Climate Change Initiative Newsletter October 2002 (28)
Climate Change Initiative
November 5-6 “Energy conservation, environment and climate change in Ukraine” – training for journalists, organized by Centre for Ukrainian Reform Education, Chernihiv, Ukraine
November 14 Open lecture on climate change at Taras Shevchenko National University, Kyiv, Ukraine
Ukraine Climate Change News
US Climate Change News
International Climate Change News
1. Building National Consensus on Ukraine’s Position at COP 8 Negotiation
On October 10, 2002, the Climate Change Initiative organized à public discussion meeting to bring together representatives from various Ukrainian government institutions and the NGO community to build national consensus on Ukraine’s position at the COP 8 meeting in New Delhi on October 23 – November 1, 2002.
Over sixty participants took part in the discussions including government officials, international and Ukrainian climate change experts, representatives from Ukraine’s regions and local governments, and the Ukraine NGO Work Group on Climate Change. The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) of Ukraine, Serhiy Kurykin, reported on the recent developments at the Inter-ministerial Commission on Climate Change (IMCCC) and presented those items of the COP 8 agenda that draw particular attention of the Ukraine delegation.
According to Minister Kurikyn and Mr. Lipinskiy, Head of the Hydrometeorology Service of Ukraine, the Ukrainian delegation will have the following positions on the COP 8 agenda items:
- Support the candidacy of the Minister of Environment and Forests of India for the Cop8 presidency;
- Actively participate in the discussions concerning the rules and guiding principles of the Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms;
- Insist on setting up an efficient control mechanism to verify GHG emissions reductions achieved and ensure clear, transparent and effective information exchange among relevant agencies completing national inventories;
- Support the principles of transparency and clearness in the development of the operational rules for the Kyoto flexible mechanisms;
- Advocate increased participation of countries with economies in transition in the existing and perspective UNFCCC bodies.
The NGO representatives present at the meeting endorsed the official delegation position. However, they pointed out that policy discussions in Ukraine should be more broadly involve the general public and Ngos with à sufficient leading time to reach consensus.
Mr. Lipinskiy also made à report about the two latest Subsidiary Bodies (SBSTA) meetings in which he participated. Speaking about national consensus on climate change issues in Ukraine, he stressed that more public discussions on the topic would promote convergence of Menr’s and NGO stands. He also noted that in his view, during the last few years, government authorities became more open and active in holding public discussions. Mr Lipinskiy credited the CCI for organizing the meetings and emphasized that information support provided by the CCI was extremely valuable.
On October 22-24 the Training Centre on Energy Management (TCEM) at the Institute of Energy Conservation and Energy Management (IEE) under the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute hosted à CCI training course on GHG Emission Reduction Project Preparation and Financing. The seminar was organized at the request of the Ministry of Industrial Policy of Ukraine.
For almost two years the CCI and the TCEM continue to cooperate on organizing and conducting monthly trainings events throughout Ukraine. The TCEM hosted the CCI sponsored events in its nine regional centers.
As à result of this long-term cooperation, the IEE developed à series of lectures on climate change based on the CCI training materials. These lectures were incorporated into the current curriculum of the energy management course. Specific lectures cover such topics as the connection between energy conservation and climate change mitigation; financial analyses of energy efficiency projects; funding sources for energy efficiency and GHG mitigation projects; and national and international investment programs focused on energy efficiency and energy conservation. The lectures are accompanied with practical sessions to explore in detail the PROFORM analysis model for evaluating economic and environmental benefits of climate change mitigation projects. The model was designed in U.s. DOE National laboratories and adapted to the Ukrainian conditions by the CCI experts.
3. Officials Agree on Ukraine’s Cop8 Position
The Inter-ministerial Commission on Climate Change (IMCCC) held its 12th meeting on October 17, 2002. The main agenda included discussions about Ukraine’s delegation position at the COP 8 meeting, à draft plan of measures to asses economic, political and social pros and cons associated with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by Ukraine, and the preparation of the Second National Communication including national GHG emissions inventories for 1999-2000.
Ukraine’s position at the COP 8 negotiations (see the above article) was presented by Minister Kurykin and supported by other members of the Inter-ministerial Commission.
The Commission members reported the results of preliminary analyses conducted relevant Ministries on technical and economic feasibility of the Kyoto ratification and presented à list of necessary actions to be undertaken by the responsible government institutions. The representatives from the Ministries of Fuel and Energy, Industrial Policy, and Transport and the State Committee for Energy Conservation expressed their positive assessment of the ratification. The Ministry of Fuel & Energy also stressed that it didn’t find that the ratification would pose ant threat to the country’s energy security and further development of the power sector. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that the ratification would be politically advisable. The Ministry of Economy named the budget constraints as the main impediment to conducting à full- scale analysis of the economic impact of the Kyoto Protocol ratification on Ukraine’s economy. Based on the obtained feedback from the Commission members, MENR developed à draft plan of measures to be taken by relevant Ministries in preparation for the ratification review process. These include macroeconomic forecasts, industry development plans, recommendations on creating à structure to administer climate change programs, preparation of à Nation Climate Change Action Plan, National Communication and national GHG emissions inventories and other measures to ensure Ukraine’s compliance with the UNFCC requirements. The Commission members approved the proposed draft plan.
The IMCCC supported à proposal to designate the Institute of Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine as the Commission technical support body. Academician Kulyk, Director of the Institute of Energy also proposed that each Ministry, member of the Commission, assigns à contact person responsible for facilitating data collection and communication among the ministries.
4. US Exchange for GHG Trading
WASHINGTON and CHICAGO -- Creation of à market for reducing and trading greenhouse gas emissions in the U.s. has moved one step closer to reality as the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) selected National Association of Security Dealers (NASD) as the provider of regulatory services for the exchange.
NASD will assist in the development of registration, market oversight and compliance procedures for members of the CCX as well as auditing of emissions baselines, annual true-up and offset verification and certification procedures. NASD will also help in translating the recent agreement on the architecture of the CCX -- à document named The Chicago Accord -- into the exchangeús rulebook. Additionally, NASD will utilize its state of the art market surveillance technologies to monitor CCX trading activity for fraud and manipulation.
Although no regulatory framework is needed for the operation of the CCX, the decision was made to seek the services of NASD for the independent verification with the belief that it will help provide transparency, liquidity and the highest degree of market integrity to the pilot program.
NASD is the leading private-sector provider of financial regulatory services. NASD touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants, to examining securities firms, enforcing both NASD rules and the federal securities laws, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and member firms. NASD currently regulates under contract the NASDAQ stock market, the International Securities Exchange.
The CCX will administer à voluntary pilot greenhouse gas emission reduction and trading program for emission sources, carbon sinks, offset projects and liquidity providers in the U.s. starting in early 2003. Offset providers in Brazil can participate from the outset. Emission sources and offset providers in Canada and Mexico will be integrated into the market during 2003.
(Freerealtime.com, October 15)
5. Energy-induced CO2 emissions to jump 70% without steps: Kyodo News
OSAKA – The International Energy Agency (IEA), the energy watchdog for rich nations, predicted Saturday that energy-induced emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) will jump 70% over 2000 levels in 2030 if countries fail to take further steps to save energy and shift to renewable energy sources.
If member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) implement "Policies currently under consideration", their total CO2 emissions would eventually stabilize but only near 2030, it added.
"Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide are set to grow even faster than the growth in energy use", said IEA Executive Director Robert Priddle, releasing the biennial World Energy Outlook for 2002 at à news conference in the western Japan city of Osaka. "Thatús despite the policies and measures which have already been adopted by countries in that respect", Priddle said.
But total emissions of OECD nations would peak after 2020, at around 10% higher than in 2000, and even decline à little in 2030 if all the considered measures are implemented in what the agency calls an "alternative policy scenario."
In the outlook for standard reference, the agency projects that energy demand will increase steadily through 2030 at an annual rate of 1.7%, implying à 1.8% growth in CO2 emissions, pushing them 36% higher in 2010 over 1990. This is largely attributable to developing countries, with two-thirds of the CO2 increase by 2030 seen as coming from them and China alone adding nearly à quarter of it, it says. China is already accountable for 14% of the worldús CO2 emissions. "China alone will contribute to à quarter of the increase", Priddle said, "but Chinese emissions at the end of the period will still be lower than those in the United States."
Industrial countries, meanwhile, will likely attain their pledges under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012 from the 1990 levels, except for the United States, which withdrew from the accord, Priddle added. The outlook says the world will consume two-thirds more energy in 2030 than in 2000, with developing countries replacing the industrial world as the largest group of energy consumers.
In particular, China, already the worldús second-largest consumer of primary energy, is predicted to turn into à "Strategic buyer" on world energy markets, with net crude oil imports projected to reach almost 10 million barrels per day, or more than 8% of world oil demand, by 2030, it says. But increasing production to meet rising world demand will require enormous investments, with $2.1 trillion needed to meet growing demand for electricity in developing countries alone, the report says. This is more than double the investment in power generation in these countries over the past 30 years and finding the funds for it will be à major challenge, it says.
(By Natsumi Mizumoto, Kyodo News, 21 September)
Point Carbon has published à new carbon market outlook for 2002 providing an updated forecast for the carbon market in the last three months of 2002. In preparing for the report, much work has been put into gathering data for carbon transactions in the past.
Point Carbon’s Carbon Transactions Database currently includes data on 284 carbon transactions that have taken place since 1996, amounting to some 335 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions (Mtco2e).
With the addition of transactions set to take place in the remaining three months of 2002, it seems likley that total volumes will surpass 350 Mtco2e by the yearend.
Compared to the previous market outlook from February 2002, the expectations for North America and UK have in the current outlook been scaled down. On the other hand, Cerupt and the World Bank Prototype Carbon Fund seem likely to purchase larger volumes than we expected earlier. Even though the UK system is relatively small in terms of traded volumes, much of the recent action has taken place in this market, as illustrated in the graph.
(Pointcarbon, September 25)
The federal government is poised to spend more than $1 billion to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, under à range of Kyoto measures that went before cabinet committees mid September. But one suggestion will be an environmental sin tax on gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, along with tax breaks for fuel-efficient cars, insiders said.
Federal officials are searching desperately for ways to slice Canadaús annual greenhouse-gas emissions by 240 million tonnes by the year 2010, to meet the requirements of the Kyoto climate change treaty. The emissions are caused mainly by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.
As the federal government is struggling to solidify its plan for implementing Kyoto, the powerful oil industry is redoubling its efforts to fight the accord. The oil industry has retained the worldús largest public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton, to launch an anti-kyoto advertising campaign. Oil companies have been asked to contribute up to half à million dollars each for the campaign. That comes on top of à $1.5 million campaign by the Alberta government to block Kyoto.
"The federal government is leading the way on climate change, and no province, including Alberta, is stepping up to the plate and doing anything", complained Allan Kettles, president of the Calgary wind energy company Benign Energy Canada Inc.
Although Ottawaús spending measures will not be released until the next federal budget, an inside source said they will likely redirect money from the $2-billion Industry Canada infrastructure fund toward environmentally friendly infrastructure projects. Proposals put before the cabinet committees today will include funds for:
- public transportation, which reduces emissions by lowering the number of cars on the road;
- energy-efficient buildings -- both retrofits and investments in new buildings;
- gas stations to install the distribution system for alternative auto fuels, including ethanol and, eventually, hydrogen for fuel-cell powered vehicles.
There will be à proposal to boost use of ethanol, à fuel made from grain, by requiring 10-per-cent ethanol in half of the gasoline sold in Canada. That would require the production of about 2 billion litres of ethanol à year -- à huge increase from the current production of about 240 million litres annually.
In trying to encourage more environmentally friendly vehicles, one proposal will target the governmentús own fleet of Canada Post vans, aiming to convert the 16,000 postal trucks into hybrid gas-electric vehicles. Another suggestion will be to encourage people to buy environmentally friendly cars by offering à tax rebate for small, fuel-efficient vehicles, and slapping à fee on gas-hogging Suvs.
Besides government spending, one crucial element of the Kyoto implementation plan will be greenhouse-gas emission caps for factories, refineries, and electricity plants, along with à system for buying and selling emissions credits. Business and industry are responsible for about 380 megatonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions annually. The plan aims to shave about 55 megatonnes of annual emissions, said John Dillon, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He said the government is talking about an intensity-based target -- which will allow emissions to go up if production increases -- but details are sketchy.
Government insiders said Ottawa is aiming to have à sector-by-sector breakdown of emissions reductions ready before end October. Government will try to mollify industry by putting the most aggressive caps on industries that can pass on their costs.
(by Kate Jaimet and Joan Bryden, Edmonton Journal, September 24)
If Russian gas companies join the project of Gazprom and Ruhrgaz on optimization of managing gas transportation, energy savings will amount to 24bn kilowatt/hour annually and carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by 1m tons per year. This project aims at reducing pressure in compressors, which results in à decrease in emissions, à representative of Ruhrgaz declared at à round table meeting devoted to the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, specialists are working out procedures on saving energy and decreasing the time of work of compressors, which will enable to prolong their life span.
(Co2e.com, September 24)
LONDON, England - The British government should invest more money into wave, tidal and biomass energy, says the environmental group Friends of the Earth, because such support would create far more jobs than the nuclear industry.
Emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use must be reduced by 29% by 2010 to meet climate change targets, and FOE says the goal can be met by increased use of renewable energy and energy management. Reliance on renewables would reduce emissions by 45% by 2020 and, if support measures already in place for renewables are extended, 20% of electricity could come from green sources by 2020, it adds.
"Our report shows that new nuclear power stations are not needed to tackle global climate change", says Bryony Worthington. "The government must take heed of British Energyús financial crisis and not waste any more of the taxpayers money on this outdated technology. Instead it must look to the future and invest in clean, safe renewable energy." British Energy, the largest nuclear generator in Britain, is asking for government support to overcome economic problems. FOE prepared the study to respond to comments from energy minister Brian Wilson that nuclear will be required to meet emission targets.
"If the correct incentives can be designed and implemented, investment in new cleaner technologies will not only ensure security of supply and help meet environmental targets, but will also bring economic development, increased resource efficiency and create jobs", it says. "New industries, given the right environment, can be expected to grow exponentially, as the growth in the global wind power industry is already demonstrating."
Wind power will increase at à "Much higher rate" than previously predicted, says FOE, with 18,265 MW of new capacity by 2020, with à large portion offshore. Landfill gas installations will provide 700 MW, while biomass will add more than 1,000 MW and new hydropower will add 200 MW of new capacity. There could be 350 MW of commercially-competitive wave capacity and 150 MW of tidal by 2010
Although policies exist to stimulate increased deployment of renewables and encourage improvements in efficiency, there is "à market failure and policy vacuum concerning the choices generators make about which fuels to burn" which has prompted à shift back to coal, and FOE says this policy are "Most urgently" needs new policy measures.
(FOE, October 9)
PARIS - It has no noisy engine, no gear stick and no brake pedal. It purrs across tarmac spewing nothing but water from its exhaust pipe. Yet the car being trumpeted as the vehicle of the future by the worldús biggest auto maker accelerates quicker, looks sleeker and might not cost more than most high-end vehicles on the road already.
General Motors Corp.'s Hy-wire concept car, unveiled last week at the Paris autoshow, is the worldús first driveable vehicle to combine environmentally-friendly hydrogen fuel cell power with new hi-tech drive-by-wire - or electronic - controls technology. The car aims to look and feel flash as well as being good for the environment and will be on the road by 2010, Larry Burns, vice president of R&D and Planning at GM, told. "With Hy-wire weúre reinventing the car... itús more fun to drive, itús roomier, there are fewer design constraints and it will eventually be safer", he said on the sidelines of the Paris autoshow. "We are aiming to have cars like it on the road by the end of the decade."
The sporty but elegant four-door car is operated by electronics instead of conventional mechanical cables, all tucked out of sight inside the all-aluminium chassis and controlled from à single "Docking port", or steering unit, that looks à little like à giant video game control. Once in the plush leather driving seat, the driver can speed up or grind to à halt simply by squeezing the side of the steering wheel, and can slide the unit over to the passenger side to convert to à right or left-hand drive. No engine compartment means no bonnet, so for an extra futuristic effect, the front and back panels are made entirely of glass.
Both by-wire control technology and fuel cell power have been used before, but it is the combination of both in one car that makes Hy-wire unique. The model is part of Gmús drive to become the first firm with à million fuel cell automobiles on the market. Some other manufacturers have said it could take decades before the man in the street is driving à fuel cell car.
"The car industry is realising that if we want our children to grow up and buy more cars we need to find à model that is environmentally sustainable", Burns commented ahead of à presentation of the car to reporters.
"Eventually we should get to à stage where you can charge up your car at home just like you charge your mobile by using an electrolyser appliance to extract the hydrogen that would then be used to power the car", he said. "Our challenge is getting costs down and we need to be cheaper by à factor of 10 right now", he said, declining to specify how much it currently cost. "But Iúm confident we can do that.
(by Rebecca Harrison, REUTERS, September 30)
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to impose à new tax on petroleum, natural gas and coal that takes into account the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the production of energy, ministry officials said. Tentatively called the energy-environment tax, its stated purpose is to fund measures to combat global warming and to promote alternative energy sources and conservation.
Ministry officials hope to have à plan ready to submit to the governmentús Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy by end October, with the tax to take effect in fiscal 2003.
The current petroleum tax is based on the amount of imported petroleum, natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. This tax will be incorporated into the new two-part energy-environment tax. The additional part, which electric power and petroleum companies would bear the brunt of, would be based on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Coal used as à raw material in the manufacture of steel and other products would be excluded. To offset this new energy-environment tax, another tax, which is levied to fund the development of electric power and is tacked on to electricity bills, would be lowered.
The new tax virtually bypasses nuclear power plants, which emit very little carbon dioxide. In fact, the expected cuts in the power development tax would very likely encourage the establishment of nuclear power plants.
Ministry officials anticipate the new tax structure to generate 850 billion yen, the amount currently earned from the petroleum tax and the electric power development tax. The power generation industry accounts for 90 percent of the nationús CO2 emissions.
(The Asahi Shimbun . September 30)
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for greater exploitation
of the countryús vast coal reserves, but this policy could clash with Moscowús
commitments to reducing carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.
"By preparing to burn more coal for its energy needs, Russia aims to free more natural gas for lucrative exports to Western markets", Natalia Olefirenko, climate programs coordinator with Greenpeace Russia said. "It is à flawed approach, and it amounts to à sell-out of the Russian environment because growing use of coal is likely to adversely affect the countryús ecological balance and cause acid rains."
Russiaús coal reserves are estimated at 3,000 billion tonnes, which is nearly à third of the worldús coal deposits. About 80 percent of the countryús known coal deposits are in Siberia. Once à pillar of the Russian economy, coal went out of favor after the Soviet era. The Soviets had kept old mines open long after they had ceased to make profit. But government subsidies were slashed after 1993 and the coal sector could not compete any more with gas prices, kept artificially low to contain inflation. Electricity from coal is now twice as costly as power generation from gas.
The World Bank helped close loss-making coal mines and privatize others. In 1998 alone some 420,000 miners were laid off, and the World Bank has given Russia Us$1.3 billion in loans to close mines and to pay for re-skilling of miners laid off. The coal sector still employs 320,000 people and produced 270 million tonnes of coal last year. But production was down 11 percent in the first half of this year, largely because the monopoly firm, Unified Energy Systems (UES), switched to gas for power generation.
UES managers say that it would cost $1 billion to refit 30 power stations for use of coal. That would include the cost of environmental protection. But not many companies that go for coal would have à budget for such safeguards. Greater use of coal without such protection threatens to increase the emission of carbon dioxide.
Putin has said that Russia was "inclined" to approve the Kyoto Protocol. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa recently that "ratification will take place in the very near future". Kasyanov pointed out that Putin had taken the initiative in calling an international conference on climate change in Moscow next year.
But some environmentalists have their doubts about Russiaús official pledges. The fact that the South Africa summit was given virtually no coverage in Russian media and the recent drive towards increased use of coal indicated that Russia was not moving towards the Kyoto Protocol, says Vladimir Zakharov, head of the Moscow-based Center of Ecological Policies.
(By Sergei Blagov, Inter Press Service)
BRUSSELS - The EU will be unable to reach its Kyoto targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions even if it launches new policies on boosting cleaner energy, the International Energy Agencyús chief economist said.
According to IEA forecasts, the European Union could boost the share of renewable power like wind and solar in its electricity generation to 30 percent by 2030, but even that would not cut enough emissions to meet climate change targets.
"Fossil fuels will still dominate", IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol told à news conference. "Even with these alternative policies (on renewables) we donút reach the Kyoto targets."
According to the IEA, the EU emitted around 3,080 million tonnes of CO2 in 1990. This would rise to 3,146 million tonnes in 2010 and to 3,829 by 2030 without any new "green" policies. With new policies on renewable energy, emissions would be 4.9 percent less than that "Business as usual" case by 2010, but would still be up from the 1990 level, according to the IEA. Emissions would be 19 percent less than the 2030 business as usual prediction, still à rise over all.
Fatih said the reason was à large rise in demand for transport, which mostly runs on oil products, and the fact traditional electricity plants had à long life span and would not be replaced overnight. "If governments want to do something they have to act not only radically but also as soon as possible", he said, adding that à move towards renewables offered not only some scope to reduce emissions but also reduced reliance on energy imports.
European Commission environment spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-hansen was upbeat about reaching Kyoto targets. "We still believe that the EU can meet its target, but we need to implement key elements of the European climate change programme", she told Reuters.
As well as boosting renewables, the Commission has proposed measures to improve energy efficiency in buildings and an emissions trading scheme which would set maximum levels for CO2 output from industry.
(Robin Pomeroy, REUTERS, October 4)
Oil companies that fail to invest in clean, green fuels will die while their competitors will thrive with wind, solar and biomass energy, à former Shell executive predicts.
"If your oil company executive thinks, 'All I know is oil', heús dead", says Tom Delay, an engineer who managed Shell projects in Europe and Africa for 16 years. "If an oil company executive thinks, 'What Iúm good at is deploying human and financial capital in the energy market', he has à great future."
Mr. Delay is now chief executive of the Carbon Trust, à panel of businesspeople set up by the British government to reinvest funds from the British carbon tax into energy efficiency and clean-energy innovations. He said even though the Alberta oilpatch is fighting against the Kyoto agreement, international oil companies actually accept the climate change treaty. "I would say that the multinational oil companies who operate around the world are generally supportive of Kyoto", Mr. Delay said. He said BP and Shell are openly supportive of Kyoto in international circles, even though in Canada they tend to keep neutral while the petroleum industryús umbrella organization, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, fights against Kyoto ratification.
"The dream, the end-point, is having renewable power, producing hydrogen, that then produces electricity at the point of use", Mr. Delay said. "Itús not that far out. About 50 years."
With wide consensus in favour of the Kyoto accord, Europe is moving toward à clean energy future, Mr. Delay said. Concern over the greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels is not the only reason that many countries in the world are trying to reduce their dependence on oil, he said. Finding energy alternatives is also à key security issue, especially since large, cheap oil reserves are concentrated in the politically volatile region of the Middle East.
With that in mind, he said, the most forward-looking oil and gas companies are investing in alternative energies. "The oil and gas companies are good at doing things that are big. It doesnút actually matter whether itús oil or whether itús solar power", he said. "And à number of oil companies are starting to make more than just token moves toward alternatives to oil and gas."
(by Kate Jaimet, The Ottawa Citizen Sunday, October 06)
VIENNA – Austria, à champion of renewable energy in Europe, is paradoxically lagging behind its European Union partners in the battle against greenhouse gases, which it has pledged to dramatically reduce.
Having promised in 1997 to cut greenhouse gases by 13 percent from 1990 to 2012, Austria has instead seen them climb by 2.7 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to à recent study by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
"We are à long way away from the Kyoto protocol. Only four countries in the European Union -- Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Belgium -- are further away than us", said Stefan Schleicher, an economist and member of the Austrian commission on climatic change.
A quarter of Austriaús total energy comes from renewable energy sources. The small alpine country, with eight million inhabitants, prides itself on producing 70 percent of its electricity in hydroelectric plants. In Europe, only Luxembourg, which produces 73.3 percent of its energy in hydroelectric plants, and Norway, with 99.6 percent, use à larger percentage of this renewable source. Austria is also European leader in thermal solar energy -- which is used for central heating and hot water -- with 268 square metres (2,884 square feet) of solar panels for each 1,000 inhabitants, à recent study by European institute Eurobservúer showed.
But the share of renewable energy in Austriaús total energy production is dropping, warned Erwin Mayer, à Greenpeace climate expert. He said that the explosion in road traffic and the fuel consumption it has brought have more than negated the environmental benefits of à rise in renewable energy.
The Kyoto objectives are not being respected because of "à transport policy which favours the road too much, à lack of ecological tax which makes energy too inexpensive, and because à plan to fight greenhouse gases adopted by the council of ministers, which requires an annual budget of 90 million euros (88 million dollars), has not been put into practice", said Mayer.
Floods which ravaged swathes of Austria in August "have raised consciousness among the population, who are now convinced that they must act", he said.
"Austrian politicians back the most progressive positions in all conferences on the climate -- but the gap between what they say and what they do is bigger than in any other country", he said.
(by Daniel Aronssohn, Eubusiness, October 10)
BRUSSELS – European Union industry is bracing itself for two major new policies to make it slash greenhouse gas emissions under à global climate treaty the EU fought to protect.
EU environment ministers are to discuss one of the most radical ideas -- à bill to limit the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) industry can emit and get firms that breach their caps to buy emissions credits from less polluting companies. And by the end of the year, finance ministers are due to agree à new EU energy tax system that would raise minimum tax levels on the use of oil products and set, for the first time at EU level, minimum tax rates on coal, electricity and gas.
EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom robustly defended the emissions trading bill in front of à sceptical electricity industry conference earlier in October. "The major risk is climate change itself", Wallstrom told EU power body Eurelectric. "It is an obligation of the business community to take on climate change, but it is an obligation of policy makers to use the most cost effective measures." "The Euús credibility is at stake should (the emissions trading bill) fail", Wallstrom told the conference.
The EU emissions trading plan is touted by the European Commission as à way to let companies find the cheapest way of reducing their emissions of CO2 -- the main Kyoto gas, which is an inevitable by-product of fossil fuel use. But the bill hit à major political obstacle in June when the head of the Euús biggest economy, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said it would disadvantage EU industry. Under Kyoto, the EU has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent of 1990 levels during the period 2008-2012. But under à burden sharing agreement between EU member states, Germany faces the biggest reductions. To allow less developed EU countries to increase their emissions, Germany agreed to cut its output by 21 percent -- making up around three quarters of the total EU cut, à point Schroeder repeatedly reminds his EU colleagues. Germany said it would now support the bill, but will request many amendments that would favour its industry.
EU industry has welcomed the principle of emissions trading – but has many concerns over how it might look in the EU. When the scheme starts in 2005, industry wants it to be on à voluntary basis for à trial period of around three years, to allow for à learning by doing process. Such à voluntary system has already been launched in Britain.
Big business also wants à payback for making the effort to cut emissions in the form of less old style regulation that told them how and where to apply environmental rules and, more importantly, no new environmental taxes. Unfortunately for industry, à new energy tax is under serious consideration. At à summit in Barcelona, Spain in March, EU leaders said they wanted à deal on the issue by year-end. "If there is emissions trading there should be no double jeopardy -- no energy taxes applied to those (firms involved) in emissions trading", said William Kyte, head of sustainable development at British electricity firm Powergen.
(By Robin Pomeroy, Alertnet, October16)
Leading an energy-efficient life could save you £80,000 and save the planet more than 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases, à UK environmental scientist has calculated. The analysis shows that measures to alleviate climate change need not come with à financial punishment.
About à third of the emissions in developed countries come from cars, homes and leisure activities. Raising public awareness could lead to big cuts, says David Reay of the University of Edinburgh. "Iúm optimistic that most people would go for the chance to leave à big inheritance and à better environment for their children", says Reay. Last year, he worked out how individuals could cut their emissions to come into line with the Kyoto protocol. Now, to illustrate the economic consequences of such à lifestyle, Reay has created two hypothetical Londoners: the wasteful Mr Carbone and the virtuous Mr Bellamy, whose every deed is informed by à need to save energy.
Mr Bellamy, for example, wears reusable nappies as à baby, travels by public transport, holidays in his own country, buys locally produced food and recycles his rubbish. This eco-paragon is named after David Bellamy, the British conservationist. Mr Carboneús life, on the other hand, is all gas-guzzling cars and long-haul flights. The two lifestyles are extremes, says Reay, but small changes are also worthwhile: "You can make à significant difference without going the whole hog", he says - driving à small, energy-efficient car, for example.
By age 75, Mr Carbone has been responsible for the emission of 1,251 tonnes of greenhouse gases, and spent £131,000 in the process. For Mr Bellamy, the figures are just 370 tonnes - à cut in emissions of 70% - and £48,845.
The benefits of cutting personal emissions may not necessarily translate into wider economic gains, warns climate-change specialist Richard Tipper, of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management. For example, he says, burning less coal is bad news for coal miners. Creating à low-emissions economy may be beneficial for all in the long run, says Tipper, but it will require big changes. "Weúve got to be able to persuade the losers that thereús something in it for them."
(Nature News Service, 17 October)