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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fears and speculations over the climate deal

Today:
  • MEPs advance climate vote
  • Global airlines blast EU ETS decision
  • Report: Demand on nature reaching critical proportions
Very important news on the Climate front, that's why I put them here, if anything new arises before I post this, I will put it here. In short, it looks like the battle is not entirely lost. Lol, when EU started that fight on questionable motives, I bet it didn't know it will go that far. Anyway. I applaud any step forward to the adoption of responsibility towards the Climate and Environment. Remember, we're not doing it for the Planet, we're doing it for ourselves, for our lives and those of our kids. We will benefit from it the most. It will cost, but in the long run, it is the right decision.

MEPs advance climate vote

27 October 2008

The Parliament has brought forward the date of a plenary vote on the EU's climate and energy proposals in what is widely seen as a strategic move to avoid being handed a fragile compromise between national governments that leaves MEPs little room for manoeuvre.

On 3 and 4 December 2008, the full Parliament will vote on a package of four proposals, tabled by the Commission on 23 January this year to reduce the EU's CO2 emissions by 2020 while boosting the share of renewable energies to 20% over the same period.

Originally scheduled for the plenary during the third week (15-18) of December, an earlier vote means that EU heads of state and government will need to take the views of the bloc's co-legislators into account when they convene for the next European summit on 11 and 12 December in Brussels. The French EU Presidency remains committed to reaching a deal before the end of 2008.

A plenary vote after the summit would have put the Parliament in a potentially awkward position, since summit deals need to be reached by unanimity rather than by qualified majority voting. And once a unanimous agreement is reached, there may not be much room left for further adjustments by the Parliament, which could unravel the consensus reached between national capitals.

This is especially true with respect to the climate and energy package, with sharp differences between member states evident on several key points (EurActiv 21/10/08). Indeed, most observers expect that a final deal could be tenuous and will be reached in the 'classic' EU style through 'horse trading' and last-minute deals to get reluctant countries on board.

Though details remain elusive, it is also likely that member states will engage in trade-offs between the different elements of the package, with significant 'flexibility' built into the final deal. This means that richer EU countries could, for example, obtain emissions reduction credits by financing emissions reductions in poorer member states.

MEPs are unlikely to oppose flexibility as they have already backed the notion during their votes in the environment (ENVI) committee (EurActiv 08/10/08). But Parliament and Council are far from seeing eye-to-eye on several other aspects of the package. Another issues are the way money from CO2 allowances shouldbe spent and the endangered industries list publishing date.

In advance of the plenary vote, representatives of the Commission, Council and Parliament will participate in tri-partite talks to make progress on the details of the package. source

My comment: It makes sense the Parliament to have a ready opinion before the Summit, obviously. I just wonder what particular weight that decision will have, when we know how the deal will be reached. In any case, I'm very worried over the division of Europe on Climate, led by Poland. I won't go into my usual bashing (though I want to), but my concern is on the division on poor and rich members that we see more and more. I'm afraid that rich countries see less and less reasons to support the poor ones and that's bad and wrong. Poorer countrieshave their value in diversifying both the market and the politics and Europe shouldn't split on anything. We're strong only when we're together.

Global airlines blast EU ETS decision

27 October 2008

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has condemned a decision by EU ministers to ignore the current economic downturn and approve a compromise deal on including aviation activities in the bloc's emission trading scheme (EU ETS).

On Friday (24 October), EU justice ministers rubberstamped a deal, agreed between the Council and Parliament in June (EurActiv 27/06/08), requiring all flights - both within the EU as well as international ones entering or leaving the bloc - to participate in the Union's carbon cap-and-trade scheme from 2012.

The aim is to tackle aviation's small but fast-growing contribution to climate change, helping the Union to achieve its agreed long-term target of slashing total CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.

But the ministers' decision to approve the new law without discussion despite the sudden economic downturn triggered by the financial crisis was harshly criticised by international airlines.

European airline traffic has been facing its first negative growth attributable to economic factors since the 1980s, according to the Association of European Airlines (AEA), which explains that this downward trend places "a massive burden on the industry's profitability".

According to AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, these figures are unlikely to improve in the near future as the economic slowdown kicks in amid inflation driven by high fuel prices and a steep decline in business and consumer confidence. "The time could not be worse to be hastily finalising, without any impact assessment, Emissions Trading Scheme".

The growing threat of recession does appear to be giving new weight to such concerns, with a number of countries calling for industry exemptions to planned EU climate rules (EurActiv 26/09/08). Namely, the automotive industry could face less stringent CO2 legislation as France and Germany push to defend their ailing home industries and the millions of jobs that go with them (EurActiv 01/10/08).

Green groups and EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas nevertheless insist that the economic slowdown should not be used as an excuse to stall the EU's climate efforts. source

My comment: I agree with Mr. Dimas- you can use the financial crisis as an excuse as much as you want, but in reality, it's just a disguise for your fear to take action. I'm completely sure that the Climate deal won't affect the industry AT ALL! Least of all, because it will come into action until 2012 and until then, the crisis is supposed to be over. And if it's not, it won't matter anyway. It's ridiculous to try to avoid measures always complaining that it will damage the customers. That's simply not true! It's even not true for the automobile industry-as we see from the problems of General Motors, it has nothing to do with Climate-only with the crisis and the utter failure of the market to provide real value for the real products.

Report: Demand on nature reaching critical proportions

29 October 2008

Growing populations are putting so much pressure on the Earth's natural resources that two planets will be required by early 2030s if we are to maintain our current lifestyles, according to figures released today (29 October).

The biannual Living Planet ReportPdf external by the Global Footprint Network, WWF and the Zoological Society of London reveals that the timetable for reaching the 'two-planet threshold' has been cut by 20 years since the previous figures.

Looking at the changes taking place in the planet's ecosystems and in human consumption patterns, the report finds that global biodiversity has declined by 30% over the past 35 years and is continuing to do so despite some improvement in temperate areas.

Moreover, the ecological footprint analysis, which represents the extent of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems, shows that humankind is now using resources at a rate of 30% above the planet's capacity to regenerate them. The concrete consequences of the growing overshoot, such as deforestation, water shortages and climate change, can already be felt, it notes.

Considering the uneven distribution of natural resources, the findings suggest that most people now live in nations which are ecological debtors, covering their excess demand by importing resources from other countries. In the EU, the total ecological footprint is twice the size of the region's biocapacity, with the UK and Spain, for example, running an ecological deficit greater than 150%.

Nevertheless, the report suggests a variety of options to reverse the situation. While technological development will continue to provide sustainable solutions, much of what needs to be done is already known, it argues. For example, emerging economies can be supported via technology transfers. Urban planning can also foster more desirable lifestyles, while empowering women and promoting education and family planning can help manage population growth.

The success of such strategies is nevertheless conditional to managing resources "on nature's terms and on nature's scale," the report concludes, calling for global cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector to ensure that decisions in different sectors and across borders are taken with appropriate attention paid to broader ecological consequences.source

My comment: I have few comments in different directions. Obviously we're taking much from our dear Planet and that is a fact. I just want to argue that I don't think we're taking too much. Yes, some regions are dramatically endangered and many are even devastated. But what is damaged can be repaired at that point. I think people never put enough emphasis on the real problem with Planet Change-we're not "killing" her. We'll have to be much more naughty to do so. We're killing our natural habitat, as well as that of many other species-something that we're not authorised to do. And anyway, but killing our habitat, we'll put ourselves in a very nasty position. As long as we don't kill off everything, the planet will heal herself with time, the problem is that her time and our time are very different in scale. And while 5000 years for her are just nothing, for us, it's a whole civilization. And that is the problem.

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