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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Environment in Europe in July, 2009 - EIB to join the CCS massacre

Ok, I really don't want to make this blog a weekly edition, but it's very hard to keep up while not using a computer in the same time. And yeah, while working on the pc, while not using it. So, sorry to everyone! I'll do my best to keep my publications more frequent, I have so much info to share. Duh.
Today:
  1. Sweden introduces climate labelling for food
  2. Chemical sector claims positive role in climate change
  3. Obstacles pile up for EU's 'green buildings' law
  4. EU warned over carbon capture fund misuse
  5. G8 2050 climate pledge fails to convince
Quote of the day:It looks like the EIB wants a share from the treasure too. Fun! Ok, I won't even comment, since it's absurd to spend so much money on nothing, because this is what CCS really is. A big balloon aimed to bring some money to some member states.

Sweden introduces climate labelling for food

6 July 2009

Sweden is developing standards to help consumers make conscious choices about the impact of their decisions on global warming. Products with at least 25% greenhouse gas savings will be marked in each food category, starting with plant production, dairy and fish products.

The label is a joint initiative by the Federation of Swedish Farmers, two food labelling organisations and various dairy and meat co-operatives.

According to Swedish studies, consumers are interested in climate-friendly products and 60% of consumers would like to see a corresponding label on the products they buy.

The projectPdf external will see standards developed for climate marking of food that has an average climate impact of 25% lower than a reference product in the same category. It will also create a monitoring system to measure and follow-up the achievements.

Criteria for plant production, dairy and fish were launched on 26 June. Standards for other product categories will follow in October.

The leaders of the initiative stress that the label is not just "another carbon footprint scheme" and that it covers the food chain from the farm to the supermarket shelf, including distribution and packaging.

The initiative follows the presentation several weeks ago of a series of guidelinesPdf external for climate-friendly food choices by the Swedish National Food Administration and the country's Environmental Protection Agency (EurActiv 22/06/09).

Meanwhile, a European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) roundtable was launched in May this year. The European Commission-supported initiative seeks to develop a methodology for assessing the environmental footprint of individual food and drink items by 2011 (EurActiv 07/05/09). source

My comment: Go here, to see the eco-efficiency roadmap that Sweden tabled. Nothing new in it, that's why I'm not posting it here, but it's nicely summed up.

As for the food labeling, it's pretty cool. I'm definitely willing to pay more for food that is cleaner and safer. Of course, in terms of money, the most important quality is how healthy it is. In Bulgaria, we have a huge problem with food - the labels tell you something, but you know they lie. Nobody monitor the food production and it turned up that they were using palm oil in cheese, something that is extremely unhealthy. So, for me, the first thing a label should say is how the food was produced, what you can find inside and then the green value of the food. But both things ultimately mean better monitoring of the food. And I support that !

Chemical sector claims positive role in climate change

13 July 2009

The first-ever lifecycle analysis of the chemical industry's global emissions highlights the importance of the sector as a means of helping to reduce CO2 emissions through energy-efficiency and renewable energy applications, including insulation and coating for lightweight packaging.

"For every unit of greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly by the chemical industry, the industry enabled 2-3 units of emission savings via the products and technologies provided to other industries and consumers," states the first-ever reportPdf external on the Carbon Life Cycle Analysis (cLCA) of the chemical industry, based on 2005 figures.

The industry is hoping for free emission allowances in the next phase of the EU emissions trading scheme, which starts in 2013.

The report states that "the ratio of emissions savings to emissions could increase to more than four to one" by 2030.

The most important emission savings are said to come form building insulation materials, agrochemicals, lighting, plastic packaging, marine antifouling coatings, synthetic textiles, automotive plastics, low-temperature detergents, engine efficiency and plastics used in piping.

Insulation materials reduce heat loss in buildings and chemical fertilisers and crop protection in agriculture increase yields, helping to prevent emissions from land-use change, the report stresses.

However, according to the report, two thirds of the industry's abatement potential lies in the developing world, and "several hurdles stand in the way of realising this".

Therefore, the emissions saving potential identified in the study will only materialise with "effective policy and regulation" and a global carbon framework speeding up CO2 reductions, the study stresses. It states that "harmonised global policies" are essential to reduce the risk of market distortion and carbon leakage, and recommends local transitional provisions, such as free carbon allowances, to avoid market distortions at an earlier stage.

source

My comment: Yeah, I completely agree with this list they published. But I think there is some kind of misunderstanding. They really contribute to cutting the CO2 emissions with their production. But they don't do it FOR FREE! They sell those products, thus they earn from them. Then, why should they obtain free carbon allowances, when they should be perfectly able to pay for them?! Not to mention that it doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about reducing emission by insulating buildings and so on, when the industry that produces them will emit the CO2 for everyone. That's simply wrong. For me, they might be stimulated with free permits as long as they are using the best available technology and the invest the money won by the permits (or a percentage of their profit) in research and development of new technologies. I think this is fair!

Obstacles pile up for EU's 'green buildings' law

8 July 2009

The Swedish EU Presidency faces a difficult task steering through the revision of the EU's energy performance of buildings directive as member states are getting increasingly wary of the draft law's implications.

A Council working party met yesterday (7 July) to discuss a new draft of the recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). So far, few changes have been made to the European Commission's original proposal, but the list of concerns expressed by delegations is growing longer.

The Swedish Presidency has pledged to reach an agreement on the legislation before a meeting of EU energy ministers in December, with or without a common position in the Council of Ministers (EurActiv 25/06/09). But as a number of government delegations have taken issue with the Parliament's opinion adopted in April, the newly inaugurated presidency is likely to be left hammering out the details with the co-legislator without the backing of all member states.

Speedy progress is not in sight as several member states have indicated that they find many of the Parliament's amendments "overly ambitious and even unrealistic".

Some member states, although not all, would like to tone down a proposal to delete the threshold of 1000m2 below which new buildings and major renovations are currently excluded from the legislation. They would rather have either a lower threshold or a gradual lowering, the draft states.

Moreover, several countries think that the target date for transposition (by the end of 2010) and the deadline for applying the provisions to public buildings (by the end of January 2012) are "much too soon", the document reveals.

The Council is on a collision course with the Parliament on dates, as the EU's elected body also called for a 2019 deadline for all buildings to produce as much energy from renewable sources as they consume. This is unlikely to find favour with member states that are already concerned with the provisions for renewable energy systems in houses.

The Commission's proposal would extend the obligation to consider alternative energy systems for all new buildings, but several member states object to this, according to the draft document. They argue that a compulsory analysis of the listed alternative systems would impose an unnecessary burden where climactic conditions and the nature of the building, for example, would set limitations. source

My comment: I'm sure I have discussed that issue already, so in short, I also think that the goals are way too ambitious. It's ok to have ambitions, but you also must be realistic or at leas allow some space and time for bad estimations. I think that it's impossible for all new buildings to produce at least as much electricity as they consume at least with current and available technologies. Of course, there are many new and exciting ways to produce energy, but if it's only about solar energy-I don't think so. At least not for the moment. And it's kind of brave if not stupid, to require something with a directive, when it's not even possible for the moment. I might be wrong, I know EU experts are neither stupid, nor less informed than me, maybe they know something I don't, but still...

EU warned over carbon capture fund misuse

10 July 2009

European Union funding to support new technology to trap and bury climate-warming gases could be wasted as member states fight for the biggest cut, an EU lawmaker warned on Thursday (9 July).

Plans to build up to 12 demonstration plants in Europe by 2015 are at risk of being undermined by "self-centred competition" between member states, warned Chris Davies, a British Liberal MEP.

The European Investment Bank should be put in charge of the funds to avert that risk, he added.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS), a process of burying harmful gases, is seen by some as a potential silver bullet to curb coal-fired power plants' emissions, which are multiplying rapidly and threaten to heat the atmosphere to dangerous levels.

The EU wants 12 pilot projects in operation by 2015, and British MEP Chris Davies last year pushed through several billions of euros of funding to support that goal (EurActiv 12/12/08).

The funding has been provided as 300 million carbon emissions permits under the EU's emissions trading scheme, which means that their value will alter depending on the price of carbon permits when they are cashed in.

Davies warned EU leaders on Thursday of the risk the permits may be cashed in too soon, with carbon markets at relatively low levels.

"Premature auctioning of allowances by individual member states would reduce the total amount of financial support that could be secured," he said, adding the European Investment Bank is "best placed to manage the allowances".

source

My comment: It looks like the EIB wants a share from the treasure too. Fun! Ok, I won't even comment, since it's absurd to spend so much money on nothing, because this is what CCS really is . A big balloon aimed to bring some money to some member states. Because the reality is that the technology shouldn't be developed in all the 12 plants - just one is enough. Then they will optimize it and implement it to the rest of them. And in the end, it all will come down to a bunch of scientists that nobody pays to, who will develop it for free, because they are interested in science, not in billions. And ultimately, we all will buy electric cars, build nuclear or solar plants and the technology will be useless. Eh, life...

G8 2050 climate pledge fails to convince

10 July 2009

The G8's "historic" agreement to halve greenhouse gas emisisons by 2050 in L'Aquila, Italy this week was immediately condemned by green groups as "vague" and insufficient to halt global warming in the absence of a decisive mid-term target.

For the first time, the world's biggest eight industrialised economies recognised that the rise in average global temperature should be limited to 2°C. According to scientific consensus, this is the absolute upper limit if the world is to escape catastrophic climate change.

The G8 leaders consequently pledged to support a global target to cut emissions by 50% by 2050. Moreover, they supported an ambitious long-term target of 80% or more for industrialised countries.

But the base year for calculating emission reductions was left vague, as the declaration merely stated that the reductions should be "compared to 1990 or more recent years". The wording could herald a battle between nations not unlike the one that took place during the EU's internal negotiations, when the EU 15 largely supported a 1990 reference point and many Eastern states argued for 2005.

"The G8 conclusions are the most progressive on the subject ever," a European Commission official stated. As setting a mid-term target was not on the agenda of the meeting, all expectations were met, apart from agreement on the base year, she said.

But environmentalists were far less convinced, arguing that the 2°C threshold would be exceeded without a collective agreement on a 2020 target.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a prestigious scientific body, industrialised countries will need to cut their emissions by 25-40% by 2020 in order to avoid disastrous climate change.

The G8 leaders got a more positive evaluation for their focus on energy efficiency and green energies as a strategy for moving out of the depression.

The G8 countries drew attention to the green dimension of their fiscal stimulus packages, including energy efficiency measures and support for renewable energy technologies and clean coal, and pledged continuous commitment.

They stressed that subsidies encouraging carbon-intensive energy consumption should be slashed, while simultaneously putting in place regulatory frameworks to support a transition to a low-carbon economy.

The meeting also acknowledged carbon markets as a central contributor to reducing emissions. G8 leaders said emissions trading is one of the most cost-effective means of boosting investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean technologies, complemented by other incentives such as fees and emission taxes.

The EU's proposal for a sectoral crediting mechanism whereby developing countries could gain offset credits by exceeding emissions reduction targets in a particular sector was also reflected in the final summit document. It called for the reform of the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is based on projects that have come under increasing criticism for failing to achieve their climate targets.

After developing countries attending the 17-nation climate change talks refused to commit to specific goals to reduce their output of greenhouse gases, the world's richest economies have pledged to help emerging economies meet the costs associated with reducing their industrial carbon emissions.

Some national leaders want to replace the Group of Eight with the Group of 20, which includes such countries as Argentina and Saudi Arabia and collectively represents three quarters of the world's population.

source

My comment: In short about the G8 meeting - this is so ridiculous. I mean, in the current state of globalisation, it seems very odd to expect that just 8 nations can decide the fate of the whole world. I also think it should be G20 in the least. But ultimately, I think all the nations should have a representative. It's not like they make some kind of decisions there - for example this on climate?! Cutting emissions in 2050?! That will be after 41 years, people! Since when we started making plans with such duration. After 40 years we may travel in the space, already. Who knows. With current exponential growth it is absurd to make such commitments. We have to decide now, to do it and see is it enough or not. And this should happen in the next 10 year at the most! Everything else is just a joke. A bad joke!

And to finish, check out this this statement of WTO on my favourite issue of carbon leakage. Just enjoy the hypocrisy. So, WTO supports import taxes?! Fun! They really are useless...

"Although the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations aims to reduce tariffs and other trade-distorting measures on climate-friendly goods and services, policies targeted at cutting CO2 emissions could be exceptionally accepted under international free trade legislation, the paper underlines.

Border measures such as import taxes on products from a country that does not impose a price on carbon could fall under such exceptions, WTO says. Such measures are devised to discourage domestic industries from relocating to cheaper production areas and escape strict environmental laws."


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