Tag: Europe

Climate Help Wanted: Germany

Germany is in the middle of difficult coalition talks following the September elections. Climate policy is one of the areas where there still is no agreement.

The negotiations in Warsaw would really benefit from a bit of leadership from developed countries, and in particular the EU. But EU leadership is hard to mobilize without full engagement of the EU's largest economy. That's why this morning, around 80 NGOs from all over the world are sending an open letter to politicians involved in the coalition negotiations in Berlin, reminding them that Germany must show true climate leadership.

The letter reminds German political leaders of the devastating impacts of Super Typhoon Haiyan and other extreme weather events that should serve as a wake-up call for urgent climate action. It also acknowledges the success of Germany's Energiewende, the country's ambitious plan to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency. But the letter notes that ‘to ensure the Energiewende's continued success and create a new dynamic at the international level’, Germany now needs to ‘set a strong and ambitious framework domestically and at the European Union (EU) level’.

The letter continues: ‘In March of next year, EU heads of state and government will decide on 2030 climate and energy targets. We expect you to support the necessary targets to ensure the EU makes a fair contribution to keeping temperature rise below 2°C while keeping 1.5°C within reach. What is needed is an EU target of at least 55% domestic emissions reductions compared to 1990 levels by 2030 combined with ambitious and binding renewable energy and energy consumption targets. A target of 40% would fall short of EU’s fair share of the global effort, and could in practice mean only 33% actual domestic emission cuts by 2030, due to the amount of surplus allowances in the system. An ambitious 2030 target should be the basis for the needed structural reform of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) and an adjusted climate target for 2020’.

The letter reminds German leaders that we need a strong signal to increase budget expenditures for promised climate change adaptation and mitigation until 2020, and that a binding domestic climate law could provide certainty to investors, enable a smooth transition domestically, and also build trust and credibility internationally.

The letter concludes: "We need countries which inspire the global transformation of our energy systems. Germany could and should do this. The world is watching you." 

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All eyes on Germany as incoming government mulls EU climate targets

Open letter from global civil society calls on German party leaders to harness Energiewende spirit 

Warsaw, Tuesday November 19, 2013: Warsaw, Tuesday November 19, 2013: Civil society organisations gathered in Warsaw for the United Nations climate conference (COP19) today sent letters to German Chancellor and CDU party leader Angela Merkel, SPD party leader Sigmar Gabriel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer, who are in the middle of negotiations to form a coalition government for Germany.

85 groups and networks, representing citizens from around the world, are concerned that the coalition negotiations will result in weak climate targets. Given Germany’s key role in the EU, this would send a bad signal for the bloc’s impending decisions on 2030 climate and clean energy targets. European Heads of States are scheduled to address the issue in March 2013.

“As representatives of worldwide civil society, we are writing this letter from Warsaw today to urge you to show true leadership on climate policy”, said the letter, applauding Germany’s inspiring example of Energiewende.

Groups are urging the coalition negotiators to support European climate targets that would make a fair and adequate contribution to the global efforts of preventing catastrophic climate change, while putting the EU on track to become a climate friendly economy. 

A domestic EU reduction in carbon pollution of at least 55% by 2030 below 1990 levels is needed. This must be combined with ambitious and binding renewable energy and energy consumption targets. The 40% target, which is currently being floated in the coalition talks, is completely inadequate, and could imply only 33% domestic cuts, due to all the extra emission allowances in the EU emission trading scheme. By comparison, the conservative-led UK government is advocating for a target of 50% by 2030. As for action on national level, the letter calls for a climate change act that uses binding climate and energy targets of the Energiewende as a framework for innovation. 

Ten days ago, the Philippines was hit with one of the world’s worst typhoons in recorded history, killing thousands, injuring many thousands more and displacing 4 million people. It was a grim reminder of the “weather on steroids” that climate change is causing. And it’s not just the Philippines.

“The emission gap is growing and growing while people in Kenya suffer from drought-caused decreasing agricultural yields every year. Please don't wait any longer and agree to the emission cuts necessary”, says ACT Alliance spokesman Votumniko Chinoko, Kenya

“If there are no drastic emission cuts, climate consequences look devastating for Latin America,” says Ariel Chavez from Diaconia Bolivia.

 “The people in Bangladesh are being forced to shoulder huge economic and social costs caused by climate change. To me it is an injustice when mitigation measures are continuously delayed and watered down”, says Mr Shamsuddoha from Center for Participatory Research and Development in Bangladesh.

“We need countries, which inspire the global transformation of our energy systems. Germany could and should do this. The world is watching you,” the letter concludes.


Please contact Ria Voorhaar, Climate Action Network International communications coordinator at rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org, or +49 157 317 355 68 for more information or interviews with Climate Action Network – International director Wael Hmaidan.

For the full list of signatories, see the letter, attached.


PDF icon germany_letter_v3_merkel.pdf62.63 KB

EU: When 40 Is Only 33

Coming to Warsaw, ECO was feeling somewhat optimistic. Fresh statistics suggested that global CO2 emissions growth has slowed a bit, which could be the first sign of an approaching emissions peak. In September, China announced took a major positive step -- a direction change in its coal policy. Three key industrial provinces must peak and decline coal consumption by 2017 and ban new dirty coal plants.

But then came the damaging announcements by Australia and Japan, whose shifts are in the negative direction.
After a week like this, we certainly don’t need more bad news.  But according to rumours, the European Commission is preparing a proposal for a 2030 climate target of a meagre 40% reduction against 1990 levels.

The EU has long been seen as setting a global high water mark on ambition.  Yet now it is undermining its own objective to keep global temperature below 2°C.

Yes, 40% seems like a lot – so let’s explain what this means.  A 40% target for 2030 would in practice bring the EU on a pathway towards real emission cuts of merely 33% by 2030 due to the amount of surplus emission allowances in the system.  Indeed, in order to accommodate the huge oversupply of surplus pollution permits in the EU’s carbon market, any 2030 target would need to be 7% stricter.

Instead, the proposed level would be inadequate to steer the EU’s energy system away from coal, or to drive transformational investments into renewables and energy savings. Instead of investing in clean technologies, EU industries can largely escape meaningful pollution pricing and rely on the overhang of surplus emission allowances on the EU’s carbon market well into the next decade. Fortunately, 40% is not the only number in the mix. The UK has called for an EU target of 50% by 2030, while Finland’s environment minister stated the EU’s fair share is between 40% and 60% emissions cuts by 2030.

The EU “Green Growth” group, consisting of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania and Estonia, have called for an ambitious EU emissions reduction offer to be put on the table before Ban Ki-moon’s leaders summit in 2014.

So when the European Commission publishes its policy proposal in January and EU leaders discuss it during the EU summit in March 2014, they must insure that the rumour of 40% (remember, that's effectively 33%) doesn’t turn into any kind of reality.

The spotlight is really on Germany, where coalition talks are also rumoured to be considering a minimum 40% climate target by 2030. Germany, of all countries, should know how important it is to get the incentives and infrastructure correct across Europe in order to deliver its own Energiewende – and a 40% target wouldn’t do that. Climate Action Network Europe is calling on the EU to commit to at least 55% domestic emission cuts by 2030, on top of which would come the EU’s international effort. Moreover, a binding EU renewable target of at least 45% and an energy savings target of 40% are needed to provide certainty for investors and drive  true transformation of the energy system.

Does the Commission have in mind any kind of equity indicators whatsoever when planning for a 40% target?  And how big a global emissions budget is assumed? It doesn’t sound like the EU is assuming anything that would give a reasonable chance of staying below 1.5/2°C.  

To be sure, the EU has a long-term emission reduction goal of 80 to 95% reductions from 1990 levels by 2050. Achieving this would be in the EU’s own economic interests as well as inspiring others to follow suit – a real ‘ambition driver’. But 40% by 2030, with all the loopholes in the system, would take the EU off track. We will hear reassuring voices next week as ministers arrive, but what will they be assuring us?  We need to see the EU we have until recently known – all about ambition, action and the clean energy future.



CAN Intervention in the COP19 Adaptation Fund Contact Group by Alix Mazounie, 14 November, 2013

Thank you chair.

My name is Alix Mazounie from the French Climate Action Network. I am from a country that has never contributed to the Adaptation Fund so far. I deeply apologise and will do my best to change its mind.

As you know, the Adaptation Fund is drying up. The 2 per cent CDM levy does not live up to revenue expectations. The sale of CERs is a dead source, namely because some countries have abandoned the Kyoto Protocol, and some countries refuse to fix their carbon markets in order to protect dirty industry as if climate change didn’t exist.

To narrow the funding gap, the Adaptation Fund Board had set a goal of raising 100 million USD by end of 2013, from direct contributions by developed countries. Since the goal was set in 2012, only two countries – Sweden and Belgium - have made new pledges. 

We wonder how developed countries can claim to stand behind the climate finance promise of 100 billion a year by 2020, if they are not ready to save the Adaptation Fund and meet the modest 100 million fundraising goal?  

You need to fix this, here in Warsaw and this week. CAN is looking particularly at those developed countries that have never contributed to the Adaptation Fund, such as my own country that portrays itself as a leader on climate finance.

You must not. Actually, no, you CANNOT leave Warsaw knowing the Adaptation Fund is on its death bed. Meeting the fundraising goal for the Adaptation Fund here in Warsaw is but the first step on your journey to meet your finance promises towards 2020.

We urge you to ring up your ministers, and warn them not to come to Warsaw empty-handed. 

Le Réseau Action Climat vous remercie. 


EU: where is your short-term mitigation ambition?

Closing the Short-Term EU Mitigation Gap

We all know that if the ambition gap is not closed or significantly narrowed by 2020, the door will close on many options to limit temperature increase to 1.5° C.

An interesting truth is that the EU has already met its 20% target for 2020 eight years ahead of schedule. Including international offset credits, European greenhouse gas emissions were actually down nearly 27% on 1990 levels in 2012!

Therefore, it is a no-regrets option to make these reductions legally binding domestically and internationally, and adopt a 40% reduction target for 2020. And the EU has a concrete opportunity to do so in the context of revising its commitments under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol before May 2014.

A key policy instrument here is the EU Emissions Trading System, the world’s first international cap-and trade system, covering nearly half of the EU’s carbon emissions. The European carbon market must be reformed quickly as it is increasingly ineffective as a tool to control pollution. It suffers from an oversupply of almost two billion emission allowances, mainly due to a record use of international offset credits, which has caused the carbon price to crash to under less than 5 Euro.

What's needed is a bold decision to remove surplus allowances permanently from the market and to adopt a steeper emissions reduction trajectory.

Based on its experience with domestic targets, the EU is well-placed to call for a framework that hastens the roll-out of renewables and energy efficiency through enhanced international collaboration.
The EU should ensure its 2020 climate and energy package demonstrates how ambition leads to success. At stake is not only the EU’s credibility but indeed the integrity of its climate policy.


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Let’s Count the Ways the Polish Government Earned The Fossil of the Day, while the Polish People Deserve Only Rays

Fossil of the Day, COP19, Warsaw, 12.11.2013

Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

The list of reasons to award Poland as the first place fossil is probably the longest any country has ever earned. 

Reason 1: Continuously opposing the European Union from taking more ambitious climate action

Reason 2: Co-hosting a Coal Summit coinciding with the COP but not organizing any debate on renewable energy opportunities

Reason 3: Inviting polluting companies that openly oppose an ambitious climate action to sponsor the COP

Reason 4: Allowing the dirty side of European industry, Business Europe, to represent the business voice at the pre-COP

Reason 5: Writing mad postings on the official COP19 website about the economic opportunities the melting Arctic will bring as well as chasing the “pirates, ecologists and terrorists” on the sea

Reason 6: Presenting delegates with standard climate denialist rhetoric through their mobile device app, repeating the old chestnut that “climate changes are natural phenomena, which occured (sic) many times on Earth”.

Poland, it is not ok to misuse your position as a COP President to advance your own coal agenda. Stop it.

Ray of the Day for the Renewable Energy Loving Polish People

The Polish government is holding the world back and acting as the PR department of the coal industry.

But the Polish people want to grasp a renewable future, not be stuck in a coal-based past. No less than 89% of Polish citizens want more energy to come from renewable sources and more than two-thirds of Polish people (70%) want an energy policy that gives support to renewables. 73% of Polish people want Poland to be more involved in global actions to prevent the negative effects of climate change. 

With this ray we say: Thank you, Poles, for supporting a future without climate chaos. It is about time that Prime Minister Tusk and his government listen to their people and go for an energy revolution based on energy efficiency and renewables. All renewable power to the Polish people.


About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 850 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 100 working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org 

About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

About the rays: CAN, gives out the 'Ray of The Day' award to the countries who are a ray of hope over the past days of negotiations at the UN climate change conference. This ‘Ray of Solidarity’ is in the same spirit.


Typhoon tragedy shines light on need for action at Warsaw climate negotiations

[Warsaw – Poland] – November 11, 2013: The major UN climate negotiations of the year opened today against a backdrop of tragedy with more than 10,000 people expected to have been killed in the most extreme Typhoon to have ever hit the Philippines.

According to the IPCC, such typhoons are expected to become more frequent and more extreme if the climate continues to change.

Speaking at the Climate Action Network opening press conference, Dr Alicia Ilaga from the Filipino delegation, said the devastation caused by the Typhoon highlighted how important it was that these talks agree to establish an mechanism in the UN to deal with the loss and damage caused by climate change.

“I bleed for my country, I bleed for my people who have been buried and washed away,” Dr Ilaga said. “We are investing in renewable energy, we are trying to adapt, but we cannot bear this burden on our own.”

Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. That industry is having unprecedented access to these negotiations at the behest of the coal-dependent Polish Government, through corporate sponsorship and the  Coal and Climate Summit being held next week.

Julia Michalak EU policy officer from CAN Europe said that if the Polish Government wanted to be taken seriously on the international stage, it needed to prove it deserved to host this year’s climate negotiations.

“The Polish Government can show it cares about future generations by abandoning plans to build new coal mines, ceasing to block EU climate action including discussions around an ambitious 2030 carbon pollution reduction target,” Michalak said.

While the tragedy of the Philippines disaster cast a pall over the opening of the climate negotiations in Warsaw, it should give parties a wakeup call to come up with concrete steps to urgently reduce carbon pollution and provide funds for poorer countries to take their own climate actions.

“The Polish government’s flagrant fossil fuel agenda should not deter parties from pushing hard for positive outcomes in Warsaw. This is no time for low expectations. We expect vision and leadership on the path to Paris in 2015,” said Tasneem Essop, WWF Head of Delegation to COP19.

ON DEMAND WEBCAST of PRESS CONFERENCE AVAILABLE HERE: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop19/templ/play.php?id_kongres...

For more information or for one-on-one interviews with NGO experts, please contact Climate Action Network International’s communications coordinator Ria Voorhaar on +49 (0) 157 317 35568 or rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org.

Climate Action Network (CAN) is the world’s largest network of civil society organizations working together to promote government action to address the climate crisis, with more than 850 members in over 100 countries.
Climate Action Network-International


Perplexing Poland

Has the Polish Government been taken over by the Yes Men? (That would be the somewhat erratic outfit with a penchant for highlighting the superficial and often self-serving follies of leading institutions and firms).  ECO asks this only rhetorically, of course -- at times the back and forth made our eyes cross.  But let us explain.

There was that somewhat mad posting a few weeks ago on the official COP19 website about the economic opportunities that the Arctic ice melt would bring while chasing pirates, ecologists and terrorists off the seas.  
The Yes Men stepped up to claim credit, sort of.  The whole thing left everyone quite perplexes, including the Polish government.

But then the story got better (or really, worse). Check out the official COP iPhone application. It actually greets you with this opening message: ‘Climate changes are natural phenomena, which occurred already many times on earth’. So why worry, huh?! ECO has been wondering whether an accompanying ringtone is coming, maybe “Que sera, sera”…

Inviting 12 fossil industry firms to sponsor the COP, including only the anti-climate lobby Business Europe in the pre-COP and – to top the madness, actually organizing a global coal summit in Warsaw alongside the COP, complete with a “Warsaw Communiqué ”?
All this would push the envelope even for the Yes Men.

Related Newsletter : 

Why when it comes to energy issues, Warsaw is closer to Washington than to Brussels– and what we can expect from the Warsaw COP19 climate summit



In November this year the next global summit dedicated to climate change will start in Warsaw. Once again Poland will chair the global climate negotiations. What is to be expected?

Difficult situation for global negotiations

In 2013 the climate is not well. Last year global CO2 emissions rose by another 1.4 per cent.  According to scientists the effects of climate change will be more severe than expected.  Most probably the temperature increase will be as high as five degrees Celsius and it will not be possible to curb the increase within the previously estimated two degrees Celsius.

Recently only a few countries managed to reduce emissions.  The United States was an exception in that it reduced emissions by 10 % — ironic considering it is the only country of the climate change convention which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Admittedly Europe did reduce emissions by about 2.5 % cent in 2012, but there is no avoiding the fact that this was partially due to the financial crisis.

When the energy and climate package was adopted in Brussels in 2008 — assuming a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, 20 % share of renewable energy and a 20 % increase in energy efficiency by 2020 — Europe was convinced that it should be the champion of climate protection and that by setting a good example it would entice the rest to follow.  This, however, did not happen. Five years have elapsed since that time – and while no one is going back on those decisions, enthusiasm has subsided.  Ever more often, instead of discussions of long term climate change strategies among European politicians, we see them talking numbers. The European recession is not releasing its grip and questions regarding energy prices are being posed more often — particularly as the United States is going through a gas revolution and the price of that resource is almost three times less than in Europe.  There is a large probability that a few years down the line American gas will make an appearance in Europe, significantly changing the energy map of the Old Continent.

The state of play in Poland and the US

The question is: what role can Poland play as the host of the global climate summit?

For years Warsaw has been participating in all UN and EU political projects in unison, delivering on its promises of emission reductions – which cannot be said of all the EU countries.

Now, however, as one of the three most coal dependent countries in the world, Poland is not supporting an increase in emission reduction targets in Europe — which Brussels is vying for — unless there is progress on the global forum.

Even if Poland on the UN level is presenting the common EU position, in recent years Warsaw seems closer to Washington than to Brussels when it comes to climate and energy policies. The keys to understanding this problem are the disproportionate allocation of costs for this low emission transformation and the varied levels of returns in the EU. The struggle for economic competitiveness is continuing in the background whilst the environment, unfortunately for many European Union member states, has taken on a secondary role.

After 2008, Polish politicians are finding it difficult to explain to Polish society why it is necessary to follow the European climate policy in the face of the fact that it is not yielding the expected emission reduction results and why is it that Poland, according the European Commission calculations, is to pay the most out of the EU countries.  Even if the goal of European climate policy is more than just a reduction of emissions, an increase in energy security, innovation, and the generation of funds for the modernization of the industrial sector, the actions of the European Commission are still seen as unfavorable for the Polish economy and without benefit to the environment.

There is no chance of a fundamental change in the direction of climate policy before 2017 in the United States.  However, President Obama in his speech on 25th of June announced new comprehensive program for tackling climate change and is going to use his executive powers to introduce more restrictive environmental protection standards through various regulations – a proof that if the big political framework doesn’t work, the bottom up approach might offer a solution to the problem. Nevertheless there is also a chance that the gas revolution will influence the United States to change its position as there is no reason for such determined resistance to reducing targets considering the emission levels are the lowest in 20 years.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

As is evident, significant progress on the subject of a global agreement with legally binding targets cannot be expected in the near future. Therefore the question of how to protect the climate if reduction targets are not viable has to be asked.

Both the United States as well as Poland prefer definite climate protection programs. This is called a framework for various approaches at the global negotiations forum. As an example, such activities could include increasing energy efficiency in buildings, transportation and industry.  Such actions will certainly be backed by many countries, including the United States and Poland. The development of dispersed generation is a worthy cause as it is beneficial to local communities and uses renewable energy. The European Union, adopting this new perspective, earmarked 20 per cent of its budget for such efforts.

Another significant issue involves the withdrawal of harmful fossil fuel subventions as discussed by the International Energy Agency in its last report of June 2013. Fossil fuel subsidies paint a false picture in discussions on the costs of energy — and additionally do not take into consideration the external costs of burning coal and other fossil fuels, standing in the way of the development of renewable and clean sources of energy. Even if we accept that the process of moving away from fossil fuels will last many years, the entire energy sector is in need of systematic changes.

The old principle of “thinking global, acting local” is an apt description of climate negotiations. Therefore in Warsaw, we must put more emphasis on definite actions supporting climate protection.

Let’s do more and talk less — before it really is too late.

Joanna Mackowiak Pandera, Head of the Market Development Department, Management Team Poland for  DONG Energy, was a Spring 2013 European Marshall Memorial Fellow.


Countries Must Commit at Warsaw to put numbers on the table in 2014

Friday, June 14, Bonn – Germany:  Climate Action Network called for nations to agree a 2014 deadline for releasing their new carbon pollution reductions pledges before the close of the main climate talks in Warsaw this November.

The call came as the latest round of talks closed in Bonn today having made incremental progress on the shape of a comprehensive climate deal to be agreed in 2015.  But Greenpeace UK political advisor Ruth Davis said a deadline for pledges was vital for the negotiations to remain on track.

“This deadline is needed partly to give enough time to assess the pledges against the latest climate science, and partly so that countries can compare their efforts,” Davis said. “Having enough time to negotiate these targets is vital to avoiding the kind of last minute scramble that made the 2009 Copenhagen summit such a disaster.”

These negotiations were held against a backdrop of the worst-on-record flooding in Eastern Europe and extreme weather in the US. German and New York officials stated this week that they would spend billions fortifying their cities against future extreme weather, showing that the costs of climate change are already being tallied in rich countries as well as poor.  

With climate change already impacting millions across the world, the Climate Action Tracker initiative said this week current pledges put the world on track for 4 degree C warming. This would result in devastating impacts for the planet and its people.

With that in mind, Lina Li, from Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said the Bonn talks failed to make major progress on an international mechanism to cover the loss and damage caused to communities by the effects of climate change. Also missing in action was substantial progress on the review  which would assess whether the agreed global temperature limit of 2 degrees Celsius was adequate.

Areas for substantial discussion in Warsaw include the thread that pulls the climate negotiations together: financial support for developing countries to adopt a low carbon development strategy that reduces emissions and helps them adapt to climate impacts. 

“While most countries have shown a cooperative spirit in the talks so far this year, the Warsaw negotiations will be a test of whether this can be maintained as we move towards more substantial discussions,” Li said.

Dorota Zawadzka-Stępniak, from WWF Poland, said the Polish government needed to invite the holders of the purse strings - finance ministers - to Warsaw to discuss real commitments to increasing financial pledges.

“For the Polish presidency to be a success, Poland must stop blocking enhanced climate action in the EU and adopt a progressive attitude towards its domestic climate and energy policy,” Zawadzka-Stępniak said. “We need to embrace a low carbon pathway and make a strategic shift in the Polish energy system in order to be a credible partner in the negotiations.”  


Ria Voorhaar
International Communications Coordinator
Climate Action Network – International
mobile: +49 157 3173 5568



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