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

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Climate in Europe in 05.08

Today, few climate topics. Some of them are long, some quite short, the end point-what's happening in Europe this month.
  • Industry deal key to EU climate efforts, says Commission
  • Biofuels, food and trade top EU-Latin America Summit
  • Reviewing the EU's Emissions Trading System
  • Interview: Solar on the rise, despite ‘enemies’
  • MEPs stand by plans to ban chemicals in water
My over-all comment: Europe keeps bouncing between the right and the easy. I hope it will finally find the correct course. (and happy July morning! )

Industry deal key to EU climate efforts, says Commission

16 May 2008

With global negotiations for an international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol "hardly progressing", the EU is keen to assuage industry concerns about rising emissions costs and prevent plant delocalisation, the Commission said on 15 May.

On 23 January, the Commission proposed a 'package' of legislative proposals designed to reduce EU CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. That figure will be upped to 30% if an international deal on reducing global CO2 emissions can be reached – a condition that was endorsed by EU heads of state during a landmark summit in March 2007.

While international negotiations received a "boost of vitamins" during a major conference in Bali in December 2007, the talks are "hardly progressing at an impressive speed," Peter Carl said on Thursday (15 May) during an official hearing on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

Moving out

EU energy intensive industries are warning that they would be forced to move operations outside the EU if global talks fail, as industries operating in countries with fewer restrictions on CO2 emissions would have an unfair advantage particularly over EU chemicals, aluminium and steel manufacturers.

Plant delocalisation would lead to a situation of 'carbon leakage', whereby EU CO2 emission would not be reduced through cleaner production methods but rather 'leaked' outside the EU's borders.

A proposal to revise and strengthen the EU ETS for the period after 2012, a main part of the 23 January package, is at the heart of the concerns over carbon leakage. The Commission is pushing for a full auctioning of emissions rights following a gradual phasing-out of free allowances. Exceptions to the phase-out, or a border tax on outside competitors, could be agreed as a means to protect select EU sectors.

But the Commission has yet to define precisely what kind of mechanism it would implement, and there are disagreements over the precise definition of 'energy intensive'.

The leakage debate

Meanwhile, environmental groups and a number of green MEPs in the Parliament say industry concerns are being overstated, and are pushing for a full auctioning of CO2 allowances in order to encourage investments in clean technologies.

And not all experts agree in principle that a tighter EU carbon market would necessarily push industries to relocate.

"Environmental policies are only one determinant of plant and production location decisions. Costs imposed by tighter pollution regulation are not a major determinant of trade and location patterns, even for those sectors most likely to be affected by such regulation," according to the 2006 Stern Report on climate change.

The Commission, however, is convinced the problem is real, and says it is "patently absurd" to suggest that Brussels wants to force a relocation of EU industries and jobs, Peter Carl said.

But industries remain sceptical and critical, despite the Commission's stated support.

"Carbon leakage is already happening," says Daniel Cloquet, director of Industrial Affairs at BusinessEurope. As EU energy prices rise, the bloc is becoming increasingly less competitive for manufacturers of products like chemicals and aluminium, many of whom are facing stiff competition from firms operating in countries like Saudi Arabia, where access to cheap energy is abundant.

In this context, a tightened EU ETS with mandatory auctioning will make staying competitive much more difficult, he said. source

My comment: Just notice, please where their competition resides! In Saudi Arabia. Well, sorry, how do you expect to compete with price of oil in Saudi Arabia. Because to my knowledge, only Norway is producing oil on our continent. That's absurd!

Biofuels, food and trade top EU-Latin America Summit

19 May 2008

European and Latin American leaders pledged to deepen trade ties between their two regions and tackle global warming and poverty at the fifth EU-Latin America-Caribbean Summit in Lima.

Participants at the summit, including European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said they were "deeply concerned by the impact of increased food prices". In a declarationPdf external released on 16 May, they called for "immediate measures to assist the most vulnerable countries and populations affected".

Soaring global food prices have been sparking riots in a growing number of countries in recent weeks, notably in Haiti, which received particular attention at the summit.

But the role of biofuels in the ongoing food crisis remained a key point of contention among the 50-60 heads of state and government attending the summit. While the EU and Brazil, which is the world's top ethanol producer, expressed their support for biofuels as a substitute for conventional fossil fuels, many other Latin American countries blamed them for driving up food prices.

European leaders played down the risks. "The impact of biofuels should not provoke such alarm, because from my point of view the relationship isn't that clear," said Spanish leader José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. "The chief reason for increased food prices is increased consumption, and the only proper response to increased consumption is to step up production," agreed Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Trade issues also remained divisive, with EU leaders lamenting the slow pace of negotiations aimed at liberalising trade between the two regions.

The 27-nation bloc hopes to conclude regional free trade pacts with Mercosur, the Andean Community and Central America by next year, said Barroso. But progress has stalled, notably due to the reluctance of certain leftist leaders to open up their markets.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said he feared the poorest would suffer from the rush to conclude free-trade deals with Europe. While he had backing of Ecuador's Rafael Correa, the other two members of the Andean Community bloc, Peru and Colombia, are keen to reach a deal soon and requested that their countries be put on a "fast track". A free trade pact with the EU "would be conducive to the economic growth and social development of the two regions," insisted Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

In the final statement, the EU agreed to consider a more flexible approach "taking into account the asymmetries between and within the regions". "source

My comment: I thought Europe gave up biofuels on major scales? Hmmm...

Reviewing the EU's Emissions Trading System

15 May 2008
A. Denny Ellerman & Paul L. Joskow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The EU ETS has been a relative success considering the challenges it has faced and should serve as an example in the current US climate policy debate, argue Denny Ellerman and Paul Joskow in a May 2008 report for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The authors describe the trial period the ETS went through between 2005-07 and comment on how well the system has performed despite the speed with which it was implemented. Despite the initial setbacks, the authors applaud the way EU member states adopted an accepted, transparent price for CO2 tradable emissions allowances in 2005, created a functional market for these allowances and set up a monitoring and verification procedure.

Ellerman and Joskow claim the ETS can provide the US with some important lessons, including confronting the interaction between allowance markets and allowance allocations, and urge the country to adopt this "public policy experiment".

The three-year trial period showed that everything "does not need to be perfect in the beginning," as the objective is to create a system that gives emissions a price and demonstrates the need to tackle these in the long term, claim the authors.

The authors make an important distinction between the classical cap-and-trade model and the ETS – the decentralised nature of the EU version. In the EU, each member state sets its own allowances, reviewed by the Commission according to the Emissions Trading Directive. Highlighting the ETS's gradual approach during the first period in 2005-07, the second in 2008-12 and the third in 2013-2020, Ellerman and Joskow point to the cap's annual rate of decline of 1.74%.

The authors say the ETS covers about half of the EU's CO2 emissions and about 40% of its greenhouse gas emissions as covered by Kyoto. Aviation is to be covered by 2011, with other sectors to be covered by other directives.

Non-compliance with the ETS by member states is dealt with by penalties spelled out in the directive, making this the only EU law to impose financial penalties that must be applied automatically, they add.

Almost all of the countries which joined the EU in 2004 have complained that proposed reductions in the emissions cap are unfair on their economies due to the structural changes they are undergoing - yet they are expected to remain in the system, say the authors.

The preliminary three-year trial period looks set to be completely overhauled if the proposed amendments by the Commission come into effect, according to the authors. The cap would be set centrally, the allowances harmonised by mandatory auctioning for the power sector and national allocation plans would be scrapped. All of this, argue the authors, will test Europe, determining whether it is ready to accept increased centralisation of policies in key sectors.source

My comment:

Interview: Solar on the rise, despite ‘enemies’

16 May 2008

Technology breakthroughs and falling solar panel prices point to a bright future for Europe's photovoltaic (PV) sector. But the industry still faces a number of obstacles, including public misconceptions and hesitant investors, says Ernesto Macias Galán, vice president of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

While photovoltaic (PV) or solar technology has existed for decades, the high price of solar panels has been prohibitive, with market development often almost entirely dependent on government support.

On 23 January 2008, the Commission unveiled plans to boost the EU's use of solar and other renewable energies by 20% by 2020 as part of a wider climate and energy 'package' (see EurActiv LinksDossier and related coverage).

The proposals set differentiated renewables targets for each member state as part of the overall 20% target whereby member states have the option of conducting cross-border trade in renewable energy certificates, so-called Guarantees of Origin (GOs), rather than subsidising renewable energy at home.

Harvesting the sun

"Recent reports indicate that oil could reach $200 a barrel by the end of the year. So the scenario is clear: we need to be in favour of renewable sources. And PV works," Macias told EurActiv in an interview.

Markets appear to agree. Stock values of global solar firms have been rising steadily, according to a 16 May report by the Financial Times. And shortages in supplies of polysilicon, the raw material used for making traditional PV panels, are easing.

"This mini-crisis that hit the industry a few years ago will probably remain for one more year, but after more raw material becomes available on the market it will be resolved," Macias said.

A recent nanotechnology breakthrough that promises to increase the efficiency of PV panels has also given the sector a boost in terms of longer-term development(EurActiv 15/05/08).

Bigger is better?

However, despite these positive signals for the industry, a number of hurdles remain.

Several EU member states, notably Spain and Germany, provide significant financial support to solar and other renewables in the form of feed-in tariffs. These guarantee producers of electricity from renewable sources a buy-back price per kilowatt hour that is higher than the market price, making investments in more expensive renewables worthwhile.

But the feed-in tariff policy has produced markedly different results in Spain and Germany. While solar panels can be seen on rooftops across Germany, which has the highest level of installed solar capacity in the world and a growing culture of micro-generation or 'home-made' electricity production, Spain's solar landscape is dominated by large installations.

The politics of solar

Politics may be at least partially to blame.

"In many [EU] countries there is an interesting contradiction between speeches and political positions. You will hear [...] the government talking about the fight against climate change and support for renewables. But when we need to transform these positions into actions there is a big gap. Suddenly the finance and industry ministries do not want to commit too much as they are thinking in the short term," Macias said.

Spanish citizens wishing to install solar panels in their homes also face a tough time. "The big barriers in Spain are the new administrative processes, because for a normal citizen it is a nightmare to get a licence. The administrative procedures are absolute nonsense," explains Macias.

EPIA, which is hosting its first European 'Solar Days' on 16 and 17 May, hopes the Commission's new proposal on renewables will help matters. "The proposal complements and strengthens the existing legislative framework on administrative procedures. It foresees the introduction of several useful provisions designed to reduce administrative barriers and improve the transparency of procedures," the organisation said. source

My comment: I didn't know you need a license to put a solar cell on your roof! That's so weird!

MEPs stand by plans to ban chemicals in water

8 May 2008

The European Parliament's environment committee has reinstated a list of priority hazardous substances to be banned from water by 2025, putting it on a collision course with those EU member states which had already rejected the proposal a year ago.

Voting on the Commission's proposal for a Directive on water quality standards on Monday (5 May), the environment committee said a further 31 water pollutants, including dioxins and PCBs, should be added to the Commission's proposed list.

Under the draft directive, substances in the list would either have to meet EU water quality standards by 2015 or be banned outright from surface water by 2025 if they are classified as "hazardous".

Out of the 33 substances contained in the Commission's initial list, twelve were already classified as "priority hazardous substances" to be phased out by 2025. But MEPs said a further ten, including dioxins and PCB, should be added to this list, reinstating a proposal tabled by Parliament a year earlier when it voted on the report during first reading (EurActiv 23/05/07). They also insisted that member states use the best available water treatment techniques in special 'mixing zones' where pollutant concentrations exceeding EU limits would be tolerated.

By increasing the list of "hazardous" substances, MEPs placed the Parliament on a collision course with the Council, which rejected Parliament's list in a first reading vote last June (EurActiv 29/06/07).

Laperrouze said a delegation of MEPs, member state and Commission representatives would meet after the Parliament's next plenary session in a so-called 'trialogue' meeting to find a compromise. If not, a last-chance conciliation procedure will be launched to decide whether parts of the proposed directive can be maintained or whether it should be dropped altogether.source

My comment: I'm sorry, but isn't dioxin one of the most toxic stuff to human body? Why it shouldn't be in the directive? I mean, why?

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