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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Environment in October, 2009 - Copenhagen getting closer

Today:
  1. Europe's air quality improving, data shows
  2. EU publishes list of airlines for emissions trading
  3. EU ready to shoulder a quarter of global climate funding
  4. Commission unveils first climate aid blueprint
  5. East-West divide stalls EU climate funding talks
  6. EU leaders fail to hammer out climate funding details
Quote of the day:think that there should be something in the middle between the two proposals - like 50-50% with some compensations that will make the scheme affordable to poor member states. Because if countries pay only based on their GDP, they don't have an incentive to invest into cleaner productions. Thus, the proposal of Poland goes against the veryidea of the forum.

Europe's air quality improving, data shows

25 August 2009

Although levels of major air pollutants continued to decline in the EU in 2007, the residential and road transport sectors are becoming increasingly significant sources of pollution, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Friday (21 August).

The findings were presented in an EU-wide emission inventory report that aggregates data on levels of air pollutants in the 27 member states from 1990 to 2007. The report found that the biggest reductions were recorded for sulphur oxides (SOx), acidifying pollutants whose levels were down 72% from 1990. The three main pollutants which cause ground-level ozone to form in the atmosphere – nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO) – were also down.

Emissions of primary particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), which causes health problems like asthma and lung cancer, were also down by around 12% compared to 2000, when levels of these pollutants were first reported by EU member states.

But the report also noted that energy use by households is becoming an increasingly important contributor to bad air quality across the EU 27. The residential sector was identified as a key source of six pollutants, making its overall impact on air quality the largest.

Road transport also got a poor grade as heavy duty vehicles make up the biggest source of NOx, while passenger cars rank among the top six emitters of several pollutants.

The power sector, however, got a better assessment. It has been reducing its emissions continuously via better abatement equipment, energy efficiency measures and cleaner fuels, but remains a major source of the pollutants which cause acid rain.

The largest member states were generally the biggest sources of pollution, with France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK making up most of the EU 27's emissions in 2007, the report shows.

Several member states have been struggling to meet the bloc's air quality standards.

In January, the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against ten member states that had failed to meet the standards for airborne particles called PM 10 specified in the 2008 Air Quality Directive. Several member states have notified extensions for meeting their compliance deadlines. source

My comment: To be precise, the reason why those pollutant were down is more likely the fact that most industries continue to relocate in China and so on. Or to go to less developed member states, where there are not enough pollutants anyway. Over all, I think we need much stricter standards in most of the sectors. It's a nonsense to claim we are serious about reducing the pollutants when we exchange one place for another or one pollutant for another. There was an article I read about factories in USA which reduced their emissions of pollutants in the air, by installing filters that emptied a lot of chemicals in the water. That is what I mean. To have an idea is the first step, to have the political will is the second. To implement both is the third.

EU publishes list of airlines for emissions trading

25 August 2009

The European Commission last week (22 August) published a list of nearly 4,000 commercial carriers which will have to participate in the EU's emissions trading scheme from 2012.

The list includes commercial airlines and private jet charters that fly to and from the EU, aircraft manufacturers including Airbus, and armed forces like the US Navy. The Commission stresses that the list is a live document and will be updated every year.

The new regulation kicks off implementation of a directive on the inclusion of aircraft operators in the EU's emissions trading scheme (see EurActiv LinksDossier). The legislation was adopted in January (EurActiv 02/02/09) amid criticism from the aviation industry in Europe and the United States.

The industry fears that additional carbon charges will place too heavy a burden on airlines, which are experiencing negative growth due to the economic crisis (EurActiv 27/10/08).

But the most controversial aspect is the inclusion on the list of foreign airlines that operate flights to or from European airports. The EU faced accusations that its unilateral decision would be subjected to legal challenge as foreign airlines would end up subsidising the EU aviation industry (EurActiv 09/07/08).

To provide legal clarity, the list allocates each airline to an individual member state, under whose regulation it is subsequently bound to operate.

The list was adopted on 5 August after a long delay, which has led some countries to postpone deadlines for monitoring plans. The directive obliges airlines to submit these to their administering country by 31 August, detailing how they intend to monitor and report emissions.

The UK has announced that after its parliament has published the list, it will give its airlines eight weeks to hand in their plans, while Germany has given its operators six weeks to do so. Actual monitoring will start on 1 January 2010. source

My comment: Finally! I can only applaud that they made this decision, because it is good. And ultimately, this is the only way to make foreign airlines to mind their emissions. It's not only about Europe, it's about the whole world! And after all, I'm already paying for carbon offsetting in Easyjet (which by the way are gathering personal data absolutely illegally, but that is another story)...

EU ready to shoulder a quarter of global climate funding

8 September 2009

The EU is prepared to put up to 30% of the money required at global level to finance an ambitious post-Kyoto climate treaty and overcome the current standoff in the negotiations, a draft European Commission document shows.

The paper outlines the financing needs of developing countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation and sketches out a scheme of how the burden might be shared among developed countries. The Commission plans to present the paper in the coming days, possibly as early as 10 September.

International negotiations currently appear to have reached an impasse, the draft said, adding that a step-by-step approach to scaling up finance could help make progress.

The draft evaluates the needs of developing countries for additional climate change financing, excluding any contributions from the carbon market, to €66-€80 billion annually by 2020. Out of this, adaptation costs would be in the range of €10-€24 billion while mitigation would require around €56 billion.

The calculations are based on the presumption that the international community reaches an agreement on an ambitious new climate treaty, requiring developed countries to cut their emissions 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. Developing countries on the other hand would be expected to lower their emissions to 20% below this baseline by 2020, four points of which would be reductions paid for via the international carbon market.

The Commission estimates that industry and power plants would account for €33 billion of additional mitigation costs, agriculture €5 billion and slow tropical deforestation €18 billion.

Over and above this public funding, the international carbon market would provide an annual €38 billion by 2020, according to the paper.

The draft also sets up scenarios of how much each developed country should contribute to the public funds, based on their GDP and greenhouse gas emissions. It puts Europe's likely contribution somewhere in the range of 20% and 30%.

This is the first time that the EU has offered a concrete definition of "fair share", which has been used loosely in previous ministerial meetings' conclusions.

The draft stresses, however, that the scenarios represent an "upper bound" for international public finance, which would be mainly used to enable the development of the international carbon market to leverage "much larger flows of private capital".

Moreover, the Commission proposes to take countries' emissions reduction targets into account when determining its share of overall public financial flows. Nations with more ambitious emissions reduction targets are likely to make better use of the international carbon market, leading to higher flows from the private sector, it reasons.

The draft suggests that the EU's contribution to climate funding would come from a mixture of revenues from the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS;) and "innovative sources".

The Commission estimates that the EU ETS would bring in €15-€40 billion a year from 2013, depending on how the allowance prices develop. The revised directive urges member states to spend at least 50% of their revenues on efforts to combat climate change, but there is no legal obligation for them to do so.

In addition to funds from national budgets, international shipping and aviation could be tapped into by obliging them to buy emissions permits or by using levies on bunker fuels, the draft says.

The paper also presents a contribution key, detailing how individual EU member states would chip in to pay for Europe's share.

Applying a global distribution key with a weighting of 90% GDP and 10% emissions, the EU would contribute €287.8 million per every billion agreed globally, the draft says. The biggest burden would fall on the largest Western member states, Germany (€57.96 million), the UK (€46.60 million) and France (€43.52 million).

Although simply using GDP as a basis for the calculation would increase the EU's overall contribution, Eastern European member states would actually be better off under such a scenario. source

My comment: Ok, I agree with this plan, but of course, it won't pass. And anyway, I'm absolutely sure that we may save most of those money, if we impose a carbon tax on anything that is imported in the EU from a country that doesn't have the same standards, following the productions line all the way trough. Because if we have to be fair, the biggest polluters are the industries. A developing country isn't likely to produce only for itself. So if it wants to export to the EU, make it pay. Then we'll invest the money into clean projects to compensate for their pollution. Or something like this.

Commission unveils first climate aid blueprint

11 September 2009

The EU could offer 2-15 billion euros a year to help developing countries fight climate change and adapt to its predicted devastating consequences, the European Commission said yesterday (10 September).

"The EU is moving and we hope other developed countries will follow," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas stated, presenting a blueprint for scaling up international finance in support of developing countries.

The move represented an attempt to unblock stalled negotiations over a global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, due to be agreed at the end of the year in Copenhagen.

The Commission estimates that developing countries' overall financing needs will hit €100 billion a year by 2020, if an ambitious agreement is reached in Copenhagen. The EU executive foresees that between €22-50 billion will come from the international public sector.

Emissions reductions in core sectors - industry, energy, agriculture and deforestation - would require €10-€20 billion, according to the Commission's proposal. Adaptation would take up €10-24bn, while €1-3bn is foreseen both for boosting capacity building and research respectively.

Moreover, the EU executive earmarked €5-7 billion to "fast-track" the implementation of the new climate deal between 2010 and 2012 ahead of its entry into force. The proposal also recommends that the EU commit to providing at least €500 million and up to €2.1 billion a year, starting from next year.

The EU's methodology for determining how much of the burden each developed country should offer hinges on its ability to pay, measured by GDP, and its responsibility for emissions. Depending on the weight of each factor, this would set the EU's contribution at somewhere between 10% and 30% of the total.

The EU is keen to factor in responsibility for emissions, as this would lower its bill compared to a GDP-only calculation. Where the EU would end up in the wide range of €2-15 billion depends on how the weighting is decided in Copenhagen.

Moreover, the Commission suggests that countries with lower climate ambitions should shoulder a larger financial burden (EurActiv 08/09/09).

The Commission blueprint suggests that around 20-40% of the total should be covered by public and private funding from the developing countries themselves. Poor countries should fund in particular low-cost energy efficiency measures, which pay for themselves through lower energy bills, it says.

A third source of funding foreseen in the plan is the international carbon market. This would raise around 40% of resources and lessen the need for international public finance as it becomes more ambitious, it says.

Dimas fended off accusations that the proposal had been scaled down after pressure from member states, as earlier drafts showed that the EU had been prepared to pay €13-€24 billion per year (EurActiv 09/09/09).

As a result of the EU's emissions trading scheme, European companies are the biggest source of funding for emissions reduction projects in developing countries through the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), he pointed out.

Environmentalists, however, were quick to note that the sums fall far short of an ambitious commitment. They have called on the EU to provide at least €35 billion annually on top of existing development aid.

The Commission's preferred means of financing the EU contribution would be via the EU budget, a method which would give the European Parliament a say in the process. Other options include the creation of a common 'Climate Fund' outside of the budget or direct contributions from member states, it said.

The paper will be discussed by EU leaders at their October summit, and it is now up to the member states to decide whether to take up the EU executive's recommendations. source

My comment: Yeah, this is more or less information as the article before, just more elaborated. I hope you don't find it annoying. As for the result, check below:

East-West divide stalls EU climate funding talks

30 October 2009

The first day of the European summit ended without an agreement on climate funding for developing countries, as Hungary and Poland led opposition to proposals that would share the burden among EU states by placing a significant emphasis on emission levels.

Nine Central and East European member states want any internal burden-sharing to be based mainly on wealth rather than on emissions, as this would significantly reduce their contributions. But the Swedish Presidency was looking for a deal on a distribution key that would have "a considerable weight on emission levels".

Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai said that the proposal was "not acceptable" for the less prosperous Eastern member states.

The coalition, led by Poland, argues that emphasising emissions will give countries like Sweden a major advantage as it is already one of Europe's most energy-efficient economies. According to the European Commission's calculations, if the distribution key were based only on GDP, Sweden would pay almost the same sum as Poland, whereas a combination of 75% greenhouse gases and 25% GDP would bring down Sweden's share to roughly a third of that of Poland.

"We will no accept a situation where Romania pay more than Denmark, and Poland pay more than the Nederlends," a Polish diplomat said. "It will be not fair."

"If we pay according to GNP, the country's share will be five million euros a year, while if it is according to emissions, it would be 38 million," said a Bulgarian diplomat, quoted by the daily Trud.

The agreement is seen as crucial to unblocking stalled UN negotiations to agree on a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in December in Copenhagen.

Moreover, negotiations on fast-track funding for the period leading up to the entry into force of the new treaty, expected between 2010 and 2012, stalled on the demands of the nine that contributions to these funds should be voluntary. The European Commission estimates the international financing required to be in the order of 5-7 billion euros per year, of which the EU could pay at least €500 million (EurActiv 11/09/09).

The Swedish Presidency was eyeing an agreement that would commit all EU member states to contributing a share of any upfront costs.

The heads of states and government will return to the negotiating table today to try to agree on a new proposal by the Swedish Presidency. This states that EU contributions to fast-track as well as long-term financing will take into account the financial constraints of poorer member states, according to reports. source

My comment: I must agree that this scheme isn't entirely fair, as well as the request of Poland is not fair neither. You cannot pay only on GDP, because obviously, some countries pollute more than others. For example, Poland with their coal plants cannot be compared to a country that uses mostly nuclear energy (or at least not directly). I think that there should be something in the middle between the two proposals - like 50-50% with some compensations that will make the scheme affordable to poor member states. Because if countries pay only based on their GDP, they don't have an incentive to invest into cleaner productions. Thus, the proposal of Poland goes against the very idea of the forum.

EU leaders fail to hammer out climate funding details

30 October 2009

EU leaders have agreed on the need to provide €100 billion a year to fund climate efforts in developing countries, but failed to commit the EU to any specific sums, delaying their decision until after December's UN conference in Copenhagen.

Between €22-€50 billion a year would have to come from international public financing, but how much the EU would fork out will depend on "comparable commitments" from other countries, EU leaders said at the conclusion of a two-day summit on 30 October.

An agreement on the EU's 'fair share' of the lump sum stalled on disagreements about how the financial burden will be shared within the EU. The heads of state and government agreed to set up a working group "to take account of each country's financing capabilities," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after the summit.

Moreover, the leaders agreed that €5-€7 billion per year will have to be made available as fast-track funding between 2010 and 2012 before the entry into force of the new climate treaty. But the EU's share will only be determined after Copenhagen, the conclusions state.

The leaders endorsed the long-term target of reducing the collective developed country emissions by 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 as agreed by environment ministers last week.

EU leaders talked up the agreement as a huge breakthrough in negotiations that have been dragging on for months.

But the leaders stressed that the agreement was entirely conditional on action by other developed countries. The EU is now looking to see what the US, Australia, Japan and Canada will bring to the table.

However, the summit did not move on the issue of surplus emission allowances left over from the Kyoto Protocol. The conclusions simply state that unused Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), as the pollution permits are called, are likely to accrue and must be addressed "in a non-discriminatory manner, treating European and non-European countries equally".

The bulk of unused credits in Europe are in the hands of Eastern member states, which made clear statements during the summit that they would not part with their allowances. Germany, on the other hand, has been leading calls for all unused credits to be cancelled after Kyoto.

The Swedish Presidency is now likely to call an additional meeting of EU environment ministers to find common ground on how to handle the surplus credits.

Amid bickering among EU member states about internal burden sharing, some EU countries are now starting to look for alliances outside of Europe to ensure an ambitious outcome at the Copenhagen climate conference in December.

Sarkozy said that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were working together with Brazil to put forward a proposal for Copenhagen.

"We think it is very important that Europe mobilises the whole of poor countries and notably Africa on the same position as us," Sarkozy said. He envisioned a common axis between Europe, the emerging economies of Brazil and Mexico and developing countries to counter China, the US and India. source

My comment: Well, I also don't think the credits should be canceled just like that. It's not fair, that is. And I also like how Sarkozy and Merkel are looking for friends, it will be hard battle in Copenhagen and they really need as much help as they can get.

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