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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Green Europe, 02. 2009

Today:
  1. EU to help cities go 'green', buy clean buses
  2. MEPs divided over congestion charges for trucks
  3. Poles seek funding for zero-emission plant
  4. Ministers to reject industrial pollution 'safety net'

EU to help cities go 'green', buy clean buses

12 February 2009

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is developing a financing facility to help cities improve their energy efficiency and buy cleaner bus fleets. An initial 15 million euro is foreseen to assist cities in developing the projects, but actual financing could reach "billions", EurActiv has learnt.

"We have two basic lines of action. One is energy efficiency and the other is public transport," said Mario Aymerich of the EIB.

"The intention is to use new technologies like hydrogen or hybrid buses to be implemented in cities" using green public procurement rules, the official told a conference in Brussels yesterday (11 February).

Funding will go to projects that can demonstrate their ability to deliver on the EU's so-called 20-20-20 policy of reducing greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020, and covering 20% of its energy needs with renewables by the same date, he explained.

The EIB is currently working with the European Commission to set up a 15 million euro fund to offer cities "technical assistance" in developing projects. The facility has not yet been officially approved, but this should be announced "in the coming days," Aymerich said.

According to Aymerich, "the new element of this facility is that, instead of financing up to 50% of the total cost of projects, we could arrive up to 75% of the total cost".

Last year, the EIB lent more than ten billion euro to the energy sector, with more than 20% going to renewable energy projects. An additional 2.6 billion euro was granted for urban public transport systems, it said.

The bank will also help cities to set up public transport authorities where required. "The role of this kind of authority is crucial," Aymerich said, noting that public transport authorities are commonplace in western countries but not in central and eastern European states that have recently joined the EU.

Aymerich added that the EIB will adapt its funding mechanism to meet cities' needs. source

My comment: This is a wonderful idea, but I think the funding is very VERY insufficient! Compare the billions of already granted projects to the millions of planned ones. If that's all the funding they are envisioned, then this is simply a joke. And what the hell means to "set up an authority" in Eastern Europe. I'm not sure what "authority" means in the case, but if it's not connected with money, it's useless.

MEPs divided over congestion charges for trucks

12 February 2009

Despite opposition from conservative MEP's, the European Parliament's transport committee yesterday (11 February) adopted a report backing national governments' right to charge heavy goods vehicles for the noise, pollution and congestion they cause.

The report nevertheless only partly supports the inclusion of congestion as a chargeable external cost of transport.

According to the adopted compromise national governments may only apply congestion charging to trucks on two conditions. First, they must conduct a cost-benefit analysis and submit an action plan setting out their measures to reduce congestion before applying the charge, and, second, a similar charge must be imposed on private cars too.

Meanwhile, noise and air pollution costs could be charged following standardised formulas and respecting certain maximum limits, MEPs said.

However, the committee decided not to allow member states to charge trucks for costs related to CO2 emissions, climate change or road accidents.

Finally, MEPs want to oblige member states to reinvest charging revenue into researching cleaner vehicles, better infrastructure and alternative modes of transport. source

My comment: I totally agree with this. After all heavy trucks don't go into city centres and thus. they cannot be charged for congestion. And since countries are getting heavy funding by the EU for the CO2, then it doesn't make sense to impose that charge on trucks. A good one, and notice how the center-right parties opposed it. That's why I'll vote left for the EU Parliament.

Poles seek funding for zero-emission plant

18 February 2009

Two leading Polish industrial companies are applying to receive EU funds for a project to build the world's first combined zero-emission power and chemical plant, to provide a sustainable solution to the country's heavy dependence on coal.

The joint project, by chemicals producer ZAK and energy producer PKE, would use state-of-the-art technology to turn coal into synthetic gas, which is then converted into electricity and heat, or chemicals. The carbon produced in the process would be captured and stored underground.

The plant would be built in Upper Silesia, one of Europe's most polluted regions, possibly in cooperation with neighbouring Czech Republic.

The new technology could therefore help Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and others which suffered severe supply disruptions during the gas crisis between Russia and UK reduce their dependence on Russian gas," he added.

The companies are pushing for the project's inclusion on a list of 10-12 EU-funded carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants. They argue that it will enable the testing of some 20 different technologies, identified as crucial for the 'de-risking' of CCS by the European Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Plants (ZEP) , while cutting its total CO2 emissions by 92%.

Andrzej Siemaszko, Poland's coordinator for the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), suggested exploring the transportation of captured carbon through a Czech-Polish pipeline from Ostrava to the mesozoic reservoirs stretching from the Baltic Sea through Poland. He said this was the largest onshore reservoir and perfect for carbon storage due to its porous sediment.

The project has broad political backing from the Polish government, and Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek is also a supporter. ZAK and PKE are looking into forming partnerships with companies such as Shell, GE and Siemens, which have experience of the proposed technologies and leverage at European level.

The companies estimate the project would cost around €1.3 billion and are hoping to cover half of this with EU funding for CCS demonstration projects and potentially with some additional money from the structural funds. They are also in talks with the Polish government for financial support.

The project should be up and running by 2015, according to EU objectives. source

My comment: Yup, Polish people quickly figured out how to take European money and to turn them into profit for Poland. Now, I'm not quite sure, but I think Bulgarian coal are too expensive at the moment, so they cannot be alternative to Russian gas for our country. Although I don't see a reason not to support this CCS project /except for my "love" for Polland, of course/. I mean, if they are going to support other projects, this is just as good as them. And in my eyes, they are all bad. From merely technological point of view, we must investigate them. But I don't think we should use that technology for our climate change fight. Because theyare again using limited and polluting resources, when we can use unlimited and unpolluting resources. They are again creating energy dependency, just the country we'll be depending on are different. Not a good deal, if you ask me.

Ministers to reject industrial pollution 'safety net'

2 March 2009

A proposal, backed by Germany and Austria, to place a cap on noxious emissions spewed out by a wide range of industries, including steel, chemicals and processed food plants, is set to be voted down by EU environment ministers today (2 March) over concerns that the measure would be too costly.

The proposed recast of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive would require some 52,000 industrial operators to obtain permits from national authorities to release pollutants into the air, soil or water.

Environment ministers from the 27 EU member states are to debate broadening the scope of the directive to new industrial sectors, such as large industrial farms or waste incinerators.

Power plants and refineries with a capacity of between 20 and 50 MW are also to be included in the scope of the revised text (only those of 50 MW and above were regulated under the previous version).

But the issue is raising concerns about security of energy supply, as it would create extra costs to upgrade oil refineries.

Moreover, a proposal by the European Parliament and the European Commission that would require pollution limits to be applied as a kind of "safety net" is raising concerns about the extra costs it would generate for industry.

Under the proposal, specific limit values would be defined as a kind of "safety net" by the Commission, with the help of national experts using the so-called 'comitology' procedure.

But the diplomat said there is broad agreement that this would create too much rigidity for industry

The Parliament, however, appears to see things differently. In January, its environment committee approved the introduction of EU-wide emission limits in the proposed new directive. They said minimum emission limit values, which must not be exceeded, are needed to avoid having to resort to large-scale exemptions .

The full House will vote on the revised directive on 12 March.

Consensus, however, is emerging over the strengthening of a procedure that mandates the use of the cleanest available technology in specific industrial sectors in order to limit pollution.

Best Available Techniques (BATs) refers to the most effective and available emission reduction technology, as documented in European BAT Reference Documents (BREFs)," explains the EU's Council of Ministers in a briefing note.

"The Commission believes that member states have [allowed] too much divergence from BAT in the permits they deliver to industry. The proposed recast directive therefore envisages a more prominent role for BREFs in order to reduce the scope for national authorities to deviate from BAT in permitting," it continues.

"There appears to be a consensus on the need to strengthen the role of BREFs," according to a negotiation documentprepared last November by the French Presidency of the EU. source

My comment: For what it's worth, I support the Europe-wide cap on emissions. This way, the most polluted countries will have a chance. But then, it really must be done in a way accounting for the particularities of every country. Which mean they will probably corrupt it in the end. I also support a Europe-wide BAT, I hope that gets approved. It's important to make companies the best technologies, not the cheapest one. Because thi is the only way to make those BAT also cheap!

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