EU Energy and Environment Correspondent
Pete's Feed
Mar 3, 2010

EU plans two platforms, 2011 start for CO2 auctions

BRUSSELS/LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) – The European Commission
is considering auctioning emissions permits from 2011 over
centralised platforms and might cancel auctions if carbon prices
are “abnormally low”, two leaked documents seen by Reuters on
Wednesday show.

Officials in the EU’s executive, pressured by industry
calling for longer-term visibility on carbon permit prices, are
deciding how to arrange auctions ahead of the third phase of
bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which starts in 2013.

Mar 2, 2010

Europe all mouth and no money in green tech race

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s plan to lead the green technology race has a gaping financial hole for the next four years, handing the advantage to rivals China, Japan and the United States.

Even after 2014, when the European Union budget should have been thoroughly overhauled, there is no guarantee that green tech will have triumphed in a battle for funds versus the powerful farming lobby.

Feb 23, 2010

Europe aims to cut 60 billion euros of oil, gas imports

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s energy strategy could cut a total 60 billion euros ($81.5 billion) off the bloc’s oil and gas imports over the next decade, a leaked document from the EU executive shows.

The 27-country EU could also reduce its wider dependence on commodity shipments from overseas in the hope of bolstering economies and security.

Feb 18, 2010

EU’s Hedegaard to embark on climate diplomacy tour

BRUSSELS, Feb 18 (Reuters) – The European Union’s new climate chief, Connie Hedegaard, will soon embark on a climate diplomacy tour to reinvigorate global negotiations after the weak outcome of talks in Copenhagen in December.

The U.N. talks ended with an accord to limit global temperature increases to within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial temperatures, but had little legal clout and no combined vision for cutting climate-warming emissions.

Experts say the emissions cuts pledged alongside the accord set the world on track for a 3.5 degree rise in temperatures.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told EU leaders in a letter on Thursday the bloc needed to find a fresh approach to international climate politics.

"This is not the time for the EU to start doubting its commitments," he wrote. "We need the international process to continue, building on what we could agree in the Copenhagen Accord."

"I have therefore asked Connie Hedegaard, the commissioner for climate action, to undertake a consultation of key international partners to find ways to reinvigorate the international process," he added.

Hedegaard will visit a number of key capitals in the search for alliances including with Africa, China, Brazil, the United States and others, said a spokesman.

Barroso also urged European leaders not to forget their promise to urgently channel 7.3 billion euros ($9.9 billion) in "climate aid" to poor countries to help them cut emissions from industry and tackle climate impacts on crops.

The EU leaders agreed in December to hand out 2.43 billion euros a year from 2010-2012, to plug the gap until a global deal is struck the the years after 2013. But the Copenhagen talks failed to define channels to distribute that money.

"An important element in this strategy should be the implementation of the fast start financing," Barroso wrote.

"We should not forget that those who were working more closely with us in Copenhagen were the developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable."

Many European politicians favour more bilateral talks with Africa, after making rapid progress on funding last year when Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi visited Europe on behalf of African Union nations.

Zenawi’s deal, however, was savaged by Sudan, which finds itself torn between dealing with the climate threat and nurturing its fast-growing oil industry. (Editing by James Jukwey)




Feb 11, 2010

Controversy mounts in EU over fall-out from biofuel

BRUSSELS, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Fresh controversy is mounting within the European Union over biofuels and their unintended impact on tropical forests and wetlands, documents show.

One leaked document from the EU’s executive, the European Commission, suggests biofuel from palm oil might get a boost from new environmental criteria under development.

But another contains a warning from a top official that taking full account of the carbon footprint of biofuels might "kill" an EU industry with annual revenues of around $5 billion.

The European Union aims to get a tenth of its road fuels from renewable sources by the end of this decade, but has met with criticism that biofuels can force up food prices and do more harm than good in the fight against climate change.

Most of the 10 percent goal will be met through biofuels, creating a market coveted by EU farming nations, which produce about 10 billion litres a year, as well as exporters such as Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Environmentalists say biofuels made from grains and oilseeds are forcing farmers to expand agricultural land by hacking into rainforests and draining wetlands — known as "indirect land-use change" (ILUC).

Clearing and burning forests puts vast quantities of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, so the EU risks promoting damage to the climate by creating such a valuable market.

To counter that risk, strict environmental criteria have been put in place.

The European Commission has also been looking at introducing new rules to curb the impact of ILUC, but its progress had been complicated by conflicting opinions among specialists on trade, agriculture, energy and environment.

The stakes are high for European biofuel producers.



NEGATIVE LIGHT

"An unguided use of ILUC would kill biofuels in the EU," a senior agriculture official in the Commission wrote to a top energy official in a letter seen by Reuters.

As part of its research, the Commission has received new scientific reports casting a new negative light on biofuels due to their indirect impact on land use, but has not made them public, says environmental group T&E.

The group has made a legal request to the Commission for the documents, but it has so far taken more than three-times the statutory 30 days to provide them.

"These reports need to be released so the public can see the full facts," said T&E campaigner Nusa Urbancic. "What is especially worrying is that we are seeing a pattern of manipulation of the science."

Commission officials said their research included hundreds of documents, making it difficult to meet T&E’s request.

"The Commission is taking indirect land use change emissions from biofuels very seriously, and is conducting a large amount of work, including modelling work, in order to understand this issue with the best science available," said Marlene Holzner, spokeswoman for Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.

"If the final results of this work show that indirect land use change emissions from biofuels are significant, then the Commission will need to consider what would be the appropriate policy response," she added.

A recent Commission document on biofuels appeared to wave through the palm oil industry, which stands accused of cutting down tropical forests in Malaysia and Indonesia to make way for plantations.

"A change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the criterion," said the document seen by Reuters.

Holzner cautioned against drawing any conclusions from an unfinished draft.

"EU policy promotes only those biofuels which positively contribute towards our ambitions to decarbonise our energy systems," she added.

(Reporting by Pete Harrison)





Feb 11, 2010

EU’s Ashton to engage China on climate change

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s new foreign policy chief wants the EU to work more closely with China on climate issues and search for trade-offs with other policy areas, an EU official said on Thursday.

Catherine Ashton will brief a summit of EU leaders on Thursday about her policy vision in areas such as climate, trade and security.

Feb 10, 2010

China outpaces EU and US with new wind turbines

BRUSSELS, Feb 3 (Reuters) – China installed more new wind turbines than either Europe or the United States last year, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said on Wednesday.

China nearly doubled its wind capacity in 2009 with 13 gigawatts of new generating capacity, compared to 10.5 gigawatts in Europe and 9.9 gigawatts in the United States.

Overall, the global industry employed around half a million people as it boosted capacity by 31 percent to 158 gigawatts.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power, despite the financial crisis and economic downturn, is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology,” GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer said.

China has been criticised in many countries for its cautious stance at unsuccessful U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen in December, but it has not slowed its development of green power at home.

“The Chinese government is taking very seriously its responsibility to limit carbon dioxide emissions while providing energy for its growing economy,” said Li Junfeng, secretary general of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.


BILLIONS FOR RESEARCH

The prospect of fossil fuel prices soaring as industry hauls itself out of the current economic crisis has bolstered the investment case for wind energy, said Christian Kjaer, chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“Oil at around $75 in the middle of an economic crisis is unprecedented,” he told reporters. “If I were an investor, I’d want to limit my exposure to uncertain fuel prices.”

In a normal year, European wind farms will meet around 4.8 percent of total power demand, EWEA said. Spain installed the most new turbines in 2009, with 2.5 gigawatts, followed by Germany, Italy, France and Britain.

Spain’s lead may be eroded in 2010, when it reviews its system of subsidies, but Kjaer said subsidies were not the main force driving growth.

He said with oil in the $70-80 range, new onshore windpower was roughly cost-competitive with new gas-fired power stations, and just marginally more costly than new coal.

But from 2013 onwards, the EU’s carbon market will force all power producers to buy permits for each tonne of carbon they emit — giving green energy a further competitive advantage.

EWEA released its statistics the day after the EU agreed details of a 4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) funding scheme to support hi-tech renewable projects in the race against China and the U.S.

Some of that money could go to giant wind turbines, made of space-age composites, nearly as tall as the 300-metre-high Eiffel Tower and three times more powerful than the biggest used today.

It will also be used to promote technology to trap and bury carbon dioxide emissions, as well as a swathe of green alternatives

(Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Amanda Cooper)
((pete.harrison@thomsonreuters.com; reuters messaging: pete.harrison.reuters.com@reuters.net; +322 287 6843)) ($1=.7137 Euro)

Keywords: ENERGY WIND

Feb 8, 2010

“Smart” power key as EU sparks electric car debate

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Electric cars must be backed by “smart” power networks if they are to help the world’s climate problems, environmentalists warned on Monday as European ministers prepared to debate a strategy for the sector.

Industry ministers will meet on Tuesday in San Sebastian, Spain to discuss how to realign power infrastructure, equipment standards and the marketplace so that European carmakers can race ahead of rivals in Japan, China and the United States.

Jan 28, 2010

Motorcycles face EU clampdown on emissions

BRUSSELS, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Motorcycle manufacturers face a
clampdown on air pollution and climate-warming emissions in the
European Union, and the industry says it is ready for
pan-European rules.
Climate officials of the 27-country bloc have put transport
emissions at the top of their agenda for 2010 as the EU pursues
its goal of cutting carbon dioxide to a fifth below 1990 levels
over the next decade.

Cars are expected to cut their CO2 output 15 percent by
2015, while vans face a cut of around 10 percent. Now the focus
has switched to less widespread vehicles, such as lorries,
motorcycles and scooters.

Jan 27, 2010

EU agrees to make lowest climate offer to U.N

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has decided to stick to its lowest offer for cutting carbon emissions under a U.N climate accord, but will maintain a conditional pledge to do more if others follow suit, EU diplomats said on Wednesday.

Their comments after EU ambassadors met in Brussels confirmed the 27-nation bloc’s commitment to unilateral target carbon dioxide emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels over the next decade.

    • 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."
      Hometown:
      Bath, Somerset, UK
      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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