lights

News

OECD study reveals health cost of road transport emissions
Published on 22 May 2014 Source: EurActiv

The cost of air pollution to the world’s largest economies runs into the trillions of euros, with emissions from road transport accounting for about half of the total, according to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The study estimates the cost of air pollution to the OECD member countries and China and India, at $3.5 trillion (€2.6 trillion).

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UK Missing Out on Biofuel Opportunities Due to Lack of Clear Policy
Published on 02 May 2014 Source: Waste Management World

The UK is losing out on investment and jobs due to the government’s lack of a clear policy framework for sustainable biofuels, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA). The organisation explained that it is frustrated by the lack of concrete measures to improve the policy framework for sustainable biofuels in government the decisions published this week. In responses to two important consultations, the Department for Transport (DfT) proposed a limited set of changes to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) and stopped short of outlining how it will meet its binding 10% 2020 renewable transport target.

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Advanced Biofuels Production Targets Reduced
Published on 02 May 2014 Source: Human Biology Blog

Most of the ethanol used in blended gasoline is produced from corn.   Only about 15% is “advanced biofuels” - ethanol made from various types of non-food biomass such as cornstalks and corncobs, wheat stalks, wood chips, and the pulp waste from fruit processing. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007), the EPA establishes specific production targets each year for corn ethanol and advanced biofuels.  The EPA recently proposed reducing the production targets for 2014.  A large proportion of the proposed reduction will come at the expense of advanced biofuels.  Back in 2007, EISA set a target for advanced biofuel production of 21 billion gallons by 2022.   With a proposed 2014 production rate of only 2.2 billion gallons, that target looks like a pipe dream now.

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EU Farmers & Agri-Cooperatives Magazine
Published on 02 May 2014 Source: Copa & Cogeca

The magazine includes Copa & Cogeca Manifesto for European Elections, Interviews with Copa & Cogeca Presidents, MEPs, Commissioner Ciolos and Greek Agriculture Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris.

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ILUC Unverifiable and Biofuels Economically Beneficial, Says IPCC
Published on 24 April 2014 Source: Bio-based News

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) released their “Bioenergy and Climate Change Mitigation: An Assessment” report in Berlin on Sunday that confirmed that biofuels production is economically beneficial and that Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) modelling is unverifiable.

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New study on indirect land use change (ILUC) values
Published on 23 April 2014 Source: Question for written answer to the Commission, Bogusław Sonik (PPE)

While the current ILUC proposal is based on the IFPRI study, the Commission has launched a new study, Globiom, which aims at developing a new ILUC model at EU level. The need to develop a new study as well as there being limited information available on Globiom, casts doubt over the viability of the ILUC proposal, which will have a huge impact on the biofuels sector.

1. What is the reason behind launching the new study, Globiom?

2. The ILUC proposal put forward by the Commission will have a huge impact on the viability of the biofuels sector. Why did the Commission put forward a legislative proposal, when it seems that the proposed ILUC values (based on IFPRI research) are not based on agreed science and need further research (Globiom)?

3. The new Globiom model is only using data from the period 2005-2010. As a result, the latest changes in terms of market dynamics, yield changes or improved sustainability will not be taken into account in the new study. Why is the study not using more recent data?

4. In its Recommendation of 9 April 2013 (2013/179/EU) on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations, the Commission stated that, ‘as there is no agreed methodology on indirect land use change in the context of the Environmental Footprint, indirect land use change shall not be included in the greenhouse gas calculation in the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)’. If there is no agreed methodology on ILUC, why is the Commission spending EUR 800 000 on another ILUC study?

5. The positive role of mitigation, such as better enforcement of legislation of third countries, increasing yields of food crops, changing sourcing patterns, etc., are not included in models such as IFPRI and Globiom, but can result in a considerable weakening of ILUC values. Why is the positive role of mitigation not included in these studies?

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IPCC voices support for biofuels
Published on 15 April 2014 Source: Europolitics

In its latest report, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that uncertainties concerning the exact role of bioenergy products in combating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should not prevent the development of these potentially beneficial products. But most importantly, the report calls into question the ILUC (indirect land use change) criteria used to calculate GHG emissions from biofuel crops. These criteria were set by the European Commission at the request of environmental NGOs, but also large industries like Nestlé, in its revised draft directive on biofuels.

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UN Report Finds ILUC Unverifiable and Biofuels Economically Beneficial
Published on 14 April 2014 Source: Biofuels Journal

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) released their “Bioenergy and Climate Change Mitigation: An Assessment” report in Berlin on Sunday that confirmed that biofuels production is economically beneficial and that Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) modelling is unverifiable. The UN IPCC report found that “Bioenergy projects can be economically beneficial, by raising and diversifying farm incomes and increasing rural employment through the production of biofuels for domestic or export markets.”

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Biofuels 'low hanging fruit' in fight against climate change: ePure
Published on 14 April 2014 Source: Platts

Biofuels are "a low hanging fruit in the fight against climate change and must be supported through long-term and ambitious decarbonization policies for transport," ePure, a lobby group of European fuel-ethanol producers said Monday. ePure's statement came in the wake of a comprehensive report released Sunday by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The document states that greenhouse-gas emissions must fall 40-70% by 2050 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. ePure said that the IPCC assessment "confirms that bioenergy has a massively positive role to play" in reducing carbon intensity across energy sectors and that "uncertainties about bioenergy should not preclude society from pursuing beneficial bioenergy options that are available."

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Investors can be catalysts in transition to sustainable biofuels
Published on 03 April 2014 Source: ClickGreen

The use of commercially feasible advanced biofuels (derived from non-food crops) may help to reduce climate risks and avoid environmental and social conflicts associated with conventional food crop based biofuels, says the latest investor briefing released today by EIRIS, a leading global provider of ESG ratings and research to responsible investors.
The EIRIS imug Biofuels Report, produced by EIRIS and imug (EIRIS' global network partner in Germany), introduces different types of biofuels and shares EIRIS' insights into key environmental and social risks and opportunities, future developments and findings from EIRIS' research. The briefing explains the uncertain policy framework for food crop based biofuels as global concerns about their impact on food security, land use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, biodiversity and forest management, call into question previous regulatory policies and targets.

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Unzipping poplars' biofuel potential
Published on 03 April 2014 Source: Nanowerk News

What began 20 years ago as an innovation to improve paper industry processes and dairy forage digestibility may now open the door to a much more energy- and cost-efficient way to convert biomass into fuel. The research, which appears in the current issue of Science ("Monolignol Ferulate Transferase Introduces Chemically Labile Linkages into the Lignin Backbone"), focuses on enhancing poplar trees so they can break down easier and thus improving their viability as a biofuel. The long-term efforts and teamwork involved to find this solution can be described as a rare, top-down approach to engineering plants for digestibility, said Curtis Wilkerson, Michigan State University plant biologist and the lead author.

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The quality of fuels in Member States
Published on 01 April 2014 Source: MEP Question for written answer, Roger Helmer, EFD

Given that the Commission is proposing a 40% GHG reduction target in its 2030 Communication, GHG reductions within the transport sector will also be required if we are to achieve said goal. In the same proposal, however, the Commission does not see fit to propose a mandatory renewables target or a sector-specific GHG reduction target for transport. Instead, it has stated that it believes that Member States will adopt national renewable targets in transport, mostly to be fulfilled with biofuels.

In the light of these observations:

1.         Given that the maximum biofuel blend in conventional biofuels that the automotive sector has agreed on is B7 in diesel and E10 in gasoline — as higher blends of conventional biofuels will cause problems in engines — and considering that some Member States would already like to deviate from these commonly agreed fuel blend limits, how will the Commission ensure the compatibility of fuels for consumers across the EU if Member States are to implement different levels of biofuel mandates in the EU?

2.         What measures will the Commission implement to promote the use of advanced high‐ quality biofuels, which can in fact be blended into fuel without any technical blending limits?

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UFOP: Making the case for first-gen biofuels in EU policy future
Published on 31 March 2014 Source: Biodiesel Magazine

The European resolution and discussion situation with respect to European Commission proposals for amendments to the Renewable Energies Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive only permits one conclusion at present: policies are far removed from mapping—let alone establishing—reliable framework conditions for agriculture and the biofuel sector. On the contrary: with the “Climate and Energy Package 2030” presented by the EU Commission the intention is obviously to phase out subsidies for traditional biofuels. It will be up to the member states to now fulfill the GHG reduction target of 40 percent specified by the EU within the framework of national measures. Only through a concerted action by some member states could a sub-target of 27 percent renewable energies be incorporated in the package.

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EurObserv'ER annual report highlights EU bioenergy sector
Published on 27 March 2014 Source: Biomass Magazine

EurObserv’ER has released the 2013 edition of its annual renewable energy report, which determined that final energy consumption from renewable resources increased significantly in 2012. The report, titled “The State of Renewable Energies in Europe,” includes an overview of European biofuel and bioenergy production and consumption.

Regarding biofuels, the analysis shows that consumption reached approximately 14.3 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2012, up 4 percent from 2011’s consumption level of 13.8 Mtoe. According to the report, measurements of the sustainably certified share of consumption was not available for all countries when the EUrObserv’ER survey was conducted. In addition there are still uncertainties about European Commission acceptance of certification systems implemented in some countries. However, the organization estimates that the 82 percent, or 11.7 Mtoe, of the biofuel consumed in 2012 was certified as sustainable, up from 61 percent or 8.5 Mtoe the previous year. On energy content basis, the report shows that biodiesel accounted for 79 percent of European biofuel consumption in 2012, with ethanol accounting for 20.1 percent. Pure vegetable oil and biogas accounted for less than 1 percent of consumption.

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Algae- the biofuel of the future
Published on 25 March 2014 Source: Incyprus.com.cy

Academics representing 12 organisations from six countries, including Cyprus, are researching the production of liquid biofuel from microalgae in the Mediterranean.
Renewed interest has been encouraged by the commercial value of algae as a fuel solution alternative to oil.Research organisations, academic institutions, energy agencies, private organisations from Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Lebanon and Egypt are working together on the new technology through the MED ALGAE project.

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EU biofuel stakeholders urge transport fuel target for 2030
Published on 19 March 2014 Source: Agra Europe

New scientific evidence has reinforced the need to add specific transport targets to a wider EU climate and energy package for 2030, argue the European Biodiesel Board (EBB), the European Oilseed Association (EOA) and EU farm lobby Copa-Cogeca.

The call comes ahead of an EU summit tomorrow and Friday (March 20-21), where heads of government will discuss proposals on a set of targets for 2030, based on European Commission proposals from January.

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Europe needs a better biofuels policy
Published on 03 March 2014 Source: Euractiv

Private sector biofuels investment has been killed off by the Renewable Energy Directive, and only a clear, stable policy offering certainty up until 2030 will revive it, argues Eric Sievers. Eric Sievers is the CEO of Ethanol Europe Renewables Ltd.

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Ministers to clash over biofuel
Published on 27 February 2014 Source: European Voice

Energy ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (4 March) are likely to have tense discussions on the future of biofuel following the European Commission's suggestion last month that the EU should scrap targets for transport fuel from renewables after 2020.
The Commission on 22 January recommended that binding national targets for renewable energy should be scrapped after 2020 and two sub-targets should also be dropped: 10% of transport fuel coming from renewables, and an obligation on fuel suppliers to reduce their emissions by 6% by 2020.

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RPT-EU policy gap choking off next generation green fuel-industry
Published on 26 February 2014 Source: Reuters

Projects to deliver a next generation of green transport fuel, which new research says could cut EU oil consumption by millions of tonnes per year, are on hold because of an EU policy vacuum, representatives of the industry say.Specific EU targets for low carbon transport fuel expire in 2020 and suggested EU climate and energy policy for 2030, to be discussed by EU ministers in Brussels next week, includes only an overall carbon-cutting goal for all energy.

Research, published on Wednesday, by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and the NNFCC, a British consultancy, found the next generation of sustainable biofuels made from household, agricultural and forestry waste could create 300,000 jobs and cut EU consumption of oil by 37 million tonnes of oil annually by 2030.

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Biofuels made from rubbish 'could power 16% of EU road transport'
Published on 26 February 2014 Source: The Guardian

Fuel made from waste could replace 16% of all the fuel used on European roads by 2030, cutting spending on oil imports and boosting the rural economy by up to €15bn, according to a joint report by industry and NGOs.The paper, whose backers include BA, Novozymes, WWF, and Virgin Airways, says there is significant untapped potential for sustainable waste from farms, forests, households, and industry to be turned into transport fuel, rejecting concerns that there are insufficient quantities of waste organic material to make a meaningful or cost-effective contribution to meeting transport fuel demand.

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Waste-based biofuels sector needs smarter EU2030 package to realize its high potential
Published on 26 February 2014 Source: UPM

UPM participated together with a coalition of technology innovators and green NGOs to a project which results were published today.  Europe has a significant untapped potential for converting wastes from farming, forestry, industry and households to advanced low-carbon biofuels, but only if it sets a strong sustainability framework and ambitious decarbonisation targets for transport fuels in 2030, finds a new report entitled “Wasted: Europe’s Untapped Resource.”

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Advanced biofuels project blames EC for failure
Published on 25 February 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

An advanced biofuels project that was awarded €88.5m in EU funding has been scrapped. The developers blamed the European Commission's decision not to propose a renewable energy target for transport fuels beyond 2020.The Kemi project by Finnish company Vapo would have produced second-generation biodiesel from logging waste. It was one of five advanced biofuel projects awarded funding under the NER300 first round in December 2012.

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UK biofuels sector seeks firmer EU policy target guidelines
Published on 17 February 2014 Source: Agra Europe

The UK is way off course to achieve its 2020 EU renewable transport target of 10%, as the biofuels sector lags behind its neighbours due to continuing policy instability.

Renewable Energy Association spokesman Clare Wenner has emphasised that unless the UK government sets out a clear trajectory for achieving binding 2020 renewable transport target of 10% before the next general election in May 2015, it risks missing out on jobs, investment and cost-effective carbon savings as companies shift their biofuel projects elsewhere in Europe.

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Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) of biofuels, Parliamentary Question by MEP Julie Girling
Published on 17 February 2014 Source: Julie Girling MEP

On 9th September, 2 days prior to the plenary vote on the Parliament's report on the Indirect Land Use Change Report (ILUC - the Biofuels dossier), an email was sent to MEPs and advisors in the ENVI and ITRE Committees by a member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Hedegaard, co-signed by a member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Oettinger.

The email contained several unpublished ILUC studies by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC). The email was claimed to have been sent "given the interest" from MEPs involved in the ILUC file negotiations. Based on the content of that email, I wish to ask the following:

  • Given that the email sent by the Cabinet of Commissioner Hedegaard clearly states that "changes to the text (of the studies) might still occur", and given that the studies were not agreed within the Commission, does the Commission agree that providing such unfinished reports to MEPs is inappropriate?
  • Following on from this as the unfinished JRC studies, "do not represent the official views of the Commission", does the Commission believe it is appropriate to send emails to MEPs with information that does not represent the official views of the Commission? Also, do you believe that the leaking of such unfinished studies, to aid the political objectives of Commission services, damages the reputation of the JRC and undermines the independence of the Parliament?
  • Has the Commission undertaken an investigation into these actions and/or any disciplinary procedures action against those staff members in JRC who were found to have deliberately leaked these unfinished studies to the various Commission services, including those in the Cabinet of Commissioner Hedegaard?
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New website launched, new documents published (ILUC quantification study of EU biofuels)
Published on 13 February 2014 Source: Globium ILUC

Ecofys, IIASA and E4tech are glad to announce the launch of this Transparency Platform with information on the ILUC modeling we perform for the European Commission. The website contains documents describing the GLOBIOM model used in the project.

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EU Leaders to Set 2030 Carbon Principles, Delbeke Says
Published on 13 June 2014 Source: Bloomberg

European Union heads of state will seek to agree on general principles on 2030 climate and energy policies at their summit in October, according to Jos Delbeke, director general for climate at the European Commission. Detailed measures on how to implement post-2020 strategy will be proposed by the EU’s regulatory arm after leaders reach a political deal, he said in an interview in Luxembourg yesterday. The commission proposed the 28-nation bloc deepen its emission-reduction target to 40 percent by 2030 compared with the current goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

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Interview Fatih Birol, IEA: “Gradual change will not save us”
Published on 03 June 2014 Source: Energy Post

The latest major report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Energy Technology Perspectives 2014, states that “radical action is needed to actively transform energy supply and end use”. In an interview with Energy Post, the IEA’s renowned Chief Economist Fatih Birol notes that governments in particular have to take action. “You cannot change trends by giving some lectures or speeches. Policymakers should put in place real economic incentives.” Birol is “not without hope” that next year’s Climate Summit in Paris will produce a credible international agreement.

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Germany backs three-target approach for 2030
Published on 22 May 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

Germany will back a binding EU energy efficiency target for 2030 on top of the greenhouse gas reduction and renewables deployment targets it is already supporting. Member states remain divided on the issue, with countries including the UK and Lithuania telling the meeting that they are not in favour of an efficiency target. UK officials have lobbied hard for a single greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030. But other countries including Austria, Portugal, Ireland and Denmark are understood to be supporting an energy efficiency objective.

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EU states remain divided over 2030 goals
Published on 15 May 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

Member states remain strongly divided over Europe’s climate and energy policy for the period beyond 2020, the Greek presidency of the EU said on Wednesday evening following an informal meeting of environment ministers. Greek environment minister Yiannis Maniatis said some member states have “major reservations” about the setting of targets, including the 40% CO2 reduction goal for 2030 proposed by the European Commission in January. The Commission will also propose energy efficiency measures for 2030 either in July or September, as part of a policy paper setting out steps that may need to be taken to achieve the 2020 energy saving goal. A third group of member states, including Greece, believe the Commission’s proposal is not ambitious enough, Mr Maniatis said.

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East European countries place bombshell under EU climate policy
Published on 13 May 2014 Source: Energy Post

EU member states should be free to make their own decisions over whether to increase their greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments for 2020 – rather than letting the EU lead, according to a statement from seven Eastern European countries. With their declaration the group puts a bombshell under the EU’s collective efforts at the international climate negotiations.

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Cost of clean energy future rising, warns IEA
Published on 13 May 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

An additional $44trn investment in clean energy will now be needed to ensure global average temperature increases by no more than 2 degrees by 2050, according to a revised estimate from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This is a 22% increase in cost compared with the agency’s previous Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) analysis, confirming warnings repeatedly made in past years by the IEA and other international bodies over the cost of inaction. But the rising cost of decarbonising the energy system would still be more than offset by over $115trn in fuel savings, resulting in net savings of $71trn, says the IEA.

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Renewables: The Only Path to a Secure, Affordable and Climate-friendly Energy System by 2030
Published on 22 April 2014 Source: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

This paper demonstrates that an expansion of renewable energy sources is the only path to a secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy system until 2030 and beyond. Renewables not only drastically reduce emissions and other environmental and social burdens; they also reduce energy import dependency and hence increase energy security, strengthen local economies, and create jobs. While fossil fuels and nuclear power will become more expensive, renewable energy will become cheaper. This is even more true if the external costs are factored in.

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EU analysis: Sole 40% CO2 cut target will cut EU GDP by 2030
Published on 14 April 2014 Source: EurActiv

EU plans for a sole binding 40% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030 will lead to a drop in the continent’s GDP of between 0.1% and 0.45% on current trends, according to an overlooked passage in the impact assessment which accompanies the proposal. On the surface, the finding, which originated in a Cambridge Econonometrics model, appears at odds with estimates in the latest IPCC 5th Assessment report released yesterday (13 April), that global decarbonisation would shave just 0.06% off global economic growth

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World Is Ill-Prepared for Global Warming Impacts, UN Says
Published on 31 March 2014 Source: Bloomberg

Global warming is depleting fresh water and crops, destroying coral reefs and melting the Arctic, the United Nations said today in a report that concludes the world is ill-prepared to face many new threats.

Climate change has brought “key risks” that endanger lives and health worldwide, including storm surges and coastal flooding worsened by rising sea levels; infrastructure destruction and the disruption of power networks, communications and health services by extreme weather, and the depletion of crop production due to droughts and floods, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.

“If you look around the world today, people, cities, businesses and nations aren’t prepared for the climate-related risk we face now,” Chris Field, the U.S. professor who co-chaired the 309 scientists drafting today’s report, said in a phone interview from Yokohama, Japan. “The climate changes that have already occurred have been widespread and have really had consequences. It’s not the case that climate change is a thing of the future.”

The report is designed to guide global lawmakers as they devise policies to reduce heat-trapping emissions and make their infrastructure, agriculture and people more resilient to a warmer world. It aims to influence climate treaty talks among 194 nations that are working to devise an agreement next year to rein in global warming.

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EU state aid rules undermine affordable energy prices
Published on 28 March 2014 Source: Eurofer

In a joint letter, addressed to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, explain industriAll European Trade Union and The European Steel Association EUROFER, that the Commission’s draft Environmental and Energy Aid Guidelines (EEAG) undermine the objectives for affordable energy prices and industrial competitiveness asset out by the European Council on 2021 March.

The draft guidelines restrict member states to exempt industry from decarbonisation or renewable surcharges. “There is no reasonable justification for limiting exemptions from the surcharges to 80% as the root for distortions on global level and within the Single Market are the decarbonisation charges, not the exemptions. Competitors within or outside the EU do not have to bear similar costs”, write Gordon Moffat, Director General EUROFER and Bart Samyn, Deputy General Secretary industriAll Europe in a joint letter to José Manuel Barroso.

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Energy and Climate: what strategy for Europe
Published on 26 March 2014 Source: European Commission

Energy represents one of Europe’s greatest issues. The future of European industry is dependent on a comprehensive and long-term solution regarding energy supply. Member States have realized the importance of low-carbon economies to fulfill their responsibilities in providing European citizens with sustainable economic growth, secure jobs, and a high standard of living. To achieve this, and in order to reduce emissions by 80-90% by 2050, the key challenges for EU energy policy are to combine the development of strategic renewable energy sources (RES), energy efficiency and clean coal technologies, with a greater integration of the European internal energy market, and a stable and adequate energy supply. These steps are paramount to secure a healthy industrial future for Europeans within a competitive global market for energy.

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U-turn on 2030 renewables goal
Published on 24 March 2014 Source: ENDS Report

The UK has dropped its opposition to the EU setting a renewables target for 2030. But it is still insisting that this should not be translated into binding targets for individual countries. That effectively makes the change of heart meaningless because an EU-wide renewables target would not force member states to take any action to promote renewables. The European Commission proposed its energy and climate package for 2030 in January.

This recommended the EU set a target to cut carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, as well as one to get 27% of the EU’s energy from renewables by the same date. Several major countries including Germany and France had wanted the renewables target to be translated into binding targets for member states, as currently exists to 2020. MEPs also support binding renewables targets.

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Deadline for 2030 energy-climate package moves to October
Published on 20 March 2014 Source: Europolitics

The European Council is now set to slightly accelerate its work on the 2030 energy-climate package, with a final decision on the policy framework expected “as quickly as possible and no later than October 2014,” according to the most recent draft of the summit conclusions, dated 19 March and which Europolitics has seen.

Earlier drafts said that the decision should be taken “before the end of the year,” providing a more flexible deadline and largely reflecting the views of the Eastern European countries, which have been repeatedly saying there is no need to rush the process (see Europolitics 4827).

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Polish public swings behind EU climate plan
Published on 19 March 2014 Source: EurActiv

The majority of Poles support a proposed 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and overwhelmingly back more renewable energy builds to save them from energy dependency on Russia, according to a poll carried out by the global civic movement, Avaaz.

The survey’s results were released today ahead of an EU summit, which is expected to focus on the Ukraine crisis, with climate issues expected to be relegated to a perfunctory exchange before the summit’s end on Friday afternoon.

Poland has led efforts to block any deal this year on climate and energy targets for 2030, mobilising a coalition of central and eastern European nations, under Hungary’s formal stewardship, to argue for greater burden sharing in any final agreement.

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EU ruled out 2030 offsets due to carbon market drought
Published on 14 March 2014 Source: EurActiv

The EU had little choice in proposing not to outsource more of its emission cuts abroad to meet a proposed 40% reduction in greenhouse gas output by 2030 because the slow pace of global talks to develop new carbon markets gave it nothing to buy, a senior EU official said.
The European Commission in January proposed meeting the target entirely from CO2 cuts made within Europe, unless a global climate change agreement required it to deepen the goal. Jürgen Lefevere, a senior official at the Commission, the EU's executive, insisted that the bloc was willing to open up its carbon market but was restricted by a lack of reform at international level.

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200 European cities and regions call for more ambitious EU climate and energy targets
Published on 13 March 2014 Source: WWF

At a crucial time for European climate policy, 200 European cities and regions are backing a call for action supporting more ambitious and binding climate and energy targets, ensuring that future generations are safeguarded against the worst effects of climate change. Spearheaded by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and WWF, the call is timely and directed towards the European Union, which is engaged in discussions regarding the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Package.
The document calls on the EU to enact mandated greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets measuring at least 50% below the level in 1990. It further calls for a share of 40% of energy from renewable sources and a 40% reduction in energy use by 2030.
 

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EU might delay 2030 decision to end 2014
Published on 11 March 2014 Source: Europolitics

The current proposed timeline shows Eastern European countries buying time, but the battle on the final text has just started. The EU might push its final decision on the 2030 energy and climate goals to the end of the 2014, potentially representing a win for Eastern European countries, which have been repeatedly saying there is no rush in the process, according to draft conclusions from the upcoming EU summit of 20-21 March.The draft conclusions, dated 10 March and which Europoliticshas seen, do not make any direct reference to the 40% greenhouse gas (GHG) emission target the European Commission proposed for 2030 in its January package, nor to the 27% EU-wide renewables target. They only mention that the GHG target will be in line with the agreed objective for 2050, which is to cut emissions to 80% below 1990s levels and that "it should be more ambitious" than what member states could achieve if they would just continue based on their current 2020 policies. The Commission forecasts a 32% GHG cut by 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario.

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EU energy ministers should get back in the saddle on climate and energy policy, Greenpeace
Published on 04 March 2014 Source: Greenpeace

Brussels – Energy ministers meeting in Brussels today will discuss for the first time the European Commission’s EU climate and energy policy package for 2030.

The Commission recommended a 40 per cent cut in domestic carbon emissions and a binding EU-wide target to increase the share of renewables to at least 27 per cent by 2030. However, the Commission has excluded setting national renewables targets and has delayed discussions on an energy efficiency target.

Greenpeace criticised the Commission package in January, describing it as a “sell-out” [1].

Commenting on today’s EU energy meeting, Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Frederic Thoma said: “A carbon target without a renewables and an energy efficiency target would be like a bicycle with no pedals – it will move but it won’t take you very far. Right now, renewables are delivering about half of all carbon cuts in Europe. This is no time to stop pedalling. EU heads of government have to get back in the saddle so that climate protection and the modernisation of the energy system can finally gain some speed.”

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Turn to climate action for a job-rich economic recovery, Europeans say
Published on 03 March 2014 Source: European Commission

Four out of five people in the European Union recognise that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and employment, according to a special Eurobarometer opinion poll on climate change published today. This is slightly higher than in the last poll, in 2011, when 78% agreed.

Several member states which suffered most in the economic and financial crisis are among the countries where recognition of the economic benefits of climate action and energy efficiency is highest. In no Member State did fewer than 65% of respondents agree.

The survey1 also found that seven in ten citizens agree that reducing fossil fuel imports from outside the EU could bring economic benefits.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "There is not a choice to make between good economics and climate protection: cost-effective climate action is indeed good economics. I am very encouraged that European citizens recognise that too. This poll sends a strong signal to EU leaders to take bold climate action for a sustainable economic recovery. And it is an encouragement also for us in the Commission to continue fighting for ambitious climate action in Europe."

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Visegrád+3 meeting tackles 2030 energy and climate package
Published on 27 February 2014 Source: Europolitics

Moving outside their regular meeting format, four Central European countries – known as the Visegrád Group - met with their Romanian, Bulgarian and Greek neighbours, on 24 February in Budapest, Hungary, where the proposed 2030 energy and climate package featured high on the agenda. Since Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have already signalled their intention to fight off any pressure to agree on a new long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction (see Europolitics4813), observers say the so-called Visegrád+3 foreign ministers' gathering signals the formation of a growing regional alliance of member states that may challenge the European Commission's proposal next month.

The EU executive has been advocating for an early agreement on the bloc's 2030 climate policy commitment at the upcoming European Council, on 20-21 March, hoping that it would help the Union maintain its leading role in international climate negotiations continuing in September. The proposal, unveiled in January, calls for a binding 40% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal by 2030. The package also includes a proposal for an EU-wide binding goal to cover 27% of the bloc's energy needs from renewable sources by the end of the next decade.

Member states' reactions to the package have been mixed. While some wish for the EU's path towards 2030 to include even more ambitious environmental goals, others are concerned that even under the current proposal the Union will be doing too much compared to the rest of the world – at the expense of its industry.

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One thousand European cities call for 30% renewables target
Published on 26 February 2014 Source: Reve

Over 1000 European cities have written a joint letter to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy to call for a 30% renewable energy target for 2030, alongside a 40% energy efficiency target.

On 22 January, the European Commission proposed a 40% greenhouse gas reduction target and a 27% renewable energy target that is non-binding at the national level. But the European Parliament voted in favour of stronger targets (a 30% renewable energy target subdivided between Member States and a 40% energy efficiency target). Energy Cities, the alliance representing the 1,000 cities, is hoping the EU Heads of State, who meet on the topic on 20-21 March, will follow the MEPs' more ambitious lead.

Energy Cities president Eckart Würzner identified problems with the Commission's weak proposals as well as problems with the clash between EU institutions' visions. He was quoted in a EurActiv article saying, "I personally sense a great deal of disillusionment among my citizens towards European politics. An ambitious EU climate and energy policy that tackled economic growth, fuel poverty and quality of life issues would ultimately contribute to restoring trust in European institutions."

Energy Cities represents urban Europe because they believe "the fight against climate change will be won or lost in urban areas." An Economist analysis predicts that 33% of cities will be affected by climate change by 2025, largely due to the fact that cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.

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France and Germany forge joint position for 2030
Published on 21 February 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

French president François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have pledged to form a united front in favour of a 40% CO2 cut and an EU renewables target of at least 27% for 2030.

But a joint decision adopted by the two countries' governments this week stops short of calling for binding national renewable targets. Member states' sovereignty over their energy mixes should be fully respected, and support mechanisms will have to be progressively harmonised, the document points out.

Negotiations on the EU's climate and energy package should be concluded by the end of this year at the latest, the two member states said. With many countries not in favour of the 40% goal it looks increasingly likely that agreement on 2030 targets will not be reached at next month's EU leaders' summit.

Both countries want the current carbon leakage list to remain in place until 2020 to help the competitiveness of European industry. The 40% target must be accompanied by a "credible system" of protection for energy-intensive sectors, they said.

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Binding '2030 climate and energy' target will benefit EU
Published on 20 February 2014 Source: The Parliament

The European parliament has voted in favour of an ambitious approach to the 2030 framework for climate and energy policy, continuing with three ambitious and binding targets on greenhouse gas reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. They did so with one objective in mind: improving Europe's energy situation. Today, Europe is completely dependent on energy imports. In 2012, Europe spent more than €500bn on foreign coal, oil and gas.

This money could be better spent locally. Therefore, Europe needs to invest in energy efficiency, in order to use energy more efficiently, and in the creation of our own indigenous energy source: renewable energy. This will greatly enhance European competitiveness in the future. It will optimise production, making it possible to produce the same output with a smaller amount of energy. And it will put Europe on the forefront for green technologies, on which demand in the future will rise globally.

Finally, it will reduce the negative impacts of CO2 on the climate, reducing the number of natural disasters that are very costly, both socially and economically.

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Energy efficiency and renewable targets key to a cost-effective EU 2030 framework
Published on 20 February 2014 Source: The Parliament

Renewable energy sources represent the biggest indigenous resource that Europe has and this resource is crucial for future EU energy.

Lack of 'binding targets' in commission proposal is 'perplexing', according to Fiona Hall. An early agreement on an EU 2030 energy and climate framework is needed in order to seize opportunities for green growth and lead global efforts to combat climate change. The European parliament's report adopted by a clear majority on 5 February is therefore timely and welcome. The report calls for three binding targets for 2030, on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, renewables and energy efficiency which represents the most cost-effective approach, according to the European commission's own impact assessment.
Energy efficiency is key for economic efficiency and therefore competitiveness. Recent analysis by the Fraunhofer institute shows that it would be cost-effective for the EU to reduce its energy use by as much as 40 per cent by 2030.

That is why MEPs support a 40 per cent energy efficiency target. Interestingly, most of the potential for energy reduction lies in sectors outside of the EU emissions trading system (ETS), such as buildings and transport. First, this means that a single GHG target delivered mainly through the ETS would fail to reap much of the savings potential. Second, it implies that concentrating on energy saving, and hence GHG reduction, from non-ETS sectors would significantly ease the decarbonisation effort needed elsewhere, for example from energy-intensive industry. It was disappointing that nothing concrete on energy efficiency appeared in the recently published commission white paper. It is to be hoped that an ambitious 2030 target, in line with the parliament's report, will be proposed by the commission after the summer.

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2030 energy and climate package risks 'losing Europe's competitive advantages'
Published on 19 February 2014 Source: The Parliament

Policymakers must ensure that they plan for Europe's future competitiveness, as well as for today's, argues Henry Derwent. The debate over the European Union's climate and energy package for 2030 risks being dominated by familiar claims of increasing energy prices damaging Europe's competitiveness or Europe having burdened its economy with the energy transition while struggling to overcome its debt crisis.

But the key question is about our future: how far should we invest in low-carbon energy use and energy efficiency to secure Europe's competitive edge in the decades to come?
Europe is still a global leader on low-carbon, but our competitors are catching up fast. It has been argued that Europe is diluting its competitiveness through its concern for carbon and others are taking advantage, but, in fact, competitors including China, India and the United States are steadily investing in low-carbon technologies and unlocking their own energy efficiency potential. While European politicians and economists debate how far taking action on carbon is justified, or investable, in the absence of certainty about international targets, other governments are acting. Renewable energy targets now exist in 138 countries. More than 60 countries, including Australia, South Korea, South Africa, Canada and Brazil have emulated the feed-in-tariffs widely used in Europe. Around 70 per cent of new wind power capacity and 40 per cent of new photovoltaic panels were installed outside Europe in 2012 with China and the US attracting a combined average of 60 per cent of new wind investments in the period 2009 to 2012.

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2030 deal fails to learn from 'past mistakes'
Published on 19 February 2014 Source: The Parliament

Konrad Szymanski says the EU must look to its international partners before establishing new CO2 reduction targets
The European parliament, from the outset of its recently adopted report concerning the 2030 climate and energy policy, has declared that the new EU policy in this area needs to be realistic, flexible and cost-effective. Following the introduction of amendments, promoted by the European centre-left, end results are neither realistic nor flexible nor cheaper, in spite of the needs of the European economy. Parliament has ultimately failed to draw constructive conclusions from Europe's past mistakes.

The doubling of CO2 emission reduction targets is unrealistic in a situation where Europe continues its unilateral climate policy. This exacerbates our loss of global competitiveness and guarantees the continued deindustrialisation of Europe. The EU should refrain from establishing new CO2 reduction targets, at least until it will be possible to determine the actual intentions and willingness of our global competitors in this field.

Binding targets demanded by the parliamentary majority concerning renewable energy and energy efficiency are far from a flexible solution. Member states, as well as specific economic sectors, have different potentials in the sphere of energy efficiency. Our intensive industry sector has already proven to be the most energy efficient. The much prophesised green revolution of job opportunities has not and will not be able to compensate for the potential losses in employment. In Europe, 27 million people are employed in the energy-intensive industry sector.

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Private investment 'critical' to Europe's energy future
Published on 18 February 2014 Source: The Parliament

A strong and clearly defined climate policy can secure Europe's energy future, bring in investment and boost innovation, writes Stephanie Pfeifer. After a long period of uncertainty, Europe's climate and energy future finally began to take shape last month. The European commission's proposals for the climate and energy policies that will guide Europe to 2030 had been long-awaited, not least by European investors, many of whom were increasingly concerned by the ongoing uncertainty. This matters because private investment is critical to Europe's energy future. With public budgets strained, policymakers are looking to private investors to finance European energy infrastructure. Many already have significant investments in European energy assets, but continued investment is far from assured.

A stable policy environment set for the long-term is crucial to enable forward planning for complex investments which can last for decades. The impact on investment levels as a result of faltering policy is plain to see. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global investment in clean energy fell again in 2013 to €185bn, some way short of the trillions needed to finance the transition to a low-carbon economy. And shrinking investment threatens to have serious consequences for Europe's energy security. New investment in low-carbon energy is needed to keep the lights on and meet climate targets. So for investors, last month's proposals were a critical first step towards a policy environment which stimulates investment.

The next step is for policymakers to show urgency and leadership. The commission has proposed an emissions reduction target of 40 per cent, which the EU admits is the minimum needed to keep Europe on course for a low-carbon economy. Member states can agree this target as early as next month's European council meeting. Acting with urgency will reassure investors and set a positive direction of travel. Europe should, however, be prepared to go beyond this and we support the calls for a higher target based on a global deal being agreed in Paris next year. A strong target would clearly signal Europe's commitment to a low-carbon future, galvanise international action and is in line with what the science says is needed to avoid dangerous climate change.

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Commission's 2030 approach branded 'not very daring'
Published on 18 February 2014 Source: The Parliament

Anne Delvaux warns commission not to 'sideline' MEPs from legislative process. Following the publication on January 22nd of the European commission's green paper on a policy framework for climate and energy from 2020 to 2030, the European parliament decided to express its views on the issue - one that is vitally important for the future of Europe - in an own-initiative report. As there were two committees looking into this issue, two rapporteurs were appointed. I had the honour of being appointed for parliament's environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) committee. It quickly became clear that the parliament was broadly divided into two opposing views: those that supported a framework with the single goal of reducing CO2 emissions and those who backed an approach with three targets, in keeping with the 20-20-20 framework.

As the commission and parliament diaries were particularly busy, it was impossible for the commission to wait for the results of a plenary vote on the own-initiative report before publishing its views. I would like to make several points about the issue. Firstly the binding 40 per cent target for reducing CO2 emissions matches the target set by the parliament. This must help us reach our long-term target, as defined in the 2050 roadmap. Second, the 27 per cent target for the renewable share in our energy mix, which is also binding is clearly not ambitious enough. If we continue as we are, we will likely achieve a 24 per cent improvement by 2030. It's pretty clear to say that the commission's approach is not very daring.

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Russia to stop gas to Ukraine, rejects EU proposal
Published on 16 June 2014 Source: EU Observer

Russian firm Gazprom is stopping gas supplies to Ukraine after talks on a new price broke down in the small hours of Monday.

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World Energy Investment Outlook - Special Report
Published on 03 June 2014 Source: International Energy Agency

Questions about the reliability, affordability and sustainability of our energy future often boil down to questions about investment. But are investors ready to commit capital in a fast-changing energy world? This special report in the World Energy Outlook series takes up this question in a full and comprehensive update of the energy investment picture to 2035 – a first full update since the 2003 World Energy Investment Outlook.

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Exec wants EU countries to “stress test” their energy supply
Published on 22 May 2014 Source: Europolitics

The European Commission is set to ask the member states to test before the winter the resilience of their energy system to gas supply shortages if the crisis over Ukraine leads to cuts in Russian gas deliveries, according to a draft Commission document seen by Europolitics. “The Commission and member states should reflect before the summer on practical ways to perform a stress test of the EU energy system in light of the supply disruption risks in the upcoming winter,” says the draft communication the College of Commissioners is expected to adopt on 28 May.

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Russian strategy to buy up Europe’s refineries exposed
Published on 22 May 2014 Source: EurActiv

Russia's strategy of buying up oil refineries in Europe could compromise the bloc's energy security, EU officials said in a draft report prepared for the region's leaders. Europe's refining sector has been weakened by a combination of high oil prices, slack demand and poor profit margins, prompting many companies to sell off refining units, which Russia has been buying.

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Industry says renewables can boost EU energy security
Published on 14 May 2014 Source: Business Green

European trade bodies have called on Commission President José Manuel Barroso to recognise the role renewables can play in boosting EU energy security. Ahead of a meeting of energy ministers to discuss Europe's fossil fuel dependence on Thursday, the heads of 10 green industry organisations argue in an open letter that the crisis in Ukraine is just the most recent in a long line of incidents to highlight Europe's vulnerability to volatile fossil fuel prices and the impact of geo-political instability on energy supplies.

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Trilateral gas talks with Russia fail
Published on 05 May 2014 Source: EurActiv

Following a trilateral meeting with the EU and Ukraine in Warsaw on 2 May, Russia threatened to cut natural gas supplies to Kyiv in June if it receives no prepayment in an escalating row against the background of growing political tensions. Relations between Russia and the West have fallen to their lowest ebb since the Cold War following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and the outbreak of clashes involving pro-Russia militia in the east of the country.

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Industry players call for EU 2030 energy infrastructure target
Published on 24 April 2014 Source: Europolitics

As the Ukraine crisis is highlighting the isolation of certain member states in terms of energy supply, some industry players – using the energy security argument – are calling for a 2030 energy infrastructure target that could persuade reluctant governments to fill the interconnection gap. Member states, however, are less keen on specifying a target, worrying about unnecessary costs.

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Competition the Key for European Energy Security
Published on 07 April 2014 Source: Natural Gas Europe

Fresh from the US-EU Energy Council meeting in Brussels the day prior, US Department of State Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual shared his perspectives and prospective energy policies to a distinguished audience of industry leaders, policy makers, and media at the Atlantic Council.  The Ukraine Crisis has brought European energy security back into the spotlight, and he stressed a theme through his speech for Europe to capitalize: competition.

Pascual’s address focused on natural gas, noting that natural gas is a critical commodity in Europe’s energy equation. According to Pascual, competition is paramount, to give consumers choice and strength when evaluating a source of supply. US LNG exports to Europe has been popular in the Washington DC policy community, but Pascual noted that greater American gas production has already aided European energy security in the long term, by increasing the liquidity in gas markets. The United States has helped encourage a global trading system of competition that will enhance European energy security as a whole.

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US lawmakers divided on whether to export gas to Europe
Published on 27 March 2014 Source: Europolitics

The partisan split between Democrat and Republican US lawmakers on energy export policy was laid bare at a congressional hearing, on 26 March. While the Republicans, who control the House but not the Senate or White House, are all for removing decades-old restrictions on exporting US liquefied natural gas (LNG), their Democrat counterparts pinpoint the potential pitfalls. Ed Royce (Republican, California), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has introduced a new bill to make it easier to export LNG to all World Trade Organisation (WTO) countries. He slammed the Obama administration for moving "at a glacial pace" in approving LNG export applications: only seven out of 30 applications have gotten the green light in the past three years. "Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula was made easier by its energy grip over Ukraine," Royce said. "America's newly developing energy supplies could make a difference, sapping President Putin's strength, while bolstering Ukraine and many other European countries," he added.

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Obama urges EU to diversify its energy sources to end dependency on Russia
Published on 27 March 2014 Source: European Voice

The European Union and the United States are to increase co-operation on energy issues in a bid to reduce European dependency on imports of Russian energy. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, Ernest Moniz, the US energy secretary, and Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for energy, are to meet in Brussels on Wednesday (2 April) to discuss how the US can assist the EU.

The meeting follows yesterday's EU-US summit at which the issue of energy independence dominated discussions. “This entire [Ukraine] event has pointed toward the need for Europe to look into how it can diversify its energy sources,” said US President Barack Obama. The EU imports around 32% of its gas and 35% of its oil from Russia – a dependency that has coloured the EU's response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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Commission prepares changes to energy subsidy reform
Published on 27 March 2014 Source: European Voice

The European Commission is preparing to retreat on some elements of reform of state subsidies for renewable energy. European Voice has seen a draft version of guidelines that the Commission is to publish on 9 April, setting out what kinds of subsidies member states are allowed to offer their renewable energy industries without falling foul of European Union rules on state aid. Those guidelines are supposed to reduce distortions to the internal market, which have, for example, seen traditional energy companies in neighbouring countries complain about subsidies in Germany that prompted excessive production.

Germany subsequently cut back its feed-in tariffs paid by the state to generators of renewable energy. In Spain, generous feed-in tariffs were suspended to save on public finances. The guidelines call for greater co-ordination to take into account the effects of such policy changes on neighbouring countries.

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Obama and Barroso discuss LNG co-operation
Published on 26 March 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

An EU-US trade agreement would make it much easier to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from North America to Europe, president Barack Obama said on Wednesday. Such exports are particularly relevant given “today’s geo-political climate”, Mr Obama said, in reference to EU and US condemnation of Russia’s annexing of Crimea and their implementation of economic sanctions against Russia. Russia supplies around 30% of Europe’s gas, much of it piped through Ukraine. The US president was speaking at a press conference in Brussels following talks with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso and Council president Herman Van Rompuy that were dominated by the crisis in Ukraine.

The US shale gas boom means as much gas is licensed for export from the US as the EU consumes each day, but it is sold on the open market, Mr Obama said. Mr Barroso said it was good news for Europe that the US was putting its shale gas on the global market, and that more licenses might be granted. However, the US president appeared to suggest that Europe should do more to develop its own shale gas resources too.

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Visegrád Group pleads for US LNG export liberalisation
Published on 26 March 2014 Source: Europolitics

The US should use its strategic position as a major shale gas exporter to counteract Russian influence in Central Eastern Europe (CEE) and in Ukraine, Anita Orbán, Hungary's ambassador-at-large for energy security, told key lawmakers in Washington, on March 25.

“Clearing the way for US shale gas to reach America's Central European NATO allies would provide significant protection against the deployment of the energy price weapon,” Orbán said at a hearing before the House Energy Committee, as representatives debated changes to export policy to take into account a shifting geopolitical landscape. Tension has been mounting in Europe regarding the security of energy supplies since Russian armed forces took over control of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine earlier this month. Moscow has in years past cut gas supplies during regional disputes, which hit CEE countries the hardest.

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Energy security towers over EU-US summit
Published on 26 March 2014 Source: EurActiv

In the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, leaders meeting in Brussels for an EU-US summit today (26 March) decided to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas, and deliver a sound basis for a transatlantic trade deal. “Forging strong economic ties across the Atlantic is a powerful political sign. A way to show the international community who we are at heart: economies based on rules, societies based on values and proud of being so,” said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, speaking at a press conference at the end of the EU-US summit.

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British foreign secretary calls for renewed focus on energy security
Published on 24 March 2014 Source: UPI

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was time for European leaders to get serious about energy diversity in response to the crisis over Ukraine. "We would need to boost investment in gas interconnections and terminals in Europe, and develop indigenous European energy supplies for countries wishing to develop their own resources, such as shale gas," he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. European energy consumers get about a quarter of their gas needs met by Russia, though the bulk of that runs through the Soviet-era gas transit network in Ukraine. The turmoil that erupted in November has sparked concerns about the security of European energy supplies.

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Europe set to add names to Russia sanctions list, weigh energy issues
Published on 20 March 2014 Source: Reuters

European leaders will agree to expand a list of those subject to travel bans and asset freezes on Thursday but stop short of harder-hitting measures against Russia over Crimea, biding their time to retain EU unity and gauge Moscow's reaction. At the same time, the EU faces a geopolitical challenge in trying to move away from its dependence on Russian energy. While Moscow considers itself a reliable supplier of gas and oil to Europe, which takes about 30 percent of its energy from Russia, the relationship could easily come under strain if the Ukraine dispute worsens. But while many ideas and proposals are circulating, the EU will struggle to reduce its reliance on Moscow in the short-term and most alternatives will be more costly than the oil and gas that is currently pumped directly to the West from Russia.

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Can Germany survive the Energiewende
Published on 13 March 2014 Source: Energy Post

The German Energiewende is a heroic but – as it's conceived now – increasingly disordered effort for unshackling industrial society from the chains of fossil fuels. Due to mistaken assumptions and unrealistic scheduling, it is now confronted with persistent obstacles. The new Merkel government has introduced some changes, but they won't be enough to sustain the Energiewende, argues independent energy consultant (and renewable energy sympathizer) Jeffrey Michel. It is one of the greatest national energy projects ever undertaken – and viewed by the German government as an export product: the Energiewende – an attempt by a great industrial nation to do away with fossil fuels and (in this case) nuclear power. At present, however, it is not succeeding: Germany is still relying on fossil fuels, with lignite plants the biggest single contributor to electricity supplies. Recently, Germany's CO2-emissions reached the high levels that prevailed in the 1990s.

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Manufacturers demand co-ordinated European energy policy
Published on 13 March 2014 Source: Financial Times

Europe's leading manufacturing lobby group warned on Thursday that a lack of co-ordinated action on energy competition wasputting the region's economy at risk. "The uncertainty over energy prices and supply means lower investment will have a serious impact on Europe's industrial performance," said Leif Johansson, chairman of AstraZeneca and Ericsson, and head of the European Round Table of Industrialists.

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"Paradoxically, coal could bring Warsaw and Berlin closer together"
Published on 13 March 2014 Source: Europolitics

Zuzanna Nowak, an analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), discusses the energy issues raised at a meeting between Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on 12 March in Warsaw.

Tusk has criticised the links between the German and Russian gas industries. What is behind this dispute? This has been a recurring theme in European negotiations for several years. On the one hand, Donald Tusk refers to German dependence on Russian gas, which is true in absolute terms. More than 30 billion m 3 of gas in Germany comes from Russia. In Poland, the respective figure is less than ten billion m 3. On the other hand, this must also be viewed in relative terms: in Poland, Russian gas represents almost 80% of imports, compared with 50% in Germany. Germany uses more gas from Norway, the Netherlands and Algeria. From this perspective, it is not surprising that Germany feels unjustly targeted by Tusk's proposal. Although this problem affects a lot of other countries, the Polish prime minister gave only Germany as an example. Taking into account the favourable relations between Berlin and Warsaw, finding a common position could set a good example for the rest of the EU. That's why I'm not speaking about conflict.

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Tusk warns Merkel against Russian gas addiction
Published on 11 March 2014 Source: EurActiv

Poland's prime minister Donald Tusk said yesterday (10 March) he would ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel to work to reduce European dependence on Russian gas to avert "potential aggressive steps by Russia in the future". Angela Merkel will visit Poland on Wednesday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, where Russia has effectively taken control of the southern Crimean peninsula. Events there have highlighted European reliance on Russian oil and gas. Ukraine is a major gas transit nation for supplies from Russia to the European Union (EU), which relies on Russia for over a quarter of its gas. "Germany's dependence on Russian gas may effectively decrease Europe's sovereignty. I have no doubts about that," Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a news conference.

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'Visegrad 4' want US gas to cut dependence on Russia
Published on 10 March 2014 Source: EurActiv

Four central European countries have asked the US Congress to make it easier for them to import natural gas from the United States and reduce their dependence on supplies from Russia, the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Saturday (8 March). The Visegrad 4 group including Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia is looking to diversify supplies to eliminate the danger Russia could use its control of gas and oil flows to exert political pressure on the former Soviet satellite states. Supplies were briefly disrupted in 2009 during a dispute between Russia and Ukraine, through which much of the Russian gas is piped, and central Europeans fear they could be under threat again due to an escalation of tensions between Russia and the West over Russia's seizure of Crimea.

 

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Europe abandons hopes of US-style shale gas revolution
Published on 28 February 2014 Source: Euractiv

Shale gas has had a "minimal impact" on the US's manufacturing industry, and will have even less significance for Europe, according to a new report by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI). Among industrialists too, there are doubts that the US shale gas revolution can be replicated in Europe. BASF, the German chemical giant, says it is too early to say whether shale gas exploitation is economically feasible on the old continent. The US shale gas boom has been a game-changer in the chemicals industry, bringing prices down for US factories and driving a new wave of investments there. BASF has recently invested more than one billion euro in the US to take advantage of cheaper gas and electricity prices. "The US becomes more attractive for investment than Europe," Beckmann told journalists in Brussels. For sure, chemical companies look with envy at the US, but the scale of the shale revolution seems out of reach for Europe where the population density makes exploitation more difficult and where environmental concerns are higher.

"Even under the most optimistic scenarios for shale gas exploitation, the European Union would remain a significant importer of gas and oil and European Union prices would continue to depend on high international prices," Thomas Spencer, the report's author told a meeting in the European Parliament on 13 February. Factors such as Russia's index-linking of natural gas to oil prices would be more salient in determining European prices than shale gas expansion, Spencer added. Current low gas prices of $4-$5 per mbtu are "ultimately unsustainable" and "short-term," the paper says.

The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) said they were still analysing the IDDRI study but noted that other studies had found that shale gas had brought about an 'industrial renaissance' in the US. "As for Europe, even if the geological potential isn't as promising as in the US, we believe shale gas could still bring some significant economic benefit," Alessandro Torello a spokesman for OGP told EurActiv. "A recent study shows that shale gas development in Europe has the potential to create as many as 1.1 million jobs by 2050, and add as much as 3.8 trillion euros to the EU economy by then. Shale gas production in the EU could also reduce energy prices compared with a no-shale gas scenario."

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Industry bosses demand EU action on soaring energy prices
Published on 28 February 2014 Source: EU Observer

One hundred and thirty seven chief executives, including the heads of Tata Steel, Arcelor Mittal, and Rio Tinto, signed up to a paper published by the International Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers (IFIEC) Europe on Thursday (27 February).
"EU economic recovery and reversing trends in employment will not happen without industry," the paper states.
EU leaders will gather in Brussels on 21 and 22 March for a summit focused on the EU's industrial competitiveness and how to reinvigorate the bloc's rapidly eroding manufacturing base.
The EU's manufacturing sector has been in steady decline for the past 20 years and now accounts for just 15 percent of economic output. Meanwhile, 4 million manufacturing jobs across Europe have been lost since 2008, according to the European Commission's latest figures.

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EU energy model predicts 80% carbon intensity reduction
Published on 27 February 2014 Source: Europolitics

The carbon intensity of the EU energy system (CO2 emitted for each unit of energy supplied) can be reduced by up to 80% via the use of innovative technologies, and a 60% reduction could be achieved in the energy intensity of production (energy per GDP) when coupled with reductions in demand. These are the possible results from scenarios played out in a new energy system model that studies the EU's most cost-effective technology mix, the EU JRC TIMES model, devised by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission's in-house science service.

Spanning 2005 to 2050, the model covers all EU28, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and the Balkan states, modelling technology uptake and deployment and interaction with energy infrastructure. It provides assessment for how energy technologies will meet EU energy and climate change objectives, like the 40% CO2 emission reduction targets in the 2030 package.

Policy-relevant issues and questions, such as EU-wide deployment of low-carbon technologies, the most cost-effective technology mix in meeting EU targets and the performance improvements and cost reductions that are needed to make innovative technologies competitive are explored in EU JRC TIMES, according to a report just published on the JRC website. It covers energy supply and demand, which include seven factors: primary energy supply, electricity generation, industry, the residential sector, the commercial sector, agriculture and transport.

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U.N. report: doubling renewables, new support for Iowa wind energy, clean energy wins in January
Published on 25 February 2014 Source: Reve

Today, a new U.N. report says we can double global renewables by 2030, Windward Iowa wants to grow the state's industry, and clean energy dominated new U.S. generation in January.

The International Renewable Energy Agency reports that available technologies can propel the world toward doubling its current renewable energy portfolio by 2030:

"The good news is that the technology already exists to achieve that inspirational goal by 2030, and even to surpass it. Strikingly, taking external costs into account, the transition to renewables can be cost-neutral," wrote Adnan Amin, IRENA's director-general, in a foreword to the "REmap 2030″ report.

But, he warned, "The call to action is this: unless countries take the necessary measures now, we will miss the goal by a considerable margin. If we continue with business as usual, under the policies currently in place, the world will increase the share of renewable energy from 18 percent today to only 21 percent, instead of a potential 36 percent or more."

"Opportunities for renewable energy exist in very different resource, political and economic environments," the authors note. "Realizing the full technology potential requires the contribution of all countries — from industrialized to developing and emerging economies."

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New JRC energy system model studies EU's most cost-effective technology mix
Published on 20 February 2014 Source: JRC

Which energy technology mix allows the EU and national climate and energy targets to be met and at what cost? What cost reductions or performance improvements are needed to make innovative energy technologies competitive? What drives the deployment of different low carbon technologies across the EU? These and other policy-relevant questions can be addressed by the JRC-EU-TIMES model, described in a recently published report.

The model is used to assess the role of energy technologies in meeting Europe's energy and climate change objectives, such as a 40% reduction of greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2030. It covers the EU28 energy system plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and the Balkan countries from 2005 to 2050, modelling technology uptake and deployment and its interaction with the energy infrastructure.

The model considers both energy supply and demand and includes the following seven sectors: primary energy supply, electricity generation, industry, the residential sector, the commercial sector, agriculture and transport.

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Energy consumption down by 8% between 2006 and 2012 in the EU28
Published on 17 February 2014 Source: Europa Press

Over the last two decades, gross inland energy consumption in the EU28, which stood at 1 670 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 1990, rose to a peak of 1 830 Mtoe in 2006 and then decreased to 1 680 Mtoe in 2012. Between 2006 and 2012, gross inland energy consumption in the EU28 has fallen by 8%.

The energy dependence rate, which shows the extent to which a country is dependent on energy imports, was 53% in the EU28 in 2012. The domestic production of primary energy was 794 Mtoe in the EU28 in 2012. Nuclear energy (29%) accounted for the largest share, followed by renewables (22%), solid fuels (21%), gas (17%) and oil (10%).

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Member states split over CO2 from transport
Published on 12 June 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

EU environment ministers put forward divergent views on emission reductions in the transport sector during discussions on the proposed post-2020 climate and energy policy package at a meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday. Sweden and Finland said there was major potential to cut emissions from transport, while Spain said it was the sector with the “greatest potential”. The Netherlands said the existing CO2 reduction target for cars should be continued and strengthened, while the “removal of the CO2 objective [set out in the] fuels directive is a move in the wrong direction that should be reversed”.

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CO2 emissions target for cars reached in 2013
Published on 30 April 2014 Source: Europolitics

The European automobile industry received a glowing report from the European Environment Agency (EEA), published on 30 April. According to the EEA, cars sold in 2013 were 4% more efficient than those sold in the previous year and were 10% more efficient than the average car sold in 2010. In these statistics, the average level of CO2 emissions from a new car sold in 2013 was 127 grammes of CO2 per kilometre (compared to 186g CO2/km in 1995 or -31.7%). In other words, it was lower than the 130gr CO2/km target set for 2015. The target has therefore been hit this year. However, European automobile manufacturers will not be able to rest on their laurels: they will have to continue in their efforts to reduce the level of emissions in order to reach the 95gr CO2/km target by 2021

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10% renewable energy share target in transport not met - study
Published on 29 April 2014 Source: Europolitics

A study on biofuels claims that the EU's 2020 targets on renewable fuels are not being met. Renewable energy's share in the transport sector falls short of the 10% target set in the renewable energy directive (RED) for all potential regulatory scenarios. The minimum 6% mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target under the fuel quality directive (FQD) is also not being achieved, says an updated biofuels study carried out by the JEC consortium, entitled 'EU renewable targets in 2020: Revised analysis of scenarios for transport fuels', which analyses potential compliance with the 2020 RED and FQD targets.

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EU set to miss renewables goal for transport
Published on 23 April 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

The EU is likely to achieve only 8.7% renewable energy in transport by 2020, the European Commission’s research arm estimates. The projection from the Joint Research Centre with oil industry body Concawe and R&D group EUCAR is 1% lower than their last projection in 2011. The main reasons for the change include an updated understanding of what the EU electricity mix will look like in 2020, as well as different projections for passenger car sales and for the ramp up of the E10 ethanol blend market.

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Lufthansa says helping to test new aviation biofuel
Published on 23 April 2014 Source: Reuters

Lufthansa is testing a new type of biofuel for use in aircraft, the German carrier said on Wednesday, as the airline industry steps up efforts to cut its carbon dioxide emissions. Lufthansa was the first airline worldwide to use biofuels in commercial flights in 2011, when it used a 50:50 mix of biofuel - gained from plant oils and animal fats - and regular kerosene to power one engine per plane on daily flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg.

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Commission to launch scoreboard to monitor progress on EU transport initiatives
Published on 28 March 2014 Source: Air Transport World

The European Commission has unveiled plans to launch a European Union (EU) Transport Scoreboard to track how member states are doing in terms of implementing EU initiatives aimed at improving transport efficiency and connectivity in Europe. The Transport Scoreboard will compare member states in 24 categories, ranging from infrastructure development and environmental mitigation, to infringements and logistics. The categories represent the 24 key performance indicators by which the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) is measured and cover air, road, rail and maritime transport.

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Clean fuel infrastructure rules agreed by the Council and the European Parliament
Published on 26 March 2014 Source: Council of the European Union

The member states' permanent representatives today endorsed the compromise reached between the Council and the European Parliament concerning a directive on building up minimum infrastructure for alternative fuels across the EU .Mr Michalis Chrisochoidis, the Greek Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, said: "Today is an important day for the Greek Presidency, the European Union, and the future of sustainable transport. We have the approval of the proposal for the Directive on the Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure, a directive

that aims to minimise oil dependence for the transport sector and mitigate its environmental impact, ensuring the build-up of alternative fuels infrastructure and the implementation of common technical specifications for this infrastructure in the Union.

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EC consults on footprint methods for transport
Published on 24 March 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

The European Commission has mooted an EU framework setting out common carbon footprint methodologies for freight and passenger transport services. The “mandatory use of a standardised approach endorsed by the [Commission]”, and the introduction of a voluntary EU label are also listed as options for EU-level action in the consultation launched on Friday. Respondents are asked whether efforts to standardise carbon footprint reporting should be pursued at national or at global level instead.The Commission is also consulting on ways to promote carbon footprint reporting by companies and suggests possible next steps ranging from taking no action to making it mandatory for transport services to report their emissions.

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Deal struck on promoting use of alternative fuels on roads and waterways
Published on 20 March 2014 Source: European Parliamen

To boost the take-up of alternative fuels in transport, EU countries will have to ensure that enough refuelling and recharging stations are available to enable cars, trucks and ships using alternative fuels, such as natural gas and electricity, to move freely on EU roads and waterways, under an informal agreement reached by Council and Parliament negotiators on Thursday. The informal agreement still needs to be approved by the Parliament's Transport Committee and Parliament as a whole in April and then the Council.

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Aviation in ETS: MEPs reject EP-Council deal
Published on 20 March 2014 Source: Europolitics

Members of the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment (ENVI) narrowly rejected, on 19 March, the agreement negotiated on 4 March with the Council to prolong the existing exemption – valid until 30 April – from application of the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) of all intercontinental flights landing in or departing from European airports. The agreement provided for prolonging the measure until 2016.

The final say will be for the plenary session of 3 April: rapporteur Peter Liese (EPP, Germany) will present the version initially adopted by ENVI supporting the European Commission's proposal, namely to apply the ETS to the segments of flights occurring in the airspace of the European Economic Area (EEA).

MEPs rejected by 29 to 29 what many of them see as a "bad agreement" that weakens the European Commission's proposal too much. It was worked out under pressure from non-EU states (United States, China, Russia and India), which threatened to take retaliatory trade measures against the EU, brought to the attention of the Council by the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

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EU compromise on airline emissions faces opposition
Published on 13 March 2014 Source: Reuters

A number of EU politicians plan to vote against a deal to exempt long-haul flights from paying for carbon emissions until the end of 2016 in an attempt to prevent the European Union from bowing to international pressure. The European Parliament's 71-member Environment Committee will vote on March 19 on a deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier in March to extend a so-called "stop the clock" measure exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under its Emissions Trading System (ETS). Next week's vote of the cross-party committee would be a preliminary indication of whether the proposal can win enough support in the full 766-strong EU Parliament, a step required before it can become law.

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Will MEPs bow to pressure on ETS?
Published on 12 March 2014 Source: European Voice

The European Union has been humiliated in its attempts to reduce emissions from aviation
MEPs on the European Parliament's environment committee will next week be faced with a difficult choice – accept a humiliating surrender to America, Russian and Chinese bullying, or risk a trade war with grave economic consequences.
Last week negotiators from the member states and the Parliament reached a deal on the contentious issue of including international aviation in the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS). In essence, the deal will exempt non-EU airlines from paying for their CO2 emissions, in deference to pressure from Washington, Moscow and Beijing, which complained that inclusion of foreign airlines in the scheme was a breach of sovereignty.

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Renewables, ETS blamed for RWE’s financial loss
Published on 05 March 2014 Source: ENDS Europe

Energy company RWE has posted its first financial loss in 60 years, blaming the rise of renewables in Germany and other markets for the impaired value of its fossil fuel-based fleet of power installations. RWE was also hit by new emissions trading rules that began in 2013, under which utilities must purchase all their CO2 allowances on the market. RWE is the largest carbon emitter in the EU emissions trading system (ETS). It received 7.4 million free allowances in 2013 thanks to derogations for some plants in central and eastern Europe, which was significantly less than 121.4 million free allowances it enjoyed the previous year.

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