The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd) presents
May 15 - 30, 2003
Editor's note: Welcome to the fourteenth issue of Climate-L News, compiled by Richard Sherman. If you should come across a news article or have a submission for the next issue, please send it directly to Richard. CLIMATE-L News is an exclusive publication of IISD for the CLIMATE-L list and should not be reposted or republished to other lists/websites without the permission of IISD (you can write Kimo for permission.) If you have been forwarded this issue and would like to subscribe to CLIMATE-L, please visit http://iisd.ca/scripts/lyris.pl?join=climate-l.
Funding for the production of CLIMATE-L (part of the IISD Reporting Services annual program) has been provided by the US Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA, DFAIT and Environment Canada), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - DEFRA), the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Germany (through the German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU, and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ). General Support for the Bulletin during 2003 is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Swan International, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI), and the Ministry for Environment of Iceland. If you like CLIMATE-L News, please thank them for their support.
45) IMPLEMENTING THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: WHERE DO WE STAND TODAY? Speech by Margot Wallström, Member of the European Commission, responsible for Environment, Centre for European Studies & Conferences (CEPS) - 1st Brussels Climate Change Conference, May 20, 2003
Hong Kong announced Thursday that, as a region of China, it would adopt the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said that the Central People's Government of China had extended the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol to Hong Kong after consulting the HKSAR government in accordance with Basic Law Article 153. "The UNFCCC is applicable to Hong Kong with effect from May 5, 2003 while the Kyoto Protocol will be applicable to Hong Kong as and when it comes into operation," a spokesman for Hong Kong Environment, Transport and Works Bureau was quoted as saying by a Hong Kong government press release on Thursday. "The application of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol to HKSAR renews our firm commitment to make our share of contribution to mitigate the global warming problem," said the spokesman.
The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of Hong Kong has been reduced from the historical height of 22 percent above 1990 level in 1993 to around the 1990 level in recent years. Hong Kong is only a small emitter of GHG on the global scale, contributing to only 0.18 percent of the global emissions in 2000. Hong Kong's GHG emission per capita is much lower than the levels of other high-income economies. "The achievement is the fruit of our programs on the use of cleaner fuels for transport and power generation, energy efficiency and afforestation. We will nevertheless do all we can to further reduce GHG emissions as far as possible. We will step up our ongoing efforts, in particular, in promoting renewable energy and cleaner fuels for power generation and transport," the spokesman said. The UNFCCC, adopted in 1992, and its Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, seek to reduce global emissions of GHG. Up to date, the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol have been ratified by 188 and 109 countries (regions), including China, respectively. The Kyoto Protocol has not yet come into operation.
Beijing extends Kyoto Protocol to H.K, Japan Today, May 30, 2003
Leaders of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations will agree at their summit starting this weekend in Evian, France, to work with the private sector in developing next-generation power sources, especially fuel cells, sources said. The nations are expected to support work on developing universal standards for fuel cells, as well as to build the infrastructure the power generation devices will require. The G-8 leaders are expected during the summit, which starts Sunday and ends Tuesday, to identify environmental problems, including greenhouse gas emissions, as among the most pressing issues accompanying global economic growth.
Fuel cells hold great potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Their development is therefore key to this goal, particularly in the auto industry, where they would offer a major breakthrough toward the production of eco-friendly automobiles. Unlike conventional cars, which run on gasoline or diesel fuel and emit carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, vehicles powered by fuel cells use hydrogen as a fuel and only emit water. Fuel cells generate electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Sources say the summit will likely result in agreements among the leaders to loosen restrictions on the establishment of hydrogen supply facilities, and to seek to standardize fuel cell specifications, including the purity of their hydrogen fuel and methods of measuring their efficiency. Major automakers in Japan, the United States and Europe are currently in a race to develop advanced fuel cell vehicles for mass production. But they must overcome a number of obstacles, including a lack of industry wide standards that makes development costly. The essential infrastructure, such as a distribution system for hydrogen, is still lacking.
About 45 world leaders, including those of the 15 EU members and the 10 acceding countries, will be arriving in St Petersburg in Russia today for the EU-Russia summit. The summit will be held tomorrow at Strelna Congress Palace between 9.30 and 11.30 a.m. when Malta will be represented by the prime minister.
This 11th summit is expected to take a hard look at the way Russia has implemented the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement it signed with the EU in 1994, defining the EU and Russia as strategic partners.
The EU is expected to bring pressure to bear on Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on environmental emissions, the fight against illegal immigrants, the strengthening of border controls and human rights in Chechnya among other issues. Russia on its part is insisting that it had signed the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with 15 member states, and wants to evaluate how the accession of the 10 new members would affect its trade relations, before it is extended to them. The accession into the EU of former Soviet states, Russia believes, will negatively affect its trade balance. But the EU maintains that the forthcoming enlargement will have a very positive effect for Russia. Enlargement is expected to increase political and economic stability in Russia's neighbourhood.
The EU is already Russia's largest trade partner. Russia also insists that it should discuss further relations with the EU with all the EU member states, rather than as at present with a troika of the immediate past, present and immediate future EU presidents. Moreover, Russia is emphasing that it expects its citizens to travel to EU member states without the need of a visa, which the EU opposes. The summit will be followed by a joint press conference by the Prime Minister of Greece, Constantine Simitis, current EU council president; European Commission President Romano Prodi; Commission Foreign and Security Policy High Representative Javier Solana, and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.
Summit participants are also expected to issue a joint statement. This year St Petersburg is celebrating its 300th anniversary. The city, known as the most beautiful in Russia, was founded by Peter the Great when he was only 31. It was built 'as a window on Europe' and Russia is hoping that this summit will provide for greater access for its citizens across EU territory.
Standard Bank London (SBK), the South-African-owned investment bank, and EcoSecurities, the leading carbon trading adviser, have sealed an exclusive cooperation agreement to provide carbon credits services to their governmental and corporate clients. The co-operation agreement will focus on the structuring, monetising and, in the future, the trading of carbon credits arising from the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is a UN agreement which aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. Standard Bank and EcoSecurities will also provide advisory services to governments and other entities on how best to implement aspects of the Kyoto Protocol in their own countries.
In liaison with the worldwide network of the Standard Bank group, Standard Bank and EcoSecurities will initially focus on opportunities in the African continent and Russia, as well as in certain Asian and Latin American countries. Renewable energy from sources such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass, geothermal and fuel cells is a particularly good source of carbon credits. Standard Bank and EcoSecurities are already working together on such projects in countries as diverse as Brazil, Nicaragua, South Africa and Russia. Increasingly, buyers for carbon credits are corporates in developed countries which will in due course have to reduce emissions to pre-agreed levels. The market for trading in carbon credits is expected to increase in size considerably with the approach of the commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, which begins in 2008. Standard Bank, as part of the Standard Bank of South Africa banking group, with its strong focus on the energy, mining and metals businesses in the global emerging markets, has many governmental and corporate clients which can derive significant financial benefit from carbon credits arising from projects to reduce emissions worldwide.
EcoSecurities, founded in 1997 by experts in this field, has recently been voted "Leading Greenhouse Gas Advisory Firm Worldwide" by 'Environmental Finance' magazine for the second year running. With offices in the UK, the US, Brazil, Holland and Australia, EcoSecurities is the largest dedicated advisory firm in the world, specialising in emissions trading and strategic advisory services to the sector. EcoSecurities has developed or advised on CO2 emission reduction projects in over 30 countries and has consulted to over 15 governments on their climate change policies. It has structured and transacted several of the world's first and largest certified emission reduction trades to date and has recently announced that it is selling emission reductions from its own account from landfill gas projects it has developed in Brazil.
Nuclear fusion has been a dream energy source since 1958, when its study was first declassified and opened up for international collaboration. The fusion offers the tantalizing prospect of an endless and cheap supply of fuel because lithium and sea water are the only natural resources a fusion reactor would require.
Fusuion is a key element in the country's long-term energy plans because it offers the potential for plentiful, safe and environmentally benign energy. Based on the belief, Korea is planning to join an international project for the construction and operation of nuclear fusion energy reactors. Science Minister Park Ho-koon during a round of week-long visit to Europe last month already won the positive response from the European Union's Science and Technology Minister regarding Korea's admittance. In coming August the minister will visit the United States to draw the support.
The government garnered approval for its plan to earn a membership from the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, to the National Science and Technology Council on May 26. The project, aimed at advancing the effort to produce clean, safe, renewable and commercially-available fusion energy, will begin construction in 2005 and be operational within a decade. The construction cost for ITER, including buildings, hardware, installation and personnel, is estimated to be about $5 billion and Korea will be required to pay around 10 percent of the total expenses. ITER is the first fusion device to produce a burning plasma and to operate at a high power level for such long duration experiments. The fusion power produced in the ITER plasma is 10 times greater than the external power added to the plasma.
The United States, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Russia are the current members of the collaboration, and have been negotiating ITER construction and operation since last year. China has recently joined the negotiations as well. Candidate sites in Canada, the EU and Japan have been offered, one of which will be selected during the negotiation and governmental decision-making process. Fusion is the energy source that powers the sun and stars. In fusion, the nuclei of light elements, such as hydrogen, fuse together to make heavier elements, such as helium, giving off tremendous amounts of energy. Advocates of nuclear fusion energy explain that although the development of ITER takes astronomical expenses and considerably long period, once it succeeds, we can garner lower-priced environmental energy.
A chain reaction of nuclear fusion functions as an H-bomb, or hydrogen bomb, but if it undergoes control process it will turn out to be fusion energy. A fusion power plant would produce no greenhouse gas emissions, use abundant and widely distributed sources of fuel, require no fissionable materials, operate in a continuous mode to meet demand and produce manageable radioactive waste. ITER's mission is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy for peaceful purposes. To this end, the project will demonstrate moderate power multiplication, demonstrate essential fusion energy technologies in a system integrating the appropriate physics and technology and test key elements required to use fusion as a practical energy source. ITER is expected to be the first fusion device to produce thermal energy at the level of an electricity-producing power station. It will provide the next major step for the advancement of fusion science and technology, and is the key element in the strategy to reach the following demonstration electricity-generating power plant in a single experimental step.
The project is an experimental fusion reactor based on the "tokamak" concept - a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) magnetic configuration in which to create and maintain the conditions for controlled fusion reactions. The overall ITER plant comprises the tokamak, its auxiliaries, and supporting plant facilities. In ITER, superconducting magnet coils around a toroidal vessel confine and control a mix of charged particles - the "plasma" - and induce an electrical current through it. Fusion reactions take place when the plasma is hot enough, dense enough, and contained for long enough for the atomic nuclei in the plasma to start fusing together. The tokamak concept was first developed in Russia and has since been brought to a high level of development in all the major fusion programs of the world. To meet its objectives, ITER will be much bigger (twice linear dimensions) than the largest existing tokamak and its expected fusion performance will be many times greater. These extrapolations in size and physics performance provide the major challenges to the design of the reactor.
Existing reserves of fossil fuels are a one-time gift from the planet and are now being consumed as if there were no tomorrow, with little consideration for future generations. If the project turns out to be successful, smokestacks and air pollution will be a distant memory and a clean and viable global ecosystem will be passed on to each succeeding generation.
BANGKOK, Thailand — Villagers in northern Thailand have sued the state-run power company for compensation, complaining that emissions from a coal-fired plant sickened many people and left others dead, a court official said Wednesday. The 130 villagers, led by a man named Orn U-ngern, sued the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, saying that sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from the Mae Moh power plant in Lampang province damaged the environment, court officials said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the lawsuit was filed Monday. Details such as the number of casualties and the time frame of the pollution effect were not immediately known. The official said the villagers are demanding 1.86 billion baht (US$44.6 million) in compensation and restoration of the environment in Lampang, 510 kilometers (320 miles) north of Bangkok. The first court hearing is set for Aug. 4.
Tokyo, Japan - Sagawa Express and WWF-Japan today
formally agreed on the contract to launch a Climate Savers Programme to
tackle global warming by reducing CO2 emissions. Sagawa is the first
Japanese company to participate in WWF's Climate Savers Programme and the
first to do so in the global transport sector. In the Climate Savers
programme, WWF is calling for leading companies prepared to make innovative
new commitments toward reducing their CO2 emissions. Participating companies
include IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Lafarge, Polaroid, Collins Pine and Nike.
The programme's most important feature lies in the process whereby WWF and a
third-party organization examine and verify the reduction targets
established by participating companies. This is to ensure that new targets
are additional to existing targets. The process gives transparency and
credibility to the voluntary commitments of companies.
Cities and agriculture make global warming difficult to assess, warns a new report. Eugenia Kalnay and Ming Cai of the University of Maryland in College Park have found evidence that rising temperatures in the United States - about 0.13 ºC over the past 50 years - have been due to changes in land use, in particular the growth of cities and the spread of agriculture1. What's more, the daily difference in surface temperatures between the daytime maximum and nightly minimum has shrunk since the 1950s. This may be due in part to greenhouse warming, but about half of the effect is caused by urban and other land-use changes, reckon Kalnay and Cai. Scientists have long known about these distorting effects on apparent temperature trends, and try to correct the temperature measurements made by meteorological stations accordingly. The new results show that these adjustments may have been insufficient.
Most attention in the past has been focused on urbanization. Buildings and streets soak up the Sun's heat during the day and then radiate some of this warmth during the night, raising the average temperature relative to rural districts in the same region. So temperature-monitoring stations located in cities tend to register higher readings than those in the countryside. But cities can also have a slight cooling effect during the day, when a haze of smog, for example, might lower the temperature relative to the countryside.
In principle, it should be possible to eliminate these biases by comparing temperature measurements from urban stations with those from nearby rural stations. But it is difficult to know where to draw the line between 'urban' and 'rural'.
One option is to base this classification on population density. But it can be argued that a better measure of the 'urbanization' of an area is the amount of light that it emits at night. Estimates using these different definitions give different values for the distortion of the greenhouse-gas-induced warming trend.
Agriculture can also introduce biases. For example, irrigated soil is cooled during the day by increased evaporation, but is warmed at night by increased heat retention in the soil, relative to unfarmed countryside.
Kalnay and Cai estimated the impact of these land-use effects over the past 50 years by comparing two sets of temperature measurements for the entire United States. One set was obtained at 1,982 surface stations, the other by satellites and weather balloons, which are far enough above the land surface to escape any bias.
The duo found that the surface stations registered gradually warmer temperatures than the satellite and balloon instruments over these five decades. By the 1990s the average difference was about 0.40 ºC in the minimum temperature and -0.13 ºC in the maximum temperature. They infer a land-use bias of 0.27 ºC per century in the record of global warming, which is about twice as large as previous estimates. Agricultural effects, which have often been neglected, constitute a significant proportion of this bias, they conclude.
Maximum daytime and minimum night-time temperatures, meanwhile, have been getting closer together at a rate of about 0.2 ºC per decade, according to surface-station measurements. This reduction is twice as great in estimates influenced by satellite and balloon data, implying that half of the decline is due to changes in land use.
References: Kalnay, E. & Cai, M. Impact of urbanization and land-se change on climate. Nature, 423, 528 - 531, (2003).
The 21st century could see the Earth warming more quickly than was previously estimated, according to a new approach to modelling climates. Average global temperatures could be 5.5C higher by 2100. That's at the hot end of commonly accepted predictions, which range from 1.5 to 6C. Earlier climate models looked at a limited set of factors and often measured changes in the ocean and on land separately. The new approach, developed at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Bracknell, accounts for as many influences as possible, including volcanoes belching out millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, fluctuations in the sun's activity, and changing levels of greenhouse gas and ozone. It also allows oceans to affect the land, and vice versa.
The Hadley Centre team first raised the alarm in 2000. They showed that, as increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warm the planet, more carbon dioxide would be released from forests. A slight drying of the Amazon rainforest, for example, would release billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
When the model was run backwards, however - a standard way of testing predictive power - it calculated a 20th century significantly warmer than it actually was. Now the Hadley team balances the books with a new holistic climate model - dubbed the Earth systems approach. "We can recreate 20th-century climate and still have a strong positive feedback in the future," says team leader Chris Jones. "You need to look at more than just greenhouse gases." They find one of the most significant factors is sulphates. These atmospheric pollutants, released by the burning of coal and oil in the 20th century, cool the planet by reflecting sunlight. So as sulphate emissions fall due to clean-air regulations warming will actually increase.
ARLINGTON, Virginia, May 29, 2003 (ENS) - By using a set of existing technologies and policies and building on them, it is possible to reduce U.S. carbon emissions from transportation 20 percent by 2015, and almost 50 percent by 2030, says a new report by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Noting that transportation sources account for nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the report, released today, says it is critical that U.S. climate change policy address transportation emissions. It identifies a number of policies and technologies that could achieve those goals. "The U.S. is the owner of the world's largest transportation system, and reducing emissions from this system is critical to an effective greenhouse gas reduction strategy," said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
The report, "Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions From U.S. Transportation," written by David Greene of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Andreas Schafer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stresses that while policy options are available today, the long lead time needed to turn over the nation's vehicles dictates that policies for the future must be implemented now. "I think the most important thing coming out of the study is that these things can be done by a combination of practical measures which we believe are conservative and that we know can be done without any serious negative impacts on transportation," Greene told ENS. "Some will be beneficial, some will marginally increase costs, some won't change the costs at all. They all have minor impacts on the transportation system."
The U.S. transportation system is the most mobile in the world and is a fundamental part of the health of the U.S. economy and its continued growth, the study says. It is also the source of one fourth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, spewing more CO2 than any other nation except China. Transportation accounts for seven of every 10 barrels of oil consumed in the United States. "By attacking the problem from a variety of different aspects, you can almost cut greenhouse gas emissions in half," Greene said. "We think that's extremely significant. 'Transportation is too hard,' people say. We're saying that you can accomplish quite a bit. These are not drastic things. But you can't do with just one silver bullet." Many of the actions that would reduce emissions from transportation would also lower U.S. dependence on imported oil, the authors say.
Research and development and voluntary efforts will not be enough to do the job, they note. Mandatory policies will be necessary to introduce technological improvements into the marketplace.
Fuel cells and hydrogen hold out the promise of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from this sector, the report says, but government must provide "clear policy direction in order to drive massive private investment by the fuel and vehicle industries." The authors drew on existing literature for their conclusions. Their findings about light duty vehicles, for instance, came from a 2002 National Academy of Sciences study on the effectiveness and impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards which found that light duty vehicles account for 75 percent of highway energy use and their total carbon emissions are now comparable to major industrialized countries like Germany and Japan. But market ready technologies are currently available that will allow fuel economy on new cars and light trucks to be increased by 25 to 33 percent over the next-to 15 years without reducing the size or performance of the vehicles.
"We are adopting technologies capable of improving fuel economy standards, but we're using them to increase horsepower and the size and weight of trucks," Greene said. "Our study assumes no increase in their horsepower weight ratio, but no decline either. Greene said that the current administration has made some moves in the right direction. The Congressional ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) study of the issue of raising fuel economy standards has been lifted. And the NHTSA has proposed raising fuel economy standards by 1.5 miles per gallon. "That sounds like a small amount, but you can't raise it that quickly anyway, so it's not as puny as it sounds," Greene said. "The question is whether they will go beyond that. That remains to be seen." If global mobility is to continue to expand, especially in the developing world, a transition to other sources of energy must begin soon, the report states. "Decisions made in the next several years could determine whether the world's transportation systems follow a path of continued reliance on high carbon fossil fuels or take an alternative path toward more diverse, low carbon energy sources."
The report notes that U.S. petroleum consumption decreased from 1973 to 1985, reversing the growth of U.S. petroleum demand. This was accomplished through a combination of increasing fuel economy, other energy efficiency improvements and the substitution of other fuels for petroleum outside the transportation sector. This decrease proves it is possible to dramatically reduce dependence on outside oil, the report says, and a renewed effort in that direction would have many other benefits. Besides curbing greenhouse gases, it would reduce oil price volatility and strengthen the country's energy security. "Some of the car manufacturers would like to do something about greenhouse gas, but they don't like fuel economy standards," Greene said. "What our study says is that if you don't, here are some other policies that will also work. Find something you can live with."
Greenhouse gas emissions consequences are now unaccounted for in public as well as private transportation decisions, the report states. "Taking climate change into account in these decisions would provide a major impetus to improve vehicle efficiency, substitute low carbon fuels, and increase transportation system efficiency." By tackling a broad range of issues, Greene expects some report suggestions to be controversial. "What is really required is that the nation decides it wants to do something about climate change," he said. "There's not a hue and cry today to do something about it. That suggests that it may be a while. It may take more explaining about what it's all about."
To read the entire report, go to: http://www.pewclimate.org/.
BRUSSELS - Europe's wind power industry said this week it could take a 12 percent share of the world's electricity market by 2020 if policies are put in place which recognise its benefits to the environment.
Wind energy, which produces neither the greenhouse gases of fossil fuels nor the radioactive waste of nuclear power, currently only provides 0.4 percent of the world's electricity and most of that is in Germany, Denmark and Spain. But the European Wind Energy Association said the industry could grow that quickly if the right incentives were put in place, expanding the sector from a seven billion euros business to one worth 75 billion euros the year by 2020. The EWEA wants governments to set themselves binding targets to increase the use of wind power, to remove subsidies to competing sectors like coal and nuclear and to ensure wind farms have fair access to energy grids.
The forecast, set out in a report by the EWEA and environmental group Greenpeace, is much more optimistic than one by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which sees a much smaller increase in the market share for "renewables" like wind. In a report last year, the IEA, which monitors global energy trends for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said all renewable electricity sources other than hydro would account for only three percent of world consumption by 2020, up from two percent in 2000. Overall electricity generation would grow 2.6 percent per year, it said. Wind power's advocates say the demand for power that does not produce carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for causing global warming, will increase as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change takes effect.
LONDON, May 29 (Reuters) - A major earthquake in California could cost insurers twice the $35-40 billion of the September 11 attacks, making natural disasters the single largest risk to sector finances, a leading industry executive said on Thursday. "Natural catastrophes remain the biggest threat to the insurance industry," Werner Schaad, chief underwriting officer for Swiss Re's Property & Casualty Business Group, told a seminar in London. Recent catastrophes -- such as last year's floods that left central Europe under water and the 1999 Lothar and Martin hurricanes that battered France and northern Europe -- surprised insurers by costing so much, Schaad said.
The bill from the September 11 attacks in the United States could be eclipsed by a severe earthquake in California or Japan, which could cost up to $75 billion, Schaad said. A major European storm has the potential to inflict a $35 billion hit to the industry's already-precarious finances, Schaad said. Though insurers have emerged from the past year unscathed by major catastrophes, helping them to rebuild balance sheets battered by heavy claims and the plunging value of equity investments, analysts warn the industry is unlikely to be so lucky in future. The cost of catastrophes has continued to rise, as the insured value of property in catastrophe-prone areas, such as Florida or California, has skyrocketed in the past decade.Global warming is also becoming an increasing problem, with the 2002 European floods being the most costly of their kind in history, Schaad said.
"We've already seen the impact of climate change on our loss figures," said Schaad, though he added: "there's no reason to panic just yet". "Climate change is gradual and we are in a position to adapt. The social and economic effects of it are likely to be much bigger." Some businesses are already suffering -- some in surprising ways -- from changing weather patterns associated with global warming. Lower snowfalls because of climate change have hurt income at several Swiss ski resorts, Schaad said. Swiss Re is calling for improved risk data to help the insurance industry assess and price the risks of major natural disasters better.
Better information could lead to higher insurance premiums, Schaad said, if they show the industry had underestimated the cost of catastrophes. But they could also come down, he added, if firms discovered they had overestimated their risks. He said the world's second largest reinsurer was not threatened by the trend of bigger catastrophes. "Swiss Re with its financial strength and global know-how is in a good position to deal with these threats," he said.
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, May 28, 2003 (ENS) - The growth of cities and industrial agriculture is responsible for more of the rise in temperature across the United States than scientists previously believed, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland. They found that land use changes may account for up to half of the observed surface global warming. Meteorologists Dr. Eugenia Kalnay and Dr. Ming Cai have found evidence that the observed temperature increase of 0.13 degrees Celsius (.234 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 50 years has been influenced by changes in land use. "Our estimates are that land use changes in the United States since the 1960s resulted in a rise of over 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit (F) in the mean surface temperature, an estimate twice as high as those of previous studies," said Kalnay. "We expect to extend our study to obtain global results later this year," she said.
A Distinguished Professor of meteorology at the university and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, Kalnay served as director of the Environmental Modeling Center of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction of the National Weather Service from 1987 through 1997. There she led the development of ensemble forecasts and other modeling improvements at the National Weather Service that made possible accurate three and five day forecasts. Kalnay and Cai estimated the impact of land use effects by comparing trends in surface temperature measurements taken at 1,982 surface weather stations around the country with trends based on data from satellite and weather balloons from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Over the past century, the Earth has warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit, and scientists expect the average global temperature to increase an additional two to six degrees F over the next 100 years.
Most scientists think the global warming trend is mainly the result of human activities, such as the emission of greenhouse gases from power plants, manufacturing, cars and trucks. Land use change has been seen as a smaller factor in this trend. "The larger effect found in this study is likely because our method covers all changes in land use. Previous methods for estimating the impact of land use change relied on measures - population counts or satellite measures of light at night - that only provide an indication of the effects of urbanization, but not of other changes in land use," said Kalnay. The effects of land conversion to agriculture has not been taken into account in previous studies. But the comparison of urban and rural weather stations, without including agricultural effects, would underestimate the total impact of land use changes, Kalnay and Cai write in their paper. The well known "urban heat island" effect actually takes place at nighttime, the two scientists write, "when buildings and streets release the solar heating absorbed during the day."
At the time of maximum temperature, the urban effect is one of slight cooling due to shading, aerosols, and to thermal inertia differences between city and country that are not currently well understood, they write.
The effect of agricultural development, increasing evaporation during the day, also would tend to decrease the maximum temperature, but "irrigation would increase the heat capacity of the soil, thus increasing the minimum temperature," they state. They conclude that, "Both urbanization and agriculture effects could be consistent with the general increase in the minimum temperature and slight decrease in the maximum temperature." The actual changes in temperature may appear small, but when small changes in the average temperature last for a long time, they can cause dramatic changes in the climate, the scientists say. At the peak of the last Ice Age, 18,000 years ago, the average temperature was only seven degrees F colder than today, and glaciers covered much of North America. Drs. Cai and Kalnay's study, "Estimating the Impact of Urbanization and Land Use on US Surface Temperature Trends: Preliminary Report," will be published in Thursday's issue of the journal "Nature."
Gland, Switzerland – On the eve of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest, WWF is urging government Heads of State attending the G8 Summit to secure a written, time-bound commitment from Russian President Putin on Russian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to help stop serious global warming impacts such as those evident in Nepal's Everest National Park. Studies show that the landscape of Mount Everest has changed significantly since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first conquered the peak in 1953. A UNEP team has found that the glacier that once came close to Hillary and Norgay's first camp has retreated five kilometres (three miles), while a series of ponds that used to be near Island Peak -so-called because it was then an island in a sea of ice - had merged into a long lake. Other lakes are also replacing glaciers in the area as they thaw and shrink. These changes are consistent with scientific projections of what will happen in a warmer world and show that global warming is already occurring.
“Climate change is an incredible threat to this area. Fifty years ago this mountain was the great conquest by two brave heroes,” said Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF’s Climate Change Programme. “But the question is, in the next fifty years will the world show the same bravery by tackling climate change?” The Kyoto Protocol, the world's only international treaty to combat climate change and global warming, will come into force once Russia ratifies. President Putin and members of the Russian government have declared on several occasions that they intend to ratify. However, WWF is deeply concerned that a ratification instrument has not yet been prepared and presented to the Duma as promised. As the Heads of Government Summit of the G8 countries (Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and Russia) takes place this week in Evian, France, President Putin has a tremendous opportunity to make a difference for Everest's glaciers and valleys, and to be a champion as Hilary and Norgay were fifty years ago - by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and making it clear to the world that Russia is on board.
“President Putin must make it crystal clear at the G8 meeting that Russia will ratify in the next months and join the winning team on global warming – the Kyoto team,” said Jennifer Morgan. “G8 leaders must make use of all diplomatic means to secure entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol considering the magnitude of projected climate change and the severity of its impacts.”
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Japan later this year when they hold talks in St. Petersburg on Friday, government sources said. Tentative arrangements are being made for Putin to visit Japan after he attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum scheduled to be held in Bangkok at the end of October. Should Putin's visit come to fruition, it would mark the third time the leaders have met this year alone, following their summit meeting in Moscow in January and their meeting this week. The government hopes to speed up negotiations regarding a peace treaty and a long-standing territorial dispute between the two countries by increasing the frequency of bilateral talks.
KOIZUMI TO PRESS KYOTO PROTOCOL
During the St. Petersburg talks, Koizumi will directly call on Putin to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming. After a Cabinet meeting Tuesday morning, Environment Minister Shunichi Suzuki urged the prime minister to press Russia to ratify the protocol. Koizumi agreed to raise the matter at the summit, according to the sources. "The prime minister told me he is conscious that Russia's ratification is crucial.
I personally would like to see Russia ratify the protocol before the end of this year," Suzuki said Nations including Japan and the European Union have already ratified the protocol, but ratification by Russia is essential to bring the protocol into effect. An action plan aimed at promoting bilateral cooperation adopted at the January summit meeting spelled out that Russia would move ahead with ratification of the protocol.
However, Russia has so far failed to move, citing possible negative impacts ratification might have on the Russian economy and other reasons.
Although the status of Joint Implementation (JI) credits within the EU emissions trading scheme is currently unclear, I find it desirable to include them, Kari Hämekoski, the new Programme Manager for the Finnish CDM/JI Pilot Programme at the Finnish Environment Institute told Point Carbon. Most actors in the emissions trading market eagerly await the European Commission's linking proposal, but until it appears speculations are rich over what will happen. Under the Kyoto Protocol, JI credits (ERUs) may only be used from 2008 onwards, but there are talks about including them in the EU emissions trading scheme already from 2005. JI-like projects within current EU Member States have also been discussed, where credits may be obtained from emission reductions projects in sectors not included in the emissions trading Directive.
- JI may help investments in renewable energy more than emissions trading, and to include it in the emissions trading scheme will give companies incentives to do JI projects. It might reduce company risks if they sign long-term contracts, but again it may lead to companies paying too much for their credits, Hämekoski said. - Including JI credits presents legislative challenges; it will be hard to get it done. But if these credits are included, it should be made simpler to obtain them. At the moment, emissions trading seems to provide a much easier option for companies, Kari Hämekoski concluded.
On the eve of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warns that climate change could bring disaster to the Himalayas. It says the effects of global warming can already be seen in Nepal's Everest National Park. In the shadow of Mount Everest, the world's third largest icecap, which is more than five thousand metres above sea level, is melting. As the glaciers in the area thaw and shrink, lakes are forming in their place. One of them at the base of the melting Imja Glacier did not exist 30 years ago - now it is one kilometre long and a hundred metres deep.
The top of the glacier rubble wall that flanks it marks what was, until recently, the surface of the glacier. The new lake is held in place by a natural dam of loose rock, bound together by old glacial ice. Now that is also melting. Below the lake is the most densely populated of the Sherpa valleys. It is also a region heavily dependent on tourist and climbers - it is the main path to the Everest base. If the lake overflows, or the natural dam breaks, a wall of water could crash down on several villages which lie directly in the flood path.
The WWF estimates such a wall of water has the potential to reach 10 to 30 metres in height, sweeping away homes and farms as well as crucial bridges and paths.Mountain guides continue to watch the lake's growth with alarm but there is little the Sherpa community can do - the lake is too high and remote for engineering work. The WWF says it is crucial, therefore, for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming, to be ratified immediately. Nations including Japan and the countries in the European Union have already ratified the protocol, but ratification by the United States and Russia is essential to bring the protocol into effect. The WWF also said the international community must move from talk to action in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide - the gas that causes global warming. (AP)
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- The European Union aims to link its greenhouse gas emissions trading system to the rest of the world so EU firms can buy pollution permits from other countries, its environment policy head said this week. But countries like Canada and Russia that want to be able to trade pollution rights would only have limited access to the EU market -- which is set to be the world's first international emissions trading scheme when it is launched in 2005. EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom will produce draft legislation in the coming weeks to set out rules on how EU companies could, for example, exceed their own pollution limits by "buying" reductions made by firms outside the bloc.
The proposal will limit the amount of "imported" emissions reductions that EU firms can buy to help meet pollution targets. "It is very delicate. You have to allow it to not open up too much so it affects the credibility and the environmental integrity of our system," Wallstrom told reporters Monday.
The EU trading scheme will set a cap on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial plants from 2005. It will allow firms to buy and sell emissions rights within the EU and could create a brand new market place worth 7 billion euros (U.S. $8 billion) by 2007, according to Norway-based analysts Point Carbon. Many environmentalists fear that allowing EU countries to buy their emissions reductions, required under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, would let them off the need to cut pollution from their own energy, industry and transport sectors.
KEY FOR RUSSIA, KYOTO
They also fear that countries outside the EU could sell bogus credits or that they might sell reductions in greenhouse gases achieved by using nuclear power rather than fossil fuels. But Canada and Russia are both putting pressure on the EU to link its system with all Kyoto countries without limitations. Canada has ratified the treaty despite the fact that its main economic partner, the United States, pulled out and is keen to trade emissions with the EU and others. The 1997 treaty has not yet come into force and can not do so until Russia ratifies it. Moscow wants to be able to sell the emissions it has reduced during the 1990s and is pressuring the EU to allow as much of this as possible, diplomats say. Russian and EU leaders will discuss Kyoto ratification at a summit in St Petersburg on Saturday.
WASHINGTON, May 27 — Exxon Mobil has publicly softened its stance toward global warming over the last year, with a pledge of $10 million in annual donations for 10 years to Stanford University for climate research At the same time, the company, the world's largest oil and gas concern, has increased donations to Washington-based policy groups that, like Exxon itself, question the human role in global warming and argue that proposed government policies to limit carbon dioxide emissions associated with global warming are too heavy handed.
Exxon now gives more than $1 million a year to such organizations, which include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, the George C. Marshall Institute, the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The organizations are modest in size but have been outspoken in the global warming debate. Exxon has become the single-largest corporate donor to some of the groups, accounting for more than 10 percent of their annual budgets. While a few of the groups say they also receive some money from other oil companies, it is only a small fraction of what they receive from Exxon Mobil. "We want to support organizations that are trying to broaden the debate on an issue that is so important to all of us," said Tom Cirigliano, a spokesman for Exxon. "There is this whole issue that no one should question the science of global climate change that is ludicrous. That's the kind of dark-ages thinking that gets you in a lot of trouble." He also noted, "These are not single-agenda groups."
The organizations emphasize that while their views align with Exxon's, the company's money does not influence their policy conclusions. Indeed, the organizations say they have been sought out in part because of their credibility. "They've determined that we are effective at what we do," said George C. Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom, a conservative group that maintains that human activities are not responsible for global warming. He says Exxon essentially takes the attitude, "We like to make it possible to do more of that." Frontiers of Freedom, which has about a $700,000 annual budget, received $230,000 from Exxon in 2002, up from $40,000 in 2001, according to Exxon documents. But Mr. Landrith said the growth was not as sharp as it appears because the money is actually spread over three years.
The increase corresponds with a rising level of public debate since the United States withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, some of the groups said. After President Bush rejected the protocol, a treaty requiring nations to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases, many corporations shifted their attention to Washington, where the debate has centered on proposals for domestic curbs on the emissions. "Firefighters' budgets go up when fires go up," said Fred L. Smith, the head of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Myron Ebell, an analyst from the institute, spoke at last year's Exxon shareholders' meeting, where he criticized a renewable energy resolution proposed by a group of shareholders. Exxon's backing of third-party groups is a marked contrast to its more public role in the Global Climate Coalition, an industry group formed in 1989 to challenge the science around global warming. The group eventually disbanded when oil and auto companies started to withdraw. As companies were left to walk their own path, Exxon shifted money toward independent policy groups.
"Now it's come down to a few of these groups to be the good foot soldiers of the corporate community on climate change," said Kert Davies, a research director for Greenpeace, which has tried to organize an international boycott of Exxon. Exxon's publicly disclosed documents reveal that donations to many of these organizations increased by more than 50 percent from 2000 to 2002. And money to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that works with state legislators, has almost tripled, as the policy debate has moved to the state level. The gifts are minuscule compared with the $100 million, 10-year scientific grant to Stanford, which is establishing a research center that will focus on technologies that could provide energy without adding to greenhouse gases linked by scientists to global warming. Nevertheless, the donations in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars are significant for groups with budgets ranging from $700,000 to $4 million.
Critics say that Exxon and these groups continue to muddle the debate even as scientific consensus has emerged, and as much of the industry has taken a more conciliatory stance toward the reality of global warming. As Exxon has become isolated from its peers, it has faced increasing pressure from shareholders and environmentalists. BP, Shell and ChevronTexaco have developed strategies that incorporate renewable energy, carbon trading and emissions reductions. Among the initiatives that Exxon's money has helped is the Center for Science and Public Policy. The two-month-old center is a one-man operation that brings scientists to Capitol Hill on two issues: global warming and the health effects of mercury. "We don't lobby, we educate," said Bob Ferguson, head of the center, who spent 24 years working as a Republican Congressional staff member. "We try to be nonpolitical and nonpartisan and nonideological."
Tiger-suited protestors target Exxon headquarters, Planet Ark, May 29, 2003 http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/20960/story.htm
ExxonMobil's Chairman Lee Raymond reckless disregard of
Exxon mauled by green tiger protest, The Guardian, May
One in Five ExxonMobil Shareholders Want Climate Action,
ENS, May 28, 2003
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will have 100-wind power turbines installed in the remote coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces during the next one year. The country has already procured and installed 14 wind power turbines of 300 and 500-watt capacity, with the help of China, in coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan. Dr Ishtiaq A. Qazi, Director General, Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) said that most parts of these 100 wind power turbines would be produced indigenously, except the generators, which are to be imported from China. The long coastal belt of Pakistan is a potential source for utilization of wind energy and PCRET is working for further promotion and transfer of technology with an ultimate objective to achieve complete indigenous manufacturing of wind turbines in the country, he added.
Dr Ishtiaq said, “a 300 watt turbine would barely be sufficient to run about two or three lines of black and white television and probably a radio, so this would be just for one household.” He said that such projects are feasible only for the coastal belt. Recounting the achievements in microhydel energy projects, he informed that the council has installed around 250 microhydel power plants of 4 Mega Watt capacity in remote areas of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), making the use of small streams and natural falls. The electricity so generated is used for domestic lighting and running cottage level industrial units such as flour mills, saw machines, rice huskers, oil expellers, maize shellers and cotton ginners.
Under an agreement with Malakand Rural Development Authority (MRDA), PCRET has also initiated a programme, with the funding of Asian Development Bank (ADB), for installation of 100 microdydel power plants of 5 to 50 Kilo Watt in Malakand Agency, Dr Qazi said. He said the council is putting in concerted efforts for the promotion of biogas technology in the country and has installed a number of biogas plants.
Dr Ishtiaq Qazi informed that under an ongoing project, the council aims to install 1200 biogas plants within a period a four years. The completion of this project will produce 1.6 million cubic meter of gas per year for domestic use, he added. With regard to photovoltaic and solar energy, he said, the council has developed the know-how and processing technologies in the field of solar cells, modules and systems.
The research laboratories at PCRET are equipped with facilities of growing silicon mono-crystalline ingots, slicing these ingots into wafers, fabrication of solar cells and devices, lamination of cells into PV modules. As a result, a number of products are being fabricated, albeit on limited scale, in the council’s laboratories. These include silicon wafers, solar cells, PV modules, PV systems such as solar lantern, light home systems, garden and street lights etc. He said, a number of systems have been designed and installed for applications of lighting, fencing, water pumping and telecommunications. Dr Ishtiaq said, the activities in solar thermal include modelling, designing and fabrication of low cost efficient solar thermal appliances like solar cookers, solar water heaters, solar room heaters, solar stills, solar dryers etc. Giving an example of solar water heaters, he informed that, solar water heaters of 20,000 liters capacity have been installed and are in use at the Attock Oil Refineries, Rawalpindi.
Renewable energy technologies can provide the solution to environment related problems of growing demand of energy with no impact on the environment. A number of such energy sources are becoming progressively compatible. The volume of Renewable Sources is considerable; presently only 0.1percent of these are being used. One could say that there is no scarcity of energy in the world; there is in fact a need to shift to those systems that are clean, reliable and sustainable. Worldwide efforts are being made to promote these energy technologies and various countries have taken many practical steps for their exploitation. Pakistan, rich in renewable energy sources, can also exploit these resources to meet the growing energy demand particularly in the remote areas where energy is most needed. —APP
MANNHEIM - The right to emit a tonne of carbon dioxide may find a price range around 10 euros ($11.69) a tonne in the emerging European market for emissions certificates from 2005, a Dresdner Bank (ALVG.DE) specialist said. Brokers approach us with this price idea so we know it reflects market expectations," Armin Sandhoevel, head of Dresdner's corporate sustainability section, said on the sidelines of a finance symposium late last week. "I think it's not unlikely that this will be a feasible level for the first trading period of 2005 to 2008, and I believe 20 euros would be the upper limit," he told Reuters after leading a workshop on the subject. He said his bank was active in preparing for the trade and had based the forecast on experiences with pilot projects and the size of known investments into emissions reducing measures.
It is within the price band of internationally emerging price bands and compares with 20-33 euros tentatively assumed by the European Commission for 2005-2008. Financial industries are keen to start price discovery ahead of the allocation of emissions rights next year to businesses affected by the mandatory trading scheme, which EU environment ministers agreed last December in order to fight global warming. It will key to the bloc's efforts to meet its global climate protection targets and aims at helping cut damaging emissions more effectively than current legal or fiscal tools. About half the 6,000 or so companies in energy, metals, minerals, pulp and cement, industries, which must comply with the scheme, are based in Germany, Europe's largest economy. "It is clear that some countries will be net buyers such as Spain, Austria or the Netherlands, while in Germany, there will be many sellers holding high value certificates due to their earlier activities in cutting emissions," Sandhoevel said.
National allocation plans (NAPs) will award the companies free rights depending on the size of their operations, then subject them to montoring of their emission avoidance efforts. Germany is well on course to meeting its target of cutting CO2 emissions by 21 percent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012, having already cut 19 percent because it made huge efforts in that direction in the 1990s. The idea of the trading scheme is that it will become lucrative for firms to achieve a surplus of rights to sell to the market, while giving a financial incentive for buyers short of rights to invest in emission cutting measures. Alongside the trading of emissions allowances from the national schemes, traders expect a further stimulus from an emerging secondary market for voluntary, certified emission cuts, which companies will use in their marketing.
"A company's risks and chances in emissions trading will depend on its real cost of cutting emissions, which makes this one of the industry's best-kept secrets," Sandhoevel said.
MADRID - Spain is studying changes in its renewable energy policy in a bid to bring more stability and visibility to the fledgling, high-risk sector, officials told an energy conference. Spain, with 4,830 megawatts of wind energy capacity installed, overtook the United States last year to become the second biggest wind energy producer after Germany, helped by government incentives. Currently the government sets a premium which renewable energy customers must pay on top of the price, aimed at compensating firms for the risks they run in an industry that demands high investment and promises limited profitability.
The government sets that premium's size according to moves in electricity prices. But a new proposal from the energy regulator - which the government is set to adopt - says other factors should be taken into account, such as the cost of investment; operation and maintenance; and the generator's potential. That system would allow firms to know what income they can expect, rather than relying on volatile electricity prices. "We're trying to bring security and stability to the system. It is not a good system that tariffs can rise or fall in December each year without knowing why they will rise or fall," National Energy Commission chief Pedro Merono told reporters. Secretary of State for Energy Jose Folgado said the new system, which the government plans to adopt, would be ready before September. But sector sources said they thought the new system would push down premiums. The wind energy industry, which has grown 700 percent in capacity terms over the last four years, is already facing a profitability squeeze. In order to expand, firms will have to build wind farms in less windy areas as the prime sites have already been snapped up. Another pressure comes from the fact the sector is 80 percent financed by bank loans. Power utilities Endesa (ELE.MC) and Union Fenosa (UNF.MC) are seeking financial partners for their wind subsidiaries to share the investment burden. In 2002 wind energy firms invested 1.5 billion euros - 1.2 billion from credit lines - and produced 9,120 gigawatt hours, compared with 6,600 the year before.
SARAJEVO - Austria plans to provide 350 million euro ($408.6 million) in funding for new hydro-electric plants in Bosnia in the next few years, an Austrian diplomat said. The projects would go ahead once Bosnia signs a memorandum proposed by Austria and based on the Kyoto protocol on cutting polluting greenhouse gases, said Michael Scherz, the commercial counsellor at the Austrian embassy in Sarajevo. "If we have this in place, Austria would finance in a soft loan mostly environmental projects in Bosnia...which will be hydro power projects," Scherz told Reuters in an interview. The 1997 Kyoto protocol aims to stop global warming through cutbacks in emissions of gases widely believed to cause it. Scherz said the protocol allowed wealthy countries such as Austria to meet part of their targets by carrying out projects in less developed countries such as Bosnia.
He said Austrian companies had already identified eight possible locations for hydro power plants in Bosnia's two regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, and it was realistic to expect up to five stations to be built. The value of the projects, planned to be implemented over the next four to five years, would be 350 million euro, he said. Scherz said Bosnian authorities had begun preparations for the agreement, which is expected to be signed by summer. He said 60-70 percent of the work would be done by local companies in projects that would create a few thousand jobs, stimulating a local economy, poor by Western standards. "We would like to widen it with other infrastructure projects," Scherz said of Austria's involvement. "This is just the first step."
But he cautioned that Bosnia had to ratify the Kyoto protocol for the plan to go ahead. Due in part to historical ties and geographical proximity, Austrian firms have been prominent investors in postwar Bosnia. Scherz said businesses had expressed fresh interest in the Balkan state since economic reforms quickened in recent months. "Everybody is suddenly so interested in Bosnia. The companies that we could not motivate at least to come here to see what is possible suddenly are very interested," Scherz said. "I think the real big influx (of investors) will start next year," he added.
Budapest Business Journal
Not all parts of the government favor entering the market – and not all local firms appreciate how much they could gain. As the Hungarian government considers whether to join the EU’s multi-billion-euro CO2 trading market, set to launch Jan. 1, 2005, observers say the country and its businesses have much to gain – provided they can all get themselves ready for the system in time. “It’s no big secret [which firms will be affected],” said Paul Bodnar, partner of Vertis Environmental Finance Kft, an advisory company specializing in issues related to the Kyoto Protocol. “For example, [oil and gas firm] MOL [Rt], [steel producer] Dunaferr [Rt], all the big power generators, all the cement factories and all the big paper producers,” he added. Companies implicated in the EU directive – should Hungary decide to enter the scheme – will have to apply for a new sort of operating license. These businesses belong to five major sectors: metallurgy; power generation; cement and other building materials; pulp and paper; and oil refining.
The scheme will allow Hungary and Hungarian companies to enjoy the benefits of emission trading deals, similar to a deal that one Hungarian company has already sealed based on the anticipated worldwide adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. Such deals take advantage of the fact that it is easier to make the same incremental reduction in pollution in a relatively underdeveloped country than in a very developed one.
In the one deal struck so far, at the end of last year, Dutch state-owned emissions dealer Senter undertook to help AES-Borsod Energetics Kft reduce its CO2 emissions – while buying the right to count the relevant amount of emission reduction towards the Netherlands’ reduction quota as prescribed in Kyoto. The Hungarian firm gains a lot from this deal. Senter will buy the emission of 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide from AES-Borsod between 2008 and 2012 for a price of 4.5 per ton. In addition, Senter will contribute 3.1 million to the ongoing development of the power plant.
The EU scheme is expected to bring a flood of such deals to Hungarian firms. Local industry is in a good position to take advantage of the scheme because it already has reduced its emissions considerably since the 1980s, when the measurements were taken that are used in the EU’s quota scheme. Therefore, Hungarian companies have already earned a considerable amount of credits waiting to be ‘cashed.’
MAKING A LIST
Still, the implementation of the EU’s emission trading system in Hungary depends on a list being completed of Hungarian companies that the scheme would affect. Specialists at the Environment Management Institute – an independent subdivision of the Environment Ministry – are working on this, said one expert, László Gáspár. Gáspár explained that in the case of most technologies, it is easy to calculate if a company falls under the directive. However, he noted that it is difficult to list all the companies with power-generating capacity above 20 MW at a single operational site, this being one of the criteria of the EU directive.
He added that the number of companies affected, other than power generators, is between 20 and 50, with this currently being whittled down from several thousand possibles. Bodnar of Vertis said his team has a list of some 30 companies affected by the new EU legislation. Vertis is targeting these companies with its services, which includes educating them on the benefits of trading their emissions, he said. Vertis is also brokering CO2 deals, and plans to participate in EU trading.
COUNT US OUT
Executives at some industrial companies expressed uncertainty about what sectors of industry would be included in the emission trading mechanism, and how credit trading quotas would be allocated among companies. “There is a fight within the EU among various lobby groups concerning what sectors should be included in the system,” said György Vécsi, managing director of AES-Borsod Energetics. Vécsi mentioned that the chemical industry, a major source of CO2 emissions, has been fighting hard to remain outside the system. AES-Borsod’s deal with the Dutch agency, based on the Kyoto Protocol, involves the retrofit development of the coal-fired AES-Borsod Power Plant. “The retrofit development means that we will be able to sell approximately 900,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year, of which Senter will buy only 140,000,” Vécsi said. “This means that the government will have more than 700,000 tons’ worth of CO2 emission credits a year from this. But we still do not see how the trading will be managed in practice,” he added.
János Szarkándi, technical director at Duna-Dráva Cement Kft, agreed that much still hangs on government decisions. “We’re waiting for the national allocation plan to be completed,” he said.
Szarkándi added that the cement industry is lobbying for certain industry-specific features to be observed when fixing industry quotas. “Most of the CO2 emissions in the cement industry are a result of the raw materials we use in the production process,” Szarkándi said. “We want decision makers to take this into account as a mitigating circumstance when setting emission limits in various industries.” Szarkándi added that neither transportation nor waste incineration is expected to be included among the emission credit trading sectors. “We get a large part of our energy from waste burning, so we want this part of our CO2 emissions not to be counted toward our emission quota,” Szarkándi said.
LABOR today introduced its own bill into Parliament to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Opposition environment spokesman Kelvin Thomson said the bill was proof there was only one political party in Australia serious about tackling climate change. "This is a bill which tells Australian farmers that we care about the impact of droughts and floods on them," he told parliament. "We care about those CSIRO projections that say that increasing temperatures will lead to increased severity and increased frequency of droughts and floods in the years ahead." Mr Thomson called on the Government to support the legislation which would give legal effect to Australia's Kyoto target. More than 100 countries have ratified the treaty. "This is a bill which tells the Australian people and the rest of the world that the Labor Party believes in being good international environmental citizens," he said. "We need to support the Kyoto protocol. "We need to be good and responsible international environmental citizens. "It is in our interests and the interests of the entire world." Debate on the bill was adjourned.
According to our national inventory, the energy sector in Poland emits 56 per cent of the country's CO2 emissions. In the national allocation plan (NAP) under the EU emissions trading scheme, the energy sector will be allocated somewhere between 30 and 50 per cent of the allowances, Piotr Lazowski told Point Carbon. Lazowski is responsible for the allocation process, and heads the flexible mechanism department in the Polish Ministry of Environment. The Polish committee working on emissions trading have scheduled a meeting in late June, where allocation will be on the agenda. Although Poland's total greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by some 180 million tonnes from 1988 to 2001, Lazowski does not necessarily see Polish companies as major sellers of allowances to the EU market. We do not want a situation where companies oversell allowances, with the Government ending up responsible. I believe there must be a limit to how much of the allowances companies can trade, he said, pointing out that the EU scheme is only a supplementary instrument to the Kyoto Protocol. There are sources not covered by the EU scheme that will be included in Kyoto. There will be two systems, which may create problems. In the meantime we await further guidelines from the European Commission. This whole process is going extremely quickly, Lazowski added.
A French government minister dropped a heavy hint Saturday that the country would stick with its pro-nuclear energy policy, saying a choice had to be made between the dangers of nuclear power and those of climate change. "Choices will have to be made very quickly, because the question of renewing our nuclear installations will have to made from 2020 onwards, which, in the energy field, is practically tomorrow," Nicole Fontaine, a junior industry minister, told an audience in Paris at a discussion of future energy policy options. But a former environment minister in the Socialist-led coalition government, defeated in a general election last year, said Europe and the market "will kill nuclear", since no investor would buy a new generation of nuclear reactors and some European countries were moving away from nuclear energy.
The idea that France had to choose between nuclear energy and global warming was "stupid", Yves Cochet, a Green member of the National Assembly told the meeting. Fontaine's remarks were seen as the clearest indication yet that France, which gets almost 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power stations, will not abandon its reliance on nuclear. "It isn't a question of keeping quiet about the risks linked to the use of nuclear power, whether of an accident or proliferation for military uses," she said. "But these risks have to be compared with the dangers threatening our planet from the greenhouse effect; the choice has to be made between two disadvantages and everyone should know it." If no decision was taken by 2010 to update French nuclear power stations France would have the choice in 2020 between gas-powered power stations which would emit greenhouse gases contributing to global warming and American nuclear power stations.
"These are not particularly appealing alternatives," a source close to Fontaine said. Cochet riposted by arguing that the real price of nuclear power, once the cost of disposal of waste and dismantling obsolete reactors was taken into account, was uneconomic.
Nuclear power would not solve the problems of pollution from transport and households. Earlier this month a French parliamentary committee called on the government to give the go-ahead for two companies to build a prototype Franco-German next-generation nuclear reactor. The Socialist-led government in power from 1997 to 2002 showed less enthusiasm for the nuclear option than previous administrations, to some degree because of pressure from the environmentalists in the coalition. Fontaine said the price of oil and gas was certain to rise and claimed that climate change posed "the most serious and urgent problem we face." France had to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2050. She said that if the pattern of energy production in the US was the same as in France, the US could cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief gas involved in global warming, by 30 percent.
NEW YORK - Romania is set to be the leading transition economy supplier of greenhouse gas credits in the emerging carbon market, industry analysts said. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe are seen as key carbon credit suppliers under possible future mandatory emission trading schemes, such as the European Union's and the Kyoto Protocol. Under the EU plan, companies in the oil refining, smelting paper and metals sectors would have to limit emissions or buy credits to pollute more. "If you are a buyer of these credits where should you be looking? On aggregate you should be looking in Romania," said Paul Bodnar," a spokesman at Vertis Environmental Finance, a carbon finance adviser in Hungary.
Vertis and Point Carbon, a provider of carbon price forecasts, listed the top 13 potential supplies of greenhouse credits under the joint implementation provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, which are all in Central and Eastern Europe. Romania was followed by Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria and Russia.
"Romania has a lot of old, outdated industrial and power generation that needs to be replaced and energy efficiency is terrible there. So with relatively inexpensive measures, you can net a lot of emissions reductions, which is not the case in most countries such as Holland or Canada, where reducing one more ton of emissions will cost you a lot more," said Bodnar.
Although the official EU or international market is still a couple of years a way, a market has emerged, as likely participants position themselves and get used to the mechanisms of carbon trading. In an example of that, last year U.S. power producer AES Corp. bought $3 million worth of greenhouse credits. AES bought the credits from Hungary, which built renewable biomass power plants that reduce overall carbon production. In today's market, a ton of carbon dioxide emission credit is worth about $4.50. The emerging European carbon emissions market is set to grow by around 50 percent this year to $1.06 billion and could be worth around $8.4 billion by 2007, according to a recent study by Point Carbon. The Kyoto agreement needs only Russia's signature to pass. It would require developed nations to reduce emissions by 5 percent below 1990 emissions levels. The first target period for reaching those levels is 2008 through 2012.
A European minimum standard for insulation would dramatically increase chances of meeting CO2 reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report from the European Insulation Manufacturers Association (EURIMA). According to The Critical Importance of Building Insulation for the Environment, there is a huge divergence between the tendencies of northern and southern European countries to insulate their buildings. EURIMA says energy use in buildings accounts for more than 40% of CO2 emissions. Earlier this month the European Environment Agency reported an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, for the second year running. It is concerned that southern European countries like Spain and Italy are not making enough use of insulation and are contributing unnecessarily to the EU’s CO2 emissions figures.
Taking into account population and the number of days throughout the year when heating is required, the report says Italy, Spain and France have the highest energy loss through dwellings. Italian losses total 1,164,442 MJ per year, whilst Ireland lost 26,142 MJ, the lowest recorded. However whilst countries like France have improved their insulation record from 1982 to 2001, countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey have made little or virtually no effort to increase their insulation use. “I am very much concerned about the discrepancy from different countries,” Horst Biedermann, director general of EURIMA told edie. “Insulation is the single most important issue in cutting CO2 emissions. Countries like Spain have old regulations still in place and this just does not make sense in today’s environment.” “Decision makers at national and EU level need to place a minimum standard for insulation across Europe, if they hope to achieve their Kyoto targets,” he added.
The devastating effects of global warming are already being felt in Nunavut, according to many scientists and one Iqaluit politician. Councillor Keith Irving says it's time the city took major action to reduce its emission of greenhouse gases, given that the consequences of global warming will strike the Arctic first.
"If we are going to ask citizens of the world to take action to protect our part of the world we need to do our part as well," Irving said after attending a municipal leaders' forum on implementing the Kyoto Protocol from April 27 to 29. Municipalities control or have an impact on about 50 per cent of the greenhouse gases created in Canada, either directly or indirectly. But Iqaluit lacks the staff resources to put clean measures in place, so Irving says the federal government needs to step in and help. "Iqaluit, with all the stresses and strains on it, capacity building probably remains the biggest single issue. We need the federal government to take action to support municipalities doing this work," Irving said. "Right now, the city has a proposal in for $100,000 to give us the staff capacity we need to begin to take some leadership on this issue."
The funds can't come quickly enough, as Irving says his own experiences have shown him that global warming is already taking its toll on the local environment. Early thaws and stories about hunters going through ice are signs that the predictions are coming true, Irving said. "When I'm out dog teaming and see birds that shouldn't be here [at that time of year] that to me is evidence that something is changing."
Whereas many researchers and scientists have predicted that the Canadian Arctic will be the first to see the effects of climate change, Irving believes it will also be the most affected by the economic benefits of fighting global warming. As more efficient ways of using and producing energy are discovered and implemented, costs to consumers will decrease along with greenhouse gas emissions. Nunavummiut pay some of the highest heating bills in Canada, so they will experience the greatest savings by decreasing the cost of energy. "If we can reduce energy consumption of a building by 20 or 50 per cent, that's a lot more money in our pocket than if we were sitting in the South.
Fleet management programs, anti-idling campaigns and more energy-efficient buildings are the type of initiatives Irving believes will result in the greatest pollution reduction. It may prove difficult to change people's way of life by eliminating the use of high-emission off-road equipment like snowmobiles and four-wheelers, but Irving is optimistic. He's hopeful that more energy-efficient off-roading equipment, such as the four-cylinder snowmobile, will grow in popularity. Government and industry need to help refine those systems and bring the cost of those machines down, he added. Many hunters and boat-users have already moved to four-stroke engines because of the fuel efficiency and cleaner burn, Irving noted. As an architect, Irving is currently vying for a $60,000 federal grant to employ an energy consultant to perform a rigorous study on how to decrease energy consumption by 25 per cent. The Yukon recently built a school using passive solar and mechanical ventilation techniques to cut their costs significantly.
Iqaluit has already begun the process of reducing energy consumption with its current water recycling pilot program. The city hopes the project will decrease water use, truck service and the emissions associated with driving trucks out to Apex. Last November, Iqaluit became the 100th member of the Partners in Climate Protection program, committing the city to take part in a five-step program which sets a community target for greenhouse gas reduction. "It's not an easy task to change peoples' behaviours but it can be done," Irving insisted. "We changed the behaviour of drunk-drivers who used to careen off our roads 20 years ago."
LONDON - The British Wind Energy Association said yesterday it will expand to include tidal and wave energy in a merger with Seapower which currently promotes these renewable energy sources. "Under the agreement the BWEA will expand its mission and will commit dedicated resources to advance the development of the UK's wind, wave and tidal steam resources," the association said in a statement.
Under the agreement, Seapower, which represents the UK's marine renewable industry apart from offshore wind, would merge with BWEA in the coming months. The new organisation will keep the BWEA name and is scheduled for an October launch to focus on the offshore renewables industry and issues such as grid connection, planning and financing.
Britain promotes the use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass power as a tool to bring down polluting greenhouse gas emissions to curb climate change under a United Nations Kyoto protocol. It has set a goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity from green energy sources by 2010, up from three percent at present. The U.N. said recently the UK is well on course to meet its Kyoto target to cut emissions by 12.5 percent by 2010 on 1990's levels. However, Britain's green energy industry said on Tuesday the government needs to extend the targets for renewable energy beyond 2010 or risk failing to meet existing goals.
Nine out of ten UK firms claim to have energy efficiency policies in place, but only 6% of these actually monitor their energy consumption at all, according to a new report by a UK energy consultancy.
“It is difficult to implement an effective energy policy without knowing how much energy you use and where your energy is going,” said Julian Miller, director of Sussex-based consultancy AEC, which carried out the survey. AEC interviewed facilities managers from 50 of the UK’s largest 1,000 firms. Just 44% of those who claimed to have energy efficiency policies actually knew how much energy their firms consumed, the consultancy said. Four times as many firms sought to reduce their energy bills by negotiating with their supplier than by adjusting their heating and boiler systems, AEC claimed.
“The real price of energy dropped dramatically while utilities were battling for market share. My prediction is that this is about to change, and prices are going to start going up.” Julian Miller told edie. “People are going to have to start managing their energy demand better rather than just negotiating prices.” AEC’s survey is backed by figures from the Building Research Establishment, which says that industry loses £500 million per annum in additional energy costs, due to inadequate heating and ventilation systems in buildings.
The findings suggest the UK could add to recent success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by making major improvements to energy efficiency. Just last week the UN confirmed the UK had already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 12.8% compared with 1990 - beating its 12.5% target under the Kyoto protocol.
KIEV, Ukraine — Environment ministers from 55 countries assembled in Ukraine's capital Wednesday for a United Nations–sponsored conference on strengthening environmental protections and harmonizing policies across Europe and Central Asia. President Leonid Kuchma opened the fifth Environment for Europe conference by urging participants to show the same resolve fighting environmental problems as they have in the battle against international terrorism. In the keynote address, Margot Wahlstrom, European Commissioner for the Environment, reported that progress was being made on the environmental front but noted that gains came largely from the economic failure of many industrial polluters after the Soviet Union's 1991 collapse. Wahlstrom urged countries to stop relying on "end-of-the-pipe measures" to limit pollution and instead to promote preventive measures such as the use of environmentally friendly technology.
Meanwhile, Kuchma made a personal pitch to European governments to aid Ukraine in dealing with the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, the world's worst nuclear accident. Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded in April 1986, spewing radiation across a vast swath of then-Soviet Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and other parts of Europe. "Ukraine couldn't face Chernobyl single-handedly and cannot deal with the consequences single-handedly either," Kuchma said. Millions of people continue to suffer Chernobyl-related health problems, and plant officials have said that the hastily constructed concrete shelter covering the damaged reactor has cracks and needs repairs. Ukrainian officials have denied any danger of radiation leaks.
During the three-day conference, participant countries are expected to sign protocols that include regulating the release and transfer of industrial pollutants and establishing liability and compensation standards for environmental damage from industrial accidents that spread beyond a country's borders. Ministers are also expected to sign a convention on the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathian Mountains region. Wahlstom also called on Ukraine and Russia to ratify the Kyoto Conference Protocol requiring signatory nations to gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a host of other measures to reduce global warming. Greece's Environmental Minister, Vasso Papandreou, said E.U. officials planned to meet with U.S. representatives "today, tomorrow, and Friday" to press Washington to accept the Kyoto Protocol, but she held out little hope of a breakthrough. "The Americans are very stubborn on this issue," she said. Some 300 demonstrators from the Green Party rallied outside the conference center, protesting the Ukrainian government's plans to build a canal from the Danube River to the Black Sea through a biosphere nature preserve, the Interfax news agency reported.
LONDON - UK's green energy industry urged the government this week to extend targets for renewable energy beyond 2010 or risk failing to meet existing goals which are part of plans to cut emissions of polluting greenhouse gases. "We want a new target for renewable sources to supply 30 percent of the UK's electricity by 2027," Philip Wolfe, chief executive for UK's Renewables Power Association, told Reuters.
"We also want to strengthen the Renewables Obligation by extending quotas beyond 2010," he said.
Under the Renewables Obligation Britain sets a legally binding target for utilities to supply 10 percent of their sales from renewable sources by 2010, up from about three percent currently. Renewable energy sources are wind, biomass, solar, tidal, wave and biogas power.
Last week the UK wind power industry said its future development is under threat as uncertainty about the government's long-term policy on green energy makes it difficult to secure financing for new projects.
Earlier this month the U.N. said Britain is well on course to meet its Kyoto goals but Wolfe echoed the British wind power industry and said an extension of current quotas was needed to encourage investors.
"We want to always have 10 years' visibility (for targets) into the future to make it easier for investors," he said. The Renewables Obligation is one of the tools with which Britain hopes to cut polluting greenhouse gases by 12.5 percent by 2010 on 1990's levels to curb global warming under a United Nations Kyoto protocol. In a white paper on future energy policy, published earlier this year, the government said it aspires to boost the contribution of green energy to the energy mix by 20 percent by 2020 but Wolfe said a stronger commitment was needed.
Under the Renewables Obligation utilities must prove they have met the targets by providing Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), either issued against its own green generation or bought on the open market.
The system guarantees green energy schemes with revenue going forward, helping them to secure loans from financiers. But uncertainty about what will happen after 2010, and the value of ROCs beyond that date, is unnerving investors. Wolfe said fixed term power purchase agreements with guaranteed periods and prices would reduce uncertainty and encourage investors. He also said there was a need to alleviate and improve access for renewable energy plants to the electricity network and to make it easier for projects to get planning permission. "The government's too timid on targets for renewables and its policies are too thin and weak to deliver the result. They haven't said how we'll get there," Wolfe said.
BRUSSELS - The European Parliament hopes to enact rules within weeks creating the world's first international greenhouse gas emissions trading system, the assembly's lead politician on the issue said.
If parliament can get a deal with European Union governments without having to go into lengthy negotiations, from 2005 some 10,000 firms in the refining, smelting, paper and metals sectors will have to limit their emissions or pay to pollute more. The scheme is a central plank of the EU's strategy to fight global warming and could create a brand new marketplace as companies buy and sell emissions credits across borders.
Parliament's spokesman on emissions trading said the bill had to be finalised urgently to get the system in place by the 2005 launch date. "If we postpone a decision it will create enormous problems for national authorities and companies," Spanish centre-right EU parliamentarian Jorge Moreira da Silva told a conference. The law could have a huge impact on EU industry as it will limit the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) plants can emit, and let them buy extra emissions rights from less polluting firms. It is designed to help the EU reduce the gases blamed by many scientists for trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing climate change, the main one being CO2 which is an unavoidable by-product of burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.
Moreira da Silva said allowing firms to buy and sell pollution rights would reduce the costs the EU's cost of complying with its Kyoto Protocol target greenhouse gas emissions targets by 35 percent of the 3.7 billion annual cost the European Commission has estimated. This might in turn demonstrate to the United States, which has withdrawn from the United Nations climate pact, that it is not crippling to the economy, he added.
To get a swift agreement with governments on the bill, parliament could drop many of its demands like including other greenhouse gases and sectors and making firms pay for some of their initial allowance of pollution rights, he said. But the assembly would hold out on three issues: the scheme must remain largely compulsory for the sectors involved; governments must limit the number of emissions credits they hand out, and a future revision of the law must consider including the transport and housing sectors. "There is no possible agreement we find agreement on these three issues," he told the conference. Parliament's environment committee is due to vote on the bill in June.
WASHINGTON, DC, May 22, 2003 (ENS) - An examination of Earth's "vital signs" reveals alarming trends of poverty, disease and environmental decline that threaten global stability, according to the Worldwatch Institute's annual report on trends shaping the world's future. There is little for humanity to cheer about in the organization's "Vital Signs 2003," which outlines how the continued failure to address widespread poverty serves as a lightening rod for health, social and environmental problems across the world.
The consumption choices of the rich and the inability of political leaders to act has brought this situation to bear, says Michael Renner, coauthor and project director of Vital Signs 2003, and there are few signs that things will change anytime soon.
Vital Signs 2003 was produced researchers at the Worldwatch Institute, an international environmental and social policy research organization, in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme.
Humanity's challenge, Renner explained at a press briefing held today in Washington D.C., is to find a way to balance the need to protect the Earth's ecosystems without denying the world's poorest individuals the opportunity to achieve a better life. "These twin goals cannot be achieved as long as humanity remains divided into the extremes of rich and poor," Renner said. But this divide is growing, not shrinking. Globalization has deepened economic disparities, Renner explained, and the gap between the world's poorest and richest nations has more than doubled since 1960.
The scope of the world's poverty is severe - almost half of humanity lives on less than $2 a day - and the "world economy is rigged against the interests of the poor," Renner said. Agricultural subsidies in the developed world, trade barriers, unequal trade relations and the crippling $2.4 trillion in foreign debt owed by the world's poorest nations all contribute to this growing disparity. Less income often means individuals are far more susceptible to disease - the infant mortality rate in low income countries is some 13 times higher than in the world's wealthier countries. Infectious diseases kill some 14.4 million people a year, most of whom are among the world's poorest. Those who perish from infectious disease are often individuals in the early or prime years of life and the loss of these individuals can contribute to further economic and social stress on a nation. The recent outbreak of the new disease SARS "shows how quickly economies can be thrown out of whack," said coauthor Molly Sheehan.
Lack of clean water or sanitation kills some 1.7 million people each year, 90 percent of which are children.
Seventy percent of the world's HIV positive people live in sub-Saharan Africa and 82 percent of the world's 1.1 billion smokers live in developing countries. The consequences of poverty manifest in the form of terrorism, war and contagious diseases, Renner said, and the effects are felt both by the world's poor and its rich. "An unstable world not only perpetuates poverty," Renner said, "but will ultimately threaten the prosperity that the rich minority has come to enjoy." And just as the fruits of the world economy are not shared equally, neither are the consequences of environmental degradation. The poor are more vulnerable to weather related disasters caused by land clearing, deforestation and climate change. Weather related economic losses were highest in industrial countries, but the human toll was far greater for developing countries.
In 2002, more than 150,000 Kenyans were displace by massive rains, while more than 800,000 Chinese struggled with the most severe drought in more than a century. The report concedes that weather related disasters are likely to worsen as the climate continues to change, a trend that highlights how the actions - or inaction - of the world's rich affect the poor. Last year was the second warmest since record keeping began in the late 1800s and most scientists are convinced this trend will result in more erratic weather and rising seas. The report finds that the burden of responsibility for climate changes falls squarely on the shoulders of the industrial nations, in particular the United States. The United States has five percent of the world's population but produces some 25 percent of the total of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.
The pressures on the Earth's ecosystem brought about by poverty are striking, the report finds, including evidence that more than 12 percent of the bird species face extinction within the next century. Among the few positives in the report are some progress in combating AIDs, a slight increase in communication technology within the developing world and the global increase in clean energy use. But even these favorable developments come as the world wrestles with increased security concerns, Renner said, that have prompted the industrial world to ramp up defense spending instead of using their wealth to address social, health and environmental problems. Low income nations tend to follow suit, Renner explained, and although low income countries only account for seven percent of global military spending, this is more than double their share of the world's gross economic product. The 32 richest nations spent some $839 billion on defense in 2001. The United States responsible for some 36 percent of the global defense spending. "The message of increased military spending is that violence pays," Renner said.
The continued and seemingly unbreakable chain of poverty for many in the world can foster a loss of hope, Renner explained, and cause some to engage in desperate and destructive measures. "Terrorism is the final symptomatic outcome of a larger problem," he said. Worldwatch Institute President Christopher Flavin added that the world's focus on terrorism and unrest in the Middle East, combined with a faltering economy, will further divert resources needed to address the causes and consequences of global poverty. Political will is needed to move beyond words and into action, Flavin said, and the human tragedies underscored by the statistics in this latest report need to serve as "compelling reminders that social and environmental progress are not luxuries that can be set aside when the world is experiencing economic and political problems."
"We must not forget that a very large share of the human population has been left behind," Flavin said. "Suffering that is allowed to fester today will lead to adverse and unpredictable consequences for many tomorrows to come."
To access "Vital Signs 2003", see http://www.worldwatch.org.
Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt signed a framework agreement on climate co-operation with his counterpart Vasil Sjevtsjuk from Ukraine Tuesday. The deal opens for Danish investments in energy efficiency projects in Ukraine, to yield Emissions Reduction Units (ERUs, the trading unit for credits from Joint Implementation (JI) projects). The deal also opens for direct transactions of Assigned Amount Units (AAUs). I am very happy and proud of the agreement, which is the result of many years of fruitful environmental co-operation between Denmark and Ukraine. Ukraine will receive new technology and obtain energy efficiency gains, while Denmark obtains CO2 quotas, said Hans Christian Schmidt to Danish news agency Ritzau. While Japan has been in similar discussions with Russia for a long time now, this is the first framework agreement on AAUs, says Kristian Tangen, CEO of Point Carbon. It is, however, interesting that the Danes choose to make a deal with Ukraine. Due to the country's special status in relation to the Kyoto Protocol, Ukraine might not be eligible to sell its AAUs any time soon, perhaps.
GOVERNMENT targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases, responsible for climate change, cannot be met without moves to curb polluting emissions from aircraft, according to a new report. Building new runways to cope with demand for more flights would only make things worse, the study by the independent think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, claims. The government has set an ambitious target to cut the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. However, by then, fumes from aviation alone could breach this target. The IPPR report says that emissions from international flights are excluded from any action to tackle climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. It recommends that carbon dioxide emissions from aviation should be included in an international system of emissions trading, with a global cap. Other polluting gases, including condensation trails and nitrogen oxides, could be tackled with a European emissions charge.
To Slovenské Elektrárne, the EU emissions trading scheme holds no risk, neither does the allocation process. We intend to sell CO2 allowances to the market, Peter Kubacka, Head of the Environment Unit at Slovenské Elektrárne confidently told Point Carbon. The company is the biggest in the electricity sector in Slovakia, and if the Slovak Ministry of Environment uses a historical approach to the allocation, Kubacka will be right. Most companies in the country have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. However, Slovenské Elektrárne is not about to sell allowances for some time yet. We are in the middle of a privatization process, and are only in the starting phase of preparing for emissions trading. It is yet unknown who our new owners will be, but they will probably have their own conceptions on what would be a suitable emissions trading strategy. Until summer, nothing important will happen in this respect from our part, Kubacka stated. According to Kubacka, the majority of Slovak industry has the same approach to emissions trading. Investment costs in Slovakia are fairly low. Most companies here aim to sell allowances, and spend the money on investing in new machinery and equipment, he said. Slovenské Elektrárne will provide emissions data to the Ministry within a month or two.
The state would study whether it can make money by absorbing greenhouse gases under a bill that passed the House on Saturday. The bill by Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, calls for an advisory committee working with the Department of Natural Resources to study the idea of carbon sequestration. That refers to measures taken to capture and store carbon in forests, soils or the ocean. Berkowitz said a worldwide market is developing for trading in "carbon credits." That's because a number of countries and companies anticipate facing limits in the amount of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases they can put into the environment. Such emissions have been blamed for global warming. Alaska should investigate whether it can make money from that market, Berkowitz said. With Alaska's large land base and forested areas, he estimates there's a potential to make up to $450 million. He pointed to reforestation after harvest of timber killed by bark beetles as a possible way to generate carbon credits. Making money from carbon sequestration would not require signing off on the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement on reduction of greenhouse gases that the United States has not agreed to, Berkowitz said. House Bill 196 passed the House 35-1, with Rep. Kelly Wolf, R-Kenai, voting no. The bill now goes to the Senate.
The Kyoto Protocol’s flexible mechanisms could help Ireland meet its greenhouse gas emissions target under the agreement, a leading business association said this week. But pressure group Friends of the Irish Environment warned that use of such instruments could land the country with a massive bill, without even addressing the problem of the country’s burgeoning climate emission levels. Ireland has a Kyoto target to limit greenhouse gas emission growth to 13%, compared with 1990, by 2012. Meeting this target looks increasingly unlikely, according to a downbeat assessment of EU progress towards its combined target of an 8% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, released last week by the European Environment Agency.
Ireland was named as one of three EU countries furthest from their targets, along with Spain and Portugal.
The Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) said this week that the country was “at a critical juncture” in deciding how to meet its climate change obligations. The government could carry on with the climate change strategy as it stood or “make an urgent policy decision” on how much it will use Kyoto's flexible mechanisms “to supplement domestic action towards the achievement of its target”, IBEC said in a statement. As it stood, the strategy was “predominately aimed at the industrial and energy sectors, which have already achieved a great deal through a decrease in energy intensity and by de-coupling energy consumption from industrial production, IBEC said. “This narrow concentration of effort is unbalanced and overlooks the significant possibilities which exist for less costly reductions in other sectors.”
Ireland is now six months into a review of its country’s climate change strategy, launched in 2000. The strategy included the phasing in of carbon taxes from 2002 – which are now expected some time this year – an end to coal-fired energy generation, and use of the EU emissions trading scheme. IBEC warned against involvement in EU emissions trading, saying that this would force up national electricity prices.
NEW YORK - Top global energy company Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N) is the poorest performer among leading world energy producers in responding to global climate change and disclosing greenhouse risks to investors, social investment groups said. London-based Claros Consulting released a report this week that said unlike its peers BP (BP.L) and Shell Oil Co. (SHEL.L) (RD.AS), Exxon Mobil does not support carbon trading, in which companies that produce greenhouse gases over set limits would have to purchase credits to emit over those limits. Claros and Boston-based Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies also said that unlike ChevronTexaco (CVX.N) and Shell, Exxon does not participate in carbon pricing, which factors in the cost of carbon emissions when deciding whether to go ahead with projects. Energy companies produce substantial amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, that scientists say cause climate change. Insurance companies such as Munich Re (MUVGn.DE) say greenhouse risks, such as rising seas to low-lying nations and agricultural losses from global warming could soon total hundred of billions of dollars in the next 50 years.
TECHNOLOGY OR TRADE
An Exxon Mobil spokesman said while greenhouse gas emissions may indeed pose a threat, studies must continue to understand the risks and possible consequences. "Emissions trading really doesn't get you anywhere," said Exxon Mobil's Tom Cirigliano. "The answer is going to be new technology which absolutely reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions." Exxon has made its oil refineries 37 percent more efficient since the 1970s, one example of how technology changes reduce emissions, Cirigliano said. But Peter Altman, of Austin-based Campaign Exxon Mobil, said Exxon's refinery efficiency lags the efficiency rates of other industries such as chemical and steel as well as the 45 percent more efficient rate of the economy as a whole.
Altman said Exxon Mobil does not disclose greenhouse risks on its financial reports as completely as energy concerns such as BP and ConocoPhillips. On its financial releases to the Securities Exchange Commission BP lists the risks associated with the Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to limit emissions and needs only Russia's approval to go into effect. BP's filings also mention the company's investments in alternative energies like wind and solar power which cut emissions. But Cirigliano said the company would not seek to quantify its global warming risks. "There's a lot of smoke being blown around the whole issue of global climate change, and we're not going to participate in the PR (public relations) efforts that some companies are involved in and the PR efforts that some environmental groups are involved in." Claros released the report ahead of Exxon's May 28 annual meeting in which shareholders are set to vote on three climate-related resolutions. At last year's annual meeting, 20.3 percent of shareholders voted for a resolution that would force the company to disclose its strategy for pursuing alternative energies such as wind and solar energy.
Montreal, Canada – ICP Solar Technologies (www.icpsolar.com), has long been involved in reducing harmful greenhouse emissions by producing environmentally friendly solar products. Since its inception in 1988, ICP’s Group of Companies have helped reduce greenhouse emissions by over 45 metric tons. To help inform and further develop the public’s awareness of the importance of energy conservation, ICP’s products division (ICP Global Technologies) will now be including a greenhouse emissions savings index (the “ICP Kyoto index”) on each of its product web pages that will indicate the amount of greenhouse emissions these products will help save every year over using conventional energy sources.
''The Kyoto protocol pushes us to create innovations in solar energy that will help everyone do their part in creating a more liveable world for the future. We at ICP, pride ourselves in creating solutions that have a direct effect on daily lives.’’ says Sass Peress, President and CEO of the ICP Group. “Countries, states and provinces have created their own energy plans but in the end, we can share the opportunity to create a sustainable globe for our children” says Peress. In addition, ICP is partnering with major universities in the development of integral power systems for “zero net” energy buildings. These projects will enable ICP to support early stage, exploratory and innovative research that could possibly lead to new energy technologies and processes essential to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improved energy efficiency and better air quality.
‘’Almost two thirds of the energy produced in the world is derived from non-renewable resources responsible for high levels of greenhouse gas emissions we have today. Unfortunately, this situation is not improving rapidly enough, so in an effort to do our part we are offering our expertise in solar energy production to help find alternatives and processes that will improve everyone’s quality of life and by the same token reach the Kyoto protocol’s vision’’ says Po K. Lau, the Group’s Chief Technology Officer...
National Business Review
Chris de Freitas is an associate professor in the school of geography and environmental science at the University of Auckland.
It's official and the news is upsetting: the European Union is falling behind in efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to combat global warming. There are stark lessons here for New Zealand, which in December last year formally signed up to Kyoto. A recent report prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that greenhouse gas emissions have risen in the EU for the second year running. In the most recent estimate, emissions in 2001 were 1% greater than in 2000. The EU is committed to reducing emissions by 8% on its 1990 levels by 2012. On present trends, it appears to stand almost no chance of meeting the target.
BBC News Online quotes the prominent UK global warming sceptic Professor Philip Stott as saying: "One of the most galling things about the whole climate change debate has been European duplicity. While lecturing everybody else, especially America, on the morality of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has been abundantly clear from the start that most European countries didn't have a snowflake in hell's chance of meeting their own Kyoto targets." The situation is somewhat surprising, in that the EU was expected to meet its target more easily than the other OECD countries that are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. In particular, the big three, the UK, Germany and France, were expecting declines in emissions that began in 1990 to continue.
Germany is the EU's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, it obtained a large credit for closing inefficient plants in the former East Germany, resulting in a relatively rapid 44% drop off in greenhouse emissions in the 1990s. But Germany's emissions rose 1% between 2000 and 2001, indicating this period of industry revamping is over. France has held its ground as it gets most of its electric power from nuclear plants, which produce no carbon dioxide. But the EU's case suffered several setbacks.
For the UK the last decade has been a harrowing period of ups and downs. Carbon dioxide emissions in the UK fell in the 1990s when utilities switched from coal to natural gas. This was not related to climate change but natural gas produces less carbon dioxide. The UK thought it could exploit this trend. However, emissions rose as power suppliers switched to coal generation after a steep rise in natural gas prices. One must ask if this is the route New Zealand will be forced to take. The upward trend in the UK increased further as electricity suppliers have been burning more coal to fill the gap left by the closure of nuclear power plants. The UK produced 154 million tonnes of carbon in 1999, up 1.5% on 2000, with nearly 30% from the power sector. This trend was reversed between 2000 and 2001.
For the smaller economies of the EU there are lessons for New Zealand. The EEA report shows Ireland, Spain and Portugal to be the worst offenders, but Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Austria, Finland and Denmark all fell short of the targets. For some, the targets are quite modest. Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland are only committed to hold increased emissions to a set level, but all four countries have exceeded targets, with annual emissions in Spain rising 32% instead of 15%, and in Ireland 31% rather than 13%. The result is that EU is moving further away from meeting its commitment. Compare this with New Zealand, which is obliged through Kyoto to reduce emission to 1990 levels by 2012.
Optimists claim that, as industry seeks to realise all the energy efficiency potential, it can actually make money out of reducing emissions, but only to a point. Then comes the crunch, since additional energy consumption and therefore rising emissions will inevitably accompany economic growth. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the New Zealand government promised to stabilise emissions at 1990 levels by 2000. Instead emissions went the other way. By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol New Zealand has undertaken to reverse this trend. This means reducing emissions about 25% from the business-as-usual level by 2012. If overall energy demand continues to grow between 2-5% annually, the target reductions of carbon emissions required by Kyoto will increase through time. Thus, to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand will have to give up over one third of its energy use.
This cannot happen in the economy as we know it. The infrastructure for emission sources lasts a long time after initial investment and will influence the emissions profile for some time. If Kyoto is, as some suggest, one small step along a long trail, then New Zealand has not yet made this step. In light of the energy crises of 2001 and 2003 and the demise of the Maui gas reserves, it seems unlikely New Zealand can bypass using its vast coal reserves, said to be equivalent to 50 Maui gas fields. Some argue Kyoto precludes the use of coal. But this may not be the case. The government's "preferred policy package" released in early 2002 defers any move to adjust the Resource Management Act until the protocol enters into force, which will not occur until the total of developed countries (essentially OECD) completing ratification accounts for 55% of that group's total annual emissions of greenhouse gases. So, until this occurs, the status quo remains.
Then there is the problem of methane. Agriculture, the backbone of the New Zealand economy, is responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. More than half the total emissions come from this sector. And of all non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, 65% are agricultural methane emissions from farm livestock. Even if the Kyoto signatories meet their commitment, the climate science community is unanimous on the view its impact on global warming would be imperceptible. The fact is that the Kyoto Protocol's targets are not based on science. Its targets and timetables were arrived at arbitrarily as a result of political negotiations. Taking into account the economic costs involved, the Kyoto Protocol could be worse than doing nothing as far as the countries of the EU and New Zealand are concerned. It fails to establish long-term goals based on science, it poses serious and unnecessary risks to national economies, and it is ineffective in addressing climate change because it excludes major parts of the world.
by Margot Wallström, Member of the European Commission, responsible for
Environment, Centre for European Studies & Conferences (CEPS) - 1st Brussels
Climate Change Conference
This is the first Brussels Climate Change Conference, and the attempt to create a regular forum for discussing climate change developments is a welcome initiative. In such an important area we cannot do without a continuous dialogue between NGOs and business, scientists and politicians, us here in the EU and partners from other parts of the world. We can all be sure of one thing: Climate change will remain on our respective agendas.
I want to do two things in my speech, and that is to up-date you on where we stand in the European Union in implementing the Kyoto Protocol, and to provide an outlook to the next steps. We are convinced that what now counts is practical action to reduce emissions.
PROGRESS ACHIEVED IN REDUCING EMISSIONS
First of all, where are we in reducing emissions? Two weeks ago, the European Environment Agency published the greenhouse gas emission figures for the European Union for 2001. They present a worrying picture. There is one positive element. In 2001, the EU's greenhouse gas emissions were down by 2.3 per cent as compared to 1990. This means that we have made progress towards our 8 per cent emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol since 1990. However, the trend is going in the wrong direction. We moved away from our target in 2001 given that emissions were 1 per cent higher in 2001 than a year earlier. The analysis indicates that this was partly due to weather conditions: The winter that year was particularly cold, and rainfall was less which led to less electricity production from hydropower and more from fossil fuels. Yet, 2001 was the second year in which emissions went up in 2000 emissions stood 0.3 per cent higher than in 1999. And in 2013 we will not be able to excuse ourselves for not meeting our Kyoto commitment by referring to a series of cold winters or dry summers.
A continuing worry also is that 10 of the 15 Member States are way off track in reaching their EU burden-sharing target. While Ireland for example is required to limit its emissions increase to 13 per cent by 2008-2012, its emissions had grown by 31 per cent by 2001. And while Austria should cut its emissions by 13 per cent it actually increased them by nearly 10 per cent. The fact that the EU as a whole reduced its emissions is only due to the substantial cuts especially in Luxemburg, Germany and the UK. This is not a healthy situation. Looking at these figures, I want to be very clear about my worry about the lack of progress in many Member States in reducing their emissions. Those Member States that are not on track towards their burden-sharing targets should urgently make additional efforts.
THE EU'S COST-EFFECTIVE CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY
Let me turn now to the actions that we at a European level undertake to reduce emissions. It is certainly an encouragement to me how successful the European Climate Change Programme has worked since we set it up three years ago. The ECCP has helped the Commission to put forward a number of important proposals, some of which have already been agreed by Council and the European Parliament. This is the case for the Directives on energy efficiency in buildings and on the promotion of bio-fuels that Loyola de Palacio presented. Proposals currently under discussion in the other Institutions include legislation on promoting combined heat and power and of course on emissions trading, to which I will return in a minute.
It has been encouraging to see how we have been able to involve stakeholders through the ECCP. We value the expertise and advice that our partners in industry, among the NGOs and from the Member States can provide. Since the beginning of the ECCP, more than 200 stakeholders have been involved in 11 different working groups. Finally, the European Climate Change Programme underscores our commitment to a cost-effective strategy to reach our Kyoto objective. It allows us to select those measures that reduce emissions at least cost to society. Emissions trading is the centrepiece in this cost-effective policy mix. I do not have to explain to this audience the logic of emissions trading and the future EU emissions trading system. I was gratified that the Environment Council last December was able to agree on this system, along the lines of the Commission's proposal and with strong safeguards for an environmentally sound system and for the internal market. Given that trading should start at the beginning of 2005, it is now essential that Council and Parliament finalise this legislation as quickly as possible. The Commission will do everything it can to support this process. I dare say that with our legislation the EU will be a world leader in emissions trading. I am convinced that in the end emissions trading will help us prove those wrong who claim that combating climate change goes against business interests, both in the EU and in other parts of the world.
THE RESULTS OF THE SECOND PHASE OF THE EUROPEAN CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMME
Two weeks ago together with the new emission figures - we also published the second progress report under the European Climate Change Programme, and now I turn to the next steps in our climate policy. The overall message of the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP) is a positive one, and it was confirmed in the second progress report. I will not bore you with many figures you will find them in the report itself on our web-site. The main point is that there are more than sufficient cost-effective measures with the potential to reach our Kyoto target.
Indeed, the Community measures that have been decided already will make a major contribution to reaching the target. Now, we have to be cautious of course. How does the positive picture cast by the ECCP square with the worrying emission figures that I presented at the beginning? The easy answer is that the measures developed under the ECCP have still to be implemented. The more difficult question is whether they will produce the emission reduction effect that we have estimated. There are many uncertainties in the analysis, such as the emission forecast under business-as-usual, or the emission reduction potential of specific measures. They are inherent in any such analysis.
Moreover, the emission reduction potential may not be fully utilised. The theoretical effectiveness of a measure is one thing. Another is whether the action finally decided in the political process and implemented on the ground fully exploits this potential. One conclusion that we are drawing hence is that we need to monitor the effectiveness of the measures finally adopted. The risk is that only in 2010 or 2011 we will know how effective the measures are - but then it will be too late to adopt additional measures in case we are not reaching our Kyoto target.
My message therefore is: Community policies will help the Member States in meeting their burden-sharing targets, but they have to adopt their own policies as well. They remain legally bound to meet their burden-sharing targets. When it comes to climate-friendly transport policies, to fiscal measures or to educating citizens about climate change - these are areas where Member States have their own responsibilities.
The fact that most Member States are not on track in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions should spur them into taking this responsibility very seriously indeed. As far as the ECCP is concerned, during 2002, it has first of all accompanied the finalisation of the measures identified earlier. Another focus has been on deepening our analysis on some specific measures and on looking at agriculture and forestry both as emission sources and as carbon sinks. On carbon sequestration in agricultural soils and forests the experts concluded with a note of caution. More research is needed and concerns remain for example in relation to the permanence of carbon storage. The second ECCP report also reminds us of one very problematic sector, and that is transport. Between 1990 and 2000, transport emissions grew by 18 per cent while transport already accounts for a sizeable share of the EU's total emissions. The car industry's efforts to improve the fuel efficiency of new passenger cars will certainly help to reduce emission growth in transport. However, transport is a long way from contributing positively to climate change objectives.
To summarise, the European Climate Change Programme shows that the EU can reach its Kyoto emission reduction target, and that we can keep the economic costs down if we are smart and choose the right measures. However, Member States must not rely on Community measures alone.
Nonetheless, in the coming months the Commission will present further proposals to reduce emissions.
Allow me a few words on three of these up-coming proposals. I intend to present a proposal on mobile air conditioners. The increased use of air conditioning in cars is wiping out a significant part of the emission reductions achieved under our agreement with the auto industry on higher fuel-efficiency. While we will be reducing the average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars from 186 grams per kilometre in 1995 to 140 grams in 2008/2009, scenarios show that in the range of 18 to 28 grams of this is lost due to higher fuel consumption because of the air conditioning and due to the emissions of the refrigerant. This corresponds to about 40 to 60 percent of committed CO2 reductions, and is clearly not acceptable! We of course do not intend to ban the air conditioning. However, we will at least make sure that it is run on refrigerants with a low global warming potential.
Another proposal that many of you are expecting with great interest is on linking Joint Implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism to our future emissions trading scheme. As you know, under the Kyoto Protocol, credits from JI and CDM projects can only be used by the Parties themselves to meet their obligations. Our proposal will be to allow private actors to use these credits for compliance with obligations under the trading scheme. This will provide an additional incentive to engage in such projects and additional benefits to companies who do so.
In this proposal we will build upon the Kyoto Protocol and Marrakesh Accords, and we will make provisions to assure the compatibility with the architecture of our trading scheme. I want to be very clear though that the environmental integrity of emissions trading has to be safeguarded. Opening the doors for JI and CDM too wide would mean low credit prices that undercut efforts to reduce emissions within the EU. This would not least reduce the incentive for technological innovation. Hence, we will need to find the right balance between encouraging the use of JI and CDM and making emissions trading deliver real emission reductions within the EU.
Finally, in the autumn, we will start reviewing together with the auto industry our agreements on CO2 emissions from passenger cars. The European and Japanese manufacturers have made good progress so far while the Korean companies are lagging behind. Some of this progress has been bought at the price of a higher Diesel share, which is worrisome from an air quality point of view. On the basis of the review we want to discuss with the car industry when they will achieve the 120 grams per kilometre target fixed by the Council for 2005 2010. In the light of what I said before on the growth in transport emissions our expectations towards the car industry are high. So as you can see, we have a number of important proposals in the pipeline that should help us move further towards our Kyoto target.
THE IMPORTANCE OF VOLUNTARY ACTIONS BY BUSINESS AND CITIZENS
Now, this all sounds as if governments should or even could implement a successful strategy to combat climate change on their own. That is of course not the case we have to count on voluntary action by business and by citizens as well. I am convinced that without their commitment we have no chance to prevent the dramatic deterioration that global warming could bring to our and future generations' living conditions on this planet. To me it is always exciting and encouraging when I see what individual companies are doing out of their own initiative to improve the environment, and what citizens can do by changing their behaviour.
I want to give you two examples that I have recently come across.
The first comes from the Business Leaders Initiative on Climate Change, a group of six major companies all committed to acting on their greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last two years they have been working first of all on monitoring and reporting their emissions, on best practices and on setting themselves emission reduction targets. In a new initiative they have developed the idea to influence their customers to use energy-saving light bulbs. They have calculated that if all 380 million people in the EU-15 exchanged two standard incandescent bulbs for energy-saving bulbs, 10 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved per year. I find the idea of companies working together with their customers very interesting. Linking companies' commitment to environmental sustainability to green consumer awareness could become a powerful force for change.
My second example is the myclimate project. We all know that flying is a highly unsustainable mode of travelling and that air transport does not internalise its external costs. A group of young entrepreneurial scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has therefore developed the Climate Ticket. Everybody taking the plane can pay 5 US Dollars per hour of flight for a Climate Ticket. This money is then used to support climate protection projects in developing countries to offset emissions. The first project was to replace a diesel burner with solar panels for heating water at a business school in Costa Rica. I can only pay tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of these young people! Of course, it cannot substitute for finally making progress either within ICAO or if necessary at a European level on kerosene taxation or the introduction of emission charging. These and other concrete projects tell me that we can dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions if only we manage to mobilise the commitment of companies and individual citizens.
PROGRESS AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
Before I come to the end let me say a few words on the international situation. Let us remember first that by now 107 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Of course we are all keen to see Russia finally ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Russia knows that it holds the key to the entry-into-force of the Kyoto Protocol, and they are aware that the eyes of the world are on them. Together with the Greek and Italian Environment Ministers I was in Moscow in early March to remind Russia of the commitment to ratification that Prime Minister Kasyanov made at the Johannesburg World Summit. President Putin has been reminded personally by President Prodi and several other EU leaders of this commitment. We know that the Russian Government is working on ratification, but we also know that there is little political momentum behind this work.
The Russian Government must remember that its demands were fully met in the final negotiations on the Protocol in Bonn and Marrakesh and that they will benefit from emissions trading and Joint Implementation at all only if they ratify the Protocol. I hope that the EU-Russia Summit at the end of the month will be able to make some progress also on the Kyoto Protocol. I am also often asked how I see the chances for the United States coming back to the Kyoto process. I will be frank: I believe that this will not happen under the current Administration and probably take some more time. I want to recall though that President Bush promised at the EU-US Summit in Gï¿½teborg in June 2001 that the United States would not undertake any steps to sabotage the Kyoto Protocol. We remember this promise.
While there seems to be little headway to be made at the moment in a political dialogue with Washington on climate change, we are interested in co-operating in the areas of research and new technologies. We need major technological breakthroughs for example on hydrogen and perhaps fuel decarbonisation through carbon storage to combat climate change in the longer term, and if we can work together on those all the better. Where we differ is that the present US Administration wants to focus on the development of future technologies while largely continuing with business-as-usual in the meantime. We instead believe that we have to do both developing breakthrough technologies but at the same time exploit the many existing emission reduction possibilities through better energy efficiency, energy saving and renewables.
We should not sit on our hands and say that in the future new technologies will bring the miracle solution. Climate change is happening now, and many actions to combat climate change make not only environmental but also economic sense. Finally, we have to strengthen our co-operation with the developing countries who will be the first to suffer from climate change. We enjoyed a good partnership with the developing countries in the final phase of the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. At the last UN climate conference in New Delhi we had difficulties in explaining to them our views on starting work on a second commitment period. From this experience we have drawn the conclusion that we need to strengthen our dialogue with the G77, and this is what we are doing. My colleague Poul Nielson and I also agreed in March that we should integrate climate change concerns further into our development co-operation policy and help developing countries for example in capacity building. In the entry-into-force nears it is imperative to start reflections on ways and means to develop the international architecture beyond 2012. I challenge business, civil society groups and the academic community around the globe to join us in a creative process to identify promising and practical options for the next step in the international climate regime.
In this context, a very focused and practical initiative is the Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition that we launched at the World Summit last year. Over 80 countries around the world, including important developing country partners, have now joined this Coalition, and we are delighted to host the first international Coalition conference during our Green Week here in Brussels on 4th June. I advise you that this is a story to follow!
Ladies and gentlemen, The European Union is committed to continue exercising leadership on climate change internationally. We are taking measures to reduce our emissions even though progress is not easy and particularly those Member States that are not on track have to redouble their efforts. From the European Climate Change Programme we know that we can reach our Kyoto target and that we can do so while minimising the cost to our societies and even reaping economic benefits through innovation and higher competitiveness. The floods last year in many parts of Europe have made us aware of the kind of economic damages and human hardship that climate change will bring. Climate change is a threat to sustainable development in all its three dimensions in an economic and social as well as environmental sense.
We have to act, and this is what we are doing. Thank you.
Itï¿½s not easy being green in Washington. Just ask David Hawkins, who heads the Climate Center at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Hawkins is trying to convince the White House and congressional leadership that the issue of global warming needs to be addressed through stricter federal regulations, and he says they donï¿½t want to listen. ï¿½It is quite striking how hard-line the administration policy is on climate change,ï¿½ Hawkins said in an interview in his modest downtown office just blocks from the White House. ï¿½The administration has taken the position that it is impossible to design a policy [of mandatory caps on carbon-dioxide emissions]. It doesnï¿½t matter how generous the accommodations. ï¿½ Theyï¿½re not willing to engage on the substance of the discussion.ï¿½
Environmental groups argue that the consequences of just a small increase in worldwide temperatures could include changing weather patterns, flooding and increased air pollution. Evidence shows that the polar ice caps are shrinking, the group says, and weather data showed 2002 to be the second-warmest year on record. For the NRDC, there couldnï¿½t be any better reasons for the federal government to take stronger action to halt global warming. Hawkins, 59, has 30 years of environmental law and policy under his belt, and he draws upon that experience to find solutions for the future. He was at the NRDC more than 20 years ago, when environmental advocates were fighting to do something about acid rain and a new Republican president did not want to address the issue. ï¿½Bills that were introduced [in 1981] didnï¿½t go anywhere,ï¿½ Hawkins said of attempts to curb acid rain. ï¿½But every year we got further up the mountain and didnï¿½t have to start at the bottom with each successive session of Congress.ï¿½
By 1988, acid rain became a political issue that the presidential candidates, including the current presidentï¿½s father, had to address. Two years later, the first President Bush signed an amendment to the Clean Air Act that required reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide. Environmentalists say they hope to see the same kind of progress with emissions of carbon dioxide. Although Hawkins says he thinks the White House is opposed to finding a solution, but is still optimistic. ï¿½There will be mandatory limits placed on global warming by a Congress; whether itï¿½s this session and this Congress or the next Congress, itï¿½s going to happen,ï¿½ he said.
The NRDC has found some support on climate-change issues from both sides of the aisle in Congress. A bill co-sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) proposes a ï¿½cap and tradeï¿½ plan for reducing power-plant emissions. The McCain-Lieberman bill places limits on carbon dioxide and allows plants to buy and sell credits, an approach used in the acid-rain law passed more than a decade ago: A plant with emissions levels lower than the cap could sell its remaining allowance to a plant that exceeds the cap.
Opponents of the plan argue that McCain-Lieberman, which essentially implements a section of the unratified Kyoto Protocol, an international attempt to curb global warming, will raise energy prices and create a mess of litigation. They prefer the voluntary approach to emissions reduction taken by the Bush administration so far. Hawkins said he knows the legislation faces many obstacles but hopes it will take less time for something to pass than the 10 years it took for the acid-rain caps. ï¿½Is it going to win this time around? Well, itï¿½s too soon to tell,ï¿½ he said. ï¿½I think weï¿½re going to do better than a lot of people expect.ï¿½
Although the NRDC has been frustrated by the presidentï¿½s approach to energy policy and clean air, the organization actually took heat earlier this year for being too supportive of Bush. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new regulations on diesel emissions earlier this year, the NRDC was not afraid to praise the policy. Some other environmental groups criticized the NRDC for giving Bush ammunition to use in his upcoming election.
ï¿½NRDC is not for or against this administration. NRDC is for environmental protection,ï¿½ said Hawkins.
On the whole, Hawkins doesnï¿½t hesitate to criticize the White House; he says it keeps a tighter rein on the EPA than has any previous administration heï¿½s worked with, which includes the last seven presidents. Hawkins started at the NRDC in 1971, a year after graduating from law school. Excluding four years as an assistant EPA administrator under President Jimmy Carter, he has spent virtually his entire Washington career at the organization. ï¿½This job is incredibly challenging, a lot of fun as well as often frustrating,ï¿½ he said. His frustration becomes evident when he discusses the topic of auto emissions and fuel consumption. Designing a more efficient car, he argued, shouldnï¿½t be too hard. Looking to history to provide solutions for the future, he compared cars to refrigerators. ï¿½The refrigerator you can buy today has more space for storing food and uses one-third the energy of the refrigerator you could buy 20 years ago,ï¿½ he said.
As for Hawkins, he owns a 1993 minivan, which he and his wife bought when their three children were in school. He also squeezes in time to sing with the Choral Arts Society of Washington. Even after three decades, he says he has no intention on leaving the NRDC in the near future. ï¿½I am tremendously motivated by the scale of the problems, and global warming is the biggest one of them all,ï¿½ Hawkins said. ï¿½To fix it is going to take cooperation among all countries, itï¿½s going to require changing the way we use energy, [but] itï¿½s not going to require depriving people.ï¿½