Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Energy in EU

Third-option on energy liberasation

The Commission and the Portuguese Presidency have asked EU countries opposed to proposals on 'ownership unbundling' in the electricity and gas sector to come up with detailed alternatives, as energy ministers prepare for a potentially tense meeting on 3 December.


In proposals unveiled on 19 September, the Commission left member states with two options to complete the liberalisation of the EU gas and electricity sector:



  • Forcing big energy firms to sell off their power transmission and gas storage assets in order to keep these activities fully separate from energy production ('Ownership unbundling'); or;

  • allowing firms to maintain ownership of their transmission assets but leave their management to an Independent System Operator (ISO) responsible for taking investment and commercial decisions.

The Commission has already made it clear that 'ownership unbundling' is its preferred option, saying such a drastic measure is necessary to guarantee non-discriminatory access to energy grids for smaller firms wishing to compete in markets dominated by vertically integrated energy giants, such as EDF in France and E.ON in Germany.
It conceded that the ISO option was a fallback but that it would essentially achieve similar results by imposing tougher regulation.


The Portuguese Presidency has prepared a progress report for the Energy Council next week, outlining member states' views on Commission proposals to further liberalise energy markets.
The report confirms a widespread opinion among member states whose energy sectors are not yet fully liberalised that the Commission's proposals are not satisfactory because they would interfere with the property rights of large integrated energy firms.
The group – led by France and Germany and which also includes Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovakia - argues that neither of the Commission's two options is attractive enough to garner their support.
"The Commission has to agree to review its position".
Economic ministers from the nine reluctant countries had already sent a joint letter to the Commission on 30 July, saying that "the idea of the complete separation of production and distribution as the only key to the development of the internal energy market for electricity and gas should be avoided."
Chief among the supporters of unbundling are the UK and the Netherlands. They are supported by Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Romania and Sweden. Still undecided are Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lituania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic and Slovenia, the upcoming holder of the EU presidency.
A third option, called "regulated unbundling", was already presented at the March European Summit in Brussels. The system would involve an independent regulator setting prices for access to energy grids and reviewing investment decisions.
option.source:EuroAktiv


My comment: Personally, I don't understand the idea of the liberasation. I mean, it's great to kill the cartels, but still, isn't it kind of weird to make a company that has excelled in one field to have to break on two, or sell part of its business? For me, it is. So I hope they'll come up with something better.


Nuclear energy forum launched in Bratislava


The European nuclear energy forum (ENEF) was launched this week, offering a platform for politicians, industry groups and citizens' organisations to debate the risks and opportunities of atomic power.

The idea of establishing ENEF was proposed jointly by Slovakia and the Czech Republic and endorsed by heads of state and governments at an EU Summit in March 2007. The forum is scheduled to meet twice a year, in Prague and Bratislava.
The European Commission has recently multiplied positive statements about nuclear, with President Barroso recently calling for a "full and frank" debate on the issue as part of EU commitments to reduce CO2 emissions (EurActiv 3/10/07).
But atomic power remains extremely controversial in countries such as Austria and Germany, where a large part of the population is fiercely opposed to the technology.

According to its initiators, the forum is aimed at fostering an open debate about nuclear power in light of current energy challenges – increasing dependency on third countries, insufficient volume of production capacities, as well as European goals for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Among the participants were national politicians, members of the European Parliament, electricity firms, nuclear industry groups, consumers and civil society organisations who discussed possible options for nuclear energy as well as safety issues, especially non-proliferation.
But critical voices were heard as well from environmental NGOs and politicians from the Green Party, who pointed out that nuclear power is unviable without large-scale state subsidies.
source:EuroAktiv


My comment: As a physicist, I still think that appart from some little miseries as mining for uranium and nuclear waste that are still not solved, nuclear energy for the moment is the most efficient, clean and cheap. Even more, I don't think it will be better for the environment if biofuels replace nuclear energy. If they replace fossils-yes, but not nuclear plants. Biofuels are just not that good on the big scale.


EU industry warns about carbon trading and renewables


The industry lobby group BusinessEurope has warned that the EU must focus more on energy efficiency, rather than renewable energies and emissions trading, if it wants to prevent energy-intensive industries such as chemicals and steel-making from taking their operations elsewhere.


Seillière expressed industry concern that a shift in the EU ETS towards full auctioning of emission permits is "so problematic" that increasing costs could force companies to move outside the EU to countries where CO2 emissions are cheaper.
Full auctioning, an idea currently being discussed within the Commission, would signal a significant modification of the current system, under which member-state authorities allocate a percentage of permits to industry free of charge. During the last trading period (2005-2007), over-allocation of permits contributed to a crash in the carbon price.
The Commission is expected to put forward its proposals on a revised EU ETS for the post-2012 trading period on 23 January, along with a package of proposals on renewable energies and a communication on carbon capture and storage (CCS).
BusinessEurope argues the EU executive should focus more on realising the full potential of energy efficiency improvements rather than tightening the bloc's carbon market or pushing for "difficult to achieve" renewable energy targets. source:EuroAktiv


My comment:It makes sense to me. We have to improve our efficiency first, if we don't, it's just nonsense to claim we're doing good for the nature, as we're just shoving the problem under the carpet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

China's supremacy in renewables, gas and renewables quotas

China set to take global lead in renewable energy

The emerging Asian superpower is poised to surpass world solar and wind manufacturing leaders in Europe, Japan, and North America in the next three years, the Worldwatch Institute said in a new report released on Wednesday.

At current growth rates, the report says China will likely achieve - and probably even exceed - its target of obtaining 15% of its energy from renewables in 2020, up from 8% currently. By 2050, it could even reach 30%, according to the report, "Powering China's Development: The Role of Renewable Energyexternal ", published on 14 November.

"More than $50 billion was invested in renewable energy worldwide in 2006, and China is expected to invest over $10 billion in new renewables capacity in 2007, second only to Germany," the report points out.

It says a combination of ambitious targets, strong government policies and the manufacturing performance of Chinese companies could enable China to quickly "leapfrog" competitors in industrialised countries.

Chief among those is wind power, "the fastest-growing power generation technology in China," according to the report, which notes a doubling in installed capacity in 2006 alone. But China is also catching up fast in solar, where the country is already leading the hot water market with 40 million solar systems installed - nearly two thirds of global capacity. "More than 10% of Chinese households rely on the sun to heat their water," the report points out, saying the figure could rise to one third by 2020.

In Europe, the next frontier in terms of wind power is offshore, with projects in the North Sea tipped to boost installed capacity and help resolve the intermittency issue with more stable wind conditions.

But EWEA, the European Wind Energy Association, says more could be done on the policy side. "Certain issues need to be addressed, such as those related to grid extension, operation and reinforcement and to R&D in some fundamental areas," EWEA said, adding that "a European policy for offshore wind energy is needed."
source:EuroAktiv

Caspian gas starts flowing in Turkey-Greece pipe

A new 285 km pipeline will bring natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe for the first time, in a move that will partly relieve the EU's heavy dependence on Russian gas.

The connection was opened on Sunday (18 November) by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis on a bridge over a river separating the two countries.
Karamanlis said the symbolic move indicated a thaw between the old rivals as Turkey progresses on its way to EU membership, despite persisting disagreement over the island of Cyprus.
The pipeline will bring natural gas from Azerbaijan and is part of the so-called Southern European Gas Ring project. Its capacity, currently at 250 million cubic metres of gas a year, is expected to triple when it is extended to Italy via a connection under the Adriatic Sea, expected to be completed in 2012.
The project has received financial and political backing from the European Union, which is keen to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia as tensions with Moscow have multiplied in recent years.
Ankara is also a key partner in the Nabucco pipeline project which is expected to bring Caspian gas to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria via Turkey. However, the project has been delayed due to financial and political difficulties.
"Turkey is moving fast to become the fourth energy supply route for natural gas to Western Europe. There is a mutual dependence in energy policies which will help create a favourable atmosphere," Erdogan said.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and US Secretary for Energy Samuel Bodman, in a sign that the America is keen to see the project through. "Turkey is an important energy gateway between the East and the West," Secretary Bodman said.
source:EuroAktiv
My comment: I'm extremely worried about the new-found dependency of EU on Turkey. Because we all know whose ally Turkey is. And that's not good. I don't really see the difference between dependeny on Russia and on USA-it's all the same-we're dependent. I hope someone figure out that sooner or later. And that renewables soon will be enough to breath easily.

Rich EU countries to bear greater renewables 'burden'

The minimum contribution of individual member states to EU renewable energy targets could be calculated on the basis of gross domestic product, according to recent comments by the Commission, which is preparing new legislation on renewables.

In March 2007, EU leaders committed themselves to an EU-wide target of producing 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, setting the stage for heated debate about how the commitment will be divided between member states.

Currently, 8.5% of EU energy consumption stems from renewable energies, meaning the share
would need to be increased by 11.5% over the next 12 years to reach the 20% target.
Tom Howes, a Commission official at the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN), said on 22 November that gross domestic product (GDP) may be used as an indicator
for determining the required percentage increase for each member state.

The system would work in two steps. First, each member state - regardless of GDP - would be required to increase renewable energy use by 5.75%. Then, as a second step, the remaining 5.75% increase would be adjusted according to GDP, with wealthier member states assigned a higher percentage than poorer ones, according to Howes.

But despite the potential for flexibility, "all member states will have to make significant
contributions to the target. No one can relax", Howes said, according to Reuters.

Member states with low potential for wind, solar, hydro or other non-fossil fuel energy production may also be allowed to purchase certified renewable energy credits from other member states with a higher renewables output, according to Howes.

A mechanism for trading renewables certificates already features in existing legislation on renewables, but the Commission has said it may expand the system as part of legislative proposals expected on 23 January 2008.

The renewable energy industry argues that a trading option will act as a disincentive for investment, as those member states with low renewables potential or under-developed markets will simply purchase credits from abroad.
source:EuroAktiv
My comment: I think this is fair, as we all know, what's the economical diversity among EU. I hope people will make the most out of it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Green green Europe-e-bussiness, transport and soil protection

First of all, I'd like to express my utter ecstasy from the new 9 countries in the Shengen zone of EU. For many people that never knew the utter desperation when passing a border in old Europe that may seem like exaggeration, but to those of us that had to suffer hours of anger on those borders that's a lot. So, hooray for the new members of our European Dream and I can't wait for Bulgaria to join Shengen :)



Parliament approves soil strategy despite calls for its dismissal

Overriding a motion by 225 MEPs who argued that there should be 'no rush' to legislate on soil protection, the Parliament has voted in favour of a proposed EU soil protection law that grants considerable flexibility to member states.
The Commission's proposed framework directive on soil, part of its September 2006 soil strategy, defines common principles, objectives and actions but shies away from setting specific targets for member states.
On 9 October, MEPs in the Environment (ENVI) Committee voted in favour of a report, drafted by Spanish centre-right MEP and rapporteur Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, which calls on member states to list contaminated sites in public inventories that must be updated at least every five years.
The soil dossier is not without controversy. In October, members from the EPP-ED group called, unsuccessfully, for an outright rejection of the proposal on the grounds that it lacked coherence and that more time was needed by member states to study different soil management and protection options.
source:EuroAktiv

The environmental impact of e-business and ICT

Scientific assessments of the environmental impact of information and communications technologies (ICT) are generally insufficient, write Lan Yi and Hywel R. Thomas in this paper from the University of Cardiff.

The paper addresses the issue of the environmental impact of ICT by providing a review of previous technological devlopments in this area, giving a critical summary.

In Europe, information technologies have a positive environmental impact, note the authors. They cite examples including the dematerialisation of transport, such as the switch from air travel to videoconferencing, and the digitalisation of information represented by the switch from catalogues to websites.

However, ICT equipment contains toxic and hazardous substances and is energy consuming, the paper says. In this regard, the study outlines three categories of environmental impact for ICT:

  • Environmental impact of business creation and development:
    Manufacturing ICT equipment uses resources and generates carbon emissions. The disposal of ICT equipment also raises environmental concerns;
  • Environmental impact of ICT use in business applications: The use of ICT has a generally positive impact on the environment, for example, the switch from travel to video conferences;
  • Environmental impact of mass use of ICT over the medium to long term: For example, if more and more people work at home due to increased use of ICT, they are more likely to take leisure drives.

Traditional environmental assessment approaches are "insufficient to accommodate the digital technology revolution" and "cannot accommodate the challenge of measuring the impact of ICT on environmental sustainability", concludes the paper.
source:EuroAktiv

'Green' transport projects to receive fresh EU cash

Railways and inland waterways will receive the lion's share of EU funding for trans-European transport network (TEN-T) projects for the period 2007 to 2013, the Commission has announced.

The construction of a trans-European transport network (TEN-T), where national networks for all modes of transport are accessible, interconnected and interoperable, is fundamental to securing a single market with free movement of passengers and goods, as well as for reinforcing economic ties and social cohesion and promoting competitiveness and sustainable development in the European Union.

After lengthy negotiations, member states downgraded the Commission's proposals to spend as much as €20 billion to the development of the trans-European transport network, and a total of €8.013 billion was finally allocated to under the multi-annual financial framework 2007-2013 – of which €5.1 billion for 30 priority projects, deemed essential for completing cross-border connections among the EU's 27 member states.

The Commission hopes that the 30 priority axes could be completed by 2020.
The EU is only entitled to contribute to projects at maximum rates of 10 to 30% - depending on the type of project . The rest of the money must come from national or private budgets.

The EU's limited funds available for financing transport infrastructure across Europe, for the period 2007-2013, will be concentrated on projects related to "critical cross-border sections" and on "the most environmentally-friendly transport modes – inland waterways and rail", the EU's Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot told members of Parliament on 21 November.

The Commission received 221 project proposals from member states, with support requests totaling over €11.5 billion. However, with a Community budget limited at just €5.1 billion, the

Commissioner explained that he preferred to concentrate these funds on a limited amount of important projects, rather than spreading them out among all of them. He said this would help create a "leverage" effect and accelerate the realisation of projects important for removing
remaining transport bottlenecks and for the effective functioning of the single market.

Underlining the EU's commitment to sustainable development, Barrot pointed out that inland waterways would receive 11.5% of the total budget. Railways will get 74.2% of total funds, while roads receive just 2.7%.

The Commission is also proposing to allocate funds to two "traffic management" projects aimed at optimising existing infrastructure:
  • €350 million to the SESAR project, which aims to create a 'single European sky' that will help deal with the increasing number of flights that arriving and departing from European airports, while also helping to contribute to fuel savings and cutting CO2 emissions.
  • €100 million for intelligent road transport systems, to help optimise infrastructure capacity, promote intermodality and improve the safety of road networks.
source: EuroAktiv
My comment: I think this is very nice development-after all, we all know how polluting airplanes and cars are, so let's stimulate the other transports and see what will happen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Parliament approves soil strategy despite calls for its dismissal

Parliament approves soil strategy despite calls for its dismissal

Overriding a motion by 225 MEPs who argued that there should be 'no rush' to legislate on soil protection, the Parliament has voted in favour of a proposed EU soil protection law that grants considerable flexibility to member states.
The Commission's proposed framework directive on soil, part of its September 2006 soil strategy, defines common principles, objectives and actions but shies away from setting specific targets for member states.
On 9 October, MEPs in the Environment (ENVI) Committee voted in favour of a report, drafted by Spanish centre-right MEP and rapporteur Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, which calls on member states to list contaminated sites in public inventories that must be updated at least every five years.
The soil dossier is not without controversy. In October, members from the EPP-ED group called, unsuccessfully, for an outright rejection of the proposal on the grounds that it lacked coherence and that more time was needed by member states to study different soil management and protection options.
source:EuroAktiv

The environmental impact of e-business and ICT

Scientific assessments of the environmental impact of information and communications technologies (ICT) are generally insufficient, write Lan Yi and Hywel R. Thomas in this paper from the University of Cardiff.

The paper addresses the issue of the environmental impact of ICT by providing a review of previous technological devlopments in this area, giving a critical summary.

In Europe, information technologies have a positive environmental impact, note the authors. They cite examples including the dematerialisation of transport, such as the switch from air travel to videoconferencing, and the digitalisation of information represented by the switch from catalogues to websites.

However, ICT equipment contains toxic and hazardous substances and is energy consuming, the paper says. In this regard, the study outlines three categories of environmental impact for ICT:

  • Environmental impact of business creation and development:
    Manufacturing ICT equipment uses resources and generates carbon emissions. The disposal of ICT equipment also raises environmental concerns;
  • Environmental impact of ICT use in business applications: The use of ICT has a generally positive impact on the environment, for example, the switch from travel to video conferences;
  • Environmental impact of mass use of ICT over the medium to long term: For example, if more and more people work at home due to increased use of ICT, they are more likely to take leisure drives.

Traditional environmental assessment approaches are "insufficient to accommodate the digital technology revolution" and "cannot accommodate the challenge of measuring the impact of ICT on environmental sustainability", concludes the paper.
source:EuroAktiv

Saturday, December 15, 2007

EU sets tougher fuel regulations

MEPs back tougher fuel standards for oil industry


The European Parliament's environment committee has backed Commission plans aimed at making the oil industry take greater responsibility for cutting harmful emissions generated by its products, which experts say could prevent some 500 million tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.


The Commission has proposed revising EU-wide specifications, contained in the 1998 Fuel Quality Directive , relating to the use of petrol, diesel and gas oil in cars, trucks, inland waterway barges, tractor locomotives and machinery (EurActiv 01/02/07).
The review aims to reflect the latest developments in fuel and engine technology, including the development of lower carbon fuels such as biofuels, and to tighten standards so as to help combat climate change and meet the EU's ambitious air-quality objectives (see Clean Air Strategy).

Among the proposals are amendments that would permit higher volumes of biofuels such as ethanol to be used in petrol and that would oblige fuel suppliers to ensure that greenhouse gases produced by their fuels throughout their life cycle (i.e. production, transport and use) are cut by 1% per year between 2011 and 2020 (Article 7a) (see LinksDossier on the Fuel Quality Directive).


In a vote on 27 November, MEPs agreed that, as of 2009, all fuel suppliers should be required to monitor and report on the "lifecycle greenhouse emissions" produced by their fuels throughout their life-cycle (i.e. production, transport and use) and that those emissions should be cut by 10% between 2011 and 2020.

Nevertheless, the committee voted in favour of granting a more flexible timeline to industry, saying that CO2 emissions should be reduced by "at least 2% every two years" rather than the strict annual 1% cut that the Commission was proposing.

On the other hand, MEPs approved the introduction of binding "sustainability criteria" in the directive, saying this is necessary to avoid a situation where fuel makers focus purely on cutting CO2 at the lowest possible cost, without any consideration for other potentially negative environmental side-effects – notably those linked to the mass production of biofuels made from agricultural crops, including deforestation, food price hikes and water shortages.

Under the new criteria, only biofuels that meet these minimum biodiversity and social requirements and which are able to deliver life-cycle CO2 savings of at least 50% compared to fossil fuels, would count towards the 10% target.

MEPs also rejected Commission plans to allow non-road vehicles and inland waterway vessels to continue using diesel containing as much as 300mg/kg of sulphur until 2011, saying all vehicles should respect a strict 10mg/kg limit as of 2009.

They also said the permitted content of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in diesel should be reduced from 11% to 6% rather than the 8% proposed by the Commission.



My comment: Now, these are really tougher regulations, I hope I'll see them in reality, not only on paper.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The battle of Peugo and BMW

EU car emission rules reveal Franco-German rift

As the Commission prepares to unveil detailed legislation on cutting carbon dioxide emissions from cars, France has already set itself up for a battle with Germany on the issue, with Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo criticising a German proposal for a system where heavier cars would be allowed to pollute more than others.

"By virtue of the polluter pays principle, those with the biggest pollution should make the biggest progress [on cutting emissions]", France's environment minister told the Financial Times on 14 November, adding: "Nothing justifies giving a bigger right to pollute to the buyer of a bigger vehicle."
German manufacturers have been advocating a system where Europe's automotive industry would receive differentiated caps according to the weight of the vehicles they produce, thus enabling heavier cars, such as SUVs and luxury models, to exceed a target of 130 grammes of CO2 per kilometre set by the Commission.
German manufacturers typically produce larger, high-performance vehicles, while French and Italian manufacturers are specialised in smaller, more fuel-efficient models.
A report by the green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), published on 15 November, reveals that French carmakers, including Peugeot, Citroen and Renault, have much lower average carbon emissions than German ones, like Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler and BMW (144 g/km versus 173 g/km). Moreover, they also succeeded in cutting their emissions by 1.9% between 2005 and 2006, while German manufacturers actually increased their emissions by 0.6% - contradicting Europe's ambitious climate change goals.
Borloo said the German proposal would constrain the market for small vehicles and encourage the production of heavier cars rather than promote innovative technologies aimed at making bigger cars lighter.
T&E adds that there is "a strong relationship" between a car's weight and its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and that for each percentage point of weight saved on a vehicle, its emissions would be cut by 0.8%.
Basing CO2 standards on weight would thus be "completely counterproductive because it punishes weight reductions with tougher standards", said T&E Director Jos Dings.
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) earlier this year defended a weight-based approach as "likely to be the best parameter to distribute the cap among industry" in order to preserve diversity for consumers (EurActiv 30/08/07). Different brands cater for different market segments, it stressed.
source: EuroAktiv
My comment: I completely agree with everything said in the article. Even more, I see terrible tendency on the roads of driver of german cars like BMW and Audi to drive irresponsibly and to act like they are invincible. Which would be fine if they died when they crashed, but thanks to the safety mechanisms usually the other guys involved in the crash dies. And anyway, who cares about that? I want cleaner air, if small cars have to obey the laws, the big ones should do the same. Ok, small cars will have to do less effort in cutting the taxes, but in the same time, big cars cost way more. Then there is a balance.Stop complaining and start acting. Even more, if EU makes a compromise for the big cars, then everybody will start driving big cars which will emit more and pollute more. And I don't think that's all right!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New effots on the CO2 front

'Carbon' import duty proposal fails to impress

A French proposal to impose a tax on imports of industrial goods from countries with less stringent environmental regulations met with scepticism from EU ministers last week. However, voluntary sectoral agreements to reduce CO2 emissions appear to be gaining favour.

The idea behind the proposal, originally tabled by former French President Jacques Chirac and recently brought back into discussion by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is to protect European industries that face heavy compliance costs under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
In light of tighter CO2 caps for the 2008-2012 trading period of the EU ETS, companies in the refining sector in particular have complained that the scheme places them under too much strain, and have floated the option of 'delocalisation' – involving moving their operations outside EU territory – in order to reduce costs in the face of competition from companies that are not required to offset CO2 emissions.
US companies, for example, may be at a competitive advantage to European companies since the US did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has no binding emissions trading system.

One idea that has been discussed within the Commission would be to require importers to purchase emission allowances under EU ETS before their products can enter the EU market, according to a French diplomat.

But a Commission official said last week that the scheme is "unlikely" to be successful because of concerns over legal challenges at World Trade Organisation (WTO) level, as well as the complexities involved in calculating the price an importer would need to pay, according to the Financial Times.
Experts close to the discussions also suggest the idea, discussed informally by EU ministers during a 22-23 November Competitiveness Council, may not get the approval of a majority of EU member states, even if WTO compliance can be assured. EU businesses fear that other countries might introduce retaliatory measures on their exports, while importing companies with environmentally-friendly production methods could be eligible to receive EU ETS credits, making their imports cheaper, the WWF's Stephan Singer told the FT.
Comments made by EU Enterprise Commissioner Günter Verheugen in a 19 November speech to the Parliament's Temporary Committee on Climate Change point to the EU's preference for voluntary sectoral agreements to cut emissions.
Verheugen is expected to further endorse the idea in a speech on 27 November that will also set out the EU's official negotiating mandate during the 3-14 December UN Climate Change Conference (COP 13) in Bali.
source:EuroAktive
My comment: I think it's important to stimulate the CO2 friendly countries with every measure possible. And I don't like the dominance of WTO so I think Europe really should think of something like that. I mean- if we can charge China light bulbs why not charge american petrols and companies? I don't see the difference.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Europe in science

Business urges more 'demand' for research

The EU is too focused on creating infrastructures and generating research activity when it should concentrate on creating markets and demand for research and innovation, argues BusinessEurope ahead of a Council meeting with a heavy research agenda.

The Commission responded to these concerns by announcing an upcoming communication on joint public research programmes, which will start a process next year to identify both priorities for international co-operation and topics to be left at national level. Member states are expected to be closely involved in this process from the beginning.

The Commission also underlined that the target of increasing EU investment in R&D to 3% of GDP by 2010 is an example of a mix of 'pull side' measures in the areas of fiscal policy, internal market and IPR that will be followed up with the communication on lead markets in December 2007.
source:EuroAktive

EU struggling to secure funds for 'low carbon future'

The European Commission has proposed industrial initiatives and greater research efforts as part of plans to increase the uptake of low CO2 technologies in the EU, but postponed difficult financing questions to next year.
Low carbon energy technologies include renewables such as wind, solar and hydrogen, but also more conventional technologies such as 'sustainable' nuclear fission and carbon capture and storage (CCS), although environmental groups question whether these can truly be considered clean./well, from my point of view it's all right as fission for now is way cleaner than fossils/
These 'green' or 'clean' technologies are seen as a key part of the development of an Energy Policy for Europe, officially launched with the Commission's publication of a 10 January energy and climate 'package' that was endorsed by EU leaders in March 2007.
A communication calling for a new 'Strategic Energy Technology Plan' (SET Plan) was presented as part of the January package.
source:EuroAktive

EU technology initiatives crawl one step further

After months of discussions on the legal structure and statutes, the Competitiveness Council found a majority in support of the first four Joint Technology Initiatives, which could finally be kicked off in 2008.
Announced in the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), JTIs are meant to establish long-term, public-private partnerships on specific research areas, combining private-sector investment with national and European public funding.

The novelty of these initiatives is that the research topics would be defined by industry. They also represent a move away from the traditional approach of case-by-case public funding of projects to concentrate resources on a few strategic issues, defined by industry in specific fields.

The Commission has identified six areas in which JTIs could be established: innovative medicines; embedded computing systems; aeronautics and air transport; hydrogen and fuel cells; nanoelectronics technologies 2020, and; global monitoring for environment and security.
Four of these proposals have reached the Council table after serious delays over discussions on the legal structure of JTIs:
  • Innovative medicines (IMI )

  • Embedded computing systems (ARTEMIS )

  • Nano-electronic technologies (ENIAC )

  • Aeronautics and air transport (CLEAN SKY )
The Council reached a common understanding on main elements related to the four proposals in September 2007.
source:EuroAktive
My comment: Now that's a progress, though I don't understand why Hydrogen and fuel cells was left out. It's practical! But go ahead, let's have something real instead of bunch of nice ideas.

EIT agreed but funding still to be found

EU ministers in charge of research policy reached a political agreement this morning on the European Institute of Technology, leaving the more difficult issue of its financing to economy ministers discussing the 2008 budget today.

The EU-27 ministers in charge of competitiveness reached, on 23 November 2007, a political agreement on a compromise text on the Commission's proposal for a regulation establishing the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Several countries have already expressed their desire to host the institute and in the Council discussions, on 23 November, some member states pressed for the EIT's governing board to be established "as soon as possible". " /yeah, right, if it's for the money,me wants too /

While the content of the regulation is now known and agreed upon, the precise funding of the institute remains somewhat unclear. The sources of the Community contribution to the EIT will be subject to a separate agreement.

The Council has agreed to allocate some €308.7 million of Community money to the EIT's initial phase, 2008-2013, but no money is foreseen for that purpose in the EU's long-term budget. Part of the amount could be assigned to the EIT from the 2008 budget.
source:EuroAktive

Galileo comes one step closer to reality

A new plan for industrial tendering for the troubled satellite navigation system, tabled by the Commission, is expected to find support at a meeting of EU transport ministers later this week after Germany said its concerns over tendering rules have been met.

The Commission has presented the EU member states a new industrial tendering plan for Galileo, in what appears to be a last-chance attempt to save the troubled EU project.
"If we don't reach a clear agreement on the financing of Galileo before the end of this year, it will be too late and we need to put an end to our efforts," warned Michele Cercone.

Cercone said the revised plan had made progress on three issues: governance, financing and the industrial tendering process for Galileo.
He said the latter would include at least the following principles in order to "guarantee competition and transparency":
  • rules on 'non-accumulation': in the tendering process, the prime contractor could be the prime contractor only in two of the segments and not more;
  • sub-contracting: the prime contractor would have to subcontract a large share (around 40%) to other companies that are not winners of the bid.
Germany, which had voiced concerns that competitive tendering rules could end up excluding home firms from the Galileo projects, has already signaled that it could support the Commission's new proposal.
"No member state has shown opposition to work inside this framework. So we are convinced that a solution to Galileo's problems can be found inside it," said Cercone, adding that the Commission hoped to achieve substantial progress on the issue before the Transport Council this week, on 29 November.
The same day, after marathon discussions on the EU 2008 budget, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement on the on the financing of of the Galileo through EU budget.
source:EuroAktive
My comment: Yes! I mean it! This project should have started so long ago and it looked doom for a while. But now I see a new life in it. And it was hight time. Competition makes the progress, with Galileo breathing in the neck of GPS, I'm sure, innovations won't be late.

EU research networks threatened by lack of funding

The future of research co-operation projects launched under the EU-funded Networks of Excellence (NoE) is being called into question due to lack of political will and insufficient support from member states, a scientific forum warned last week.

Partners of Networks of Excellence gathered on 20 November 2007 sounded the alarm over the future of the Networks of excellence (NoE) EU research policy instrument. Introduced under the Sixth Framework Programme for research (FP6), NoEs were designed to overcome the fragmentation of European research on particular topics by durably integrating different partners' research capacities.
"The future of the NoE is however unclear. There are risks of interruption of several successful initiatives which brought together many research institutes and universities from all 27 member states," stated the forum.
An opinion paper put together by FP6-funded NoEs deplores that "in FP7, the number of NoEs has been substantially cut back in the first calls, with only 17 networks being funded, as compared to 101 in FP6. In addition, no support for existing NoEs has been announced." The networks launched under FP6 do not know how to survive and secure financing once the EU funding has been used. The average €7 million EU contribution (double that of an ordinary EU-funded project) allows for three to five years of activity, but durable integration takes more time.
He added, that "'open research' is the idea that if you want to carry out research in Europe in an integrated way, you can't rely solely on the Commission. You have to bring together the different, including national, research funders - the Commission can only act as a catalyst for cross-border discussions."
Asked whether the mandate of the group was linked to the identification of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Technology, Magnien said that the Commission will propose a revision of FP7 in 2009.
source:EuroAktive

Saturday, December 1, 2007

China and Indi-biggest fossil fuels consummers? And of course, E.ON fix for electricity

Today, I give you a report on the growth of India and China and pretty pretty corruption scent from Germany- or how to increase the electricity bill with minimum efforts...

IEA warns of 'runaway' energy thirst as oil prices soar


China and India's emergence in world energy markets and their massive projected energy needs are the focal points of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) 2007 World Energy Outlook, which calls for a 'radical shift' in investment towards cleaner, more efficient energy technologies.

Based on reference scenario projections, the world will need over 55% more primary energy than in 2005 to meet the needs of populations in 2030, and 45% of that energy demand will come from India and China, according to the IEA.
Higher oil and gas prices are driving coal take-up in many economies, particularly in India and China, according to the report.

China uses coal to meet two-thirds of its primary energy demands and is expected to surpass the US in terms of CO2 emissions in 2007. Its overall CO2 output is expected to more than double by 2030, according to the IEA.

India is expected to use three times more coal by 2030 to meet of its primary energy demand. But unlike China, which is expanding its transport infrastructure to carry vast inland coal reserves to its coastal regions, India has few reserves and must rely increasingly on coal imports.

India will become the world's third largest coal importer by 2025 and the world's third largest CO2 emitter by 2015. source

'Impressive' energy cartel uncovered in Germany


The German cartel office has compiled considerable evidence of price fixing and anti-competitive behaviour by Germany's four main electricity and gas suppliers, according to information obtained by the Spiegel.

In a series of secret meetings between 2003 and 2006, the chief executives of Germany's four main energy suppliers E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall (of Sweden) and EnBW (partially owned by France's EDF) exchanged sensitive and secret information about their companies and discussed common strategies for a variety of markets, according to the Spiegel.

The German weekly reported on 3 November that the German cartel office (Kartellamt) had already compiled a 30-page report in November 2006 containing far-reaching allegations of cartel-like behaviour, based on thousands of pieces of evidence obtained through raids by the Commission's Directorate-General for Competition.

E.ON in particular devoted considerable efforts to influencing the price of energy, including through the premature decommissioning of power plants, according to the report.(fuckers) (source)

 

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