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Friday, October 31, 2008

Climate in Europe in October,2008

In today's edition:
  1. Study highlights 'massive health savings' of stricter climate policies
  2. Report: Global CO2 emissions rising despite efforts
  3. Brussels readies for 'Super Tuesday' climate vote
  4. EU climate plans get the nod from MEPs
  5. Climate votes offer missing piece in Chinese coal puzzle
  6. MEPs push for efficiency in long-term EU energy strategy
Good news for the climate these days. At least from the direction of European Parliament. The Council is still too busy to take care of the business. I just want to mention the interesting shadow that appears in the 5th article. So, it looks like China has interest in CCS. Then, I can't but ask, why nobody tried to get it to our side. Because this is an expensive technology and if we HAVE to fund it (as you know I share the GreenPeace opinion on that-I rather go for green technologies than storage), we better get China to help us a little. Or a lot.

Study highlights 'massive health savings' of stricter climate policies

2 October 2008

The EU could save up to €25 billion every year by introducing more ambitious climate policies, according to a new study by health and environment NGOs.

Raising the EU's 2020 target for greenhouse gas emission cuts from 20 to 30% would increase health savings by as much as 48%, or €6.5 to 25 billion each year, according to the report, which was commissioned by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-E) and WWF. Moreover, the benefits would accrue year on year.

The estimates are based on economic evaluations of reduced loss of life and health resulting from better air quality. Savings to industry and governments are also taken into account in terms of fewer lost working days and reduced health service costs.

According to the study, the higher emissions reduction target would reduce lost years of life by 105,000 annually and lead to 2,800 fewer hospital admissions. These societal benefits would be accompanied by industry savings of two million work days saved every year.

"Until now the discussion on climate change has been all about costs to industry and the economy, while costs of climate pollution to the society have largely been neglected," said Delia Villagrasa, senior advisor to WWF.

The report also pointed out that stronger climate policies help protect forests, ecosystems and historical buildings, which adds to the quantified benefits. Moreover, European companies are expected to make considerable savings from implementing air pollution control measures.

"Action on climate change produces win-win-win scenarios. Tougher targets means a win for the planet, a win for European citizens' health and a win for industry in reducing air pollution control cost," stated Tomas Wyns, policy officer on the emissions trading scheme at CAN-E. source

My comment: Ok, that sounds great but I can provide a great contra-argument. Increased years of life doesn't necessarily mean healthy years. It may mean more years in retirement which will burden even more that current demographic crisis. Of course, this is ridiculous, but it's logical. Anyway, I'm glad WWF took that direction on climate issues, because there are much more benefits for everyone from stricter climate measures-improved technologies, better health, better environment for all of us. Once you start thinking this way, that is.

Report: Global CO2 emissions rising despite efforts

30 September 2008

Efforts to curb carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol have not done enough to stop emissions increasing in industrialised nations and the developing world alike, according to the Global Carbon Project.

Since 2000, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have grown four times more quickly than in previous decade, according to the latest figures released by the Global Carbon Project on 26 September. Ten billion tonnes of carbon were released in 2007, while the efficiency of natural carbon sinks has declined, leading to what could be the highest concentration for 20 million years, the 'Carbon Budget 2007' report says.

"This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO2 emissions and atmospheric accumulation are unprecedented, and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change," said Dr. Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project.

The report also shows a marked change in emissions patterns. Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, the share of emissions from the developing world now constitutes over half of global emissions.

China assumed the mantle of largest CO2 emitter from the US in 2006, while India is shortly expected to overtake Russia and become the third largest emitter. From an historical perspective, however, developing countries - which account for 80% of the world's population - have only accounted for 20% of cumulative emissions since 1751. Although the increase has been quickest in the Third World, emissions from developed countries have continued to grow as well.source

My comment: Naughty and definitely not nice. But that's the reality. Less forests, more emission, what else could we expect? I fear thinking of the other gases, that we don't strictly monitor.

Brussels readies for 'Super Tuesday' climate vote

6 October 2008

MEPs will tomorrow (7 October) vote on key legislation designed to slash the EU's CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. But the vote comes amidst a worsening economic crisis, with several member states indicating that they want to put the brakes on any rapid adoption of the measures.

Three reports will be subject to votes by the Parliament's Environment (ENVI) Committee. The first and most controversial for heavy industry relates to the revision of the EU greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme (by Avril Doyle, an Irish EPP-ED group MEP). The second, prepared by Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi, will determine how much each EU country should take on of the bloc's "burden" to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020.

The third and final report, prepared by UK Liberal MEP Chris Davies, establishes a legal framework for the geological storage of CO2 captured by coal-fired power plants during electricity generation.

Following the collapse or bail-out of several key banks in the US and in the EU, the 'usual' controversies surrounding the climate proposals have been eclipsed by concerns about grave economic recession, which overshadow Tuesday's vote and are casting doubt on whether Brussels will be able to push through its ambitious CO2 reduction programme (EurActiv 26/09/08).

The climate and energy package is in "deep trouble", The Economist reported on 4 October. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a "green champion" in March 2007, "now sounds like a lobbyist for German business," the weekly commented.

But many of Europe's industries say paying too much for emitting CO2 means they cannot stay competitive internationally and will be forced to move production and pollution outside the EU's borders, leading to a 'leakage' of carbon that would be environmentally counter-productive. To prevent such a scenario, they say, certain industrial sectors like aluminium and cement producers should be given up to 100% free emissions allowances.

The issue is the cause of an internal rift in the EP's largest political group, the Christian Democratic European People's Party (EPP-ED) party. Doyle, an EPP-ED member, is fighting to gain support in advance of the vote in the face of opposition from some MEPs, who say a stricter EU ETS would undermine European industries, according to ENDS Europe reports.

Competitiveness concerns are also at the heart of MEP Davies's report on carbon capture and storage (CCS). While the Davies report in itself has not been the focus of extreme controversy, the issue of how to pay for CCS has.

Davies has worked closely with Doyle in recent months to link CCS financing to the ETS proposal. The two rapporteurs have drafted an amendment that, if accepted by other MEPs and by the Council, would see the transfer of massive sums from a special ETS reserve fund to select CCS demonstration projects. source

My comment:Not horribly informative, since we all know that. I'm kind of bothered by the last paragraph since as you know, I'm not a great fan of CCS. But it's not going to pass in the Council anyway .

EU climate plans get the nod from MEPs

8 October 2008

The Parliament's environment committee yesterday (7 October) voted largely in favour of three separate reports on emissions trading, greenhouse gas reduction 'effort' sharing and CO2 capture and storage in a show of support for the EU's ambitious climate change policy.

Doyle triumphant

On the EU ETS proposal, the environment (ENVI) committee gave its backing to all but one of the compromise amendmentsPdf external introduced by Parliament's rapporteur, Irish Christian Democrat MEP Avril Doyle. The main elements of the Doyle report (adopted with 44 votes in favour, 20 against with one abstention) include:

  • The power sector should be obliged to obtain 100% of CO2 permits at auction after 2013;
  • Energy-intensive industries should be required to obtain 15% of emissions permits at auction in 2013, with a gradual phase-in towards 100% auctioning by 2020 (a 5% decrease compared to the Commission's initial proposal for a 20% auctioning requirement);
  • 500 million spare emissions allowances, normally reserved for new entrants into the EU ETS scheme, should be made available as an incentive/financing measure for large-scale commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants;
  • The threshold for installations affected by the EU ETS should be raised from 10,000 to 25,000 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions;
  • 100% of member states' auction revenues should be set aside or 'ring fenced' for climate-related purposes, whereby half of the money should be earmarked for developing countries;
  • Installations should be able to achieve at least 40% of their targets through the financing of emissions reductions projects in third countries under the Kyoto Protocol's Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanisms (JI/CDM), but stricter rules on the validity of CDM projects would need to be respected;
  • Up to 5% of emissions reductions could be obtained through the preservation of forests in developing countries under the condition that an international climate deal is in place.

Doyle was credited for having carried the file through to completion despite infighting and an attempted 'mutiny' within her own political group, the European People's Party (EPP). An 11th hour attempt by a group of EPP MEPs, led by Christian Democrat MEPs Karl-Heinz Florenz (Germany) and Eija-Rita Korhola (Finland), to change the order of voting on amendments to the report was rejected by the president of the ENVI committee on procedural grounds.

In what was widely considered a blow to several industry lobbies, the committee then voted down a set of consolidated amendmentsPdf external co-authored and tabled earlier by Florenz and Korhola, who had the backing of a number of EU energy-intensive industries concerned about exposure to competition from producers in third countries with less stringent CO2 reduction policies.

Three quarters of MEPs from the EPP-ED group ended up voting against the Doyle report as a result.

By voting in favour of Doyle's compromises, the committee endorsed the rapporteur's position that sectors eligible for 100% free emissions allowances should be identified only after the conclusion of international climate talks in Copenhagen in December 2009. Doyle's report also sets stricter criteria on the use of benchmarks for determining which sectors could receive free emissions permits.

Going for 30

The committee also gave nearly unanimous backing to the Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi's report on the Commission's 'effort sharing' proposal concerning the distribution of CO2 reduction measures between member states in non EU ETS sectors such as transport, agriculture, home heating and waste management.

Hassi's report calls for an automatic increase of the EU's target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 20% to 30% in the event that an international climate change deal is reached in Copenhagen. Her report also paves the way for possible financial penalties on member states that fail to realise their commitments, and it limits by one third (compared to the Commission's initial proposal) the amount of external credits member states can obtain through the funding of emissions reductions projects in developing countries.

The 'Schwarzenegger amendment'

In their last major vote of the day, ENVI committee MEPs signed off a report on a legal framework for CCS, authored by UK Liberal MEP Chris Davies. MEPs backed an amendmentPdf external in the report that would require member states to set limits on the CO2 performance of power stations: after 2015, power plants' emissions cannot exceed 500 Kg of CO2 per kilowatt hour (Kwh).

The amendment, based on a similar measure introduced by California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is designed to oblige power companies to install CCS equipment in particular on their coal-fired power plants, which produced the highest amount of CO2 compared to other types of electricity-generating installations. source

My comment: Ok, that's awesome. Even if the Council is extremely unlikely to agree with it. But it's nice anyway. I'm proud of those MEPs. And I find the plan very good.

Climate votes offer missing piece in Chinese coal puzzle

8 October 2008

MEPs have voted in support of a multi-billion euro fund to drive the construction of CO2 capture and storage demonstration plants. Coal-dependent China is said to be waiting for Europe to move on the issue, but EU governments are yet to formally back the financing plan.

The Parliament's environment (ENVI) committee yesterday (7 October) supported two separate reports that contain landmark amendments related to the financing and commercial development of CCS technology (EurActiv 08/10/08).

MEPs endorsed an amendment, tabled by Irish Christian Democrat MEP Avril Doyle, that recommends the free allocation of up to 500 million CO2 emissions allowances to select CCS demonstration plants. The allowances are normally reserved for new entrants to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

Equivalent to approximately €10 billion at current carbon market prices, this allowance-based financing scheme was bolstered further when MEPs endorsed a separate amendment that would set a CO2 output limit on power generating facilities.

The amendment, tabled by UK Liberal MEP Chris Davies in his report on the Commission's proposal for a legal framework on the geological storage of CO2 in the EU, is meant to oblige power generators to invest in CCS technology to meet the CO2 limit requirements, notably for their coal-fired power stations.

For China, EU efforts to develop commercially viable technologies that can neutralise the CO2 output of coal-fired power stations are of great interest.

China accounted for 40% of the increase in global primary energy demand in 2007, and most of that demand was met with coal, according to BP's 2008 Statistical Review of world energy, released last week in Brussels.

Most analysts agree that world's most populous country's reliance on coal is unlikely to decrease in the foreseeable future. Beijing has few alternatives for meeting the challenge of constantly rising domestic energy demand that results from continued high levels of annual GDP growth, says Fabian Zuleeg, senior policy analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

But the continued burning of coal is having a tremendous impact on the climate and on the environment, both within China and globally. Decreased run-off from Himalayan glaciers, coupled with higher water demand, has led to annual declines in water levels in key rivers like the Yangtze, which acts as the lifeblood of millions of Chinese.

Chinese leaders are taking the problem seriously and are "very willing" to reduce the CO2 impact of their economy, Doyle told journalists in Brussels yesterday. Beijing has also been pressing EU leaders to provide clearer answers on when and how the 10-12 CCS demonstration plants will be completed, she said.

Whether the Council will endorse the Doyle-Davies amendments on CCS as part of an eventual deal on the climate package before the end of the year remains to be seen. But EU countries should either back the Parliament on the issue or propose a realistic alternative. source

My comment: Interesting point of view. I just don't understand why if China is so interested in the technology it doesn't develop it itself. I know why, because it's a really tough one, but so what. It's not like lacking working force.

MEPs push for efficiency in long-term EU energy strategy

10 October 2008

Energy efficiency can increase the EU's energy independence and should take centre stage in the Commission's upcoming second strategic energy review, argue a group of MEPs in a letter to future EU presidencies.

The letterword , dated 9 October and signed by a cross-party group of five MEPs including Claude Turmes (Luxembourg, Greens) and Anders Wijkman (Sweden, Christian Democrats), is addressed to the energy and environment ministers of Spain, Belgium and Sweden: the countries that will chair the EU's rotating presidency between 2010 and 2012.

The MEPs want the ministers to "influence the drafting of EU Commission proposal on the second strategic energy review in order to make sure that energy efficiency is the key priority for the coming years".

Brussels is expected to publish the review in November.

But the Commission has already indicated that energy efficiency will be only one part, and not necessarily the top priority, of the strategy document.

The review will "focus on five key areas: infrastructure needs and the diversification of energy supplies, external energy relations, improved oil and gas stocks and crisis mechanisms, a new impetus on energy efficiency, and making better use of the EU's indigenous energy reserves," Commission President José Manuel Barroso said in a 9 October speech.

A leaked draftword of the plans, obtained by ENDS Europe, points to a mandate for energy savings measures in buildings that would require €8 billion in capital investment to implement. But the upgrades should in turn lead to annual savings of up to €25 billion, according to Commission estimates. source

My comment: Just check the numbers in the last paragraph. Aren't they enough to make a decision?

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