Tag: Europe

ECO 3, Bonn 2011, Spanish Version

En esta Edición:

  • ¿La Mitigación, cuándo es “significativa”? 
  • El drama de las agendas SBI & SBSTA 
  • ¡Este es nuestro hogar también!
  • Avances en Adaptación, posibles en Bonn
  • El Rayo del día
  • Ludwig en Bonn
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ECO 2, Bonn 2011, Spanish Version

En esta edición:

  • La cuestión de los U$D 100 mil millones plus
  • Dejen esos slides: no nos cuenten algo que ya sabemos
  • Eso fue entonces, esto es...ahora. La (in)acción de la UE en ruta a Durban
  • Mejorar la calidad de los datos UTCUTS: un problema de voluntad política
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That Was Then, This is Now... EU (In)Action on the Road to Durban

Do you remember almost three years ago when the EU adopted its climate and energy package it also promised that it would upgrade its weak ‘business as usual’ 20% target to 30% if other countries took comparable action? (ECO reminds the EU and other Parties that at least 40% is needed,  three quarters of which should be achieved solely through domestic action en route to near-complete decarbonization by 2050). At the time, the EU was considered to be the global leader on climate action being the first industrialized country bloc to come forward independently with a deeper emissions cut proposal. Time passed but the EU is left standing still. If the EU took a look around, it would realize it is 2011 and other countries are taking action. Many are going even further than the EU in their proposed cuts, so why is the EU not fulfilling its promise? The move to a 30% carbon emission reduction target for the EU is now easier than ever. Practically speaking, in 2009 the EU’s emissions were already 17,3% below 1990 levels. Economically speaking, an upgraded target would increase auctioning revenues to Member States’ budget, it would boost innovation, create jobs, increase the EU’s energy security and reduce the costs of fuel and air pollution related expenses. Politically, simply implementing the EU’s already agreed energy efficiency target would take the EU’s domestic emission reductions to -25% below 1990 by 2020. At the dying embers of the Copenhagen talks, the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso was asked about the 30% and he made an ‘off the cuff’ retort: “no one was interested in this offer,” he said. Are there parties willing to prove him wrong and hold the EU to their promises?

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Climate Financing Finally Taking Off?

Would delegates complain if their ticket price to come to the Bonn session has a small surcharge to cover the allowances for the aviation emissions?How about  if the money that is collected was destined for climate finance? Well, the inclusion of international aviation into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) precisely does that. The aviation industry, at least in the US and China, is complaining to the Courts and  lobbying their governments to use their influence to stop the EU’s leadership decision to include aviation emissions within their Emissions Trading Scheme. 

Frustrated with endless delays in discussions on how to regulate aviation emissions at ICAO, the EU acted on its own, including airlines in their Emissions Trading Scheme beginning in 2012. All flights flying in and out of Europe will have to start paying emission allowances and be subject to a declining cap.  But the EU gave an incentive to other countries: if they create “equivalent measures” to reduce airline emissions from international flights in their own countries, their airlines flying into Europe won’t be subject to the ETS.

Sadly, countries are not taking them up on their challenge.  Instead, the US airline industry is suing to dispute the scheme. US airlines have also gone to their pals in the US Congress and are pleading with the Obama Administration to come to their rescue. NGOs in the US have called on the government to defend Europe’s right to reduce emissions and be on the side of environmental integrity, not pollution from aircraft. 

In an unfortunate alignment of interests, Chinese airlines have now said they will challenge the scheme as well.  The BASIC countries’ statement also indicated that they are uncomfortable with the EU action, on the grounds that it’s unilateral and does not adhere to the CBDR-principle as laid down in the Convention. However, the door is still open for the BASIC to deal with aviation and maritime emissions within the UNFCCC-framework. A global system is preferable, but the EU is on the right track and its actions illustrate how to make this work at a global level.  The AGF report last year introduced the concept of “no net incidence” on developing countries that can ensure that a global system of international transportation emissions measures can fulfill the principle of CBDR.

ECO believes a multilateral approach would be the best approach to these inherently global sectors, is a global approach under a multilateral regime that reconciles the principles of non-discrimination that prevails in these sectors (IMO and ICAO) with the principles of the climate convention, including CBDR.

In the absence of a global regime, the EU should be congratulated on its efforts to fulfill its KP Article 2.2 responsibilities to regulate aviation emissions under its jurisdiction. However, this is only the second-best solution – the best approach would be global, while respecting CBDR.

The UNFCCC should support ways to control the rapidly growing emissions from these global sectors, respecting the principles of the various regimes, while ensuring they play a role in financing global climate action, and that there is no net incidence or burden on developing countries. Aviation emissions are projected to nearly triple in the next few decades. The EU is doing its part to address this rapidly growing problem. If Parties want a global solution, then they must start here in Bonn, placing bunkers squarely on the agenda, with a goal of arriving at a decision in Durban on international transportation emissions and finance.

All parties, particularly those expressing reservations about the approach taken by the EU, should work vigorously towards an agreed outcome in Durban that ensures these global sectors make the biggest possible contribution to emissions reductions and global climate resilient and low carbon development.

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China and Germany Climate Policies Draw Clean Energy Investment at Expense of U.S.

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama introduced the idea of “winning the future” to the American public. ECO welcomes this race, and humbly suggests a focus on climate policies could help him achieve this seemingly paradoxical goal. To win the race, the U.S. will need to actually join it. A recent Pew and Bloomberg New Energy Finance report shows that the U.S. has slipped down to number three in private investment in clean energy development, such as small-scale solar installations, launching Germany into the number two spot.  Until 2008, the U.S. had held the top spot, a spot now firmly held by China. Globally, 2010 clean energy finance and investments grew by 30 percent to a record $243 billion.

Why is the U.S. competitive position ‘deteriorating’, ECO wonders?

The report concludes that climate policies matter to investors.  Pew’s Clean Energy Program Director attributed the decline in investments in the U.S. to a ‘weak and uncertain’ policy framework. China, Germany and India are rising in investment rankings because they have adopted policies such as renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production.

In the race to win the future, the US seems to be running with its shoes untied.

The report – Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2010 edition – is the second annual compilation of clean energy investments (which includes renewables and energy efficiency). Last year’s reportmade big waves in the U.S. when it announced that China had taken over the lead.Now the gap has widened and the US is falling even lower down the rankings.

ECO has to wonder when U.S. elected officials will wake up to that fact that the real ‘job killer’ is not carbon regulation.  It is the failure to join the rest of the world in the race to the new energy future

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The Truth About Mitigation – It’s Still Inconvenient!

The bright and shiny moments in yesterday’s workshop on mitigation targets of developed countries were noticeable, albeit sparse, and mostly rhetorical. It seems to ECO, the truth is still inconvenient!

We learned that reducing emissions is good for the economy. Many countries re- affirmed the need to increase the ambition level and were very aware of the gap between current pledges and the cuts needed to stay below 2 degrees of warming, let alone the needed 1.5°C limit. And nearly everyone – except the U.S. – acknowledged the need for common accounting standards to ensure the environmental integrity of this global climate cooperation.

But, to put it simply, knowing a thing and doing a thing isn’t the same thing...

On the difficult questions CAN posed; negotiators did not have such positive answers. For example, what will their true emissions be? Assumptions on forests and other land use accounting, the use of carbon offsets and hot air carry-over are all huge potential loopholes. While there was some conversation on this subject – with the U.S. promising to count both sources and sinks in its land-based accounting approach and challenging other countries’ approaches – there was no definitive account of those true emissions. Russia, Iceland and others didn’t take up the challenge, but you know, there’s those inconvenient ‘national circumstances’ to consider. The offsets question was kicked to the MRV discussion...so stay tuned.

CAN expected that developed countries with current pledges below the 25-40% range would explain how their low pledges are consistent with their fair share of the needed global mitigation efforts. We did not get answers. We just heard a lot about ‘conditions’ that must be met before they will tell us their real target.

CAN expected developed countries whose pledges are below their current Kyoto targets, and/or below business as usual under existing domestic legislation and targets, to explain how those pledges constitute progress. To ECO’s dismay, one candidate for this question, Canada, didn’t even sit for the exam. Another, the EU, wiggled free of the challenge by explaining that member states really want to achieve their long-agreed voluntary energy efficiency targets which is needed to cut their domestic emissions overall by 25%. ECO, along with the Philippines, would like to ask how that makes the EU a climate leader.

ECO also wanted to know how their 2020 pledges will allow them to achieve near-zero emissions by 2050.        Only Norway seemed to come even close to answering, but Germany did present indicative decadal targets for -80% by 2050, while the UK’s trajectory to -80% is enshrined in national law. The UK’s model is overall not a bad model for a low-emission development strategy. There was a potentially encouraging admission by Poland that it was too addicted to coal and was embracing energy efficiency. Now, if only Poland took that realisation to Brussels.

While additional details remain to be tabled, equally important work must begin to enable the leading industrialized countries of the world to ensure the environmental integrity of their emissions targets.

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The Case for 30% is Clear

Before today’s presentations of the pledges get underway, ECO decided to offer some of its own “clarifications” about the EU mitigation pledge. And it’s mostly good news.
 The emissions cuts made by the EU in 2009 were already 17.3 % below 1990 levels, so the 20% target by 2020 is almost already met. ECO isn’t the first to point out that less effort is required of the EU than some may think.  The European Commission’s 2050 Low Carbon Roadmap published in March 2011, notes that implementing the EU’s existing renewable energy and energy efficiency targets would lead to 25 % domestic emissions cuts in the EU. So there’s really no excuse for the EU not to commit to do more – moving to at least the 30% target they have long promised, and beyond to the 40% target that science demands. And there are many reasons why they should.
First, the Commission’s 2050 Roadmap showed how hitting only the 20% target by 2020 would put the EU off-course to achieve the 2050 target of 80-95% that they know is needed. Failing to try a bit harder now will mean much more work in the long-run.
Second, moving to 30% would bring the EU Emissions Trading Scheme back to life. ECO has long complained of the problems of over-allocation of emissions allowances in the period 2008-12, which does nothing but offer staggering windfall profits to the dirtiest industries in Europe.
Decreasing the number of allowances by increasing the target would turn a policy by which the polluter gets paid, into one that incentivizes clean, green fighting industries of the future in Europe. The business voices that want to realize that vision in Europe have had enough of the uncertainty of a conditional target. Planning big investments requires predictability. Europe needs both.
Third, those investments will bring new jobs to Europe. The European Commission shows how “action geared towards reaching the climate and energy targets of the Europe 2020 strategy has some of the greatest potential for future jobs.” Many will fall in the construction industry – a sector particularly hard hit in the European economic downturn.
ECO hopes this helps to provide all the clarity the EU needs to finally move to its higher target. A report commissioned for the German Environment Ministry sums it up nicely. A 30% target would help boost European investments from 18% to 22% of GDP, lead to a GDP increase of up to €620bn, create up to 6 million additional jobs, and help European industry to maintain and enhance its competitiveness. Europe, ECO thinks the case for 30% is clear as day.

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