1.1. 'Climate conference in Cancun should produce realistic result'
28 June 2010, Zeenews
United Nations: Underlining the need to build on the outcome of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for "a realistic result" at the upcoming climate meet in Cancun at the end of the year.
Addressing world leaders at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Ban said it would not be quick or easy to reach a comprehensive global agreement.
But it would be possible to achieve a meaningful, realistic result in Cancun, according to his office.
"The risks and costs of inaction on climate change grow each year. The more we delay, the more we will pay," he said.
After a lengthy process of negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009, which have been widely regarded as unsatisfactory, the parties could not produce a legally binding treaty and instead agreed to "take note" of the Copenhagen Accord.
Key elements of the Accord included a limit 2 degree rise of global temperature, 100 billion dollars on finance in long term finance to developing countries and 30 billion dollars to short-term finance to the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
The UN chief said that it was essential for G20 members to recognize publicly, the important outcomes of Copenhagen as the basis on which the UNFCCC negotiations could move forward.
"Hard-won agreements cannot be ignored," he said.
The Accord was produced by 29 countries, but principally drafted by US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, in the last few hours of the Conference, and was slammed by certain countries including Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba for having left the majority of the nations out of the negotiating process.
The Secretary-General encouraged the G20 members to fulfill national mitigation pledges and to be more ambitious and added that industrialised countries needed to fulfill their climate financing obligations.
Ban also highlighted the importance for concrete progress toward realizing the longer-term USD 100 billion per year pledge made at Copenhagen.
The UN High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing met in London in April for the first time to chalk out a plan of action for the coming months.
The Group has been set up to mobilise the money promised for climate change during the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last December.
From India, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia is part of the 19 member committee.
1.2. G20: Ban urges green investments
28 June 2010, New Kerala
The risks -- and costs -- of inaction on climate change grow each year. The more we delay, the more we will pay," the Secretary-General told leaders of the G20 industrialized and developing economies at a working luncheon on Sunday in Toronto, Canada.
Ban has been participating in the two-day meeting to try to keep the world leaders' focus on promotion of development in poor countries, despite the global economic slowdown.
In Sunday's speech, he urged the G20 members to publicly recognize the progress made last December at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, and to move forward within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) "to achieve a meaningful, realistic result" at the summit to be hosted later this year in Cancun by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
He also urged Governments to make concrete progress towards realizing the pledge made in Copenhagen for industrialized countries to deliver USD 100 billion per year in aid to developing countries for mitigating climate change.
Ban selected members of a High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Finance in February to mobilize the promised finance.
On Sunday, he urged progress on funds to be matched by credible action on mitigation, along with accountability and transparency.
Earlier in the day, Ban met with President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, on the margins of the G20 discussions.
He said he was encouraged by the commitment of support for the MDGs, including the role of overseas development aid, but stressed that greater investment must be made if the eight goals for reducing extreme poverty and hunger, improving health and education, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability, are to be achieved by 2015.
In addition to the MDGs, the leaders discussed Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Gaza.
During a working dinner on Saturday, Ban urged the participating world leaders to help the poor and vulnerable make ends meet, despite rising budget deficits and severe fiscal problems in some of their countries.
"Under any circumstances we must not balance budgets on the backs of the world's poorest people," Ban said.
He urged Governments to not depend on consumption alone to recover from the global downturn, but to invest instead in three areas of high return which he identified as agriculture, green recovery and health systems.
"Let us be determined to turn these three areas of high-return investments into a reality," Ban said, calling on the G-20 leaders to make clear their intentions on Sunday in the final communique of the summit.
The discussions this weekend have been building on the three previous G20 summits held in Washington, London and Pittsburg since the global economy downturned in 2008.
Ban has been pushing world leaders to keep the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable around the world on their agendas, as national economic priorities have become the focus.
To that end, Ban is convening a high-level summit at the UN Headquarters in New York in September to press countries to accelerate efforts to try to achieve the MDGs.
A Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group was established last week to build political will and mobilize global action ahead of the MDG summit.
Ban met on Sunday with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who has agreed to co-chair the group along with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The meeting on Sunday focused on plans for the summit, in particular the importance of women's and children's health and the fight on climate change.
1.3. “You don’t have to be a super-hero to save the planet”
23 June 2010, WWF
One week prior to the start of the EU Belgian Presidency, Belgian environmental organisations, including WWF, presented their key priorities to Regional Ministers of the Environment Joke Schauvliege, Evelyne Huytebroeck and Philippe Henry and to the Federal Minister for Energy and Climate, Paul Magnette.
‘You don’t have to be a super-hero to save the planet’, was the main message given by the environmental NGOs to the ministers and that quick actions are needed to guarantee a future for the next generations. The NGOs also presented a memorandum with 10 “green asks” to raise awareness of environment crises and to urge for action during the Presidency.
In the next six months Belgium will have the opportunity to lead the European delegation in key international negotiations, such as the CBD (COP10) in Nagoya to tackle the loss of biodiversity and COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, to combat climate change. The definition of a biodiversity strategy and joint efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be key priorities for the European Union. In addition to that, urgent actions are also needed in issues like illegal logging, waste management, energy efficiency and renewables and GMOs.
The presence of an alternative super-hero at the press conference, interpreted by the actor Ruud Gielens, gave the meeting a touch of comic humour. The super-hero gave the ministers a ‘super hero rescue pack’, including a sombrero to remind them the important climate negotiations that will take place in Mexico at the end of year.
Michel Genet, Director of Greenpeace, added: “We welcome the fact that the four Ministers have shown a will to improve their collaboration. This will allow some important dossiers to move forward. On climate for example, there is still no agreement for effort sharing of greenhouse gas emissions among the regions and the federal government. A better collaboration will be absolutely important to achieve some good results. Belgium is a small country, but we have already shown in the past that we can play a key role at the international level to achieve important successes on some critical issues. In 2001, when Belgium last held the Presidency of the European Union, we provided important contributions which helped unlock the climate negotiations during the UN meeting in Marrakech, which then resulted in the Kyoto Protocol. We expect this Presidency to have the same level of ambition.”
The Environmental NGOs announced that they will follow the work of the ministers and remind them of the commitments they made. On a dedicated webpage www.10greendemands.be they will monitor and evaluate the progress of the Presidency on environmental issues.
2.1. Clean energy: wanted everywhere but in the latest G20 text
27 June 2010, WWF
The G20 leaders conference has wound down to a disappointing close in Canada, failing to build on last year's commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and downgrading mentions of clean energy from eight mentions in their Pittsburgh communique to none from over the border in Toronto.
Sustainable economic recovery will need more than brief platitudes about green recovery, WWF warned on noting the lack of significant commitments on climate change, climate finance or even the G20-nominated issue of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
“The world leaders are still painting the economy in black and white. But the 21st century economy must include green,” said Kim Carstensen, the leader of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative.
“The greenest thing about the G20 is its ability to reuse and recycle earlier commitments. This summit could have been the beginning of real action towards a clean, efficient and resilient economy but all we got is some nice words about green economy and a recycled statement on fossil fuel subsidies”
At the 2009 Pittsburgh G20 summit leaders committed to “Rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption”.
“This year’s G20 Statement repeats this commitment, and leaders “...encourage continued and full implementation of country-specific strategies and will continue to review progress towards this commitment.”
Carstensen said, “Reforming fossil fuel subsidies is an obvious win-win solution for the environment and the economy, and it is encouraging that the issue will remain on the G20 agenda. But in Canada the leaders failed to take the next step to indicate their global level of ambition and agree a clear timeline to achieve what they promise.”
India takes a lead
However, one bright spot was India this week translating talk into action, announcing a phase out of fossil fuel subsidies on petrol and reviewing subsidies on diesel and other fossil fuels.
This week India’s example shows that there is surely a will in a number of countries, but to push the global agenda, we still need a stronger ambition and deadlines on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies which account for more than US$500 billion a year globally.”
"They went through this document with a vacuum cleaner . . . "
As the G20 meeting wound down, the final reference to "clean energy" was dropped from the text.
"They went through this document with a vacuum cleaner to remove any reference to clean energy," Carstensen said. "In the Pittsburgh G20 summit, there were 8 references to "clean energy" - in this one, there is zero. This is demonstrative of the host country's lack of drive and ambition on empowering a shift to renewable energy."
The G20 also did not agree any initiatives that could help provide funds to meet the cost of climate change action in the poorest countries. The move by German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy to advance the discussion on financial transaction taxes (FTT) was shoved aside by the G20. If FTTs were adopted globally, they would have the potential to generate much needed finance for development and environmental issues while forking out for the economy.
“G20 leaders say that they are the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
If they are serious about this, they need to also discuss how to generate the funds urgently needed to help vulnerable countries cope with climate change.”
Canada has played a highly unhelpful role as hosts of the summit, consistently ignoring calls from world leaders to allocate time for meaningful discussion of climate change.
“Canada did not succeed in keeping climate change off the G20 agenda but as host, they must be seen as the major reason why it has not been possible to move beyond repetition of last year’s agreements,” said Zoë Caron, Climate Policy and Advocacy Specialist, WWF Canada.
The G20 missed an opportunity to become a relevant global player on climate and energy. South Korea has a big gap to fill at the next G20 summit in November.
2.2. Russia-Belarus gas row leaves bitter aftertaste
25 June 2010, EurActiv
Russia resumed gas supplies through Belarus yesterday (25 June) after paying gas transit debts. But the gas row left a bitter aftertaste in EU circles, reinforcing mistrust in Russia as a reliable gas supplier.
"We regret that a conflict erupted," Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said after calling a meeting of top energy officials in the Siberian town of Novokuznetsk, the Russian press reported.
"We hope it won't be repeated […] We need to hold talks with our partners and solve all disputed issues in a normal, working, amicable atmosphere," Putin said.
Neither Moscow nor Minsk has explained why relatively low debt levels sparked the dispute, the Moscow Times writes. But analysts quoted by the daily note that the spat followed the souring of relations between the two neighbours after they failed to agree on unified customs rules.
"There were absolutely no reasons for the conflict," the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, said in an official statement. Belarus side asked for a two-week deferrment of payment on the debt, "but our ally, our closest people, told us, 'No, we are not going to wait another day'," Lukashenko is quoted as saying.
"The main thing is that the dispute arose when Gazprom owed us USD 260 million for transit (and transit is linked to the deliveries of gas to Belarus), whereas we owned them USD 190 million, even USD 187 million. They recognised it, and we paid them this USD 187 million," said Lukashenko.
Russia 's 'gas war' with Belarus further damaged Russia's reputation as a reliable energy supplier, wrote the UK's Daily Telegraph.
"The dispute is likely to leave many European policymakers with a bitter aftertaste and reinforce doubts about the wisdom of relying on Russia so heavily for the bloc's energy needs," the daily commented.
Ukrainian daily Kyiv Post writes that behind the Belarus gas row is the Russian leadership's real aim, which may be to topple – or at least undermine – Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of the former Soviet republic of 10 million people.
The explanation, according to Minsk-based opposition leaders and analysts, is simple: Lukashenko is no longer trusted by Kremlin leaders, the Kyiv Post further writes.
Another explanation is that Moscow is playing Kyiv and Minsk off one another, using classic divide-and-conquer tactics.
The gas spats reveal a disturbing trend in Russian foreign policy, says David Kramer , a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States , quoted by the daily.
"This latest incident follows other examples where Russia has used energy cut-offs to pressure neighbours, either to collect more money or to try to gain control over assets or infrastructure," Kramer, who worked in former US President George W. Bush's administration, said.
"Ukraine in 2006, Belarus in 2007, Ukraine again in 2009, and now Belarus again […] these are the most obvious examples. Russia is using economic/energy means to gain greater control over their neighbours," he said.
"The way that relations, especially energy relations between countries such as Russia and its neighbours, are repeatedly clarified really should raise concerns throughout Europe," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said on 23 June.
2.3. EU states agree to close dirty coal plants by 2024
18 June 2010, Reuters
Old coal-fired power plants in Europe must be closed by the end of 2023 if their owners are not prepared to fit equipment to filter out acidifying pollutants, European Union member countries agreed on Friday.
All other power stations must start planning to cut out pollutants such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides that damage human health and soil and water quality.
“The UK government, together with other member states, has been able to secure significant additional flexibilities for large combustion plants,” a British government spokeswoman said.
Countries that are struggling to get the industry cleaned up can get a delay until June 30, 2020, under the informal deal on the Industrial Emissions Directive, which weaves together and updates six air quality laws with the old Large Combustion Plant Directive.
European ambassadors in Brussels approved the deal, which was reached in informal talks with the European Parliament late on Wednesday. It must be formally approved by parliament in the coming weeks before becoming law, but sources say that is almost certain.
The existing laws contain so many opt-outs that many of the 52,000 European installations have managed to avoid cleaning up acidifying pollutants.
The quest for new rules started over two years ago but has been slowed by a row between countries such as Britain and Poland, which have many old coal-fired plants, and others led by Germany that have already invested millions in cleaning up.
The rules, which have gone through several different permutations over the last few months, will have a huge impact on countries’ energy investment plans and how much money utilities can make by sweating their coal assets.
Britain argues that the flexibility will allow it to jump to the next generation of renewable power, without replacing old coal with gas power plants.
“This will ensure protection of the environment as well as paving the way for a smooth transition to low carbon power generation without jeopardising our security of supply,” said the UK government spokeswoman.
2.4. German nuclear talks between Merkel and CEOs end without results
24 june 2010, Platts
Talks between German chancellor Angela Merkel and the chief executives of the country's four nuclear power plant operators about a planned extension of nuclear life-spans ended Wednesday without any concrete results, the government said. The 90-minute meeting in the chancellery in Berlin came while the government is still drawing up its new energy strategy but has already announced a surprise nuclear fuel tax as part of a wider austerity package without linking this explicitly to the expected extension of nuclear run-times.
"It was a far-reaching exchange of opinions in which also controversial issues were discussed," a government spokeswoman said according to German news agency DPA. The meeting was attended by the chief executives of E.ON, RWE, EnBW and
Vattenfall Europe, but not the responsible ministers for the environment and economy. According to DPA, the nuclear plant operators may still plan legal proceedings against the new tax, which the government hopes could boost its budget by an annual Eur2.3 billion ($2.7 billion). The economy and environment ministries currently model four nuclear-extension scenarios including a 28-year extension until 2050 with the government reportedly trying to avoid a vote in the Bundesrat after losing its clear majority in parliament's upper chamber.
3.1. Hedegaard throws weight behind EU carbon tax
28 June 2010, EurActiv
'Don't tax what you earn, tax what you burn'. In an interview with EurActiv, EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard throws her weight behind an EU carbon tax and speaks about Europe's efforts to stay ahead of the game in international climate negotiations.
Drawing on the experience she gained in Denmark, which has long taxed the CO2 content of fuels, Hedegaard argued that a carbon tax should be one of the tools to encourage people to consume less energy.
Hedegaard was speaking ahead of the European Business Summit in Brussels this week, at which she will appear alongside UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer in a session dedicated to climate change.
"If you do it intelligently, you can have a lot of results coming from energy taxation," Hedegaard said following a debate with her fellow commissioners last week on the revision of the Energy Taxation Directive.
The commissioner argued that shifting from taxing labour to taxing energy makes sense to encourage people to stay longer in the job market and find ways to finance Europe's "relatively expensive welfare societies".
"But of course it should not be just for generating money but it should have a purpose that you want people to do things differently," she added.
The agriculture sector, for instance, should fall under the tax as it is currently not included in the EU emissions trading scheme for carbon dioxide. She argued that a tax could be an incentive for farmers to explore possibilities like biogas.
30% or not?
A carbon tax was one of the policy options explored in a paper presented by the European Commission in May, which argued that the EU could afford to raise its emissions reduction target to 30% by 2020, up from the current 20%.
She pointed out that the economic consequences of increasing the EU's target to 30% had not been analysed when the EU pledged to raise its ambitions in case other developed countries make comparable commitments.
"The next step that we need before we can go ahead is to cooperate with the member states to analyse what the consequences of setting the goal would be for them as the potential costs and benefits are not equally spread," the commissioner explained.
She dismissed critics who claim she bowed to pressure by failing to endorse a unilateral move to 30%, arguing that it was never the Commission's intention to change the EU's strategy of making the pledge conditional.
But despite the Commission's efforts to make the assessments in time for the UN climate conference in Cancún at the end of the year, this might not be possible as member states close their administrations for the summer recess, Hedegaard said.
"Timing is very tight but we are trying to do as much as we can before Cancún and then have a very strong dialogue with the member states," she said.
But she warned that Europe should not be "complacent" about its lead on climate protection, arguing that in the past year, major economies like China, Russia, India, Mexico and Brazil have since set targets to green their economies.
"We will be playing a very different game over the next five to ten years from what we used to play before the rest of the world woke up and set domestic targets after Copenhagen," she warned.
Indeed, the EU will not go to Cancún with the same rhetoric as Copenhagen, where European leaders said it was now or never for agreeing a new climate treaty, the climate commissioner stressed.
"If we were to say 'everything that Copenhagen didn't deliver, Cancún must now deliver', then you would run a big risk of not achieving anything," she said. Instead, she believes Cancún should seek agreement on substantial issues like forestry, adaptation and fast-start financing and leave wrangling over the legal format to South Africa in 2011, after developing countries have seen what is in it for them.
"Let's be frank, how many G2 meetings did the US and China have last year to discuss the legal form without agreeing?" Hedegaard said, pointing out that it will take "at least some new signals" from Washington and Beijing to think that fundamental issues can be solved in Cancún.
Talking sectoral approaches with China
Despite giving industrialised countries a hard time around the negotiating table, China is quietly moving towards its targets, Hedegaard said.
The Danish commissioner revealed that the EU was going to start talks with the Chinese on developing industry-wide approaches for cutting emissions in early July.
"I suggested that to China's minister in late April and I thought he would just say 'no', but he said it might be a good idea," the commissioner said, adding that China was currently looking at several sectors such as cement, aluminium and steel.
She added that while China needs to significantly increase energy efficiency in these energy-intensive sectors to fulfil its domestic targets, these are also the sectors in Europe that are most exposed to foreign competition.
"So it's a good example that if we could cooperate with the Chinese to develop sectoral approaches that would be rather interesting, not only for them but definitely also for us," Hedegaard said.
3.2. Study shows vans can be more fuel efficient and cheaper
21 June 2010, T&E
New vans could be made up to 16% more fuel efficient and 10% cheaper to buy simply by reversing the upward trend in horsepower and using smaller engines according to new research.
The new findings come as the European Parliament's Transport and Industry committees are set to vote on new fuel efficiency/CO2 standards for new vans on 22 and 24 June.
Much of the political debate over the new proposals has centered on the costs of advanced technologies needed to meet the new standards. But the study, carried out by consultants TNO and CE Delft on behalf of Transport & Environment, the sustainable transport campaigners, shows that the official impact assessment for the new legislation ignored the potential for 'optimal engine sizing' to cut emissions and actually bring down the costs of new vans.
Kerstin Meyer of Transport & Environment said: "It's time to call an end to the van engine power arms race. This study shows that just by returning to the engine power of ten years ago, vans could be cheaper to buy, and much more fuel efficient. It's a win win for the millions of businesses that depend on keeping costs down, especially in a crisis."
The study shows that 'optimal engine sizing', i.e. returning to engine power levels of 1997, can cut fuel costs and CO2 emissions by up to 16%, cut vehicle purchase costs by up to 10%, and cut total cost of ownership by up to 12%. Moreover, optimal engine sizing can be introduced quickly and in existing models.
The 175 g/km target proposed for 2016 by the Commission could be met using optimal engine sizing alone, and at the same time make vans cheaper to buy instead of more expensive.
In addition the long-term target of 135 g/km would be significantly easier to meet.
The European Commission’s impact assessment completely ignored this potential and is hence far too pessimistic about how far fuel consumption can be cut, at what speed, and at what cost.
The results of the study justify earlier and lower CO2 standards for vans than the European Commission proposes. T&E’s proposal is 160 g/km by 2015 and 125 g/km by 2020, as opposed to 175 g/km by 2016 and 135 g/km by 2020 proposed by the Commission.
3.3. Poland 'needs more time' to meet EU climate target
24 June 2010, EurActiv
As 94% of Poland's electricity comes from coal, the country says it needs ''more time than others'' to meet its CO2 reduction targets outlined in the 'Europe 2020' strategy. Polish industry is even more critical of the goals. EurActiv Poland reports.
After the EU summit on 17 June, which adopted the 'Europe 2020' strategy for growth and jobs (see 'Background'), Polish experts on energy and climate change warned that the new strategy will repeat the mistakes of the EU's climate and energy package.
Adam B. Czyżewski, chief economist at Polish company PKN Orlen, one of Central Europe's largest refiners of crude oil, outlined what he sees as the main weaknesses of the environment strategy:
The EU's climate and energy objectives lack a broader global reference: if only the EU sets such ambitious aims, its market will become less cost-effective and consequently less competitive on the global stage. Secondly, if only Europe pursues environment-friendly goals, such single-handed action will not succeed in preventing or significantly reducing climate change.
The year 2020 is too short a horizon for the environmental strategy, as within this time-frame prospective investments in new technologies will not have produced measurable effects.
The 20/20/20 objectives are over-ambitious and/or miscalculated. With a maximum exploitation of the available instruments the attainable levels are 14/10/10: a 14% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, a 10% increase in the share of renewables in Poland's energy mix and a 10% cut in energy consumption. However, 10/7/6 is a more realistic aim.
The EU's strategy involves the costly yet ineffective allocation of resources, since too many measures are to be assigned to the development of wind energy. Simultaneously, demand for energy from coal and gas is neglected, perpetuating Europe's dependence on Russian gas and weakening its energy security as a consequence.
Polish Environment Minister Andrzej Kraszewski was particularly critical of 'Europe 2020' for proposing a possible increase in emission cuts to 30%. He believes that such an option should only be considered if similar reduction plans are adopted by the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases like the US and China.
Otherwise, the European economy will become less and less competitive, he warned.
Kraszewski is generally in favour of ambitious reduction quotas, but he believes Poland ''needs more time than others'' to meet them. The minister proposed that anti-climate change provisions should be adopted less uniformly: 94% of Poland's electricity comes from coal and thus more attention should be devoted to developing clean coal technologies, he believes.
Waldemar Pawlak, the Polish economy minister and vice-prime minister, disapproves of changes to be introduced to the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Currently, most CO2 permits are given to power plants and energy-intensive industries for free. Yet in order to meet the new targets for emission cuts, permits are to be bought at 'auctions'.
According to Pawlak, the introduction of emission benchmarks and fees would be a better incentive for the member states to reduce emissions than auctioning, which will eventually cover all permits.
However, the Climate Coalition and the Polish Ecological Club – two of the major Polish NGOs operating in the environmental field – do not share the fears expressed by Polish politicians about the climate and energy targets.
Indeed, they criticised the reluctance of EU decision-makers to increase greenhouse gas emission levels, as ''only reducing countries' emissions by 40% by 2020 will keep the rise in average global temperatures to under 2°C – to which the EU has already committed itself''.
Polish citizens share NGO views on the urgency of environmental action and – unlike government decision-makers – value the climate more than economic balance.
According to a November 2009 poll conducted by the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, around 62% of Polish citizens believe that Poland should slash its emissions even if it were to cause rises in electricity, heating and fuel prices or add to the economic slowdown.
3.4. Enel Presses EU to Honor CO2 Credits as Officials Weigh Curbs
24 june 2010, Bloomberg
Enel SpA, the biggest investor in United Nations-backed carbon emissions projects, is lobbying the European Union to recognize reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions it financed in China and India as officials look to curb profits that power companies reap from climate policy.
The EU should allow polluters to use credits earned by reducing emissions of industrial gases such as HFC-23 that the UN has approved through 2014, said Giuseppe Deodati, Enel’s head of carbon strategy. The EU is considering limits of the use of those credits, which may jeopardize as much as 630 million euros ($774 million) of offsets Enel and its partners are set to get.
“We should try to avoid any kind of retroactive change in the rules,” Deodati said in a phone interview from Italy. “That might undermine the confidence of companies that will be needed to make the carbon markets work properly in the future.”
Officials across the bloc are threatening to curb the revenue that energy companies receive under laws set up to reduce emissions. Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian this week told solar power producers he plans to reduce revenue their plants earn by 30 percent while Germany has eliminated tax breaks for biofuels and cut solar energy subsidies.
The EU may require investors to put up twice as many industrial gas credits as before to be eligible for the region’s cap-and-trade system, the world’s biggest. According to a study published last month, the EU said it may bar credits from some kinds of projects that create “significant windfall profits.”
Changes to the emissions trading system are unlikely to come into force before 2012, Yvon Slingenberg, emissions-unit head in the commission’s climate directorate, said last month.
Enel, Noble Carbon
Enel has the largest portfolio of UN carbon credits, according to UN data on Bloomberg. Projects the company has invested in have generated 40 million tons of credits, with Noble Carbon Credits Ltd. the second biggest at 23 million tons.
Enel , Italy ’s largest utility, has been pressing its case to EU officials through lobby groups such as the International Emissions Trading Association, Deodati said yesterday.
Enel has invested in seven projects that reduce emissions of HFC-23 gases the UN approved to earn credits over seven years through 2014. Enel is not the sole buyer of credits from those projects, Deodati said. He declined to say how many tons of offsets Rome-based Enel is contracted to buy during the period.
The projects are forecast to generate about 48 million tons of credits after 2012, according to UN filings. “Enel’s exposure is far less than that,” Deodati said. Those credits would be worth about 630 million euros at today’s price of 13.19 euros per ton for 2012 UN offset futures contracts.
“We have been hedging our position so we are prepared for this kind of regulatory evolution,” Deodati said. He declined to give details of his hedging strategy, saying it’s confidential.
HFC-23 gas is emitted in the production of chemicals for air conditioning and refrigeration and contributes to climate change by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere.
The gas’s warming effect is 11,700 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
4.1. Transparency still out of sight on lobby register’s second anniversary
22 june 2010, FOEE
Two years after its introduction the European Commission’s lobby register has failed to bring lobbying into the open, the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation in the EU (ALTER-EU) said today. The group used the anniversary of the register to call on the Commission to take urgent steps towards a mandatory, joint register for the European Commission and European Parliament with improved transparency standards.
While the European Commission continues to spin the register as a success, the reality is quite different. New analysis by ALTER-EU shows that only a minority of Brussels lobbyists are registered.
Only 1068 organisations with a Brussels office are registered. This figure compares to the European Parliament’s estimate of 2,600 lobby groups with offices in Brussels in 2000, and suggests well under half of Brussels-based lobby organisations and firms have signed up after two years. 
Key sectors like lobbying consultancies and corporate EU affairs offices are massively under-represented. ALTER-EU has found out that of a group of 328 consultancies identified as providing EU lobbying services, 163 are listed on the Commission’s register (50 per cent). A report by Friends of the Earth Europe showed that 20 of the largest 50 EU companies (40 per cent) are not signed up to the register.
Law firms providing lobbying services and think tanks also continue to boycott the transparency register, further undermining its credibility.
“When two years after the launch of the register only a minority of Brussels lobbyists are registered, it is clear that the voluntary approach has failed,” said Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory. “The European Commission must now make a commitment to introduce a mandatory lobby transparency system that enables European citizens to see who is influencing EU decision-making, on which issues, on whose behalf and with what budgets.”
As part of its 10-point action plan for transparency and ethics reforms  ALTER-EU suggests a two-step approach to secure a high-quality lobby transparency system:
1. a mandatory register covering all EU institutions to be achieved by the end of this Commission term;
2. in the short term, the Commission and Parliament must act with determination to make registration a de facto obligation for all actors involved in EU lobbying (including law firms and think tanks) and to improve the reliability of the information disclosed.
ALTER-EU believes significant progress can be achieved with a new joint transparency register currently being negotiated between the Commission and Parliament. A far larger share of Brussels lobbyists would be forced to provide information if registration is made a condition for lobbyists holding access passes to the Parliament. The current negotiations are also a crucial opportunity to fix the flaws in the Commission’s register and introduce more detailed financial transparency requirements, removing the exemptions for large lobby consultancies which only provide very limited information.
“It is high time to close the loopholes and tighten the weak financial disclosure requirements which allow lobby groups to disguise the size of their lobbying effort and make it impossible to determine who the biggest spenders really are and which policies they are trying to influence,” said Natacha Cingotti from Friends of the Earth Europe.
4.2. Belgium pledges 'sustainable' EU presidency
25 june 2010, EurActiv
Belgium wants to lead by example during its upcoming EU presidency and has pledged to minimise the environmental impact of the numerous meetings and summits planned over the next six months.
Prime Minister Yves Leterme, State Secretary for European Affairs Olivier Chastel and Climate and Energy Minister Paul Magnette have signed a 'Charter for a Sustainable Presidency', which provides a good practice guide for workers and a check-list featuring a carbon footprint calculator.
The guidelines cover catering, mobility and the origin of materials used ''for the social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainable development,'' a concept at the heart of the Lisbon Treaty.
Belgium follows the example of previous presidencies such as France, Germany and Austria, which had taken into account the environmental impact of their stint at the EU helm.
Magnette expressed confidence that the six-month presidency, which begins on 1 July, would be able to prove itself a pioneer in altering the consumption patterns of public administrations as well as policies geared towards citizens.
''Belgium wishes to stand side-by-side with those countries who have always taken the ecological impact of their presidencies to heart. By setting the right example, respect for the environment and human dignity can go hand-in-hand,'' he said.
The miles flown by ministers and officials to meetings organised in the host country have often attracted criticism from environmentalists. Belgium, however, has the advantage of being home to the EU institutions and can therefore avoid unnecessary traffic.
The EU's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) for evaluating an organisation's environmental performance will be applied by Belgium throughout its EU presidency, the first time it has been used in this regard.
Belgium will identify the biggest contributors to emissions during its presidency and table possible recommendations to reduce them over the next six months.
Carbon taxes, vehicle emissions and negotiating a new international climate treaty are all expected to feature on the presidency's agenda.
Major international meetings are renowned for their impact on the environment. Last year's UN climate summit in Copenhagen alone produced 46,200 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the emissions attributed to 3,000 Belgians in an entire year.
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