The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)  presents 

CLIMATE-L NEWS

ISSUE 21

March 19 to April 7, 2004

Compiled by Richard Sherman

Edited by
Kimo Goree 

Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)


Download PDF ~ Download Text
 

Editor's note: Welcome to the twenty first 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@iisd.org> 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 Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands 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 IISD Reporting Services annual programme during 2004 is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Australia, Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Swan International, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES) and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI). If you like CLIMATE-L News, please thank them for their support.

Contents

KYOTO PROTOCOL

1)      KYOTO STUMBLES AT FIRST EUROPEAN HURDLE, International Policy Network, March 30, 2004

2)      EC WARNS AUSTRALIA ON KYOTO REFUSAL, Herald Sun, March 30, 2004

3)      TORIES IN CALL TO BUSH ON GLOBAL WARMING, The Scotsman, March 24, 2004

4)      U.N. URGES RUSSIA TO SAVE CLIMATE PLAN, Reuters, March 19, 2004

5)      INDONESIA URGED TO SIGN KYOTO TREATY, UPI, March 19, 2004

POLICIES & MEASURES

6)      THINKING GLOBALLY, ACTING LOCALLY, The Age, April 7, 2004

7)      KYOTO PLAN FALLS SHORT OF TARGETS, OTTAWA TOLD, The Star, April 5, 2004

8)      NATURE TRUST VOICES CONCERN ON GLOBAL WARMING, di-ve new,  April 3, 2004

9)      CDM READY TO REGISTER FIRST PROJECTS, UNFCCC, April 2, 2004

10)   STATES MOVE TO CURB GAS EMISSIONS, The Age, April 2, 2004

11)   FIVE EU STATES SUBMIT NATIONAL CO2 EMISSION PLANS, Planet Ark, April 2, 2004

12)   INDUSTRY WINS BATTLE ON CO2, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 2, 2004

13)   TABLE-TOP DEVICE TO GENERATE POWER, Sify, April 2, 2004

14)   NORWAY GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS UP, OVER TARGET, Planet Ark, April 2, 2004

15)  GOVERNMENT OFFERS CARROTS FOR GREEN ENERGY PROJECTS, New Zealand Herald, April 2, 2004

16)  DIVERSE GROUP OF LEADERS OUTLINES FRAMEWORK FOR MANDATORY CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION, GreenBiz.com, April 1, 2004

17)   SLIGHTLY GREENER, The Economist, April 1, 2004

18)   KYOTO MAKES ECONOMIC COMMON SENSE, The Muse, April 1, 2004

19)   GERMANY MAKES EU DEADLINE FOR CO2 PLANS, DW-World, March 31, 2004

20)   AUSTRIA AGREES CO2 DEAL IN TIME FOR EU DEADLINE, Reuters, March 31, 2004

21)   EUROPE'S PLANS TO MEET KYOTO TARGETS NOT ON TRACK, WWF, March 30, 2004

22)   UK SAYS CO2 CUTS MAY FALL SHORT OF 20 PCT GOAL, Reuters, March 30, 2004

23)   SENATORS REVISIT GLOBAL WARMING, The Washington Times, March 30, 2004

24) STATE OF THE PLANET BRINGS EXPERTS, ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS TO CAMPUS, Columbia Daily Spectator, March 30, 2004

25)   MINISTERS REACH AGREEMENT IN EMISSIONS FIGHT, DW-World, March 30, 2004

26)  AIR TRAVEL 'OF ENORMOUS CONCERN' FOR GLOBAL WARMING, The Scotsman March 30, 2004

27)   CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS BLOW SKY HIGH, Agençe France-Presse, March 30, 2004 

28)   GERMANY TO HOST EMISSIONS TRADE MEETING, Expatica, March 29, 2004

29) CURBING GLOBAL WARMING: U.N. CONFIRMS JQA AS EMISSION VERIFIER, The Asahi Shimbun, March 26, 2004

30)   NORWAY'S DNV WINS U.N. CLIMATE WATCHDOG ROLE, Reuters, March 25, 2004

31)   BYERS CHAIRS INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE TASKFORCE, ePolitix, March 22, 2004

32) CLIMATE CHANGE: UN MARKS TREATY'S ANNIVERSARY BY HAILING SAVINGS OF GOING GREEN, UN News, March 21, 2004

33)   C02 SEEN AT RECORD-HIGH LEVELS, Washington Times, March 21, 2004

34) CAR MAKERS SECRETLY LOBBY EC TO REDUCE AIR-POLLUTION TARGETS, Sunday Herald, March 21, 2004

35) MIXED EFFECTS AS GLOBAL WARMING TREATY TURNS 10, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 20, 2004

36)   EARLY SIGNS OF CLIMATE DEVASTATION ALREADY VISIBLE: KOFI ANNAN, AFP, March 19, 2004 

37)   RUHRGAS AIMS TO BOOST CO2 CREDIT WITH RUSSIA PROJECT, Planet Ark, March 19, 2004

CLIMATE IMPACTS

38) REGIONAL GLOBAL WARMING ADAPTATION CONFERENCE RESULTS IN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AGRICULTURAL SECTOR, Clean Air - Cool Planet, March 25, 2004

39)   AFRICA BRACES FOR THE FALLOUT OF GLOBAL WARMING, World Resources Institute, March 22, 2004

40)   INDIAN EXPERT WARNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE RISKS, Yomiuri Shimbun, March 19, 2004

41)   ARCTIC FACES DRASTIC CHANGE WITHOUT EU POLICY ACTION, UNEP, March 16, 2004

STATEMENTS & EDITORIALS

42)   KYOTO COULD BE RUSSIA'S TICKET TO EUROPE by Anders Aslund, IHT, April 5, 2004

43)   EUROPE AND JAPAN MISREAD KERRY ON KYOTO by Nigel Purvis, IHT, April 5, 2004

44)   ENVIRONMENT TAX CAN WORK by Takamitsu Sawa, The Japan Times, March 29, 2004

45) STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD METEOROLOGICAL DAY - “WEATHER, CLIMATE AND WATER IN THE INFORMATION AGE” and WORLD WATER DAY “WATER AND DISASTERS” by M Jarraud, World Meteorological Organization, March 22, 2004

46) UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: MESSAGE ON WORLD WATER DAY 2004, “Water and Disasters: Be informed and be prepared,” UN, March 22, 2004

47) COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE: ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY OR ECONOMIC SUICIDE? by Klaus Toepfer, UNEP, March 21,  2004

48) SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES CALL FOR RATIFICATION OF KYOTO PROTOCOL ON TENTH: ANNIVERSARY OF CLIMATE CHANGE CONVENTION’S ENTRY INTO FORCE, UN, March 21, 2004

49)   CANADA MISSING OUT ON CLEAN ECONOMY POTENTIAL by David Suzuki, Whistler Question

PRESS RELEASES

50)   EBRD IDENTIFYING BANKABLE CDM PROJECTS IN THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

 

KYOTO PROTOCOL

1) KYOTO STUMBLES AT FIRST EUROPEAN HURDLE

International Policy Network
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://www.enn.com/direct/display-release.asp?objid=D1D1364B000000FB9BC8DDD5322A9C65

30 March 2004, London -- Britain announced on Monday, 29 March, that it will miss the first EU deadline of 31 March for submitting its plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, part of the Kyoto Protocol. France, Denmark, Greece and other member states will also miss the deadline. Germany has drastically reduced its initial aspirations, which were driven by the environmental lobby. These countries' qualms are justified, says London-based NGO, International Policy Network (IPN). "The potential benefits of the Kyoto Protocol are extremely uncertain, mainly because its effects on climate will be negligible and its costs will be extremely high for consumers and EU employees," says Kendra Okonski, Director of IPN's Sustainable Development Project. "It is high time that EU politicians face the economic reality of their dogged commitment to a failed and unsustainable treaty," she concluded.

Studies suggest that during the first Kyoto commitment period (2008-2012) EU consumers could see rapid increases in their living costs. Food, durable goods, transport, heating and cooling would all be more expensive because all energy (not just oil and gas) would be more expensive. Other studies suggest that by 2020, up to 390,000 jobs could be lost in the UK alone.  In recent weeks, many European organisations and government ministers have indicated that the EU's commitment to Kyoto is misguided since the treaty lacks participation by Russia or the United States. Neither country has ratified the treaty due to similar concerns about its effect on their respective economies and citizens.

Studies show that if EU states continue to implement Kyoto's emissions targets, the increased costs to businesses would be passed on to consumers. Combined with the increased costs in energy, the average EU citizen would see a sharp reduction in the buying power of their wage packet. Companies may ultimately move their investment elsewhere, leading to substantial EU-wide job losses. These political realities now being faced by Britain, France and Germany are only a sample of future problems, and hence their legitimate backsliding on Kyoto commitments. Faced with low growth and rising unemployment, and the need to remain competitive, the choice is clear: No go to Kyoto.

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2) EC WARNS AUSTRALIA ON KYOTO REFUSAL

Herald Sun
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,9128539%255E462,00.html

AUSTRALIA should reconsider its bipartisan stand with the US against the Kyoto protocol or risk being left out in the cold as the European Union prepares to launch its multi-billion-dollar emissions trading scheme, a European Commission environment director said yesterday. In the EC's most pointed criticism yet of Australia's climate change policies, Timo Makela warned Australia could regret not building bridges with Europe over climate research and emissions trading, given a growing level of co-operation between the EU and the US.

Mr Makela congratulated the federal Government for its research on new carbon technologies such as geosequestration - capturing and burying carbon dioxide underground - but said its decision to drop work on a carbon trading scheme had sent a bad signal. “Europe co-operates well with the US in research and we know the US is discussing very intensively their own emissions trading schemes," he said. We're watching very closely what's happening in the US and I can tell you the US is watching very closely how this scheme in Europe will develop, so in that sense we would think it would be in Australia's interests to build bridges in both directions.

"Europe doesn't really need Australia because the US and Europe are the two biggest trading blocs globally and Australia has to consider carefully not being left out in this area." Mr Makela said 25 EU member states were in the process of dividing carbon emission allocations between greenhouse gas emitting industries in preparation for the beginning of the emissions trading pilot project next year.  Industries that reduce greenhouse emissions can earn carbon credits, which can be sold to companies exceeding their emissions limit. Carbon credits were already being traded on the open market for around E10 ($16) a tonne of CO2.

The European Parliament was also finalising linking legislation which would allow multinational European companies to strike emissions deals outside Europe, by investing in countries that had also ratified the protocol.  But since Australia refused to ratify, the investment would go instead to countries that had - such as India, Brazil and China. EU political leaders could not understand why Australia would not ratify the Kyoto protocol given how easy it would be for it to meet the requirements, Mr Makelo said. Mr Makelo will meet state and federal ministers and industry representatives this week to report progress on the European emissions scheme and "try to make the Australian private sector understand why climate change policies are important". "We have been told rather clearly several times by your Prime Minister that Australia at the moment is not going to ratify the Kyoto protocol," he said. "On the other hand we notice the country is a bit divided on this. Europe is ready for more intensive co-operation as soon as this political obstacle is removed."

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3) TORIES IN CALL TO BUSH ON GLOBAL WARMING

The Scotsman
March 24, 2004
Internet: http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=2691226

US President George Bush should sign up to the Kyoto Protocol and start to make an impact in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, a senior Conservative MP said today. The call for action came from shadow environment secretary Richard Ottaway at a party forum for industry specialists and green group representatives at the Commons.

Mr Ottaway told PA News that he would like the US to ratify the deal agreed in 1997, which commits countries to legally binding cuts in carbon dioxide emissions – the chief cause of global warming. Mr Bush angered politicians and environmentalists worldwide when he announced shortly after taking office that America was abandoning Kyoto because he said it would harm the US economy.

Mr Ottaway said: “I think we would like him (George Bush) to sign up to the Kyoto agreement because, once the United States is signed up, then we have a large commercial trading bloc which is committed and that will start to make serious inroads into CO2 emissions. “Without the United States, then we have the difficult situation of Europe acting unilaterally which is uncompetitive. “And it’s not just the United States – we would like Russia to sign up as well.” He added it is “incumbent” on the Government to have “good credibility” with the US administration and actively encourage it to sign up to Kyoto.

The Conservative forum is the first in a series which aims to see how compatible business can be with care for the environment. Shadow environment and transport secretary Theresa May told PA News: “What we had this morning was both business and NGOs coming together and showing that the two can work together. “There are good examples around of how business is being innovative and finding ways of being careful about the environment and protecting it for the future. We need to promote those good examples.”

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4) U.N. URGES RUSSIA TO SAVE CLIMATE PLAN

Reuters
March 19, 2004
Internet: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=570&ncid=753&e=6&u=/nm/
20040319/sc_nm/environment_treaty_dc

OSLO (Reuters) - The United Nations renewed calls on Friday for Russia to salvage a landmark plan to curb global warming, 10 years after governments agreed to fight a rise in temperatures threatening life on the planet. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said some progress had been made since the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force on March 21, 1994 as the first global blueprint for tackling climate change caused by humans.  But he said that a stalling of the U.N. Kyoto protocol, which lays down the rules for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from cars and factories under the Convention, was "a major hurdle to effective global action."

"I call again on those countries that have not yet ratified the protocol to do so, and show that they are truly committed to shouldering their global responsibilities," he said in a statement marking the convention's 10-year anniversary. Russia has had a casting vote over Kyoto since President Bush pulled out of the protocol in 2001, arguing that it was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations. Kyoto will collapse without Russian backing because it must be ratified by countries accounting for 55 percent of carbon dioxide emissions by industrialized countries. 

Now backed by states accounting for 44 percent, the protocol needs Russia's 17 percent to reach the goal after the withdrawal of the United States with 36 percent. But President Vladimir Putin has expressed worries Kyoto might limit Russian economic growth. Bush's father, ex-President George Bush, signed up for the climate change Convention at a 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and told delegates "we must leave this earth in better condition than we found it." But the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based research group, says global warming is worsening due to increasing use of fossil fuels such as oil to coal.

IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE?

"We are quickly moving to the point where the damage will be irreversible," said Jonathan Pershing, director of the Institute's Climate, Energy and Pollution program.  Many environmentalists say that global warming is the biggest long-term threat to life on earth. Rising temperatures may drive thousands of species to extinction, trigger more floods or droughts and sink low-lying islands as icecaps melt. Klaus Toepfer, the head of the U.N. Enviroment Program, urged the United States and opponents of Kyoto in Russia to reconsider their belief that Kyoto is an economic straitjacket. "The Kyoto protocol is not a recipe for economic disaster," he said. "In the long run, it is likely to generate prosperity and financial savings rather than economic suicide." He said insurer Munich Re estimated that economic losses as a result of mainly climate-related disasters totaled $65 billion in 2003. And he said one study showed air pollution in Britain alone cost $5 billion a year, mainly in health bills.

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5) INDONESIA URGED TO SIGN KYOTO TREATY

UPI
March 19, 2004
Internet: http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040319-105932-8226r.htm

JAKARTA, Indonesia, March 19 (UPI) -- Environmental experts have urged the Indonesian government to sign the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gases. Experts estimate Indonesia could reap nearly $1,260 million selling greenhouse gas credits to industrialized nations as part of the carbon dioxide trading under the Kyoto treaty, The Jakarta Post reported. "We have the potential of (trading) up to 300 million tons of CO2 in five years. If one ton is priced at $5, calculate how much we'll get. In addition, we'll also have environmentally friendly projects that can ease our environmental crisis," Liana Bratasida, an expert at the Ministry of Environment, said. Conceived in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol commits industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. It has been ratified by 39 industrialized countries, and is awaiting Russia's signature to be implemented. The United States has rejected the treaty.

 

POLICIES & MEASURES

6) THINKING GLOBALLY, ACTING LOCALLY

The Age
April 7, 2004
Internet: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/06/1081222461558.html

The states are showing leadership in their bid to trade greenhouse gas emissions. From January next year the 25 member states of the European Union will begin trading in carbon dioxide. It will be the first multinational trading scheme in greenhouse gas to be implemented in the world. In the words of EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, the scheme means companies across 25 countries "must now start incorporating climate change into day-to-day commercial decisions and begin assessing what innovative steps they can take to reduce emissions". By introducing the scheme three years before emissions trading is due to begin under the Kyoto Protocol, the community will, in its own words, be able to learn by doing.

It is also making a leap of faith that the conditions of the protocol are worth meeting, even if the protocol is not ratified. (More than 110 nations have signed the protocol, but the treaty cannot take effect unless Russia agrees to sign it.) In the meantime the EU scheme will provide a working model for how member states on other continents can set up their own trade in greenhouse gas emissions. Australian states and territories are now also investigating how to set up a national market in greenhouse gases. The states are acting on their own initiative in the face of the Federal Government's refusal to sign the Kyoto protocol. (This year the Government stopped researching international emissions trading, arguing that such trade was unlikely to come into effect.)

The Commonwealth's stance is logically inconsistent: it accepts the scientific evidence that global warming is upon us, and also says it is committed to meeting its Kyoto emissions target by 2010. But by not actually signing the protocol, the Government risks excluding Australia from the future international trade in greenhouse emissions foreshadowed by Kyoto. The proposed national emissions market will give companies experience in emissions trading while also providing incentive for businesses to reduce their greenhouse gases. While federal approval is not needed for the market to operate - because the power companies, factories and smelters that contribute most to greenhouse emissions come under state legislation - federal involvement would have the potential to move the process along.

As it is, the states will have to find a way to co-operate without leadership from the Commonwealth. The United States, the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluter, has also refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, but that has not stopped leading US companies from taking environmentally responsible action of their own. Last year emissions trading began through the Chicago Climate Exchange, whose members include Dow Corning, Dupont, Motorola, IBM and the Ford Motor Company. These companies have accepted that they are acting in their own interest by reducing global warming. It is to be hoped that the Australian states will be able to make progress despite federal intransigence.

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7) KYOTO PLAN FALLS SHORT OF TARGETS, OTTAWA TOLD

The Star
April 5, 2004
Internet: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Ar
ticle_Type1&c=Article&cid=1081116611090&call_pageid=968332188854&col=968705899037

OTTAWA—A suppressed audit says the federal government's leadoff program to cut emissions of greenhouse gases is proving a bust and will leave Canada well short of meeting its Kyoto plan targets. The government was counting on the program, called Action Plan 2000, to reduce annual emissions of carbon dioxide by 50 to 60 million tonnes, a big chunk of the 240 million tonnes needed under Kyoto.  But an internal review by senior federal officials forecasts that the $500-million program will be lucky to reach half its emissions target, leaving a big gap to close by 2008 when the Kyoto targets start kicking in.

The emissions gap of 25 to 30 million tonnes would be about equal to the yearly carbon dioxide emissions from all of Ontario's coal-fired power stations, according to federal statistics. Called a "mid-term review" of Action 2000, the internal audit was completed late last year but has not been made public.  When the five-year plan was originally announced, officials promised a progress report at the halfway point.

The two departments involved — Environment and Natural Resources — now say a formal evaluation will be published only after the program winds up. However, two federal officials familiar with the internal review described the key findings in interviews with the Star on promises of anonymity. "We seriously underestimated the difficulty of getting reductions and overestimated the payoff from new technologies," said a senior official working on climate change.

Action Plan 2000 earmarked $210 million to promote technologies that reduced greenhouse gas emissions in industry and transportation and gave $125 million to cities to encourage use of such technologies. Another $100 million went to promote foreign demand for these made-in-Canada solutions. Money was also set aside for federal operations in Saskatchewan and P.E.I. to switch from fossil fuels to "green power" and to expand the EnerGuide ratings for home appliances. The internal review found little co-ordination among the various parts of the Action 2000 plan which was handled through several federal departments. Further evidence of problems in the government's Kyoto program are preliminary calculations that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2002 were the highest ever, in spite of Action Plan 2000 and additional measures in the 2001 federal budget.

Canadians contributed about 729 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and equivalent greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in 2002, a 5 million tonne increase over 2000, the previous record year. Emissions had dipped to only 715 million tonnes in 2001 because of the economic slowdown and a mild winter, both resulting in lower use of fossil fuels. The Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement ratified by Parliament in December, 2002, commits Canada to a 6 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below projected levels averaged over 2008 to 2012. Ottawa has estimated the required reduction at 240 million tonnes and announced plans to deal with 180 million tonnes.

Most scientists agree that greenhouse gases are a major source of climate change, including the winter warming over much of Canada in recent decades. Cloud cover also contributes to the warming of Earth's atmosphere.  Some climate activists said the record emissions in 2002 were more encouraging than was first apparent. "Even without any significant government programs for three years, we're actually seeing a levelling off in greenhouse gas emissions. They're no longer growing as fast as the economy," said the Sierra Club's John Bennett.

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8) NATURE TRUST VOICES CONCERN ON GLOBAL WARMING

di-ve news
April 3, 2004
Internet: http://www.di-ve.com/dive/portal/portal.jhtml?id=131048

In a press statement, Nature Trust voiced its concern over the recent statistics showing that the average temperature of the Maltese Islands has increased by one degree Celcius in the past 70 years.  Nature Trust said that global warming has a negative effect on agricultural produce and fish migration and thus this affects local economies and jobs. This also leads to the demand of more energy generation to use for cooling equipment in warm periods and for heating equipment during cold periods thus increasing our poor records in air quality due to emissions and greenhouse gases.

The NGO urged all stakeholders to step up their efforts in climate change issues and for all national and private entities to support and heed the National Commission on Climate Change created in order to adhere to the Maltese requirements of the Montreal Protocol. Nature Trust also urged national authorities to step up to the challenge of abiding by the Kyoto Protocol, which Malta has already signed.

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9) CDM READY TO REGISTER FIRST PROJECTS

UNFCCC
April 2, 2004
Internet: http://unfccc.int/press/prel2004/pressrel020404.pdf

BONN, 2 April 2004 – The Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is awaiting the first requests for projects to be registered as “CDM project activities”. Such a project reduces greenhouse-gas emissions and simultaneously advances sustainable development in the developing country where it takes place. The generated credits, so-called “certified emission reductions” (CERs), can be traded in the emissions trading regime emanating from the Kyoto Protocol.

Requests for registration of CDM projects are now possible as the Board has just accredited the first two project-validating companies: “Japan Quality Assurance Organization (JQA)” of Japan and “Det Norske Veritas Certification (DNVcert)” of United Kingdom. In addition to these two accredited “designated operational entities”, as is their official title in the Kyoto Protocol, there are currently another 21 entities at various stages of the accreditation process. A designated operational entity plays a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of the CDM as it checks whether a project conforms with the CDM rules. Once validated by such an entity, a project is automatically registered by the Board after a period of eight weeks, unless there are objections which would warrant a review. The first CDM projects could thus be registered by mid-June 2004.

At its recent meeting in Bonn, Germany (24-26 March 2004), the Board also made progress with the approval of methodologies for baselines and monitoring, an essential element for moving forward both accreditation and registration. With two new approved methodologies, related to solid waste treatment combined with energy generation and oil field gas recovery and utilization, a total of eleven methodologies is becoming available for the use of project developers worldwide. In addition, about two dozen methodologies are currently at an advanced stage of consideration by the Board or are being reworked by proponents, while the remainder of the 50 submitted methodologies have been withdrawn or rejected. The Board also launched work on procedures related to CDM afforestation and reforestation projects.

Anticipating that the first CERs for CDM projects may be issued before the end of the year, the Board considered the set-up of the CDM registry, in which Parties hold accounts for such certificates, and which is a prerequisite for linking up the CDM to emissions trading systems. The CDM was established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol as a way of promoting sustainable development while minimizing the costs of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. It is supervised by an Executive Board which is responsible to the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. The Board, at its first meeting in 2004, elected as its Chair for 2004-2005 Mr. John Shaibu Kilani of South Africa and Mr. Georg Borsting of Norway as its Vice-Chair.

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10) STATES MOVE TO CURB GAS EMISSIONS

The Age
April 2, 2004
Internet: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/01/1080544628071.html

Australian businesses could be forced to cap their greenhouse gas pollution under a plan hatched by the states and territories. Frustrated by the Federal Government's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the states and territories have decided to set up a national market for trading greenhouse gas emissions, similar to the European Union's, which begins next year. Victoria has joined a formal working group, representing all states and territories. State Environment Minister John Thwaites said: "The Federal Government is showing no leadership on this issue, which is so important to the future of Victoria and Australia. "We are working with NSW and other governments on how we can act effectively as a block of committed states, and open up business opportunities to Australian companies."

At this stage, there are no details on timing and whether the market would be voluntary or compulsory. In emission trading, businesses - such as power stations, smelters and factories - are given a certain limit to their pollution. Companies can trade units of pollution. If they reduce emissions, they can sell these units, if they increase pollution, they must buy units on the market. The scheme is designed to cap emissions and put a price on pollution for businesses. There are similar moves among states in the United States for regional emissions markets in the face of the Bush Administration's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the international framework for reducing global-warming gases such as carbon dioxide.

A global emissions trading scheme will be part of the Kyoto framework when it comes into effect. This will happen if Russia agrees to ratify the protocol. Climate-change lawyer Sean Lucy said a national emissions market was possible without Federal Government support, but would be more difficult. "It is difficult to get seven people to agree on how it should be set up," he said. Mr Lucy, a senior associate at Phillips Fox, said the major polluters, such as power stations, were under the control of the states, and NSW already had a scheme regulating the emissions of its power stations. Earlier this year, the Howard Government abandoned the idea of an emissions trading scheme, arguing that it was unlikely to come into effect and created no incentive for industry to reduce emissions.

The states and territories' plan comes as the CSIRO revealed this week near-record growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Emissions have peaked dramatically in the past two years, and CSIRO's atmospheric scientists believe that the use of fossil fuels - rather than bushfires - is responsible. Victoria also announced this week that it had signed up to the Climate Group, a global coalition of governments, corporations and non-government organisations fighting climate change. It will be launched by British Prime Minister Tony Blair later this month.

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11) FIVE EU STATES SUBMIT NATIONAL CO2 EMISSION PLANS

Planet Ark
April 2, 2004
Internet: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/24572/story.htm

BRUSSELS - The European Commission has received five national plans for curbing carbon dioxide emissions, part of the 15-nation bloc's scheme to meet commitments made under the Kyoto Protocol, it said yesterday. "We had five notified plans as of midnight. But we know there are others in the pipeline - it's a question of when they will arrive and we know that all of them are on their way," Ewa Hedlund, the Commission's environment spokeswoman, told Reuters.

The countries that had notified their plans by the Commission's deadline of midnight (2200 GMT) on March 31 were Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Ireland, she said.  EU governments must submit plans for distributing CO2 credits in their countries as part of the EU's pioneering emissions trading scheme (ETS) to start in January 2005. ETS is a central element of the EU's bid to meet climate change targets under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say cause global warming. However, the Commission will not know until next week whether all 15 countries have complied with the deadline as the time of a postmark is also valid. This means that if a country can prove its plan was sent before the deadline, it will escape a Commission "infringement letter," a first warning of impending legal action.

All countries were still expected to send in their plans and none had requested extra time, Hedlund said. "They're all working on the plans, we've known that all the time. The ones that have made them public, we know they're very close," she said, citing Britain, Portugal and the Netherlands. "We will get them very soon. We are expecting all of them, there is no country that says they will not do it," she said. "We have to see when we actually get them all in and look into the reason for the delay."

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12) INDUSTRY WINS BATTLE ON CO2

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
April 2, 2004

Internet:
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Two million tons of carbon dioxide a year: That is all Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin of the Greens was able to squeeze out of Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement, making critics wonder if the big bureaucracy needed to manage emissions trading for industrial plants will be worth the effort. Environmental activists called the deal on emissions trading a clear victory for industry lobbyists. They had threatened to export more jobs abroad if  forced to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 20 million tons a year when emission trading starts at the beginning of 2005.

Germany had until the end of March to tell Brussels how many carbon dioxide certificates each of the 2,600 plants affected by emissions trading will receive. The agreement, which will see the government dole out emissions certificates worth 503 million tons of carbon dioxide a year between 2005 and 2007, will not bring Germany in line with the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which has not been ratified by the United States or Russia. “To make its Kyoto target, the government will have to introduce measures forcing private households and the transportation sector to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions,” said Matthias Seiche from BUND, an environmental organization.

The government has to send two numbers to Brussels: one on emissions for industry and energy producers, the other for households, services and transportation. Together, the two have to meet Germany's Kyoto target. “The next discussion is going to revolve around what measures to take to get that second number to work,“ said Seiche. That could mean increasing the energy tax or stepping up efforts to isolate buildings against heat loss. Seiche also said the government's generous distribution of carbon dioxide certificates may mean that no real market for emissions trading will develop in the EU. “All EU countries were lax. So there probably won't be much trading.” Germany has set up a new authority to administer the certificates, but its spokeswoman said the government was counting on the market to develop its own trading platform.

In the weeks leading up to the compromise, the chancellery was a revolving door for industry representatives. The big winners are from Clement's home state of North Rhine-Westfalia. Arguing that the steel industry cannot reduce its emissions at all, the sector garnered certificates worth 40 million tons of carbon dioxide. Although environment groups acknowledged that carbon dioxide emissions cannot be avoided in certain parts of the steelmaking process, they say that group received a special bonus on parts of the process that could be made more environmentally friendly. Utility RWE is another winner. It successfully fended off government plans to favor natural gas, which officials there see as a cleaner form of energy. Trittin had planned to use emissions trading to change the energy makeup to 33 percent each from coal, gas and renewable energy from the current breakdown of 50 percent coal, 9 percent gas, and the rest from nuclear energy and other sources.

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13) TABLE-TOP DEVICE TO GENERATE POWER

Sify
April 2, 2004
Internet: http://sify.com/finance/fullstory.php?id=13445084

Imagine a table-top device meeting your domestic power needs at that farm house of your dreams built at a `back-of-beyond' place, but could never get `electrified' since the electricity company was simply refusing to provide a grid connection there. This solution may soon come your way through a micro-turbine power generator. A high-speed small turbine engine similar to that of an aircraft, which can rotate at a speed of about 96,000 revolutions per minute and generate between 40 KW and 600 KW of power. The device, which is a new concept in green power generation, can be mounted on a table and runs on compressed biogas (say cow dung) or solid waste.

S.P. Gonchowdhury, Chief of West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency, said that this mode of power generation, if it takes off, would take care of the massive solid waste that is generated in the country while providing options for generation of cleaner power. However, the technology is not yet available in India. He also said that a demonstration project on micro-turbine generators is being planned in the State, using US technology. "Such power projects would also qualify for `carbon credits' under the clean development mechanism (CDM) propagated under the Kyoto Protocol," sources said.

Under the CDM, saving the environment by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) brings what is described as carbon credits - which can be traded internationally - for getting funds for other projects. The country or the company buying these credit points can then set it off against GHG reduction norms set under the protocol. However, the more immediate impact of generating power through such stand-alone routes would be in respect of providing electricity to far-flung areas (mostly in rural locations). These areas have only a remote chance of getting connected with the grid in the conventional mode since the State Electricity Boards or the private sector electricity companies do not find it economically viable to connect these areas with the main grid.

As a matter of fact, distributed generation (DG) by way of setting up small generating units based on a variety of local renewable energy sources has been identified as one of the more sustainable routes for providing reliable electricity to rural households in India. It is estimated that around 20,000 villages in India will never get connected with the main electricity grid. The New Delhi-based The Energy Resources Institute is organising a two-day seminar to examine, among other things the extent to which DG can fill the demand-supply gap in rural electrification in off-grid areas. It will also address issues relating to existing and emerging technological options. This session will look at fuel cells (futuristic technology involving hydrogen cells) and micro-turbines for power generation. The conference is being sponsored by the European Commission.

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14) NORWAY GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS UP, OVER TARGET

Planet Ark
April 2, 2004
Internet: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/24558/story.htm

OSLO - Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions jumped in 2003 and are far above Oslo's plans under a U.N. scheme to limit global warming, Statistics Norway said yesterday. Overall emissions, mainly of carbon dioxide from burning oil and gas in industry, rose by two percent in 2003 to 56.5 million tonnes and were eight percent above 1990 levels of about 52 million, it said. Under the U.N.'s 1997 Kyoto protocol on global warming, Norway is meant to limit its greenhouse gas emissions to one percent above 1990 levels on average in the five-year period ending in 2012. "Oil and gas production contributed to a considerable increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2003," Statistics Norway said, pointing to rising natural gas output and use of gas to generate electricity on offshore platforms.

Norway is the number three oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia and Russia and produces about three million barrels of oil per day. It is also a major exporter of gas to Europe. "Emissions from oil refineries, gas terminals and petrochemical industry increased due to a higher activity level," Statistics Norway said.  It also said some industries and households burnt more fossil fuels last year for uses like heating in a shift from traditional hydro-electricity after a brief rise in hydro-power prices linked to low reservoir levels.  Emissions also rose from road traffic and shipping. Among cuts, emissions from aluminium and fertilisers output fell in 2003 due to greater efficiency. Most industrial nations are meant to cut their carbon dioxide emissions under Kyoto. Carbon dioxide is blamed for building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, raising temperatures and threatening damaging climate change.

Norway is allowed a tiny rise, largely after arguing that its rising natural gas exports will help other European nations shift from even dirtier coal or oil. Statistics Norway did not give a detailed breakdown of the sources of carbon dioxide. Many companies in Norway, including oil firms Statoil (STL.OL: Quote, Profile, Research) and Norsk Hydro (NHY.OL: Quote, Profile, Research), say that their operations will comply with Kyoto's goals.

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15) GOVERNMENT OFFERS CARROTS FOR GREEN ENERGY PROJECTS

New Zealand Herald
April 2, 2004
Internet: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?reportID=5&storyID=3558392

Renewable energy projects totalling 240 megawatts have been awarded subsidies under the Government's climate change policy. The Government has offered help for projects that reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, payable not in cash but in carbon credits - internationally tradeable rights to emit greenhouse gases. Projects announced already include 94MW of new windpower, said Climate Change Minister Pete Hodgson.

Contracts already signed but not yet announced would add another 140MW in the form of hydro-electric, geothermal, co-generation and windpower developments.  Assuming those projects went ahead, they would generate about a third of the electricity that Meridian Energy's aborted Project Aqua would have delivered, he said. "These projects all have a strong incentive to begin generating by January 2008, a year before the first power from Project Aqua was expected, as any delay beyond that date would mean fewer credits for the project owners," Hodgson said. To be eligible, a project must deliver verifiable savings of at least 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases during the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 2008 to 2012.

To cross the 10,000-tonne threshold would involve savings of about 3000MWh of electricity or 40,000 gigajoules of natural gas, 750,000 litres of diesel or 1000 tonnes of coal. Applicants have to estimate what the carbon credits will be worth and demonstrate that the project would not go ahead without the subsidy.  If the Kyoto Protocol does not come into force the projects scheme will lapse. A further tender round is expected to be announced in next month's Budget.

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16) DIVERSE GROUP OF LEADERS OUTLINES FRAMEWORK FOR MANDATORY CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION

GreenBiz.com
April 1, 2004
Internet: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/news_third.cfm?NewsID=26614

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2004 - A mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program for the U.S. could be both effective and politically feasible, according to a diverse group of business, government, and environmental leaders brought together by the Aspen Institute and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The group, which included representatives of the energy, mining and automobile industries, environmental and consumer organizations and Congressional staff, did not debate whether there should be a mandatory policy. Instead, they started with the premise that all parties want to ensure, if mandatory action is taken, that climate policies will be environmentally effective, economical and fair.

"What is truly significant is that such a diverse group was able to reach consensus on several elements of what a mandatory national policy might look like," said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Recommendations for a policy framework are detailed in a report released by the dialogue's co-chairs, Claussen and Robert W. Fri, visiting scholar and former president of Resources for the Future. The group agreed upon a set of criteria to evaluate program design options, including environmental effectiveness, cost effectiveness and competitiveness, administrative feasibility, distributional equity, political feasibility, and encouragement of technology development. Two principles guided the choice of recommendations. First, the desire for broad rather than sector-specific coverage, and coverage of multiple gases, not just CO2, guided the participants. This ensured long-term environmental effectiveness and distributional equity.

Second, there was consensus that phasing of actual reduction targets would be important and that a modest start would be preferable. This would send a signal that reducing greenhouse gases was national policy. Deeper cuts could occur later, as technology evolves and capital stock turns over in response to early market signals generated by the policy. After considering several possible designs, participants reached consensus on a hybrid program that combines elements of a cap-and-trade program with tradable efficiency standards. An initially modest but declining absolute national cap on greenhouse gas emissions would be placed on large sources such as electric utilities and manufacturers. Deeper cuts could occur later, as technology evolves and the economy responds to the policy. The group did not attempt to specify the level of the absolute cap on CO2 emissions, or the date it should go into effect.

A similar cap would apply to emissions from transportation fuel suppliers, coupled with tradable CO2-per-mile automobile standards. The group also recommended tradable efficiency standards for appliances and other manufactured products. Manufacturers, utilities and other large emitting sources that fell short of or exceeded the new standard could buy, sell or trade emission credits in a nationwide emissions trading program, allowing emissions reductions to be achieved where it can be done most cost effectively. Emission credits would be awarded for removing existing CO2 from the atmosphere by verifiable means, possibly through land-use related carbon sequestration projects such as afforestation and energy plantations.

Participants also stressed the importance of a policy that encourages development and diffusion of new technologies, both to reduce emissions and to provide new market opportunities for U.S. business. "The report represents a framework, not a fully developed policy -- a starting point for further dialogue rather than a final product," commented Fri. Nonetheless, he noted it should prove helpful to those seeking to balance policy and politics, environmental effectiveness and cost, and efficiency and equity in designing a mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program.

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17) SLIGHTLY GREENER

The Economist
April 1, 2004
Internet: http://www.economist.com/business/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2559016

EUROPE is not finding it easy to enter the brave green world of carbon constraints. By signing the United Nations' Kyoto treaty on climate change, European Union governments promised to reduce, during 2008-12, emissions of greenhouse gases to, on average, 8% below what they were in 1990. To meet that goal, each EU country was required to agree a national emission target, and issue carbon-dioxide allocations to every big industrial facility—in essence, granting them formal rights to emit the leading greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, a previously uncontrolled “pollutant.” Those firms unable to meet its target would be able to purchase additional carbon credits in a pan-EU market scheduled for opening in January 2005.

With each country's plan due to be submitted to the European Commission on March 31st, the past few weeks have seen bitter battles in many EU capitals—most notably Germany's. Some industry lobbies have been screaming that the economic costs of action will be ruinous. Those representing the EU power industry claim that tackling carbon could cost €2 billion ($2.4 billion) a year. The Confederation of British Industry talks of “the sacrifice of UK jobs on the altar of green credentials.”

However, several studies suggest that the economic cost of carbon constraints in the next few years will be slight—not least because of the option to trade. That is because different countries (and different firms and sectors within countries) have different unit-costs of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. If no trading between high and low reduction-cost countries were permitted, according to one study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Denmark's cost of meeting Kyoto targets would be four times higher than Britain's.

Within countries, too, all is not as gloomy, nor as uniform, as some businessmen say. Consider Britain, for example. Oxera, a consultancy, has just prepared a report for the Carbon Trust (a quango promoting a low-carbon future). Unsurprisingly, this notes that sectors that are energy intensive and face stiff global competition, such as steel, will face difficulties when carbon prices rise. On the other hand, some industries now squawking about costs might turn out to be unmolested or even winners: the paper industry, for example, and even the electricity sector. What matters is whether firms can pass on costs to consumers, and whether they have access to less-carbon-intensive technologies. On this point, some bosses agree. Ian Marchant of Scottish and Southern Energy, a utility with lots of renewable energy, said this week, “I can't see a scenario in which we lose.” So claims of impending economic disaster are probably overdone.

Some people regard the whole carbon exercise as a sham. After all, the Kyoto treaty may be unravelling: America abandoned it; Russia is now wavering. Without the latter, the treaty cannot enter into force. And, for all their green bluster, most European countries are not on target to meet Kyoto commitments. The March 31st deadline has proved largely meaningless. Germany barely finished its emissions plan in time. Most other EU countries did not. Spain, France and Greece blamed this on recent elections. Britain backed off at the last minute for no obvious reason.

In fact, something will (eventually) happen. The Kyoto treaty may fall apart, but the EU has passed laws making its targets binding. Andrei Marcu of the International Emissions Trading Association says that “Europe is now clearly committed to action on climate change, whatever happens to the Kyoto treaty.” As for missing domestic targets, Michael Grubb of the Carbon Trust reckons that “Kyoto was designed for the rich countries to miss their domestic targets. That's why we included international emissions trading.”

And this week's missed deadline? Much will depend on whether the European Commission now cracks the whip. Most countries are expected to file their plans within weeks. The commission has a right to review them. Benedikt von Butler of Evolution Markets, a greenhouse-gas brokerage, views the situation as a poker game: “everybody was waiting to see the other hands, especially Germany's, because nobody wanted to come out with the toughest emissions targets.” In the end, the German government played a weak hand, demanding only a slight cut in emissions in the next couple of years. Other countries will now probably follow its softly-softly lead. Far from wrecking the EU economy, carbon constraints may be feeble in the early years of the scheme. Unless the commission makes countries toughen up their plans, worries Abyd Karmali of ICF Consulting, there may be such a lax regime of emissions allocations that “the greenhouse-gas trading market is cut off at its knees.”

That would be a great pity. As Jonathan Pershing of the World Resources Institute, an American think-tank, says, a successful launch would “validate the powerful notion that the market is a good place to tackle environmental problems.” The irony is that America fought for market-based instruments such as emissions trading to be included in the Kyoto treaty, while the EU violently objected. Now, with America turning its nose up at the whole business, it is the command-and-control Europeans that, however hesitantly, are pioneering carbon trading.

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18) KYOTO MAKES ECONOMIC COMMON SENSE

The Muse
April 1, 2004
Internet: http://www.mun.ca/muse/campus/index.php?articleid=2092

Despite waning global enthusiasm for the Kyoto Protocol, Canadian officials remain committed to addressing climate change.  Oil and gas industry leaders are also looking to the protocol as a way to improve the sustainability of their industry. The Kyoto accord on climate change was ratified by the federal government last year, but it doesn’t have to be implemented until 2012. Canada’s target under the Kyoto accord calls for a reduction of domestic greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels.

David Anderson, federal minister of the environment, spoke about Kyoto to the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industries Association on March 5. “The decision to move forward on Kyoto with a strong plan recognizes that we can make a climate-friendly future work for Canada and Canadian businesses, and we will,” said Anderson.

He said climate change is scientifically accepted as a serious environmental threat, which will result in the spread of diseases, natural disasters, disrupted energy supply, and a loss of genetic diversity. “All [of] these threats to us and future generations come with price tags. . . . Two days ago, the world’s second largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, warned that the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by climate change, threatened to spiral out of control,” said Anderson.

However, Russian officials recently announced they may not ratify the accord, and the United States has openly rejected the protocol. Anderson recognized the limitations of the Kyoto Protocol in his speech. “The Kyoto Protocol is not perfect, but it is the most acceptable compromise international response to a global problem.” Anderson said U.S. fears of Kyoto’s negative effect on industry were unfounded. Recent growth in the dollar, job increases, and prosperity for Alberta oil companies happened after Kyoto was signed, according to Anderson. At the oil and gas industry sustainable development conference held in St. John’s this week, John Drexhage, director of climate change and energy at the Institute for Sustainable Development, brought up relevant environmental concerns in a speech concerning the Kyoto Protocol.

Drexhage sums up his beliefs simply by stating, “Kyoto is but a first step, but a necessary first step.” He warned that changes will take place in the industry, as per the government’s intentions to pursue the accord. “You see in the speech from the Throne that the government will respect its commitments to the Kyoto accord . . . in a way that produces the long-term and enduring results, while maintaining a strong and growing economy,” said Drexhage. However, Drexhage said, “We’re not talking about shutting down oil . . . or even coal.” Drexhage brought up an interesting point concerning the Kyoto accord’s presence in Third World countries. “Who are we to tell China that they cannot develop in the same way that the U.K. did? Who are we to tell Brazil that Germany can do what it did with its Black Forest but, no, you can’t do that to your Amazon?”  Although developing countries have their rights, Drexhage claims it’s important that these countries pursue alternative options for the global interest.  Municipally, St. John’s joined the federation for Canadian municipalities “Partners for Climate Protection” program, which works together to implement the protocol. “Companies that have already reduced greenhouse gas emissions have not only done so beyond the Kyoto target, but have actually improved their economic bottom line [by] doing so,” said Anderson.

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19) GERMANY MAKES EU DEADLINE FOR CO2 PLANS

DW-World
March 31, 2004
Internet:  http://www.dw-world.de/english/0,3367,1433_A_1157680_1_A,00.html

After Chancellor Schröder settled a months-long cabinet dispute over greenhouse gas cuts, Germany has submitted its plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to Brussels. Other EU countries are much further behind. Germany wasn't the first country to hand in plans for curbing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the European Commission -- that honor went to Finland. But Berlin wasn't far behind. Considering the deeply entrenched dispute between industry and environmental groups, the fact that Europe's largest producer of greenhouse gases was among the first three to send its proposals for cutting the pollutants is surprising. It wasn't clear until late Monday evening whether Germany would be in a position to make Wednesday's EU deadline for emissions reductions plans. Only after Chancellor Gerhard Schröder stepped in to broker a last-minute deal between the environment and economics ministers, was Berlin able to put together a proposal worthy of sending to Brussels.

GERMANY CALLS FOR SLIGHT REDUCTION

Just hours before the EU deadline ran out, Germany's cabinet passed a plan to cut industrial emissions of CO2 from 505 million to 503 million tons per year by 2007. In a second phase, emissions are set to be limited to 495 million tons by 2012. The carbon caps are part of Germany's strategy to cut its greenhouse gases by 21 percent of 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The reduction is only slight compared to the 488 million tons requested by Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin.

As a member of the Green Party, the junior partner in the governing coalition, he had pushed hard for further emission reductions, arguing German industry needed to do more to fulfil its contribution to the Kyoto Protocol. Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement, a member of Schröder's Social Democratic Party (SPD), unflinchingly resisted major emissions cuts. Further reduction requirements would put an undue burden on industry at a time when it is trying to shake off economic stagnation, he insisted.

EUROPEAN GOAL

The dispute between industry and environment is not unique to Germany. Throughout the European Union, member states are struggling to lay such disagreements to rest in order to submit plans for cutting emissions. By midnight Wednesday all 15 EU states must set their CO2 limits and the distribution of reductions between industrial sectors, with ceilings set on a company-by-company basis. The reductions are part of a two-prong strategy Brussels has devised in order to meet its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol. In addition to capping emissions from industry and utilities, the EU plans to launch an emissions trading system (ETS) in January that would allow companies to buy and sell pollution "credits" from one another.

Companies exceeding prescribed CO2 emissions limit could buy credits from those who have remained under their pollution cap and thus create an exchange across borders, where the greener industries would stand to profit economically through the sale of their credits. According to Norwegian research firm Point Carbon, emissions trading is estimated to reach $10 billion a year by 2007. Several major industrial states, including Britain, France and Belgium, have already said they will miss the March 31 deadline. Italy, too, has conceded it is uncertain whether it will have a list of its emissions limits ready by the EU deadline. Spain will ask the European Commission for "understanding" for failing to meet the deadline as the country is undergoing a change of government.

"The picture we have today doesn't say that January 1 (the start of ETS) is in any danger -- not at all, not yet," Ewa Hedlund, the commission's environment spokeswoman, told a news briefing. "Next week, we'll have more detail on what we've received and what action we are going to take," she said referring to a possible "infringement letter" from the commission and impending legal action against those members who fail to supply the EU executive with their emissions plans. Waiting for Germany? According to analysts, Europe's biggest polluters had held back on submitting their plans until Germany handed over its limits. As the largest producer of CO2 emissions, Germany's reduction rate dominated discussion in several capitals. "Germany is important," John Molloy of the brokerage firm TFS in London told German wire service dpa. "Great Britain was the strictest up until now in terms of restriction, but they can't hold onto that position when everyone else is more lenient and risk jeopardizing the British industry." Britain has denied it had purposefully waited for a German decision before drawing up its own plans. But on Tuesday London announced it may impose less cuts on industry than slated in January -- a reduction of 20 percent by 2010 -- and return to a limit closer to the 16 percent committed to under the Kyoto Protocol.

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20) AUSTRIA AGREES CO2 DEAL IN TIME FOR EU DEADLINE

Reuters
March 31, 2004
Internet: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L31623938.htm

VIENNA, March 31 (Reuters) - Austrian industry will be allowed to pump out about eight percent more greenhouse gases under a national emissions plan agreed by the government just ahead of an EU deadline on Wednesday. The Austrian ministers of the environment, economics and finance, who agreed on the deal under conflicting pressure from industry and environmentalists, said the higher limits were necessary for economic growth. "The ministers consider the agreement to be a reasonable compromise between the concerns of climate protection and those of preserving Austrian competitiveness and jobs," they said in a statement.

Environmental group Greenpeace called the deal a "licence to destroy the climate", urging Austria to do more to meet international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol which aims to cut emissions of gases blamed for global warming.

The Austrian plan will grant industry so-called emissions certificates for a total of 33 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in the period 2005-2007, 8.4 percent more than the 30.2 million tonnes put out in the reference period of 1998-2000.

The limits apply to 209 plants, the government said. As part of efforts to meet commitments under the Kyoto climate change protocol, the European Union will launch a pioneering emissions trading scheme in January.

Emissions trading allows companies which exceed their CO2 caps to buy emissions permits -- effectively the right to pollute -- from firms which end up within their targets. Permits can be traded, thus setting up a secondary market and offering a financial incentive to reduce pollution.

Each EU member must agree its CO2 limits and how to allocate them between sectors, with ceilings set on a company-by-company basis. Brussels said it wanted the plans by Wednesday. Germany was been the first state to say it would submit a plan on time and others have said theirs will be delayed. There has been considerable internal squabbling across the EU over emissions plans, between business interests, who fear soaring energy costs, and environmentalists, who see a chance to modernise industry and slow global warming.

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21) EUROPE'S PLANS TO MEET KYOTO TARGETS NOT ON TRACK

WWF
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/other_news/news.cfm?uNewsID=12221

Brussels, Belgium – On the eve of a key deadline for tackling climate change, WWF fears that EU countries are not on track to meet their Kyoto Protocol targets for reductions in CO2 emissions. 31 March is the deadline for all 15 EU member states to submit their National Allocation Plans (NAPs) for CO2 emissions to the European Commission as part of the Emissions Trading Directive, scheduled to start in January 2005. This directive is a key mechanism for the EU to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations to fight global warning.
 
However, WWF is concerned that many of these plans have been severely weakened due to government inaction and powerful industry pressure. It believes that EU governments have dragged their feet and done little or nothing to cut emissions. Furthermore, in some instances, they have allowed big increases in CO2 emissions rather than cuts.  "If govenments fail to set credible targets now, emissions will continue to rise and they will have to slash these even harder during the next phase of Kyoto emissions trading in 2008," said Dr Stephan Singer, Head of Climate and Energy Policy at WWF's European Policy Office. "This makes no sense environmentally or economically — in many instances it is the taxpayer that will pick up the bill for the extra costs."
 
WWF is particularly concerned that Germany, which claims to be a champion on climate change, has bowed to pressure from an industry rooted in the outdated practices of the 19th century. Its plan, agreed this morning, asks big polluters to cut their CO2 emissions by a mere 2 per cent by 2012. WWF also fears that the government will allow all new power stations to emit very high levels of CO2. "This is a surrender before the coal lobby," said Dr Singer. "Germany has turned from a climate policy leader to one which openly supports new coal-fired power stations at the expense of cleaner energies."
 
Lobbying by industry has also seriously weakened the National Allocation Plans of Finland and France. Greece, Spain, and Italy have yet to produce plans and WWF fears they may miss the deadline. WWF believes that in particular Italy may publish a plan which will be bad for climate protection. Draft plans from Austria, Ireland, Denmark, and the Netherlands show emissions rising rather than falling below current levels.

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22) UK SAYS CO2 CUTS MAY FALL SHORT OF 20 PCT GOAL

Reuters
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L30210169.htm

LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Britain may impose less stringent CO2 emission cuts on businesses than it proposed in January, a governemnt spokesman said on Tuesday.  The UK had planned to cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2010, exceeding its commitment under the Kyoto climate change protocol to cut by 16 percent. "It (the 20 percent target) still remains as a goal... whether we get there is open to question," Peter Hooley, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment said.

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23) SENATORS REVISIT GLOBAL WARMING

The Washington Times
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://washingtontimes.com/national/20040330-105318-2901r.htm

Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman, after losing the battle last year, yesterday reintroduced their bipartisan bill to curb global warming, saying scientific evidence of its harmful effects are now "irrefutable." Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, and Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, were joined yesterday by a host of House members who introduced a similar bill on Monday. The senators' bill was defeated 43-55 on the Senate floor last year, but both said things have changed and that they expect a different outcome this time. Every week now, we have a new study come out on the increases of greenhouse gases ... The overwhelming body of scientific opinion shows that global warming and its ill effects exist," Mr. McCain said. Last year, there wasn't a bipartisan effort in both chambers.

Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, Maryland Republican, and John W. Olver, Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a synonymous House version of the Climate Stewardship Act on Monday. Ten Democrats and 10 Republicans in the House and Senate are openly supporting new environmental policies to reduce carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere. "This is a global problem, and America, as the number one emitter of greenhouse gases, has a responsibility to become a leader to do something about this," Mr. Lieberman said. Mr. McCain said the bill will have to be introduced as an amendment, perhaps to the stalled energy bill.

Rep. Chris Shays, Connecticut Republican, brought the issue to the level of presidential politics when he criticized President Bush for not including carbon dioxide — which Mr. Shays called "the most harmful of the greenhouse gasses" — on a list of harmful emissions to reduce in the next decade. “The president has not kept CO2 on his list with mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. What we need is an administration that is serious about doing something,"

Mr. Shays said. "A year ago, we were told let the science rule, and then when it started to rule, we were told something else." In 2002, Mr. Bush proposed a voluntary-tax-incentive package to businesses and farmers to reduce emissions of the other three gasses. Democrats criticized it for being voluntary and hammered the president for not joining the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations' global-warming pact that is supported by 178 nations.

The president said acceptance of the treaty would kill American jobs and that the pact was unfair because it exempted India and China, the No. 2 and No. 3 producers of greenhouse gasses, from emission cutbacks. "China and India are making major contributions [to global warming]," Mr. Lieberman said. "That is why we must join the Kyoto treaty to put pressure on everyone to get involved,"

Mr. McCain added. The House and Senate versions of the McCain-Lieberman legislation are modeled after the acid-rain trading program of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The bill requires a reduction in carbon-dioxide emission levels to 2000 levels by 2010 by capping the overall greenhouse-gas emissions from electric companies, automobile and transportation industries, industrial, and commercial economic sectors. It also will create a market for companies to trade pollution credits, modeled after a similar program in Europe.

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24) STATE OF THE PLANET BRINGS EXPERTS, ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS TO CAMPUS

Columbia Daily Spectator
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://www.columbiaspectator.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/03/30/40694d7d00540

Scientists widely agree on the fact and causes of climate change. Politicians, however, do not. Speakers at the State of the Planet Conference at Columbia held on Monday night focused on the ways the environment and the political realm interact. "There is a problem with the credibility of science," Harvard Professor and Director of Geochemical Oceanography Daniel Schrag said, "when decades of testimony by top scientists to the Senate on climate change has convinced less than half of the senators." While the scientists did not shy away from the details of the science behind the modern consensus, the most pressing focus of the day was political: how to implement changes. Numerous speakers warned that we are at a critical point in our manipulation of the earth's climate, and that our action over the next 10 years will determine our ability to recover from the current level of destruction in the coming century.

Chief Scientist of the World Bank Robert Watson discussed the grounds on which the United States refuses to implement the Kyoto protocol, an agreement signed by 160 nations in 1997, which mandates reductions in carbon emissions by developed countries. President George W. Bush withdrew from the treaty in 2001. A main reason the United States government has cited is scientific uncertainty regarding climate change. The government, Watson said to applause, employs the precautionary principle in all of its international relations, but not in environmental standards. Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and new Columbia faculty member, and Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia's Earth Institute, also spoke. The problem, Schrag scathingly empathized, is, "How do you plan and make change for something that lasts longer than an election cycle?" The hindrance to action is most convincingly economic, and this problem was tackled in different ways by the speakers.

The economic issue behind climate change is two-fold; on the one hand is the poverty caused and exacerbated by such effects of climate change as destruction of ecosystems, extreme weather events, and dislocating rises in sea level caused by melting glaciers, which are caused in turn by global warming. On the other hand is the risk and cost involved in transferring the current energy industry of oil and coal to an industry of renewable energy. Beyond that is the economics of damage control, how much it will cost to protect vital resources and sequester carbon.  All of the speakers were optimistic about the economic feasibility of renewable energy and resource protection. The numbers for enacting these goals were repeatedly put in context of government spending. Harvard Professor, Edward O. Wilson, who has won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Medal of Science, compared the estimated $28 billion that it would take to protect key ecosystems to the $87 billion being spent on restructuring Iraq, or the $250 billion spent on tax cuts.

Watson stressed that there is no dichotomy between the economic growth and renewable energy. In response to a question regarding the World Bank's support of projects which perpetuate climate change, he admitted that we cannot expect developing countries to use more expensive energy sources. There are, he explained, cost-effective and equitable solutions to climate change, but political will and moral leadership is needed; the United States and other developing countries must make changes first, he said.

Over-consumption and misuse of energy is the perpetrator of climate change, which lands the responsibility for setting a path towards change on the shoulders of the wealthy countries like America, the speakers said. While some would agree with this standard of responsibility, Schrag presented a different standard of engagement in reform based on models of projected results. Even if the United States were to completely sequester--store or chemically transform--carbon there would be an insufficient drop in carbon levels. Reversing the trend toward global warming requires the international effort which the Kyoto treaty began, he said.

The direction of American environmental policy frustrated many of the conference's speakers. The Senate is ready to vote again on the previously filibustered energy bill, which was vehemently denounced by Watson, who called for fundamental market reform and the elimination of "perverse subsidies." The Republican-supported Energy Bill includes billions of dollars in subsidies to the oil, coal, and logging industries. Policies like this were denounced by the scientific community at the conference as ignoring the evidence of climate change and the uncertain future our planet faces as a result.

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25) MINISTERS REACH AGREEMENT IN EMISSIONS FIGHT

DW-World
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://www.dw-world.de/english/0,3367,1430_A_1154864_1_A,00.html

Germany's economics and environment ministers have acheived a breakthrough in deadlocked talks over emissions trading and agreed on the limits Germany should impose on industrial carbon dioxide emissions. German Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement and Environmental Minister Jürgen Trittin, locked in a months-long battle over the setting of carbon emissions caps on industries, finally reached a compromise on Monday night. Trittin said the two had agreed to allot companies carbon limits of up to 503 million tons by 2007. In a second phase, the emissions would be limited to 495 million tons by 2012.

The breakthrough came after Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called several members of his cabinet to his office on Monday to settle the long-running dispute over how much carbon dioxide (CO2) the country should be allowed to discharge into the atmosphere. The emissions caps, introduced after adoption of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases, are part of Germany's strategy to cut its CO2 emissions by 21 percent of 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Trittin, a member of the environmentalist Green Party, which is the junior partner in the governing coalition, originally wanted Germany to cut emissions from 505 million tons (the emissions amount in 2000-2002) to 488 million tons in the first phase of the plan during 2005-2007. In the second phase, 2008-2012, Trittin wanted to cut further CO2 emissions to 480 tons.

Clement, a member of Schröder's Social Democratic party (SPD), had come down on the side of German industry and had been adamant about keeping levels at 505 million during the first phase. He said further emissions reduction requirements would put an undue burden on industry, which is trying to shake off three years of economic stagnation. He has insisted that requiring utilities and other energy-intensive companies to invest in emissions-reducing measures at this time would incur heavy costs on them, push energy prices higher and endanger the country's nascent economic recovery. Frank-Walter Steinmeyer, head of the Federal Chancellery, attempted to bring the two sides closer with a compromise suggestion of 499 million tons, but that figure was rejected by Clement. Schröder had called Clement and Trittin, along with Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Steinmeyer to the chancellery for a meeting Monday night to settle the issue ahead of the EU's Wednesday deadline.

EMISSIONS TRADING

Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases emitted by industry and many scientists believe it is the main culprit behind global warming. Overall, the EU wants to cut 1990 CO2 emissions by eight percent by 2012. To do that, the EU has set forth a two-pronged strategy: placing limits on the amounts of carbon dioxide industry and utilities can release into the atmosphere, and to implement an emissions trading system that would allow companies to buy and sell pollution "credits" from one another. Companies exceeding prescribed CO2 emissions limit could buy credits from companies who have remained under their pollution caps.

At the start of 2005, utility companies and certain industries -- energy, steel, cement, glass, brick making, paper and cardboard -- will be able to buy and sell emission credits. They must first however apply for emissions certificates, which will allow them to release carbon dioxide in the first place. According to Norwegian research firm Point Carbon, emissions trading is estimated to reach $10 billion a year by 2007. But up to now, only eight countries are ready with their allocation plans. These are the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Portugal and new member state Latvia. Member states that miss the deadline will likely receive a "letter of formal notice" from the commission, Anthony Hobley, a senior associate in the climate change group of law firm Baker & McKenzie in London, told Bloomberg. The commission will probably negotiate with member states before starting legal action, which would take as long as two years.

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26) AIR TRAVEL 'OF ENORMOUS CONCERN' FOR GLOBAL WARMING

The Scotsman
March 30, 2004
Internet: http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=2717343

The growth of air travel and its impact on global warming is “an issue of enormous concern”, the Government’s chief scientific adviser warned today. Sir David King, who earlier this year sparked controversy when he said climate change was a more serious threat to the planet than terrorism, told an all-party committee of MPs: “It is not perhaps unusual that the (aviation) industry would like to continue in a relatively unregulated fashion.” He added that he believed this was “an issue of enormous concern in terms of climate change”. Sir David also highlighted difficulties with aviation tax.

Aircraft fumes containing carbon dioxide are a major contributor to atmospheric pollution and a worsening of the greenhouse effect with extreme weather conditions such as storms, drought and flooding. Sir David said mankind has the power to tackle the problem, but politics is a problem as far as air travel is concerned. He told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee: “The issue of aviation is very important. “Of course it is complicated but I don’t think because an issue is complicated, we should avoid the consequences. “Aviation around the world is a continually growing industry and it depends critically on fossil fuel burning. “So without going into the details, we can see that there is a net negative effect in terms of global warming.

“There are complex factors arising from water vapour production at different levels. But if we just look at carbon dioxide emissions, that in itself is a major contributory factor to our net emissions problem. “No single country can resolve this problem. If aviation fuel tax were introduced in one country, planes would simply fly off to another to fill up. “So it is another complex international issue and I’m afraid that as soon as I see a complex international issue, we are up against buffers and longer timescales.” Sir David said climate change was already “irreversible”, but the Antarctic ice sheet could take about 1,000 years to melt.

He added that while the Greenland ice sheet could melt in between 50 and 200 years, sea levels could rise by six or seven metres, causing flooding over London. “It is all happening now and it is a process that has already begun. The best way to deal with it is not to test it out. Don’t go there, keep CO2 levels down,” added Sir David. He said that Europe is “absolutely on target” with its carbon dioxide reductions and should hold on to it without any “weakening of the knees”. But simply “preaching” to the developing world about the need to cut back on emissions “won’t work,” he said.

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27) CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS BLOW SKY HIGH

Agençe France-Presse
March 30, 2004 
Internet: http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1076856.htm

Burning fossil fuels has contributed to a jump in greenhouse gas emissions in the past two years, scientists say. An increase in global greenhouse gas emissions over the past two years, due almost entirely to the burning of fossil fuels, has been reported by Australian researchers. The figures showed the biggest increase of the decade after a 23 billion tonne jump in 1998, much of that attributed to massive bushfires in Indonesia, the government's scientific research agency CSIRO said. CSIRO estimated that 18.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, were released into the atmosphere in 2002 and 17.1 billion tonnes last year. The figures compared to a 10-year average growth of atmospheric CO2 of 13.3 billion tonnes.

Chief research scientist at CSIRO's atmospheric division, Dr Paul Fraser, said he was alarmed that the new jump in atmospheric CO2 came "despite global attempts to reduce these emissions". "The results are concerning because carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change," he said. "I am a little bit surprised that the level is so high without input from forest wildfires." CSIRO based its estimates on measurements taken in eastern Australia, the southern island state of Tasmania, Macquarie Island in the sub-Antarctic, an Australian station in Antarctica and at the South Pole. "The persistent increases [in CO2] measured over such a large region of the Southern Hemisphere ensure that they closely reflect the total global emissions," Fraser said.

The CSIRO data supports a similar finding by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which announced last week that data from Hawaii showed peak seasonal CO2 levels last year. Unlike in 1998, Fraser said, the recent jump in greenhouse gases appeared to be due solely to the burning of fossile fuels like oil, gas and coal. "The difference between the 2002 to 2003 increases and the last large increase in 1998 is that information from other trace gases in the atmosphere ... show that the source of the increase is most likely from the burning of fossil fuels rather than emissions from oceans, which are the world's biggest reservoir of carbon dioxide, or fires from burning forests," he said. Environmentalists have criticised the Australian government for joining the U.S. in refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, a still-unratified U.N. pact that ties industrial signatory countries to reducing emissions of carbon pollution.

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28) GERMANY TO HOST EMISSIONS TRADE MEETING

Expatica
March 29, 2004
Internet: http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=52&story_id=6098

WASHINGTON - The new field of carbon emissions trading, estimated to reach USD 10 billion (EUR 82 billion) globally by 2005, will get its own trade fair, at a time when greenhouse gas emissions are rising despite efforts made to reduce them. The "Carbon Expo" trade fair, running 9-11 June in Cologne will be the first such event in the rapidly growing field of emissions trading, one of its sponsors, the World Bank said.  A recent report showed greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming were on the rise, with carbon dioxide emissions rising 11 per cent in the decade since the United Nations treaty on climate change had been ratified.

Carbon dioxide emissions were expected to grow another 50 percent by 2020, the Washington-based World Resources Institute said. "We are quickly moving to the point where the damage will be irreversible," warned Dr. Jonathan Pershing, director of WRI's climate programme. "Unless we act now, the world will be locked in to temperatures that would cause irreparable harm." He said net emissions must be brought to zero to stabilize the atmospheric chemistry.

The emerging emissions trade system allows air polluters in industrialized countries to buy "emission rights" from projects that reduce emissions in developing economies. Under the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse emissions, signatories must reduce carbon emissions by up to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. "The World Bank is working to ensure that poor countries get a sizable chunk of that market... in exchange for development dollars, technological know-how and clean technologies for sustainable development," the bank said in a statement. The fair will provide an interface for providers of new technology and potential emission traders to do business.

A number of public-private partnerships have been "pivotal" to developing the carbon trading market, the World Bank said. It set up the Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) in 2000, a group of six governments and 17 companies that buy emission rights from projects that use renewable energy such as wind, small hydro and biomass energy technology. A non-profit association, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), will represent the technical side at the fair - with leading industrial companies, suppliers of inspection services, brokerage firms and financial services. IETA is a co-sponsor of the fair, along with the Cologne trade fair company, Koelnmesse.  So far, 121 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol. US President George Bush, shortly after taking office in 2001, withdrew the United States from the commitments by the Clinton administration.

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29) CURBING GLOBAL WARMING: U.N. CONFIRMS JQA AS EMISSION VERIFIER

The Asahi Shimbun
March 26, 2004
Internet: http://www.asahi.com/english/nation/TKY200403260130.html

In a move likely to expedite Japan's efforts to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals, a Japanese organization has become one of the world's first two entities accredited by the United Nations to certify emission reductions. The Tokyo-based Japan Quality Assurance Organization (JQA) won accreditation at an executive board meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change that opened Wednesday in Bonn. The other designated entity is Norway's Det Norske Veritas Certification.

The designation authorizes the JQA to determine if projects proposed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for greenhouse gas reductions meet U.N. rules. The JQA will also register projects with the U.N. entity and certify emission cuts. The CDM was authorized by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It is one tactic to curb global warming via achieving the Kyoto greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. In Japan's case, that means a 6 percent cut from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The CDM allows governments and businesses in developed nations to meet their required reductions by engaging in emission reduction projects in developing countries. The corresponding emission rights can be applied in the project-instigators' home countries.

The CDM is deemed essential for Japan to achieve its reduction goals notwithstanding increased efforts to cut carbon dioxide and other gas emissions at home. Japanese manufacturers and power utilities are preparing CDM projects, joined by trading houses, which plan to engage in trading emission rights. The registration of the first CDM project is expected as early as this summer. The Kyoto Protocol has yet to take effect, however, because of the departure of the United States, the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitter, in 2001. Russia also has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. The JQA is a quality-assurance organization engaged in assessment and registration of management systems for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

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30) NORWAY'S DNV WINS U.N. CLIMATE WATCHDOG ROLE

Reuters
March 25, 2004
Internet: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L2583789.htm

OSLO, March 25 (Reuters) - Norwegian ship classification and risk management group DNV said on Thursday that it was the first firm to win a U.N. permit to assess greenhouse gas emissions under a scheme to combat global warming.  It said that the U.N. climate change panel had authorised DNV to check projects under which companies in industrialised countries can invest in renewable energy in developing nations to help limit global emissions of gases like carbon dioxide. "DNV is the first and so far only company accredited for validation services related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and landfill gas capture projects," it said.

DNV, which has services from ship classification to the environment, will assess greenhouse gas emissions saved by projects such as using methane from rotting rubbish dumps in Brazil or using a hydro-electric plant in Mexico to generate electricity instead of coal or oil. Emissions of gases like carbon dioxide, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are widely blamed for blanketing the planet and nudging temperatures higher, causing what could be catastrophic changes in the climate.

"More than 20 companies have been seeking accreditation," Michael Lehmann, DNV's deputy technical director, told Reuters. Under the U.N.'s 1997 Kyoto protocol, rich nations are meant to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide by about 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Companies in industrial states can invest in renewable energy projects -- like solar, wind or hydro power -- in developing nations and count the saved carbon dioxide emissions towards reductions back home. Kyoto, however, is in limbo. After a U.S. pullout in 2001, it now hinges on Russian ratification to win sufficient backing to enter into force. Moscow has said it is undecided.  DNV said that it had won its authorisation from the so-called clean development mechanism Executive Board, appointed by the parties to the U.N. Framework Convention of Climate Change.

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31) BYERS CHAIRS INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE TASKFORCE

ePolitix
March 22, 2004
Internet: http://www.epolitix.com/EN/News/200403/e80b5715-17bc-435e-a1a7-59c6a37e4794.htm

Former transport secretary Stephen Byers has chaired the first meeting of an international taskforce on climate change. The taskforce brought together three leading think tanks on Monday - the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK, the Center for American Progress and the Australia Institute - and will report to governments in 2005 on how best to tackle the problem. Other members include former CBI director general Adair Turner, environmentalist Jonathon Porritt and chairman of the inter-governmental panel on climate change, Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

The first meeting was held in Berkshire, while a second is planned for mid-November in either Washington or Sydney, at which a final consensus will be reached on policies to be included in a report, and submitted to Tony Blair and other heads of government in 2005. "We have a responsibility to future generations to hand to them a planet that is habitable and rich in life," said Byers. "Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities threaten that objective. It is clear that tackling this problem is the over-riding environmental challenge of our age.

“The Kyoto Protocol was a milestone for the international community in taking the first step to address the danger which climate change poses. The taskforce will help safeguard and build on Kyoto by identifying new ways to secure international cooperation and support.”

“For the future we need to find the means by which we can involve those countries that have not ratified or are not bound by Kyoto, so that climate change can be dealt with effectively over the long term.”

“This will be a major challenge but it is one that the taskforce is confident it can meet.”

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32) CLIMATE CHANGE: UN MARKS TREATY'S ANNIVERSARY BY HAILING SAVINGS OF GOING GREEN

UN News
March 21, 2004
Internet:  http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=10148&Cr=climate&Cr1=change

21 March 2004 – Fighting climate change makes economic sense in the long run because using energy more efficiently will ultimately produce enormous financial and green benefits, the head of the United Nations' environmental agency said in a message marking the 10th anniversary today of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which came into force in March 1994. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), noted that re-insurance agents last year estimated that the cost of climate-related disasters reached $65 billion. “Then there are other economic impacts as a result of a continued, inefficient use of carbon-based fuels, including those on human health and habitats and ecosystems, like forests and lakes,” he said. Mr. Toepfer called on governments, businesses and citizens to show “imagination, vision and, above all, courage” to harness new technologies that can use energy more efficiently and cause less damage to the environment.

He said the world is on the cusp on another industrial leap forward, with fossil fuels such as coal and oil going the way of the typewriter and the punch-card machine – to be replaced by modern conventional power stations and alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar power.  Mr. Toepfer used his anniversary message to urge countries to ratify the treaty's Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to earlier levels.  Describing the reduction targets in the Protocol's first phase as “modest to say the least,” Mr. Toepfer said the losses resulting from not adhering to that pact outweigh the costs of compliance.

Echoing this view, Secretary-General Kofi Annan cited several examples of greener technologies emerging partly because of the Convention's entry into force. They included the increased use of wind farms, the introduction of so-called hybrid vehicles and added investments in hydrogen and carbon technology.  The Secretary-General said signing the Kyoto Protocol is urgent given “the increased incidence of drought, floods and extreme weather events that many regions are experiencing.”  The Protocol, which sets legally binding targets and timetables for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, will only enter into force after it has been ratified by at least 55 countries, including industrialized countries accounting for 55 per cent of their group's 1990 level of CO2 emissions. Although the Protocol has 121 parties, including the European Community, the vast majority are developing countries and it has not entered into force.

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33) C02 SEEN AT RECORD-HIGH LEVELS

Washington Times
March 21, 2004
Internet: http://washingtontimes.com/national/20040321-121959-5762r.htm

MAUNA LOA OBSERVATORY, Hawaii (AP) — Carbon dioxide, the gas largely blamed for global warming, has reached record-high levels in the atmosphere after increasing at an accelerated pace during the past year, say scientists monitoring the sky from atop a Hawaiian volcano. The reason for the faster buildup of the most important of the greenhouse gases will require further analysis, according to the U.S. government experts. "But the big picture is that CO2 is continuing to go up," said Russell Schnell, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate monitoring laboratory in Boulder, Colo., which operates the Mauna Loa Observatory on the island of Hawaii.

Carbon dioxide, mostly from the burning of coal, gasoline and other fossil fuels, traps heat that otherwise would radiate into space. Global temperatures increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) during the 20th century, and international panels of scientists sponsored by world governments have concluded that most of the warming probably was traced to greenhouse gases. The climatologists forecast continued temperature increases that will disrupt the climate, cause seas to rise and lead to other unpredictable consequences — unpredictable in part because of uncertainties in computer modeling of future climate. Before the industrial age and extensive use of fossil fuels, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stood at 280 parts per million, scientists have determined.

Average readings at the 11,141-foot Mauna Loa Observatory, where carbon dioxide density peaks each northern winter, hovered around 379 parts per million on Friday, compared with about 376 a year ago. That year-to-year increase of about 3 parts per million is considerably higher than the average annual increase of 1.8 parts per million during the past decade, and markedly more accelerated than the 1-part-per-million annual increase recorded a half-century ago, when observations were first made here. Asked to explain the stepped-up rate, climatologists were cautious, saying data needed to be further evaluated. But Asia immediately sprang to mind. "China is taking off economically and burning a lot of fuel. India, too," said Pieter Tans, a prominent carbon-cycle expert at NOAA's Boulder lab. Another leading climatologist, Ralph Keeling, whose father, Charles D. Keeling, developed methods for measuring carbon dioxide, noted that the rate "does fluctuate up and down a bit," and said it was too early to reach conclusions.  But he added: "People are worried about 'feedbacks.' We are moving into a warmer world."

He explained that warming itself releases carbon dioxide from the ocean and soil. By raising the gas level in the atmosphere, that in turn could increase warming in a "positive feedback," said Mr. Keeling of San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that, if unchecked, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by 2100 will range from 650 to 970 parts per million. As a result, the panel estimates, the average global temperature would probably rise by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius (2.7 and 10.4 degrees F) between 1990 and 2100. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol would oblige ratifying countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions according to set schedules to minimize potential global warming. The pact has not taken effect, however. The United States, the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitter, signed the agreement but did not ratify it, and the Bush administration has since withdrawn U.S. support, calling instead for voluntary emission reductions by U.S. industry and more scientific research into climate change.

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34) CAR MAKERS SECRETLY LOBBY EC TO REDUCE AIR-POLLUTION TARGETS

Sunday Herald
March 21, 2004
Internet: http://www.sundayherald.com/40665

All major car manufacturers are secretly lobbying the European Commission (EC) to relax its target for cutting climate-wrecking pollution from exhausts, a leaked document has revealed. A confidential memo from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association to the Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallström, claims that the proposed cuts will “seriously damage” the industry. The association represents Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Fiat, Renault, Peugeot Citroen, Volvo, Volkswagen and four others.

The revelation has infuriated environmental groups, who are demanding that the EC sticks to its guns. They accuse the industry of ignoring the catastrophes that are being threatened worldwide by the climate chaos caused by vehicle pollution. The EC wants sharp reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide, a main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, that cars belch into the atmosphere. Average emissions are meant to fall from 165 grams per kilometre in 2002 to 120 by 2010. But the industry memo, seen by the Sunday Herald, insists this will be impossible. It estimates that it will add £2700 to the cost of every car, amounting to an extra £33.5 billion a year throughout the European Union (EU).

“Car buyers are not prepared to pay any extra for cleaner, more environmentally-friendly cars,” it asserts. Because of the decline in new car sales since 2001, car manufacturers were already suffering from “thinner” profit margins. “An over-ambitious carbon dioxide reduction policy that is essentially only car-technology focused, would impose massive additional costs per car along with tremendous negative societal costs for the EU economy, and would threaten the competitiveness of the European car manufacturing industry,” the memo concludes. “Adverse impacts for the EU economy would include: a move of car production to non-EU countries, disappearance of large/premium cars, plant closures, sizeable job losses, decreased trade balance, reduced income tax and lowered economic growth.”

The industry also complains about its “mounting regulatory burden”. It proposes a new approach based on cleaner fuels and more traffic management schemes to limit mobility, as well as the promotion of “eco-driving”. The memo from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association is supported by another from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

This incorporates Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Yamaha and six other car makers. “Considering the increasing trend towards globalisation, competition in today’s automobile industry is getting extremely fierce,” the Japanese memo warns. “We advise that the economic situation of this key industry be taken into account when considering the introduction of increased environmental legislation,” it adds.

Both memos were sent to Wallström towards the end of last year. She forwarded them last month to the chair of the European Parliament’s environment committee, Caroline Jackson MEP, saying that they were still being analysed by the EC. “If these documents are accurate, it is seriously worrying and the environment committee should investigate the matter,” said Catherine Stihler, a Scottish MEP on the committee.

“Global warming is of concern to us all and we need to make every effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” Wallström has hinted that she still wants car manufacturers to meet the emission target of 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre by 2010. “I appreciate the efforts that the car industries, in particular the European and Japanese industries, are making to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” she said in February.

“If we want to reach our Kyoto targets, we have to lower carbon dioxide emissions from transport.” Under a protocol signed in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997, the EU must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 8% before 2012. Emissions from vehicles are one of the main contributors.

Friends of the Earth Scotland thought the leaked documents neatly illustrated the weakness of voluntary agreements for tackling environmental problems. “On one hand the car industry tries to claim that emission reductions can be achieved more swiftly using voluntary means, but then it goes on to try and wriggle out of having to meet the reduction targets,” said the group’s chief executive, Duncan McLaren.

“The EC must stand up to the car industry on this issue. If the industry fails to deliver on its promises then the EC should legislate to force it to cut pollution. “Past experience tells us that the threat of legislation is the best way to stimulate real improvements and technological innovations.” The documents showed that the industry was trying to blame everyone apart from itself, McLaren claimed.

“They even have the audacity to threaten that there will be ‘excessive societal costs’ should they be forced to deliver the Commission objective – choosing to ignore the massive detrimental impacts society is already beginning to suffer as a result of pollution-induced climate change,” he said. The European Automobile Manufacturers Association confirmed to the Sunday Herald from Brussels on Friday that its memo was genuine. However, it was unable to offer any comment on its contents, or respond to criticisms.

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35) MIXED EFFECTS AS GLOBAL WARMING TREATY TURNS 10

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 20, 2004
Internet: http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/0304/21climate.html

WASHINGTON -- The 10th anniversary of the world's first treaty on global warming is today, its main provisions ignored by the United States and most other countries. Although it is an obscure document, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change contains specific requirements for reduction in greenhouse gases. The treaty was signed by President George Bush at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The agreement went into effect after Portugal became the 50th country to ratify it on March 21, 1994.

Among other provisions, countries agree to return their output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 1990 levels. "I have grave doubts that the United States is in compliance with its obligations under this treaty," said Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. "It specifically obligates signers, including the United States, to get moving and start dealing with this issue," Speth added. "But they are not." Speth, former director of the U.N. Development Program, warns in a new book, "Red Sky at Morning," that in spite of all the international negotiations and agreements of the past two decades, efforts to protect Earth's environment are not succeeding.

"Time is running out," said Speth, who served as chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Jimmy Carter. "We are on the verge of reaping an appalling deterioration of our natural assets." But some advocates of government action to control the buildup of greenhouse gases take heart in the public discussion that has followed the framework treaty and the ill-fated Kyoto Protocol, which grew out of it. "I think the whole view has changed profoundly," said Rafe Pomerance, who in the mid-1970s became the first environmental activist to devote his full time to the twin issues of global warming and ozone depletion.

"It wasn't clear to the public 10 years ago that this was a problem," said Pomerance, president of the Climate Policy Center in Washington. "I think the whole view has changed profoundly. The framework convention was part of building that consciousness." Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, agreed. "You have to look at it two ways," she said. "Have we made a lot of progress toward the goals of the convention? I think the answer is no. "But have we begun to seriously think about how to do this? Yes," she said. "Many governments have started to take action, and many in the business community have made major changes in the way they look at this issue."

The Pew Center and the Aspen Institute last week jointly published a report in which representatives of energy, mining and automobile industries and environmental and consumer organizations agreed that a mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program could be both effective and politically feasible. To be sure, adamant opponents of action on global warming remain. Fred Smith, who heads the Competitive Enterprise Institute, called the framework "the first misstep on the road to global poverty." "There's no real threat from climate per se to a wealthy, technologically adroit world," Smith said, adding that restrictions like the framework convention and the Kyoto Protocol would stand in the way of economic development that could enable poor countries to cope with climate change.

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36) EARLY SIGNS OF CLIMATE DEVASTATION ALREADY VISIBLE: KOFI ANNAN

AFP
March 19, 2004 
Internet: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0319-09.htm

PARIS - UN chief Kofi Annan warned that the first signs of disastrous climate change may already be visible as he lobbied for the Kyoto Protocol, the global warming pact hamstrung by US opposition and Russian reticence. Annan made the warning in a message to mark the 10th anniversary of the coming into force of Kyoto's parent treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "Some of (the) effects (of climate change) are by now inevitable and, indeed, we may already be seeing -- in the increased incidence of drought, floods and extreme weather events that many regions are experiencing -- some of the devastation that lies ahead," he said.

Kyoto's "lack of entry into force remains a major hurdle to effective action," the UN secretary general said. "I call again on those countries that have not yet ratified the Protocol to do so, and show that they are truly committed to shouldering their global responsibilities." The UNFCCC was the key agreement to emerge from the 1992 Rio Summit, giving birth to a raft of treaties and initiatives aimed at tackling the planet's environmental ills. The Kyoto Protocol was signed as a framework agreement in 1997 under which rich industrialised countries would curb emissions of "greenhouse" gases -- carbon pollution from the burning of fossil fuels that scientists say is dangerously affecting Earth's fragile climate system.

It took four years to negotiate the Protocol's highly detailed rulebook, but by that time, the United States had quit the process, under a controversial decision by President George W. Bush. He questioned the scientific evidence for global warming and said Kyoto was both too costly for the US economy, and unfair because the detailed pollution cuts only applied to developed countries. The US pullout has deprived Kyoto of support from its biggest carbon polluter and left it perilously short of failing to muster enough support to take effect.  Under the Protocol's rules, ratification by Russia is now essential for the deal to become an international treaty. But Russia has been dragging its feet about ratification, notably holding out for further concessions from the European Union (EU), Kyoto's champion.

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37) RUHRGAS AIMS TO BOOST CO2 CREDIT WITH RUSSIA PROJECT

Planet Ark
March 19, 2004
Internet: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/24356/story.htm

FRANKFURT - Germany's leading gas supplier Ruhrgas (EONG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) is investing in environment protection projects in Russia in the hope to boost its credits under the upcoming European Union emissions trading scheme, it said yesterday. The firm runs a so-called Joint Implementation (JI) project together with Russia's gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MO: Quote, Profile, Research), which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions on the Russian pipeline network, Ruhrgas spokesman Christian Drepper told Reuters. "We are trying to cut CO2 emissions on Gazprom's large network through computerising processes which were carried out manually before, making the transport more efficient," he said.

As the linchpin of its Kyoto efforts, the EU is due to start an ambitious emissions trading scheme which caps the CO2 output of many power, smelting, steel and other plants from 2005. The scheme allows firms to deal CO2 permits, effectively the right to pollute. Companies that exceed their CO2 caps may buy permits from others which end up within their targets. Brussels has plans to allow EU firms to gain credits by helping to reduce CO2 in other countries. They might then be able to sell or use these credits in the EU market, possibly from the second emissions trading period that starts in 2008. Ruhrgas' software enabled Gazprom, which is 6.5 percent owned by the German firm, to significantly reduce energy and CO2 output at its gas compressors, which are needed to move the gas over long distances and are the main pollutants on a network.

"We are reducing CO2 emissions by 450,000 tonnes per year, while energy use is cut by an annual 1.5 billion kilowatt hours and there is potential to save between 4-5 million tonnes of CO2 if all of Gazprom's transport units joined in," said Drepper. "We hope that these efforts put us in a good position for the emissions trading scheme," he said.  Companies are encouraged to invest in JI projects as part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to curb emissions of gases like CO2 from fossil fuels burnt in factories and cars that are blamed for blanketing the planet and driving up temperatures, raising sea levels and causing natural disasters.

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CLIMATE IMPACTS

38) REGIONAL GLOBAL WARMING ADAPTATION CONFERENCE RESULTS IN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

Clean Air - Cool Planet
March 25, 2004
Internet: http://www.enn.com/direct/display-release.asp?objid=D1D1366D000000FB83ECF36EECFA6C75

Portsmouth, NH--Scientists, stakeholders and decision-makers from across the region met last week in Boston for "Climate Change in New England and Eastern Canada: Natural Resource Impacts and Adaptation Responses," a symposium sponsored by the New England Governors Conference, in conjunction with the Eastern Canadian Premiers. The workshop was organized in the hopes of providing direction and increasing momentum toward meeting the specific goals outlined in the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan, which, when signed in 2001, became the nation's first regional climate action model.

According to Clean Air-Cool Planet Executive Director Adam Markham, who facilitated the final "Looking for Solutions and Strategies" discussion for the agriculture/horticulture sector, "One of the goals of the regional plan is to develop adequate adaptation strategies for the changes caused in the Northeast by global warming, especially to crucial natural and economic resources. But what the plan doesn't contain is specifics on how to do that. Our job at this meeting was to create that 'road map' for specific adaptation measures." Looking at New England's natural resource sectors -- fisheries, forests, and agriculture, for example--panelists and participants engaged in informational sessions and facilitated dialogues regarding priorities and strategies for protecting the region's resource base, as the effects of global warming increasingly make themselves felt.

Out of the three-part forum on the agricultural sector, Markham said, a set of specific recommendations related to New England's billion dollar agriculture and horticulture industries has emerged, designed to give governors, premiers, state officials and planners a sense of focus and priorities:

  • Identify invasive pest and noxious weed threats and develop strategies for early detection and intervention.
     

  • Help educate farmers and producers about global warming by working through local Cooperative Extension Services, providing material for written case studies on farming success stories, and undertaking on-site demonstrations of best cultivation practices.
     

  • Improve nutrient management strategies?for example, through better soil conservation and reduced fertilizer input.
     

  • Create incentives for improved water storage and conservation, and strategies for regional watershed management, especially in order to reduce the threat of future droughts.
     

  • Work with crop insurers to improve risk management strategies.
     

  • Increase or continue research on options for more adaptive crop types.

"Protecting New England's crop-dependant economies from the inevitable impacts global warming will require states to be proactive and collaborative," Markham said. "These steps, in coordination with continued, broad emissions reductions measures, can help preserve everything from large scale apple and potato production to the local community sugar shacks and small family gardens of New England."

Underlying the six recommendations, Markham noted, are some additional infrastructure and information needs that must also be met: these include the identification of the region's most vulnerable crops and sectors; increased engagement from agricultural officials and the food processing industry; better communication between Canada and the U.S. on this subject; and improved, more detailed climate change predictions or models, especially related to agricultural impacts.

New England as a whole has warmed nearly 1° F over the past century. Impacts such as earlier spring lilac flowering, increased pest and noxious weed presence, and more erratic maple sap runs are already being noted as a result. Science predicts that the continued changes slated for the region according to current climate change models could mean more drastic effects in terms of water and soil degradation, emergence of non-native (invasive) weeds, and poorer growing conditions generally.

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39) AFRICA BRACES FOR THE FALLOUT OF GLOBAL WARMING

World Resources Institute
March 22, 2004
Internet: http://www.enn.com/direct/display-release.asp?objid=D1D1366D000000FB354D77BF0F1CAC91

A number of African scientists are urging governments on the continent to take measures to prepare for the impacts of global warming. "Climate change is now with us and poised to change our pattern of life," said Dr. Cecil Machena, a Zimbabwean ecologist and conservationist. "Yet few people know what climate change is all about." The vast majority of the greenhouse gases behind global warming have been released by industrial countries like the United States and Europe. Scientists expect, however, that climate disruptions will take their heaviest toll on poor nations, which have contributed relatively little to the problem in the past century.

"African countries are expected to be the hardest hit by climate change because they have the least resources to adapt," said Brett Orlando, a climate expert at the World Conservation Union (IUCN). "The difference between impacts on developing and industrialized countries is categorical. In industrialized countries one speaks of loss of property and income, whereas in developing countries one speaks of loss of life and livelihood." A recent report from scientists at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom concludes that current trends of droughts in Southern Africa are likely linked to climate change. "It is becoming increasing likely that [human-caused] emissions of greenhouse gases, and other atmospheric pollutants, are changing global and regional climates," finds the report. While occasional droughts are common in the region, the scientists found that the last 20 years "have seen a trend towards reduced rainfall," as well as an increase in the number of serious droughts -- two or three during the early 1990s alone. "The decade 1986-95, as well as being the warmest this century, has also been the driest," according to the report, which is titled "Climate Change and Southern Africa."

The researchers recommend that Southern African countries should change their agricultural policies in anticipation of the negative impacts of climate change on crop yields. "The clearest objective at present is to prepare for changing climatic hazards by reducing vulnerability, by developing monitoring capabilities, and enhancing the responsiveness of the agricultural sector to forecasts of production and food crises," concludes the report. However, few efforts are currently underway to address the anticipated impacts of climate change in Southern Africa.

"Very few governments, particularly in the South, are prepared to mainstream climate change issues in development processes," said Dr. Machena, who is director of the Africa Resources Trust. And yet the impact of climate on the poor is a serious concern. "Rural people in less-developed countries are more dependent on local resources, so when land is degraded or access is cut off, those people are particularly hard hit," said Dr. Peter Veit, the World Resources Institute's regional director for Africa.

The Africa Resources Trust has called on Southern African governments to take steps now that will help people cope with hotter, drier weather, coastal storm surges, and other anticipated effects of climate change. Dr. Machena has proposed that countries invest in drought-resistant crops and promote forestation projects around farmlands, which would protect watersheds and create belts of vegetation to link up national parks and other habitats threatened by climate change.

A report recently published in the journal Nature concludes that if no action is taken to address global warming, climate shifts could soon surpass habitat loss and other threats to wildlife and plants. The study, which examined six biodiversity-rich regions around the world representing 20 percent of the Earth's land area, projects that the consequences could be significant for Africa. Important African conservation areas, such as Kruger National Park, could risk losing up to 60 percent of their species. More than one-third of the 300 plant species studied in South Africa are expected to die out, including the country's national flower, the King Protea.

Using the current distributions of 1,103 plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, butterflies and other invertebrates, the scientists developed computer models to simulate the ways species' ranges are expected to move in response to changing temperatures and climatic conditions. The study found that 15 to 37 percent of species sampled could be threatened with extinction by 2050 as a result of their inability to adapt to changes in climate. "If the projections can be extrapolated globally, and to other groups of land animals and plants, our analyses suggest that well over a million species could be threatened with extinction as a result of climate change," said lead author Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. (WRI Features)

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40) INDIAN EXPERT WARNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE RISKS

Yomiuri Shimbun
March 19, 2004
Internet: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20040319wo73.htm

An Indian expert on global warming warned in a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun that Japan and other countries are at risk of unpredictable climactic events such as water shortages and floods as a result of global warming. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established by the U.N. Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization, said the international community must set a level at which the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should be stabilized. Pachauri, who also serves as the director general of the Energy and Resource Institute in India, visited Japan earlier this month to attend an international symposium on global warming in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Describing the world's current situation, Pachauri said, "Water is reaching a crisis level in several developing countries, and my fear is that things will get much worse with climate change." Mentioning his country's situation, he added: "We're depending on water supply from the melting of snow in the Himalayan range, at least in the northern part of the subcontinent. We've seen in the past several decades the glaciers that provide water are receding very rapidly. "So we may get floods in the initial period. But after a while when the size of the glaciers has shrunk, then the water flow might actually decrease. The danger is that we might have floods as well as droughts taking place in the future." The scientist warned that higher sea levels would increase the damage inflicted by typhoons on Japan.

According to him, climate change is not going to be a linear change. "You could have very sharp discontinuities. We must understand that the world's climate is a very delicate one that has been kept in balance for thousands of years. But we are now influencing that balance. So things can go wrong suddenly." Since the industrial revolution, the concentration of carbon dioxide--one of the major greenhouse gases--has increased in the atmosphere. "Even if we take some serious and very ambitious measures, climate change will continue for centuries. The concentration of greenhouse gases will remain high for a long period of time. This means that we will have to carry out mitigation and adaptation (of climate change)," he said.

The IPCC is preparing a new assessment that will be published in 2007. The new report will address issues including water, technology and sustainable development as well as adaptation and mitigation of climate change. "The report is going to be treated very seriously because from 2005 we are supposed to come to negotiations for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol," Pachauri said. The protocol sets the first commitment period from 2008 to 2012, and requires developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to at least 5 percent below the 1990 level in that period.

The international community is supposed to discuss the commitment after 2012, which has been called "the post-Kyoto issue." "When the report comes out, the international negotiations on the second period will be in full swing," Pachauri predicted.  However, Russia has not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and the U.S. government, which withdrew from the protocol, says it has no plans to reconsider the treaty. "If Russia ratifies it, the protocol won't be dead. But the world has to be prepared for the situation when it may be dead. We have to adopt some other measures as well. This again will require some leadership from Japan, Europe and the U.S. We have to start discussing that rather quickly," he said.

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41) ARCTIC FACES DRASTIC CHANGE WITHOUT EU POLICY ACTION

UNEP
March 16, 2004
Internet: http://www.enn.com/direct/display-release.asp?objid=D1D1364B000000FB53DC98161057E56A

The Arctic's unique environment and indigenous peoples are under increasing threat from industrial activities and the region is likely to change drastically unless decision-makers in the European Union and elsewhere address the challenges seriously. This is the key message of a new report, Arctic environment: European perspectives, published jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). The report, compiled by experts at the UNEP GRID Arendal centre in Norway, warns that the northern polar region faces a diverse range of threats from unsustainable development, pollution and climate change.

These threats include the fragmentation of wildlife habitats, over-harvesting of the region's once-abundant fish stocks and unsustainable use of other natural resources such as its vast forests. Unique plant and animal species are under threat or disappearing due to climate change. Pollutants, some known to be cancerous, are present in key Arctic species, causing great concern for human health. Piecemeal development is also beginning to have a major cumulative effect on the Arctic environment, with adverse economic and social consequences for its indigenous peoples."With the high levels of toxic chemicals in local Inuit peoples, the melting of permafrost and the retreat of glaciers across the region, the Arctic is like an environmental early warning system for the world", UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said.

"Luckily there are measures to address these problems. On 17 May this year, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants will become legally binding. This international legal agreement commits governments to stop the production and dispersion of the so-called `dirty dozen` highly toxic chemicals. In addition, the Kyoto Protocol can enter into force and set the scene for further measures to address climate change if the Russian Federation accedes to it." "Decision makers across Europe must clearly recognise that adopting such measures will bring not only environmental and social benefits but also clear economic advantages at home", Mr Toepfer continued.

"When it comes to climate change, implementing renewable energy policies and other actions that lessen the huge financial burden of floods and other weather-related disasters will result in stronger, healthier economies. Rather than having a negative economic impact, the Kyoto Protocol can help stimulate clean economies that will benefit both the Arctic and Europe alike." Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, added: "Governments, regulators, indigenous peoples and the private sector need to work together to manage the Arctic's natural resources and use them responsibly and equitably. These and other measures will not be accomplished without genuine commitment at all levels, but Europe's connection to the Arctic more than justifies this commitment."

"The European Union in particular has the potential to take a leading role in catalysing the response of the Arctic nations", she continued. "Decision-makers need to take the current challenges seriously and find solutions to them through a structured process of consultation." Indigenous peoples have managed the Arctic's resources in a sustainable manner for thousands of years but today it is industrialised countries, including EU nations, that are both the main users and the main sources of pollution affecting the region. The indigenous peoples suffer most of the adverse effects of this exploitation while receiving a relatively small share of the benefits.  By focusing attention on the Arctic, the report aims to contribute to the successful implementation of the EU's second Northern Dimension action plan, covering 2004-2006.

Although the action plan's geographical priority is the Baltic area, it has the potential to address circumpolar and global issues affecting the resources and environment of the entire Arctic. The action plan, which includes a focus on sustainable development, is expected to play an important role in developing cooperation between the EU and regional bodies related to the Arctic, such as the Arctic Council. "The contributions that the indigenous peoples living in the High North and the Arctic can make to this process, and the role they play in the stewardship of the region, are of key importance for the implementation of the new plan", Mr Toepfer and Prof. McGlade write in a joint foreword to the report.

The report is available at http://reports.eea.eu.int/environmental_issue_report_2004_3/en/

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STATEMENTS & EDITORIALS

42) KYOTO COULD BE RUSSIA'S TICKET TO EUROPE by Anders Aslund

IHT
April 5, 2004
Internet: http://www.iht.com/articles/513383.html

Anders Aslund is director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

WASHINGTON Eleven years after Russia applied for membership in the World Trade Organization, the major outstanding issue is with the European Union, and involves Russian natural gas. The key to concluding could be Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocols. The EU's main complaint is that the Russian domestic price of natural gas is barely one-quarter of the price at which Russia exports gas to Europe. The EU also demands the deregulation of the Russian gas sector, including third-party access to the Russian pipeline system.

While deregulation is advantageous, the EU demand is on shaky ground. Russia argues that it goes beyond WTO rules. Moreover, the EU has not deregulated its own gas market, and its high gas prices are partially caused by inefficient domestic monopolies. Furthermore, Russian gas prices are barely subsidized even at today's low prices, as energy is abundant and therefore very cheap in Russia.

In fact, no world market price exists for natural gas, because transportation costs are huge, and prices vary with prior pipeline investments. For gas as well as for pipeline and railway services, price discrimination is standard in the world, and defensible, because there is often no alternative use for gas. To transform it into liquified gas is very costly, and it cannot be stored otherwise. President Vladimir Putin is right when he argues that Russia has a natural comparative advantage in low energy prices. Similarly, Norway has low electricity prices thanks to its abundant and cheap hydropower.

Still, the EU can justly claim that the domestic Russian gas price should fully cover all costs, which requires a limited increase in the domestic price. The natural compromise would be that Russia firmly commit itself to raise its domestic gas prices by about 20 percent annually for five to six years. Such commitments are standard at WTO accession. The EU can also demand transparent pipeline tariffs in Russia and possibly the separation of gas extraction and pipelines - but not much more. This would amount to a substantial concession for the EU. But the alternative might be that Russia opts to stay outside the WTO. The question for Russia is how it can convince the EU to make that concession. It has a big, valuable card in the Kyoto Protocol on the limitation of emission of greenhouse gases till 2012.

Russia is the key to the Kyoto Protocol. Without Russian ratification, the protocol will not come into force. At the same time, ratification would not cost Russia anything, because the Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to the level of 1990, when the inefficient old Soviet smokestacks let out twice as much greenhouse gases as today. Thus Russia can earn billions of dollars from selling emission quotas.

Putin's main goal is economic growth, and the Russian government is suspicious of environmental regulations which may limit growth. But that is not true of the Kyoto Protocol for Russia. The Russian environmental lobby is weak, and global warming is no major concern, while nuclear and chemical pollution is. For Putin, the question of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol comes down to pure foreign policy. Does he want to do the United States or the EU a favor? At present, the United States has hardly anything to offer in exchange, while Russia needs to give the EU something to convince it to allow Russia to enter the WTO.

The natural conclusion would be for Putin to tell the European Commission, which handles the WTO accession negotiations, that Russia will commit itself to higher gas prices and to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol in exchange for an EU agreement on Russia's accession to the WTO. There is no need for delay. European Commission President Romano Prodi and several of his Commissioners go to Moscow to see Putin on April 22, and an EU-Russia summit will be held in Moscow on May 21. An agreement by then would enable Russia to enter the WTO this year; the Kyoto Protocol could come into force, and Russia could finally start its real integration with Europe.

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43) EUROPE AND JAPAN MISREAD KERRY ON KYOTO by Nigel Purvis

IHT
April 5, 2004
Internet: http://www.iht.com/articles/513306.html

Nigel Purvis served as deputy assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

WASHINGTON Is Senator John Kerry the answer to European and Japanese prayers on global warming? Perhaps, but contrary to international expectations, President Kerry would not get the United States into the Kyoto Protocol.

When it comes to the environment, President George W. Bush and John Kerry are like oil and water. The environment is a bottom-rung priority for Bush, while Kerry has the greenest voting record in the U.S. Senate and speaks passionately about global warming. On the campaign trail, Kerry characterizes Bush's unilateral rejection of Kyoto as evidence of the Texan's high-handed, shortsighted and arrogant foreign policy. Kerry's new environmental plan states flatly that "John Kerry will reinsert the United States into international climate negotiations." Little wonder European and Japanese politicians are counting on Kerry to revive U.S. support for Kyoto. But those hopes are misplaced.

First, the United States could not comply with the Kyoto requirements even if it tried. Kyoto would require the United States to reduce its climate emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. U.S. emissions are already more than 12 percent above 1990 levels and are rising with no end in site. Even U.S. environmentalists who believed Kyoto's U.S. target was achievable in 1997 concede that it is beyond reach today.

Second, even a watered-down version of Kyoto would have a difficult time in Congress during a Kerry presidency. The U.S. Constitution requires two-thirds of the Senate to approve treaties. Just last fall, a majority of senators rejected a bipartisan climate-change proposal sponsored by two former presidential candidates, Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, despite the fact that the bill was far less ambitious than Kyoto. Although some version of the McCain-Lieberman bill might pass the Senate in a few years, securing the two-thirds majority needed for ratification of a new climate treaty would take longer. Navigating the more hostile House of Representatives - whose approval is essential for implementing legislation needed to give treaties teeth - would be an even larger challenge. In the House, opposition to action on climate change has been a badge of honor for conservatives, who are expected to solidify their control over that body in November regardless of who wins the White House.

Third, Kerry himself says that he will advance "alternatives to Kyoto" after the United States enacts comprehensive domestic climate-change regulation, including rules for a new domestic financial market for emission credits. Kerry understands that the Senate rarely approves international agreements, particularly environmental treaties, unless they are based on prior domestic action. The international agreement to repair the "ozone hole," which the United States joined easily, for example, was modeled on a pre-existing U.S. law. Kyoto, however, was an international solution imported before the development of a consensus national policy. Little wonder it became a political piñata. Chalk it up to American hegemony, leadership or arrogance, as you please, but the United States tends to treat international pressure to ratify treaties that diverge from U.S. laws the way most people handle spam e-mail - by ignoring it.

Europe and Japan should continue prodding the United States toward a more responsible climate policy, but counting on the United States returning to the Kyoto bargaining table is not the best approach. What should they do instead? Foremost, they must meet their global warming commitments, regardless of whether Russia ratifies Kyoto and thereby brings the treaty to life. Despite grumblings from some quarters, Europe and, to a lesser extent, Japan are on the verge of adopting meaningful and farsighted market-oriented climate strategies. Following through on promises to reduce emissions would symbolize European and Japanese political commitment to the global environment and demonstrate to U.S. industry that fighting climate change can be affordable.

Second, Europe and Japan should press the United States to regulate carbon and other greenhouse gases under U.S. domestic law. America's domestic action matters more than its international promises.

Third, Europe and Japan should challenge the United States to increase funding for international clean-energy research and development programs and for engaging major developing countries by pledging to match any new U.S. climate change expenditures (beyond what Bush has already announced) up to an additional $10 billion a year. These programs help fight global warming by creating a new generation of cleaner, more efficient automobiles and electricity power plants at home and abroad. Any of these steps would influence U.S. policy more than pleas to rejoin what many Americans view as a slow and politically tainted United Nations negotiating process.

On global warming, Bush is on the wrong side of history. Europe is not, but its focus on the Kyoto process as the vehicle for engaging the United States is unhelpful. While the climate policies of the United States would improve with a Kerry presidency, Kyoto is not in the cards for the United States, regardless of who sits in the White House. Europe should move ahead with its Kyoto-based plans, but it should also develop some parallel approaches that America could find appealing.

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44) ENVIRONMENT TAX CAN WORK by Takamitsu Sawa

The Japan Times:
March 29, 2004
Internet: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/geted.pl5?eo20040329ts.htm

Takamitsu Sawa, professor of economics at Kyoto University, is also the director of the university's Institute of Economic Research.

On Nov. 18 the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Nippon Keidanren) issued a statement opposing a proposed environment tax. Keidanren noted that it had set its own fiscal 2010 targets for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions generated by the industrial and energy-conversion sectors below 1990 levels, and was pushing a voluntary program to achieve the goal. Keidanren said the tax proposed by the environment ministry had five problems. Let me comment on the alleged problems point by point:

First, Keidanren said, the tax would dampen economic recovery and stifle industrial activities.  Imposing a new tax on fossil fuels would no doubt push up the prices of most products, since the costs of using or generating electric power are reflected in the production, distribution and sale of most products. If income were unchanged, real consumer spending would clearly decrease. So if the government kept revenues from the tax in its coffers, the tax would slow economic recovery.

If the government, however, used the tax revenues on measures to fight global warming, it could stimulate spending that would more than offset a fall in consumer spending. If a tax of 3,000 yen per ton of carbon were levied on fossil fuels, new tax revenues would amount to about 1 trillion yen. Automobile taxes could be cut on fuel-efficient vehicles, and power companies could double the price they pay to purchase surplus solar power from businesses and homes from the present 25 yen per kilowatt-hour, thus encouraging use of solar cells. The government could make up the 25 yen difference from the new tax revenues.

Furthermore, light railway transit (LRT) systems -- or modern streetcars -- could be introduced in Kyoto and other cities, using road-specific construction funds. Effective use of new tax revenues to cut CO2 emissions would spur motorists to shift to more fuel-efficient cars and create new demand for solar cells as well as LRT construction and trains. This would boost the gross national product.  An income-tax cut to counter the effects of the added carbon tax could be implemented. Net disposable income would rise, contributing to an increase in consumer spending. Differences between income reductions due to the new tax and gains in disposable income would be negligible. The above-mentioned scenario applies to a closed economy, excluding trade. The story would be different for an open economy, including trade, which brings us to the next point.

Second, Keidanren said, the tax could accelerate Japan's de-industrialization trend while aggravating global warming. The tax would no doubt hurt the competitiveness of export-oriented domestic manufacturing industries, such as steel, that use large amounts of fossil fuel. However, opposition to the environment tax on this ground is illogical, since relief measures are possible. Taxes could be refunded on steel exports on the basis of CO2 emissions per unit reported, and then levied on steel imports under a similar formula. This system would prevent the tax from crimping steelmaking. Moreover, coking coal used by steel, ceramic, paper-pulp and other industries that consume large amounts of energy could be exempted from the tax.

There is no denying that the introduction of the tax would accelerate the shift of Japanese production bases to overseas locations. Therefore, Nippon Keidanren claims that the tax would aggravate global warming because environmental restrictions are lax in developing countries. However, the clean development mechanism -- by which a country that achieves CO2 emission abatement in developing countries through investment may count the reduction as its own -- would mitigate the problem.

Third, Nippon Keidanren argued, energy taxes are already too high, with a low price elasticity for energy demand; thus the environment tax would not have much effect in curbing CO2 emissions. Few people would immediately cut down on driving or switch to public transport following a gasoline price hike related to the introduction of the environment tax. Although the short-term price elasticity for gasoline demand is admittedly low, medium-term (five to six years) elasticity is not. Consumers would gradually switch to more fuel-efficient cars. In the longer term, elasticity is even greater, since automakers will be motivated to develop more fuel-efficient cars.

Fourth, Nippon Keidanren said, voluntary efforts should be encouraged and effective means should be developed to reduce CO2 emissions.  To be sure, CO2 emissions from households and offices grew at tremendous rates for some years, while those from industries declined. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, air conditioners and other consumer-electronic products that used large amounts of energy, even in standby mode, were common. Larger automobiles also become more popular. As a result, CO2 emissions from homes and offices and the transport sector sharply increased. Now, though, demand for these products appears to have been satisfied for the most part.

Automobile and home electric-appliance manufacturers are obligated to make more energy-efficient products under the energy-saving law. Replacement of energy-guzzling equipment is likely to lead to a steady decrease in CO2 emissions from homes and the transport sector.

Introduction of the environment tax will motivate households and transport sector to cut emissions. Emissions from the industrial sector are on a downtrend, reflecting changes in Japan's industrial structure -- especially the retrenchment of industrial-material makers -- as well as the effects of Japan's prolonged economic slump.

Fifth, Nippon Keidanren said, a new emission-control framework requiring all countries to join is necessary.  The U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol is indeed regrettable. Still, careful discussions should be conducted from the standpoint of fairness on whether developing countries, whose emissions are only one-fifth of those from developed countries, should be required to take part in the second phase (2013-17) of the protocol and how they should do so.

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45) STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD METEOROLOGICAL DAY - “WEATHER, CLIMATE AND WATER IN THE INFORMATION AGE” and WORLD WATER DAY “WATER AND DISASTERS” by M Jarraud

World Meteorological Organization
March 22, 2004
Internet: http://www.wmo.int/wmd/pdf/sg_statement_en.doc

World Meteorological Day 2004 celebrates the entry into force on 23 March 1950 of the Convention creating the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), as the successor to the International Meteorological Organization (IMO) established in 1873.  In view of its mandate in the field of water, WMO and the National Hydrological Services of the world celebrate the World Water Day, which falls on 22 March. This Day is also celebrated worldwide within the UN system and among those concerned with water issues. This year WMO in cooperation with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, have been entrusted by the UN system with the preparations for World Water Day.

On this auspicious occasion, we are honoured by the presence of Mr Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office and by our Guests of Honour, Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General International Telecommunication Union and Dato’Ir. HJ. Keizrul Bin Abdullah, President of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage and Director-General of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage of Malaysia. I am thankful to them and to our other distinguished guests for honouring us with their presence.  

May I also seize this opportunity to express my appreciation to the staff of our Secretariat for their continued, dedication and hard work and valuable contributions that have ensured the high standard that WMO maintains in the discharge of its responsibilities. I am confident that our traditional sense of commitment in the service of our Member countries will continue to flourish as we face the challenges that lie ahead.

Let me first say a few words about World Meteorological Day. For this Day, the theme “Weather, Climate and Water in the Information Age” is selected in recognition of the support of the technologies of the “Information Age” to meteorological, climatological, hydrological and related geophysical sciences, and to the related operational activities which are essential for achieving sustainable development. 

Over the years, new technologies have offered ever improving opportunities for observing our weather, climate, water and the environment. A wide array of sophisticated system include automatic weather stations, ocean buoys, Doppler radars and meteorological satellites. The data derived from WMO’s global network of observing platforms enable the monitoring of the pulse of the Earth systems and are exchanged in a free and unrestricted manner using up-to-date telecommunication facilities. The data are used by the network of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of each of the 187 Members of WMO and its global and regional centres to develop forecasts on time scales of hours to seasons. These Centres use powerful  supercomputers and workstations to develop a range of products. This global operational system forms a live web that fosters the quasi-instantaneous monitoring and exchange of information and analyses, and the  dissemination of forecasts and warnings, according to its national, regional and global needs and responsibilities.

The unique global cooperation effort has provided tangible benefits to humanity. For example, over most of the extra-tropical regions, 5-day forecasts have the reliability as that of 2-day predictions of 20 years ago. There has been steady improvement in predictions of tropical cyclones up to 3 days in advance and effective dissemination of warnings and in preparedness measures have led to a dramatic decrease in deaths in developed as well as developing countries.  Today, possible occurrences of El Niño/La Niña phenomena are routinely projected a season to a year ahead.  In addition, advances in the modelling of the Earth System using the most powerful supercomputers enable meteorologists to project the future state of the global climate. Such information form the basis for climate change assessments made by the WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Furthermore, WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) have been applying technological developments to meet the growing demands for information and services related to weather, climate and water. To meet these demands, WMO’s Programmes provide the framework for the application of climate information  including seasonal prediction to a wide-range of socio-economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, water management, transportation, energy, health, tourism and for the protection of ecosystems and the environment. Such information is also essential for policy formulation in areas such as climate change, desertification, ozone depletion, biodiversity, urban planning  and pollution control. In view of the concern about the degradation of the environment and the increasing call for sustainable development and poverty alleviation, the challenge to WMO is to promote research, development of application tools  and capacity building using up-to-date technology so that all nations, especially developing countries, are able to meet their needs related to weather, climate and water. At the same time, it is recognized that public media are an essential partner in the dissemination of authoritative scientific information on weather, climate and water issues and in helping to disseminate related information and warnings. In this regard, as you may recall, the World Summit on Information Society hosted by the ITU in Geneva addressed a number of issues relating to information gap between developing and developed countries. In preparation for the second phase of the Summit to be held in 2005 in Tunis, WMO will continue to support the implementation of effective and lasting solutions to the levelling of the “Digital Divide”, so that all nations are able to avail of the most up to date information.

As we mark this year`s World Water Day on the theme “Water and Disasters”, it is opportune to recall that while water is essential for life, too much or too little of it may lead to disaster. According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in Belgium, between 1993-2002, weather-, climate- and water-related disasters were responsible for 86% of the estimated 531 000 deaths, and 63% of the estimated US $ 650 billion damage caused by all natural disasters. An obvious conclusion from these figures is that the majority of natural disasters are meteorological and hydrological in their origins. 

Recent statistics show that there has been an increase in occurrences of disasters and their impact on human activities. The increase may be due to climate variability but also to an expansion of human population and anthropogenic activities in disaster prone areas. However, while damage to property has increased in many parts of the world, there has been a significant decrease in loss of life, in developed as well as developing countries. This is the result of improved disaster prevention and preparedness measures at local and national levels, based on increasing confidence in forecasts and warnings. The importance of early warnings cannot be overemphasized as they are also vital for risk management as well as for a range of planning activities. WMO’s new major Programme on Natural Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, endorsed by the Fourteenth World Meteorological Congress in 2003, along with other related WMO Programmes will contribute to the focussing of efforts across programmes, disciplines and institutions.

Over the longer term, projected climate changes are very likely to include more hot days and heat waves, and fewer cold days and frost days; and more intense precipitation events, for many areas. Likely changes include increases in risk of drought in mid-latitude areas in the centres of continents, and increases in the intensities of wind and precipitation in tropical cyclones, over some areas.

In view of the above, World Water Day 2004 provides an opportunity as well as a challenge to all disaster managers and particularly to those involved in natural hazard forecasting and early warning in the National Meteorological Services and National Hydrological Services.  The theme of this Day is also a timely reminder of the ongoing international efforts such as those in the framework of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction to respond to the problems of hydrometeorological disasters in particular and natural disasters in general. The celebration of the Day also offers an opportunity to reach out to all concerned parties through media, public awareness campaigns and community interaction. 

As concerns continue to grow on the socio-economic and environmental impacts of disasters and the potential change of our climate on sustainable development, the international community continues to express its commitment by taking major global initiatives such as the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan in January 2005, and the Small Island Developing States Barbados Programme of Action (1994) and its ten-year review in 2004 (BPoA + 10).

Other related global initiatives include the 2002 Millennium Development Goals, the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation arising from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the 2003 Ministerial Declaration of the 3rd World Water Forum.  We look forward to working with all nations, Organizations, academia, development partners and the media in developing preparedness and response strategies and in building the capacity of the communities, making optimum use of information technology to contribute effectively to the sustainable development of humanity.

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46) UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: MESSAGE ON WORLD WATER DAY 2004 “Water and Disasters: Be informed and be prepared”

UN
March 22, 2004

Internet:
http://www.waterday2004.org/docs/UN_sgmessage.doc

The theme of this year’s observance of World Water Day is “Water and Disasters: Be informed and be prepared”. Water-related disasters – including floods, droughts, hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones – inflict a terrible toll on human life and property, affecting millions of people and provoking crippling economic losses. As ever, it is the poor and vulnerable who are most adversely affected, but as we saw in Central Europe in 2002, even industrialized nations can suffer immensely.

However much we would wish to think of these as strictly natural disasters, human activities play a significant role in increasing risk and vulnerability. And of course, there are also strictly man-made disasters, such as oil-spills and toxic run-off, that do great damage to our precious water resources.

Modern society has distinct advantages over those civilizations of the past that suffered or even collapsed for reasons linked to water. We have great knowledge, and the capacity to disperse that knowledge to the remotest places on earth. We are also the beneficiaries of scientific leaps that have improved weather forecasting, agricultural practices, natural resources management, and disaster prevention, preparedness and management. New technologies will continue to provide the backbone of our efforts. But only a rational and informed political, social and cultural response -- and public participation in all stages of the disaster management cycle -- can reduce disaster vulnerability, and ensure that hazards do not turn into unmanageable disasters.

This year’s observance of World Water Day also marks the publication of Guidelines for reducing flood losses. A manual and menu of options for decision-makers, the guidelines are a joint effort of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the National Weather Service of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the World Meteorological Organization, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

They are also meant to contribute to the discussions at the next World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held at Kobe-Hyogo, Japan in January 2005.  I commend them to all interested actors.

Beyond water-related disaster reduction issues, the international community has taken other steps to face global water problems. In the year 2000, Heads of State pledged to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing water management strategies that promote equitable access and adequate supplies. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, world leaders agreed to develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005.

The international response to current world water challenges contains much admirable effort, but for the most part it has been inadequate. If we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving, by 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water, we will need to make 270,000 new water connections per day.

The requirements for meeting the sanitation goal are even more formidable. This is not to demean the dedicated efforts being made by a number of governments and thousands of civil society groups, but rather to demonstrate the urgent need to go beyond business as usual

With that in mind, I have decided to establish an Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. To be chaired by Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, the Board will also include a wide range of eminent persons, technical experts, and other individuals with proven experience in inspiring people, moving the machinery of government, and working with the media, the private sector and civil society.

I have asked the Board to use the unique expertise of its members to raise awareness of water and sanitation issues, to help mobilize funds for water and sanitation projects, and to encourage new partnerships.

Water is central to our hopes of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development. On World Water day, let us renew our efforts to give water issues the attention they deserve, now and over the long term.

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47) COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE: ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY OR ECONOMIC SUICIDE? by Klaus Toepfer

UNEP
March 21, 2004
Internet: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=392&ArticleID=4387&l=en

Nairobi, 19 March 2004 - When teams from the United States and Britain invented the first computers, they cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars and were thought luxuries with little mass-market appeal. Indeed there was a time when it was thought that a modern industrialized country might, at a pinch, need only one or two computers. Today, such a short-term, blinkered view seems amusing. Millions of people across the globe are now employed in the computer and related industries. The Internet revolution, based on the computer and computerised telecommunications, is creating a new, electronic-based, industrial and commercial age.

We are now on the verge on another, separate but related industrial leap forward where the inefficient use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil is being reduced, and where, like the typewriter and the punch card machine of yesteryear, new competition is starting to make its mark. Modern conventional power stations are almost twice as efficient as those a few decades ago. Alternative energies, in the form of solar and wind power, are coming of age and the costs per unit of electricity continue to tumble. Fuel cells, powered by methane, ethanol or hydrogen, are out of the laboratory. Most car-makers including Toyota and Daimler Chrysler have at least one demonstration vehicle being road tested. General Motors, for example, reckons it will have a commercial vehicle available by 2010. California’s new governor has pledged to have hydrogen fuelling stations along major highways by a similar date.

That such developments are happening is in no small measure due to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change whose entry into force this month we celebrate and the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty spawned by the Convention designed to achieve cut backs in emissions of the gases that cause global warming. The Protocol’s creation, in Japan in 1997, followed compelling evidence from the 2,000 or so scientists of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change that the unbridled use of fossil fuels will trigger catastrophic, global effects including extreme, floods, droughts, sea level rise and the spread of disease.

Few dispute these findings. What is slowing action are those whose abacuses and calculating machines are whirring trying to balance the Euros, Dollars, Rubles and Yen. Russia, whose ratification would bring Kyoto into force, has some who are convinced that the costs of compliance outweigh the economic advantages. Other voices, expressing similar concerns, continue to be voiced in the United States. New ones are exercising their vocal chords in Europe. I would ask those who view the Kyoto Protocol as a strait-jacket, as a constraint to economic growth, to think again and look beyond the simple sums and narrow calculations.

Firstly, the targets for the first phase of greenhouse reductions, just over five per cent between 2008 and 2012, are modest to say the least. Secondly, the Protocol was designed to be flexible. There are numerous actions that governments and industry can take, both at home and abroad, to cut back and offset emissions, including carbon trading.  Indeed, the European Commission estimates that its Europe-wide trading scheme will reduce the costs of compliance by 35 per cent, or Euros 1.3 billion by 2010.  Provisions, such as the Clean Development Mechanism where industrial countries can offset their emissions by clean and green energy schemes in developing countries, will not only deliver much needed electricity to poorer parts of the world. They should increase the markets, exports and job creation prospects at home and abroad.

The economic benefits of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels go further. Munich Re, one of the world’s biggest re-insurance companies, estimates that economic losses as a result of mainly climate-related disasters, reached some $65 billion in 2003. Then there are other economic impacts as a result of a continued, inefficient use of carbon-based fuels including those on human health and habitats and ecosystems, like forests and lakes. Estimating the precise, wider economic impacts, is no simple task. But David Pearce, a leading economics professor at University College London, has had a stab for the United Kingdom. Air pollution from traffic could be costing that country as much as $ 5 billion a year, mainly through ill health.

New economic costs may be just on the horizon. In Jeju, South Korea, at the end of this month UNEP will hold its annual gathering of environment ministers. Dust storms and dead zones in the oceans will be prominently highlighted along with their links to pollution and climate change.  Avoiding the massive threats posed by climate change and significant impacts of related air pollution requires imagination, vision and above all courage. There is also a moral dimension, given that those likely to suffer the most are the poorest of the poor, whose responsibility for unleashing the calamities of climate change are almost, if not totally, zero. Fighting climate change requires governments, business and citizens across the globe to harness the technologies in the pipeline and act to develop those still in the laboratory or the fertile, creative minds of the next generation of engineers.

Imaginative tax systems and fiscal measures that stimulate innovation and life-style changes need to be part of the package. A fully operational Kyoto Protocol gives us the collective impetus to bring about change sooner rather than later. For the longer we delay, the more costly the price tag of inaction for people across the globe will be. So the Kyoto Protocol is not a recipe for economic disaster, quite the contrary. In the long run, it is likely to generate prosperity and financial savings rather than economic suicide. Sure there will be losers, as with the dawn of the computer where makers of typewriters, punch card machines and tabulators spring to mind. However not all went the way of the dinosaur. Some, like IBM, had the vision to restructure their old businesses and embrace the computer age. There may have been some pain, but the overall, long-term gain for those willing to change can, as �Big Blue� showed, be enormous.

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48) SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES CALL FOR RATIFICATION OF KYOTO PROTOCOL ON TENTH: ANNIVERSARY OF CLIMATE CHANGE CONVENTION�S ENTRY INTO FORCE

UN
March 21, 2004
Internet: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sgsm9207.doc.htm

Ten years is not long in the history of a problem whose scale is measured in centuries.  Nevertheless, significant progress has been achieved in the decade since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force. The issue of climate change has been placed firmly on local, national and international agendas, in the forefront of public and media scrutiny, and in the strategies of a growing number of businesses. Institutions and processes have been put in place to enable the world�s governments to take action, to coordinate those steps, and to measure the results. Annual meetings of the States that are party to the Convention -- now numbering 188 -- draw thousands of participants from governments, business, civil society and international organizations.

The Convention has also served as an important market signal, helping new technologies to emerge. For example, the use of wind energy is increasing, industrial processes are being made more efficient, hybrid vehicles are finding their way into the marketplace, and investments in breakthrough technologies involving hydrogen use and carbon capture are on the rise. The Convention�s financial mechanism has also channelled almost $10 billion to climate change projects in poor countries, which are the most vulnerable to the impacts of the phenomenon.

The Convention�s goal of returning the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries to their 1990 levels by the year 2000 was achieved for those countries as a whole. However, for most individual countries, emissions of greenhouse gases are now increasing. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, a key measure of long-term success, have increased about 5 per cent in the past decade. All countries must carry out more intensive efforts to limit future emissions, with developed countries taking a clear lead. There is also a need for more concerted action to adapt to climate change, since some of its effects are by now inevitable and, indeed, we may already be seeing -- in the increased incidence of drought, floods and extreme weather events that many regions are experiencing -� some of the devastation that lies ahead.

This anniversary is also a moment to reiterate strong support for the Convention�s Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol�s lack of entry into force remains a major hurdle to effective global action. I call again on those countries that have not yet ratified the Protocol to do so, and show that they are truly committed to shouldering their global responsibilities.

The global fight against climate change is a vast undertaking that will require sustained global citizenship and vision for decades to come. The international community should take pride in what it has done thus far to respond to this challenge. But only if these efforts are truly re-energized will we place our societies on more secure footing, and avert the calamities that the world�s best science tells us lie ahead if we continue on our present course.

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49) CANADA MISSING OUT ON CLEAN ECONOMY POTENTIAL by David Suzuki

Whistler Question
Internet: http://www.whistlerquestion.com/madison%5CWQuestion.nsf/0/05F4B0EA931A532
488256E6900808934?OpenDocument

�Climate change has stuck its head above the parapet � it�s not an issue politicians can hide from much longer,� climate expert Dr. David Viner told this to New Scientist magazine the day before the release of Canada�s federal budget. Well, someone clearly forgot to tell it to Prime Minister Paul Martin. Or maybe he�s just hoping to hide out until after the election, because there was certainly nothing in the budget that promises to take Canada out of the environmental dark ages.  Yes, Canada adopted the Kyoto Protocol a couple years back, but we have done virtually nothing since. There is no plan to achieve our goals. There is no leadership. In spite of the widely held belief that we are good environmental stewards, Canada is actually one of the least efficient, most polluting countries in the developed world. Our rankings compared to the other member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development read like a shopping list of failure. Air pollution? Second worst. Water consumption? Ditto. Energy efficiency? Again, 28th out of 29.

At some point the federal government is going to have to wake up to the fact that our economy is fully one-third less efficient than the United States�. Every free-market pundit in the country should be up in arms about that number. How can a country possibly compete when it is so wasteful?  Wasting water and energy is just plain stupid. It�s bad for business and bad for the environment.  Unfortunately, Mr. Martin has given us a budget only a Luddite would love.  Innovation? Not here. Vision? Sorry. What we got was more of the same. More sweet deals for the fossil-fuel industry, more stalling on improving efficiency and little commitment to clean energy. In fact, the dirtiest energy source, coal, has been given a reprieve in the budget under the guise of being �clean coal.� Of course, there�s no such thing. Coal is dirty, period. You can reduce a couple of the pollutants coming out of the smoke stacks, but it�s still the most inefficient and d irtiest of all fossil fuels. The heat-trapping emissions alone from coal should have us keeping it in the ground instead of burning it like there�s no tomorrow.

Speaking of emissions, Mr. Martin actually released his budget the day after the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere have hit a record high. The American team started recording atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) in the 1950s. Back then, levels were around 315 parts per million (ppm). Today, they are at 376 ppm in the air and rising. If we continue to burn fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas at present quantities, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is expected to more than double by the turn of the century.

This, of course, is a recipe for disaster. Scientists have told us again and again that the resulting temperature increases would severely disrupt our global climate, leading to more droughts and storms, rising sea levels an d radically altered weather patterns. We have set this course for ourselves. It�s not too late to change, but we need to see some real leadership from government and businesses to chart a new path.  We need to overhaul our economy to reward clean, non-polluting behaviours and discourage actions that damage the air we breathe and the water we drink. We need to encourage innovation that spurs new jobs. We need to recognize that doing things differently can mean doing things better. A clean economy actually means a healthier economy and a better quality of life for Canadians. Mr. Martin clearly had other concerns in this budget, but he cannot hide from this issue much longer. When and how he addresses it will be a true test of his leadership.

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PRESS RELEASES 

50) EBRD IDENTIFYING BANKABLE CDM PROJECTS IN THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recently launched the Netherlands EBRD Carbon Fund. Through this Fund, the Bank will purchase greenhouse gas emission reductions (�carbon credits�) for the Netherlands, using the joint implementation mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. Following on from this initiative, the EBRD is identifying potential cleaner development mechanism (CDM) projects in selected countries of the Caucasus and in Central Asia.

CAP SD, a Dutch energy and climate consultant, has been commissioned by the EBRD, in partnership with the Project Preparation Committee (PPC), to help develop a CDM project pipeline. In the initial phase of the project (March 2004), an inventory will be made of available CDM project leads in the Caucasus and Central Asia. During the next stage (April 2004), these leads will be evaluated and shortlisted. One project will then be selected, on the basis of a validated CDM baseline study, and developed as a model for the CDM project pipeline. 

The EBRD is interested in CDM projects in the following sectors: oil and gas, electricity production and transmission, district heating, renewable energy, industry and other end-use sectors, and waste management. The projects should comply with the following requirements:

  • The project�s size exceeds �3 million in terms of total investment.
     

  • The project is bankable (sponsor, feasibility, solvency, guarantees).
     

  • The project can be developed within one to two years.
     

  • The emission reduction of the project exceeds 200 kton CO2eq in total.
     

  • The project aims at carbon credit prices in the range of �2-5 per ton of CO2eq, taking project characteristics and market price developments into account.

Eligible countries include: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In these countries the implementation of CDM has just begun, with CDM policy and the institutional setting for project approval still under development. The EBRD will take the policy and institutional conditions of the countries into consideration when selecting projects. 

You are welcome to signal project leads to CAP SD at vanwees@capsd.nl 

For more information contact: Mark van Wees,  CAP SD Energy and Climate Consultants, vanwees@capsd.nl, www.capsd.nl

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