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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Environment in Europe- the face of hypocrisy, 2009

Today:
  1. Poznań climate talks leave 'heavy lifting' for 2009
  2. Developing countries steal limelight at UN climate talks
  3. EU admits failure to protect biodiversity
  4. Industry set to win EU climate concessions
  5. EU leaders clinch deal on CO2 storage financing

Poznań climate talks leave 'heavy lifting' for 2009

15 December 2008

Despite great expectations, UN climate talks in Poznań have failed to deliver a coherent plan for action, with activists and environmentalists voicing disappointment that much of the "heavy lifting" negotiations had been postponed until next year. Delegates will seek to strike a deal on a new international climate change agreement in Copenhagen next December.

After 12 days of extenuating negotiations at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), delegates were able to agree on a work programme for next year. They also made progress on technical details, including how to measure deforestation and the principles of financing a fund to help poor and vulnerable countries to cope with the impacts of global warming (rising seas, floods, droughts, storms and wildfires).

However, key issues like the need to set long-term goals for slashing emissions and avoiding dangerous climate change impacts, as well as the introduction of a technology-transfer mechanism to allow developing countries to move towards low-carbon economies, were left untouched. source
My comment: Yeah, they made so much progress, they couldn't make a single decision. Whatever. It's so fun to compare their plans and promises from before the conference with the net result from afterwards. Ok, fun isn't the right word. Sad, more likely.

Developing countries steal limelight at UN climate talks

12 December 2008

Amid a growing sense of urgency at UN climate talks underway in Poznań, developing countries are leading the drive for bold emissions reduction measures, stealing the limelight from EU leaders struggling to finalise the bloc's ambitious climate package in Brussels.

Despite increasing scientific evidence indicating the need for immediate action, over a hundred environment ministers meeting in Poznań, Poland, are having difficulty finding common ground in defining a draft new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Some used the financial and economic crisis to slow down negotiations, while others preferred not to act until the US, which never ratified Kyoto, makes clear commitments to limit its escalating carbon footprint.

In the past two weeks, however, the world's emerging economies have shown impressive leadership in unveiling wide-ranging plans.

In a move to prompt global collective action, Mexico yesterday (11 December) announced a plan to cut 2002 greenhouse gas emission levels in half by 2050, a target made possible via voluntary and non-binding commitments to improve energy efficiency in heavy industry, particularly the cement and oil sectors.

Last week, Brazil pledged to cut its annual deforestation rate by 70 percent by 2017 - which could reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 30-45 percent over the next decade.

South Korea said it would announce an emissions cap next year. South Africa approved a plan whereby it would stabilise its greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2025, beginning to reduce them between 2030 and 2035. India outlined a national plan that would boost solar power production. Angola, Pakistan and Nigeria are reportedly developing their own mitigation actions that would be able to be implemented with measurable, reportable and verifiable support.

Meanwhile, positive signals also came from the US. Yesterday (11 December), California approved a plan to implement a law requiring the state to dramatically cut its CO2 emissions, setting a precedent for national and international action. The Global Warming Solutions Act is the first statewide effort to cap emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 (about 30 percent below business as usual).

Seven Western states (Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Utah) and four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario) followed California's lead by pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions as part of a Western Climate Initiativeexternal .

Australia will also unveil a plan next Monday on cutting emissions, according to reports. source

My comment: Ok, I have a little problem with this article. It's not exactly that I don't trust developing countries to make the right decisions, I just don't trust them to enforce them. I know what kind of problem is illegal logging in Bulgaria and somehow, I just can't expect the countries famous with their drug cartels, to simply say No to the Mob. True, the mafia there isn't such a player into that business, but after they make the big companies leave, the mob is who will continue their action. But illegally.

Industry set to win EU climate concessions

12 December 2008

EU leaders meeting in Brussels yesterday (11 December) closed in on an agreement that would give Europe's big polluters more CO2 emission permits free of charge, as the bloc's major economies slip further into economic recession.

Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi initially threatened to veto the climate accord, but finally retreated.

Under the compromise, 10% of emission quotas delivered under the EU's emissions trading scheme for carbon dioxide (EU ETS) are to be reserved for a "solidarity fund" designed to help poorer countries from Central and Eastern Europe in their transition to cleaner energy production. An additional 2% are to be redistributed among those nine countries, with the bulk going to Romania (29%), Poland (27%) and Bulgaria (15%).

EU states also agreed to "use at least half" of revenues generated from the auctioning of allowances in the EU emissions trading system to invest in low-carbon technologies.

Europe's electricity giants, including E.ON of Germany and the coal-dependent Polish power sector, were also on the way to receiving softer treatment.

Under the draft agreement, power companies would need to buy only 30% of their CO2 emissions quotas at auction from 2013, with the share gradually raised to 100% by 2020. Regular reviews are foreseen every two years to evaluate progress, with precise intermediate targets defined for each year.

Under the Commission's initial proposal, the power sector would have had to buy 100% of its emission permit at auction from 2013.

The Greens in Parliament were outraged. Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, also expressed doubts about the wisdom of handing too much free pollution

A major part of the Brussels talks focused on heavy industries.

In one of the most complex aspects of the compromise, EU leaders agreed on a calculation method to determine which industries are most at risk of delocalising their factories, jobs and CO2 emissions to other parts of the world – a process dubbed 'carbon leakage'.

Under the agreement, industries would be considered "at risk" if the additional costs induced by the EU scheme led to an increase in cost of "at least 5%" of Gross Value Added. In addition, to qualify, any given sector would have to prove it is exposed to international competition for more than 10% of its exports and imports.

Sectors considered at "significant risk" of carbon leakage will be granted up to 100% of their CO2 allocations for free if they meet an agreed benchmark considered as the best available technology in the sector. Industrial installations which do not meet the benchmark would have to pay for their emissions rights, penalising the most polluting factories. This benchmark system had been supported notably by the European chemical industry.

The Commission is being asked to submit a legislative proposal on how the free CO2 credits will be distributed by June 2010, after a key UN meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009 which is due to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

For sectors which are not exposed to the risk of carbon leakage, the share of CO2 allocations to be put to auction is set at 20% for 2013. By 2020, 70% of allocations will have to be bought via auctions, a retreat from the earlier 100% figure credits to the power sector.. source

My comment: Long, but worthy. I actually don't think it's that dramatically bad. It's not the best, but it's close to. And the benchmark system will ensure that industries are not very polluting. In the least. I just don't get it why Romania gets the most out of the free permits. It's not jealousy or something, I don't get why we take any of it apart from because we're so poor. But Romania has similar industry to ours, why it get so much. Poland is clear- it's because they use so much coal. It's kind of odd, but oh well, life is never fair.

EU admits failure to protect biodiversity

17 December 2008

The EU is "highly unlikely" to meet its objective of putting a stop to biodiversity loss by 2010, the European Commission admits.

For the bloc to even come close to achieving the target, "intensive efforts" will have to be made by both the Commission and individual member states, according to the mid-term assessmentPdf external of progress on implementing the Biodiversity Action Plan to halt biodiversity loss in the EU.

Earlier this year, European leaders reiterated their support for the 2010 target to end the destruction of European natural heritage, first adopted in 2000, but the political commitment hasn't translated into effective action.

The report reveals that 50% of all species and up to 80% of habitat types deemed by the EU to be "of conservation interest" in Europe now have "unfavourable conservation" status. The same goes for over 40% of European bird species. While targeted measures to protect endangered life forms have been a success so far, large-scale action is nevertheless needed, it notes.

One positive EU development is the expansion of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, but site management and financing issues for the scheme must be further addressed, the report says. It also records gaps in EU legislation, most notably concerning invasive species and soil conservation.

The Commission identifies integration of biodiversity considerations into different sectoral policies as a major task yet to be tackled. The agricultural sector, in particular, puts pressure on natural systems as an increasing amount of land is required to meet growing demand for food and to provide energy crops following the EU's new biofuel policy.

Environmental organisations were less than impressed by the results of the analysis. source
My comment: Yeah, in a previous article we understood that the EC wishes to change the status of the territories under Natura 2000 - which are way less than they ought to be, at least in Bulgaria. But that doesn't stop us from saying that Natura 2000 was such a great achievement of the EU. Oh well, irony appart, sometimes I get too much of such nonsense.

EU leaders clinch deal on CO2 storage financing

12 December 2008

A deal on financing coal power plants equipped with technology to capture and store CO2 emissions deep underground edged closer today (12 December) after the European Council decided to give substantial backing to the technology.

Under the deal, national governments will provide 300 million allowances from the "surplus" of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS; Links Dossier) to subsidise the construction of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration plants.

The final decision comes close to the Parliament's demand for 350 million allowances, providing supporting funding of 7-9 billion euro. The agreed deal will only secure 6-7 billion euros, which Davies described as the "bare minimum" but a basis from which to proceed.

MEPs and the French EU Presidency are scheduled to meet tomorrow to finalise the details of the agreement. The Parliament will then have to modify Irish MEP Avril Doyle's report on the EU ETS proposal to mirror the conclusions of the Council, so that it can be voted upon during the next plenary session on 17 December. source

My comment: Should I even start on CCS?!Ah, how many night, how many fights as the song went. Whatever. Again, better than nothing. I just don't get it who told them that CCS can be used for anything at the current stage of the technology.

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