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Subject: EU carbon market debate leans to tighter pollution cap
(Posted on Mar 3, 2013 at 06:32PM by Media Manager)

EU Tightens Heading Towards Tightening Emission Cap

Hours of debate on reform of the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme on Friday showed support for tighter annual pollution limits, but hardly any backing for a change to an overall EU 2020 goal on carbon cutting.

Both measures would reduce the oversupply of carbon allowances, which pushed the EU ETS to a record low of less than €3 per tonne earlier this year.

The price collapse means the ETS, a core piece of EU environment policy, is unable to engineer a shift to lower carbon energy, prompting the European Commission to propose a combination of short-term and long-term changes.

Long-term plans, debated on Friday by an audience including industry and environmentalists, include raising the EU 2020 carbon reduction goal to 30 per cent from 20 per cent.

"No matter how strongly I tried to force your hands, there are only very few in favour," Artur Runge-Metzger, head of international climate policy at the Commission, said. "There is not a lot of support."

Other ways of tackling the oversupply of allowances, such as permanently removing some of the surplus and bringing forward revision of a cap on how much big emitters are allowed to pollute, generated more enthusiasm.

"We are pleading to revise the linear factor before 2020 to a range of 2.3 per cent," Hans ten Berge, secretary general of Eurelectric, which represents the European electricity sector, said.

Permanent removal of allowances might be needed, he added.

For now the total amount - or cap - on how much greenhouse gas big emitters can produce decreases by 1.74 per cent annually.

When proposing its long and short-term measures last year, the Commission said it hoped for agreement on a temporary withdrawal of surplus allowances in time for the current phase of the carbon market (2013-2020), but the proposal has hit stiff resistance.

Member state debate has been paralyzed by the refusal of dominant EU member state Germany to take a stance and strong opposition from Poland, which is heavily dependent on carbon-intensive coal.

Only a minority would scrap the ETS

Friday's all-day meeting was a consultation of interested parties, including representatives of member states, utilities, energy-intensive industries and green groups. There will be further consultation in April.

Around 200 written submissions to the Commission revealed a small minority believed the ETS should be scrapped, with most saying a functioning ETS was the most cost-effective way to engineer a shift towards a lower carbon energy mix.

There are, however, deep divisions over whether intervention in the market is justified and what form it should take.

Energy intensive industries, including chemicals, fertilisers and cement, echoed the Polish view that the weakness of ETS allowances reflects economic weakness and measures to drive their price higher could add to economic burdens.

In the opposite camp, environment campaigners, utilities and some academics say the lack of incentive to invest in low carbon energy augments costs and robs governments of revenue.

It also means renewable energy will require subsidies as the ETS is too cheap to force a switch towards low carbon fuel.

"There are significant negative fiscal effects. It means we have to raise the money somewhere else," Frank Convery of University College Dublin told Friday's Brussels meeting.

"We have hoped in Ireland for a price of about €30 a tonne. There would not be any need to subsidise (renewables, such as wind)," he said. "The downside of non-intervention is much greater than the upside."

Subject: British Secretary of State for Climate Change Appoimted
(Posted on Feb 19, 2013 at 04:30AM by Media Manager)

The British Government and Climate Change


"In reality, those who deny climate change and demand a halt to emissions reduction and mitigation work, want us to take a huge gamble with the future of every human being on the planet, every future human being, our children and grand children, and every other living species."

The Rt Hon Edward Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, British Government

First, I must state I find it remarkable that the British government has a Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. There are 24 ministerial departments in the UK government and one of them is the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Can you imagine a Cabinet member within the executive branch of the United States federal government with the title of Secretary of Energy and Climate Change? Me neither. Not in my lifetime.

The DECC was created October 3, 2008 by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. If you visit the DECC website, you will read this:"Various natural factors, including volcanic eruptions and changes in the Sun's activity and Earth's orbit, have altered the Earths' past climate - but none of them can account for the warming that has occurred since about 1900. Rising greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations from human activity do, however, explain this warming through their enhancement of the natural 'greenhouse effect'."

And there is this: "Records from ice cores confirm the CO2 concentration is now higher than for at least the past 800,000 years and that the extra CO2 in the air today has a chemical fingerprint that links it to fossil fuels."

And this:

"If GHG emissions continue unabated, average global temperatures may rise (relative to 1990 temperatures) by between 1.1 and 6.4°C by the end of this century."

Edward Davey was appointed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in February of 2012 and a week ago gave a speech at a symposium on climate change at the Royal Society and "was as blunt on the reality of climate science as he was critical of those who deny it."

Subject: Environmental Programs in US Extended
(Posted on Jan 3, 2013 at 12:46AM by Media Manager)

6 environmental perks of the fiscal cliff deal

On top of averting major budget cuts, Congress' deal to dodge the fiscal cliff also extended several financial incentives for programs related to the environment.

Wed, Jan 02 2013 at 2:36 PM


Photo: Matt Churchill/Flickr

Congress pulled America off the fiscal cliff Tuesday night, two days after the long-dreaded package of tax hikes and spending cuts officially took effect. While this 13th-hour deal leaves plenty of problems unresolved, it may have at least helped the country dodge another big economic downturn — and possibly an environmental one, too.
Formally titled the "American Taxpayer Relief Act," the fiscal cliff bill modifies federal budget provisions and renews a broad range of tax credits, including many related to clean power, energy efficiency, agriculture and scientific research. Here's a brief look at some of the environmental issues it addresses:
Wind power
One of the bill's highest-profile environmental perks is a one-year extension of a tax credit for wind-energy production. The U.S. wind industry has been urging Congress to renew the tax credit for years, arguing that its expiration would eliminate some 37,000 American jobs. Worth 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of wind-generated electricity, the credit's looming expiration has already been blamed for some layoffs in recent months, but even its belated renewal pleased many industry advocates.
"[W]e thank President Obama and all the members of the House and Senate who had the foresight to extend this successful policy, so wind projects can continue to be developed in 2013 and 2014," said Denise Bode, outgoing CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, in a statement released Wednesday. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado also praised the extension, calling it a "long-overdue dose of certainty for manufacturers who employ more than 5,000 Coloradans and 60,000 workers across America."
In addition to preserving the production tax credit, or PTC, the fiscal cliff bill extends an investment tax credit for projects under construction, a measure the industry says is crucial to accelerating the country's development of wind power. Both credits will apply to projects that begin construction before Jan. 1, 2014.
While the wind industry's tax credits may have a broader impact, Congress also extended several financial incentives for U.S. biofuel producers. These include a cellulosic biofuel producer credit, a biodiesel and renewable diesel credit, and a special allowance for cellulosic biofuel plant property. Along with renewing tax credits, the bill also specifies that algae is a qualified feedstock for biofuel production.
"It's been a long year with a lot of missed opportunity and lost jobs in the biodiesel industry," Anne Steckel of the National Biodiesel Board said in a statement Wednesday. "But we're pleased that Congress has finally approved an extension so that we can get production back on track. This is not an abstract issue. In the coming months, because of this decision, we'll begin to see real economic impacts with companies expanding production and hiring new employees."
Energy efficiency
Power producers aren't the only energy-related beneficiaries of the fiscal cliff deal. The Senate and House extended a slate of tax credits that encourage more sustainable energy consumption, too, including tax credits for new and existing energy-efficient homes and another that softens the expense of energy-efficient appliances.
Alternative-fuel vehicles
The fiscal cliff deal also contains some late Christmas gifts for drivers of electric cars and other eco-friendly vehicles. It extends a tax credit for two- or three-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles, for example, which could mean up to $2,500 for anyone who buys a qualified electric motorcycle or trike. And it stretches out a credit for alternative-fueled-vehicle refueling property through Dec. 31, 2013.
Milk prices
Along with the fiscal cliff, Congress helped the country avoid the so-called "dairy cliff," a potential spike in milk prices caused by the expiration of the 2008 farm bill. The deal extends a "dairy price support" subsidy through Dec. 31, 2013, avoiding a scenario in which U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned a gallon of milk could cost $7.
The milk subsidy is one of several portions of the farm bill lawmakers extended. The deal also addresses the USDA's Conservation Reserve Program, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, Specialty Crop Research Initiative, and Biobased Markets Program, among others, but still excludes many provisions of the farm bill.
Research and innovation
Another tax credit sustained by the fiscal cliff deal is the research tax credit, which has already been extended 13 times since it was first introduced in 1981. Meant to spur job growth by encouraging businesses to invest in research and development, the credit has historically enjoyed bipartisan support, with proponents arguing its cost is offset by an increase in innovations, patents, business activity and thus federal revenue.
"Extending the U.S. R&D tax incentive through 2013 provides a strong signal to our economic competitors that the United States is serious about maintaining our global leadership in innovation," Robert Hoffman of the Information Technology Industry Council wrote this week in the group's policy blog.
Aside from the six areas listed above, perhaps the most broadly important aspect of the fiscal cliff deal is that it averts — at least for now — dramatic spending cuts at federal agencies like the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the EPA. These across-the-board cuts would have slashed funding for things like national park management, public health research and environmental cleanups, and even a temporary delay drew praise from many in the environmental community.
"Today, Americans can breathe a sigh of relief, thanks to the commitment by President Obama and Democratic leadership in Congress to ensure that this agreement includes new revenues and delays automatic cuts to essential programs that protect our health, our environment and our future," Franz Matzner of the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement. "But arbitrary, mandatory cuts to programs that every American relies on still dangle over the nation’s head. ... Furloughed workers, closed national parks, and dirtier air and water won't solve our economic woes. The nation needs a balanced plan that recognizes a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand."
For more on the fiscal cliff deal, see this post from MNN's Melissa Hincha-Ownby.
Subject: Future Bright for Energy and Environment
(Posted on Nov 8, 2012 at 10:38AM by Media Manager)

Energy and Climate Change Initiatives

in the US Show Bright Future

During the 2012 US election President Obama promoted an America dependent on a diverse energy portfolio, rather than the volatile global oil market. How will his reelection affect energy self-sufficiency?

In his victory speech Wednesday morning, President Obama offered a glimpse of an America "that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet," served by elected officials who work across the aisle to "relieve the country from foreign oil dependency".

This tight election was a cause for considerable concern across North America and it was beneficial to see President Obama address the global warming issue in his speech, however, it gives analysts and industry insiders enough to speculate over in what the 44th President's second term holds for oil, gas and renewables.

With environmental advocates and support back in place, it gives many climate change activists and real environmental initiatives like the "Fleet Gone Green Program" hope and a chance to succeed.  Many people were overly frustrated with the candidates from both parties who refused to address the critical issues that deserved foremost attention across the Globe.

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