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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Industry in Europe, August, 2009 - or USA and EU against China, round 1

Today:
  1. First batch of entrepreneurs sign up for exchange programme
  2. Ministers agree 'flexible' curbs on industrial pollution
  3. Polish union warns of EU climate-law job cuts
  4. EU, US act against China on raw material exports
Quote of the day:I don't see why any power plant should be out of the BAT scheme. They all should use the best available technology to protect the citizens and the planet. Otherwise they will all opt out and nothing will change. Then what's the point of this law? Just let them do whatever they like, because that's what we do right now. Ecology in Europe is like a nightmare.We pretend it's great, but from the inside, it all sucks.

First batch of entrepreneurs sign up for exchange programme

1 July 2009

Approximately 100 young businesspeople are benefiting from a new mobility scheme designed to encourage cross-border mobility in the enterprise sector.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs pairs people starting their own businesses with established SMEs with the help of chambers of commerce. 700 people applied for the scheme, which provides up to €1,100 per month (EurActiv 20/2/09).

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry, said he was glad to see the programme taking off. "Its objectives to help unlock business potential, reveal new opportunities and make better use of the internal market are more relevant than ever in the context of the current economic crisis," he said.

A total of 870 entrepreneurs are expected to spend between one and six months in another EU member state over the next 18 months. To avail of the scheme, new entrepreneurs are expected to raise additional funds and demonstrate that they have a viable business plan.

If successful, the pilot programme could be expanded as part of the European Commission's efforts to encourage cross-border business. Companies across Europe continue to focus on their national market rather than exploiting commercial opportunities elsewhere in the European Union, with just 8% of SMEs exporting their goods and services within the EU. source

My comment: I think I said it before-I think this initiative is a great t idea. If you think carefully, the hardest part of every new endeavor is exactly the beginning-knowing how to start and how to deal with the problems that you meet for a first time. So I think it's great that young people will have the opportunity to visit more experienced businessmen, to learn from them and then to go back home and spread this new experience in their home country. It really is a good idea and I'm glad it's all working out so well. Go Europe!

Ministers agree 'flexible' curbs on industrial pollution

26 June 2009

After long negotiations, EU environment ministers yesterday (25 June) reached a political agreement to tighten rules on harmful industrial emissions, which are responsible for damage like acid rain. But tensions with environmentalists are expected to resurface when the bill returns to the European Parliament later this year or next.

The proposal, initially put forward by the European Commission in 2007, will require some 52,000 industrial operators to obtain permits from national authorities to release pollutants into the air, soil or water.

It attempts to combine seven existing EU air pollution laws, including the directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) and the Large Combustion Plants Directive.

According to the EU executive, tightening emission limits on large combustion plants (LCPs) alone will reduce health costs by €7 to €28 billion and prevent 13,000 premature deaths every year.

But a consensus has been slow to emerge as many EU member states fear that stricter rules will come with too high a price tag. Yesterday, the Czech EU Presidency was given high marks for engineering a compromise.

The issue of large combustion plants proved to be the most divisive. The Commission originally proposed to tighten emissions limit values by forcing plants to adopt Best Available Techniques (BATs) by 2016. BAT technologies are deemed to be the top of the range on the market in terms of effectiveness in reducing emissions.

Environment ministers agreed to a Czech proposal to apply current BATs to new combustion plants earlier than envisaged by the Commission, within two years after the entry into force of the directive. For existing plants, the deadline was set to 2016, with a transition period.

The presidency had suggested giving national authorities until the end of 2019 to define "transitional national plans" for reducing emissions of NOx, SO2 and dust, with a gradual decline in annual national ceilings.

But at the insistence of a group of member states led by the UK, Poland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania, ministers decided to extend this flexibility by another year - until the end of 2020 – in order to give member states more flexibility.

The Council also set a 96% rate of desulphurisation of fossil fuels for LCPs that cannot meet the agreed SO2 limits.

The directive now returns to the European Parliament for a second reading, where it is expected to be set for a rocky ride.

Indeed, the Parliament's first-reading position adopted in March called for a "safety net" of minimum emission limits, set at EU level, that no installation is allowed to exceed. But many member states say the provision would involve greater administrative costs.

Moreover, the issue of including CO2 emissions in the remit of the directive could surface again in the second reading. CO2 standards were flouted by a group of MEPs in the first reading, but the amendment was deemed inadmissible by the chair of the environment committee in January (EurActiv 23/01/09).

However, due to a change in the Parliament's rules of procedure agreed in May, MEPs in the environment committee will have a free hand in introducing amendments.

source

My comment: Note the part "combining 7 existing laws". It sounds almost ridiculous. Why do you need 7 laws, if they are obviously not working? And why would you have to combine them, when you're not even ready to make a law that will work. Obviously, I'm for absolute maximum of emissions for the whole EU. What's the point of that flexibility-what does it matter the geography of the power plant, wherever the emit, they pollute our air, our water and our soil. You cannot make a wall around your country and say I'm polluting my place. You're not. Your dirty air will come to me, I'll have to breath it too. We all will have to breath it. Why this is so hard to see? I don't care about UK coal plants. I don't want they to pollute my air! I don't see why any power plant should be out of the BAT scheme. They all should use the best available technology to protect the citizens and the planet. Otherwise they will all opt out and nothing will change. Then what's the point of this law? Just let them do whatever they like, because that's what we do right now. Ecology in Europe is like a nightmare. We pretend it's great, but from the inside, it all sucks.

Polish union warns of EU climate-law job cuts

25 June 2009

Some 800,000 jobs across Europe will be wiped out following the adoption of EU climate change legislation last year, warned Poland's Solidarność trade union.

Moreover, the position negotiated by EU member states seems fragile. While most member states agree that derogations from emissions limits should not be touched again as this would unravel the carefully-negotiated text, others are keen to see stricter environmental protection inserted into the final legislation.

Jarosław Grzesik, deputy head of energy at Solidarność, said Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic would suffer most because of their reliance on coal for electricity production.

"We're going to lose jobs in states where coal is used," Grzesik told a conferenceexternal organised by Confrontations Europe, a think-tank, citing EU countries located on the bloc’s eastern border. "But Germany, the UK and Scandinavia will also suffer," he told the conference, held on 23 June in Brussels.

Poland relies on coal for 58% of its overall energy needs (the figure jumps to 95% for electricity) compared with 26.2% for Denmark and 23.6% for Germany, according to 2006 statistics from the European Commission. Estonia (56%) and the Czech Republic (45%) are also heavy coal users.

According to Grzesik, the EU’s climate change laws, which require the power sector to reduce CO2 emissions or buy pollution credits on the European carbon market, will push coal industries to relocate to countries where pollution is not regulated.

"In Poland, production will move away to Ukraine, a few kilometres away from our borders," Grzesik predicted, deploring the fact that the Polish government and the European had provided "no analysis" of the impact of the EU’s climate legislation on industry delocalisation.

He also warned the move would force electricity prices up, possibly pushing low-income households into energy poverty. "After the package, energy will represent 15% of household costs in Poland," Grzesik said, up from 11% currently.

The trade unionist poured cold water on the notion that job cuts would be offset by the creation of new "green jobs" in emerging sectors such as solar or wind power. "Yes, there will be new jobs, but these will mainly be for young people," he said.

"According to our estimates, there will be 800,000 job losses for the whole European Union,” Grzesik indicated, a figure that will not be compensated by the estimated 200,000 new jobs, he said.

source

My comment: Ok, first of all, Bulgaria isn't relying on coal! That's an absolute lie. At least until we have the nuclear power plant, we don't have problem with our electricity. And even without it, we're still mostly relying on water power plant (is this the name?). I don't know how this guy got his information, but he's lying! And what's even more, I don't think anyone with some brain in his /her head in Bulgaria will leave the country relying on coal-we don't have so much of it. Only households in small villages heat themselves on coal.

And anyway, the whole article is full with propaganda. 800 000 people will stay jobless? That's nonsense, most of them are qualified enough to work in any type of power plant. And the rest are enough not-qualified to enjoy any job out there. If you drive a truck with coal, you can easily drive a truck with shoes or chickens. My point is that this number is hugely exaggerated!

As for the green jobs-green doesn't mean only support for the new technology that requires some great technology skill, there are other support jobs that will always need normal people to do it. Young or old.

Finally, for the power plants that will move across the border, how exactly this is European problem? If you have enough money to build a new power plant across the border, you surely have enough money to make everything needed to decrease the emissions. You just have to want to do it.

EU, US act against China on raw material exports

24 June 2009

In a joint effort with the United States, the European Union took action against China yesterday (23 June) for restricting exports of industrial raw materials, as EU companies struggle to access key natural resources at a time of recession.

In the United States, the decision to bring the dispute before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was seen as part of a more muscular trade policy promised by the Obama administration, but it added to tensions at a time when Washington is counting on Beijing to keep buying its debt.

Europe and the United States had earlier failed to persuade resource-hungry China to reduce its export tariffs and raise quotas on materials like bauxite, coke and manganese that are used in steel, microchips, planes and other products.

Billions of dollars in trade flows are affected, and China gives its industries an unfair edge, US officials said.

"After more than two years of urging China to lift these unfair restrictions, with no result, we are filing at the WTO today," US Trade Representative Ron Kirk told a news conference in Washington.

"We are most troubled that this appears to be a conscious policy to create unfair preferences for Chinese industries" that use the materials, he said.

As a first step, the United States and the European Commission - which oversees trade for the 27-nation EU bloc - formally sought consultations with Beijing at the global trade watchdog. If these talks fail, after 60 days the next step would be to request a WTO panel to hear the complaint.

In Brussels, EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said: "The Chinese restrictions on raw materials distort competition and increase global prices, making things even more difficult for our companies in this economic downturn." The resources "cannot be found elsewhere," she added, saying this is "not a level playing field" for EU industries.

The WTO is "the impartial place you go to resolve trade disputes so you don't have to have a trade war," Vargo said.

The United States has filed seven other cases against China since it joined the WTO; China has brought four cases against Washington. source

My comment: Ok, WTO is absolute joke but if people like it, then I guess they can file complaints for as long as they like. But I think there is a much more important point here. If "The resources "cannot be found elsewhere,"" then you must find another resources to use! And the only way to do this is to fund research to the point, they give you a better future. Because I personally don't see a reason why China shouldn't help its own companies. This will make it a global producer of everything, it's not a bad role for any country. As for WTO, you know :) But if we have to be serious-I really don't see why resource dependency over China is better than oil/gas dependency over Russia. It's the same problem, if we're so desperate to solve the one, the we must be equally desperate to solve the other.

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