EU Energy and Environment Correspondent
Pete's Feed
Jun 15, 2010

EU sees beyond combustion engine for 90 pct CO2 cut

BRUSSELS, June 15 (Reuters) – Europe’s transport sector
could cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 90 percent by 2050,
partly by boosting biofuels, scrapping the internal combustion
engine and lowering speed limits, a study showed on Tuesday.

“It seems very difficult, if not impossible, to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 50 percent or more
through the uptake of technical options alone,” says the final
report of a European Commission consultation.

Jun 11, 2010

France, UK, Sweden want deep CO2 cut, Italy opposed

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – Western European countries gave strong backing to deeper cuts to climate-warming emissions on Friday, but Italy’s environment minister said her peers were deluded.

The sudden enthusiasm for ambitious climate action came as a surprise after French and German economy ministers opposed deeper cuts last month, saying the main priority was safeguarding the competitiveness of European industry.

Jun 10, 2010

EU energy chief clamps down on threat from biofuel

BRUSSELS, June 10 (Reuters) – The European Union’s energy
chief set new green standards for biofuels on Thursday to
discourage companies from felling forests to grow profitable
biodiesel or bioethanol crops.

“We’ve got to make sure all the biofuels we use are
sustainable for the climate, for woods and forests and for
unspoiled nature,” European Energy Commissioner Guenther
Oettinger told reporters.

Jun 9, 2010

Costly nuclear fusion demo worries cash-strapped EU

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A funding battle is brewing in Europe over a 16-billion-euro ($21.5 billion) experiment to crack the puzzle of commercializing nuclear fusion — the process that powers the sun.

The European Union’s executive arm is trying to coordinate an extra contribution of 1.4 billion euros in 2012-2013 from EU member countries, whose finances have been crippled by the economic crisis.

Jun 1, 2010

EU debt crisis boosts chance of energy tax overhaul

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The greenest fuels would become the cheapest under plans for a pan-European energy tax which would also help governments tackle huge debts without raising taxes on workers, draft documents show.

The European Union’s executive wants to overhaul Europe’s 240 billion euro ($294 billion) annual taxation of energy, which varies widely between countries and often creates paradoxical incentives that encourage the biggest polluters.

Jun 1, 2010

Exclusive: EU debt crisis boosts chance of energy tax overhaul

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The greenest fuels would become the cheapest under plans for a pan-European energy tax which would also help governments tackle huge debts without raising taxes on workers, draft documents show.

The European Union’s executive wants to overhaul Europe’s 240 billion euro ($294 billion) annual taxation of energy, which varies widely between countries and often creates paradoxical incentives that encourage the biggest polluters.

May 26, 2010

EU wrangles over whether to deepen CO2 cuts

BRUSSELS, May 26 (Reuters) – Europe’s climate chief presented an analysis of the risks and rewards of deepening cuts in harmful emissions on Wednesday, sparking new quarrels between industry and environmentalists.

The economic crisis has knocked 22 billion euros ($27 billion) a year off the cost of plans to cut emissions by 20 percent, taking it down to 48 billion euros.

Deepening the cuts to 30 percent is now expected to cost around 81 billion euros a year by 2020, but would help Europe by spurring innovation and creating an extra 65,000 green energy jobs.

Industry leaders objected to the cost-benefit analysis by climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, with some suspecting her of laying the groundwork for a forthcoming campaign to move to 30 percent cuts. [ID:nLDE64P1PG]

But there is little prospect of such moves happening during the worst recession in 80 years and with U.N. climate talks deeply divided.

Hedegaard said the crisis had lowered the cost of carbon permits, making emissions cuts cheaper, but also removing the main incentive for green innovation.

"We have not done as much innovation as foreseen," she told reporters. "Competition for green growth is becoming fiercer all around the world. I hope that our analysis will inspire the debate."

That debate is already becoming heated. "We see this as a fanatical fixation with numerical targets," said Gordon Moffat, director general of steel industry group Eurofer.

"Industry has suffered in the recession, and it is absurd to say industry would therefore find it easier to meet the target … There would be a loss of jobs and a movement of manufacturing outside Europe."



SCAREMONGERING

Environmental groups said traditional heavy industry was holding back green technology companies, which need tougher curbs to spur innovation and help them compete with rivals in Japan, China and South Korea.

"There is no evidence to back up industry’s scaremongering," said Sanjeev Kumar of environment think-tank E3G. "European industry has the opportunity to capture climate investments, or it can sit still and watch the world change around it."

Climate change topped the EU’s political agenda until the bloc became sidelined at U.N. climate talks last December, and since then it has been consumed by economic contagion spreading through the euro zone from Greece.

The United Nations warns that pledges made in global climate talks so far are not enough to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius — a limit beyond which the climate could spiral out of control.

But a cold winter and a series of embarrassing errors by U.N. scientists have reduced politicians’ sense of urgency.

"If a 30 percent target is agreed, we’ll be closer to the crucial 40 percent figure that should give us a better chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees," said David Heller of Friends of the Earth Europe.

Hedegaard has had a difficult job persuading EU colleagues such as industry commissioner Antonio Tajani and energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger to match her enthusiasm for new climate regulations.

Britain’s new coalition government, however, spoke in favour of deeper cuts.

"Global climate change is the biggest challenge the world faces," said UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne. "That’s why we will push for the EU to demonstrate leadership by supporting an increase in the EU emissions reduction target to 30 percent."

But even if Britain won some backers in the EU, it would still face opposition from cash-strapped Hungary, coal-dependent Poland, and Italy, which has been a vociferous opponent of climate curbs since Silvio Berlusconi came to power. (Editing by Timothy Heritage and Anthony Barker)




May 26, 2010

EU details cost of making deeper CO2 cuts

BRUSSELS, May 26 (Reuters) – Europe’s climate chief
presented an analysis of the risks and rewards of deepening cuts
in harmful emissions on Wednesday, causing new quarrels between
industry and environmentalists.

The cost of reducing the European Union’s climate-warming
emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels is now estimated at 81
billion euros ($99.5 billion) each year by 2020.

May 25, 2010

As EU wrangles over CO2 cuts, green tech fears Asia

BRUSSELS, May 25 (Reuters) – European green technology
companies warn that failing to toughen up European Union climate
targets will play into the hands of rivals in Asia.

Traditional heavy industry has successfully fought off the
prospect of deeper European emissions curbs since U.N. talks
ended in stalemate in Copenhagen last December.

May 21, 2010

EU struggles to find voice on environment issues

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is bogged down in a power struggle over who speaks for the bloc at international meetings, threatening action on environmental issues from mercury pollution to whaling, EU officials say.

The discord has emerged since the 27-country bloc adopted its new Lisbon Treaty late last year, which sowed confusion by empowering a new European Council president and foreign policy chief.

    • About Pete

      "Pete Harrison is a Reuters correspondent in Brussels covering the European Union politics of energy, environment and climate change. He is also part of the Reuters team covering international talks to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol."
      Joined Reuters:
      Oct 2000
      Languages:
      English, French, Spanish
    • More from Pete

      Publications:
      Red Sea Diving Guide (Lonely Planet, 2004), Reef Fishes and Corals of the Red Sea (New Holland, 2002), Reefs of the Red Sea (Hurghada Environmental Protection Committee, 1998)
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