Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Climate in Europe, summer, 2010

This is a first of the series dedicated to the climate that I will publish in the next weeks. I have quite a lot of material, so be patient with the dates.
  1. Europe's scientists call for more effort in tackling rising ocean acidity
  2. Germany, Norway give $1.5B to fight deforestation
  3. Hedegaard backtracks on EU climate goals
  4. Retailers adopt green code of conduct
Quote of the day: And I actually wonder what kind of disaster should happen, so that we can make normal safety regulations and to strictly obey them. 

Europe's scientists call for more effort in tackling rising ocean acidity

May 19, 2010
Ten years ago, ocean acidification was a phenomenon only known to small group of ocean scientists. It's now recognised as the hidden partner of climate change, prompting calls for an urgent, substantial reduction in carbon emissions to reduce future impacts.
The 'Impacts of Ocean Acidification' science policy briefing presented by the European Science Foundation on 20 May for European Maritime Day 2010 gives a comprehensive view of current research. Prepared by leading scientists from Europe and the USA, it highlights the need for a concerted, integrated effort internationally to research and monitor the effects of ocean acidification on marine environments and human communities.
The seas and oceans, which absorb almost a third of the in the atmosphere, are rapidly becoming more acidic due to increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide produces carbonic acid when it dissolves in seawater and up to now, the oceans have buffered the effects of global warming by absorbing almost a third of the carbon dioxide emitted from human fossil fuel use. Today the oceans are more acidic than they have ever been for at least 20 million years. This chemical change could cause significant consequences to marine ecosystems and the goods and services that they provide.
"Ocean acidification is already occurring and will get worse." said Professor Jelle Bijma, lead author of the report and a biogeochemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. "Under a business-as-usual scenario, predictions for the end of the century are that the surface oceans will become 150 per cent more acidic - and this is a hell of a lot."Integrated research on the impacts of ocean acidification is still a very new field - the full implications of these changes are unclear for and fisheries resources, including fish stocks, shellfish and coral reefs. Economic research on systems for managing marine resources is essential to understand the impacts on fisheries and the human communities that rely on them. source
My comment: I wonder how the so called climate skeptics will deny this one. Though, they are quite creative I must admit. For me, it looks quite logical - more CO2 in the atmosphere, more CO2 and carbonic acid in the water. And acid in the water is rarely a good thing. Now, even if we're not the cause of the CO2 in the atmosphere (which I'm sure we are, but if we imagine we're not), we still have to do something about the water. Because so many people feed and survive on the oceans, it's very bad idea to kill the water creatures. And I think we're way past the observation stage. We have to do something and decreasing our own CO2 emissions is a very good start. And then, we'll think what else we could do.

Germany, Norway give $1.5B to fight deforestation

May 26, 2010 By IAN MACDOUGALL , Associated Press Writer
(AP) -- Germany and Norway will pledge $1.5 billion to fight deforestation, blamed for releasing some of the carbon dioxide contributing to global warming, Norway's prime minister said Wednesday on the eve of a conference in Oslo.
The contributions give a boost to talks starting Thursday on creating a single international agency for monitoring and financing efforts to help poor nations protect their forests and .
The program - called REDD Plus, for Reducing Emissions from and Degradation - was one of the few plans agreed on during the disappointing climate talks in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Germany's pledge of $500 million brings REDD Plus funding so far to $4 billion, with France, Norway and four other countries having previously committed $3.5 billion, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said. Thursday's conference is meant to work out the final details of the program.
Norway also said it would give an additional $1 billion to help Indonesia fight deforestation there. Due to deforestation from logging, crop-growing and grazing, Indonesia and Brazil have become the world's third- and fourth-largest carbon emitters, after China and the U.S.
Deforestation - the burning of woodlands or the rotting of felled trees - is thought to account for up to 20 percent of released into the atmosphere - as much as that emitted by all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined.Stoltenberg said Norway's agreement with Indonesia will help finance an independent system of monitoring and quantifying greenhouse gas emissions tied to deforestation.The system will allow Norway to pay Indonesia a fixed sum per ton of CO2 emissions reduced due to rain preservation, he said, adding that the pay-per-result system encourages accountability.
Norway has had a similar agreement with Brazil since the mid-1990s, and said it planned to work with Mexico also to protect forests in developing countries.
 sourceMy comment: What I find amazing is that when I was a kid, I watched in children shows about burning trees in the jungle and I found that so upsetting. And yet, almost 20 years later, we still fight the same devil, trees are still burned or cut or so on! Just like as persons, we're supposed to grow up as a society as well. And obviously, we don't. And behind all those words, we find nothing in substance. Nothing that will bring change. Some countries will pay another countries to preserve their own forests. However this effort will be just a little drop in the ocean of murdering trees. Because trees are everywhere and they are equally endangered. I have often written about the massive cutting of trees home, about the absolute impossibility of our government to handle the problem, about how those trees are burned for heating or exported to other countries. And I'm sure this happens in all the poorer countries, no matter where they are. Without global agreement on the question and global actions to stop that, we're doing nothing. Even if some countries pay huge amounts of money to other countries.

More on this:
Parliament vote seals ban on illegal timber - The European Parliament yesterday (7 July) backed a compromise to close EU markets to illegal timber.
MEPs voted to approve a political inter-institutional agreement on a new regulation that sets obligations on operators that place timber or related products on the EU market.
The new legislation issues a ban on illegally-harvested timber. Covering the whole timber supply chain from logging sites to European consumers, the law aims to guarantee legally-sourced products access to EU markets while halting deforestation in third countries.
When the legislation enters into force in late 2012, the operator who first places timber or a timber product on the EU market will have to trace its origins or face sanctions. All subsequent sellers will then have to declare who they bought the timber from and who they sold it to in order to ensure that the legality of the wood can be traced at any point in the supply chain.
- Finally something good for everyone in Europe. However, I'm not sure what percentage of that timber ever hit the European market legally. And how much go for heating or for third counties, like Turkey. Let's see how this will work out.

Hedegaard backtracks on EU climate goals 

02 June 2010
EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard yesterday (26 May) presented a paper making the case for moving towards a unilateral 30% cut in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. But she failed to stand behind it, bowing to pressure from France and Germany.
The EU's climate chief unveiled a new communication arguing that increasing the EU's 2020 climate goal to a 30% emission reduction from 1990 levels would be both affordable and technically feasible.
The European Commission estimates that as a result of the economic downturn, the cost of meeting the current 20% target has dropped to €48bn per year until 2020, down from an initial estimate of €70 billion when the package was agreed.
Consequently, making the extra effort to reach 30% would now cost just€11bn more than what EU governments signed up to two years ago, it argued (EurActiv 03/05/10).
But despite making the case for moving to 30%, the commissioner did not lend her support to unilateral EU action, saying that the shift would remain conditional on progress towards a new international climate treaty. 
Hedegaard said the next step would be to analyse the impact of raising the targets for individual member states so that they can revise their positions. The Spanish EU Presidency is planning to hold preliminary discussions on the issue at a June meeting of environment ministers, she added.
On Tuesday, French and German industry ministers told journalists that Paris and Berlin would only back a move to -30% if other nations were to make comparable efforts (EurActiv 26/05/10).
The extra effort required to move to a 30% target would only result in extra production losses of 1% for energy-intensive industries, with the chemicals industry worst hit, it added.Hedegaard said that current measures to combat carbon leakage in the form of free allocations of emission allowances and the option to use offset credits thus "remain justified and should remain in place".
The Commission is continuing to look into border tariffs as an option, she said, before warning that it would be "extremely difficult" to create a system without placing a huge bureaucratic burden on industries.
A flux of recent studies have argued that the risk of carbon leakage has been hugely over-estimated and in fact only a few sectors are affected.
My comment: Ah, how nice! Nothing new, it's just intriguing to follow the game in the EC. So the EC propose something, France and Germany say "No" and the EC propose something else. It's so good to enjoy the European democracy, where all the member-states have equal saying into the policies of the EU. Oh, wait, they don't. It's funny, how France and Germany require other countries to make the effort too, somehow ignoring the fact, that the worst polluting and emitting industries are their own! Very convenient and very very wrong. Luckily for them, all the other countries are on their knees right now, otherwise, the situation might get very ugly.

EU waters down industrial pollution law ( 22 June 2010)- The EU has struck an agreement on a planned Industrial Emissions Directive, imposing stricter limits on air, soil and water pollution but allowing coal-fired plants (UK, Poland, Italy) derogations until mid-2020.
It obliges industrial operators to obtain permits from national authorities based on best available techniques, which are considered the most cost-effective means of achieving a high level of environmental protection. The permits include precise limit values for atmospheric pollutants that cause acid rain and smog, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dust.
- What I find most unbelievable is that in the beginning of 21st century, we still use coal for heating and electricity! I mean seriously! We can use nuclear energy, solar, wind, ocean energy and yet, we rely on COAL! It's ridiculous. If I was a citizen of the above mentioned countries, I would be very VERY ashamed.

Retailers adopt green code of conduct

 25 June 2010
Major EU retailers, including Carrefour and Tesco, have signed up to a voluntary code of conduct seeking to reduce their environmental footprint on issues ranging from energy use to sustainable sourcing of fish and timber.
With the 'code for environmentally sustainable business', launched yesterday (24 June), the signatories commit to a set of principles and measures aimed at reducing their environmental footprint in six areas.
These include more sustainable sourcing of specific products, such as timber or fish, improving resource efficiency in stores and "optimising" transport and distribution. Others focus on better waste management practices and improving communication to consumers.
Forum members include international retailers like Carrefour, C&A, Delhaize, Ikea, Marks and Spencer and Tesco, as well as federations like EuroCommerce and the European Retail Round Table (ERRT).
sourceMy comment: Hm, I wonder would that include GMO, because we know that Carrefour banned GMO products from their shelves. I hope that won't change. Even if I question that ban, since there is GM soy in almost any sweet product on the market. But still, I think this initiative is quite good and I wish them luck.


Carbon offset auditors get poor grade - Reviewers of carbon-offsetting projects in developing countries under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) were given poor grades for the second year in a row by green group WWF. - Yeah, imagine how well is functioning the carbon offset then! Absolute nonsense.

EU struggles to find voice on environment issues - The European Union is bogged down in a power struggle over who speaks for the bloc at international meetings, threatening action on environmental issues from mercury pollution to whaling, EU officials say.- ROFL :) Everyone wants to rule the world...

Regions build climate alliances with business ( 08 June 2010) - Regional governments will work together with businesses to deploy low-carbon technologies even in the absence of a global pact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, regional leaders told world governments on the sidelines of two-week climate talks in Bonn.

EU urged to regulate deep-sea drilling after BP spill (09 June 2010) - "In the aftermath of the BP oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, Food & Water Watch, an environmental consumer organisation, has called on EU authorities to tighten inspections of oil production facilities to avoid similar disasters in European waters. The European Commission has already held preliminary talks on the issue with industry representatives.
The European Parliament held a debate on security and prevention measures on offshore oil platforms in the EU on 18 May. But the House failed to adopt a resolution calling for tighter inspection methods, stronger safety rules and strengthening of international rules for off-shore exploration and drilling.
The resolution was drafted by Polish MEP Bogusław Sonik (European People's Party), vice-chairman of the House's environment committee.
Sonik told journalists yesterday (8 June) that his attempt to launch a proper debate on the matter in the House was watered down by EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who had met BP officials "behind closed doors" on the matter and was not planning to move quickly." - Disgusting. And not very surprising. What is surprising is that it is not the Polish representative who held the secret meeting but the Energy Commissioner. That I didn't expect. And I actually wonder what kind of disaster should happen, so that we can make normal safety regulations and to strictly obey them. 

Ministers give go-ahead to electric vehicle standardisation (26 May 2010) - EU ministers have called for the rapid development of a European standard for electric vehicles to speed up their uptake, with France and Germany leading requests for EU finance to fund pilot projects.

EU cuts chemicals fees for SMEs (25 May 2010) -  Small firms will pay smaller fees to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) following a decision by the European Commission to slash levies by up to 90%. 

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