Sunday 23 November 2014

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What should be the EU’s stance energy and climate change? This covers topics such as energy security, deforestation and CO2 emissions.

 

New G20 ‘commitments’ on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies are worthless

Posted by on 20/11/14
By Eberhard Rhein In 2009, heads of government agreed to phase out fossil fuels subsidies by 2020. This month, leaders at the G20 in Brisbane repeated the aim but scrapped the deadline. Is the G20 the 'loosest governing bodies' on earth?

Climate policy’s instrument is more important than its numeric target

Posted by on 16/11/14

Last Thursday, I took part in the Energy Conference in Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic. During the debate, the panel discussion moderator asked me why Poland contested the EU climate policy for such a long time only to agree to the elevated emission reduction target. My answer was that I believed that it was not us who had changed, but the European Union, which had seen its mistakes and decided to step back (for more, see: http://napedzamyprzyszlosc.pl/en/blog/eu-s-controversial-climate-policy). Naturally, this will not be a simple task, and success is far from certain, because we have created some strong lobbying groups in the EU, which will not give ground easily. What is good, however, is that we now have a single EU-wide emission reduction target – to cut emissions by 40% below 1990 levels, and a single instrument – the price of emission allowances. I have explained on numerous occasions before, also on this blog, why having multiple objectives is harmful. Under the European Commission’s current proposed framework, the additional targets (27% share of RES in the Energy Union’s overall energy consumption and an energy consumption reduction target of 30%) are not binding.

In the climate policy debate, it is the targets that elicit the strongest emotions. This is probably because those taking part in the discussion take it for granted that the target and the instrument share a strong causal relationship, which they do in the models used to evaluate the economic impact of the climate policy. These models obviously abstract from unpredictable events, including not only recessions and economic crises, but also positive developments, such as the emergence of innovative technologies which alter the pricing balance of energy sources, while the fact of the matter is that reality is teeming with unforeseen circumstances. In effect, such forecasts only manage to approximate actual events, or miss them completely. This holds especially true for long-term projections, such as those used to plan out climate policies. When validating such models against reality, the emission reduction target to be achieved in 20 years is as credible as the projection’s verifiability over the 20-year horizon. What really counts is the instrument, which determines the policy’s effectiveness and cost for the taxpayer.

Theoretically tied only to the target value, the instrument of the EU climate policy – the price of emission allowances – has been designed to react to all favourable and unfavourable developments along the way, which causes the result to be opposite of what was intended. The price of emission allowances drops close to zero in reaction to any unforeseen emission reductions in the wake of a deep recession and the meagre economic recovery that follows. In the end, the policy provokes confusion and discourages investment rather than urges companies on in the right direction. In business terms, it is an increased regulatory risk. Let’s then not be afraid of ambitious climatic targets, as they pose no threat. What is dangerous, however, are the ill-considered instruments employed to achieve such goals, which needlessly add to the already high uncertainty associated with the extremely long-term character of the climate policy.If we were able to introduce an instrument immune to the unpredictable which would be able to differentiate energy prices depending on emission levels, we would set a new direction for businesses to invest in, as well as for developing new technologies. The climate policy would gain credibility. Businesses would choose the cheapest available emission reduction technologies and join forces with scientists in search of new ones. What about reducing emissions? How much of the target would be achieved in 2030 and 2050 would depend on any disruptions that happen along the way and affect economic growth in that time horizon. If we grow faster, emissions will increase. Slower growth, on the other hand, will mean less emissions. Still, irrespective of how the economic situation develops and whatever new technologies emerge, we will be successful in creating a low-carbon economy at a much lower cost. The good news is that such an instrument already exists. Can you guess what it is?

 

China can reduce air pollution when it has to

Posted by on 06/11/14

From November 3 to 11 Beijing is hosting an APEC Summit, which 20 Heads of Government from the Pacific region will attend.

To that end, the local authorities have undertaken utmost efforts to clean up their city, which is one the most polluted on earth.

The streets are “empty” because schools, local government, public and private companies send their students and staff on temporary leave. This enables the authorities to halve the number of cars on the roads, according to even and uneven number plates.

The air is “clean” because some 300 energy-intensive factories around Beijing have to close down or reduce their activities during the Summit. Public works within the city are temporarily suspended.

The APEC meeting can therefore take place in a beautiful, clean and quiet city that in reality does no longer exist; and the international visitors can return home with the impression that China is finally coming to grips with pollution, something its citizens have been demanding for years.

After this impressive “clean-up” in Beijing popular pressure on local and central government is bound to grow to tackle air pollution and thus help reigning in rising health costs and climate-related natural catastrophes.

This will require phasing out coal-fired power plants,and introducing equipment to eliminate small particles in factory-chimneys as well as less-polluting vehicles.

The Chinese political establishment is becoming increasingly aware of these risks and would be well advised not to further delay urgent action.

The Chinese position at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015 will show to what extent awareness will have turned into action.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 5/11/2014

 

I, the Risk-Monger, am a climate sceptic

Posted by on 04/11/14
I, the Risk-Monger, am a climate sceptic. There, I said it. I came out and it is a relief.

Technological breakthroughs against climate change brighten the horizon

Posted by on 28/10/14

Humanity will be unable to combat climate change without profound transformations in the way it generates energy.

Two such transformations have been recently announced, one in Singapore, the other in USA.

In Singapore, a team of scientists of the Nanyang Technological University have developed a new type of ultra-fast recharging batteries which are claimed to charge a car battery up to 70% of capacity within five minutes. This breakthrough will revolutionise e-mobility in terms of range and costs and make electric cars superior to the most efficient diesel vehicles.

European manufacturers should therefore urgently reassess the situation and adapt their proven, but old-fashioned engine technology at the risk of losing out to US and Chinese competitors.

The new batteries will provide us with truly clean motor vehicles and give a powerful boost to solar and wind energy, because millions of cars may form big energy storage systems helping to overcome the inherent intermittences of renewable energies.

Separately, the US defence company Lockheed has announced a breakthrough in fusion energy. Within a year it will build a test reactor to be followed five years later by a prototype of a 100 MW reactor of tiny dimensions (2×3 meter!).

Assuming the problems linked to nuclear fission, in particular safety and waste storage, to be solved this might usher in an era of non-fossil electricity generation based on wind, solar, biomass and nuclear fusion.

The demand for oil and gas will also fall dramatically as the global car, shipping and possibly even aircraft industry will phase out the internal combustion engine, say by 2050, reinforcing the decline of C02 emissions.

Add to these two technological breakthroughs the introduction of a magnetic super high-speed train by the Japanese railways until 2045.

Running at a speed of up to 500 km/h the train will largely replace domestic air transport, also a significant source of C02 emissions. The Japanese industry will no doubt export the new train to other parts of the earth, from North America, to Brazil, Argentina, Russia and Europe, with the consequence that there too it is likely to replace domestic air traffic on distances of less than 1500 km.

The news from Singapore, USA and Japan unfortunately show that Europe has lost its momentum in coming up with courageous technical and political solutions both to tackle climate change!

We are closer than ever to technical solutions allowing for a largely emission-free future. By establishing strict emission targets heads of government will help accelerate the technological breakthroughs that are arising on the horizon.

In conclusion, one year ahead of the World Climate Conference in Paris, there is reason for guarded optimism, provided policy makers will show the courage to fix ambitious long-term targets and avoid getting again lost in minutiae.

Brussels 20.10 2014 Eberhard Rhein

Klima

Posted by on 24/10/14

An einem Klimagipfel teilnehmen zu müssen erinnert an Zähneputzen: Es ist wichtig, aber lästig.Lange schritt Angela Merkel beim Klimaschutz voran. Teils so forsch, dass sie sich den Titel Klimakanzlerin einfing. Jetzt ist das Geschrei groß: Statt bis 2030 EU-weit 30 Prozent Energie zu sparen, stehen nur noch 27 Prozent auf dem Papier. Merkel verrate ihren Titel, monieren Kritiker. Und tatsächlich verlässt Deutschland seine Vorreiterrolle als oberster Klimaschützer. Dies aber ist kein Einknicken gegenüber Kritikern wie Großbritannien oder Polen, sondern Strategie: Den Weltklimagipfel 2015 in Paris im Blick, weiß Merkel, wie wichtig die Einigung auf EU-Ebene ist. Nur wenn sich die 28 Staaten trotz unterschiedlicher Ansprüche verständigen, kann dies Beispiel geben für Paris.

The Paris Climate Conference must agree on abolishing fossil energy subsidies

Posted by on 21/10/14

During the last years international organisations from IMF to IEA have called for the abolition of subsidies on oil and gas consumption. At its meeting in September 2009, the G20 has also agreed to phase them out in the medium term.

Without much avail; most governments concerned continue to ignore these calls, whatever the negative impact of their subsidies on budgets, urban traffic, trade balance, pollution, human health and, of course, the global climate.

The amount of the subsidies does not show signs of decline. It continues to range about half a trillion USD, 0.7 per cent of global GDP!

Most of the subsidies are being granted by low and medium-income countries, which can least afford to squander huge amounts of money for giving wrong incentives.

The other category of sinners are rich oil- and gas- producing countries that seem to consider their oil and gas reserves big enough to indulge in the highest C02 per capita emissions on earth, topping the USA, Canada and Australia.

Fossil-fuel subsidies counter-act the efforts undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help humanity survive in sustainable conditions. By keeping fossil-fuel prices even below low world market levels they push up consumption.

The 2015 Paris Climate Conference must therefore call for rising fossil energy prices in all countries, something that has never been done before.

The first step must be a rapid phasing out of fossil-fuel subsidies to be followed by a progressive introduction of fossil energy taxation, whatever its form.

Subsidies and taxes are easy to check: governments simply have to lay open their budget expenditures and revenues.

The Paris Conference needs to fix a deadline, say 2025, when the phasing out of subsidies should be completed and fossil fuel taxation should start. IMF or IEA should be tasked with monitoring and reporting on progress.

In view of achieving a consensus in Paris on this approach, the French government should dispatch several high-level emissaries to the major subsidising countries with the mission to convince the governments of the advantages from abolishing fossil fuel subsidies and introducing fossil fuel energy taxation.

It will be anything like an easy mission. But after five years of inaction the international community must finally take the courage to be tough with the “sinners”.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 10/10/2014

Open Letter to the European Council, by Orgalime

Posted by on 20/10/14

President, Hon. Heads of State and Members of the European Council,

Orgalime, the European engineering industries association, whose members’ annual turnover is some 1800 billion euro and which employ over 10 million staff in the EU, is writing to you to urge you to adopt of an integrated European 2030 Energy and Climate Change Framework at the occasion of the European Council meeting on 23/24 October 2014.

Such a decision is urgently needed to encourage investments into innovative areas of cutting edge technologies that will pave the way towards Europe´s future low carbon, energy efficient economy with higher levels of energy independence, greater security of supply and overall sustainability of the energy system.

We believe that a binding EU 40% lead carbon target, coupled with EU-level commitments for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources beyond 2020, will provide a new impetus for sustainable growth and jobs in Europe and will overall boost the competitiveness of EU industry.

We particularly welcome the fact that the Commission has now closed the gap in its initial 2030 Framework proposal with a 30% energy efficiency target*, which we consider as both, feasible and reasonable, provided that the right instruments for implementation are put into place.

Indeed, if Europe wishes to deliver on its carbon target, control energy prices, increase the integration of renewables into its energy system and become world leader in this area, action inevitably needs to go hand in hand with energy efficiency and the development of an integrated energy system, including interconnected infrastructures. Increasing the efficiency of equipment, which is often reaching its technical limits, will not suffice. The challenge is to better exploit the energy savings potentials at system and market level, which requires a future energy retail model that facilitates greater involvement of energy end users and distributed generation in a truly consumer-centric, competitive energy market.

This can only be achieved through instruments, such as the governance process, the Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives rather than through further product regulation under the Ecodesign Directive or its pending review, which risks breaking today´s delicate balance between cost efficiency, environmental improvement, product functionality and affordability.

To conclude, we call upon European regulators to set in place a robust 2030 Energy and Climate Change Framework in support of the EU´s Industrial Policy, and particularly the overall aim to reach a 20% share of
manufacturing output in the EU’s GDP by 2020.

Considering the international dimension of this debate, we encourage the EU to make the necessary efforts to obtain a global and legally binding climate agreement at the UN-FCCC in Paris in 2015. It is essential that other regions of the world show a comparable degree of ambition and take similar action.

Yours faithfully,

Sandro Bonomi

President, Orgalime

* Previously, Orgalime felt that a 40% energy efficiency target should be set considering the 2050 perspective. We consider the suggested
30% as a step in the right direction, which should be supported, while we ask for maintaining a forward looking, proactive attitude.

Mayors network listed – will Mayors take the lead on a climate deal?

Posted by on 19/10/14

National governments have proven that they do not have what is required to meet the global challenges of climate change and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. The shortcomings of the COP meeting since Copenhagen acts as testament to this. With the burden of recession and austerity, short-sighted national governments have thus far shown themselves unable to handle sustainable development issues.

Within the arena of sustainable development, the boundaries of responsibility are undergoing a monumental shift. This allows new actors to take pole position in the creation of new opportunities. Old infrastructures are being replaced by new ones that are better designed to cope with the challenges facing cities and regions.

We should stop directing our attentions and frustrations towards impotent governments. Instead we must focus on more localized models that simmer from below but come to influence and inspire national actors to greater action.

Better levels of engagement and the development of local and international networks have prompted a wider range of actors to become involved in sustainability, from both within and outside the market.

Over the past five years we have seen several strong international networks emerge from municipalities and regions. To get a wider understanding of this phenomenon I undertook some research that shows just how many locally-focussed organizations use their involvement in these networks to bring about sustainable solutions that can have a real impact.

Sweden’ s biggest Political Week event in 2015 – A Challenge for National Governments in front of UN Climate Meeting Paris

Next summer – between the 28 to the 30th of June – the Mayor of the Swedish Island Gotland will invite Mayors from all over the world to the event to debate and prepare to challenge national governments in front of the Paris UN Climate meeting in December 2015. The event is organised by Region Gotland, Stockholm Environment Institute, WWF, The Think Tank – Global Utmaning, The Nordics association, Kairos Future, Club of Rome and Respect Climate.

Send me an e-mail if you are interested to find out more –  kaj at embren.com.

Mayors 33 networks that can act are:

1. United Cities and Local Governments - http://www.cities-localgovernments.org/

2. United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) - http://www.afriquelocale.org/en/about-us/uclg-africa

3. Federación Latinoamericana de Ciudades, Municipios y Asociaciones (FLACMA) / Latin American Federation of Cities, Municipalities and Associations of Local Governments - http://www.portalambientallatinoamericano.com/

4. UCGL Euro-Asian Regional Section - http://www.euroasia-uclg.ru/index.php?lang=en

5. UCGL- Asia-Pacific - http://www.uclg-aspac.org/

6. Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) - http://www.ccre.org/en/

7. UCLG-Middle East and West Asia (MEWA)  - http://www.uclg-mewa.org/

8. METROPOLIS Network (World Association of Major Metropolises) - http://www.metropolis.org/

9. Union of the Baltic Cities  - http://www.ubcwheel.eu/

10. Local Governments for Sustainability – ICLEI  - http://www.iclei.org and ICLEI USA / National League of Cities / U.S. Green Building Council’s Resilient Communities for America Campaign:http://www.resilientamerica.org

11. C40 (Large Cities Climate Leadership Group) - http://live.c40cities.org/

12. Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative - http://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/our-work/by-initiative/clinton-climate-initiative/programs/c40-cci-cities.html

13. World Mayor Council on Climate Change - http://citiesclimateregistry.org/

14. Sustainable Cities Network  - http://www.sustainablecities.net/

15. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) - http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?typeid=19&catid=540&cid=5025

16. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) - http://www.unisdr.org/campaign/resilientcities/

17. World Bank - http://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/about-us

18. Cities Alliance - http://www.citiesalliance.org/

19. World e-Governments Organisation of Cities and Local Governments (WeGO) - http://www.we-gov.org/history

20. Mercociudades - http://www.mercociudades.org/

21. Unión Iberoamericana de Municipalistas (Iberoamerican Union of Municipality Authorities – UIM) - http://www.uimunicipalistas.org/#/sobrelauim.txt

22. Federación de Municipios del Istmo Centroamericano (FEMICA) – Federation of Central American Municipalities - http://www.femica.org/

23. Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) - http://www.cdia.asia/

24. CAI-Asia – The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities  and CITYNET (The Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements) - http://www.cleanairnet.org/caiasia

25. Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Covenant of Mayors http://cor.europa.eu/en/activities/Pages/priorities.aspx

http://www.covenantofmayors.eu

http://www.eumayors.eu/index_en.html

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/europeangreencapital/index_en.htm

http://cor.europa.eu/en/

26. MEDCITIES - http://www.medcities.org/

27. Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource management (ACR+) - http://www.acrplus.org/

28.Brazil – Frente Nacional de Prefeitos (National Front of Mayors – FNP) - http://www.fnp.org.br/home.jsf

29.India – City Managers Association of India (CMA) http://www.umcasia.org/content.php?id=67

30. China – China Association of Mayors (CAM) - http://www.citieschina.org/en/

31. South Korea – Governors Association of Korea - http://www.gaok.or.kr/eng/e01_intro/intro010.jsp

32. Canada – Federation of Canadian Municipalities - http://www.fcm.ca/

33. Sweden – Klimat Kommunerna – http://www.klimatkommunerna.se/

Ask the question – mobilise network, organisations and give your voice below or at LinkedIn  Rio+

 

 

A Power Shift in China and the EU

Posted by on 19/10/14

Just how fast can China and Europe change? And just how fast can the relationship between them change? The answer, at least sometimes, is very fast.

A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that solar PV could, in one scenario at least, become the largest single source of electricity generation by 2050 made something of stir recently in the media. The report forecast that at solar PV could possibly account for as much as 16% of global electricity generation by 2050. These forecasts will almost certainly be revised as much can happen in the technology and economics of electricity generation in the next 40 years, but they are an indicator of the possibility for change.

Apart from the possibility that solar power will become a major source of energy, something else in the in the forecast is striking. As the following chart from the report shows, by far the largest growth in solar PV power will come from China. According to the report, at its peak China will contribute about 40% of electricity generation from solar PV in the world in 2030.

Chart 1: Forecast regional production of solar PV electricity Source: IEA

This suggests that in the future China will help change the world. However, that future is already arriving. In 2013 China was already the largest single market for solar PV installations in the world, accounting for 30% of net installations (new installations less facilities retired from service).

Chart 2: Share of net solar PV installations in 2013 Source: Earth Policy Institute

This fact reminds us how fast China, and the world is changing. Only a few years ago China accounted for a negligible share of installations. In 2009 China’s share of new solar PV installations was only 2%. The key cause of this change is that since 2011 the Chinese government has vastly increased support to the solar PV generation sector.

Chart 3: Share of net solar PV installations 2003-2012 Source: Earth Policy Institute

In the EU, the opposite has happened. As recently as 2010 the EU was estimated to account for about 80% of global installations, but it has now become a minor market. In 2013 the three leading markets were China, the US and Japan, which together accounted for 61% of installations. In 2009 Germany by itself installed over 50% of the solar PV added in the world, but in 2013 it accounted for only 9%. One of the main reasons for this has been a sharp reduction in support for the sector across Europe, especially in the eurozone, following the onset of the crisis in the EU.

Whatever these figures may say about the future of solar PV electricity generation, If nothing else, they are a reminder that nothing in China is constant, nor even in Europe. And the relationship between them, and their position in the world, can change rapidly.

Germany turning into an Electricity Importer

Posted by on 19/10/14

Germany is in the beginning of its nuclear phase-out to be completed by 2022.

To that end, it has to replace nuclear power accounting for 18% of its electricity supply, compared to more than half from coal, by higher energy efficiency and renewable energy.

It will also have to close some 30 conventional coal- and gas-fired power plants with a total capacity of 7 GW, which can no longer compete against wind and solar electricity.

To cope with these closures north-south grids  will be necessary to transport large volumes of wind power, but their construction suffers delays because of technical hiccups and public opposition. German utilities have therefore begun buying electricity from Austrian, Italian and French sources for the winters 2014-2016.

This is to be applauded. European power producers have an intrinsic interest to trade electricity according to daily and seasonal availabilities and costs.

The wider the geographic scope for trading wind and solar electricity the easier will it be to do without “stand-by” power plants: somewhere in Europe hydro, biomass, sunshine or wind should normally  be available. Gas-fired stand-by capacities should be an exception, as they are expensive to operate because of low capacity utilisation.

In order to obtain energy security and sustainable supply Europe will need pan European grids and optimal energy efficiency. That will take time and huge investments. The EU has laid out a strategy until 2050 to that end. It should start implementation 2014-20 with support financing from EU structural funds.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 10/10/2014

Brazil drought must set off global climate alarm bells

Posted by on 16/10/14

In 2009 Antonio Sobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists, warned his citizens that if the country did not stop deforestation it would experience a catastrophe in five years. Five years later, in October 2014, the centre and south-east of the country is experiencing its worst drought since 50 years. Sao Paulo, with 12 million people the biggest cities of the Americas, is running short of drinking water, one oft its main water reservoirs having only five per cent of its capacity left.

The drought will have a negative impact on agriculture, energy and economic development. The coffee and sugar harvests will decline while prices are bound to soar.

It is absolutely home-made, deforestation being the major cause.

Despite all warnings, Brazil has cut 22 per cent of the Amazon forest, even 90 per cent of the Atlantic region, overlooking the vital functions it fulfils for the country in terms of humidity, water supply and agriculture.

It serves a huge hydrological pump for the country, especially the southern agricultural parts no longer covered by forests: 20 billion tons of vapour are daily being generated by the forest trees, which,after moving into the sky, are blown westward, blocked by the Andean mountains to be diverted south where they pour down in form of rain.

The 2014 drought demonstrates the fragility of this millennium-old system.

Brazil has therefore not one day to lose before taking action to contain further deforestation for logging and agricultural land. It must be the top priority for the next government.

Deforestation must also be a priority for the 2015 Climate Conference. What is happening in Brazil today is bound to happen in other countries tropical rainforests, from Indonesia to Congo and Gabon.

The international community must therefore decide to put an end to deforestation without further delay. This is no longer a matter of individual countries, no more than carbon dioxide emissions from China, Europe or USA.

The world expects actions from Paris in December 2015.The major countries responsible for climate change must finally put their signature to a text that must be prepared long before.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 15/10/2014

Stopping tropical deforestation by 2030

Posted by on 05/10/14

Since the UN Climate Summit meeting in New York the prospects for halving the rate of tropical deforestation by 2020 and stopping it altogether by 2030 look pretty bright,with 40 major international companies and the US, EU, Canada and Norway lending their support to a global forest initiative.

Forests constitute a major carbon reservoir and have a decisive influence on the earth’s environment ( for water, temperature and variety of species). It is therefore in humanity’s vital interest to maintain them.

They continue to cover some 30% of the earth’s surface.

Deforestation has slowed down during the last few years. It has come to a standstill in temperate countries, but not yet in tropical countries despite some impressive results in Brazil, which, owning the biggest tropical forests, has slashed its rate of deforestation by 75% since 2004, thanks also to substantial funding from Norway.

As a consequence, the share of deforestation in global CO2 emissions has fallen to only 11%.

It is possible to stop it altogether in the next 15 years, provided the small number of tropical countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa with extensive forests engage in modern forest management, and wealthy countries and individuals back them financially in these efforts.

Donors should focus their assistance on one or two countries, as Norway has successfully done. This puts the responsibilities straight, builds confidence and allows an optimal monitoring.

Controlling deforestation is a cost-effective approach to climate change. It does not require huge investments as in the power sector. All it requires is to finance the personnel necessary to monitor illegal logging, organise the rehabilitation of damaged swathes of forests and stop large-scale clearing for agricultural use.

The timing is propitious. Across the world the awareness of forest preservation is growing. International business seems to waken up to its responsibility. In 2010, the net loss of global forest coverage was down to 1.3%. In the temperate zones the forest areas are rising again.

It is therefore possible to focus on 30 odd countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia still covered with tropical forests.

Several public and private initiatives have been launched. All that is required is to translate the upbeat New York Declaration of September 23th 2014 into concrete action.

To that end, the FAO should invite potential financiers, both public and private, and official from rain forest countries and hammer out a multi-annual agenda with mutual responsibilities, which should be ready by December 2015.

There is no time to be lost.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels 1/10/2014

Heating Buildings only to 16 Centigrade?

Posted by on 29/09/14

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev, has recently warned his citizens that they might have to do with home temperatures of no more than 16° during the next winter in order to cope with gas and coal shortages, due to the tense economic and financial situation of the country.

For the average European, let alone American citizen this is unimaginable, except for Europeans who have experienced the years from 1945 to 1948.

But will this be unthinkable forever?

Who guarantees that we shall not be hit again by reduced gas supplies from Russia and difficulties to rapidly replace them by alternative alternative sources?

And more dangerous, though less immediate, are we sure that we must not one day radically reduce our coal, oil and gas consumption in order to put a brake on climate change?

This should normally happen by switching to renewable sources and higher energy efficiency, including through perfectly insulated buildings. But that may not be enough to allow us the luxury of heating our housing and offices at 22-24°! We better remember venerable traditions of wearing sweaters and warm shoes at home to feel well at only 18°. It would save a lot of energy and money.

Our grandchildren will be grateful.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 25/9/2014

Arias Cañete is not a sauce

Posted by on 29/09/14

Seemingly, everything what makes a detour to Arias Cañete, at least from his appointment like head of list of the PP for the choices to the European Parliament (without mentioning yogures expired and cold showers), it looks like a sauce:

Rajoy was late, almost up to the legal limit, his appointment. In words of the own Cañete, he did not find out for Rajoy but for Cospedal’s SMS. The electoral, campaign totally unexpected and bordering on the scorn to the citizens, was a complete nonsense that culminated with his declarations machists towards Elena Valenciano.

After a pírrica victory of the PP, already we have Cañete in the European Parliament. Now it begins the second part, which is the most interesting: the battle for a good position in the European Commission. Rajoy plays to two bands: it loves Luis de Guindos in the Eurogroup and to Cañete in Competition. But clear, it is not possible to have everything at the same time.

It pleases Merkel de Guindos, but the same thing does not happen to him with Cañete. Juncker offers him in the first instance the portfolio of Investigation, Development and Innovation. Cañete’s response, for anger of thousands of Spanish investigators, does not make to him wait: ” this portfolio is an insult “.

It is necessary to continue the negotiations to satisfy the ego of Rajoy and of Cañete. Finally it seems that one finds a solution: Juncker offers the portfolio of Climate and Energy.

Here the sauce to stop having grace: The means attribute Cañete to be the maker of one more than polemic Law of coasts, of there be loading the industries of renewable energies in Spain – in which we were top – in benefit of the oil companies, in some of which, Cañete has occupied important charges and is a shareholder.

To wash his image before the examination of the European Parliament next October 1, Cañete (to which, only in spite of throwing a glimpse to the paragraph III of his Declaration of interests, it is possible to calculate a fortune of more than 600.000 €, without counting real estate) it has sold his actions in the petroleum ones and expects to be able to demonstrate that it of the machismo it is an infundio. In any case, the means indicate Cañete as the weakest link of the chain, which has more possibilities of being reproved by the European Parliament. Let’s hope that the sauce does not end in drama. Still it is possible to avoid this ” scandalous European mistake “.

Published in Our Europe

 

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