Head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, warns of “merciless” climate change & need for less fossil fuel subsidies

Speaking in London, Christine Lagarde – Head of the International Monetary Fund – said a deal by the UN on emissions deal, and cuts in subsidies to fossil fuels are global priorities.  She said the planet is “perilously close” to a climate change tipping point, and requires urgent cooperation between countries, cities and business.  She said reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and pricing carbon pollution should be priorities for governments around the world. People should pay for the climate damage – the carbon emissions – they cause. “We are subsidizing the very behaviour that is destroying our planet, and on an enormous scale. Both direct subsidies and the loss of tax revenue from fossil fuels ate up almost $2 trillion in 2011—this is about the same as the total GDP of countries like Italy or Russia.” Describing the predicted consequences of climate change as “merciless”, she said leaders had to engage in what she called a “new multilateralism”, rekindling the “Bretton Woods spirit” which saw the creation of the IMF in 1945. She said investment in poorer regions was essential to ensure they can cope with a range of extreme weather caused by climate change.
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IMF chief Lagarde warns of “merciless” climate change

Last updated on 5 February 2014, 2:11 pm

Speaking in London, Christine Lagarde says UN emissions deal and fossil fuel subsidies cut are priorities

Lagarde_466_BBC

By Ed King

The planet is “perilously close” to a climate change tipping point, and requires urgent cooperation between countries, cities and business, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has said.

Addressing an audience in London, Lagarde said reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and pricing carbon pollution should be priorities for governments around the world.

“Overcoming climate change is obviously a gigantic project with a multitude of moving parts. I would just like to mention one component of it—making sure that people pay for the damage they cause,” she said.

“We are subsidizing the very behaviour that is destroying our planet, and on an enormous scale. Both direct subsidies and the loss of tax revenue from fossil fuels ate up almost $2 trillion in 2011—this is about the same as the total GDP of countries like Italy or Russia.”

Describing the predicted consequences of climate change as “merciless”, Lagarde said leaders had to engage in what she called a “new multilateralism”, rekindling the “Bretton Woods spirit” which saw the creation of the IMF in 1945.

Lagarde’s comments come at a critical point in international efforts to address rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The UN expects a global deal will be signed in Paris next year. Preliminary negotiations are set to restart in Bonn at the start of March, with a draft text expected in November.

Report: Rising seas could swamp 5% of world’s population

In recent weeks UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim have all called on countries and business to take the threats posed by global warming more seriously. Jim made what many believe was an historic call for investors to consider ditching holdings in fossil fuel companies.

Lagarde, whose organisation is one of the key supporters of the UN-backed Green Climate Fund, added that investment in poorer regions was essential to ensure they can cope with a range of extreme weather patterns that could emerge as a result of climate change.

“Make no mistake, it is the world’s most vulnerable people who will suffer most from the convulsions of climate,” she said.

“For example, some estimates suggest that 40% of the land now used to grow maize in sub-Saharan Africa will no longer be able to support that crop by the 2030s. This will have hugely disruptive implications for African livelihoods and lives.

“A few years back, Prince Charles gave this very Dimbleby lecture. He used the occasion to make an impassioned plea to respect the natural law of ecological sustainability. “In failing the earth,” he said, “we are failing humanity”.

http://www.rtcc.org/2014/02/05/imf-chief-lagarde-warns-of-merciless-climate-change/

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Member states should follow MEPs and back airspace emissions proposal

MEPs on the Environment Committee have stood up to political pressure from member states and industry by voting to endorse the European Commission’s proposal for an aviation ETS covering all of Europe’s airspace. Although the proposal regulates only 35% of airline emissions compared to the original EU ETS, it crucially captures a portion of long-haul flights – where most of aviation’s greenhouse gases originate. The proposal would see an end to a restricted ETS covering just intra-EU flights. Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at the European Federation for Transport & Environment, said: “By backing coverage of airspace, MEPs are ensuring the system captures emissions from all flights – both intra-Europe and long-haul over European territory. The decision also reinforces EU sovereignty, something a number of member states seem reluctant to uphold …Any EU measure to fight climate change needs to be enforced. It is untenable that France, Germany and the UK are failing to enforce the 2012 legislation. This should be a precondition before talks between Parliament and Council members on agreeing changes to the ETS.”
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Member states should follow MEPs and back airspace emissions proposal

Vandaag – do 30 januari 2014 (Transport & Environment)
MEPs on the Environment Committee today stood up to political pressure from member states and industry by voting to endorse the European Commission’s proposal for an aviation emissions trading system covering all of Europe’s airspace. Although the proposal regulates only 35% of airline emissions compared to the original EU ETS, it crucially captures a portion of long-haul flights – where most of aviation’s greenhouse gases originate.

The proposal would see an end to a restricted ETS covering just intra-EU flights. The restriction, known as ‘stop the clock’, was enacted as a temporary measure in 2012 to give the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) time to act on aviation’s large climate impact. But last October ICAO voted against any regional measure by Europe and in favour of a potential global deal, which may only start in 2020.

Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at the European Federation for Transport and Environment, said: “By backing coverage of airspace, MEPs are ensuring the system captures emissions from all flights – both intra-Europe and long-haul over European territory. The decision also reinforces EU sovereignty, something a number of member states seem reluctant to uphold.

The governments of France, Germany, and the UK want to continue ‘stop the clock’ and restrict the ETS to intra-EU flights until 2016 or even 2020 in the mistaken belief that excluding long-haul carriers will lessen enforcement problems. But these same EU regulators have already failed to enforce breaches by the same Chinese, Indian and Saudi carriers operating intra-EU flights.

Bill Hemmings added: “Any EU measure to fight climate change needs to be enforced. It is untenable that France, Germany and the UK are failing to enforce the 2012 legislation. This should be a precondition before talks between Parliament and Council members on agreeing changes to the ETS.”

http://verkeerswereld.nl/milieu/member-states-should-follow-meps-and-back-airspace-emissions-proposal/

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Aviation EU ETS up in the air as European politicians, member states and airlines differ on future direction

by Peter Liese, John Hanlon, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Martin Callanan, Jacqueline Foster

Mon 27 Jan 2014 (GreenAir online)

With a decision required by EU institutions before the end of April, there remains strong disagreement over the future direction of the Aviation EU ETS, not only within the European Parliament and EU member states but also between European airlines. MEPs in the Parliament’s transport and industry committees voted last week to water down the Commission’s proposal to regulate emissions from all flights within EU/EEA airspace. The environment committee, which leads on the issue, is due to vote on Thursday (Jan 30) and largely backs the proposal. Rapporteurs on the three committees are now attempting to seek a compromise. Meanwhile, the three trade associations representing European airlines differ too on the future EU ETS scope. A clash is also looming between Parliament and member states on the earmarking of EU ETS auction revenues.

Last Thursday, the environment committee (ENVI) held a debate on the issue and although there were disagreements between MEPs on the way forward, there appears a majority in favour of supporting the Commission’s airspace proposal. However, the Aviation EU ETS rapporteur in the Parliament, Peter Liese, accepted concessions would have to be made on all sides and a compromise reached between the committees before the beginning of the trilogue process with EU member states through the Council.

He said the transport committee (TRAN) wanted the ‘Stop the Clock’ intra-EU/EEA scope to be extended. “That is something we should at least consider but, on the other hand, we cannot accept this continuing until 2016.”

One area of consensus, said Liese, was over the issue of earmarking of EU ETS auction revenues for climate-related funding and clean R&D. Although Parliament’s position was clear on this, he said, member states had refused to hypothecate revenues and this was a justified criticism from third countries.

Liese told the ENVI meeting: “We have to be very careful what message we are sending out. We are meeting a lot of resistance. Airbus is fighting tooth and nail against this airspace proposal. If China threatens to cancel a contract, then we appear to do what the Chinese want us to do.”

Supporting Liese’s own amendments of the Commission proposal, MEP Chris Davies believed the EU should accept the political repercussions and said he was unconvinced by what was coming out of ICAO.

Satu Hassi, for the Greens in Parliament, said the willingness to compromise had gone too far. “We shouldn’t give a signal to the world that if companies and other countries disagree with our legislation then we change it,” she said, adding that the EU was in danger of being seen as “an economic giant but a political dwarf”.

Noted Dutch MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy: “This goes much further than climate change and aviation – this is about Europe’s credibility. We said we would give ICAO one year to come up with serious developments towards a global solution but ICAO failed. Where is your credibility if you threaten but don’t carry it through afterwards?

“With Airbus, this is economic blackmail and it won’t end with them. We should support the Commission, the Parliament should stand strong and we should never surrender to economic blackmail.”

Speaking against the Commission’s proposal were British Conservative MEPs Martin Callanan and Jacqueline Foster.

“Airbus employs thousands of people across Europe. Why create problems for them for a relatively small principle and the small amounts of money involved,” said Callanan. “We can stand on our principles but we do need to be aware of the practical implications.”

Foster criticised the Commission’s climate directorate (DG CLIMA) for its “dogma” over the Aviation EU ETS and was concerned over the consequences of moving in a unilateral direction without agreement from third countries. “We have had billions of dollars of Airbus orders held up over this issue – quite frankly, this is unacceptable,” she said. In view of the ICAO Assembly outcome, she called for the application of the directive “to be suspended indefinitely”. A restriction to intra-EEA flights should also be resisted, she said, as it led to a lack of a level playing field for European airlines, which she believed had originally been deemed illegal by the Commission.

In a statement to the ENVI committee on behalf of DG CLIMA, Elina Bardram said the Aviation EU ETS was a complicated and challenging dossier that involved politics and principles, which was highly unusual.

Referring to the ICAO Assembly resolution adopted last October, which she deemed a significant success, Bardram said: “Some countries read the paragraphs relating to states adopting interim measures before 2020 as implying mutual consent. The EU categorically disagreed with that interpretation and entered a reservation. We will, of course, continue our efforts to reach consensus but we will not decide our laws on the basis of what is desirable from the perspective of third countries.

“Our proposal is a genuine effort and best attempt to align with what was decided at the Assembly. We have made specific provisions to accommodate the least developed countries. We have also reflected the discussions prior to and during the Assembly when many of our partners, including the major aviation nations, actually proposed an airspace approach. In doing so, we have significantly contracted our ETS legislation in anticipation of a global [market-based measure] outcome. We felt the contraction of environmental ambition was acceptable because we do believe the measure will happen and we want to give it the best chance of success.”

Bardram said the extension of the intra-EU/EEA scope to 2014 under the Commission proposal would give enough time for technical adjustments to be made before implementing the airspace approach.

The number of different proposals that had been put forward boiled down to a political choice and negotiation, she said. “The key criteria in assessing the options are administrative simplicity, stability, permanence and whether they constituted good regulation. We feel the Commission proposal meets this. There is a question of political acceptance and that depends on how far we are willing to go to accommodate.

“It’s no secret that since the Commission airspace proposal was made there are some partners, particularly the industry, who have expressed concern but it is not currently clear what alternative they would fully be in accordance with. Our proposal is both legally and technically sound and it ensures a level playing field. All operators on the same route are treated equally.”

Whilst IATA, which represents international airlines on a global basis, would wish for a complete suspension of the EU ETS pending the introduction of a global scheme, European airline trade bodies have expressed differing views.

The Association of European Airlines (AEA), with a membership of 30 major airlines serving extra-EEA routes, welcomed last week’s vote by the TRAN committee to scale back the Commission’s proposal and urged MEPs on the industry committee (ITRE) – which has since voted in agreement with TRAN – and ENVI to follow suit.

The decision by TRAN, said the AEA, demonstrated understanding that European airlines could be exposed to retaliatory measures from third countries. “AEA welcomes that TRAN restricts the scope of the aviation ETS to flights within the European Economic Area,” it said in a statement. “This move reduces the risk of international controversy and confirms that global issues such as emissions from international aviation need a global solution.”

Added AEA CEO Athar Husain Khan: “The aviation ETS must not hamper progress at ICAO towards a global agreement on reducing emissions from international aviation.”

The AEA said there was uncertainty about the situation in the years 2017 to 2020 and as airlines needed long-term planning stability, it urged clarity.

On the other hand, Simon McNamara, Director General of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), which represents intra-European regional carriers, argues that trying to capture international flights, even in EU airspace, would re-ignite the former dispute with non-EU countries. “But, equally, an intra-EU only scheme would be bad news for Europe and intra-European airlines,” he said.

“The sensible option would be to suspend the EU ETS for all flights and focus on ICAO delivering a global scheme by 2016. However, European idealism about the environment has prevented that happening. It seems as if we will have to choose between one of the two options, and neither of them is ideal.”

Representing low-fare carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet, two of Europe’s largest in terms of passenger numbers, the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) has lobbied since the EU ‘Stop the Clock’ decision in late 2012 for restoration of the full scope of the Aviation EU ETS directive.

Failing reversion to full scope, the EU should implement the ETS to at least cover emissions in European airspace, demanded ELFAA Secretary General John Hanlon at a press conference held on Thursday with Peter Liese, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy and Brussels-based NGO Transport & Environment.

“To prolong the one-year-only ‘Stop the Clock’ as the basis of the ETS is not only discriminatory but environmentally ineffective, capturing only 20% of EU aviation emissions of CO2, while letting long-haul flights off the hook,” he said.

In the event of an interim reduction of the full scope, Hanlon called for a reassessment of the environmental efficiency benchmark of the scheme which, he said, favoured long-haul operations. “Failure to review the original benchmark, which was designed for a radically different scope, compounds the discriminatory effect on intra-Europe operators.”

Hanlon said ELFAA had supported the EU ETS from the beginning and as its airline members wanted to continue growing but also demonstrate that the growth should be environmentally sustainable, a market-based mechanism was therefore needed until new technology could offset emissions growth.

“Our sector has grown enormously and we have the biggest shortfall in allowances but we’re up for that. However, the scheme must be environmentally effective to do the job, equitable and non-discriminatory. So we believe the EU should have stuck to its guns with its full scope. At least what the EU should do now is to stick to the Commission proposal.”

He urged Parliament to resist political pressure. “If you yield on EU airspace and fall back on intra-Europe, the next argument you will be facing is that the ICAO Assembly resolution requires mutual consent, so don’t assume that the states opposing the EU ETS will be happy to continue to be included in an intra-EU scope. You will be looking at an ever-shrinking scheme and facing a significant challenge for the right of the EU to legislate and to its integrity.”

Although she welcomed the willingness to compromise between the MEPs, DG CLIMA’s Bardram told the ENVI meeting there was a pressing timeline for an agreement in order to conclude the co-decision process with the Council (representing the member states) by the end of April.

However, Liese and Gerbrandy cautioned at the press conference that it may be difficult to reach an agreement with TRAN since the mandate of its rapporteur was to negotiate only on the basis of a ‘Stop the Clock’ extension until 2016, whereas ENVI was unlikely to vote for more than a one-year extension, based on the Commission proposal. A failure of the Parliament and Council to reach an agreement before the end of April, reminded Liese, would see an automatic return to the full scope of the EU ETS directive.

Trilogues between the EU institutions will take place during February, followed by meetings of the Environment and Transport Councils (member states) in March, with a vote by the Parliament during its April 14-17 plenary session.

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1815

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Links:

Video of the ENVI committee meeting

Video of the TRAN committee meeting (Aviation EU ETS starts 16:01:24)

Video of the Liese/Gerbrandy/Hanlon/T&E press conference

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EU’s aviation emissions ETS law ‘puts Europe’s global power to the test’, MEPs say

Euractiv reports that members of the European Parliament and industry representatives say the ETS for aviation is rapidly turning into a “political question of the EU’s influence on the world stage”. There will be a key vote by the European Parliament’s environment committee on 30th January.  The Parliament’s rapporteur on aviation ETS, Peter Liese MEP, has threatened to block the EU’s efforts to amend the existing legislation if the EC does not mention which countries have undermined the ETS so far. There remain foreign carriers operating intra-EU flights without paying their ETS share, including Air China (Athens – Munich) and China Eastern (Frankfurt – Hamburg) and even intra-German ones.  Airbus stakeholder states – the UK, France and Germany – have surrendered to “economic blackmail” from China, which threatened to no longer buy Airbus planes if the EU carried on with its legislation. Peter Liese is pushing the EC to shorten its current 2020 deadline and revert to a full-scope ETS from 2016, if no agreement on global measures is found in ICAO. T&E commented that  “Pursuing anything less than coverage of emissions in EU airspace is environmentally unacceptable. At the same time, not enforcing the existing ETS sends a clear signal to third countries that EU sovereignty doesn’t matter and it won’t advance efforts to secure agreement on global measures either.”
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Aviation emissions law ‘puts Europe’s global power to the test’, MEPs say

27.1.2014 (Euractiv)

The emissions trading system (ETS) for aviation is rapidly turning into a “political question of the EU’s influence on the world stage”, members of the European Parliament and industry representatives said on Thursday (23 January), ahead of a key vote in the Parliament’s environment committee on 30 January.

The Parliament’s rapporteur on aviation ETS, Peter Liese MEP, has threatened to block the EU’s efforts to amend the existing legislation if the European Commission does not mention which countries have undermined the EU scheme.

The Commission had previously confirmed that there was “politically-motivated noncompliance” among some EU member states, but did not mention any of them by name, despite insistent questions from MEPs.

>> Read also: MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU aviation emissions law

“I am frankly shocked how little attention member states pay to this,” Liese told the audience on 23 January in the EU Parliament. “In this situation, I’m not ready to conclude a trilogue when we don’t know at all whether the current legislation is being implemented or not,” he continued, referring to foreign carriers who are operating intra-EU flights without paying their share.

In 2012, the EU began applying its emissions trading scheme to all airlines using EU airports. But strong opposition from the US, China, Russia and other countries, led the EU to freeze the scheme and reduce its scope to airlines operating only inside the EU’s borders, pending a global agreement at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Airbus under fire

However, it appears that some foreign airlines have circumvented the European rules. At the Parliament meeting, MEPs shared information about Chinese airlines operating intra-EU flights, and even intra-German ones, without complying with the CO2 legislation.

“Air China is flying regularly between Athens and Munich and China Eastern between Frankfurt and Hamburg … without complying,” MEP Satu Hassi explained, calling on the Commission “to make it clear both to the carriers and the member states” that they have to comply with the law.

“When the Chinese refuse to pay for intra-European flights, there should be a strong reaction,” the Finnish Green MEP said. “Imagine if they operated a power plant in Europe without following the rules!” she exclaimed.

For MEPs and green campaigners alike, Airbus stakeholder states – the UK, France and Germany – have surrendered to “economic blackmail” from China, which threatened to no longer buy Airbus planes if the EU carried on with its legislation.

In a 2012 letter to the Chinese government that shocked European lawmakers, Airbus’ CEO, Fabrice Brégier, wrote that he “fully supported the Chinese position regarding EU ETS”, adding that the company was “very active” in “persuading the European Commission” and “ensuring that the Chinese airlines are not unfairly impacted by the scheme.”

“If ICAO does not deliver in a year, we need to stand for what we proposed” said Dutch MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, warning that “this goes much further than aviation” since it is about the EU’s “sovereignty” and “power at global level”.

“If we bend to economic and political pressure, we’ll lose all credibility,” Gerbrandy said.

The Dutch MEP’s position is shared by low-fare airlines which feel penalised by the decision to freeze the scheme for international airlines, since they fly almost exclusively in Europe. John Hanlon, secretary-general of the low fare airlines association (ELFAA), said the EU needed to “make clear that its ultimatum is real” by sticking up for its original decision to revert to full-scope ETS after one year.

Prolonging the freeze beyond that was “not only discriminatory but also environmentally ineffective, capturing only 20% of EU aviation emissions of CO2 while letting long-haul flights off the hook,” Hanlon stressed.

In his draft report, Peter Liese is pushing the Commission to shorten its current 2020 deadline and revert to a full-scope ETS from 2016, if no agreement on global measures is found in ICAO.

Earmarking revenues

Liese said he wanted the EU to use the time left under the freezing decision to impose an earmarking of revenues generated from the auctioning of emission permits, an idea that is not well-received by EU member states.

Currently the money goes “into the finance ministries’ pockets”, the Dutch MEP denounced, while it should be used to “mitigate climate change, for research on clean aircrafts and to lower taxes on environmentally-friendly transport”.

If Liese’s proposal is approved at an environment committee vote later this week, it will face tough opposition from the Council when negotiations start. But the first resistance could well come from inside Parliament, where members of industry-friendly committees, such as transport and industry, could block Liese’s proposal at a plenary vote in March.

Liese is however actively looking for a compromise with his fellow MEPs, he said.

POSITIONS: 

Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, an environmental group, said: “Pursuing anything less than coverage of emissions in EU airspace is environmentally unacceptable. At the same time, not enforcing the existing ETS sends a clear signal to third countries that EU sovereignty doesn’t matter and it won’t advance efforts to secure agreement on global measures either.”

http://www.euractiv.com/transport/aviation-emissions-legislation-p-news-533007

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Some recent ETS news items:

 

More problems for aviation in the EU ETS as France and Germany will not enforce sanctions for non- compliance

January 24, 2014

German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, wants the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law on the ETS unless member states start enforcing the existing law. He is supported in this by both the environmental groups, who want better control of aviation carbon emissions, and from a very different perspective, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which fears that if non-EU airlines are not forced to pay for carbon permits, while EU airlines are, they will be at a competitive disadvantage. Since the freeze (“stop the clock”) ended in October, the Commission proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace. At present the EU is not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese wants the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges. And to do it before May – Germany and France don’t want to do this.     Click here to view full story…

 

 

Analysis shows 84m tonnes of aviation CO2 covered by EU ETS in 2012 as cargo airlines reap windfalls

January 12, 2014

According an analysis by the organisation “Sandbag”, over 1,169 participating airlines and aircraft operators reported between them a total of 84 million tonnes of CO2 emissions for the first year of aviation’s inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Around 89% of eligible operators fully complied with the scheme, representing 98% of intra-EU aviation emissions. 42% of all emissions coming from just 10 EU airlines. Although the one-year ‘Stop the Clock’ (STC) derogation – which started in November 2012 – allowed operators to opt out of having to surrender allowances for extra-EU international flights, a number of major air cargo carriers based inside and outside the EU chose to comply with the full scope of the scheme, enabling them to end 2012 with a windfall, says Sandbag. Also, though the majority of operators have incurred a cost as a result of their inclusion in the EU ETS, Sandbag estimates that Europe’s biggest emitter, Ryanair, stood to reap a windfall in 2012 of around €8 million through its passenger EU ETS levy. Of the 11 million offsets were surrendered, it is estimated that 5.6 million, were to CDM (Clean Development Projects) in China, while the remaining 5.3 million originated from Russia JI (joint implementation) projects – countries implacably opposed to the Aviation EU ETS.      Click here to view full story…

 

NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace

December 20, 2013

France, Germany, and the UK governments have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights. That means 75% of emissions from flights using European airports are uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations. Four NGOs (Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) ) have written to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. The NGOs are calling on the leaders to urgently withdraw the UK/Germany/France joint proposal and lend their government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace. They also urge the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations.       Click here to view full story…

 

 


 

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More news about the inclusion of aviation in the ETS at 

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EU’s new climate and energy package – to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030

The European Commission has announced new energy and climate targets for the EU. It has 3 current targets – on (1) greenhouse gases, (2) renewable energy, and (3) energy efficiency – to see it through to 2020. The current announcement is about what the EU would do to 2030. Carbon Brief gives a handy short summary of the key points. (1) The target for cutting EU carbon (excluding international aviation and shipping, and embodied carbon in imports) is for a 40% cut by 2030. This will have to be done by the member states’ cutting emissions at home, instead of funding projects abroad as offsets. This target is weaker than many green campaigners had called for, but stronger than the alternatives that some member states and commissioners were championing right to the final stages of the negotiations. The 40% is not ambitious, but it might be considered to be broadly in line with the EU’s longer term target to reduce emissions by 80% of their 1990 level by 2050. However it is not enough to help prevent the world warming by 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels – the minimum level of ambition agreed by 192 countries in 1992. Others suggest the level should be a 55% cut, or more, by 2050 to make a serious contribution. Aviation needs to play its part in this, rather than being allowed to increase its carbon emissions. 

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In brief: The EU’s new 2030 climate and energy package

  • 22 Jan 2014 (Carbon Brief)
  • Mat Hope

 Credit: Rock Cohen

The European Commission today announced new energy and climate targets for the EU. Here are three things you really need to know:

1. The targets

The EU has three existing targets – on greenhouse gases, renewable energy, and energy efficiency – to see it through to 2020. Today’s announcement was about what the EU would do to 2030.

Climate target:

To reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. This will have to be done by the member states’ cutting emissions at home, instead of funding projects abroad.

Renewable energy target:

The commission has recommended that the EU seeks to get 27 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. It doesn’t require specific countries to adjust their policies to meet the goal, however.

Energy efficiency target:

Today’s announcement did not set a new energy efficiency goal. The role of energy efficiency policies will be clarified when the commission publishes an Energy Efficiency Directive is published later this year.

2. The climate goal isn’t wildly ambitious

Despite the EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, claiming that new climate goal was “not a small statement, it’s a big statement” of the EU’s intentions, the 40 per cent target isn’t particularly ambitious.

The EU’s own impact assessment suggests emissions could be cut by about 32 per cent if countries carried on implementing climate and energy policies as expected. The 40 per cent goal is more ambitious than some commentators were expecting, however. There had been speculation that the commission would recommend a 35 per cent emissions reduction goal.

While the 40 per cent goal is broadly in line with the EU’s longer term target to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, it might not be enough to help prevent the world warming by two degrees above pre-industrial levels – the minimum level of ambition agreed by 192 countries in 1992.

The 40 per cent goal is the “least ambitious” target the commission could have proposed if it remains committed to limiting warming, environmental consultancy Ecofys argues. It says the latest research suggests the EU should instead be aiming for a 50 per cent reduction.

Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre on Climate Research goes further. He argues that if the climate is a bit more sensitive to greenhouse gases, or emissions peak later than scientists thought they would back in 2007, the EU’s new target should be closer to an 80 per cent reduction.

3. It’s not clear how the EU will ensure countries ramp up renewables

The new 2030 renewable energy target represents a change of approach by the European Commission.

Previously, countries had specific targets to go alongside the wider EU goal. The commission today decided to give countries more flexibility, making the target binding for the region, but not specific countries.

That could mean that some countries – most likely Germany – take most of the burden of increasing the EU’s renewable energy generation, while other countries do little. The commission’s president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said it would ensure renewable energy policies across the region “add up” to 27 per cent, but didn’t specify how.

In the end, it could come down to the EU trusting countries to fulfil their climate promises and hoping renewable energy plays a large part in their efforts.

The 27 per cent target is also not very ambitious. The commission’s own analysis suggests renewable energy would provide about 24 per cent of the the EU’s energy in 2030 even if there were no targets.

That could explain why Barroso said he thought the overall package was “ambitious, but feasible”.

Next steps for the EU’s 2030 climate targets:

  • February 2014: European parliament votes on its position on the commission’s 2030 target proposal.
  • March 2014: Member state ministers and heads of state discuss the 2030 target in the EU Council
  • June 2014: Commission releases the energy efficiency directive
  • June 2014: Member states potentially meet again to discuss energy and climate issues
  • 2020: Deadline for EU states to meet old 2020 greenhouse gas, renewable energy, and energy efficiency targets

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/01/in-brief-the-eu%E2%80%99s-new-2030-climate-and-energy-package-(1)/

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EU to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030

UK overruled in landmark climate deal that requires bloc to produce 27% of its energy from renewable sources

 news conference on the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy EU2030, EC headquarters, Brussels

European energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger (l), EC president Jose Manuel Barroso (c) and climate chief Connie Hedegaard at the EU2030 Framework for Climate and Energy conference in Brussels. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Europe will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, the toughest climate change target of any region in the world, and will produce 27% of its energy from renewable sources by the same date.

The landmark deal was reached after grinding negotiations dragged onto the deadline of 11am on Wednesday, as warring factions within theEuropean commission and member states fought over whether to water down the proposals.

The EU is now the first to set out emissions reduction targets ahead of a crunch meeting of world governments in Paris in 2015 that will decide a global framework for avoiding dangerous levels of global warming. Every other major developed and developing economy is expected to set out its own binding national emissions target within the next year, for the United Nations talks to go ahead.

Ed Davey, the UK’s energy and climate change secretary, bitterly opposed the renewable energy target, but was overruled as big member states including Germany, France and Italy backed it.

Davey said: “Today’s proposals are a step in the right direction towards an ambitious emissions reduction target for Europe. They provide the flexibility to tackle climate change in the most cost-effective way, so that British consumers aren’t paying over the odds to go green.” But he added that “the UK remains concerned about any renewables target.”

Europe’s emissions trading system will also be reformed as part of the 2030 energy and climate package, with a more flexible mechanism to allow the surplus of carbon permits to be curbed, and member states will have an “indicative” target – that is, not legally binding – of improving energy efficiency by 25% by 2030.

Disputes behind the scenes meant that the unveiling of the blueprint, the biggest climate initiative delivered by Brussels since 2008, was delayed by 40 minutes.

The targets are weaker than many green campaigners had called for, but stronger than the alternatives that some member states and commissioners were championing right to the final stages of the negotiations. The Guardian understands that some commissioners were calling for an emissions target of only 35%, compared with 1990 levels, while the UK failed to gather support for its own opposition to a bindingrenewable energy target. Studies show that the EU’s emissions are likely to be 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, making the targets easier to meet.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission, told a press conference on Wednesday: “We want this package to be owned by all Europeans. We believe that this package is ambitious but realistic.” He said Europe had shown it was a leader on tackling climate change.

The measures will be debated by member state governments and the European parliament, before they can be fully accepted. The European council, made up of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, will discuss the proposals in March.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate chief, hailed the compromise. She said: “If all other big economies in the world do a relatively ambitious effort equal to what we are now proposing, the world will be in a better state when it comes to combating climate change.”

However, reaction to the deal was mixed. The European Wind Energy Association said that the renewables target included in the deal, which had been in doubt until the final moments, was too weak and would cost potential jobs as a result. Thomas Becker, chief executive of the industry body, cited a study from the European commission that found a 30% target on renewables could have created more than 560,000 jobs and boosted economic growth by saving on expensive fuel imports.

The 27% renewables target may be easily achieved by 2030 not least because Germany, the world leader on renewable power and the EU’s biggest economy, is implementing a radical energy shift away from nuclear into renewables.

Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, strongly supported both the renewable energy and emissions targets. Unlike the UK, she said Berlin was keen to have binding renewable targets and added that the 40% carbon cut was the minimum acceptable to Germany. At the UN climate talks in Paris next year, she said, it was entirely conceivable that Europe would move beyond the 40% carbon reduction target.

Harry Verhaar, head of global public and government affairs at Philips, said: “Today’s proposal falls short of expectations of European companies looking for a strong framework to invest and innovate in Europe. The omission of a binding energy efficiency target is particularly disappointing. European policy-makers must realise that Europe will never lead on cheap energy and must lead on least consumed energy – energy efficiency is a key driver in making Europe more competitive and energy-independent.”

Mahi Sideridou, managing director of Greenpeace, said the deal was not strong enough: “The January sales are on and it looks like Europe’s dirty energy companies have bagged a bargain. The commission’s plan for 2030 is a sell-out that would knock the wind out of a booming renewables industry. European citizens will pay the price [in] fewer green jobs, more imports of expensive fossil fuels and shorter lives because of pollution.”

Monica Frassoni, president of the European Alliance to Save Energy, said: “This is a depressing day for Europe. We currently have an energy paradigm where we send billions of euros out of Europe rather than employing people in Europe to save energy. Today’s communication was a chance to fix this – instead the commission has given in to the intense lobbying efforts of the large energy providers and energy intensive industries, and what we have is a disaster both for Europe’s climate and our competitiveness.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/22/eu-carbon-emissions-climate-deal-2030

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EU 2030 climate and energy targets – Greenpeace comment

22 January, 2014

Commenting on the EU climate and energy package announced today, Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven said:

“After months of bickering and in-fighting the European commission has produced a set of proposals that will satisfy almost no-one. They will do little to tackle climate change and in their current form give little certainty to Europe’s once thriving but now fragile clean tech sector. They would also leave European consumers hopelessly exposed to rising fossil fuel prices, which is what drove up energy bills in the first place.

“The commission has set out its broken stall – it’s now up to Europe’s elected leaders to fix it. They must agree to cut greenhouse gases by at least 55% by 2030 if they wish to play a meaningful role in a new global climate deal and help reduce the devastating impacts of extreme weather. They must also put in place a renewables policy that will give genuine confidence to those wishing to invest in Europe. Anything less will see Europe fall further and further behind the US and China in the global race for clean energy markets.

“This toothless policy, which involves no legal obligation on member states, has the fingerprints of a UK government in hock to the Big Six energy giants written all over it. David Cameron now has a clear choice ahead of him. He can go to Brussels and fight for British interests – which means supporting a genuinely binding renewables target that works for our world-class clean energy sector – or he can sacrifice the stability of the climate and the future of British industries in an attempt to buy off his party’s anti-green clique.

“Building a UK’s clean energy system will also be cheaper for consumers if we do it with our European partners. Grid interconnections, expanded markets and economies of scale will all help drive down the costs of renewable energy – whilst isolating our energy system from that of our nearest neighbours will pile more costs on UK tax-payers and bill payers”

ENDS

Five reasons why a genuinely binding renewables target makes sense

1. UK leadership: Thanks to its position as a world leader in the field of offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies – something David Cameron himself likes to boast about – the UK would only benefit from a binding target that will increase supply chain certainty across the EU, sharpening market appetite for clean energy tech across the continent. This means more opportunities to export the cutting-edge technological know-how developed in Britain over the last few years, reaping the rewards of our ambitious investment.

2. Energy security: A binding target would encourage European interconnection and regional co-operation. A more interconnected EU grid would reduce the cost of keeping the lights on because of more effective sharing of energy resources. It would also create opportunities to export surplus UK renewable power at times of low UK demand, thereby generating revenues for the UK

3. No extra cost for consumers: The UK’s share of the EU’s renewable targets currently under discussion is lower than the level of renewable energy deployment illustrated in all the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC’s) 2030 power decarbonisation scenarios. This means that meeting these targets will not create additional costs for electricity consumers. And the alternatives to renewables would hardly be a bargain for bill payers. Ofgem figures show that between March 2011 and March 2012 bills rose by around £150, and about £100 of that was due to the higher wholesale cost of gas.

4. More jobs: The Commission’s own figures show binding targets on renewables and energy efficiency could add half a million more jobs to the sector by 2030 than a binding emissions target alone. This is on top of the 1.2 million jobs the renewable industry has already created across the EU – a 30 per cent increase from 2009 in the midst of the worst recession in a century. In the UK, research shows the offshore wind industry alone could create over 100,000 additional jobs by 2025.

5. Binding targets work: The EU is on track to meet its binding targets to cut emissions and increase the share of renewables but will miss its non-binding energy efficiency goal. This is because binding targets work – they create certainty for investors and cut financing costs. Recent research shows renewable energy sources alone have contributed almost half of all carbon savings achieved in Europe between 2008 and 2012, putting the EU bloc on track to overshoot its emission target for 2020.

 

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/press-releases/eu-2030-climate-and-energy-targets-greenpeace-comment-20140122

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WWF-UK comment:

European Commission dresses up low climate ambition as success

22 January 2014

WWF is disappointed by today’s weak European Commission outline of EU 2030 climate and energy policies. By suggesting a greenhouse gas emissions target out of line with climate science, as well as a low renewable energy target which places no legal requirements on member states, the Commission appears to be putting the brakes on modernising Europe’s energy system.

Jason Anderson, Head of Climate and Energy, WWF European Policy Office said: “After months of anticipation, the Commission has repackaged a slowdown in the current pace of emissions cuts and renewable energy deployment, and called it ambitious. It is putting Europe’s economic modernisation at risk.

“The picture painted by the full set of policy proposals is dispiriting – an energy efficiency target has been deferred; cancelling the massive oversupply of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is also deferred; closing the gaps in EU shale gas legislation is deferred. I’m sure the fossil fuel lobbyists will sleep well tonight.

“It is now up to Member State governments to show the political leadership needed to inspire Europe towards an industrial and economic revolution that will provide for both people and the planet.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. Today ahead of the white paper’s publication, leading NGOs including CAN Europe, WWF, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, APRODEV, Carbon Market Watch, EEB, HEAL and Women in Europe for a Common Future staged a cry for HELP! in the front of the European Commission – calling on the European Commission and the EU Heads of State and Government to put EU climate ambition back on track with what its citizens – and science – are calling for. Pictures of the actions are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwf_eu/12049718004/ 

2. WWF is calling for EU targets on greenhouse gas cuts (at least 55%), renewable energy generation (at least 45%), and energy savings (at least 40%), which are legally binding and effort shared between Member States. Further details can be found in WWF’s response to the European Commission Green Paper on a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies – http://www.wwf.eu/what_we_do/climate/publications_climate/?209335/WWF-position-on-2030-EU-Climate-and-Energy-policy 

http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/press_centre/index.cfm?6986

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More problems for aviation in the EU ETS as France, UK and Germany will not enforce sanctions for non- compliance

German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, wants the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law on the ETS unless member states start enforcing the existing law. He is supported in this by both the environmental groups, who want better control of aviation carbon emissions, and from a very different perspective, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which fears that if non-EU airlines are not forced to pay for carbon permits, while EU airlines are, they will be at a competitive disadvantage. Since the freeze (“stop the clock”) ended in October, the Commission proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace. At present the EU is not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese wants the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges. And to do it before May – Germany and France don’t want to do this.
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Liese to block ETS aviation remedy

By Dave Keating 

23.1.2014 (European Voice)

German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, who is shaping legislation on the integration of aviation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, will today (23 January) call on the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law unless member states start enforcing the existing law.

Liese will be backed at a press conference by environmental groups and the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which has complained that the EU’s “surrender” on the issue will hurt European airlines and benefit their competitors from outside the EU.

All planes landing or taking off at EU airports became subject to fees in the EU’s carbon market as of 1 January 2012. However, after howls of protest from Russia, China, India and the US, the Commission froze application of the charges for non-EU flights. That freeze is scheduled to end soon.

In response to what it says were positive developments toward developing a global mechanism to reduce aviation emissions last year, the Commission in October proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace.

In the meantime, EU regulators are not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese, who supports the Commission’s approach, is calling on the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges.

Liese will say that a vote scheduled for the environment committee on 30 January should go ahead, but that the plenary vote should not be scheduled until member states co-operate.

Because of the way France and Germany transposed the ETS directive, they only have the legal authority to punish non-compliant airlines for one year. This authority will expire on 1 May. The MEPs believe that the two countries are trying to run out the clock until then, and that after 1 May they will say their law simply doesn’t allow them to punish the foreign airlines. Sources say France currently has no intention of enforcing the directive, while Germany is pleading with the Chinese airlines to voluntarily comply.

MEPs believe they have leverage because member states need this rule to be in place before foreign airlines become liable at the end of the freeze on charges. On Tuesday the Parliament’s transport committee backed the member states, rejecting the Commission’s ‘airspace’ approach. However the environment committee has the lead on the file and is expected to side with the Commission.

 http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/liese-to-block-ets-aviation-remedy/79369.aspx

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Revised European Emissions Plan Draws Criticism from All Corners

by  RICK ADAMS (AIN online)
January 20, 2014,
The European Parliament proposes to assess all airlines for CO2 emissions while overflying 27 European Union members plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the North Sea and the Mediterranean – despite ICAO consensus to develop a global scheme by 2016.

Despite an apparent historic consensus at the ICAO Triennial Assembly in Montreal in early October to develop a global market-based mechanism for managing aircraft emissions, the European Commission (EC) has pressed ahead with plans to implement emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the meantime. The key difference lies in the fact that the new policy would apply only to fuel burned within European airspace, rather than cover full intercontinental flights to and from European cities.

But, crucially, it would still apply to non-EU airlines, provoking renewed resistance from the air transport industry, even though European officials always made clear their intention to take some form of limited unilateral action ahead of implementation of the envisioned worldwide system.

“It would take us back to the brink of a trade war, a situation the industry certainly would want to avoid,” warned Paul Steele, senior vice president of member and external relations for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), at a media event last month in Geneva, Switzerland.

The European Parliament must vote on the plan by April for airlines to meet emissions reporting requirements for applicable flights in 2013. Schedules call for a preliminary vote to move forward on January 30 in the parliament’s environment committee. Upcoming elections in late May for most of the parliament’s 766 members appear sure to complicate the political wrangling.

The new plan still requires all airlines that fly into or out of airports in the European Economic Area (EEA) to account for their carbon dioxide emissions and purchase carbon credits for any that are not covered by an allowance of free credits. TheEEA comprises the 27 members of the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Airlines would not have to report their emissions while flying over Switzerland, which is a member of neither the EU nor EEA.

More than a dozen other countries, known as “the coalition of the unwilling”—including the US, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia—opposed the original EU-ETS scheme on sovereignty grounds. The U.S. Congress passed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act 2011, barring U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the EU-ETS.

China used economic leverage, holding up a $12 billion order for Airbus aircraft. TheEU backed off, deferring in November 2012 to the forthcoming ICAO assembly and implementing a “stop the clock” policy that applied only to European airlines. The Chinese then allowed the order for Airbus A330s and A380s to proceed.

Plans for the EU to forge ahead on its own have drawn dissension within Europe. French, German and UK government leaders—three countries with huge stakes in Airbus—have publicly opposed the new EU emissions implementation.

Meanwhile, European low-fare carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair object to the prospect of EU-only fees diminishing their competitiveness against non-European airlines. European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) secretary general John Hanlon has called for reversion to an all-flights ETS as “the real way to remedy the reduction in environmental effectiveness, instead of the attempt to inflict further discriminatory and distortive penalties on those operators and their end-customers,EU citizens.”

Environmental groups consider the ICAO resolution, which calls a market-based mechanism plan by 2016 and implementation by 2020, a delaying tactic. Peter Liese, a spokeman for the European Parliament’s environmental committee, called the ICAO resolution “a very modest result.”

“We have no guarantee that a system will be introduced in 2020 and that the benefit for the environment is substantial,” he added. “There are too many ifs and buts. EU law has to be applied and we can’t give in to threats. We must not capitulate and be bullied by third countries.”

http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/2014-01-20/revised-european-emissions-plan-draws-criticism-all-corners

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Earlier:

NGO letter to governments of France, Germany, & UK on inclusion in ETS of flights in EU airspace

December 20, 2013

France, Germany, and the UK governments have come out jointly to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to amend the aviation ETS to cover emissions from all flights within EU airspace. They want to continue to “stop the clock”, which exempts all long-haul flights. That means 75% of emissions from flights using European airports are uncontrolled or unregulated. Such a move is clearly not motivated by environmental considerations. Four NGOs (Transport & Environment, the Aviation Environment Federation, Réseau Action Climat France, and Bund (Friends of the Earth – Germany) ) have written to French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK prime minister David Cameron to express deep concerns about their governments’ continued efforts to weaken aviation ETS. The NGOs are calling on the leaders to urgently withdraw the UK/Germany/France joint proposal and lend their government’s support to base the ETS on regional airspace. They also urge the leaders to support the European Commission’s proposal to ensure enforcement measures are taken against airlines which have failed to comply with their 2012 obligations.       Click here to view full story…

 

Prospects of the ETS survival weakened by pressure against it from UK, Germany and France

December 5, 2013

The prospects of carbon emissions from aviation being adequately accounted for by the EU ETS in future look bleak. The Commission has proposed changing the law so aviation emissions that take place outside EU air space are exempt. But Germany, France and the UK want to exempt foreign airlines from the ETS entirely – even for the portions of flights that take place within EU airspace – because anything less would not be politically acceptable to China, India, Russia and the United States. Some MEPs are now lining up against the Commission as well. The Parliament is still likely to be evenly split, when it comes time to vote, between those who oppose any retreat, those who support the Commission’s semi-retreat, and those who support the member states’ full retreat. The problem with the partial retreat is that foreign airlines (other than those from small developing countries) would still be liable for emissions taking place within EU airspace for flights landing or taking off at EU airports. Even the most stalwart European lawmakers have admitted privately that they could not hope to hold out against the combined pressure of Beijing, Washington and Airbus. The choice now lies between partial retreat and (more likely) full retreat. There will be a vote in January about the draft proposal.    Click here to view full story…

 

Peter Liese MEP seeks to strengthen draft EU directive on aviation in the ETS

November 29, 2013      .The European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, wants to tighten an EU directive on aviation in the EU ETS. The German liberal MEP, who is steering the draft directive through Parliament, is backing the EC’s compromise proposal, while proposing amendments to further strengthening the ETS. Peter Liese is advising the EU to revise its relevant legislation by 2016, not 2020, to put more pressure on ICAO to reach a global deal sooner rather than later. ICAO agreed in October to develop a global MBM to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, at its next general assembly in 2016. That could take effect in 2020. But European trust in the ICAO outcome is waning, as its record on action on CO2 in the past is dismal. Liese said: “….it is not at all sure that the ICAO Assembly in 2016 will really succeed to adopt clear rules for the MBM.” His draft proposal is effectively threatening the ICAO that the EU will revert to a full ETS from 2017 if global agreement is not reached. Already aviation gets special treatment in the ETS as only 15% of its permits are auctioned (higher % for other sectors) and the cap on emissions is only 5% lower, while other sectors have to reduce their emissions by 21% from their 1990 level by 2020. Environmental organisations reacted warmly.      Click here to view full story…

 

 

Count us out of carbon-neutral growth measures, China and other major emerging countries tell ICAO

November 4, 2013       At the ICAO Assembly last month, it was agreed it would work towards a global market based measure (MBM) for aviation emissions, by 2020 – itself a weak position taking too long to start to deal with the issue. GreenAir online reports that now China says the adoption of a carbon-neutral growth goal from 2020 without differentiated responsibilities would impede development of its international aviation activities. China and other emerging countries, with fast expanding aviation, say that though they may want goals to reduce international aviation emissions, it should be the responsibility of the developed countries to make the cuts. ie. this is further wrangling within the ICAO, which is why the organisation has failed over decades to get any agreement on practical action on aviation emissions. To add to the obstacles in getting progress on a MBM, the USA has objected to the de minimis provisions [ie. that the smallest countries, which contribute each below 1% of global aviation CO2 are excluded] in the Assembly climate resolution and the inclusion of the differentiated responsibilities principle. The deep divisions remain on this issue, between the developed and developing world.        Click here to view full story…

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and more ETS news at 

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The world does not end in 2100. Why do we ignore future generations, when it comes to climate change?

In a blog for Business Green, James Murray writes on the important – and generally ignored – topic of human myopia when it comes to considering future generations, and what the impact of our current actions will be on them. Most climate models indicate that by 2100 the global temperature may be 4-6C higher than now. “But the world will not end in 2100. Unless we get a handle on climate change in the next few decades we risk bequeathing the next century environmental challenges so great they will make our current problems look like the Garden of Eden. ” “Projections for the 22nd Century based on business as normal emissions suggest that climate change and ocean acidification could leave generations just a few decades hence with a biosphere only science fiction directors would recognise. Does any of this matter? None of us will be around to see it and we all know that economists discount future generations.” Yes, it does matter.  Taking a relaxed approach to climate change and arguing “something will turn up to address the problem” is not enough. We cannot blindly take the view that the current generation must take primacy.
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The world does not end in 2100

Why is there so little engagement with the concept of historic legacy when it comes to climate change?

10 Jan 2014 (James Murray’s blog, at Business Green)

……. (first few paragraphs not copied here, as not directly relevant to climate ….)

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The reason I’ve been thinking a lot about a lecture theatre from 10 years ago is that the past few months has seen the climate change debate informed by what I regard as a highly dubious fixation on short term concerns – and by short term I mean up to 2100.

A lot has been written in the past about the tactical and strategic lessons environmentalists can learn from successful campaigns for socio-economic transformation, such as emancipation, universal suffrage, and civil rights. But what these analyses often fail to emphasise is the way in which the success or failure of these campaigns is felt decades and centuries later.

Just to be absolutely clear I am categorically not arguing that there is an equivalence between the current carbon reliant economic system and the economic systems underpinned by slavery, sexual discrimination, or apartheid. Environmentalists can learn a lot from previous economic transitions and humanitarian campaigns, just as they can learn a lot from the industrial mobilisation achieved during the war years, but the parallels are not exact. Decarbonisation is not the same as ending slavery, just as it is not the same as mobilising for war, despite the tendency of some environmentalists to equate the green economy with these historic events.

However, there are similarities in the way that the implications of historic industrial, economic, legal, and political revolutions are measured using timescales that run into decades and centuries, not just the next quarter or the next political cycle.

When it comes to climate change, this historical perspective is hugely important and oft-ignored.

The vast majority of climate models run through to 2100 and warn that we face hugely damaging warming of between 4-6C unless urgent action is taken to curb global emissions with almost immediate effect. Throw in the “known unknowns” that could materialise in the form of runaway climate change trigger points and the last few decades of this century could end up looking extremely bleak. But the world will not end in 2100. Unless we get a handle on climate change in the next few decades we risk bequeathing the next century environmental challenges so great they will make our current problems look like the Garden of Eden. The relatively few projections that have been done for the 22nd Century based on business as normal emissions suggest that climate change and ocean acidification could leave generations just a few decades hence with a biosphere only science fiction directors would recognise.

Does any of this matter? None of us will be around to see it and we all know that economists discount future generations. Besides, some of the short term impacts of climate change may actually benefit us, as everyone’s favourite climate contrarians keep arguing.

Well, I’d argue it does matter. It really matters.

First, some of us will see it. As I’ve argued before, if I live as long as my eldest grandfather I will see the 2070s. A child born today, and you’ll probably each have your own young relative to think of here, has a good chance of seeing the turn of the century. The future is unknowable, but it is generationally true that many of the grandchildren of my coevals will be able to remember us in 2150. In this context, I’m not sure how much the precise year that we get an ice free Arctic Sea matters if scientific projections are right and it is a likely occurence at some point in the decades hence.

Writing about HS2 recently, Times columnist Matthew Parris expressed his bemusement of the attitude of those in late middle age who dismiss the project on the grounds that they will never be able to ride on it, as if there is no merit in infrastructure that will benefit future generations. As the famous Ancient Greek proverb goes: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never see”. Exactly the same argument stands as one of the primary reasons why urgent action to tackle climate change is not just economically sensible, but morally essential.

This is one of the main reasons I find those arguments that accept manmade climate change is happening, but insist we should relax because some climate impacts may benefit us, because we are uncertain about the precise nature of the impacts, or because a silver bullet technology will make it easier to combat in the future so flawed. Not only are they guilty of blatant cherry-picking from climate models to support their case, but they operate on the reckless assumption that in just a few decades time we will somehow solve this problem and we need not worry about it too much in the meantime.

We are being asked to play Russian Roulette and the point at which we get to pull the trigger isn’t even that far away. Even if the suggestion climate change benefits outweigh costs through to the 2060s is valid – and there are plenty of scientists and economists who argue that it is not in any way valid – many of us will still be alive in 2070. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I don’t really want to live through the results of an experiment on the biosphere during my last few years on this mortal coil.

Of course, advocates of this relaxed approach to climate change would argue that something will turn up to address the problem and in the meantime the current generation must take primacy and we must do all we can to help poor and vulnerable communities now, including by giving them access to low cost dirty power.

There is some genuine merit in this argument, but it rather ignores the fact many of these communities are already being impacted by climate change, they would prefer cost effective clean power (a reality in many parts of the world) over dirty power, and regardless of short term concerns absolutely no one will thank our generation if the worst case climate scenarios prove even halfway accurate. Moreover, simply hoping that the technology fairy will save us is the very height of recklessness when the stakes are so high.

Does this matter to businesses, particularly when they face such intense short term challenges? Well, it matters to those businesses that have been around for decades and want to be around in decades hence. There are many great corporate institutions that were founded during the last industrial revolution and want to prosper during the next industrial revolution. There are even some that played a role in either prolonging or challenging slavery, much as they may like to now forget that part of their history. Virtually all businesses will want to still be around in the 22nd century. Moreover, any political or business leader who puts any truck in the concept of legacy – and don’t they all? – must realise that where they stand on climate change has the potential to echo through the ages.

There are numerous short to medium term reasons why the world should mobilise urgently to build a low carbon economy. BusinessGreen reports on them every day and they include, but are not limited to, the need to minimise the climate impacts we will experience in the next few decades, the health benefits associated with cleaner air, water and soil, the economic benefits associated with resource efficiency, energy efficiency, and less volatile energy sources, the commercial gains that will come from new green technologies, and the humanitarian benefits that could be realised through a more sustainable agricultural system and better fisheries management.

But there is also a compelling long term reason for action that can best be articulated by a simple question: How do you want the students of the 2150s to remember us?

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/james-blog/2322021/the-world-does-not-end-in-2100

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Cameron “suspects” extreme weather linked to climate change

At the first Prime Ministers’ Questions of the New Year, David Cameron revealed that he “very much suspects” increased incidents of extreme weather are linked to climate change. In comments that may not please his climate sceptic Conservative colleagues, the Prime Minister acknowledged that climate change was likely to be contributing to an increase in extreme weather experienced by the UK and underlined his commitment to the Climate Change Act and the government’s Green Investment Bank.  Responding to a question from Lib Dem President Tim Farron in which he asserted that there was “no doubt” climate change was having some impact on extreme weather and urged Cameron to commit to climate change targets, the Prime Minister stopped short of confirming that he would block any changes to the current fourth carbon budget when it is reviewed this year. But he insisted the government was “committed to carbon reduction targets” and had taken steps to ensure that they are met, such as the launch of the Green Investment Bank. Earlier the shadow Environment team implied that the Secretary of State Owen Patterson’s well-documented climate scepticism could undermine the UK’s ability to respond to worsening extreme weather impacts.
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Cameron “suspects” extreme weather linked to climate change

Prime Minister commits Defra to report on whether UK flood preparedness is adequate in light of climate threat

By James Murray

8 Jan 2014 (Business Green)

Flooding by Environment Agency

The first Prime Ministers’ Questions of the New Year saw climate change back at the top of the political agenda, as David Cameron revealed that he “very much suspects” increased incidents of extreme weather are linked to climate change.

In comments that will anger some of his climate sceptic colleagues, the Prime Minister acknowledged that climate change was likely to be contributing to an increase in extreme weather experienced by the UK and underlined his commitment to the Climate Change Act and the government’s Green Investment Bank.

Responding to a question from Lib Dem President Tim Farron in which he asserted that there was “no doubt” climate change was having some impact on extreme weather and urged Cameron to commit to climate change targets, the Prime Minister stopped short of confirming that he would block any changes to the current fourth carbon budget when it is reviewed this year.

But he insisted the government was “committed to carbon reduction targets” and had taken steps to ensure that they are met, such as the launch of the Green Investment Bank.

The exchange came after Labour leader Ed Miliband challenged the Prime Minister to explain why it had taken longer than expected to restore power to some households affected by the recent flooding and asked him whether Defra would now report by the end of the month on the current level of flood preparedness.

Cameron confirmed that Defra would report again on the response to the floods and future flood plans, reiterating his argument that flood defence work had helped to protect around 800,000 homes last month and stressing that government and private sector money was being invested in flood protection.

Exchanges during PMQs were notably more civil than in recent months, however Cameron and Defra can expect to face tough questions over the government’s flood strategy in the coming weeks, with Labour and green groups arguing that government spending on flood management has fallen in real terms during this parliament.

Miliband’s question on Defra’s “flood preparedness” follows a report from MPs earlier this week that questioned whether the department could deliver steep budget cuts and remain responsive to emergencies.

It also echoes questioning of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson by Labour MPs this week, during which the shadow Environment team implied that the Secretary of State’s well-documented climate scepticism could undermine the UK’s ability to respond to worsening extreme weather impacts.

Most notably, critics have highlighted how the government’s new Flood Re insurance scheme fails to take account of future climate projections, meaning that thousands of at-risk households could end up uninsured.

Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins, said that Paterson now had “serious questions to answer” about Defra’s flood preparedness and climate adaptation strategy.

“With Owen Paterson in charge of defending the country from flooding, the government’s credibility is sinking fast,” he said. “The Environment Secretary says the government is spending more on flood defences, when in fact he’s presided over a real-terms cut and hundreds of Environment Agency jobs are under threat – his refusal to accept the science of climate change may be blinding him to the human costs of the consequences of this.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2321716/cameron-suspects-extreme-weather-linked-to-climate-change

 

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8 January 2014  (BBC)

Cameron ‘suspects’ floods linked to climate change

The floods affecting large parts of the country are probably connected to climate change, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister told MPs that there were more “abnormal” weather events occurring and he “suspected” they were linked to global temperature changes.

Several senior Conservatives, including former Chancellor Lord Lawson, are professed “climate change sceptics”.

Whatever the reason for the recent weather, Mr Cameron said it made sense to invest in the UK’s flood defences.

David Cameron says floods around the UK over the last few weeks are probably connected to climate change

The government has insisted it is spending more on flood defence than its predecessor but critics say budget cuts in recent year have affected planning, maintenance and the capacity to respond to incidents.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, Mr Cameron pledged to lead the “greenest government ever” but critics have accused ministers of rowing back on a range of commitments in the face of business and political concerns.

Some Tory MP and peers, Lord Lawson being the most prominent, have cast doubt on scientific theories on climate change which argue that human activity is predominately responsible for recent rises in global temperatures.


Quote

Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is”

David Cameron

Labour has suggested Mr Paterson, who became environment secretary in 2012, is sympathetic to their views and suggested this may have influenced decisions on flood budgets – claims described as “nonsense” by government sources.

Speaking on the BBC’s Any Questions programme in June, Mr Paterson said the climate had been “going up and down” for centuries and pointed out that the earth’s surface temperature “has not changed in the last 17 years”.

“The real question, that everyone is trying to address, is this influenced by man-made activity in recent years.”

“There is almost certainly bound to be some influence by man-made activity but we have just got to be rational and make sure the measures we take to counter it do not actually cause more damage,” he said.

Carbon act

Mr Cameron made the comments in response to a question from Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, who suggested the recent weather was a “destructive and inevitable consequence, at least in part, of climate change”.

Mr Cameron replied: “I agree with you that we are seeing more abnormal weather events. Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is.

“The point is that whatever one’s view it makes sense to invest in flood defences…It makes sense to get information out better and we should do all of those things.”

The prime minister said the coalition was committed to reducing carbon emissions and meeting its international targets.

“We worked with the last government to put the Carbon Act into place. It wouldn’t have happened without our support,” he added.

“We also have the Green Investment Bank up and running in Edinburgh and it’s going to be investing billions of pounds in important green projects.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25656426

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Global aviation anticipated to carry on expanding at 5% per year out to 2032 … and beyond

The world’s addiction to flying shows no signs of slowing, despite increasing concerns over the industry’s impact on climate change.   New data from the Worldwatch Institute shows the number of people taking flights in 2012 hit 2,957 million, a 4.7% increase on 2011. That’s triple the number of people flying in 1986.  Boeing predicts world passenger numbers and air cargo traffic will rise 5% annually until 2032. The“insatiable” desire for air travel is bad news for climate change, as growth in the sector is faster than fuel efficiency improvements – giving a large net increase in CO2 emissions each year. In 2012, aviation produced 689 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of the global total. A 2009 paper in the Atmospheric Environment journal calculated air travel was responsible for 4.9% of man-made climate change.  As their affluence increases,people travel more and more.  International flights are responsible for the majority of air miles travelled. In 2012, while only 39% of passengers were on international flights, they accounted for 62% of the overall distance travelled.  The world’s aircraft fleet is expected to grow to 36,500 carriers by 2032, says Airbus, or to more than 41,000, says rival Boeing.
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Aviation industry set to expand 5% per year

2 January 2014 (RTCC)

“Insatiable” desire for travel bad news for climate change, as aviation sector grows faster than fuel efficiency improvements

Souce: Flickr / Vyacheslav Bondaruk

Souce: Flickr / Vyacheslav Bondaruk

By Sophie Yeo

The world’s addiction to flying shows no signs of slowing, despite increasing concerns over the industry’s impact on climate change.

New data from the Worldwatch Institute reveals that the number of people taking flights in 2012 hit 2,957 million, a 4.7% increase on 2011.

That’s over nine times the population of the USA, and triple the number of people flying in 1986. Leading plane manufacturer Boeing predicts world passenger numbers and air cargo traffic will rise 5% annually until 2032.

In 2012, aviation produced 689 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of the global total. A 2009 paper in the Atmospheric Environment journal calculated was responsible for 4.9% of manmade climate change. ( link )

“The desire for travel is insatiable. We love to see foreign countries and if we can afford to do it we will,” Guy Turner, chief economist at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told RTCC.

“Air technology is improving so they’re getting quieter, more efficient, which is allowing people to travel more and more as their wealth increases.”

International flights are responsible for the majority of air miles travelled. In 2012, while only 39% of passengers were on board international flights, they accounted for 62% of the overall distance travelled because of the greater number of kilometres clocked up by each flight.

Air travel punches above its weight as far as environmental impact is concerned, since emitting CO2 high up in the atmosphere has a greater greenhouse impact than on the ground, yet policy attempts to control the industry are as slow as they are acrimonious.

Last year, attempts to regulate the industry through a carbon trading or offsetting scheme fell through at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) meeting in Montreal, and will not be discussed again until 2016.

This is in spite of warnings from scientists that a market-based mechanism is the most effective way to regulate the emissions from the industry.

Unstoppable expansion

Meanwhile, the expansion in unlikely to stop any time soon, with the world’s commercial aeroplane fleet expected to explode to 36,500 carriers by 2032, according to forecasts by aircraft manufacturer Airbus, or to more than 41,000 according to their rival Boeing.

The UK is currently debating a controversial extra runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick airport, three years after previous plans were shelved.

According to ICAO, this fleet has already risen by 33% since 2003, up to a total of 25,252 aircraft. The US dominates this market, with a total 6,000 in service, followed by China, which has just fewer than 2,000. Most of these planes are used to carry passengers.

The growth of the industry has only ever stalled on two occasions: the September 11 attack in 2001 and just after the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Efficiency not enough

The sector will continue to play a disproportionate role in the worsening climate crisis over coming years; Turner points out that improvements in the efficiency of airlines is not enough to combat the growth projected over the coming years

“Yes, aircraft are getting more efficient, but the increase in the demand for travel is growing faster than the improvements in efficiency of the aircraft. The net effect will be a gradual increase in emissions from aircraft,” he said.

“The only way the industry can achieve a stabilisation of emissions or even a reduction would be by offsetting emissions by paying for emission reductions elsewhere in the economy.”

Recent research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicated that the cost of the credits required to meet 50% of the aviation industry’s needs would cost less 0.5% of the industry’s total revenue.

But while economically achievable, co-author Turner added that offsetting enough emissions to achieve the aviation sector’s goal of carbon neutral growth by 2020 “is not trivial to implement”, and would require a gesture of political will from all the countries and airlines involved.

http://www.rtcc.org/2014/01/02/soaring-aviation-industry-set-to-present-huge-climate-challenge-in-2014/

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Air Transport Keeps Expanding

Michael Renner  (Vital Signs – WorldWatch)

Dec 17, 2013

In 2012 the number of people traveling on airplanes reached 2,957 million, which was 4.7% more than the previous year.1 (See Figure 1.)

Although this figure includes a substantial number of people who travel multiple times during the year, it is equivalent to 42% of the world’s population.2

The number of passengers is up 95-fold from 31 million in 1950, when flying was a luxury few could afford, and it is triple the 960 million passengers in 1986, when air travel was already quite common.3

The average length of a flight doubled from 903 kilometers in 1950 to 1,816 kilometers in 2000, but it has not changed much since then and stood at 1,827 kilometers in 2012.4

Longer flights and expanding passenger numbers generated a strong expansion of total passenger kilometers (pkm) traveled— up 193-fold from the 28 billion pkm in 1950 to 5.4 trillion pkm in 2012.5 (See Figure 2.)

The only pauses in an otherwise inexorable expansion came in 2001–02 (following the September 11 attacks in the United States) and in 2008–09 (after the start of the world financial and economic crisis).6

Like passenger air travel, air freight transport has expanded strongly. In 2012, some 49.2 million tons of goods were transported by plane worldwide.7 Even though this is down 1% from 2011, it is 71% more than in 2001.8

Aviation Figure 1

For full access to the complete trend and its associated charts, log in to Vital Signs or:

http://vitalsigns.worldwatch.org/vs-trend/air-transport-keeps-expanding

(Sadly it is necessary to pay to see the full text).

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Connie Hedegaard: Why bold climate action is in Europe’s economic interest

Connie writes that one of the major dilemmas facing political leaders across the world today is how to combine economic prosperity with bold climate action.  It is obvious that climate policy-makers must anticipate the economic impacts of climate policies. Anything else would be irresponsible.  Everybody agrees to this elementary reasoning. But, she says, how come it is not equally elementary to all that economic policy-makers must anticipate the climate impacts of their proposed economic policies? Global economic leaders are finally beginning to understand that, beyond the global economic crisis, the world is experiencing a climate crisis. And none can be resolved without addressing the other.  In January the European Commission will propose a new climate and energy framework for 2030.  Europe’s ambition will be seen by many countries as a benchmark, both in terms of timing and ambition, and an important driver in securing ambition for the domestic preparations of other countries and, as a result, for the 2015 agreement in Paris.  The summit of world leaders on climate change that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host in September 2014 will be a crucial milestone on the road to Paris.
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Why bold climate action is in Europe’s economic interest

6.1.2014 (European Commission)

Connie Hedegaard

 

One of the major dilemmas facing political leaders across the world today is how to combine economic prosperity with bold climate action.

It is obvious that climate policy-makers must anticipate the economic impacts of climate policies. Anything else would be irresponsible. Everybody agrees to this elementary reasoning.

But how come it is not equally elementary to all that economic policy-makers must anticipate the climate impacts of their proposed economic policies?

However, when World Bank President Jim Yong Kim calls climate change a fundamental threat to economic development, IMF’s chief Christine Lagarde says it is by far the greatest economic challenge of this century, and OECD’s chief Angel Gurria says we face a choice “between stranded assets and a stranded planet”, you know that climate change is moving towards the centre of the debate on economic policy.

Global economic leaders are finally beginning to understand that, beyond the global economic crisis, the world is experiencing a climate crisis. And none can be resolved without addressing the other.

With Europe’s economy growing more slowly than those of its major competitors, its leaders must take a more far-sighted approach to restoring – and preserving – its growth potential. This is why in January the European Commission will propose a new climate and energy framework for 2030. Of course a framework that does not run counter to Europe’s economic interests.

Just take our energy bill as an example. For years, imports of fossil fuels have weighed in negatively on the European balance of trade. In 2012 alone, Europe’s imports of oil, coal, and gas, amounted to EUR 545.9 billion, a figure equivalent to the combined GDP of Finland, Hungary, Portugal and Slovakia, or more than five times the aggregate EU trade deficit the same year. Would it not be wise – also economically – to bring down those sorts of bills by saving and producing energy here in Europe?

Furthermore, with record-high unemployment rates, Europe needs jobs in dynamic, competitive industries that cannot easily be outsourced. Currently over 3.5 million people work in the green sector in Europe. Between 1999 and 2008, Europe’s green sector created 180,000 jobs per year. And most of these jobs were retained – and many more created – during the worst years of the economic crisis.

Europe’s competitive edge lies in innovation, technology and increased energy and resource efficiency.  And taking climate action yield most of these important economic benefits. But still, some businesses and politicians fret over the risk of climate policies driving away energy intensive businesses.

Carbon leakage is an important risk but it shouldn’t be exaggerated. In designing climate policies, we have identified the key sectors that are genuinely at risk of carbon leakage and then developed targeted remedial policies. That is of course the sensible thing to do.

With the current safeguards in place, recent independent studies show that Europe is actually guarding well its industries against carbon leakage.

So maybe we should be a bit more concerned about the risk of low-carbon leakage. Without ambitions climate polices, Europe will fail to attract investments in rapidly innovating economic sectors and the high-quality jobs we so badly need. Europe is leading the low-carbon technology race, but other international players are catching up fast. Renewed climate ambition is required to maintain Europe’s advantage in rapidly growing low-carbon markets.

Europe is by far the largest importer of fossil fuel in the world. And as growth in oil production slows and global demand continues to rise, sustained high oil prices and price spikes will have a significant impact on the European economy.

But the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that Europe does have options: we can build an economy that is less dependent on imported energy through increased efficiency and greater reliance on domestically produced clean energy.

Of course, Europe cannot resolve the climate problem alone. We must continue to demand action from the other major economies. Last month, the UN climate conference in Warsaw agreed that all countries, developing and developed, must contribute to the new climate deal to be struck in Paris in 2015, and that all countries should now go home and do their homework, that is, preparing their emission reduction plans well in advance of Paris.

This is what Europe is now busy doing. Europe’s ambition will be seen by many countries as a benchmark, both in terms of timing and ambition, and an important driver in securing ambition for the domestic preparations of other countries and, as a result, for the 2015 agreement.

And with political progress edging forward, the summit of world leaders on climate change that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host in September 2014 will be a crucial milestone on the road to Paris.

Business as usual is not an option if the economic recovery is to be sustained. Many economic leaders get that already. They understand that there is not a choice to make between good economics and climate protection, but that climate action is indeed good economics. European leaders must take bold climate action for their own economy’s prospects for a sustainable economic recovery.

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/hedegaard/headlines/articles/2014-01-06_01_en.htm

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Recent comment on aviation by Connie Hedegaard:

Connie Hedegaard: “Europe is taking responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until global action begins”

16/10/2013

Airplane © Hemera

The European Commission today proposed amending the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) so that aviation emissions would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace.

The adjustment in the legislation would apply from 1 January 2014 and until a global market-based mechanism (MBM) becomes applicable to international aviation emissions by 2020, as planned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Connie Hedegaard said: “In the light of the recent progress made at ICAO, not least thanks to Europe’s hard work and determination, the European Commission today has proposed to adjust the EU ETS so that emissions from the aviation sector would be covered for the part of flights that takes place in European regional airspace. The European Union has reduced greenhouse gas emissions considerably, and all the economic sectors are contributing to these efforts. The aviation sector also has to contribute, as aviation emission are increasing fast – doubling since 1990.”

She added: “I am confident that the European Parliament and the Council will move swiftly and approve this proposal without delay. With this proposal, Europe is taking the responsibility to reduce emissions within its own airspace until the global measure begins.

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Andrew Simms: The only sober way to run Britain’s economy is to learn our limits – including aviation

Writing in the Observer, Andrew Simms (fellow at the NEF and author of the book, “Cancel the Apocalypse”) says that the UK needs to learn to live within the biosphere’s thresholds, its ability to absorb our waste and replenish its productivity. We are not doing this at present, and act as if there were infinite resources available and the planet has infinite capacity to deal with our wastes.  He says Britain’s economy is in the grip of an Icarus complex. ” It touches everything from, appropriately, the debate on aviation expansion, to our increasing dependence on fossil fuels and more.”  By operating within the biosphere’s thresholds, “this introduces an urgent and immediate decision tree. If something like a new airport runway, or expansion of fossil fuel extraction, is going to take you closer to, or further beyond, one of the biosphere’s tolerance thresholds – such as potentially runaway climate change – you branch off and do something else …. that would mean no enlargement of Heathrow, or having to identify compensatory carbon savings elsewhere. The latter is not as easy as it sounds as some official projections for expansion lead to the aviation industry using up the UK’s entire fair global share of safe carbon emissions before too long.”
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The only sober way to run Britain’s economy is to learn our limits

The UK’s economy has an Icarus complex: but with finite resources available, we must stop flying too close to the sun
5.1.2014 (Observer – Business)

Limits govern everything – from the speed of light to our ability to absorb oxygen or withstand heat. The art of operating within the tolerance thresholds of the material world is what keeps roofs above our heads and bridges standing.

Yet, we blithely disregard this at the level of the whole economy. When Daedalus, the Athenian master craftsman, flew, it was a triumph of intelligently crafted ambition. The fall of Icarus, his son, when he failed to respect the heat tolerances of the wax and feathers keeping him aloft, is a lasting monument to fatal disregard of material boundaries.

Britain’s economy is in the grip of an Icarus complex. It touches everything from, appropriately, the debate on aviation expansion, to our increasing dependence on fossil fuels and the historically unprecedented scale and speed of tropical deforestation driven by over-consumption.

At the micro level, engineers learn to work within the thresholds of the material world, but at the macro level economists do not. Their models allow them to externalise the cost of failure. However – as with pyramid-selling schemes – this only delays and makes larger a later, system-wide collapse. The macroeconomics practised by government remains clueless with regard to any theory of optimal scale. Yet, as finance and the sub-prime mortgage market discovered, bigger often doesn’t equal better.

A straightforward proposal logically follows: the economy should operate within the biosphere’s thresholds, its ability to absorb our waste and replenish its productivity. Good estimates are available for what this means in terms of most of our planetary boundaries, from the climate to forests, farming and fisheries.

Once this simple principle is adopted, it introduces an urgent and immediate decision tree. If something like a new airport runway, or expansion of fossil fuel extraction, is going to take you closer to, or further beyond, one of the biosphere’s tolerance thresholds – such as potentially runaway climate change – you branch off and do something else. In a world of rational policy debate that would mean no enlargement of Heathrow, or having to identify compensatory carbon savings elsewhere. The latter is not as easy as it sounds as some official projections for expansion lead to the aviation industry using up the UK’s entire fair global share of safe carbon emissions before too long.

All the tax breaks and subsidies given for gas fracking or offshore oil would be redirected to beneficial alternatives.

If you reject the notion of living within our environmental means and the immediate choices it implies, what is the logical counter-proposal: that we consume and produce waste beyond the biosphere’s ability to absorb and replenish? Such an approach relies upon magical thinking. Yet this is the proposition on which every major economy operates, because none seeks scientifically to identify and operate within the best estimate of its limits.

A peculiar self-absorption allows us to think we can exist separately to the laws that govern the physical world. In its survey of economists for 2014, the Financial Times asked a question about the likely “sustainability” of the UK economy in the year ahead. In it the meaning of sustainability was completely drained of any sense of the environment. It referred only to whether “recovery” – growth in consumption – would continue.

Strangely, the economics of austerity is held up with constant reference to more ideological, self-imposed limits: limits to what we can expect from health, education and other public services, of the pay we can expect or the age at which we can receive a pension. Expectations and ambitions for what the public sphere can achieve are constantly restrained. The only area which knows no bounds in policy terms is the assumption of unlimited consumption growth from finite ecosystems.

There’s an unspoken judgment that to acknowledge limits is defeatist, rather than a mature recognition of basic operating conditions. But, as any architect or civil engineer will tell you, the art, precisely, is in discovering what can be achieved creatively given the tolerance of your materials. Working with physical, material limits doesn’t block creativity, it sets it free – think of the sound unleashed from wood and gut crafted into a violin, the sight lines of a Frank Gehry building or a statue in stone by Michelangelo, Moore or Hepworth. Push, yes, but don’t break.

Concern for the environment doesn’t mean a hair-shirt rejection of the material world. On the contrary, it calls for a healthy relationship with it, based on more respect, knowledge, creativity and care. Yes, it rejects wasteful, debt-fuelled, passive consumerism and calls instead, for a more engaged, hands-on “new materialism”.

green economy does this by insisting on quality over quantity, repairability over disposability and by treating people as intelligent agents, capable of learning about, using, maintaining and remaking material objects that endure. In an economy that recognises and revels in the real world, and more active, creative production, there is far more potential for novelty and pleasure.

The popular retelling of the Icarus myth tends to overlook the achievement of Daedalus, who not only flew but landed safely because he understood limits. Take flight, says the moral of the story – soar – but find a way to do so that doesn’t melt your wax.

 

A new edition of Andrew Simms’s book Cancel the Apocalypse is published by Little, Brown next month. He works for Global Witness and is a fellow of the New Economics Foundation (nef)

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/05/sober-british-economy-learn-our-limits

nef is the UK’s leading think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice. Our purpose is to bring about a Great Transition – to transform the economy so that it works for people and the planet.

The UK and most of the world’s economies are increasingly unsustainable, unfair and unstable. It is not even making us any happier – many of the richest countries in the world do not have the highest well-being.

http://www.neweconomics.org/pages/what-we-do

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See also

“Human Development Within Planetary Boundaries”

UN General Assembly

May 2013

by Johan Rockström, Professor Stockholm Resilience Centre

http://www.un.org/en/ga/president/67/issues/climatechange/Panellists/johan_rockstrom2.pdf

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The Icarus and Daedalus myth:

Daedalus was shut up in a tower to prevent his knowledge of his Labyrinth from spreading to the public. He could not leave Crete by sea, as the king kept strict watch on all vessels, permitting none to sail without being carefully searched.

Since Minos controlled the land and sea routes, Daedalus set to work to fabricate wings for himself and his young son Icarus. He tied feathers together, from smallest to largest so as to form an increasing surface. He secured the feathers at their midpoints with string and at their bases with wax, and gave the whole a gentle curvature like the wings of a bird.

When the work was done, the artist, waving his wings, found himself buoyed upward and hung suspended, poising himself on the beaten air. He next equipped his son in the same manner, and taught him how to fly. When both were prepared for flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high, because the heat of the sun would melt the wax, nor too low, because the sea foam would soak the feathers.

They had passed SamosDelos and Lebynthos by the time the boy, forgetting himself, began to soar upward toward the sun. The blazing sun softened the wax which held the feathers together and they came off. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned. His father cried, bitterly lamenting his own arts, and called the land near the place where Icarus fell into the ocean Icaria in memory of his child.

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