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Sunday, October 5, 2008

European Ecology in September , 2008

In today's edition:
  • EU could halt energy demand growth, says study
  • Green building code set for overhaul
  • Report: Slow progress on greening Europe's buildings
  • MEPs want clarity on rules for big emitters
Those articles show some positive direction of European mind-flow these days. I'm just worried that it happens only in the Parliament and the Commission seems to be the evil. I know it's not, but it looks this way. Very bad public image.

EU could halt energy demand growth, says study

10 September 2008

Sweeping improvements in the energy productivity of Europe's economies could prevent the runaway energy demand and consumption currently threatening to undermine the EU's economic growth, says a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).

Europe has "an opportunity to increase energy productivity that would halt energy demand growth in the region completely," says the new MGI reportPdf , entitled 'Capturing the European energy productivity opportunity'.

Indeed, according to MGI's findings, as much as twice the amount of electricity consumed by the entire EU 25 in 2003, or eight million barrels of oil per day, could be saved using existing technologies.

"Compared with many of the alternative energy supply solutions, investing in energy productivity is cost-effective and faces less uncertainty," adds the report, citing estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which predicts that "an additional €1 spent on more efficient electrical equipment, appliances, and buildings avoids more than €2 in investment in electricity supply".

Energy-efficiency improvements in the residential buildings sector provide the greatest potential for slashing demand, notably through more efficient appliances and heating and cooling systems, the report says. Next in line are the commercial and transportation sectors, followed by heavy industry and refineries.

Improvements in these sectors could result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the order of one billion tonnes by 2020, equivalent to the GHG emissions of the UK and France put together, according to the report.

But EU and national policymakers, who are under pressure to create the right framework conditions to drive energy efficiency improvements, have their work cut out.

"A myriad of information barriers, market imperfections and policy distortions today stand in the way of investors taking up economically attractive opportunities to invest in energy productivity and explain why consumers and businesses fail to capture the savings that higher energy productivity offers," laments the report.

The EU has embarked on an ambitious drive to reduce its GHG emissions by 20% by 2020. But unlike in the area of energy supply, where a legally binding target for increasing renewable energy use by 20% by 2020 is set to be agreed by EU lawmakers, Brussels has been criticised for not pushing to make improvements in energy efficiency legally binding for member states. The EU has only set an 'indicative' target of 20% greater energy efficiency by 2020.

Among its recommendations, the report calls on policymakers to set stricter energy-efficiency standards for appliances and equipment. The Commission is proposing to revise and expand existing 'eco-design' and energy-efficiency rules as part of an action plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). But the proposals disappointed many stakeholders for not going far enough (EurActiv 17/07/08). source

My comment: Eh, should I say that again?! Efficiency is the easiest way to make economy! And saved money are earned money. Is it that hard for people to understand that?

Green building code set for overhaul

5 September 2008

LEED, the internationally-recognised voluntary 'green' building rating system, is due to be revamped to take better account of the energy use and environmental performance of buildings.

The revised Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) mechanism will be launched in January 2009, according to a statement by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), which introduced the system in 2000.

The original LEED rates buildings according to a points system based on five criteria: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

In the new LEED 2009, "points will be allocated differently and reweighed, and the entire process will be flexible to adapt to changing technology, account for regional differences and encourage innovation," according to the USGBC.

The EU has its own programme for rating the environmental performance of buildings, the 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which provides member states with an "integrated method" for calculating energy efficiency based on a variety of factors, such as the building's position, heating, cooling and lighting installations.

But unlike LEED, which has become recognised and popular at international level, the EPBD remains obscure, and member states are behind in implementing the directive.source

My comment:I know I already posted this one, but it just fitted too well here. I like the contrast-the accepted LEED against the obscure EPBD. I ask why it should be obscure and who's interested in keeping European legislation obscure and inapplicable?

Report: Slow progress on greening Europe's buildings

15 September 2008

EU countries have been slow to implement rules to improve energy efficiency in buildings, with many of the bloc's newer member states facing 'substantial problems', according to a new report by RICS, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Compared to a year ago, the general trend in the implementation of the EU's 2004 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) "is looking much more promising," according to the RICS report.

But overall progress remains slow. "To date, there are still a number of EU countries that have failed to even present the European Commission with a plan outlining the methodology they are planning to adopt" to implement the EPBD, says the report.

The EPBD, which came into effect in January 2006, provides a common methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings and for creating minimum standards of energy performance in individual member states. The directive applies to new buildings and to existing buildings subject to major renovations (see EurActiv LinksDossier).

While some member states like Denmark, Germany and Austria have fully complied with the EPBD, other states are lagging behind, with the delays causing frustration in Brussels. For example, France and Latvia were threatened with legal action in October 2007 for failure to provide the Commission with "all the necessary evidence to conclude that the two countries have implemented the required measures" of the EPBD (EurActiv 18/10/07).

Most behind are some of the EU's new member states, which "are still facing substantial problems largely due to their past, which has left them with a legacy of a highly inefficient prefabricated building stock," according to the 55-page report, which provides data and information related to the status of EPBD implementation in each of the EU's 27 member states.

Experts agree that improving the energy efficiency of buildings, which account for up to 40% of total EU CO2 emissions, would provide a major boost to the EU's efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. But real and perceived high costs, a lack of technical skills and expertise, conflicting national measures and low public acceptance or awareness are delaying progress, says Ursula Hartenberger, who heads RICS' EU affairs team in Brussels.

While it may take several years to overcome a lack of qualified 'green' building experts and to increase public awareness about the need for building efficiency improvements, concerns about high costs may be misplaced, according to several recent studies.

The Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), for example, has found that a wide range of energy efficiency upgrades in residential buildings can be achieved at no cost or even at long term profit with the use of existing technologies.

The McKinsey Global Institute last week (10 September) released similar findings based on projected improvements in the energy productivity and efficiency of the EU's economy, and in August 2007 the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) published a survey which found that most property professionals overestimate the cost of constructing energy-efficient buildings by up to 300% (EurActiv 23/08/07). source

My comment: The funniest thing of all is that France is one of the countries that had to be fined. Or whatever "legal actions" means. The point is that here, in Bulgaria, people are making major upgrades for isolation and efficiency of the buildings, because the central heating is so expensive. They take credits (subsidized by the EU, by the way) and they pay for the work, which isn't cheap at all. But it's good investment considering the price of gas, electricity and heating. And all the new buildings are isolated. That's really important here. How come Bulgaria can be more advanced in that than France? Of course, that's only for residential buildings, I guess in the industries it's way worst.

MEPs want clarity on rules for big emitters

12 September 2008

MEPs in the Parliament's Industry Committee have called for the EU's emissions trading regime to be tightened, bringing an end to free emissions allowances by 2020. But questions remain about the treatment of select industries exposed to 'carbon leakage' concerns.

MEPs in the Industry (ITRE) Committee yesterday (11 September) backed a report by Swedish Liberal MEP Lena Ek, who is the Parliament's shadow rapporteur on a Commission proposal to revise the EU ETS for the period beyond 2013, with 30 in favour, 21 against and one abstention.

The Ek report supports the Commission's original proposal to grant no further free emissions allowances to the power generating sector after 2013, meaning all electricity producers would have to purchase their emissions permits at auction after that date.

The power sector was widely criticised for making 'windfall profits' during the first EU ETS trading period (2005-2007). According to allegations, the profits, estimated to amount to billions of euros, were amassed when energy firms with a significant portfolio of 'low carbon' power generation simply sold the emissions permits they received freely (but did not actually need) at auction.

Barring concerns expressed by Poland, which relies heavily on coal for electricity generation and where power firms argue that they need some level of free allocation to remain competitive, it is likely that the other political groups will back the push for full auctioning for the power sector, according to sources in Parliament close to the file.

Less certain is the issue of special treatment for energy-intensive sectors that may be affected by outside competition from countries with less stringent CO2 emissions reduction schemes.

In the event that international climate talks falter, the Ek report calls on the Commission to list which sectors could benefit from exemptions from the EU ETS by 1 June 2010 at the latest.

In its initial proposal, the Commission said it would release such a list only in 2011, allowing time for data collection and to study appropriate exemption measures.

The Commission should therefore identify which sectors should be exempted from the EU ETS - either in the form of free allowances or in the form of special protection measures from 'dirtier' third country imports - before international negotiations wrap up in Copenhagen in December 2009.

But Brussels stresses the need to await the outcome of global climate change talks before specifying exemptions, since doing otherwise would send the wrong signal to the EU's international negotiating partners.

In the coming weeks, the issue is likely to remain subject to heated debate within the Parliament's Environment (ENVI) Committee, the lead committee on the EU ETS proposal. Irish Christian Democrat MEP Avril Doyle is the ENVI Committee's rapporteur, and her report will be voted upon by committee members in early October.

Both Doyle and Ek agree that exemptions for certain sectors should not be identified before the end of 2009. Nonetheless, the MEPs argue that industries need investment certainty as soon as possible, and are putting pressure on the Commission to commit to an earlier publication date for any potential list of exempt sectors.

Also, EK reports:

Calls on the Commission to include the shipping sector under the EU ETS.The Commission has indicated that such a proposal could come "at a later date".

Decision how the money collected from actioning should be spent-member states want to use them in a way they see fit, but there are calls for at least 50% of the funds to be put toward clean technology investments or anti-deforestation projects in developing countries, with the remaining funds to be allocated within the EU towards clean technology research and development or other climate change-related measures. source

My comment: You know that I hate free allowances. They are completely irrational and are damaging the idea more than they are helping. I don't know for how long the EU will support that nonsense. But I see a good trend for more rational decisions this season, let's hope it's not just for the good publicity. And I must say that I really don't agree that some industries should be exempt from the legislation. The carbon leakage is just a myth, a myth that some people use very well.

1 comment:

Denitsa said...

For the interested, here's how the climate fight is going in USA.

States Aim to Cut Gases by Making Polluters Pay

September 15, 2008

Ten states from Maryland to Maine are about to undertake the nation’s most serious effort yet to tackle climate change, putting limits on carbon dioxide emissions from utilities and making them pay for each ton of pollutants.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, will cap emissions for 233 plants. By putting a price on the carbon dioxide they emit, it gives plants a financial incentive to clean themselves up, with the proceeds channeled to energy-saving and renewable energy programs in each state.

The states will set their own limits, with each issuing tradable permits, or allowances, for carbon pollution. On Sept. 25, utilities will start bidding at auction for allowances, which they can later sell — mimicking the so-called cap-and-trade programs that effectively reduced acid rain in the 1990s.

As long as emissions remain below 188 million tons, however, the number of allowances will exceed the companies’ need. The states have set a floor price of $1.86 per ton; allowances will not sell below that level.


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