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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Climate in March, 2009

Today:
  1. Climate inaction 'inexcusable', scientists tell leaders
  2. EU regions to get €105 billion for green projects
  3. UK to go ahead with domestic emissions scheme
  4. World leaders urged to link water to climate negotiations
  5. EU summit postpones climate decision until June
Enjoy!

Climate inaction 'inexcusable', scientists tell leaders

13 March 2009

A high-level scientific climate conference concluding in Copenhagen yesterday (12 March) delivered a tough message on the social and economic costs of failing to address climate change to world leaders expected to hammer a post-Kyoto global deal in December.

The message warns that the worst-case scenario predicted by the influential scientific body Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is presently unfolding, with mean surface temperature and sea-level rises, ocean and ice-sheet dynamics and extreme weather conditions beyond their natural patterns.

The scientists say there is no excuse for inaction, because there are already many tools available to act on climate change and help reduce future social and economic costs significantly. They pointed out that even modest climate change effects are putting poor nations and communities at risk.

There are also equity issues at stake, as people experience different consequences of global warming even within individual countries and regions, the conference concluded. As the burden faced by the current and future generations will be very different, the experts called for a "common but differentiated mitigation strategy".

The conference's goal was to give a comprehensive picture of climate research carried out in the last two years, since the publication of the latest IPCC report (EurActiv 09/03/09). Its conclusions will be delivered to world decision-makers ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference (COP 15) in December.

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of new findings showing that even the strictest greenhouse gas reduction targets can benefit the economy if supported by the right policies.

Barker said there is now evidence that stricter targets can improve innovation and speed up the distribution of low-carbon technologies, while increasing government revenues from taxes and permit sales. The money, he stated, could be used to pay for new technologies and to lower other indirect taxes, "ensuring the fiscal neutrality of these measures".

Scientists also presented positive evaluations of the viability of renewable energies. New research suggests that technologies such as wind and solar power could supply 40 percent of the world's electricity by 2050, if given adequate financial and political support. This contrasts sharply with previous estimations, which put the share of renewables at only 12% by 2030.

Without the required push, though, these technologies risk being marginalised to a share of around 15%, the scientists said. source
My comment: Not much to comment here, really, since it's all discussed and discussed. I posted it, because it gives a good overview of the situation in the moment. Also-note that there are no biodiesels and so on in the report-obviously people figured they are not a good idea. And, I think those 40% of renewables are quite low. The reality is that Nature provides unlimited amount of power, we only have to harvest it in a way we find economically and ethically justified. I personally think that major solar projects in the deserts should be avoided and it must be invested in housing solar panels and wind generators. But that would of course mean that people will produce their own electricity and that's not precisely the dream of any government in the world.

EU regions to get €105 billion for green projects

10 March 2009

The European Commission yesterday (9 March) announced it will back job creation by investing an unprecedented €105 billion in green projects under the EU's cohesion policy.

The 'green' funding takes up more than 30% of the regional policy budget for 2007-2013, almost three times as much as in the last budgetary period. The Commission hopes this will boost growth and create new jobs that are unlikely to flee to emerging economies such as China and India.

The lion's share of the money will be spent on helping member states to comply with EU environmental legislation. A further €48 billion will go on achieving Europe's climate objectives, including €23 billion for railways, €6 billion for clean urban transport, €4.8 billion for renewable energies and €4.2 billion for energy efficiency.

Research and innovation will also receive a boost, with €3 billion given to SMEs to help develop environmentally-friendly products and processes (EurActiv 10/07/08).

Meanwhile, MEPs yesterday (9 March) voted to extend EU regional development funding to energy efficiency and investment in renewable energy for housing to all member states.

Only new member states with low GDP per capita can currently use money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for projects like installing solar panels in housing or replacing old boilers with more efficient ones. The Parliament's regional development committee argued, however, that the financial crisis has created an impetus to changes to help create jobs in the building sector, while slowing down climate change by reducing energy consumption.

The new rules do not introduce any new money to the budget, but simply give all member states the option of spending up to 4% of their total ERDF allocation on efficiency and renewable energy schemes for houses. The full plenary is scheduled to vote on the initiative in April. source

My comment: Yeah, all very nice but if you think about it, the money won't go into research and implementation of new technology but of helping infrastructure and so on with exsisting or old technologies. It's all about the money, as Meja sings. And about propaganda if I may add. Why?Because for me investing in the green sector means investing into new projects that will significantly improve the use of renewables and/or the energy efficiency of buildings. Not rerouting public money to the public in a "green" manner.

UK to go ahead with domestic emissions scheme

13 March 2009

The UK is going ahead with a plan to make energy-intensive businesses, including banks, hotels and schools, cut their energy use and carbon emissions, the country's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said yesterday (12 March).

The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which includes all central government departments and local authorities, is a mandatory scheme that will help Britain cut greenhouse gas emissions by four million tonnes by 2020, the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road.

Yesterday, DECC published a guide to help affected businesses prepare for the scheme's start and the government launched a consultation for the next stages, it said in a statement.

"The CRC could help business save a total of one billion pounds ($1.38 billion) by 2020, whilst also helping them play their part in the fight against climate change," the UK's Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock said.

The scheme starts in April 2010, when some 5,000 British firms that spent over 500,000 pounds on electricity in 2008 must register and disclose their energy use and carbon footprints.

At the end of 2010, the companies will have to retroactively buy carbon allowances from the government to cover their emissions for that year.

Following that, businesses must buy allowances every April starting in 2011, based on their expected annual emissions.

The revenues raised will be recycled back to participants based on improvements made in energy use and emissions cuts.

The scheme will not affect installations already participating in the European Union's emissions trading scheme.

Britain's emissions in 2007, the latest figures available, were 639.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, already well within its Kyoto target of 12.5 percent below 1990 levels.

The UK has also committed to a further EU-wide goal to reduce 1990 levels by 20 percent by 2020 . source

My comment: I just have to point to the obvious. The make schools pay for their emissions but not steel-producers?! Ok, I'm guessing, but still most of the steel producers in Europe receive free allowences, does it sound fair? Not to me. The biggest polluters-the energy intensive sectors are free to pollute and the smallest polluters, like schools should pay?Hello!

World leaders urged to link water to climate negotiations

20 March 2009

Business leaders attending this week's World Water Forum called on the international community to acknowledge the link between water, energy and climate change, encouraging them to take these up in global climate negotiations that are expected to be concluded this December in Copenhagen.

Launching a new report yesterday (19 March), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) pointed to the "inextricable link" between water and energy.

Water is indeed used in the energy generation process as a coolant for nuclear power stations, for example, or as vapour to clean up heavy tar sands from which oil is extracted. Likewise, cleaning up water resources for later reuse consumes large amounts of energy.

With large greenhouse gas emissions, these industrial activities are important contributors to climate change.

Furthermore, global demand for both resources is on the rise as growing numbers of middle and high-income citizens need water and energy to power lavish lifestyles and particularly transport, swimming pools and green gardens, the report says.

However, some regions would feel the impact more intensely than others, it adds, urging world leaders due to meet in Copenhagen in December to agree a successor to the Kyoto protocol, to address water, energy and climate change as an interlinked issue in the UN negotiations.

Calls to make water an essential issue in the UN-led climate negations were echoed by conservationists. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) urged politicians at the World Water Forum to do more to protect the natural environment, arguing that rivers and wetlands offer vital services like clean drinking water and energy.

The organisation said climate change would be felt first via water, amid droughts, floods and rising sea levels. River basins and coasts in good condition could help people fend off impacts of climate change, it argued, stressing that investment in nature should therefore be included in all policies aimed at adapting to climate change.

The European Parliament's delegation to the forum argued that low political and financial priorities are the main hurdle on the way towards efficient water management, calling for the Copenhagen agenda to address water management, water resources and access to water for all. source

My comment: Indeed. Nothing more to say.

EU summit postpones climate decision until June

23 March 2009

Green activists strongly criticised heads of state and government for failing to put concrete sums on the table to help developing countries combat climate change at their meeting last week (19-20 March).

As anticipated, European leaders postponed until June a decision on the EU's position for global climate talks, which are scheduled to conclude in Copenhagen in December (EurActiv 18/03/09).

Meeting in Brussels for last week's spring summit, heads of state and government even appeared to dilute the conclusions drawn up by environment and finance ministers earlier this month by omitting references to potential financing mechanisms.

The summit conclusionsPdf external merely state that further discussions were needed on international financing mechanisms, and that leaders will determine "well in advance of the Copenhagen conference" the EU's stance on financing approaches, its specific contribution and "principles of burden sharing among member states".

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the European Union should make no commitment "while other nations, notably the United States and China," are not doing the same.

According to one minister, the principles of how the financial burden should be shared between EU member states, a major stumbling block for Poland (EurActiv 10/03/09), should be decided before June

NGOs said Europe was wasting precious time and needed to move faster to make sure that global warming doesn’t exceed 2°C, after which most scientists say its effects could become irreversible.

Greenpeace urged EU ministers to agree a concrete plan for climate financing during the Czech Presidency, and called on the G20 to put climate change higher on its agenda for its meeting in London on 2 April.

With the delays, however, it now seems that the Swedish Presidency, which assumes the EU helm from the Czechs on 1 July, will be left to finalise the EU's position for Copenhagen. source

My comment: Anyone surprised? Well, not me, certainly. But I must say that the Sweddish Presidency may be better into tackling the climate problems. Comparing them to the Czechs...But they must come to some decision at some point. Right?

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