EU wants to cut emissions 45% by 2030

The European Union looks set to agree to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030. Although it currently  a target to cut gases that cause climate change 20% by 2020, which is set to be reviewed in January 2014, MEPs are thinking now in the longer term.

However, the situation is not easy. RTCC has published an article explaining that. According to some experts, EU has not conducted any analysis into how it could reduce its emissions beyond 45% by 2030. “The exercise towards 2030 goals should at least include this higher or upper end reduction in the modelling to offer transparency on how it impacts the economy and how it relates to ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency targets” said to RTCC Tomas Wyns, a climate policy expert at the Centre for Clean Air Policy in Europe.

So, the Climate Commission is under pressure to produce a more ambitious set of new measures for 2020 and 2030. EU’s Low Carbon Roadmap towards 2050 says that to reach an overall aim of an 80-95% reduction by 2050, the EU must reduce its emissions more than 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040.

Exactly how the new agreement will be arranged has yet to be decided. Many hope that, like the 2020 package, this will include a three-tiered approach, incorporating separate targets for emissions reductions, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Belgium is one of the many member states pushing for three separate targets. Its Environment Minister Melchior Wathelet told RTCC ambitious targets in each of the “three pillars” are important.

“We have to make real investment, we have to make progress. That’s true in CO2 emissions, but especially maybe in energy efficiency because we know what we can do”, said Melchior Wathelet, Environment Minister of Belgium.  

On the other hand, Ville Niinistö, Finland’s minister for the environment, told that it was important that the new deal took into account the growing potential for renewable energy in Europe. “There are a number of magnificent examples how for example photovoltaic has increased in productivity in countries like Germany and Finland,” he said. “Biomass has increased and biofuels have also been very encouraging so we look forward to raising our share of renewables in the energy mix, which is about 30% today.”


17 countries have carbon pricing mechanism as of December 2013

The statistics indicate carbon trading is growing. International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) says sector has increased since 2002 and as of December 2013, 17 countries have carbon pricing mechanisms either running or planned. These cover greenhouse gas emissions of 10 GtCO2e/y, equal to 21% of the 50 GtCO2e emitted globally.

The UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) have dominated global markets until now. However, both have suffered from plummeting carbon prices in the past year, a result of the economic crisis and the over-supply of credits.

So, both markets are likely to be eclipsed by China, which will see it become the world’s epicentre of carbon trading. By 2014 it could cover 700 million tonnes of emissions and by 2020 it could be worth US$ 3.5 trillion. But there are more key markets around the world.

To summarize, these markets will dominate the sector in the coming decade: Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions; Mexican carbon credits MEXICO2; Alberta carbon pricing; EU Emissions Trading Scheme; Australian Direct Action Plan; US Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; Kazakhstan Emissions Trading Scheme; Californian Cap-and-Trade; Québécois Cap-and-Trade; New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme; Norwegian Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Act; South Korean Emissions Trading Scheme; Swiss Reduction of CO2 Act; UK Emissions Trading Scheme; Tokyo Cap-and-Trade; Japanese Cap-and-Trade; Indian Emissions Trading Scheme.


New compromise on car emissions limits

The European Union agreed a compromise in order to enforce stricter rules on carbon dioxide emissions for EU cars. The new outline agreement delays until 2021 the 100% implementation of a limit of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (CO2/km) for all new cars, the previous deadline having been 2020.

It also changes the rules on flexibility, giving more leeway to German luxury car manufactures such as Daimler and BMW, whose emissions are higher than those of smaller, lighter carmakers such as Fiat.

Germany has won some of the concessions it sought. Apart from the phase-in, under which 95 percent of new car sales will have to comply in 2020 and 100 percent in 2021, the agreement also changes the rules for ‘supercredits’.

These allow manufacturers that make very low emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles, to claim extra credits for them, so they can continue to produce more heavily polluting vehicles as well.

An agreement reached in June had set a limit for use of supercredits at 2.5 grams per year, but the new deal sets a cap of 7.5 grams of carbon dioxide for the years 2020-2022, so a manufacturer could opt to use all the flexibility in the first year.

Environmental campaigners, who have strongly criticized the German stance, gave a very cautious welcome to the deal. “Carmakers will only meet this target up to three years later, thanks to a combination of a phase-in of the standards and the use of accounting tricks known as ‘supercredits’”, said Greenpeace.



Countries gathered in Warsaw agreed a multi-billion dollar framework to finance forest projects

COP19 closed last week with some key decisions reached. One of them is related to deforestation. Specifically, the conference agreed a multi-billion dollar framework to tackle it. So, negotiators agreed rules on financing forest projects in developing nations, paving the way for investments from governments, funding agencies and private firms.

The agreement on “results-based” funding for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) was a rare breakthrough at the climate talks in Warsaw, but now it is a reality.

Money will flow into host-country coffers when they can prove they have reduced carbon emissions without harming local communities or biological diversity. Nations also agreed rules on how to measure and verify the emissions cuts from forest projects.

Deforestation has played an increasingly important role in climate negotiations, because the loss of forests accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions that scientists blame for global warming.

The Norwegian government has already paid out $1.4 billion in bilateral deals with nations such as Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guyana and Indonesia. The World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and a growing number of private-sector firms have also launched projects. The governments of Britain, Norway and the United States earlier this week allocated $280 million to a World Bank-led fund operating REDD projects.


Climate talks in Warsaw agreed the outlines of a deal to be reached in 2015 to combat global warming

Around 195 countries ended a two-week meeting in Warsaw on Saturday evening to agree the outlines of a deal meant to be reached in 2015 to combat global warming.

Divisions between developed and developing countries have appeared so deep thought the conference, but, finally, some key decisions have been reached.

First of all, countries agreed to announce plans for curbs on greenhouse gases beyond 2020. “Warsaw has set a pathway for governments to work on a draft text of a new universal climate agreement, an essential step to reach a final agreement in Paris, in 2015,” said Marcin Korolec, the Polish host of the conference.

There was a key change in the text. The word ‘commitment’ changed to ‘contributions, without prejudice to the legal nature’. The change is believed to have been made to accommodate China and India.

Secondly, the talks agreed a new ‘Warsaw International Mechanism’ to provide expertise, and possibly aid, to help developing nations cope with losses from extreme events related to climate change. The exact form of the mechanism will be reviewed in 2016.

Thirdly, the conference agreed on a measure that could boost demand for the ailing mechanism, encouraging countries without legally binding emissions targets to use carbon credits called Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).

Finally, the conference agreed a multi-billion dollar framework to tackle deforestation. The fledgling Green Climate Fund will play a key role in channeling finance for projects to halt deforestation to host governments, who in turn must set up national agencies to oversee the money.




A project to predict the effects of climate change on health in Africa

Everybody knows that climate change particularly affects developing countries, but its effects on health are still very hard to predict. For that reason, the QWECI project set out to assist medical practitioners and public health decision-makers in allocating resources and implementing preventative measures ahead of disease epidemics. The project was coordinated by the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

The QWECI project brought together researchers from 13 European and African research institutes to integrate data from climate-modelling and disease-forecasting systems. The project focused on climate and disease in Senegal, Ghana and Malawi and aimed to give decision-makers the necessary time to deploy intervention methods and help prevent large-scale spread of diseases such as malaria and Rift Valley fever. It is expected to help predict the likelihood of a malaria epidemic four to six months in advance.

The overall objective of QWECI was to combine state-of-the-art climate models, weather-dependent infection-control data for key African diseases, and local knowledge about population behaviour, disease, vectors and transmission patterns. The outputs could thus generate maps of infection risk appropriate to the decision-making of health professionals on the ground and the policy-making of governments in susceptible countries.

QWECI’s value-added resides in the integration of the most reliable climate-based prediction models with models of climate controls on disease risk variables for ‘vector-borne diseases’ (VBDs) on medium and long timescales. This results in unique and meaningful information which can be rapidly conveyed to end-users and allows for the quantification and prediction of the impact of climate and weather on health in Africa.

The project team has taken malaria modelling driven by seasonal-scale ensemble prediction systems to the operational cusp. The region’s capacity to use and interact with malaria-modelling technologies was also developed through local parameter settings from field studies in the region, and methods including long-range WiFi to communicate the results to local users.

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Companies will be able to use ERUs issued before 2013 to comply with EU carbon caps

The European Commission has published information concerning Track 1 ERUs: Companies will be able to use emission reduction units (ERUs) issued before 2013 to comply with EU carbon caps, causing offset prices to drop sharply.

The European Commission will soon mark these ERUs as eligible for compliance in the EU emissions trading system (ETS) emission. The operation will be carried out on 21 November.

ERUs from projects located in countries without post-2013 legally-binding emission reduction commitments are eligible for use in the EU ETS only if they represent emission reductions which took place before 2013.

In order to apply quality restrictions to offset credits in the union registry, the Commission decided to label them as “eligible” or “ineligible” for compliance purpose.

However, a “significant” proportion of track 1 ERUs – where emissions credits are approved by the host country itself – issued before 2013 by non-EU parties to the Kyoto Protocol was marked as “pending/ineligible” while the Commission worked to obtain complete information on them. “The data has now been provided for ERUs issued by all third parties and the status of ERUs issued before 2013 will be changed from pending/ineligible to eligible,” the Commission said on Friday.

This announcement has had consequences: Offset prices crashed. “This was the last thing the market needed,” said one trader at a bank. A second source at a trading house said that many participants had to buy additional ERUs when those they held in the registry were marked as pending, in order to be sure to be able to cover their selling orders for delivery in December, and following the announcement they found themselves with extra credits they could sell.

DG CLIMA indicates that further details regarding ERUs marked as “pending” or “ineligible” which will have to be moved to a KP account, will be made available on their website by 20 December 2013.

Amazon deforestation in Brazil increases by 28% in a year

Deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon increased by 28% between August 2012 and last July, after years of decline, according to Brazilian government. The total land cleared during the period amounted to 2,255 sq miles (5,843 sq km), compared to 4,571 sq km (1,765 sq miles) in the previous 12 months.

The result frustrated the government’s expectations, although, despite the interruption of the decline sequence started in 2009, the latest deforested area still remains the second lowest ever recorded.

Environmentalists say the controversial reform of the forest protection law in 2012 is to blame for the upwards trend. The changes reduced protected areas in farms and declared an amnesty for areas destroyed before 2008. They also say that the government’s push for big infrastructure projects like dams, roads and railways is pushing deforestation.

However, Ms Teixeira said the destruction rate was “unacceptable”, but denied President Dilma Rousseff’s administration were to blame. “This swing is not related to any federal government fund cuts for law enforcement,” she told.

As soon as she returns from Poland, where she is representing Brazil at the United Nations summit on climate change, Ms Teixeira said she would set up a meeting with local governors and mayors of the worst hit areas to discuss strategies to revert the trend.

The Brazilian government made a commitment in 2009 to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% by the year 2020, in relation to the average between 1996 and 2005. It is very important to carry out initiatives like this, because the Amazon is an abundant source of the world’s oxygen and fresh water and considered by scientists to be a crucial buffer against climate change.



Microsoft and Ford invest in $1 billion bond for climate projects and Morgan Stanley launches sustainable investing institute

Companies around the world are becoming more aware of climate change. For that reason, they invest millions in green projects.

One example is the case of Ford and Microsoft. They were among 50 investors in a $1 billion green bond launched last week to support “climate smart” investments in emerging markets.

It marks the second $1 billion green bond transaction this year from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), member of the World Bank Group and an international financial institution which offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries.

Proceeds of IFC green bonds are used for private sector investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other areas that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as installing solar and wind power capacity and providing financing for technology that helps produce energy more efficiently.

Progress is being made with bonds of all sizes, ranging from relatively small issues from individual companies to the huge issues being orchestrated by the likes of IFC. Earlier this year, green power company Good Energy raised $24 million to expand its renewable energy portfolio — three times its initial target — while in April the European Investment Bank secured $80 million from a bond issue to invest in renewable power and energy efficiency projects.

On the other hand, Morgan Stanley has decided to get into sustainable investments in a big way, announcing the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing.

The goal is to advance market-based solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges by bringing sustainable investments to significant scale.

There are three areas of focus: financial products that make it possible for clients to invest in sustainability-focused strategies while getting strong risk-adjusted financial returns; thought leadership that helps mobilize significant capital; and strategic partnerships that build capacity and best practices in scalable sustainable investing.

The Institute’s first major commitments are: A goal of $10 billion in client assets through Morgan Stanley’s Investing with Impact Platform in the next five years; an annual Sustainable Investing Fellowship at Columbia Business School, coupled with a hands-on internship at Morgan Stanley, will develop thought leadership and investment strategy for the effort; and a $1 billion investment in a sustainable communities initiative that provides rapid access to capital to preserve and enhance quality affordable housing that’s either deteriorating into uninhabitable conditions or becoming unaffordable to low- and moderate-income households.


EU carbon market “backloading” fix is approved by EU Council

There have been a lot of meetings to solve the problem about the oversupply of allowances in the EU carbon market, which covers around 11,000 installations across the 28 member states. Finally, the EU Council has approved plans to consider a temporary fix to the bloc’s troubled carbon market.

Officials from member states voted almost unanimously to start discussions with the EU Parliament to remove 900 million carbon allowances from circulation until 2020. This measure is known as backloading.

Prices of carbon allowances have plummeted over the past two years due to the glut and the economic crisis. They fell below €3 earlier this year – less than a tenth of the price analysts say is needed to drive low carbon investment on a large scale. The Commission is expected to table a more permanent solution to prop up the market by the beginning of next year.

The 28 EU governments and the European Parliament must approve the backloading proposal before it becomes law, so market participants do not expect permits to be withdrawn until the middle of next year.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard showed his happiness on Twitter: “Finally! Endlich! #Backloading through in Council! Common sense prevailed. Almost unanimous support from MSs. Moving toward a stronger #ETS”, she wrote.