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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Climate 04.2009-the efficiency stikes back

Today:
  1. Greenpeace: Forests could collapse carbon markets
  2. EU at odds over priorities for 'green stimulus'
  3. EU endorses new energy labels
  4. EU backs regional funding for energy-saving housing
  5. MEPs push back deadline for zero-energy buildings
Quote of the day:"And while I do belive that if you pour enough money into any science, something will eventually grow out of it, it's not the best use of the European money."

Greenpeace: Forests could collapse carbon markets

31 March 2009

Carbon markets would collapse if forest protection credits were to be included in international emissions trading, Greenpeace warned world leaders gathering for the first official round of UN climate talks in Bonn.

Launching a new report in the sidelines of the meeting yesterday (30 March), the green NGO said carbon prices would crash by up to 75% by 2020, falling from €16.05 per tonne of carbon to €3.9, under current reduction targets, if "relatively abundant" forest offset credits are included in the carbon markets. Even if the number of credits were more limited, the price of carbon would still devalued by 60%, it stated.

According to Greenpeace, a strong carbon price is essential to stimulate investment in clean and renewable technologies. Low prices would delay necessary infrastructural changes needed to keep global warming below 2°C, the NGO said.

The report demonstrates that unrestricted supply of forest credits would halve the production of credits from energy and industrial emissions reductions in China, India and other developing countries. It stressed that China alone would lose around $10-100 billion per year in clean energy and technology investments.

The NGO has taken a strong stance by insisting that developed countries should meet three-quarters of their emissions reduction obligations at home.

The EU has adopted a wary approach to using forest credits as part of international carbon trading. Instead, the European Commission has proposed the development of a Global Forest Carbon Mechanism, a financing mechanism whereby developing countries would be compensated for their efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation (EurActiv 20/10/08).

Artur Runge-Metzger, the Commission's chief climate negotiator, said the Commission is "very critical" about including forest credits to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) (EurActiv 23/02/09). "We think we should keep forestry aside for the moment" he said. The European Parliament, on the other hand, has pushed for including forests in the EU ETS (EurActiv 10/10/08). source

My comment: I also think that forests must be kept outside ETS for the moment but still it should be accounted for them in some form. There must be a major incentive for keeping the forests safe! Because the situation is quite critical in countries like mine. And I of course agree that each member-state should meet the bigger share of its reduction at home. Otherwise, we'll see a major money flow to third-world countries, but instead of helping the people there, they will pour directly into corporative pockets owned by Europeans. It's the law of conservation of money.

EU at odds over priorities for 'green stimulus'

2 April 2009

The European Parliament's industry committee has challenged the EU executive over its choice of green projects to be funded under the EU's economic recovery plan, calling for investment in energy efficiency and smart cities instead of carbon capture and storage.

The Commission originally proposed to spend €3.5 billion of the €5 billion recovery plan on gas and electricity interconnections, offshore wind and carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstrations.

EU member-state representatives in the Council of Ministers increased the energy funding to €3.98 bn, but did not touch the project list (EurActiv 20/03/09).

MEPs voting on the proposal on Tuesday (31 March), however, said any money not committed before 1 September 2010 should "immediately be redirected to projects in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energies". They argue that projects such as CCS are unlikely to reach a stage of maturity whereby they could absorb all the investment by that time.

The industry committee wants to see the leftover money support renewables and energy savings, particularly in cities. Governments expect any unspent funds to be returned to their budgets after the implementation period of the recovery plan elapses in 2010.

The Czech Presidency and industry committee MEPs will now start informal talks. The Parliament has full powers as a co-legislator on the file, but it is in a hurry to reach an agreement before a vote, scheduled for the beginning of May, to seal the deal before June elections.

Vis said the Commission had chosen to support CCS and offshore wind because they are "technologies down the road that are not competitive yet" but have a lot going for them.

"The case for arguing smart cities as needing to come from European funds is just harder to make, because there isn't that transnational character. In the case of an offshore wind farm off the coast of Denmark, Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands, you can envisage connectors to all of those countries. There's a clearly transnational interest," Vis argued.

Nick Robins, head of the climate change centre at HSBC Bank, offered a comparison of economic stimuli being adopted in the EU and the US, saying that investment in renewables was conspicuously absent from European recovery plans.

On the same day, the Commission announced it would spend €15 million in 2009 to promote efficiency and renewables investments in buildings and urban transport under the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) Programme. source

My comment: There is something creepy in justifying major investments in nonsense projects with their internationality. Or maybe I should use the word "soviet" instead of "creepy". Because let's face it CCS is important, but not that important and way far from anything meaningful. And while I do belive that if you pour enough money into any science, something will eventually grow out of it, it's not the best use of the European money. We must focus on efficiency and improving renewables, not in ways to capture the CO2 from coal-burning. And while the wind farms are ok, because they are really efficient, the CCS is not.

EU endorses new energy labels

2 April 2009

The EU stepped up its energy-efficiency policy by upgrading the energy labelling system for household electrical products and agreeing new energy-performance standards on Tuesday (31 March).

Member-state representatives agreed a new energy label layout for televisions, fridges, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers, based on the existing A-G energy efficiency classes. The meeting of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulatory Committee endorsed a European Commission proposal to "go beyond A", as most products have ended up in the 'A' category over the years as a result of technical development.

Consequently, additional classes will be added to the top class, so that "A-20%", for example, indicates that the product consumes 20% less energy than a traditional 'A class' product.

The new labels will be phased in progressively for different products.

Consumer groups ANEC and BEIC, however, slammed the new scheme. They said the new label is "misleading and unclear", and said consumers clearly preferred the straightforward A-G label.

At the same meeting, the committee also approved new minimum energy-efficiency standards for televisions and large household appliances under the Eco-design Directive.

From July 2010, only televisions that are more efficient than the current average are allowed to be sold on the internal market. From 1 April 2012, this efficiency requirement will rise by a further 20%.

For refrigerators and freezers, the current energy classes of B, C and below will be taken off the market by 1 July 2010, with Class A following by 2012. In 2014, only the most efficient products will be allowed to be sold.

Washing machines with lower ratings will be banned by 2010, and the current Class A will be faced out by 2013.

According to the Commission, the measures will save the EU 51 TWh of electricity annually by 2020, the equivalent of annual electricity consumption of Portugal and Latvia.

Green groups, nevertheless, criticised the EU for rushing through unambitious legislation before the elections (EurActiv 12/03/09). source

My comment: Wow! That's quite good legislation. Yeah, it always can be even better, but if in 3 years, only class A appliances will be sold, that's a major step in the right direction! Seriousle, that's absolutely cool. Because it will urge producers to start making better and more efficient stuff. I like it!

EU backs regional funding for energy-saving housing

3 April 2009

The European Parliament yesterday (2 April) approved measures to extend Community regional funding available for co-funding energy-efficiency and renewable energy schemes in housing to all member states.

The rule changes, proposed by the European Commission in December 2008, amend the Regulation on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which currently only funds energy-efficient housing schemes in the 12 countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.

Once in force, the new rules will allow all member states to use their allocations to co-fund projects like the installation of solar panels in housing, or retrofitting houses with wall insulation, double glazing and more efficient boilers.

The decision will not bring any new money to the Community cohesion budget, but allows member states to "shift their priorities," according to the Parliament.

The EU assembly and the Council agreed to restrict spending by individual member states on energy-efficient housing to 4% of their ERDF allocations. The new EU countries, however, will be able to fund other types of housing programmes, bringing their total spending opportunities to 6% of their allocations.

Moreover, EU lawmakers broadened the scope of the original proposal, which was meant to apply strictly to low-income households. Instead, decisions on which categories of housing are eligible for funding are left up to national governments.

The potential is in any case substantial, as buildings are responsible for around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. The Commission estimates that the Union could cost-effectively save 28% energy in this area by 2020. source

My comment: I so dream of a solar panel on our house. That would be absolutely cool. I hope some day, even in Bulgaria they start funding such devices. Instead of giving European money to Turkish companies to build Bulgarian high-ways, for which in the end, they will of course charge us.

MEPs push back deadline for zero-energy buildings

1 April 2009

MEPs in the Parliament's industry committee yesterday (31 March) backed legislation that would require all new buildings in Europe to produce their own renewable energy by 2019, asking for a big push in public financing for energy-efficient buildings.

Amending the European Commission's proposal for the recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) (EurActiv 14/11/08), the Parliament's industry committee adopted a report by socialist MEP Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (Romania).

They attached conditions for zero-energy buildings, while the Commission originally only proposed that member states should draw national plans, which specify targets for increasing the minimum percentage of buildings which consume low or zero energy. MEPs, however, argued that as of 2019, member states must ensure that all new buildings have zero primary-energy consumption.

The Parliament's definition of zero-energy buildings is buildings "where, as a result of the very high level of energy efficiency of the building, the overall annual primary energy consumption is equal to or less than the energy production from renewable energy sources on site".

The buildings would consequently produce their own energy using renewable energies like solar panels while minimising energy-loss with better insulation, double-glazing and similar measures.

Concerning existing buildings, member states should set intermediate targets for minimum percentages of zero-energy buildings by 2015 and by 2020, the committee agreed.

Moreover, all buildings undergoing a "major renovation" will have to upgrade to minimum energy-performance requirements, according to the report. Smart meters should be installed at the time of renovation and as a default for new buildings, it said.

The minimum energy-performance requirements will, however, only apply to buildings of certain size and not to every individual household. Member states can exempt stand-alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50 m2 from the rules.

WWF regretted that the provisions for new buildings were not as ambitious as many of the tabled amendments to the report.

The committee also added provisions requiring the EU to step up existing financial means to promote energy-efficient building.

If adopted, the amendments would require member states to submit national action plans by 30 June 2011, detailing the financial instruments they plan to use to improve the efficiency of their buildings. These could include low-interest loans, fiscal rebates on income, property taxes or obligation for energy suppliers to assist their customers on financial matters, MEPs said. source

My comment:Hmm, that sounds pretty ambitious if you ask me. It will require quite an investment so that all the buildings can produce their own energy, not to mention how happy the state energy monopolist would be from such an amendment. I hope the adopt it :)

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