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The 2017 Green Cities of Europe

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:56

On 21st January, the town of Essen, Germany was awarded the title of European Green Capital 2017. Being the European Green Capital creates more incentive for cities around Europe to become more sustainable and to raise environmental awareness within the community. Additionally, the title has proven to improve the cities’ tourism and aggregate population, because more people are attracted to the city if it is environmentally friendly.

Last year’s Green City was Ljubljana, Slovakia. The city had implemented “Vision 2025”, which aimed to improve the cities’ transportation network and improve urban green measures overall. The nine cities in the past that have been awarded European Green City are Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen, Bristol, and Ljubljana. The Green City of 2018 witll be Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Essen is a special city to receive the title because in the past it was largely a coal and steel industry, and its incredible transformation to the greenest city in North-Rhine Westphalia is impressive. The mayor of Essen, Thomas Kufen, expressed upon receiving the award that it was a challenge to transform the city that dramatically, but the results proved to be worth it. Some measures that Essen took to become a Green City are as follows:

• Targeted reduction of C02 emissions by 40% by the year 2020

• Created a water management system with multifunctional green areas. It is used for rainwater management, flood prevention and groundwater recharge to prevent rainwater from entering the sewer network;

• Created 376 km of bicycle lanes in hopes of increasing cycling by 25% by 2035

• Reduction of car travel by 29% by 2035

• Recyling target of 65% by 2020

Additionally, the European Commission will launch a “Green City Tool”in June 2017, which any city can use to monitor its environmental progress relative to other cities. This will be launched in June. There are also other existing city awards, such as the European Green Leaf 2017. This was created by the European Commission to acknowledge cities’ commitment to the environment and raising awareness of being a Green City. The award was given to Galway City for 2017, and in the past has gone to Mollet del Vallès and Torres Vedras.

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Tags: European Green Capital

Environmental Implementation Review: European Commission adopts policy to improve European environmental policy

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:40

The European Commission adopted the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) on the 3rd February 2017. It is a new process allowing the European Commission to help Member States with the implementation of EU environmental laws. The benefits of the implementation will directly affect citizens, administrations and the economy in a positive way. The Environmental Implementation Review will focus on the reasons for the existing issues in the implementation process. From this, EIR will decide how to solve the complications before the Member State falls foul of infringement proceedings in the European Court of Justice. The EIR points to three inherent causes of poor implementation in the Member States:

1) ineffective communication between administrative levels;

2)insufficient capacity,

and 3) a deficiency of knowledge and data.

The EIR looks at implementation in waste prevention, nature and biodiversity, air quality, and water quality. The challenge of waste prevention is the most critical because, according to the Commission, six Member States have been unable to limit the landfilling of biodegradable waste. Landfill contributes to the production of greenhouse gases and poisonous liquids in the environment. Another shared issue of nature and biodiversity is a concern because of the increasing loss of wildlife, which has been stated by the European Union Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats. Air quality is another area of concern, with the biggest contributing factor being transport emissions. The standards for EU air quality continue to be breached in 23 Member States. The pollution not only leads to less than adequate air quality but also to poor health in citizens. Another area of concern to be focused on with EIR is in water quality and management. A total of 13 Member States are facing EU legal action because of their inability to reach agreement with the law on wastewater treatment.

The process of the EIR is as follows:

will be open communication about the issue areas with the Member States that will be updated regularly. A Country Report for all 28 countries will be prepared every two years. These reports discuss the observed strengths and weaknesses in implementation of environmental laws in the specific Member State. Download the implementation report for your Member State now through the interactive map here

A Synthesis of all of the results will be created and then submitted to the European Council for feedback. From here, the best possible options will be discussed to solve the priority issues. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, stated his support for the EIR during a press conference on the 6th February. The whole point of the EIR process is to enable the European Commission to be more proactive and reduce the need the need Court action in the long run. As part of the European Commission’s 10 priorities the 10 priorities of the Juncker Commission focus on making progress with the implementation of environmental law implementation in the 28 Member States.

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Tags: implementationnewsflash: Issue 53

Brexit’s effect on British Businesses is Contingent on the Circular Economy Package

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:38

A critical topic of discussion today in the UK is the negative fiscal effect that losing the current Circular Economy Package will have on British businesses if Britain leaves the EU. If the UK Government cannot create a policy to replace the EU’s Circular Economy Package, Brexit mayl cause British businesses to lose billions of euros in ‘lost efficiency savings.’The Circular Economy Package was initially created to increase recycling throughout the EU and implement more rules on incineration and landfill. It is made up of six pieces of legislation on packaging, waste, end of life vehicles, batteries and accumulators, landfill, and waste electronic equipment. Last year, there was a debate when the European Commission withdrew and re-tabled an earlier version of the Circular Economy Package. This withdrawal of the package was seen as the Commission stalling national waste and recycling policies. The re-tabled package consisted of Ecodesign rules for products making them easier to package, and also had lower targets recycling municipal and packaging waste by 2030. At the time of this withdrawal, only the Flanders region of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany had dedicated themselves to a circular economy plan.

If the EU could reach the goal of adopting resource efficient models across market areas, for example electrical products or construction and ICT, it could increase gross value of the 2030 EU economy by 324 billion. The Aldersgate Group, which is an association of business, and society leaders with a goal of a sustainable economy, expressed their opinion on the topic by stating that the UK Government should quickly come up with an alternative resource efficiency policy. Nick Molho, the executive director of Aldersgate, gave five policy recommendations to the UK Government:

1)      To develop a integrated policy (that is backed by all Government departments);

2)      That products sold in the UK should be designed to minimise waste;

3)      Aid businesses in accessing financial and technical advice;

4)      Improve waste regulations;

5)      Actively encourage the re-use of materials

Currently, the revised version of the package is going through the European Parliament and Council of Ministers as part of the EU legislative process.

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Tags: BREXITnewsflash: Issue 53

EU Carbon Market Reform Enhancements and New Implementations

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:34

The EU Emissions’ trading system (ETS) determines the price for global warming emissions. The European Parliament is currently discussing improvements to the scheme including raising the price for using coal in as an energy source.so there is less incentive for companies to use it. To add perspective with numbers, the surplus of emissions allowances has dramatically risen since 2015. This year, it is 3 billion while in 2015 it was 1.8 billion. The European Commission has proposed that 57% of allocations should be dispersed to Member States and 43% should go to industry within the most resourceful companies. Some of the changes that this new implementation includes include consideration for production increases and decreases and from there adjust the amount of free allowances based on those facts. Unfortunately, the overall consensus is that the changes to the ETS system will have little impact on the current levels of coal usage. However, Europe’s investment in renewable energy and low carbon technologies has recently increased substantially. The United Kingdom currently leads Europe with the carbon price floor.

Meanwhile in the UK, there are currently debates between British businesses on the decision as to whether or not the UK should remain a part of the EU ETS after Brexit. Supposing that the United Kingdom does withdraw from the EU, it still has the ability to remain in the trading system. Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway are all involved in the ETS despite not being members of the EU. More than 700 energy installations based in the UK, including power stations and manufacturing facilities, are involved in the system. Meanwhile, the ETS 45% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, which is why there is a dispute regarding the decision to stay in the system. Andrew McDermott, the director of the British Ceramic Confederation, has strongly suggested that the UK should leave the ETS when the phase ending in 2020 is over. He believes that the ETS is an incentive for businesses to manufacture more, which directly leads to emitting more. His suggestions include to opt out of the system or to focus more on the Climate Change Agreement. In his opinion, Brexit is the best opportunity for the UK to ‘do something different’ that might actually be effective, compared to the implementations in the past.

Alternatively, Dr. William Kyte OBE, a fellow of the International Emissions Trading Association, argues that the alternatives suggested by McDermott are far too expensive and unreasonable. He states that the ETS is not necessarily a cap on growth, but that it merely places a cap on emissions; which can either be cut back or bought for a cheaper price by another company. However, a current issue presents itself- there is now a low price on carbon resulting from the last recession. This is more incentive for emitters to invest in low carbon technology since it is cheaper to do than invest in a new system. Additionally, the current ETS phase has agreed to a weak target of setting carbon restrictions at 1.74% each year, which does not line up with intentions that were set at the Paris Accord. Dr. Kyte certainly recognizes that the EU ETS is not working well, but he stronly recommends that the UK remain in the system until 2021. Another proposal that he has stated is for the UK to introduce a system that is modeled after the EU ETS, but works on a more global scale and has slightly different implementations and rules.

READ MORE ABOUT THE NEXT STEPS

Tags: implementation

EU Carbon Market Reform Enhancements and New Implementations

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:33

The EU Emissions’ trading system (ETS) determines the price for global warming emissions. The European Parliament is currently discussing improvements to the scheme including raising the price for using coal in as an energy source so there is less incentive for companies to use it. To add perspective with numbers, the surplus of emissions allowances has dramatically risen since 2015. This year, it is 3 billion while in 2015 it was 1.8 billion. The European Commission has proposed that 57% of allocations should be dispersed to Member States and 43% should go to industry within the most resourceful companies. Some of the changes that this new implementation includes include consideration for production increases and decreases and from there adjust the amount of free allowances based on those facts. Unfortunately, the overall consensus is that the changes to the ETS system will have little impact on the current levels of coal usage. However, Europe’s investment in renewable energy and low carbon technologies has recently increased substantially. The United Kingdom currently leads Europe with the carbon price floor.

Meanwhile in the UK, there are currently debates between British businesses on the decision as to whether or not the UK should remain a part of the EU ETS after Brexit. Supposing that the United Kingdom does withdraw from the EU, it still has the ability to remain in the trading system. Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway are all involved in the ETS despite not being members of the EU. More than 700 energy installations based in the UK, including power stations and manufacturing facilities, are involved in the system. Meanwhile, the ETS 45% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, which is why there is a dispute regarding the decision to stay in the system. Andrew McDermott, the director of the British Ceramic Confederation, has strongly suggested that the UK should leave the ETS when the phase ending in 2020 is over. He believes that the ETS is an incentive for businesses to manufacture more, which directly leads to emitting more. His suggestions include to opt out of the system or to focus more on the Climate Change Agreement. In his opinion, Brexit is the best opportunity for the UK to ‘do something different’ that might actually be effective, compared to the implementations in the past.

Alternatively, Dr. William Kyte OBE, a fellow of the International Emissions Trading Association, argues that the alternatives suggested by McDermott are far too expensive and unreasonable. He states that the ETS is not necessarily a cap on growth, but that it merely places a cap on emissions; which can either be cut back or bought for a cheaper price by another company. However, a current issue presents itself- there is now a low price on carbon resulting from the last recession. This is more incentive for emitters to invest in low carbon technology since it is cheaper to do than invest in a new system. Additionally, the current ETS phase has agreed to a weak target of setting carbon restrictions at 1.74% each year, which does not line up with intentions that were set at the Paris Accord. Dr. Kyte certainly recognizes that the EU ETS is not working well, but he stronly recommends that the UK remain in the system until 2021. Another proposal that he has stated is for the UK to introduce a system that is modeled after the EU ETS, but works on a more global scale and has slightly different implementations and rules.

READ MORE ABOUT THE NEXT STEPS

Tags: implementationnewsflash: Issue 53

23 EU Countries failing to oblige by European Air Quality Laws

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:30

Air pollution, being the largest cause of premature death in urban Europe, is bringing massive concern to not only European Commission professionals but also for EU citizens. Transport has continuously been the main source of this air pollution, and it is high on the agenda for environmental reforms. In 2013, 68,000 premature deaths were caused by nitrogen dioxide, which was mostly produced by traffic. In the same year, small particulate matter killed 436,000 people. Burning fossil fuels causes this matter; which then enter the bloodstream and lungs.

The European Commission stated on 6th February that the European air quality laws have been broken in over 130 cities in 23 Member States in the EU. This leads the Commission to worry about the slow pace of progress in achieving the limits that have been set by the legislation. After the significant amount of directives and implementations taken, it has been proven that Member States are still not meeting the level of advancement as wished by the Commission. The 2008 Air Quality Directive required member states to cut exposure to particulate matter by an average of 20% by 2020. Another existing directive is The National Emissions Ceiling (NEC), which limits emissions at a national level on six air pollutants. The Council of Ministers and European Parliament are currently scrutinizing a revised version of the directive. Multiple directives drew their inspiration from a 2005 strategy on air pollution; which had five main goals. These goals were, compared to levels of 2000, to cut sulphur dioxide by 82%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 60%, volatile organic compounds by 51%, ammonia by 27%, and primary fine particulates by 59%.

The amount of legal action being taken against Member States is extensive: in the last two years the Commission launched legal action against 12 countries for not meeting air quality standards for N02. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK. Additionally, there were more infringements for PM10 toward even more countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Resulting from the slow progress, the Commission applied an Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) at the beginning of February, aiming to improve EU rules, identify problems before they become dire issues, and work on waste management; which remains to be one of the largest issues for at least six countries.

READ MORE HERE

Tags: Pollutionnewsflash: Issue 53

23 EU Countries failing to oblige by European Air Quality Laws

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:30

Air pollution, being the largest cause of premature death in urban Europe, is bringing massive concern to not only European Commission professionals but also for EU citizens. Transport has continuously been the main source of this air pollution, and it is high on the agenda for environmental reforms. In 2013, 68,000 premature deaths were caused by nitrogen dioxide, which was mostly produced by traffic. In the same year, small particulate matter killed 436,000 people. Burning fossil fuels causes this matter; which then enter the bloodstream and lungs.

The European Commission stated on 6th February that the European air quality laws have been broken in over 130 cities in 23 Member States in the EU. This leads the Commission to worry about the slow pace of progress in achieving the limits that have been set by the legislation. After the significant amount of directives and implementations taken, it has been proven that Member States are still not meeting the level of advancement as wished by the Commission. The 2008 Air Quality Directive required member states to cut exposure to particulate matter by an average of 20% by 2020. Another existing directive is The National Emissions Ceiling (NEC), which limits emissions at a national level on six air pollutants. The Council of Ministers and European Parliament are currently scrutinizing a revised version of the directive. Multiple directives drew their inspiration from a 2005 strategy on air pollution; which had five main goals. These goals were, compared to levels of 2000, to cut sulphur dioxide by 82%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 60%, volatile organic compounds by 51%, ammonia by 27%, and primary fine particulates by 59%.

The amount of legal action being taken against Member States is extensive: in the last two years the Commission launched legal action against 12 countries for not meeting air quality standards for N02. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK. Additionally, there were more infringements for PM10 toward even more countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Resulting from the slow progress, the Commission applied an Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) at the beginning of February, aiming to improve EU rules, identify problems before they become dire issues, and work on waste management; which remains to be one of the largest issues for at least six countries.

READ MORE HERE

Tags: Pollution

Circular Economy improvements being made by the Commission

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:27

On 26th January, the EU announced that there are improvements being made within the circular economy of the EU. These improvements include, but are not limited, to the first steps being taken toward legislation on the burning of waste for energy. Also, the EU Executive expressed that in order to encourage financial backing for projects that strive to shift to a circular economy; it would collaborate with the European Investment Bank.

To obtain this goal of a circular economy, one in which a marginal amount of material is wasted, will certainly take a lot of work and attention. The EU Executive believes that to be successful, a new regulatory framework and new markets need to be considered and implemented. An optimal new strategy would be to have the ability to burn energy out of waste that has been reused and recycled until it cannot be anymore. However, Executives are also taking close consideration to the idea that incineration might not be the best option, as it’s affects on the environment and health are controversial. Sweden is a great example of a country that succeeds while using incineration; about 50% of waste is burned for energy. Meanwhile, Sweden recycled more than 99% of all household waste. This is something for countries to strive for.

READ MORE ABOUT SWEDEN’S RECYCLING SUCCESS HERE

In addition to the steps being taken by the Executive, the Juncker Commission is actively working on the new Circular Economy Finance Support Platform. This platform will connect pension funds, the European Investment Bank, EU officials, and entrepreneurs to create an alliance of institutional investors. From here, the platform will encourage private investors to support projects while simultaneously raising awareness of the circular economy. This project is bound for success, as it raised €116 billion in investment in 2016. This is a three year plan, and the end goal is to raise a total of €315 billion.

READ MORE HERE

Tags: circular economynewsflash: Issue 53

France takes action to create more jobs while enhancing the Paris Agreement goals

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:20

There are major changes being made in the French energy sector with the goal to not only improve the existing policies, but to also boost social progress. The project will work off of the goals set by the Paris Agreement to create new jobs, with the ambitious aim of using €100 billion to create 1 million jobs. Although this was recently launched in France, the idea was actually created seven years ago in the UK and has since been implemented and appreciated in Norway, South Africa, and Portugal.

READ THE FRANCE REPORT, “ONE MILLION JOBS FOR THE CLIMATE”, HERE

Removing nuclear energy would destroy 76,000 jobs; so French citizens have expressed concern about the energy transition. The employees would like to encourage the government to think of this new process as a ‘societal conversion’ as well as an ecological transition. However, the new system would create 330,000 jobs in the renewables sector. Additionally, the construction sector would gain 350,000 jobs and the social action sector would gain 230,000 jobs.

The Climate Action Network and Friends of the Earth, the Unitary Union Federation, The Peasants’ Confederation, and Emmaüs and the Human Rights League established the report in France. The funds for the report came from Heinrich Böll Foundation, a German foundation.

France is currently one of the highest spending states in Europe, with a public budget worth 57% of its GDP. This has raised concern regarding the project because it would add more spending, but the proposal is to receive the funds by confronting fraud and tax evasion, as well as implementing the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). The group of French NGOs and trade unions working on the project will follow that financial plan rather than taking the funds by taxes. The goal is to inject €75 billion into the financial market to support the green jobs that will be created, using a monetary policy of “targeted quantitative easing.”

READ MORE HERE

Tags: Jobs and growth initaitivenewsflash: Issue 53

2017 International Conference on Biodiversity

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 13:17

This year’s 19th International Conference on Biodiversity (ICB) will be held in Paris from 23rd to 24th February. This event is produced by the World Academy of Science, Engineering, and Technology, and allows scientists to communicate about research and discuss current environmental policies. It is a time for scientists to share past experiences and studies on Biodiversity. There is also an event for research presentations. The conference administrators accepted papers for months leading up to the event, which will be used as discussion points for the scientists and researchers.

READ MORE ABOUT ICB 2017 HERE

Tags: Conferencenewsflash: Issue 53

A turbulent six-months in store for the Maltese Presidency of the European Union

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:54

Speaking recently in Brussels, Malta’s deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech, spoke of the challenges facing the EU and the Maltese Presidency in early 2017.  He spoke of the need for the EU to address the uncertainties, fears and inequalities that are being felt by Europe’s citizens. On the 1st January, Malta will take over the rotating presidency of the EU for 6 months.  During their Presidency, the United Kingdom is expected to invoke Article 50 and France and the Netherlands both have national elections. Malta will prioritise immigration, security and the internal market during its Presidency. Social inclusion and neighbourhood policy will also feature high to tackle the social and political malaise spreading across Europe. Malta intends to make communication an important part of its Presidency. Effective communication needs to focus on the fundamental needs of European citizens. The Maltese Presidency will include the 60th anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Treaty of Rome in March 2017.  This is an opportunity to celebrate the past as well as chart together our European future.  Malta intends to work relentlessly on those agendas and dossiers that bring the member states closer together and the Union closer to its citizens.

READ MORE FROM THE MALTESE PRESIDENCY WEBSITE

Tags: EU PresidencyMaltanewsflash: Issue 52

Climate and Emissions: European Parliament and EU Ministers move to reform the Emissions Trading System (ETS)

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:51

A review of the Emissions Trading Scheme is underway in the EU Council today (19.12.2016).  The discussions in Council follow a last-minute compromise on the way forward secured in the European Parliament’s environment committee last Thursday.  Final Plenary approval is needed in February 2017 for the formal negotiations between MEPS and Member States to get underway in the Spring for a deal to be found on the way forward.  One of the key problems that the European Commission’s proposal seeks to address is the problem facing the ETS scheme with a surplus of allowances that has built up in recent years as a result of the slowdown from the 2009 economic and financial crisis (the recession led to more than anticipated emissions than anticipated) and high imports of international credits. Correspondingly, this has led to lower carbon prices and thus a weaker incentive to reduce emissions. The European Commission is now proposing to address this market weakness through a series of short- and long-term measures.

In the short term, the surplus risks undermining the orderly functioning of the carbon market. In the longer-term it could affect the ability of the ETS to meet more demanding emission reduction targets cost-effectively. The surplus amounted to around 2 billion allowances at the start of phase 3 and increased further to more than 2.1 billion in 2013. In 2015, it was reduced to around 1.78 billion as a consequence of back-loading. Without this, the surplus would have been almost 40% higher at the end of 2015. Back-loading is a short-term measure that the European Commission has used to postpone the auctioning of 900 million allowances until 2019-2020.  Overall, back-loading of auction volumes does not reduce the overall number of allowances to be auctioned during phase 3, only the distribution of auctions over the period. The auction volumes have been reduced by

·         400 million allowances in 2014

·         300 million in 2015

·         200 million in 2016.

A European Commission impact assessment shows that back-loading can rebalance supply and demand in the short term and reduce price volatility without any significant impacts on competitiveness.  Back-loading was implemented through an amendment to the EU ETS Auctioning Regulation, which entered into force on 27 February 2014.

As a longer-term solution, changes will be introduced to reform the ETS by establishing a market stability reserve as of 2018. The reserve will start operating in January 2019. The reserve will:

·         address the current surplus of allowances

·         improve the system's resilience to major shocks by adjusting the supply of allowances to be auctioned.

The 900 million allowances that were back-loaded in 2014-2016 will be transferred to the reserve rather than auctioned in 2019-2020. Unallocated allowances will also be transferred to the reserve. The exact amount will only be known in 2020. However, market analysts estimate that around 550 to 700 million allowances could remain unallocated by 2020 (see impact assessment accompanying the legislative proposal for the revision of the EU ETS).  According to the Commission proposals, the new reserve will operate entirely according to pre-defined rules that leave no discretion to the Commission or Member States in its implementation. Efforts to address the market imbalance would also be helped by a faster reduction of the annual emissions cap.

During the vote of the Commission proposal, the European Parliament’s environment committee backed steeper emissions reductions in the EU’s carbon trading scheme after 2020. MEPs voted to increase the linear reduction factor, the rate at which the emissions cap under the emissions trading scheme (ETS) falls annually, to 2.4% from 2.2% proposed by the European Commission.  After much compromise, the committee voted on a strengthening the Market Stability Reserve (MSR). MEP’s agreed to double the absorption rate of surplus allowances into the reserve for the first years of its operation and to cancel 800 million allowances from it.  Experts recognised the importance of the deal on the table and recognise that should both Institutions agree this would effectively tighten the ETS market balance and support carbon prices both in the short and long term.

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Tags: ETSemissions trading systemnewsflash: Issue 52

Marrakech climate conference: world forging ahead on climate action despite US election

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:48

Whilst overshadowed by the US election result, negotiators to the Marrakech climate conference remained upbeat in their conclusions following the COPP 22 round. Almost 200 countries met in Morocco for the annual UN gathering, against the backdrop of the rapid ratification and entry into force of the landmark deal. With the Paris Agreement coming into force on the 4th November 2016, the COP22, the Marrakech climate conference (COP22), dubbed the Action and Implementation COP, was characterised  by a more practical approach to put words into action. A number of concrete outcomes emerged:

The Marrakech Action Proclamation

One of the key deliverables from COP22, the Marrakech Action Proclamation, is a message of global unity and continued resolve to deliver on the Paris objectives and the transition to a global low-carbon economy.

The Paris work programme

Parties agreed a clear way forward that will ensure the rule book will be ready by 2018.

Solidarity Package

Climate Finance including the 2020 Roadmap: underlining important progress by donors towards reach the goal of jointly mobilising USD 100 billion annually by 2020.

Adaptation Fund: EU countries showed their commitment to supporting their most vulnerable partners in dealing with the impacts of climate change. Several EU Member States (Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Italy) announced new contributions to the Fund which now stands at USD 81 million. The EU pledges account for more than 90% of the total amount available under the Adaptation Fund, which directly supports developing countries in their efforts to cope with the effects of climate change.

Capacity Building: A Paris Committee on Capacity Building to begin its work in 2017 to help developing countries to implement their domestic climate plans.

Warsaw International Mechanism on loss and damage: A Decision was adopted on the review of the mechanism addressing the issues related to loss and damage associated with climate change impacts.

Action Agenda

The European Union announced during COP22 a contribution of EUR 40 million from Germany and EUR 20 million from the European Commission to the InsuResilience initiative. This G7 initiative aims to increase access to direct or indirect insurance coverage against the impacts of climate change for up to 400 million of the most vulnerable people in developing countries by 2020.

The European Union reaffirmed its leading role in supporting the African continent in the fight against climate change and in the promotion of renewable energies.

Morocco, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal signed a roadmap for sustainable electricity trade which aims to identify barriers to trade in renewable electricity between the five signatory countries and suggest ways to overcome these barriers.

The EU continues to make significant efforts to scale up support to climate-relevant action. In 2015, the EU and its Member States provided EUR 17.6 billion to help developing countries tackle climate change.

The European External Investment Plan, announced this autumn, is expected to trigger public and private investments of up to EUR 44 billion in African and in the EU Neighbourhood area.

Finally, the Parties to the Paris Agreement will meet again in 2017 to review progress and outcomes on the implementation of the work programme. The deadline for completion of the work is 2018.

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENTS FROM COP22

Tags: COP22CLIMATE CHANGEnewsflash: Issue 52

European Commission unveils revisited Renewable Energy Directive minus biofuel minimum requirements in transport sector

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:45

In an attempt to set aside a protracted controversy surrounding the environmental damage caused by biofuels, the European Commission came under heavy criticism after proposing to phase-out conventional biofuels by 2030. The Executive presented its draft proposal to review the Renewable Energy Directive for the post-2020 period as part of a Clean Energy Package.  The European Commission has alluded to the fact that its revised Renewable Energy Directive will scrap reference to “at least 10%” renewable energy in the transport sector. The revised Renewable Energy Directive is seeking boost energy sources including wind and solar across the EU. The current directive, which came into force in 2008 required Member States to have “at least 10%” renewable energy used in transport by 2020 – including biofuels and other green energy sources.

Such targets have attracted criticism in a number of Member States where such a 10% target would require a doubling of the present biofuel supply.  The EU executive proposed to reduce the contribution of conventional biofuels in transport from a maximum of 7%  in 2021 to 3.8% in 2030. It also set an obligation to raise the share of other ‘low emissions fuels’ such as renewable electricity and advanced biofuels in transport to 6.8%.Sparking a heated debate senior officials from DG ENER at the European Commission have suggested that policy should take account of ‘public perceptions when deciding on policy, even when they are wrong and not just scientific reports. Public concerns regarding conventional biofuels is often a purely emotive reaction to “food versus fuel”. The proposals, that mix biofuels and biodiesel have attracted angry reactions in Brussels from the industry representatives who claim that this revision amounts to a “friendly to oil”

READ MORE

Tags: transportBiofuelsnewsflash: Issue 52

EU budget for 2017 adopted

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:29

The European Parliament adopted the European Union budget for 2017 at €158 billion including significant increases for tackling migration crisis and terrorism.  The 2017 budget has been set at €157.86 billion for programmes and projects spanning more than one year, compared to €155 billion in 2016 with six billion euros – 11.3% more than in 2016 – to tackle the migration crisis and security. The European Parliament was confirmed an additional €500 million extra for the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), a programme which helps youngsters find a job or training within four months of ending their studies or becoming unemployed. The LIFE programme will receive almost seven percent more funding next year bring its total budget to 493 million Euros for 2017. The increase in finding will go towards research on the use of household solid waste burning’s affect on air quality. Though certain portions of LIFE received more funding, some aspects lost funding due to the increased budget allocation being intended only for certain programs within LIFE

READ MORE

Tags: eu budgetnewsflash: Issue 52

EU approves new rules to cut air pollution

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:27

Following agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, the new directive setting National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) has been agreed setting stricter limits on the five main pollutants in Europe. The new legislation will enter into force on 31 December 2016. Member States will have until 30th June 2018  by which time the new Directive will reduce by almost 50% the negative health impacts of air pollution, such as respiratory diseases and premature death, by 2030.  Even if air pollutants are invisible killers, people are increasingly aware and concerned at the quality of the air they breathe and the agreement of stricter limits in the NEC is therefore an important achievement. It will also have substantial benefits for the quality of fresh water, soil, and ecosystems and help address the impacts of harmful particles causing climate change like black carbon. The Directive is the central element of the Commission's more comprehensive Clean Air Programme for Europe.

© European Union 2016

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: "The new European air quality rules are a significant landmark in the fight against this invisible killer that is air pollution. Air pollution kills over 450 000 people in Europe each year. This is more than ten times as many as road traffic accidents. Now it is for the national governments to start with implementation so that people can benefit from cleaner air. We will work with Member States to support them in this challenge for improving the health of EU citizens."

Implementing the new agreement in the Member States

The role of the Member States in coordinating and implementing the Directive at national level is very important. Member States must transpose the Directive into national legislation by 30th June 2018 and produce a National Air Pollution Control Programme by 2019 setting out measures to ensure that emissions of the five main air pollutants are reduced by the percentages agreed by 2020 and 2030.  They must also coordinate with plans in fields such as transport, agriculture, energy and climate. This will require investment, but the costs will be many times outweighed by the benefits in cost savings, particularly on health care and sickness at work. The recently published Commission proposal for an Energy Union Governance Regulation highlights the importance of synergies between air quality and climate and energy policies and the new NEC Directive.

The Commission will work with Member States to ensure sound implementation, for example by setting up a new Clean Air Forum by autumn 2017. This will bring together stakeholders to exchange experience and good practice. The Commission will also facilitate access to EU funding instruments. Finally, the Directive will pave the way for the ratification of the revised Gothenburg Protocol internationally agreed by Member States in 2012 under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. This will reduce pollution in the Eastern European, Caucasus and Central Asian states benefiting both the countries themselves and the EU citizens who are most directly exposed to transboundary pollution.

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Tags: Air qualityemissionsnewsflash: Issue 52

A European Professional Service Card to form centerpiece in revised approach to implementation of the Services Directive

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:22

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker took the decision last Tuesday to postpone measures to boost the mobility of service providers across the EU.  Instead the package will be debated on January 11th in Brussels.  Jyrki Katainen, Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth and Investment, and his colleague Elżbieta Bieńkowska, in charge of the Internal Market, were expected to announce a series of initiatives last Tuesday to improve the functioning of the decade-old Services Directive.  In a debate that is of great interest to Environment and Energy professionals across Europe, the goal of the review is to bring lower prices to consumers in a number of services, raise productivity in the European economy and increase job creation in Europe by better controlling how EU member states protect some business activities. The Services Directive, that became known as the Bolkestein Directive in the build up to the 1995 referendum on the Treaty of Maastricht in France, drew heavy criticism when it was first introduced in 2000.  The European Commission is seeking to improve the functioning of the ten-year-old Services Directive, which has failed to deliver its full potential.  One of the key initiatives being proposed here is the European service e-Card to improve the coordination between the country of origin of a service provider and the host member state. The e-card would bring a simpler and fully electronic procedure through which the worker will contact one single interlocutor in their home country and in their own language. The responsible authority in a member state would verify the data and transmit it to the host member state. Officials stressed that this instrument would not affect the member states’ existing powers to apply national regulations and to decide whether service providers from another member state can work in the country. The new instrument would not affect either employers’ obligations or workers’ rights. The second proposal of the package will ensure a preventive enforcement of the services directive to guarantee that all new and amended national regulations are justified, proportionate and do not discriminate against professional workers from another EU member state. Here the key objective is to avoid the European Commission from taking continuous infringement procedures against governments which put forward unjustified protections to shield some professions. Despite criticism from the private sector, the European Commission wants a review of the directive given that businesses and professionals continue to face too many difficulties in operating across borders.  According to the Commission, Europe has 5,000 regulated professions, 19 of which include 50 million workers. The executive believes that, while these jobs had a special status in the past to protect the public interest and consumers interest, many of these regulations are today disproportionate and restrict labour mobility across Europe. ENEP has shown interest in the debate surrounding the mutual recognition of professional qualifications which has until now been limited to five regulated professions.  This new debate comes at an interesting time when environment and energy professionals may seek work abroad and due recognition for their competencies and skills that have been accredited in a neighbouring state. As a result ENEP will meet with cabinet members of Karmenu Vella, the environment commissioner on 4th January to raise the profile of the environmental and energy professionals in the context of this debate.

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Tags: ServicesMutual recognitionEnvironmentprofessionalsnewsflash: Issue 52

European Commission formally publishes final Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 21:06

On 16th December, the European Commission published its final evaluation on the 'Fitness Check'  of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives (the 'Nature Directives'). Having collected over half a million consultation responses, it concluded that, within the framework of a broader EU biodiversity policy, the Directives remain highly relevant and are fit for purpose. However, full achievement of the objectives of the Nature Directives will depend on substantial improvement in their implementation in close partnership with local authorities and different stakeholders in the Member States to deliver practical results on the ground for nature, people and the economy in the EU.

Fitness checks provide an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected. They cover environmental, economic and social aspects, and concern all EU policy areas.  In the field of environment policy, the European Commission has completed fitness checks on legislation covering water, waste, and Birds and Habitats.  Download a copy of full evaluation study carried out follow consultations on the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives. An ENEP TTF position paper was submitted in the context of the consultation – click here to view our submission. and ENEP representative participated in the consultative conference.

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Tags: REFIT Biodiversity Habitatsnewsflash: Issue 52attachment:  Study_evaluation_support_fitness_check_nature_directives.pdf

European hazardous waste management is improving, but its prevention needs attention

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 20:59

A new European Environment Agency (EEA) report calls for greater efforts to prevent the build-up of hazardous waste across Europe.​ The EEA report investigates the effective implementation of Member State’s waste prevention programmes. It looks at the different waste streams that are considered to be most dangerous to human health and the environment. This latest study looks at current trends in hazardous waste generated both throughout the EU based on the latest data available. It provides an overview of waste prevention objectives, targets, indicators, and measures. At a reported 100 million tonnes, hazardous waste accounted for close to 4% of the 2.5 billion tonnes of waste generated across the European Union in 2012. The predominant types of hazardous waste were:

·         mineral and solidified wastes;

·          chemical and medical wastes;

·         construction, mining and quarrying wastes;

Total hazardous waste generation has increased slightly since 2008, according to the report. More than half of the reviewed waste prevention programmes include measures to reduce the generation of hazardous waste. Most of the measures are linked to curbing production and including bans on toxic materials. However, prevention of hazardous waste appears to have lower priority than management aspects, and limited financial support. Prioritisation at the EU level is one of the drivers for better prevention at national or regional levels, the report says.

More information about waste prevention programmes is available in individual country/region fact sheets. 

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Tags: WasteHazardous substancesnewsflash: Issue 52attachment:  Prevention-of-waste-2015.pdf

How effective has the EU approach to shale gas been?

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 20:55

Last week saw the publication of the European Commission’s report reviewing the effectiveness of the EU approach to shale gas. The report focus on a 2014 recommendation calling for minimum principles for shale gas. Member States were invited to follow these principles to address environmental risks posed by high-volume hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). The report seeks to review how successful the 2014 recommendation has been and which Members States have followed the guidance. Whilst only a limited number of shale gas exploration wells have been drilled in recent years, in a small number of Member States, the report concludes that the recommendation has not been applied evenly and that in some cases practices have been unsatisfactory.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "More progress is necessary, both in the application of the Recommendation and in the correct and uniform application of EU environmental legislation. The tool remains essential for managing the risks posed by fracking, and it allows for hydrocarbon development in a transparent manner."

The European Commission will now focus on increasing transparency, developing a public database on unconventional oil and gas projects, and will continue monitoring developments at the national level. It will also foster a correct and uniform application of EU environmental legislation across Member States and encourage the use of best practices to address the environmental impacts and risks of oil and gas extraction. It will also look to address the gaps in scientific knowledge on public health impacts and the risks of such activities.

Download the report / Additional studies

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Tags: shale gasunconventional extractionnewsflash: Issue 52

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