Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category

EU energy proposals emerge but disappoint many

January 15, 2007

As anticipated last week, the European Commission has launched its blueprint for a “new industrial revolution” based on a set of new energy and climate policy proposals. Most of what we anticipated was correct. The only major proposal that had appeared in the most recent draft documents but later disappeared was the proposal to set a border tax on products coming from countries that did not regulate greenhouse gas emissions, such as the US.

The EU Commission called for Europe to set a unilateral target to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020, rising to 30% if other industrialised countries will do the same. The decision to set a unilateral target has undoubtedly sent shock-waves across the world. However, environmentalists complained the target is very low compared to what needs to be done to ensure the world stays below a 2 degree increase above pre-industrial temperatures. The Commission itself recognises in accompanying documents that it will be cost-effective and feasible for the EU to make the reductions necessary to stay within this limit, which scientists say is the key threshold to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

New legislation will likely emerge on renewables (to achieve a 20% share of renewable energy by 2020 and a 10% target for biofuels) and carbon capture and storage, including the possibility of installing carbon capture and storage in several fossil fuel power stations by 2015 and phasing out plants without it. Environmentalists were unhappy about the lack of other sectoral targets, and a complete lack of any new measures for the heating and cooling sector.

The mention of nuclear power as a key technology received lots of media coverage. However, in reality the EU does not have the power to regulate the fuel mix of member states (and most of them plan to phase out nuclear or have never had it). The package will however lead to new EU rules on nuclear safety and security, which some believe may boost investment on nuclear (which has stalled for decades).

The progress report on renewable energy, a key document that was issued with the energy package, appeared to have not been given enough coverage in many countries (although there was major coverage on all newspapers in Italy, as this sunny country turned out to be at the bottom of the league table on renewables, with this technology declining rather than growing…). I will try to write more about this in the coming days.

The EU Commission is also going to do more work with China to tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions there, Reuters reported.