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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Green Europe in the end of 2008

Today:
  1. Mixed reactions as Parliament approves EU climate deal
  2. EU clinches deal on CO2 emissions from cars
  3. Deal secured on ambitious EU renewables law
  4. EU to switch off traditional light bulbs by 2012
Ok, hardly green, but at least trying. I guess this really will take more time than Green NGOs dare to admit.

Mixed reactions as Parliament approves EU climate deal

18 December 2008

MEPs voting in plenary yesterday (17 December) triumphantly endorsed the energy and climate deal agreed by EU leaders at last week's summit, while green lobbies complained that the agreement did not go far enough in fighting global warming.

The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the energy and climate change 'package', with 610 votes for and 60 against amid 29 abstentions.

The general consensus among MEPs was that although the original proposals by the European Commission had been watered down, agreement was crucial to the EU's chances of reaching its three targets for the year 2020: a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency and a 20% share for renewables in the bloc's energy mix.

Much of the parliamentary debate focused on negative aspects, with the Council accused of handing out too many free emissions allowances under pressure from heavy industry and member states which rely on coal power. In addition, allowing EU countries to "offset" a substantial part of their carbon reductions by financing climate projects in developing countries was seen by some as a means of avoiding taking measures at home. source

My comment: Check here for a good study which claims that the risk of carbon leakage is realistic only for very few industries. Ok, I changed the initial article, with another, more recent and more relevant. I'm still not sure about my position of the Parliament's decision. From one side, it's horrible, because it's very watered down, and well, it's not enough. From the other, however, they are right, the agreement is the most important, because otherwise, we simply wouldn't do anything hiding behind talks and discussions. In any case, it's better than nothing, but very far from being perfect. Let's hope that with time it will get better.

EU clinches deal on CO2 emissions from cars

3 December 2008

A compromise agreement to reduce CO2 emissions from new vehicles was reached yesterday (1 December) amid pressure from the car industry, which is currently being weighed down by the economic recession.

The agreement still needs to be approved by the Parliament's political groups and EU ambassadors.

After a month of 'trialogue' discussions (EurActiv 04/11/08), member states ended up backing a deal based on a French proposal to gradually limit CO2 emissions to 120 g/km for 65% of new cars in 2012, 75% in 2013, 80% in 2014 and 100% in 2015 (EurActiv 01/10/08). The European Commission had initially proposed introducing the caps on all new cars sold in the region in 2012.

A target of 130g/km is to be reached by improvements in vehicle motor technology. A further 10g/km reduction towards the 120g/km target should be obtained by other technical improvements, such as better tyres or the use of biofuels.

As for the fines for the car industries, between 2012 and 2018, they will be as follows: €5 for the first gram of CO2, €15 for the second gram, €25 for the third and €95 from the fourth gram of CO2 onwards. From 2019 manufacturers will have to pay €95 for each gramme exceeding the target.

In the long term, the compromise sets the target of average emissions at 95g CO2/km for the new car fleet by 2020. source

My comment:This is hardly the best agreement in the world, but again, at least it's some. Obviously, car industry got what it wanted. It has plenty of time (5 years) to reach the target of 130 g/km, it also got lower fiens, and of course, it avoided the real value of 120 g/km, because now, they will have to be achieved trough tires. Seriously, I have no idea how you achieve that trough tires and fuels, but I doubt the producer will be held responsible for the lack of fuel to reach the target. Thus, everybody is happy. Except for the Nature. And I can't understand why there are not bonuses for the companies that produce less emitting cars?

Deal secured on ambitious EU renewables law

9 December 2008

EU governments and the European Parliament have agreed a far-reaching new directive to boost EU renewable energy use to 20% by 2020, following a compromise struck with Italy over a controversial 'review clause'.

According to the new legislation, agreed between the Union's lawmakers today (9 December), each EU country will be required to significantly increase the contribution of renewable energies to its energy mix, leading to an overall EU share of 20% by 2020. A 10% share of biofuels in transport by 2020, part of the overall 20% renewables target, was agreed previously under the condition that indirect land-use considerations and other sustainability criteria are taken into account (see EurActiv 05/12/08).

The breakthrough on the review clause and the broader deal on the renewables proposal was signalled by the French EU Presidency yesterday (8 December) following a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels.

The measures that will be mandated as part of the agreement are largely in line with the policy framework set out by Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes, Parliament's rapporteur on the file.

Turmes, who received MEPs' backing for his report in September (EurActiv 12/09/08), has been credited with pushing occasionally reluctant member states towards an agreement on the new directive.

As part of a wider compromise, member states must, by 2010, draw up and submit to the Commission for review detailed national action plans (NAPs) based on an 'indicative trajectory', followed by progress reports submitted every two years. Brussels reserves the power to enact infringement proceedings if states do not take 'appropriate measures' towards their targets, meaning the decision to take legal action will be based on the Commission's discretion rather than on strict criteria.

Producers of renewable electricity are also set to receive preferential access to EU grids under the new directive.

Member states will be permitted to link their national support schemes with those of other EU states, and will be allowed under certain conditions to import 'physical' renewable energy from third-country sources such as large solar farms in North Africa. 'Virtual' imports, based on renewable energy investments in third countries, cannot be counted towards national targets, however.

A system of open trading in renewable energy certificates between EU member states, favoured by EU electricity market traders and large electric utilities, was rejected in favour of a system whereby a member state can sell or trade excess renewables credits to another member state based on statistical values.

These so-called 'statistical transfers', which can only be conducted under the condition that the selling member state has reached its interim renewables targets, can also be applied in cases where member states cooperate on joint projects, according to the deal, which will receive the public endorsement of EU heads of state during the upcoming 11-12 December EU summit in Brussels. source

My comment: I have absolutely no idea how this article relates to the first one, which is newer, but it sounds good actually. Let's hope they didn't change it too much!

EU to switch off traditional light bulbs by 2012

9 December 2008

EU national representatives voted yesterday (8 December) to phase out energy-guzzling incandescent light bulbs and inefficient halogen bulbs between 2009 and 2012 in an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security.

The decision taken by a national expert committee endorsed a proposal by the European Commission to switch to more energy-efficient lighting. The Commission estimates that it will allow EU households to reduce their electricity use by 10-15%, saving up to 50 euro a year, a "balanced, realistic figure".

There has been concern about the higher costs of more efficient lamps, but a longer lifetime and price reductions expected from more production and lifting of excise duties is expected to render them competitive.

According to the conclusions adopted by the energy ministers on Monday, these rules on the energy use and efficiency of consumer items like washing machines and refrigerators should be extended to a range of 'energy-related' items like insulation. If approved by MEPs in the first months of 2009, the 'eco-design' requirements for energy-using products would be updated to include the new product list. The Commission recommended broadening the scope of the directive in its July 2008 strategy on sustainable consumption and production (SCP), part of a wider strategy to 'green' the EU's product line.

The phase-out scheme only covers non-directional lights, emitting light equally in all directions. It also makes exemptions for some technologies, including halogens with specific lamp caps and special purpose incandescent lamps such as traffic lights and infrared lamps. This was justified as ensuring that EU citizens have access to the same standards they are used to while taking care that they do not end up with empty luminaires, which can only take a certain type of lamps.

The new directive thus only bans incandescent light bulbs, Thomas Edison's invention, which are now regarded as last-century's technology due to their energy wastage. It sets minimum standards for energy efficiency and functionality. This gives consumers the choice between long-life compact fluorescent lamps yielding up to 75% energy savings compared to incandescent lamps, or efficient halogen lamps, which have the same light quality as traditional bulbs but provide only 25-50% savings. source

My comment: Well, we discussed that in a Bulgarian blog. It looks like people are not very happy by this decision. I also think it's a nonsense. Until the EC keeps the prices of the Chineese bulbs so high, this is a dust in the eyes and a roberry of the European citizens. Even if the idea is good, combined with the artificial high price that the EU sets for that kind of bulbs, it's simply wrong.

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