Tag: European Union

Dear Mr. Prime Minister...

In a disappointing and disheartening plenary session today, the Brazilian chair adopted the watered down draft text to be taken to world leaders tomorrow to formally adopt. As delegations clapped away at our failed future, civil society loudly protested from the back of the plenary hall. 

As a last attempt to salvage this summit, civil society has united its efforts to write a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the G20 Summit calling for an urgent intervention to deliver ambition at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The letter highlights that the draft text is severely lacking in ambition, urgency and political will. Countries are reluctant to commit to a bolder agenda largely because they do not believe that the money can be found to deliver the transition to a fair, prosperous and sustainable world for all.

Civil society is calling on the UK, as a member of G8, G20, UN Security Council and the European Union, to take matters into their own hands and be pioneers in this endeavor to save the planet and forge an international agreement on tackling global inequalities. To do this, three commitments are needed to transform this summit.

  1. Phase out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, with safeguards for the world poorest communities.  Commitments to begin such a process were made by the G20 at their meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009 and again in Toronto in 2010, but with almost no progress to date. Developed countries spend around $100bn a year in subsidies and tax breaks to prop up fossil fuel production, according to the OECD.
  1. Introduce a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) which has been proven by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and independent studies to be a credible, effective and development friendly tax. It is a hugely popular idea, supported by 63% of European citizens and more than 1000 economists, and could raise at least $400bn a year.
  1. Stop multinationals dodging their taxes. This would generate an extra $160 billion a year in tax revenues in poor countries alone. This is money that these companies already owe but which they are not paying.

The biggest impediment to means of implementation and finance is that the money isn’t there, but as shown above, the money is clearly there and can be easily freed up and utilized. Strong political will and even stronger leadership is needed now to push these negotiations to deliver a safe and prosperous world for everyone.

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Ask Poland

Both developed and developing countries often complain that the EU will not answer their legitimate questions, such as "What is the EU position on carrying forward AAU surpluses?" and "As a so-called leader, why does the EU not move to at least a 30 percent domestic target, having already achieved around 17% reductions on 1990 levels?"

The answer is that you may be asking the wrong people. The EU Commission will say that they cannot answer because they do not have the agreement of the member states. The Germans will tend to keep quiet, having played a dominant role in dealing with the Eurocrisis. The British will say “bloody foreigners” and the French will say "plus grand en France".

The trick is to ask questions of newer EU states that are less deferential to European Union traditions and norms. Poland is ideal. They know all about lack of EU ambition and wanting to carry forward hot air AAUs. Ask Poland.

CAN Collectibles: European Union

**Errata: Yesterday's collectible indicated there was a "secret message" embedded in the series. That should have read "notsosecret message". The message is that countries should increase their ambition for Qatar. ECO regrets this confusion, but hopes that this was especially clear to Parties who reread the entire series, searching for the hidden message.**

 

European Union

 

National term of endearment/greeting

Ciao/ahoj/hej/Hi/kalimera/Bonjour/Guten tag/ hej pa dig/Hola/ Hallooooooo/Varying number of kisses, except in the UK

Annual alcohol consumption

11 litres per person per year

Annual cheese consumption

19 kg per person per year (more in France)

Best things about EU

Excellent alcoholic beverages and cheese (see above). Eurovision song contest Climate and Energy package – inadequate level of effort and no legally-binding energy efficiency target, but still a noted first effort

Worst things about EU

World’s lowest carbon price. Milk found on same aisle as toilet paper in supermarket. Middle aged men in skimpy bathing suits. Polish climate ambition. Eurovision song contest

Things you didn’t know

Outlook for the EU is a continent-wide outdoor museum for a population of pensioners. The 10 most generous countries in the world when it comes to charitable giving.

Existing Unconditional pledge on the table

20% below 1990 levels by 2020

Existing Conditional pledge (upper end)

30% below 1990 levels by 2020

Next step to increase ambition by COP18

40% below 1990 levels by 2020 (of which 30% domestic) Agree to a strong Energy Efficiency Directive: Member States have watered down existing provisions to around 38% of the initial proposal

Rationale

Emission reductions in the EU in 2009 were already 17.3% below the 1990, so the 20% target for 2020 is practically met. And as if this wasn't easy enough, simply by implementing the EU’s existing renewable energy and energy efficiency targets would result in domestic emission reductions of 25% in 2020 as has been acknowledged by the European Commission in the 2050 Low Carbon Roadmap published in March 2011.

 

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CAN-Europe Side Event EU climate financing: 
NGO analysis and recommendations

CAN-Europe Side Event
EU climate financing: 
NGO analysis and recommendations

 

Has the EU kept its FSF promises?
What did you think of the EU’s presentation of its fast start finance report
yesterday?
Is the EU living up to its commitments? How can it do better?
CAN-Europe warmly invites you to a discussion with high level speakers from the EU and two developing countries, and a presentation of NGO recommendations for further improvement.

Room Monarca, Cancun Messe
Wednesday 2 December
16.45-18.15

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The EU Chooses

Next Thursday, European environment ministers will discuss whether the EU should upgrade its 2020 target to 30% unilaterally. ECO says yes! And while you are at it, make sure to meet it domestically, so that any offsetting comes on top of 30%.
While several environment ministers have already indicated their support, others are holding back. But let’s face it, almost everybody expects the EU is going to move to 30% anyway. The more time they waste discussing the matter, the more time they lose reaping the economic advantages.
For two years now, the EU has not budged from its conditional pledge to increase to 30% if comparable efforts are made by other major economies. But this position has diminishing relevance.
Several studies, including from the European Commission, clearly show that EU has good reason to increase ambition right now. The most obvious is that they have
already nearly reached the 20% target, a full 10 years before 2020!
According to the European Environment Agency, the EU’s 2009 emissions stood at approximately 17.3% below 1990 levels. Although the economic crisis is part of the reason, there is no doubt that most of the effort has already happened.
Second, consider the low-carbon race. China became the biggest wind market in the world last year. If EU leaders want their green industry to remain at the forefront, they need to give their economies clear direction.
Third, a more ambitious emissions target would generate billions of euros of additional income for governments, as the majority of industries will have to buy emissions permits under the emissions trading scheme. Funneling this money to climate measures will accelerate EU’s low-carbon development and trigger much needed long-term financing for developing countries. And independent research shows that more ambitious climate policies won’t result in mass relocation of industries outside of the EU.
With smart policies, increasing the EU’s target will be cost neutral and reduce its foreign fuel dependence, cut energy bills in the longer run and reduce public health costs. So, all in all, the perfect moment for going to 30% is now!
 

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The 30% Solution

Last week ECO talked about the paper published last month by the European Commission, which analyses what a move to a 30% emissions reduction target on 1990 levels by 2020 would mean for the EU. The paper makes a good read and leads to a quite unequivocal conclusion.

The recession has made emission reductions much cheaper than originally estimated. At €81 billion per year by 2020, the total costs of a 30% reduction would be only €11 billion more per year than originally estimated for a 20% decrease. A move to 30% would also reduce spending on pollution control by €3 billion annually. In addition, health co-benefits would be as much as €8 billion in 2020.

Furthermore, the current 20%-by-2020 emissions trajectory would require major and expensive catch-up later on to attain the legislated emission reductions of 80-95% by 2050 at optimal cost.

Shorter-term economic impacts would also result from staying with the 20% target. Cash-strapped EU governments may rightly be scared by the estimate that revenues from the auctioning of emissions allowances may fall by up to €70 billion. Conversely, achieving a 30% emissions reduction target would reduce imports of oil and gas by €40 billion in 2020 at a reference price of $88 per barrel.

Keeping the 20% target would further perpetuate the low carbon price that has resulted from reduced production and over-allocation of emission permits to industrial sectors. The lower the carbon price, the lower the incentive for change and innovation.  While Europe traditionally considers itself a leader in green technologies, this cannot be taken for granted. Other countries are catching up fast.

The conclusion is loud and clear: the EU should move to the 30% target level without further delay.  Unfortunately the same old voices are doing their best to stifle Europe’s lean, green future, using the same old threats about job cuts and production losses if Europe moves to a higher target and others don’t.  But this is empty rhetoric.

First, the economic models used in the communication cast doubt on these claims, estimating an impact on production under a 30% reduction target at around 1% for most sectors if other countries stay with their low end pledges under the Copenhagen Accord. That is the worst case scenario.

Second, how much can you really trust stakeholders who are clearly profiting from the current EU climate regime whilst being required to make minimal emissions reductions?

Analyses by the European Commission and the IEA indicate that emissions of the EU ETS regulated sectors will be about the same level in 2020 as in 2008 if the EU sticks with the 20% target. Industry would make virtually no emissions reduction effort but still reap huge profits.

A recent study cited evidence of windfalls for energy-intensive industries from effectively charging customers for allowances they received for free, to the tune of €14 bn for the refining, iron and steel sectors during 2005-2008.

Another trick has been to accumulate piles of unused emission allowances that can be banked and resold. It is estimated that 10 of the EU’s most polluting firms alone are sitting on stashes worth over €3 billion.

With profits like these, it’s small wonder that these are the voices fighting so hard to maintain the 20% regime. At the same time complaining about the lack of a level playing field, some companies are actively trying to undermine climate action outside of the EU. Members of the industry group Business Europe, for example, have been exposed for lobbying against the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and in favour of offshore drilling in the draft US climate legislation. One European company is responsible for the worst oil spill disaster ever in the US.

The actions of these companies are a cynical ploy to undermine all climate action on an international scale. The EU must heed the message of the recent Commission document, and not fall foul of the same lobby tactics which led to the weak outcome of Copenhagen.

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EU Fast Start Finance Update

At their side event yesterday, the EU presented a preliminary report on meeting its Copenhagen fast start finance pledge.  The European Commission and seven Member States announced, in response to a question, the following definitions of how their pledge is 'new and additional': * European Commission:  Money that was part of the EU budget margin, so not originally programmed 2010-2012. * Finland:  A net increase in funding for climate change projects, part of increasing ODA appropriations. * UK:  Part of a rising ODA budget. * Germany:  Money that comes from new and innovative sources (such as EU ETS auction revenues) and money that is additional to a 2009 baseline. * France:  Ongoing climate change activities are not counted as fast start, only new activities are counted. * Sweden:  From the budget over and above 0.7% GNI provided as ODA. * Netherlands:  0.1% above 0.7% GNI provided as ODA. * Spain:  'Fresh' money. ECO wasn't satisfied with the answers, since climate finance should be new and additional to the targets developed countries have set to increase ODA to at least 0.7% GNI, so that the development gains of recent years are not reversed.  Al the same, this is a welcome first step towards the transparency civil society and delegates need to hold them to account for their promises. ECO calls on the other 20 EU Member States as well as all other developed country Parties to come clean about the baselines for additionality that they are using. Only then can the debate about defining a fair common baseline for additionality really begin. Nobody would trust pledged cuts in emissions without a standard baseline. It's time for these Parties to recognise that the same is true of finance commitments.

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EU starts fast, but...

ECO is eagerly awaiting today’s side event at which the EU will present its preliminary report on its fast start finance pledge. Not because the report itself will bring any new information to light -- it was leaked to the press weeks ago -- but to see EU negotiators try to answer the question on the lips of NGOs and developing country negotiators everywhere . . . how exactly is EU fast start finance 'new and additional'? Other developed countries might like to attend and pick up some tips. The EU had the right idea in suggesting a report on whether they were keeping their promises. This might help make up for the fact that most EU Member States have done a pretty good job over the years at breaking long-standing promises to provide finance to poor countries, whether as aid or climate finance under the UNFCCC. The Spanish Presidency started well, collecting information on Member State pledges, but then a problem arose. The EU's commitment first made in Brussels at the December leaders’ summit did not address whether the promises they were making were “new and additional” as required by the Copenhagen Accord.  It is clear that this means over and above the target to provide at least 0.7% gross national income (GNI) in official development assistance (ODA). Climate change imposes new costs on developing countries, so new money is needed to tackle it. Instead of owning up to relabeling old some ODA pledges and then adding them to the new fast-start climate finance total, EU governments thought it best to keep quiet and hope no one noticed . . . but some did.  Failing to ensure that climate finance is new and additional to existing ODA targets takes money that would otherwise have been available for spending on schools and hospitals in developing countries, to name one example. And that at a time when budgets for essential services are already being cut in the face of economic downturn.  And we won't mention more than just this once that most countries aren't even achieving their longstanding ODA pledges. All that said, ECO welcomes the EU’s readiness to face the music in today’s side event. We hope they come clean about recycling past promises and are ready to answer questions on the scale of money going to different countries, and will detail how it will flow through bilateral and multilateral channels, as grants and loans, and for adaptation and mitigation. This is just a preliminary report, and the EU will have another chance to get it right in the annual report due at COP 16. But to provide genuine transparency, and to ensure that the US and other rich countries are held accountable too, they should seek a common reporting framework. The Secretariat could be asked to take that on and add meat to the EU’s bare bones.

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