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Monday, February 2, 2009

Environment and energy, 01.2009

  1. EU to table options for global climate deal
  2. MEPs back limits on industrial pollution
  3. EU urged to reconsider strategic energy goals

EU to table options for global climate deal

26 January 2009

The EU will present proposals on Wednesday (28 January) for an international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The bloc is calling for a increase in global investment to 175 billion euro per year by 2020, more than half of which must be spent in developing countries.

In a communication to be published next Wednesday (28 January), the European Commission will outline the bloc's position on a post-Kyoto global climate deal ahead of UN climate talks to take place in Copenhagen in December.

The draft document, obtained by EurActiv, urges rich nations to step up public funding to help developing countries cut their greenhouse gases and prepare for the negative impact of climate change.

Sources close to the file, however, cautioned that the paper is likely to be heavily revised before final approval on Wednesday.

The draft proposes two options to increase public funding, based on the 'polluter pays' principle. The first would require developed nations to pay a set price for every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted – starting with €1 per tonne and rising later to €3 – to reach a total of €28 billion in 2020. The other option, less predictable because it is linked to market fluctuations, would set aside a percentage of emissions traded for the fund.

The EU executive will also urge developed countries to increase emission reduction commitments, opting for a binding agreement which would include all OECD member countries and all present and future EU member states.

According to the Commission, all developing countries except for the poorest ones should commit to adopting low-carbon development strategies by the end of 2011. These should cover all key emitting industries, especially the power and transport sectors. Such "robust low carbon strategies should be a pre-requisite for access to international support on mitigation actions," reads the draft.

Aware of possible abuses of the system, the EU executive is proposing to create an independent body to ensure that the plan's ambitions are sufficient for achieving developing countries' overall emission reduction objectives.

Along the same lines, the EU executive is also backing a proposal from South Korea and South Africa to establish an international registry to record the mitigation actions of developing countries.

As an increasing number of nations set up carbon trading schemes across the world, the Copenhagen agreement should also step up efforts to link these schemes together and create a global carbon market, reads the draft. An OECD-wide carbon market linking comparable cap-and-trade systems could be set up as a first step, it says.

Key to the success of such an initiative is a potential US cap-and-trade system, which is expected to be launched by the end of 2009, according to Barbara Boxer, chair of the US Senate's environment committee.

To facilitate the implementation of a strong system, the Commission draft proposes to put in place an EU-US working group. The EU executive is also proposing to reform the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows rich countries to finance projects in developing countries and claim credits under the EU emissions trading scheme. source

My comment: Ok, I obviously didn't read the draft, especially since I'm absolutely sure that it will be published in a very different way, much softened and effectively teethless. In any case, the idea of international emissions market isn't bad, but I'd like to see how they will make it happen and to be impartial. Anyway, let's see what they will publish on 28th.

MEPs back limits on industrial pollution

23 January 2009

The European Parliament's environment committee yesterday (22 January) approved the introduction of EU-wide emission limits to a Commission proposal to revise an EU directive regulating industrial pollution.

Lawmakers in the committee adopted a report on the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive, requiring some 52,000 industrial operators to obtain permits from national authorities to release pollutants into the air, soil or water.

The revised text will be submitted to the EU assembly for final approval in March, but Parliament sources close to the file said it was unlikely that agreement would be reached with the Council before that date, meaning the directive may well require a second-reading vote in the next Parliament.

MEPs called for a more flexible approach to setting limits for pollutants such as SO2, NOx, dust and CO, to which certain types of combustion plant would have to adhere. They said minimum emission limit values, which must not be exceeded, are needed to avoid having to resort to large-scale exemptions.

Such limits would be based on the best techniques available for specific sectors, and should be set by the Commission within a year of the adoption of reference documents describing the best techniques used in the bloc, emission levels and monitoring of soil and groundwater, MEPs said.

The committee also stressed that the best available techniques should be adaptable to local circumstances.

German MEP Holger Krahmer, ALDE rapporteur on the dossier, said the new directive will guarantee that member states can no longer gain competitive advantages at the expense of the environment.

The Parliament also reached agreement with the Commission to bring medium-sized combustion plants within the scope of the rules, but wanted to exclude small installations below 50 MW. source
My comment: Hm... It's funny how good it sounds without actual numbers. And if you forget about the local flexibility that the industry so craved for. Well, nothing new. Until it gets out of the EC-EP cycle, it would probably serve for nothing. Yeah, today I'm little pessimistic, but is this such a surprise? "MEPs called for a more flexible approach to setting limits for pollutants"!!!Seriously, how much more flexible the approach can get? Is this a law or a fairytale. How are we supposed to encourage people to think clean if they can obtain any kind of exemption or flexible decision by our dear law-makers. This is ridiculous!

EU urged to reconsider strategic energy goals

22 January 2009

Lawmakers in the European Parliament have urged the EU to adopt more ambitious long-term energy and climate goals for 2050, citing supply worries in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute and calling for more investment in nuclear power.

The EU's goal of improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2020 should be made legally binding while setting clear objectives for 2050 to secure European energy supply, the Parliament's industry committee stated yesterday (21 January).

EU lawmakers called on member states to agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%, improve energy efficiency by 35% and bring the share of renewable energies to 60% of the EU's total energy consumption by 2050.

The committee also emphasised the importance of further developing nuclear power, which it said must be used "at the highest technologically possible level of safety". It called on the Commission to draw up a "specific road map for nuclear investments".

Lawmakers urged the Commission to submit a proposal for revising the 2004 Security of Gas Supply Directive by the end of the year, including "mandatory and effective national and EU emergency action plans". They also stressed the need for a pan-European gas grid.

MEPs identified the Baltic Sea Region as a specific area in need of better integration, and called for the development of "gas and electricity interconnections through Central and South Eastern Europe along a north-south axis". They also mentioned the Caspian region, and particularly Uzbekistan and Iran, as a significant supply source for the EU "when political conditions permit".

Developing the Nabucco pipeline was supported by MEPs. source

My comment: Lol! They intend to develop the Baltic Sea region?! I'm sorry who missed the part that Balkan countries and especially Bulgaria was hit the hardest by the crisis! Yeah, I can't stop my bad mood from getting worst. Good example of European solidarity. Isn't it sad that someone who loves the EU as much as I do, have to say this?! It's simply not fair. And also, notice that now they are speaking of a Nuclear road map. Until few years ago, they were considering nuclear reactors to be evil devices. Well, at least, this is a change. From that point of view, I think the gas crisis will have a good outcome. Maybe even for Iran :)

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