1.1. The message from the UN: We can combat climate change
27 September 2007 , International Herald Tribune
One day, we learn that the ice might be gone from Arctic sea by 2050.
The next, we hear that world governments met in Montreal to accelerate a deadline for phasing out the ozone-depleting chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons – a milestone in combating global warming.
One day, we learn how cyclones are forming ever further north in the Indian Ocean, affecting the Seychelles for the first time in half a century, and that the island of Grenada, all but destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, was long deemed by Lloyds of London to lie outside the Caribbean hurricane belt. The next, world leaders in New York pledge their best efforts to tackle the problem that most agree has become a "defining issue of our era."’
These are the two faces of climate change – worsening cases of extreme weather on the one hand, accompanied by scientific evidence that humankind is the cause; on the other, clear signs that the world has awakened to the scale of the problem and, at long last, has decided to do something about it.
This is the message from the recent high-level meeting on climate change at the United Nations. The idea was to spur conversation, to get global policy-makers together to make common cause in finding solutions to a common problem. In this, we succeeded beyond our expectations. Certain words ran like a thread through our discussions: "urgency," "action," "now."
It was the largest such meeting ever held, with more than 80 heads of state. And I sensed something remarkable happening, something transformative – a sea-change, whereby leaders showed themselves willing to put aside blame for the past and to pose to themselves more forward-looking questions.
Where do we go from here? What can we do, together, in the future? President Michelle Bachelet of Chile put it bluntly, likening our fragile planet to an island in the universe: "We can destroy it, or save it."
There was no shortage of bad news. Fishermen in Mauritius blamed warmer weather for driving tuna into deeper waters, diminishing their catch and making it harder to earn a living. Unusually severe El Niño weather cost Peru 4.5 percent of its GDP last year.
We heard how melting glaciers in South Asia will mean severe shortages of water for half a billion people, and how much of northern China may become desert. Micronesia ‘s delegate worried openly about his country sinking beneath the rising seas. "How do we explain to our people, to future generations, that we have nothing for them," he asked, meaning it literally.
But there was good news, too. Brazil said it had reduced deforestation in the Amazon basin by 50 percent. India is devoting 2 percent of GDP annually to flood-control and food-security programs, as well as mandating tough energy efficiency standards. We heard how California , the cradle for generations of technological revolutions, is mobilizing both politically and entrepreneurially to fight climate change.
All this sets the stage for an advance at the December climate change summit in Bali . We need a breakthrough – an agreement to launch negotiations for a comprehensive climate change deal that all nations can embrace. It will be difficult but I am optimistic. We are in a different place, today, than yesterday.
At our UN meeting, the international community made a clear commitment to change. Governments will pursue their own solutions – from mandatory emissions controls to market mechanisms like carbon-trading to new fuel efficiency technologies and conservation.
This is as it should be; there are many paths to Rome . The important thing is that all agree: National policies should be coordinated within the United Nations, so that our work together is complementary and mutually reinforcing.
No less important is the shared sense of urgency. Henceforth, climate change will no longer be a primarily environmental concern. It has become a matter every government on earth. This represents a turning point, with enormous implications.
As a political issue, climate change becomes closely linked to economic development. The World Bank and UNDP will begin to explore ways of financing energy efficiency and anti-pollution programs in developing countries. We spoke of an Adaptation Fund that supplements international aid with money for climate change projects that benefit the whole world, not merely the countries that initiate them.
Trade and technology transfer incentives will be part of the equation. Wealthy nations must help provide incentives to poorer ones to take steps that help us all.
The lesson from Montreal and New York , one environmental expert noted, is that "curbing climate change may not be as hard as it looks."’ With political will, he suggested, comes results. Our job is to translate the spirit of New York into deeds in Bali .
1.2. Europeans angry after Bush climate speech ‘charade’
29 September 2007 , The Guardian
George Bush was castigated by European diplomats and found himself isolated yesterday after a special conference on climate change ended without any progress.
European ministers, diplomats and officials attending the Washington conference were scathing, particularly in private, over Mr Bush’s failure once again to commit to binding action on climate change.
Although the US and Britain have been at odds over the environment since the early days of the Bush administration, the gap has never been as wide as yesterday.
Britain and almost all other European countries, including Germany and France , want mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. Mr Bush, while talking yesterday about a "new approach" and "a historic undertaking", remains totally opposed.
The conference, attended by more than 20 countries, including China , India , Britain , France and Germany , broke up with the US isolated, according to non-Americans attending. One of those present said even China and India , two of the biggest polluters, accepted that the voluntary approach proposed by the US was untenable and favoured binding measures, even though they disagreed with the Europeans over how this would be achieved.
A senior European diplomat attending the conference, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting confirmed European suspicions that it had been intended by Mr Bush as a spoiler for a major UN conference on climate change in Bali in December.
"It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade," the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure."
John Ashton, Britain ‘s special envoy on climate change, who attended the conference, said: "It is striking here how isolated the US has become on this issue. There is no support among the industrialised countries for the proposition that we should proceed on the basis of voluntary commitments.
"The most inspiring example of leadership this week was the speech on Monday at the UN by Arnold Schwarzenegger."
The governor of California is already putting into action in the state policies to reduce carbon emissions.
Other European governments expressed similar sentiments.
Although many of those attending had predicted the conference would break up without significant agreement, there had been hopes that Mr Bush, in search of a legacy, might produce a surprise. Instead, he stuck to his previous position, shunning mandatory caps in favour of clean coal, nuclear power and developing clean energy technology.
In contrast with the early years of his presidency when he expressed scepticism about climate change and whether humans were responsible, Mr Bush acknowledged yesterday "energy security and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously."
He added: "Our guiding principle is clear: we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity."
Instead of mandatory caps, he emphasised a need to shift to clean coal, nuclear energy and new clean technology. He also proposed a new international technology fund but did not say how much the US would put into it. He reiterated a need for Americans to shift from oil to ethanol for their cars. "We’re working to develop next-generation plug-in hybrids that will be able to travel nearly 40 miles without using a drop of gasoline. And your automobile doesn’t have to look like a golf cart," he said.
Elizabeth Bast, of Friends of the Earth, described the conference as a diversion. "We have heard it before. He put a huge emphasis on technology and does not speak to binding targets, and there is a great emphasis on coal and nuclear energy," she said.
Many US states have embarked on their own programmes, with California leading the way. The governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has signed a law requiring a 25% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, with penalties for industries that do not comply. California ‘s three biggest utilities must produce at least 20% of their electricity using renewable sources by 2010.
1.3. Bush struggles to stay relevant in climate debate
30 September 2007 , Reuters
U.S. President George W. Bush, hosting major polluting nations last week, sought to convince skeptics that he wants to help shape the next global deal on climate change, despite his long history of shunning such efforts.
But with only 15 months left in office, his chances of becoming a major player in the debate over climate change are diminishing quickly, analysts and diplomats said.
They added that his resistance to the kind of mandatory emissions limits sought by many allies in Europe and Japan may further weaken his influence as negotiations intensify over a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. That treaty, which Bush rejected, expires in 2012.
Bush told a gathering of envoys from the 17 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases that he took global warming seriously and that the United States would do its part to combat it.
His acknowledgment of a problem highlighted a shift from his previous questioning of the science linking human activity to rising temperatures.
But Bush found himself at odds with many of the invited delegates as he tried to rally support for voluntary measures and declined to embrace the binding targets many believe are essential to tackling global warming.
"I think there was a lot of hope that the United States would show some movement," said Alex Lennon, a national security analyst and climate specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Now, Lennon said, "a lot of countries are already looking past this administration."
A European participant in the two-day climate session echoed that sentiment. "I know that with this administration we will not reach any results because the time is too short," the visiting official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In another indication that Bush has failed to shed his status as an outsider in climate talks, he skipped a high-profile meeting on the subject at the United Nations a few days before the Washington session. He did attend a U.N. working dinner on climate, however.
When Bush first proposed convening a series of meetings of major emitters in May, many worried it was an attempt to undermine the U.N. negotiations on climate.
The countries attending the Washington session together account for 80 percent of the global economy and 80 percent of global emissions. They include large European countries such as Britain and Germany as well as fast-growing developing countries like China , India and Brazil .
"The mere fact that this meeting took place is a sign that the administration has changed its tune," said Charles Kupchan, professor of international relations at Georgetown University .
Still, Kupchan added, "The agenda he laid out for addressing the problem falls well short of what many industrialized countries — particularly the Europeans — would like to see."
Bush tried to overcome some of the skepticism about the gathering by emphasizing that he hoped it would help build momentum for the U.N. talks. The next set of U.N. negotiations are to take place in December in Bali .
Just one month before that, Bush will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his ranch in November and is sure to find himself in the familiar role of facing pressure to support tougher climate steps.
But the message Merkel brings may be aimed as much at the American public as at Bush himself.
In the years since Bush rejected the 1997 Kyoto treaty, the debate within the United States has shifted toward growing concern about global warming.
The Democratic-led Congress is considering several bills that would set mandatory emissions limits. Prominent corporations like General Electric and DuPont are calling for strong action on global warming, as are some Republican politicians such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
That has led many to many to believe that the president who succeeds Bush in early 2009 is almost certain to be more sympathetic to a tougher approach on climate change.
"I don’t think that anyone believes that the next president — whether Republican or Democrat — will follow Bush’s lead on climate," said Nicholas Eisenberger of Green Order, a New York consulting firm that advises companies on climate issues.
"The question for President Bush is whether he has anything relevant left to say," Eisenberger said. "If he does not, the world will just move on without him."
1.4. Commission proposes a global alliance to help developing countries most affected by climate change
18 September 2007
The European Commission is proposing to build a new alliance on climate change between the European Union and the poor developing countries that are most affected and that have the least capacity to deal with climate change. Through this Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), the EU and these countries will work jointly to integrate climate change into poverty reduction strategies. The EU will provide substantial resources to address climate change in these countries. Measures will include better preparedness for natural disasters which are expected to become more frequent and intense through global warming. The GCCA renews the commitment of the EU Action Plan on Climate Change and Development to systematically integrate climate change into development cooperation.
Developing countries will be the hardest hit by the effects of climate change and therefore need our help to mitigate climate change and to adapt to the changes already occuring. New technology is only one way of developing towards a sustainable society without hampering development and quality of life. This communication, presented by Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel in association with Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, aims to provide for a broader range of actions through dialogue and exchange as well as practical cooperation between EU and the developing countries.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that most regions in the world, and especially those in the developing world, will be increasingly affected by climate change. Poor developing countries, and in particular the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will be among the countries hit earliest and hardest.
The EU has a leadership role in promoting international action to tackle climate change. The Spring Council 2007 put forward concrete proposals for a post-2012 international climate change agreement, and committed to significant cuts in the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Global Climate Change Alliance will be an important pillar of the EU’s external action on climate change, reaching out to the countries least responsible for, but most affected by global warming.
Assistance provided under the Global Climate Change Alliance is proposed to focus on five areas: implementing concrete adaptation measures; reducing emissions from deforestation; helping poor countries take advantage from the global carbon market; helping poor countries to be better prepared for natural disasters, and integrating climate change into development cooperation and poverty reduction strategies. As Climate change affects many sectors, it needs to be integrated into poverty reduction efforts in order to ensure sustainability. Systematic climate risk assessment and mainstreaming of climate change into development strategies and programmes (“climate proofing”) are imperative in this regard.
The Commission already earmarked €50 million to the GCCA over the period 2008-10. But substantially more resources are needed to provide a response that adequately responds to the needs. Therefore an appeal is made to the EU Member States to dedicate part of their agreed commitments to increase Official Development Assistance over the coming years to the cause of coping with climate change in the most vulnerable countries.
The first occasion to discuss the Alliance with developing country partners will be the European Development Days held in Lisbon from 7th to 9th November and focusing on climate change and development.
Over the past years the link between climate change and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events became amply clear. Seven of the ten deadliest disasters of the last 20 years have occurred between 2000 and 2006. Only since July 2007, the European Commission has provided €24.5 million to the victims of natural disasters in Colombia , Caribbean , Peru , Kenya , India , Bangladesh , Nepal , North Korea and the Sudan . The Global Climate Change Alliance aims to assist the most vulnerable countries in the prevention of and their preparedness for natural disasters.
1.5. Poor nations suffer most in climate change deal
Business Daily Africa , 1 October 2007
Last week, members of the United Nations gathered in New York for a special meeting on climate change. They were invited, if not urged, by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to reach real answers to climate change.
Whether momentum is needed is no longer in question. Early in 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body connecting over 2,500 scientists from all over the world, announced that climate change is irrefutable.
The fact that climate change is man made, as the IPCC stated in its report, is a certainty of 90 per cent. Some may say that a 90 per cent certainty is still a far cry from 100 per cent.
They’d be reminded that the odds of dying in a car crash are significantly lower, yet most if not all countries have made it legally mandatory to wear seat belts when driving a car.
Let’s be honest; if there was a +10 per cent chance of your house burning down, would you let your children sleep there? The cruel truth is that those who will suffer most from climate change are those who have done the least to cause it. Poor countries suffer most and foremost, and are already suffering.
The poor depend most directly on natural resources so, without environmental sustainability, many will get even poorer and pushed further into hunger and poverty. There really is no way to address poverty without addressing climate change.
Already pastoralists in Eastern Africa are facing the consequences. According to Christian Aid, the wealthiest pastoralists are now living in the same way as the poorest. They have nothing to share between them – no milk and no cows.
But the reverse holds true as well: we cannot address climate change without addressing poverty. Many technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions are high tech, expensive solutions.
The same goes for devices that are more energy efficient. So not only should the biggest polluters make the biggest efforts to cut emissions drastically, they must also provide sufficient financing for poor countries to adapt to climate change as well as develop renewable energy technologies that provide for those countries’ development needs, and allow them to leapfrog the dirty development path that high income countries have taken.
Still, it would be too easy and too irresponsible to let newly developing countries off the hook entirely. While they may not be the historical polluters, they do have the knowledge and some cheaper technical means to make different choices compared with the choices made for instance in the US in the 80s.
ENERGY AND EMISSIONS
2.1. EU outlines plans to open energy market
20 September 2007 , The Independent
The European Commission has unveiled radical plans to break up Europe’s energy giants to open the gas and electricity markets to greater competition while also placing strict curbs on foreign ownership of power assets across the Continent to secure supply.
The continental energy giants E.ON and Électricité de France will come under pressure to separate structurally or sell off their transmission networks from power-generating facilities if the European Parliament votes in favour of the proposals.
The commission said if Europe ‘s power giants refuse to sell their networks, they will be forced to hive off those operations into an independent company under different management, a system similar to that used to separate BT’s network from its retail operations in the UK telecoms market to stimulate competition.
The situation was welcomed by Centrica, which trades under the British Gas brand, that was itself split off from its transmission network in the 1990s. Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica, said: "The proposals are welcome and are an important step in providing more competitive energy markets for the benefit of Europe ‘s energy customers." He described the European energy market as a "closed shop" and said the proposals would deliver better supply security but added that regulation of the independent service operators in charge of the networks would have to be "watertight".
John Mogg, the chairman of the UK regulator Ofgem, said the proposals, if enacted effectively, would put downward pressure on energy prices.
The commission has also proposed limitations on foreign ownership of European power assets, a move likely to antagonise Russian energy giants looking to snap up smaller rivals. Alexander Shokhin, the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said: "Such limits … could lead to serious damage for Russian companies that have long-term contracts with European consumers."
2.2. European Parliament votes for renewable heat obligations
25 September 2007
Today, the European Parliament approved by overwhelming majority the »Thomsen Report« on the Roadmap for Renewable Energies in Europe . Crucial for the future of solar thermal: the call for the adoption in all Member States of renewable heat obligations, at least in new buildings and those undergoing major renovation.
The Thomsen report is the first comprehensive statement of the European Parliament after the EU’s Heads of State agreed in the spring Council on a 20% binding target for renewable energies by 2020. Today’s vote paves the way for the position of the Parliament on the upcoming proposal of the Commission for a Directive on Renewable Energies, due to adopt measures able to lead Europe towards reaching this target.
Until now, solar thermal was not covered by EU legislation. EU Directives are in force to promote renewables in the electricity and in the transport sector, but heating and cooling had so far been neglected. As this changed in the last years, it is now certain that the new Directive will also promote renewable heating sources.
With today’s vote the European Parliament asks the European Commission to ensure that ‘any proposal for a framework directive for renewables contains strong measures for the promotion of renewable heating and cooling’. Among them, the Parliament »calls on the Commission to speed up the widespread adoption in all Member States of best practice regulations making it compulsory, at least where existing buildings are substantially renovated and new buildings are built, for a minimum proportion of the heating requirement to be met from renewable sources, as it already is in a growing number of regions and municipalities«.
ESTIF Policy Director, Raffaele Piria, stated: »We warmly welcome this clear statement of the European Parliament. New buildings will last at least into the second half of the 21st century, when oil, gas and uranium will be very scarce and expensive. As the market alone does not deliver incentives to keep into account future conditions, we need solar obligations. We have now to work to convine the Council, i.e the national governments to support them«.
Last week, ESTIF published a comprehensive overview on the existing experience with solar obligations, including guidelines for best practice policies.
2.3. Commission allows market distortion in favour of nuclear
26 September 2007 , Greenpeace
The European Commission decided today to close the investigation prompted by two separate complaints by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Federation (EREF) which alleged that the construction of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor in Finland had received illegal state aid through a guarantee of the French Government.
In the complaint, information had been submitted indicating that the guarantee premium paid to the French Government was below market price.
"Given the information that we submitted to the Commission, we are still convinced that this is a clear-cut case of illegal state aid. It would appear that Commissioner Kroes has today decided to turn a blind eye on member states such as France that do not hesitate to break the law in order to defend the interests of the nuclear industry. We are now waiting to see the full justification and research behind the Commission´s ruling in order to decide on our next steps," said Jan Haverkamp, EU energy policy campaigner for Greenpeace.
According to Greenpeace, state aid such as the one granted by France gives the nuclear industry an unfair advantage within the electricity market, discouraging investments in real climate-friendly solutions such as renewable energy sources.
2.4. Biofuels could boost global warming, finds study
21 September 2007
Growing and burning many biofuels may actually raise rather than lower greenhouse gas emissions, a new study led by Nobel prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen has shown. The findings come in the wake of a recent OECD report, which warned nations not to rush headlong into growing energy crops because they cause food shortages and damage biodiversity.
Crutzen and colleagues have calculated that growing some of the most commonly used biofuel crops releases around twice the amount of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) than previously thought – wiping out any benefits from not using fossil fuels and, worse, probably contributing to global warming. The work appears in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and is currently subject to open review.
‘The significance of it is that the supposed benefits of biofuel are even more disputable than had been thought hitherto,’ Keith Smith, a co-author on the paper from the University of Edinburgh , told Chemistry World. ‘What we are saying is that [growing many biofuels] is probably of no benefit and in fact is actually making the climate issue worse.’
"What we are saying is that growing biofuels is probably of no benefit and in fact is actually making the climate issue worse" – Keith Smith
Crutzen, famous for his work on nitrogen oxides and the ozone layer, declined to comment before the paper is officially published. But the paper suggests that microbes convert much more of the nitrogen in fertiliser to N2O than previously thought – 3 to 5 per cent or twice the widely accepted figure of 2 per cent used by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
For rapeseed biodiesel, which accounts for about 80 per cent of the biofuel production in Europe , the relative warming due to N2O emissions is estimated at 1 to 1.7 times larger than the quasi-cooling effect due to saved fossil CO2 emissions. For corn bioethanol, dominant in the US , the figure is 0.9 to 1.5. Only cane sugar bioethanol – with a relative warming of 0.5 to 0.9 – looks like a viable alternative to conventional fuels.
Some previous estimates had suggested that biofuels could cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 per cent.
The IPCC’s N2O conversion factor is derived using data from plant experiments. But Crutzen takes a different approach, using atmospheric measurements and ice core data to calculate the total amount of N2O in the atmosphere. He then subtracts the level of N2O in pre-industrial times – before fertilizers were available – to take account of N2O from natural processes such as leguminous plants growing in forests, lightning, and burn offs.
Assuming the rest of the N2O is attributable to newly-fixed nitrogen from fertilizer use, and knowing the amount of fertilizer applied globally, he can calculate thecontribution of fertilizers to N2O levels.
The results may well trigger a rethink by the IPCC, says Smith. ‘Should we go along the road of adding up the experimental evidence for each of the processes or are we better off using the global numbers?’
But other experts are critical of Crutzen’s approach. Simon Donner, a nitrogen researcher based at Princeton University , US , says the method is elegant but there is little evidence to show the N2O yield from fertilized plants is really as high as 3-5 per cent. Crutzen’s basic assumption, that pre-industrial N2O emissions are the same as natural N2O emissions, is ‘probably wrong’, says Donner.
One reason he gives is that farmers plant crops in places that have nitrogen rich soils anyway. ‘It is possible we are indirectly increasing the "natural" source of N2O by drawing down the soil nitrogen in the world’s agricultural regions,’ he explains.
Others dispute the values chosen by Crutzen to calculate his budget. Stefan Rauh, an agricultural scientist at the Instituteof Agricultural Economics and Farm Management in Munich , Germany , says some of the rates for converting crops into biofuel should be higher. ‘If you use the other factors you get a little net climate cooling,’ he said.
Meanwhile, a report prepared by the OECD for a recent Round Table on Sustainable Development questions the benefits of first generation biofuels and concludes that governments should scrap mandatory targets.
Richard Doornbosch, the report’s author, says both the report and Crutzen’s work highlights the importance of establishing correct full life-cycle assessments for biofuels. ‘Without them, government policies can’t distinguish between one biofuel and another – risking making problems worse,’ said Doornbosch.
2.5. Korea Aims for 9% Renewable Energy by 2030
1 October 2007 , http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200710/200710010003.html
Korea plans to boost its usage of renewable energy to 9 percent of its total energy use by 2030.
The comments were made by Foreign Minister Song Mins-oon at a climate change conference in Washington , D.C.
At present renewable forms of energy account for only 2 percent of Korea ‘s total energy use.
The country is not required to meet stringent greenhouse gas emission regulations under the Kyoto Protocol since it was considered a developing country when the treaty was signed in 1997.
But when that protocol expires in 2012, Korea is expected to face stringent requirements, raising the need to boost the use of greener forms of energy.
2.6. Greenpeace highlights 50years of nuclear disaster in Mayak , Russia
28 September, 2007
Activists demand governments stop sending nuclear waste to Russia .
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the world’s second largest radiation accident, at Mayak in the Southern Urals , Greenpeace Russia has released a special report about the ongoing impacts of the Mayak tragedy. On the anniversary itself, Greenpeace will join local people in a protest rally in the nearby city of Chelyabinsk , to call for the relocation of those still living in contaminated areas and an end to Russia ’s plans to import and reprocess even more foreign nuclear waste at the Mayak site.
The explosion in September 1957 exposed 272,000 people to significant radiation. Half a century later, Mayak is one of the most radioactive places on earth, and the accident continues to have a devastating legacy. Many thousands of people have never been evacuated from contaminated areas. In surrounding towns and villages people have cancer rates more than double the Russian average. Yet, rather than learning the lessons of the tragedy, the Russian government has passed legislation to import spent nuclear fuel from other countries to Mayak that would then permanently stay at the plant.
“Although the explosion was the worst, it was one of many accidents at the Mayak plant, where disasters have included radioactive waste being poured straight into the Techa River , which is actively used as source of water by thousands of people,” said Vladimir Tchouprov of Greenpeace Russia . “None of the countries shipping their dirty nuclear waste to Russia would allow Mayak to continue operating on their own land.
“Countries considering sending their radioactive waste to Russia are abdicating responsibility for their nuclear activities by dumping it somewhere else. They may like to think that once it’s out of their sight they’ve got rid of the problem, but nothing could be further from the truth. The people who will suffer its devastating effects are right here, the same victims that have suffered the effects of radiation disaster for the last 50 years.”
The foreign fuel processed in Mayak so far has led to some three million cubic metres of radioactive liquid being dumped and released into the environment. Mayak has reprocessed over 1,540 tons of spent nuclear fuel from several countries including Hungary , Bulgaria , Germany , Finland and the Czech Republic . Russian authorities now hope to negotiate future reprocessing contracts with Switzerland , Spain , South Korea , Slovenia , Italy , Belgium , and Slovakia .
“With its 50 year contamination legacy, Mayak is a horrific example of the true face of the global nuclear industry,” said Jan Beranek, Greenpeace International Nuclear Energy Project Leader. “The world must learn the lessons of Mayak, and the anniversary must serve as a wake up call to the world about the real costs of nuclear power. Nuclear power undermines the solutions to climate change, by diverting resources away from the massive investment in renewable technologies and energy efficiency the world urgently needs to tackle the climate crisis.”
2.7. Glut of European Carbon Permits Likely – Report
26 September 2007 , PlanetArk
The European carbon market will probably see a continued over-supply of emissions permits through 2008-12, damaging the credibility of the climate change policy, energy consultants Wood Mackenzie said on Tuesday.
Carbon markets are meant to drive cuts in greenhouse gases blamed for global warming by ensuring a shortage when issuing emissions permits for heavy industry.
But the European emissions trading scheme (ETS) allows affected businesses to buy additional permits, or carbon offsets, from developing countries outside the scheme.
The problem is that this extra supply of offsets will easily exceed the shortage of carbon emissions permits within Europe , making it cheap for European firms to avoid cutting their own emissions at all, according to Wood Mackenzie.
"Companies subject to emissions limits under the EU ETS, and the European Commission itself, appear to be winners. The only loser seems to be the environment," it said in a report "EU ETS Phase II: A Fundamental Assessment".
"Our analysis shows that the European Commission is likely being too lenient in the allowance of (offset) imports."
The first phase of the European trading scheme from 2005-07 has now been relegated to the status of an experiment, after it emerged that businesses obtained, for free, more emissions permits than their actual carbon emissions.
A repeat of the resulting carbon price crash will not happen in the second phase from 2008-12, simply because this time permits will be valid in future trading cycles from 2013, meaning they will preserve some residual value.
"That (price crash) won’t happen this time because of the uncertainty in phase 3," said lead author Paul McConnell, who added that he expected the European carbon price to stabilise at the price of offsets, currently worth some 17 euros (US$23.93) per tonne of carbon dioxide.
Over the five years of the second phase of the European scheme Wood Mackenzie estimated a shortage of EU emissions permits equivalent to some 563 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Using some conservative estimates of carbon offset supply, however, the consultants estimated that developing countries could deliver some 768 million tonnes of permits into the European scheme over the same period.
That implied a comfortable surplus of carbon emissions permits in the European scheme, even after taking into account a European limit on the import of cheap offsets.
2.8. Analysis – Carbon price is poor weapon against climate change
September 24 2007 , Reuters
The battle to beat climate change has come down to one weapon — the price of carbon. And analysts say it is not working.
Much lip service has been paid to cutting climate warming carbon emissions through measures such as improved energy efficiency, technological innovation, reduced demand, higher standards and carbon output restrictions.
But in most cases the vital incentive is supposed to be provided by achieving a high price for carbon, from which all else would follow. Neither has happened and time is running out.
"The policy instrument of choice pretty well everywhere is a price for carbon, and it is not going to work," said Tom Burke of environment lobby group E3G.
"To stop climate change moving from a bad problem getting worse to a worse problem becoming catastrophic, you have to make the global energy system carbon neutral by 2050 — and that will not happen just using carbon pricing."
Burke said what was urgently needed were strict technical standards and investment incentives to achieve the transition.
"You have got to drive the carbon out of the energy system and then keep it out forever," he said. "In the first part of that you are making serious step changes. They are not going to be accomplished by marginal changes in price."
The European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme got off to a shaky start due to over-allocation of permits, but has now established a price of about 20 euros a tonne of carbon dioxide.
There is also the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol on cutting global carbon emissions, under which developing nations effectively get paid for emissions foregone.
Very poor weapon
Together, these two have generated a global carbon trade worth billions of dollars and handed vast profits to some key players, but had little measurable effect on carbon emissions.
"Governments are relying way too much on the price of carbon to deliver everything," said Jim Watson of Sussex University ‘s Energy Group.
"It is a prerequisite but not a panacea. It has to go hand in hand with regulations and technological developments, and they are sadly lacking," he said.
"If you rely too much on the carbon price you give people the option of buying their way out of it. It is a very poor weapon in what is supposed to be a war to save humanity.
"The oil price shocks of the 1970s didn’t wean us off oil, so why should we believe that a high carbon price will wean us off carbon," he added.
The United States appears finally to have bought into the climate change argument having spent years rejecting the idea of man-made global warming, and is hosting a meeting of major emitting nations later this week.
The United Nations is also holding a climate summit on Monday, ahead of a crucial meeting in December on the Indonesian island of Bali of UN environment ministers that is supposed to kick start talks on a new global climate treaty.
But there is no consensus on what needs to be done or how to achieve it.
While some countries want targets and timetables for emissions cuts, to others like the United States the idea is abhorrent.
The trouble is that Kyoto — rejected by the U.S. and non-binding on booming emitters China and India — runs out in 2012 and there is as yet nothing to replace it.
The EU has said its emissions trading scheme will carry on beyond 2012 in any case, but that is cold comfort for environmentalists who see the need for urgent and effective action beyond trying to trade their way out of trouble.
"The price of carbon has had virtually no effect on the market so far and virtually no effect on climate change," said Oxford University economics professor Dieter Helm.
"People like me who think the price of carbon is important don’t think it is the only thing that matters. There must be more focus on energy efficiency, more research and development and more renewable energy.
"The truth is that Europe has performed less well on carbon dioxide since the late 1990s than the United States — and Europe is inside Kyoto and has an emissions trading scheme," he said.
To E3G’s Burke the problem is less one of technical availability and ability than of political courage.
"It is well within our technical competence. What you need is the political will," he said. "The trouble is that there are a lot of people out there making a lot of money out of carbon trading and who want to perfect the market rather than press for the changes that are actually needed."
3.1. European Sustainable Energy Seminar and Tour
1 – 5 October 2007 in Samsø , Denmark
More info: http://www.inforse.org/europe/seminar07_samso.htm.
3.2. European Meeting Point: Energy for Development 2007
10 – 12 October 2007 in Beja/Alentejo, Portugal
More info: http://www.energyanddevelopment-2007.net.
3.3. Climate Change at the EU REGIONS Open Days
8 – 11 October 2007 , Brusels
Registration for the event is possible through: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/od2007/index.cfm.
3.4. CDM 2.0: what post-2012 mechanisms do we need
15 October 12007 in Brussels
CAN workshop will be hosted on the same issue on the 16 October 2007 .
Registrations at http://www.hivos.nl/cdm/.
3.5. Future Climate Change Policy: Looking beyond 2012
Budapest , 16 October, 2007
For the Conference programme, please refer to Ecologic’s website at http://www.ecologic-events.de/climate2012/Budapest/programme-day2.htm.
The registration form is available for download at the following website: http://www.ecologic-events.de/climate2012/Budapest/registration_day2.htm. Please copy/paste the link in order to assure access.
3.6. 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.
3.7. 3rd Annual European Energy Policy Conference 2007
21 – 22 November 2007 in Brussels .
More info: www.euenergypolicy.com.
3.8. European Conference – "Towards a Post-Carbon Society"
Brussels , 24 October 2007
The registration is necessary before the 8 October 2007 at the following web site address: http://postcarbonsociety.teamwork.fr/.
3.9. 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.
4.1. The right to development in a carbon constrained world
The first full description of “Greenhouse Development Rights” policy framework. Downloads at www.ecoequity.org/docs/TheGDRsFramework.pdf, or www.ecoequity.org/docs/TheGDRsFramework_highres.pdf.
5.1. New FoE web page: www.transportactioneurope.org
Take action by emailing your MEPs!
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