said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. »But we should not hide the fact that there is continuing greenhouse gas emissions growth on the part of several countries and that they must do more to reign in their emissions.«
To assist Parties in their efforts, the UN Climate Change Secretariat has put in place comprehensive review processes for emissions data and policy-related information, and also established technical infrastructure for emissions trading.
»What is positive is that Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have been taking their commitments very seriously in as much they have been putting in place policies and infrastructure to support Kyoto implementation, including registries for emissions accounting and national systems for the assessment of emission levels« said Mr. de Boer.
»International carbon trading can be taken to a higher level next year,« he added.
Many countries are preparing to make active use of the Kyoto Protocol’s ‘flexible mechanisms’ to reach their goal, which allow industrialized countries to meet their emission reduction obligations in a cost-effective manner. The flexibility mechanisms of the Protocol are emissions trading, the clean development mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation (JI).
These mechanisms allow industrialized countries to purchase emission reductions abroad at lower cost than reducing emissions at home, thereby supplementing domestic emission reduction efforts.
The Kyoto Protocol has spawned international emissions trading worth 30 billion dollars in 2006, with the bulk of emissions trading taking place within the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS). The EU ETS will be linked to trading under the Kyoto Protocol next year. The Protocol’ s CDM is already enjoying rapid growth.
The UN Climate Change Secretariat presented the emissions data and projections about two weeks ahead the United Nations Climate Conference in Bali, at which negotiations on a post-2012 climate change deal are expected to be launched.
»A future, ambitious UN climate change regime needs to continue and expand the central elements of the Kyoto Protocol, whilst making use of other policy tools, such as carbon taxes and other effective policy packages,« said Mr. de Boer.
»Only then can we ensure that the type of sweeping emission reductions that science tells us are needed are brought about and that the billions of dollars needed for measures to adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change are generated,« the UN’s top climate change official added.
Documentation regarding greenhouse gas emissions projections and data, including fact sheets, is available at www.unfccc.int.
4.1. Natural disasters, disaster management and climate change in Alpine regions
29 – 30 November 2007 in Salzburg, Austria
4.2. United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 13 and CMP 3)
3-11 December 2007, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.
More info: http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php.
5.1. Compensating for Climate Change: Principles and Lessons for Equitable Adaptation Funding
The report by ActionAid. The report can be downloaded at: http://www.actionaidusa.org/pdf/CompensatingforClimateChange.pdf.
5.2. The AR4 Synthesis Report
Summary for Policymakers of the AR4 Synthesis Report can be downloaded at: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf.
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