Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - April to June 2007

22 June 2007

THE STANSTED INQUIRY

BAA present their case for expansion

On Friday 22nd the Inquiry took a week's rest ? well earned after 2 weeks during which BAA's witnesses were battling with the objectors' lawyers. John Rhodes was their principal witness, a planning consultant and senior director of a national company, he has been advising BAA on both G1 and G2. His remit was to present Stansted expansion as an instrument for furthering government policy as expressed not only in the Air Transport White Paper, but also in the SERAS Report. Quotes on the intentions and wishes of the government were exchanged and dissected to and fro' across the floor. The mantra that the government's wishes were paramount would, no doubt, sound somewhat out of place if repeated in BAA's (Ferrovial?s) board room.

However, there was also much discussion on the relevance of the various government pronouncements - were they material to a planning decision and, if so, was there an order of precedence? Should the application go through all the normal planning procedures? Was the Environmental Assessment that was carried out a thoughtful gesture from BAA or was it a statutory requirement? Whose was the main responsibility for proposing mitigation measures? Had BAA actually proposed any further measures beyond those already agreed for 25mppa and if not why not? Was the expansion approved by the Regional, County and Local Plans? This led to several differing interpretations of different policies.

Could the Inquiry question the government's belief that all airport expansion was necessary and an essential economic benefit? Was there a distinction between "need" and "demand"? Why had the effects of expansion on the local economy not been fully assessed by BAA? (The answer again - the government says it is a benefit to the whole economy.)

Could the fact that Stansted's tourist traffic contributed a massive debt to the UK's balance of payments be balanced against the opportunities for the less well off to enjoy mind enhancing travel experiences ? thereby improving their Quality of Life? Presumably the expected benefit for the many was a sufficient compensation for the "few" locals who already found their Quality of Life to be deteriorating - though, in separate arguments, the idea of assessing Quality of Life is an outdated concept and impossible to evaluate, according to BAA.

Mr Rhodes denied that there had been adverse effects on the housing market, or that BAA's growing Housing "Agency" was not caring for its properties, or that nearby villages had been affected by the social changes induced by people selling up and leaving on one side, and temporary workers moving in to empty properties on the other.

Employment opportunities and figures were also questioned, especially doubts about the forecasts of induced employment as no survey had been carried out "on the ground". Would Harlow provide more employees than to date (fewer than 190 on-airport at the moment)? Could the airport play any part in the regeneration of Harlow? Why did the forecasts for business travellers show such a small increase at 35 mppa? ? the numbers of expected foreign business passengers actually fell. How could inward investment be expected if relatively few business passengers were using the airport?

The concept of pain for the few for the benefit of not only the many but also for the economy of the UK came up in various forms. Population figures were exchanged and although the word "nimby" was not used, the spectre was in the background. The issue is, of course a very real one. Developments that have unpleasant side effects are easier to impose on rural areas where fewer people are affected. Yet those who live in urban areas enjoy and expect to enjoy the benefits of nearby rural attractions. The Government encourages the "Right to Roam", and the preservation of the green belt and unspoilt countryside for the benefit of all. How to balance the rights of a few against the rights of many, especially when both are intertwined?

The airlines were especially pressing over the economic aspects of expansion at this stage in the airport's progress. It was suggested that they had not been consulted either on the prospects for attracting more passengers or on the likelihood that charges to the airlines would rise, ticket prices would rise, and passenger numbers would fall. BAA at Stansted could not prosper unless the airlines prospered as well - they were responsible for providing the actual means of transport.

Mr Rhodes had covered the whole of BAA's case in his proof so he was questioned also on all aspects of the environmental effects, though he was able to fend off some probing by referring the issue on to the consultant witness yet to be questioned.

The National Trust was concerned at the damage not only to the Forest itself but also to its use as a national recreational centre, enjoyed by people who came from all over the UK to relax in the Forest's unique atmosphere.

On climate change, introduced by SSE, Mr Rhodes again relied on government policy. Stansted's aircraft might release tonnes more CO2 annually but the government had decided that the EU emissions scheme would deal with the problem which, in his view, was only a small one anyway.

At the end of his incarceration, after a relatively brief recapping of BAA's views of the government's policies and their application to Stansted expansion, Mr Rhodes retired and was replaced by BAA's noise consultant, Dr Charles.

Dr Charles had only been approached to represent BAA's case last February so he was not responsible for the section on noise in the Environmental Assessment. His views were very straightforward and he would not deviate from them in spite of intensive questioning from both Mr Hill and Mr Stinchcombe, for Uttlesford Council and for SSE. He believed in the divine right of the (average) LAeq method of assessing noise effects unsullied by measurements of individual noise experiences when an aircraft actually flies overhead. Once again "the government says" came into the argument, backed by a succession of official quotes, in turn rebutted by another series of equally official quotes.

The result of staying rigidly within the LAeq system and the average 57 decibel annoyance level means that the extra flights at 35mppa do not raise the noise experience of residents much more than 1 decibel, or 2 at the most. It has been decreed by some experts and again by the government that the human ear cannot recognise an increase of less than a 3 decibels. So, although there are more flights, residents will not notice the difference because the average noise level will appear to be the same. The increase in the number of flights actually heard at their full noise level is held to be irrelevant. The overall experience will not change.

This denial is, of course, inexplicable to most of us but it has been repeated and perpetuated at several Inquiries, though inspectors have commented in their reports that the number of individual noisy flights does relate to the annoyance experienced. The average LAeq measurement still remains the easiest and most convenient overall measurement, but common sense and personal experience should allow recognition of the importance of the number of incidents in increasing annoyance and associated stress.

Possible effects on children's learning (reading in particular) ability were also discounted since no schools lie within the areas of noise levels where sound insulation is officially required - though the Health Impact Assessment commissioned by BAA had conceded that there might theoretically be a very small effect in those schools nearest to the airport. However, since no one had actually done a proper survey, the arguments remain unchallenged.

The Airport's Traffic forecasts were questioned during the last session before the break, and will be reported on. Still to come, after the break, are the consultants advising BAA on ground noise, air quality and water.

Pat Dale


18 June 2007

THE GOOD NEWS

EU confirms 2005 cut in greenhouse gas emissions

ENDS Europe DAILY 2340 - 14 June 2007

EU greenhouse gas emissions fell by 0.7 per cent in 2005, the European environment agency (EEA) confirmed on Thursday. The fall was driven mainly by reductions in emissions from electricity and heat production, households and services and road transport.

The full annual inventory of EU greenhouse gas emissions for 2005 confirms preliminary published by the agency in early May. The data were prepared as the EU's official annual report to the UN's framework convention on climate change.

The report says the reductions in the power and heating sector were the result of a shift from coal- to gas-fired production. A mild winter led to emissions savings by households and services, while rising demand for diesel cars in Germany drove cuts from road transport.

Spain witnessed the largest increase in emissions in absolute terms in 2005, equivalent to 15.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This was mainly down to a fall in electricity generation from hydropower due to low river levels, and the resulting increase in coal-fired production.

EU environment spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich said on Thursday the figures proved the EU was "well on the way to meeting its Kyoto targets" and had achieved a decoupling of emissions from economic growth. But she added that some countries "still need to make major efforts" and urged them particularly to "look at how they generate power and heat".

But green group Friends of the Earth drew the opposite conclusion: "The new data clearly shows that the EU is still way off course to meet its Kyoto target," campaigner Sonja Meister said. "The slight drop in emissions in 2005 is a decrease over only one year and is by no means a trend yet. European governments have to seriously increase their efforts to combat climate change, with drastic measures now to set the EU's emissions on a downward path into the long term."


18 June 2007

SPARKS FLY AS RYANAIR CLASHES WITH GREEN MEP

ENDS Europe DAILY 2340 - 14 June 2007

A debate on aviation and emission trading at Green Week in Brussels on Thursday saw a heated confrontation between low-cost airline Ryanair and a Green MEP on the environmental responsibilities of airlines.

Jim Callaghan of Ryanair rejected the notion that aviation should be a focus in the fight against climate change. "It's a relatively small part of the problem," he told a packed audience. "We've lost focus on areas where we can really make a difference."

Airlines like Ryanair have done everything they can to reduce emissions, he continued, and an emission trading scheme would be tantamount to a new tax. Mr Callaghan offered a pair of free tickets to anyone who could suggest ways for him to cut emissions.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas obliged. A dramatic reduction in demand is essential, she said, and must be driven by prices that reflect the full cost of flying. Ms Lucas also pointed to the industry's high growth rate and its non-CO2 impacts on climate.

Mr Callaghan suggested that any action should target large "inefficient" national carriers. "If you want to do something about emissions, the commission needs to start enforcing its state aid rules," he told delegates.

He also argued that capping emissions today would be unfair on eastern European countries. "Who wants to tell the Poles, sorry lads, growth has stopped?" he asked.

Tim Johnson, director of the Aviation environment federation, said the only way for aviation to avoid accusations of undermining emission reduction efforts in other sectors would be for it to be included in a post-2012 Kyoto protocol successor agreement. Aviation emissions are not covered by the Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction commitments.


18 June 2007

SOME DOUBTS

WWF report raises fears of emissions trading failure

WWF Press Statement - 13 June 2007

One of the world's most important mechanisms for tackling climate change is set to be undermined for a second time because of short-sighted plans to allow European companies to buy their way out of making reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions, a new WWF report shows. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is among the most ambitious projects designed to tackle climate change. Carbon trading is sound in principle, but the first phase of the EU scheme (2005 to 2007) has been seriously undermined by weak political decisions.

WWF's new report, Emission Impossible, shows that there are now significant concerns that the second phase (2008 to 2012) will also fail to deliver any significant emissions reductions within the EU - because of the potential for very heavy use of imported credits.

The EU ETS was designed to drastically reduce Europe's emissions by capping the amount of carbon dioxide that businesses are allowed to emit. Bigger emitters are able to buy carbon allowances - which, in effect, allow them to pollute - from companies that have reduced their emissions.

However, EU governments handed out far too many allowances to their industries in Phase 1. This caused the carbon market to virtually collapse and means that very little, if any, emission reductions will be made as a result of the scheme.

For Phase II, the European Commission has sought to set stricter caps than those proposed by many Member States. However, this is being weakened by a decision to allow industries to buy massive amounts of credits from projects outside the EU, meaning that European industry may not have to reduce its own emissions at all.

Emission Impossible looks at the carbon reduction plans of nine EU member states (UK, Germany, Poland, Ireland, France, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and Italy) and estimates that 88-100% of these countries' combined emissions reductions targets under the scheme could be met by buying credits from outside the EU.

Dr Keith Allott, head of WWF-UK's Climate Change Programme said: "There is a real danger that this will lock the EU in to high carbon investments and soaring emissions for many years to come. If the ETS is to fulfil its potential, we must ensure it leads to real carbon emission reductions within Europe. Climate change is an urgent priority, and we can't afford to waste another five years before we get Europe's emissions on a downward path."


18 June 2007

CARBON TRADE SCHEME 'IS FAILING'

Julian O' Halloran - BBC File On 4 - 5 June 2007

The EU's carbon trading scheme has increased electricity bills, given a windfall to power companies and failed to cut greenhouse gases, it is claimed.

An investigation by BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme has found that after two and half years the scheme has yet to cut in carbon dioxide emissions.

The consumer body Energywatch said customers are getting a raw deal.

But a government minister has promised that the scheme's next phase will be a big improvement.

The EU's Emission Trading Scheme - a key part of the UK Government's drive to combat climate change - began in 2005 and created a trade in carbon allowances.

It is essentially a permit to pollute.
Power generators received their allowances free of charge but were allowed to reflect the value of those in increased prices to customers, as if the companies had actually had to buy the allowances.

Energywatch believes this increased electricity bills by about 7% in 2005.

'Windfall profits'
And according to one government estimate, that delivered windfall profits of up to £1.3bn to the generators in that year - higher than environmental campaigners had claimed last year.

However, so far the carbon scheme has brought no clear payback in terms of cutting emissions.

Provisional government figures from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) suggest CO2 output in Britain actually went up, by 1.25% last year wiping out a slight drop of 0.01% in 2005.

It is also reckoned that CO2 emissions across the EU also rose by between 1 and 1.5% over the last two years.

Carbon reduction
The chief executive of Energywatch, Allan Asher, said , "Consumers increasingly accept the need for reductions in carbon.

"However they are paying the price and not seeing the benefits. The big generators are banking huge amounts of money and consumers aren't benefiting."

But the Minister for Climate Change, Ian Pearson, told File on 4 that the carbon trading scheme has been an administrative success yet concedes there have been problems in the first three year phase to the end of 2007.

"If you are saying to me it hasn't achieved a massive amount so far when it comes to CO2 reductions, well I agree with you and I think Phase Two will be a big, big improvement...and a key instrument in helping us all to achieve our carbon reduction targets across Europe."


18 June 2007

THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH ABOUT
THE CARBON OFFSET INDUSTRY

The Guardian - 16 June 2007

In the concluding part of a major investigation, Nick Davies shows how
greenhouse gas credits do little or nothing to combat global warming

It is 20 months now since British Airways proudly announced a new scheme to deal with climate change: for the first time, passengers could offset their share of the carbon produced by any flight by paying for the same amount of carbon to be taken out of the atmosphere elsewhere. "I welcome warmly this move from BA," said the then environment minister, Elliot Morley.

And how much carbon has BA offset from the estimated 27m tonnes which its planes have fired into the air since that high-profile moment in September 2005? The answer is less than 3,000 tonnes, less than 0.01% of its emissions - substantially less than the carbon dispersed by a single day of its flights between London and New York. The scheme has been, as BA's company secretary, Alan Buchanan, put it to a House of Commons select committee earlier this year, "disappointing".

The project has failed, according to one well-placed BA executive, because one part of the company wanted to improve its image by going green while another part wanted to protect its image by saying nothing at all about the impact of air travel on global warming. The result was that the scheme was launched and then banished to a dark corner of BA's website.

That tension - between the demands of the planet and the imperatives of commerce - lies at the heart of the global response to climate change and, in particular, of carbon offsetting. The idea that we might cancel our own greenhouse gases by paying for projects that reduce the gases elsewhere was born in the early years of climate politics. It was adopted by the corporate lobby at the Kyoto summit in 1997 and has grown into a large but deeply troubled adolescent - confused, unpredictable, and difficult to trust.

Separately from the "compliance market" on which nations and corporations trade carbon credits in an attempt to hit their Kyoto targets, there has grown a smaller, voluntary market in which airlines, banks, car makers and energy companies queue up to offset their carbon and to encourage their customers to do the same. A Guardian investigation suggests that many of the schemes on offer here are well-meaning but thoroughly unreliable.

One company, Equiclimate, which is run by Christians and recommended by the government, has sold thousands of tonnes of offset which are now worthless in financial and environmental terms. It bought up some of the special permits which allow European companies to emit specified amounts of carbon. The idea was to sell them to customers who would "retire" them, thus cutting the amount of carbon which those companies could produce. But the European commission distributed 170m too many of the permits and so the thousands which have been bought by Equiclimate's customers make no difference at all. People may believe they are offsetting the emissions from their patio heaters by signing up to the Calor Gas offsetting scheme, but the sad fact is that Calor Gas is relying on 5,000 tonnes of EU permits which it bought from Equiclimate when most of the permits were already worthless. "We chose them because they were recommended by government," a Calor Gas executive said.

The British government itself has been caught out over emissions from its presidency of the G8 in 2005. The then environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, said that all carbon emissions from all meetings and travel linked with the one-year presidency would be neutralised. Delegates to the Gleneagles summit in July 2005 were given certificates declaring that all their carbon emissions were being offset. But it hasn't happened. The plan was to spend £150,000 in Kuyasa, a suburb of Cape Town in South Africa, refitting shack-like homes with insulated roofs instead of corrugated iron, and providing solar panels for electricity and long-life bulbs for light. But the project, which would cut carbon emissions as well as helping needy people, has run into bureaucratic, financial and practical problems. The environment department, Defra, says it is keeping it under review. The project's leader, Shirene Rosenberg, says she is still fighting to keep it alive with no start date on the horizon.

Climate pack withdrawn

Following a phone call from the Guardian, the Science Museum has withdrawn its Climate Relief Gift Pack, which included a certificate offsetting 100kg (220.5lb) of carbon and an opportunity to offset a tonne more. The pack promised to "instantly reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere and help reduce global pollution". This was nonsense. The offset, like Equiclimate's, was based on "retiring" EU carbon permits whose supply easily exceeds demand. It was also overpriced. While the Science Museum was offering them at £30 a tonne, EU permits were for sale at 19p a tonne. The company behind the scheme, Moon Estates of St Austell in Cornwall, also withdrew the product from sale on its website. A company executive admitted they had sold some 3,000 tonnes, at a potential total of £90,000.

Atmosfair, a German offsetting group which is well regarded for its commitment to the environment, undertook to rewrite a section of its website following a phone call from the Guardian. Since 2004, it has been offering air travellers offsets which carry the gold standard awarded by a Swiss-based group backed by dozens of environmental NGOs. In an uncertain market, this gold standard is highly desirable. But none of the five projects on which Atmosfair is relying has yet produced a single verified gold standard reduction in emissions. One project was never intended to reach gold standard; one has been withdrawn; one is stalled. The remaining two - solar-powered kitchens in India and energy from palm oil waste in Thailand - are up and running, but neither has yet completed the gold standard process. Atmosfair's founder, Dietrich Brockhagen, acknowledged that what he was selling was "forward" credits even though the two projects might fail finally to generate them. "You have a point, that the customer might not understand this," he said.

The problem with offsetting is twofold. First, these schemes are unregulated and wide open to fraud. There is nothing but the customer's canniness to stop a company claiming to be running a scheme which does not exist; claiming wildly exaggerated carbon cuts; selling offsets that have already been sold; charging hugely inflated prices. EasyJet, the cut-price airline, backed out of offsetting in April on the grounds that "there are too many snake-oil salesmen in the business".

Second, as all the examples above show, even the most well-intentioned schemes suffer from basic weaknesses in the idea of carbon offsetting - an idea which flows not from environmentalists and climate scientists trying to design a way to reverse global warming but from politicians and business executives trying to meet the demands for action while preserving the commercial status quo. It fails on at least three essential points.

First, it requires an accurate measure of the emissions to be offset. That turns out to be riddled with uncertainty. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found a margin of error of 10% with measuring emissions from making cement or fertiliser; 60% with the oil, gas and coal industries; and 100% with some agricultural processes. Measuring emissions from aircraft is especially fraught with disagreement about what exactly should be measured and aggravated by variations in each flight's height, cargo load and weather conditions. When Tufts University in Maine analysed offsetting websites, it found emissions for flights between Boston and Frankfurt being calculated at anything between 1.43 tonnes and 4.14 tonnes.

Second, it requires an accurate measure of the carbon saved elsewhere. Most of the earliest offset projects involved planting trees, which naturally ingest carbon, a complex and unpredictable process which forbids accurate measurement.

Projects that focus on energy efficiency are even trickier. Carbon Offsets Ltd, another company recommended by the government, is selling offsets from a South African project known as Basa Magogo. This encourages poor households who make coal fires in perforated cans called imbawulas to build the fire in a different way: instead of using paper, then wood with coal on top, they are to build them with most of the coal on the bottom, thus producing more heat and less smoke. But how does anybody check how many have built their fires this way? And how many imbawulas must burn this way for how long before a tonne of carbon is saved? Hugh Somerville, one of the founders of Carbon Offsets Ltd and clearly genuinely keen to offer a decent service, confessed that nobody had asked this question before.

Finally, the very idea of offsetting relies on what is known as additionality - evidence that a carbon reduction would not have occurred in the natural order of commercial life. One of the biggest UK offsetters, Climate Care, which is used by the Guardian, distributed 10,000 energy-efficient lightbulbs in a South African township; offered the carbon reductions as offsets; and then discovered that an energy company was distributing the same kind of lightbulbs free to masses of customers, including their township, so the reduction would have happened anyway.

The result of these fundamental problems is a crisis of legitimacy in the voluntary market, as offsetters lay claim to certainties that are beyond their reach. Dan Welch, a Manchester journalist who investigated offsetters for Ethical Consumer magazine, summarised it neatly: "Offsets are an imaginary commodity created by deducting what you hope happens from what you guess would have happened."

The early forestation projects, so beloved of rock bands, have been discredited. Apart from their inability to make accurate measurements of carbon saved, companies were offsetting immediate emissions with reductions that would occur only during the 100-year life span of a tree. One of the first, Future Forests, was selling offsets from a forest at Orbost in Scotland. Customers may have thought that they were paying for new trees to be planted, but the company's contract with the forest's owner reveals that all they were paying for was the right to claim ownership of carbon absorbed by trees which were planted anyway. The Advertising Standards Authority in November 2002 ruled that Future Forests had misled customers into thinking that their offset money would be used to grow new trees.

'A waste of time'

Some tree-planting projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda have been accused of disrupting water supplies; evicting thousands of villagers from their land; seizing grazing rights from farmers; cheating local people of promised income; and running plantations where the soil releases more carbon than is absorbed by the trees. The founder of Climate Care, Mike Mason, told the environment audit select committee in February: "I think planting trees is mostly a waste of time and energy." And yet Climate Care relies for some 20% of its online sales on forestry. Mr Mason explained apologetically: "People love it unfortunately."

The idea of buying and retiring EU carbon permits is becoming equally discredited. The first phase permits, which run to the end of this year, are now worthless. The second phase, due to cap the carbon emissions of European companies from 2008 to 2012, are high-risk investments. Nobody knows whether the European commission has got its calculations right this time. Nor can anybody forecast the demand for carbon-heavy production, which will fluctuate with the weather and the economy. Andreas Arvanitakis, who monitors the market in these permits for the specialist analysts Point Carbon, would not use them for offsets: "I have a completely green tariff, I offset my flights and I make sure that I am getting the absolute top stuff. I wouldn't touch this."

Projects that use renewable energy or efficient energy to cut carbon are beset with the uncertainties of measurement and additionality. And many companies are selling speculative "forward" credits: they have hooked up with some third-world project and started selling offsets on the assumption that the project will probably materialise and succeed.

Defra wants to rescue the market by introducing a voluntary standard. But its credibility is low. In January, it recommended four named companies, including Equiclimate with its worthless EU permits, and Carbon Offsets Ltd, which had not even started business at the time.

One measure of the crisis is the progress of the gold standard scheme, which is backed by Greenpeace and other environmental groups as a particularly rigorous process to ensure that emission reductions are verified, additional and consistent with sustainable development. When the scheme was launched three years ago, it was widely derided. Jasmine Hyman, the gold standard marketing director, said: "The irony is that three years ago, we were defending our right to exist and everybody was saying, 'Stop it with all your rules' and now we are the darling of the dance floor."

The scheme has registered seven projects, two of which have so far produced some 350,000 tonnes of verified gold standard carbon reductions. And suddenly, as so many other projects struggle with uncertainty, it has unfilled orders for eight million more.


18 June 2007

RUNWAY FIGHT HEATS UP AS BAA BUYS OUT HOMEOWNERS

Villages under threat in Stansted expansion plan

Jo Revill, Whitehall Editor - The Observer - 10 June 2007

Dozen of historic thatched and half-timbered buildings in some of Britain's most beautiful villages are being bought up by airport owner BAA at premium prices as part of the company's plan for a massive expansion involving a second runway at Stansted in Essex.

Homeowners close to the airport are being approached by the company with offers well above market prices, as well as the tempting prospect of no legal fees or stamp duty. The firm, which owns Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick, now has more than 100 homes, including 18 Grade II listed buildings.

Entire villages, known for their Tudor red-brick chimneys and half-timbered buildings in black and white, are being drained of homeowners, and heritage experts say some of the oldest buildings are falling into disrepair. Many will be demolished if the government gives the go-ahead for the second runway.

Even areas outside the proposed expansion zone are affected. One community, Bamber's Green, has been described as a 'ghost village', with 30 homes now no longer owner-occupied. The secretary for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Philip Venning, said: 'It is a terrible scandal, which will involve the destruction of buildings that have been with us for hundreds of years and which can never be replaced.'

BAA has bought 107 properties, many of them old cottages or farm buildings. If the firm is given the go-ahead for a runway, it will be able to use compulsory purchase orders to demolish the buildings, including medieval houses.

One couple spoke of the terrible decision they have to make as to whether to sell to BAA. John and Rosemary Welch, who are retired, have spent decades carrying out intricate repairs to their home, Le Knells, a beautiful Grade II listed 17th-century house in the village of Takeley. The peaceful life they have enjoyed there for more than 30 years is now threatened. If they don't sell to BAA, they might still find themselves fighting a compulsory purchase order.

'It's devastating the community,' said Mrs Welch. 'People are deciding to sell - it's such a temptation. We just keep fighting, and hoping. The people who are coming into the area and renting are not part of village life. But people are thinking, "Oh well, the expansion's going to come anyway," and become despondent.'

A public inquiry is under way over plans to expand capacity at Stansted which could take the number of passengers using it from the present 23 million to some 35 million.

Next year is likely to see the start of a second inquiry, to look at the proposal for a second runway costing £2bn. A decision on this is not likely until 2011.

BAA argues that it has no choice but to expand Britain's airports. It points out that Heathrow is now full all the time and Gatwick and Stansted cannot take any more flights. At the same time, demand for cheap flying continues unabated. In south-east England, it is predicted to increase from 117 million passengers in 2000 to 300 million in 2030.

Stansted would need an extra 486 hectares (1,215 acres) of land to build a second runway. That would mean demolishing 73 homes, 18 of them listed buildings. However, 580 homes are affected in total. Owners of more than two-thirds of them have now applied to sell their homes to BAA, many attracted by the lucrative offers. A four-bedroom cottage in the area will sell for more than £700,000, with the best properties going for more than £1m.

A BAA spokesman denied it had bought properties to reduce resistance to the plans or to gain more land. 'We are doing what we were told to do by government in the white paper,' he said. 'We've maintained the properties well, letting them out to tenants with agreements that they have to maintain them properly. 'We have to offer proper prices for the property, but have no desire to own lots of properties.'

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has begun to keep a tally of the threatened homes, barns and churches, and is looking at how the buildings are falling into disrepair. In its magazine, Cornerstone, it points out that by buying up so many homes the authority is also 'diluting local opposition to its plans'.

Forty years ago, when the area first came under threat from development, John Betjeman wrote of its beauty: 'It is a quiet, prosperous agricultural area of old stone and flint churches, pargeted cottages with red tiled roofs, spreading farms and gabled manor houses.'


18 June 2007

THE LAST WORD?

The Paris Race

Personal Report from John Stewart - 16 June 2007

It happened in the Big Ben to Eiffel Tower plane/train race HACAN and NOTRAG staged yesterday.

The racers set off, in the full glare of the TV cameras, from Westminster as Big Ben struck 11 o'clock.

The train people settled comfortably in their seats and left Waterloo on time just after midday.

The plane people made their way to Heathrow and then... the plane sat on the tarmac for an hour because of heavy showers in Paris.

So, at the moment the train arrived at the Gare du Nord around 3.00pm, the plane was just taking off from Heathrow.

Just after 3.30pm (UK time) the train people emerged from the metro near the Eiffel Tower to an enthusiastic welcome from the French campaigners and the French media.

Around 4.00pm the plane people disembarked at Charles de Gaulle Airport and then... because of an immigration alert at the airport, could not retrieve their luggage until 5.00pm, i.e. another hour's wait.

Meanwhile the train people, having had a civilised beer on the Champs Elysees, were making their way back to the Gare du Nord to catch the train home.

At 6.30pm, the train people were relaxed, on Eurostar, speeding through the French countryside on their way home while the plane people were just arriving at the Gare du Nord, having abandoned any attempt to rendez-vous at the Eiffel Tower.

OUR COMMENT: No Comment!

Pat Dale


13 June 2007

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS - AT STANSTED

The opening of the Public Inquiry into the expansion of London's third airport was a landmark occasion marked by a protestor's demonstration waving their banners outside the entrance to Endeavour House - where the inquiry is being held - and surronded by a collection of media cameras and press representatives normally only seen at the airport terminal to interview VIPs or report an airport emergency. Endeavour House is not far from the terminal and, from the inquiry room on the second floor, one can watch planes taking off and landing. Surrounded in noise proof windows, all the participants to the inquiry can relax in quiet if not in peace.

The arguments for and against expansion are to date being marshalled by members of the legal profession, representing Uttlesford District Council, BAA, Stop Stansted Expansion, the National Trust, and the Stansted Airlines Consultative Committee. Saffron Walden & District Friends of the Earth, and Much Hadham Parish Council are presenting their own case, and from time to time whole sessions will be devoted to the many individuals and groups who wish to contribute their own views in person but do not wish to present formal evidence on all the aspects of the effects of an expanding airport.

Presiding over the inquiry are Alan Boyland, the Lead Inspector, and his Assistant Inspector, Terry Phillimore, aided by the Programme Officer, Simon Osborn, who has been responsible for providing all the facilities, and the never-ending supply of documents and information needed to fuel, feed and service the participants.

The first half hour of the inquiry was devoted to a mass of TV cameras, radio recorders and press interviewers. The heavily edited versions of the inquiry's aims and assorted views were reported in all the media during the next day - since then, only one or two members of the press have survived the first week.

On the first morning all the main parties presented their opening statements, endeavouring to compress - not always successfully ? their case into a short speech. Six against and one for airport expansion. The Stansted airlines are not against expansion in the long term, but not now and not on BAA's (now Ferrovial) terms ? they are afraid of the effects on the charges they pay. The rest of the objectors have no such dilemma to wrestle with - they do not want more planes or more passengers using the existing runway. They are saying with one voice that Stansted needs to stop expanding and must make the best use of its existing caps, which are very generous for flights (241,000) and must also remain within its limit of 25mppa. More flights and more passengers will make life just too unpleasant for too many people and will seriously damage the irreplaceable Hatfield Forest.

The first week was devoted to Uttlesford Council's case against the expansion. Planning Head John Mitchell listed all the sufferings of local residents and the effects of increasing the number of flights in terms of noise, fumes and traffic. Objections had been received from individuals and from Parish and town councils representing over 170,000 people. Yet BAA had made no attempt to assess the effects on the quality of Life of the residents of Uttlesford and East Herts. He was followed by detailed evidence on noise levels and air pollution from the Council's consultants, Stephen Turner, Dr Gibson and Stephen Moorcroft. The Council's case was rounded off by Roger Harborough who expressed doubts about the expected economic benefits listed by BAA as the main justification for expansion.

All witnesses were subjected to deceptively polite but third degree cross questioning by BAA's QC Michael Humphries, and the lines of dissent soon became very clear. BAA is claiming almost statutory powers for the Air Transport White Paper, and selected passages are read out with reverence. Apparently our respect for the policies enshrined in this ATWP must also be extended to other pronouncements such as those that maintain that airport expansion is essential for the economic well being of the UK as well as the Eastern Region. Government by White Papers? So it seems. It will be interesting to hear the arguments put forward when White Papers and Government policies relating to sustainable development and climate change are discussed.

BAA also painted a picture of clean airport air helping to restore any damage in Hatfield Forest once those responsible for the present pollution (car and lorry drivers) had, by 2014, purchased new low-emission vehicles. Unfortunately this vision was temporarily spoilt by the revelation that some air monitoring is being carried out in the depths of Hatfield Forest and, since Xmas, levels have been recorded that actually rose above the statutory level for the protection of vegetation, i.e. Hatfield Forest's ancient and irreplaceable trees. BAA has questioned these results and to date only 4 months are available. They do, however, support the objectors' questions about the reliability of BAA's forecasts on air quality which conveniently show that the statutory level is only reached just outside the north eastern tip of the Forest. BAA also suggest that, even if they were correct, the expected improvement in poolution from vehicle and aircraft emissions will still mean that all is well in 2014.

In relation to noise levels we are back with the same old arguments. The standard noise level indicator in the UK is still the average levels measured during the day and the night (lower levels are recognised at night). The actual noise experienced during an overflight is not recognised as a serious issue either by BAA or at the moment by the government. So, somewhat ridiculous arguments continue about how much extra annoyance is created by up to 60,000 more flights (from todays' levels) when these are measured in averages and not in actualities. When is a larger number of individual annoyances more annoying when expressed in terms of average increases overall? More research is urgently needed to develop suitable annoyance statistics!

With regard to that elusive indicator Quality of Life, BAA does not recognise it. They did produce an assessment for the previous application for up to 25mppa but now, they claim, the government has rejected it as too vague a concept to be of value when determining a planning application. Clearly such a concept cannot be expressed in objective statistics, but neither can the concept of annoyance from average noise levels, embraced so enthusiastically by BAA.

All these arguments are going to be repeated many times in the course of the inquiry and there will be developments in the depths of Hatfield Forest. This week BAA's own witnesses are in the box starting with John Rhodes who will bear the brunt of the first onslaught from Uttlesford and SSE's barristers, supported by their many advisers, both professional and amateur. They need support from residents and from Councillors! Why not spend a relaxing day listening to the arguments ? bring your own sandwiches as the supply is variable, though the drinks machine can be relied on.

Pat Dale


8 June 2007

MISSED FLIGHT: AIRLINE BOSS SAYS INDUSTRY
HAS DONE TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

Dan Milno - The Guardian - 7 June 2007

A senior director at the world's largest airline has warned that the industry has "lost the battle" in the environmental debate and it could take a decade for carriers to restore their reputation.

Leo van Wijk, vice-chairman of Air France-KLM, the world's biggest airline by turnover, said the industry passed up an opportunity to take the initiative in the green debate eight years ago and now it would pay the price. In an extraordinary outburst at the annual general meeting of the Iata airline Trade Association, Mr van Wijk dismissed executives? opinions on the issue as "BS".

He said: "What I hear is a lot of BS ? I think we have lost this battle already. I don't think the customer is interested to hear that we have a great story. We know that in a reasonable time-frame there is no way we can diminish carbon emissions."

Mr van Wijk, who is well known for his outspoken views, said he warned executives about global warming in 1999 and was greeted with "lukewarm applause". Although aviation only accounts for 1.6% of global CO2 emissions, it dominates most of the debate on climate change and campaigners target it as an industry that must be reined in.

"Because we have let 6 or 7 years go by without taking the issue seriously, I think that until 5 or 10 years down the line we will be on the defensive. In the meantime politicians will have a free reign to do what they want" he said. The Air France-KLM director also criticised airlines for turning to the topic only recently: "Within 6 months we have all these believers in the audience".

His outburst came as Iata set a zero-emission target for 2057, including building biofuel-powered aircraft and creating emissions trading for the industry.

Idris Jala, chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, told the annual meeting: "Realistically, technologically, I don't believe we can achieve zero emissions." But, he said, striving for the target would make the industry a "winner" because it could still produce massive environmental benefits. Michael Cave, vice president of Boeing, the world?s biggest planemaker, called the target a "bridge too far" and said a carbon neutral target was more realistic.

The environmental issue has gone from a side issue at last year's Iata meeting to the dominant subject in the industry. Even a small panel of executives had differing opinions yesterday, with Emilio Romano, chief executive of the airline Mexicana, blaming the environmental row on "protectionist" European states, only to be contradicted by Wolfgang Mayrhuber, chief executive of Germany's Lufthansa. However, the panel agreed that the airlines had to be more active in the environmental debate or they would face firmer government action, such as the UK's recent doubling of air passenger duty.

Steve Ridgway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said airlines were "behind" in the green public relations battle and "need to be in the forefront as much as we can".

He said European governments alone could do more by combining more than 20 different traffic control systems in a "single skies" move that would make flying across the continent much more efficient and save an estimated 12m tonnes of CO2 a year.

OUR COMMENT: Well, they could start with a campaign on achieving the last objective.

Pat Dale


8 June 2007

RYANAIR CHIEF WARNS OF TROUBLE ON RADAR
AS PROFITS BEGIN DESCENT

Earnings growth slowing to small loss next winter
Defiant boss vows to continue low-fares battle

Mark Milner - The Guardian - 7 June 2007

Shares in low cost carrier Ryanair nose-dived yesterday after its flamboyant chief executive Michael O'Leary said the industry was on course to hit severe turbulence that would dent its profits growth.

As the airline reported a 33% rise in pre-tax profits to £306m yesterday, Mr O'Leary said he expected only a 5% increase this financial year and said Ryanair could make a small loss over the coming winter.

He said the market had "softened" in April, a trend that continued in May, with figures showing Ryanair's load factor ? how full their planes were ? had fallen from 82% to 80% last month.

The down beat message was amplified by figures from British Airways, where passenger load fell to 73.3%, 1.5% down on a year earlier.

The Ryanair blamed a series of factors for the softening of market conditions: rising UK interest rates; "swingeing" increases in charges for using Stansted; the doubling of airline passenger duty in the UK; a one-off increase in the number of crews, and long queues to clear security. "At this time with no visibility of winter bookings and yields we believe that the company and our shareholders should remain cautious and conservative", Mr O'leary said yesterday.

"The vast majority of our profits will be generated in the first half of the year, with the consequent reduction in profitability and maybe even small losses being recorded in quarters 3 and 4."

Ryanair shares fell more than 7% after the warning, but analysts were more sanguine. "Ryanair often make cautious noises early in the year, and while we expect the negative newsflow to persist over the early summer months, we still believe in the long-term low-cost growth story", analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort said in a research note.

Mr O'Leary was typically robust in his reaction to market conditions. Ryanair would continue to respond with aggressive promotions, he said, putting pressure on higher cost rivals. "Ryanair will lead and win every fare war in Europe. It's never going to be cheaper to fly across Europe than this summer and winter. I like it when our customers win and our competitors lose. We have never yet lost money by reducing fares to the travelling public."

Despite the problems facing the industry in the short term, Mr O'Leary remained optimistic for the long term, saying Ryanair expected to double the number of passengers and profits over the next 5 years, buying more planes and opening up routes and places across Europe.

He expected the European Commission to block his attempt to take over Irish rival Aer Lingus. Asked how he would respond to a rejection by the commission and any attempt to force Ryanair to sell its 25.2% stake, Mr O'Leary said it would be the same to both. "We'll see you in court". He accused Brussels of breaking its own competition rules to support the Irish Government's determination not to let Ryanair take over Aer Lingus. He dismissed any suggestion his warning of troubled times to come was a machiavellian attempt to rattle Brussels.

"If I stood buck naked in the street, I don't think Brussels would look more favourably on Ryanair's bid for Aer Lingus. It would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for Ryanair to get a fair hearing at Brussels."

He attacked what he called "hysteria" in the UK over the industry's emissions of greenhouse gases, ascribing much of it to "the guilt ridden middle classes who drive the SUVs to Sainsbury's and buy kiwi from New Zealand and Kumquats from Latin America".

Aviation contributed 2% of greenhouse gases, he said. "The people who are worried about the environment are right to be worried. But the self-abusers who think taxing air transport is going to do anything for the environment are eco-nuts".

The Ryanair chief gave further details of what he described as a "small retirement project", to involve setting up a long-haul low-cost business. It would depend on the open skies deal between the US and the European Union turning into a reality, he said, plus the availability of cheap aircraft capable of long haul journeys. Ryanair would not be involved, nor would he run the business, but he claimed it would have to provide fares as low as £10.

Mr O'Leary ended his message to the aviation world by saying he would retire in the next 2 or 3 years, "though that tends to be a bit of a rolling stone".

OUR COMMENT: Let's hope it stops rolling before the long haul market is flooded with cheap flights aggravating climate change even more.

Pat Dale


8 June 2007

G8 BACKS POST-2012 GLOBAL CLIMATE AGREEMENT

ENDS Europe DAILY 2335 - 7 June 2007

Leaders of the world's eight leading industrialised nations on Thursday agreed that "strong and early action" from all major emitters within a UN framework is needed to prevent dangerous climate change. Global greenhouse gas emissions must stop rising, followed by "substantial" reductions, says the final communique.

It envisages major emitters agreeing on a "detailed contribution" for a new global framework by the end of 2008 which would feed into a global agreement under the UN framework convention on climate change by 2009.

The document was welcomed by all leaders. "I think that so far we can say the G8 summit in Heiligendamm has given us excellent results," European commission president Jose Manual Barroso told reporters.

"In terms of targets, we agreed on clear language ... that recognises that [increases in] CO2 emissions must first be stopped and then followed by substantial reductions," said German chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Now we have an agreement that there will be a climate change deal, it will involve everyone, including the US and China, and it will involve substantial cuts," said British prime minister Tony Blair. "There has been quite significant progress," said France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, "President Bush accepted that the solution [to climate change] had to be found within the UN."

"The United States will be actively involved, if not taking the lead, in a post-Kyoto framework," the Financial Times reported Mr Bush as saying earlier in the day.

Despite the apparent harmony, the declaration does not contain any of the EU's three original goals. There is no commitment to limit temperature rises to two degrees, or to halve emissions by 2050, or to move towards a global emission trading system.

The communique only says, "We will consider seriously the decisions made by the EU, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050."

Emission trading is included as one possible market mechanism through which to achieve a future target and drive low carbon technology development.

Greenpeace reacted angrily to the lack of a clear target. The deal is "clearly not enough to prevent dangerous climate change" said Daniel Mittler, climate policy advisor of Greenpeace International. The group welcomed the political mandate for the start of serious negotiations in Bali in December however.

The remainder of the climate communique builds on earlier commitments on energy efficiency, also in transport and buildings, plus deforestation, adaptation and technology.

On Friday G8 leaders meet with other heads of government including the "+5" emerging economies China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil.


8 June 2007

THE MUCH PUBLICISED SOLUTION TO AVIATION EMISSIONS
- WILL IT NOW MAKE A START?

ETS plan for aviation "must be clear and simple"

ENDS Europe DAILY 2335 - 7 June 2007

Council negotiations on proposals to include aviation in the EU emission trading scheme are "progressing well", a senior official in the German environment ministry revealed on Thursday.

Astrid Klug, Germany's parliamentary state secretary for the environment, told a workshop organised by the Institute for European environmental policy in Brussels that the council's discussions were currently focussing on potential allocation methods for airlines in the scheme.

During a technical meeting last week, "most member states agreed that an average benchmarking approach is a good starting point", said Ms Klug. This would mean setting emissions targets on the basis of the sector's average performance, although Ms Klug suggested the exact level of the benchmark could still be amended.

The main priority should be to ensure that the system avoids any unnecessary complication or "too many special rules", she said. "The scheme needs to be simple, easy to use and as transparent as possible". All carriers into and out of the EU must be treated equally to avoid distorting competition, she added.

Creating a global trading scheme for aviation is another priority, according to Ms Klug, who called on member states to support the European commission in its negotiations with the international civil aviation organisation (Icao).

Jos Dings of campaign group Transport & Environment warned that Icao had so far done little to promote the idea and he "didn't expect any big change" in their approach.


6 June 2007

AIRLINES CHIEF CALLS FOR ZERO-CARBON AIRCRAFT

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 4 June 2007

The lead spokesperson for most of the world's airlines on Monday challenged the commercial aerospace industry to develop a passenger aircraft with zero carbon emissions.

Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), said the industry must develop such an aircraft within the next 50 years. Aviation's carbon footprint was growing, he said, and that was not "politically acceptable, for any industry. Climate change will limit our future."

In an attempt to galvanise the aviation industry to respond to the growing environmental pressures on air travel, Mr Bisignani told the Iata annual meeting in Vancouver that climate change was a real concern for airline customers and had become a political priority for many governments.

Some of the potential building blocks for a carbon-free future were already available, he said, including fuel cell technology. The first solar powered aircraft had been built and it was possible to make fuel from biomass.

The leader of Iata, the trade association for most of the world's airlines, also called on the global leaders in aerospace, the US, Europe, Canada, China, Brazil, Russia and Japan to co-ordinate basic research and then to compete to apply it effectively.

A green industry was "absolutely achievable," he said. The aerospace sector had already proven that it could produce "amazing results" by going "in a short 50 years from the Wright brothers to the jet age."

Mr Bisignani said the industry already had a good track record, having reduced aircraft noise by 75 per cent in the last 30 years and improved fuel efficiency by 70 per cent in the last 40 years. The billions of dollars being invested by airlines in new aircraft would also make carriers 25 per cent more fuel efficient by 2020.

He said aviation had had a poor record in communicating the improvements, however, and was facing "a reputation crisis. That make us an easy target for politicians who think green and see cash."

He accused many governments of pursuing "schizophrenic" policies on the environment.

The UK had doubled air passenger duty in the name of helping the environment, but in practice had only helped the UK budget. Airline customers were paying a billion pounds for the "green credentials" of Gordon Brown, the UK chancellor. "What has he done for the environment? He hasn't planted any trees, but he is lost in the woods," said Mr Bisignani.

European governments had been "irresponsible and inconsistent", he said. They were rushing to include aviation in emissions trading but were dragging their feet over "real measures" to help the environment, such as completing the project to create a "single European sky" by removing the national boundaries governing the airspace and air traffic control over Europe.

The "single European sky" reform could cut emissions by around 12 per cent and save up to 12m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. "But instead of action, we have a European circus, 15 years of talks, talks and nothing but talks... It's time to deliver some real results."

Iata is seeking to persuade European governments to pursue through the International Civil Aviation Organisation a global emissions trading scheme for aviation rather than the partial scheme being promoted by the European Union. Global airline profits are recovering faster than previously forecast, as demand for air travel remains strong despite a weaker US economy thanks to stronger than expected economic growth in Asia and Europe, Iata said on Monday.

It has revised upwards its March forecast for net profits this year of $3.8bn to $5.1bn, compared with a net loss of $500m last year, and forecast a net profit of $9.6bn for 2008. The industry is forecast to break back into net profit this year for the first time since 2000 after accumulating net losses of $42.1bn in the last six years.


6 June 2007

WORLD DIGESTS BUSH CLIMATE POLICY PLEDGE

ENDS Europe DAILY 2331 - 1 June 2007

US president George Bush threw global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions into confusion on Thursday by announcing plans for a new international negotiation effort outside the UN.

The announcement came days before a G8+5 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, where the EU, led by German chancellor Angela Merkel, has been trying to get the US to sign up to binding emission reduction targets and carbon trading.

Britain, Japan, Canada and Australia all welcomed the US proposal, even though it rejects both binding caps and carbon trading. Germany, which will host the G8 summit, reacted more warily.

"It could mean a change in the American position, but it could just be fog to hide real intentions," German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday at the start of an informal meeting of EU environment ministers.

"If the American proposal is a way to prepare an agreement [at UN climate negotiations in December] in Bali, then it's good. If it's a means somehow to get over the Heiligendamm summit and hamper an international climate change agreement, then it's dangerous," Mr Gabriel said. "It's very important to look at the proposals and see if there are clear targets to reduce emissions."

Other political reaction has been more positive.

"For the first time [America] is setting its own domestic targets, for the first time it is saying it wants a global target for the reduction of emissions and therefore for the first time we've got the opportunity of getting a proper global deal," UK prime minister Tony Blair told Sky News during a visit to South Africa.

"I believe that the United States is finally getting serious in dealing with global warming," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.

"We have to have some targets, but in the short-term there needs to be flexibility in targets and methods of reaching them,'' affirmed Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, expressing his support for Bush's proposal.

Australian environment minister Malcolm Turnbull said the US plan presents a "practical road map" for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. "The reality is we need commitments from the whole world... but we need those commitments in the form that they're prepared to give them," Mr Turnbull said.

European commission president Jose Manual Barroso told the Financial Times newspaper that the US had "crossed the Rubicon" in accepting the threat of climate change but was still not fully facing up to its responsibilities. The US goal to solve global warming with technology would only work if it signed up to a global system of "measurable, binding, enforceable targets", he said.

Green groups condemned the plan. Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, called the proposal "a complete charade". "It is an attempt to make the Bush administration look like it takes global warming seriously without actually doing anything to curb emissions," he said according to newswire Associated Press.

Greenpeace International called the US plans a dangerous sham. "[It] is also a desperate attempt to head off the start of international negotiations on the next stage of emissions reductions after 2012," said John Coequyt of Greenpeace USA.

US Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the senate committee on environment and public works, welcomed the move. She offered to share with the president expert testimony gathered by her committee on the importance of a mandatory gap on emissions and market mechanisms to put a price on carbon.


6 June 2007

GLOBAL WARMING 'IS THREE TIMES FASTER
THAN WORST PREDICTIONS'

Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - The Independent - 3 June 2007

Global warming is accelerating three times more quickly than feared, a series of startling, authoritative studies has revealed.

They have found that emissions of carbon dioxide have been rising at thrice the rate in the 1990s. The Arctic ice cap is melting three times as fast - and the seas are rising twice as rapidly - as had been predicted.

News of the studies - which are bound to lead to calls for even tougher anti-pollution measures than have yet been contemplated - comes as the leaders of the world's most powerful nations prepare for the most crucial meeting yet on tackling climate change.

The issue will be top of the agenda of the G8 summit which opens in the German Baltic resort of Heiligendamm on Wednesday, placing unprecedented pressure on President George Bush finally to agree to international measures.

Tony Blair flies to Berlin today to prepare for the summit with its host, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. They will discuss how to tackle President Bush, who last week called for action to deal with climate change, which his critics suggested was instead a way of delaying international agreements.

Yesterday, there were violent clashes in the city harbour of Rostock between police and demonstrators, during a largely peaceful march of tens of thousands of people protesting against the summit.

The study, published by the US National Academy of Sciences, shows that carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing by about 3 per cent a year during this decade, compared with 1.1 per cent a year in the 1990s.

The significance is that this is much faster than even the highest scenario outlined in this year's massive reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - and suggests that their dire forecasts of devastating harvests, dwindling water supplies, melting ice and loss of species are likely to be understating the threat facing the world.

The study found that nearly three-quarters of the growth in emissions came from developing countries, with a particularly rapid rise in China. The country, however, will resist being blamed for the problem, pointing out that its people on average still contribute only about a sixth of the carbon dioxide emitted by each American. And, the study shows, developed countries, with less than a sixth of the world's people, still contribute more than two-thirds of total emissions of the greenhouse gas.

On the ground, a study by the University of California's National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that Arctic ice has declined by 7.8 per cent a decade over the past 50 years, compared with an average estimate by IPCC computer models of 2.5 per cent.

In yesterday's clashes, masked protesters hurled flagpoles, stones and bottles and attacked with sticks forcing police to retreat. The police said they were suffering "massive assaults" and that the situation was "very chaotic". They put the size of the demonstration at 25,000; organisers said it was 80,000.


6 June 2007

ARE FOOD MILES ALWAYS BAD?

Daily Telegraph - 3 June 2007

Food miles: The produce we buy in supermarkets has often travelled half way around the world.
Conscientious consumers are being urged to buy locally sourced food in the battle against climate change. But, as Richard Gray discovers, produce from the other side of the world can actually have a smaller carbon footprint.

Take a look in the average supermarket trolley and the food there will probably have travelled farther than most people clock up in a decade. A selection of just 26 items can have covered a total of 150,000 miles before reaching the British kitchen.

With beef from Brazil, beans from Kenya, apples from New Zealand, chicken from Thailand and strawberries from Spain, shoppers can enjoy year-round produce. But with such astonishing "food miles" being accumulated, it is little surprise that their environmental impact is coming under scrutiny and sparking a backlash.

Already, the major supermarkets are crawling over each other to highlight their "locally sourced" produce, while Marks and Spencer has begun labelling air-freighted products with logos of aircraft. Yet some startling research is emerging that shows food miles might not be as bad as consumers have been led to believe.

Analysis of the industry reveals that for many foods, imported products are responsible for lower carbon dioxide emissions than the same foodstuffs produced in Britain. Even products shipped from the other side of the world emit fewer greenhouse gases than British equivalents.

The reasons are manifold. Sometimes it is because they require less fertiliser; sometimes, as with greenhouse crops, less energy; sometimes, as with much African produce, the farmers use little mechanised equipment. The findings are surprising environmental campaigners, who have, until now, used the distance travelled by food as the measure of how polluting it is.

One study by Lincoln University, in New Zealand, found that 2,849kg of carbon dioxide is produced for every tonne of lamb raised in Britain, while just 688kg of the gas is released with imported New Zealand lamb, even after it has travelled the 11,000 miles to Britain. Researchers and farmers in Britain have raised doubts over the accuracy of the New Zealand figures, but they concede that sheep farming in New Zealand is more efficient than in our own country.

"They have slightly better weather," said Prof Gareth Edwards-Jones, from the department of agriculture at Bangor University, in Wales. "This means their grass can grow for longer and they don't have to give their sheep as much feed as they do in the UK."

"With meat in the UK, there is also a supermarket issue. Each of the supermarkets runs its own abattoir, so if you sell your lamb to Tesco, you have to send your lamb to Tesco's abattoir, even if you pass several local abattoirs on the way. As a result, the meat picks up a huge amount of 'in-Britain' food miles from farm to abattoir then to packaging before it gets to its final destination."

"If we could sort it out so that meat was slaughtered and packaged locally, it could make the whole process far more efficient."

On the extensive rolling fields of Pigeon Hills sheep farm, 40 miles from Nelson on New Zealand's South Island, the lush grassland needs little fertiliser to provide food for the livestock. Farmer David McGaveston, 55, rears more than 10,000 sheep and 500 beef cattle for export to the UK.

The style of farming in New Zealand is considered to be less intensive than in Britain because of the large areas of land. Mr McGaveston uses small amounts of hay to help supplement his sheep through the cold winter months and sends his lambs to be slaughtered and packaged at a plant just 40 miles away. Most of the electricity used is also supplied from a hydroelectric plant, which has minimal carbon dioxide emissions.

He said: "I understand the debate that is going on over food miles in the UK at the moment, but if we really are producing meat with less carbon dioxide then that is surely a good thing."

British apples are better for the environment during autumn and winter, but not in spring and summer Figures from the Lincoln University study also revealed that both dairy products and apples imported from New Zealand had less of an impact on the environment than those produced in Britain.

Prof Caroline Saunders, who led the research, said: "Food miles are a very simplistic concept, but it is misleading as it does not consider the total energy use, especially in the production of the product."

But other studies of fruit and vegetable production have revealed a more complex picture. Research by the centre for environmental strategy at Surrey University has shown that British apples are better for the environment during autumn and winter, but in spring and summer it is "greener" to import them.

Dr Llorenç Milà I Canals, of Surrey University, said: "By May, apples harvested in Britain have been kept in refrigerated storage for more than six months, which uses a lot of energy. At that point, it becomes better to import from New Zealand."

He has also found similar results for the production of lettuces, which showed that the energy used to produce out-of-season lettuces in winter in Britain was greater than importing lettuces from Spain. He added: "If you are producing lettuce in a heated glasshouse in the UK, the amount of energy you are using is huge, so in that case buying British produce over winter is a bad idea."

Similarly, British farmers who grow tomatoes and strawberries often rely on heated greenhouses to produce crops outside the short fruit season in Britain. Dr Adrian Williams, an agriculture expert from Cranfield University, in Bedfordshire, said: "If you produce something in an unheated greenhouse abroad or in a field, you make a considerable saving, as you are not having to use large amounts of energy heating a greenhouse. You could expect there to be a difference even if you allow for the transport from Spain."

Earlier this year, Mr Williams revealed that growing roses in Kenya produces just 17 per cent as much carbon dioxide as growing them in Holland. Importing beans by air from Uganda or Kenya is also more efficient.

Prof Edwards-Jones explained why: "In Uganda, they tend to have small farms that export beans. They don't use tractors, as it is all done by hand, they use cow muck instead of fertiliser and don't use hi-tech irrigation systems."

For some products, however, it is better to buy British. British onions, for example, produce 14kg per tonne less CO2 than those imported from New Zealand.

What is clear is that the so-called "carbon footprint" left by a product is a good deal more complicated than simply looking at the distance it has travelled. Food miles have become the villain in the environmental debate over the global food market, with campaigners counting every mile their organic blueberries and sugarsnap peas have travelled.

But even the method of transport is generating controversy. Some researchers claim shipping is better than air freight, but others insist that for perishable goods, packing them into a plane for a quick journey is better than refrigerating them on a cargo ship. Air freight contributes just 0.1 per cent to Britain's carbon dioxide emissions.

The disagreement over exactly how to measure the carbon footprint of food has lead to the Government stepping in. Last week, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced it was developing a standard carbon calculator that all manufacturers and retailers could use to label their products. But a study by Bangor University, due to be completed this year, is set to complicate matters further. Researchers have found that the number of times a patch of soil is ploughed, and even the type of soil a vegetable is grown in, radically alters the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

This could mean that clay soil in one part of the world may release more greenhouse gases than sandy soil elsewhere. Indeed, calculations of carbon dioxide emissions could also include the footprint left by employees involved in the production of food. Per capita carbon dioxide emissions in Britain are 9.2 tonnes, while for Kenya the figure is 0.2 tonnes and for Uganda it is 0.1 tonnes. By this method, importing from Africa would be far less environmentally damaging.

Despite this, supermarkets have been eager to demonstrate their commitment to British food with Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco all running campaigns to emphasise that they buy much of their produce locally. A spokesman for Tesco said: "Transportation is only a very small part of the carbon emissions created by food production. We try to use food from local sources because our customers like it."

Yet many blame the supermarkets for creating the problem with food miles in the first place, by pandering to consumer demand for produce out of season. Dr Jonathan Scurlock, the chief adviser on climate change for the National Farmers Union, said: "Consumers are given the expectation that you can get anything at any time of year. Farmers feel there is an unfair flooding of UK retailers with imported products like lamb as a result. "

Anti-poverty groups, however, fear that a return to seasonal, locally sourced produce could end up harming the economies of developing countries. More than one million people in Africa are dependent on the trade supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to Britain.

Ian Bretman, the deputy director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "The voices of people from developing countries who do depend on exporting food must be heard. There should be a balance between environmental impact and the sustainability of a product."

Regardless of the carbon footprint issue, farmers on both sides of the world are united on one subject: the way that supermarkets are driving down prices. According to David McGaveston, the New Zealand sheep farmer: "The returns are not what they used to be and the price of lamb has dropped considerably over the past two years. It seems the price in the UK has stayed the same, but the supermarkets are paying us less for the meat. There are just too many exporters being played off against each other. It's not sustainable."

How the CO2 emissions compare:

Lamb
UK = 2,849kg CO2 per tonne of carcass
New Zealand = 688kg CO2 per tonne of carcass

Lettuce (winter)
UK = 3,720kg CO2 per tonne of lettuce (indoor production)
Spain = 3,560kg CO2 per tonne of lettuce

Apples (in May when off season in UK)
UK = 271kg CO2 per tonne of apples
New Zealand = 185kg CO2 per tonne of apples

Roses
Netherlands = 35,000kg CO2 per 12,000 stems
Kenya = 6,000kg CO2 per 12,000 stems

OUR COMMENT: These figures need to be carefully checked. How do you estimate the energy used when sheep are reared on Welsh hills? Apple Trees are not heated in winter, some apple varieties keep, others don't. A lot depends on the time of year, and, there is an ethical issue too - is it better for Kenyans to use land for rose growing or keep it for local food. Who makes the profits and why?

Pat Dale


31 May 2007

THE PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE EXPANSION
OF STANSTED AIRPORT OPENED 30TH MAY

Letter to The Times - 30 May 2007

Sir, The public inquiry, which opens today, into BAA's proposals to increase the number of flights using Stansted airport by 80,000 a year has implications far beyond the borders of North Essex. It forms the first major part of the Government's plans, outlined in its 2003 air transport White Paper, to almost treble the number of passengers using UK airports by 2030.

These plans will have significant implications for climate change, noise, biodiversity and the quality of life for communities. At the proposed rate of growth, aviation will wipe out the emissions savings made from all other sectors, consigning the Government's climate change targets to the dustbin of history.

It is ironic that the inquiry starts just days after the end of National Noise Week where people were urged to be considerate neighbours and at a time when hardly a day goes by without a government minister exhorting us to reduce our carbon emissions.

Aviation policy needs to go in a new direction to meet the realities of the 21st century. Rejecting the proposals to expand Stansted would be a good place to start.

    CAROL BARBONE Stop Stansted Expansion
    JOHN STEWART Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise
    JOHN SAUVEN Greenpeace
    SHAUN SPIERS Campaign to Protect Rural England
    SUE HOLDEN Woodland Trust
    TIM JOHNSON Aviation Environment Federation
    STEPHEN JOSEPH Transport 2000
    TONY JUNIPER Friends of the Earth
    BRENDON SEWILL Gatwick Area Conservation Group
    JOSS GARMAN Plane Stupid
    BENEDICT SOUTHWORTH World Development Movement
    ROGER WOOD Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise
    CAROLINE LUCAS, MEP
    MICHAEL MEACHER, MP
    TIM YEO, MP


31 May 2007

CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY AT ODDS WITH AVIATION POLICY

Trees v travel: campaigners take on industry over airport expansion

John Vidal and Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 29 May 2007

He may seem like an unlikely witness for what is, essentially, a planning dispute over the future of a woodland in Essex. But the repercussions are considered so profound for the UK, that an Inuit former minister from Greenland is expected to be among the speakers demanding protection for Hatfield forest.

Beyond the historic trees under threat, the direction of the government's aviation policy over the next 10 years is being put at stake too.

Environmental campaigners yesterday revealed how they are preparing to lobby a public inquiry starting tomorrow into plans to expand Stansted airport; its owner, BAA, is seeking permission to increase the number of passengers flying in and out from 25 million to 35 million a year.

Both sides recognise that the public inquiry decision could have consequences throughout Britain. Air passenger numbers are predicted to more than double in the next 20 years to 465 million and at least 20 other British airports, including Gatwick, Heathrow, Bristol and Norwich, are planning to expand.

Campaigners say the government's 2010 target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% is contradicted by its aviation policy, which is committed to new runways at Heathrow and Stansted if environmental standards are met. "At the heart of this issue is the contradiction between the government's aviation policy and its climate change policy," said Brian Ross, of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign.

Tomorrow's opening hearing at Stansted airport will hear statements from BAA, Friends of the Earth and the local council, which threw out the initial application on environmental grounds. Aqqaluk Lynge, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and a former minister in the government of Greenland, is also expected to make an appearance during the inquiry to argue against the expansion.

The National Trust will claim at the opening session that one of England's oldest forests is at serious risk from the expansion of cheap air travel.

The trust, which has 3.3 million members, will argue that the 1,000-acre Hatfield forest, on the edge of the airport, will be critically affected both by noise and increased chemical pollution. Hatfield attracts 200,000 visitors a year, and uniquely in Europe, has more than 800 trees which are more than 500 years old. The airport expansion is expected to increase the number of daily flights to up to 720 a day in 2014, a 40% increase.

The Stansted inquiry is seen as a test case of the government's commitment to environmental protection but also to allow business growth. While the government does not want to disappoint BAA, which also owns Gatwick and Heathrow, it is equally wary of upsetting the millions of National Trust members who make up a significant portion of middle England.

Over the next three months, the trust will join local communities to mount a case against the expansion plans. The trust's pollution consultants say the increases in nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere will severely stress the older trees in the forest, making them more susceptible to infection and disease, and less able to cope with other stresses.

They will also argue that the airport expansion plans will ruin the enjoyment of the 200,000 people a year who visit the forest, described as "the only place where you can step back into the Middle Ages to see what a forest used to look like".

"At the moment there are respite times between the takeoffs and landings. But the increases in flights that BAA proposes for Stansted means there will be continuous noise. It would be like being under the Heathrow flightpath," said Ade Clarke, Hatfield forest property manager. "It is becoming increasingly difficult to experience the peace and tranquillity of the forest. There is already no longer a single day in the year when a visitor can experience any major period of peace and tranquillity."

Keith Turner, the trust's area manager, said: "The real concern of the National Trust is that expansion of the airport could degrade the aesthetic, historic, scientific and social values beyond critical points."

But the argument from the other side will be equally strident, drawing on the government's planning guidelines, and research into the effect that a refusal to expand would have on the economy.

A BAA spokesman said the government's aviation policy, set out in a white paper four years ago, insisted that environmental issues must be taken into account in airport expansion decisions: "We have seen environmental issues come to the fore and the UK become more socially aware of their impact, but that does not mean that the policy was created without environmental issues in mind." In an update on the white paper, the government announced a new mechanism to help inform decisions on building new runways and airports.

The "emissions cost assessment" will consider whether the aviation sector is meeting its climate change costs.

The spokesman added that BAA had listened to residents' and green groups' concerns and had reduced the amount of land required for the expansion by a third, while halving the cost of the project.

UK airlines, led by British Airways, will present research which argues that expanding airports would boost the British economy by £13bn a year, while airport congestion costs passengers and airlines £1.7bn a year. Willie Walsh, the BA chief executive, warned that the environmental argument against expanding Heathrow was "short-sighted doom-mongering that cannot go unchallenged". A consultation on a third runway at Heathrow, the biggest concern of green groups, is also expected this year.


31 May 2007

ANCIENT FOREST THREATENED BY AIRPORT EXPANSION BID

Cahal Milmo - The Independent - 29 May 2007

From Plantagenet hunting parties to the 250,000 ramblers who now stroll among its ancient trees, Hatfield Forest has coexisted with humanity for generations without coming to much harm.

But this week the forest, among the last remaining of its type in Europe, faces what its custodians at the National Trust say is the sternest test yet of its survival, the ever-increasing thirst for air travel.

The 1,000 acres of woodland and pasture in north Essex stands less than a mile from Stansted airport, beloved of millions of users of no-frills airlines and the proposed site for a £2.7bn second runway to cater for a massive expansion of passengers and aircraft in south-east England.

A public inquiry begins tomorrow into urgent proposals by the British Airport Authority to expand the permitted number of passengers by 10 million to 35 million a year and flights by more than 20,000 to 264,000 a year.

The present limit of 25 million is expected to be reached by 2008. If the second runway is built, 68 million passengers are forecast for Stansted by 2030.

But in what will be the most demanding test yet for the Government's plans to expand aviation, environmental groups and residents say the proposals must be refused to avoid an increase in pollution which would destroy the forest for little or no economic gain.

Described as a Stonehenge of the tree world, Hatfield Forest is among the few surviving havens of ancient woodland in Britain, with nearly 2,000 trees that are more than 600 years old. From huge oaks to pollarded hornbeams, experts say it is a vital habitat unchanged since the last Ice Age, and documents show it was declared a royal hunting forest by Henry I in the 12th century.

But nitrogen levels around the forest generated by air pollution from aircraft and vehicles is already twice that at which environ-mental damage, including tree death, is caused, says the National Trust.

Ade Clarke, who manages the forest for the Trust, said: "Hatfield Forest is internationally important. It is the most complete medieval royal hunting forest."

"It is irreplaceable. Ancient trees cannot react quickly to rapid rises in nitrogen levels. Even now, we are at a tipping point, so expansion, with all the extra flights, car journeys and emissions, is a huge threat to the forest's survival."

The woodland includes nearly 900 ancient trees, which have their own conservation plan. Some are estimated to be 1,200 years old.

The woodland is also home to several hundred species of rare insects, plants and lichen as well as 65 species of birds.

Campaigners say Hatfield Forest highlights a contradiction in the policies of the Government, with plans including the construction of new runways at Stansted and Heathrow to cater for up to 460 million passengers using UK airports in 2020, up from 189 million in 2002. But Labour has vowed to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. Aviation accounts for 11 per cent of Britain's emissions and is the fastest-growing contributor. But globally, it produces just 1.6 per cent of all emissions.

Peter Sanders, chairman of the Stop Stansted Expansion group, said: "There is a stark clash between warning that global warming is going to destroy the planet and calmly advocating building another runway at Stansted. It does not stack up on environmental grounds. Stansted is used as an airport for tourism, in which Britain now has a £19bn trade imbalance."

The planning inquiry, will last until October. Last year, a decision was made by the local authority, Uttlesford district council, to reject BAA's original request to maximise its use of Stansted's present single runway.

If BAA is successful in its appeal, with a decision expected early next year, passenger numbers will reach the 35 million limit by 2015.

But a decision to maintain the present limit would be a significant setback for BAA and the Government by challenging the necessity for a second runway.


31 May 2007

BLAIR'S FAREWELL TOUR STAINS
HIS GREEN LEGACY WITH CARBON

Greg Hurst, Political Correspondent - The Times - 26 May 2007

Tony Blair would need to plant 7,200 trees ? a veritable forest ? to offset the amount of carbon dioxide that he is burning up as he embraces the Earth to say goodbye, The Times has calculated.

For Mr Blair, who sees himself as a champion of the crusade against climate change, is leaving one almighty carbon footprint as he strides the world stage in the twilight of his premiership.

He has flown to Washington to bid farewell to President Bush, to Iraq to address stony-faced British troops; and he plans an odyssey across Africa, revisiting the scene of past triumphs.

He was quick to shake the hand of Nicolas Sarkozy, before he became President of France. International summits in Germany and Brussels beckon. In eight separate trips between announcing his departure and leaving No 10 next month for the last time he will have clocked up 34,300 miles.

Worse, his carbon footprint is not like those of ordinary citizens. As Prime Minister, he generally flies on commercially chartered aircraft, usually a British Airways Boeing 777.

A leading carbon offsetting company calculated that 34,300 miles in such an aircraft, with about 20 take-offs and landings, would burn 600 tonnes of CO2 best practice, this should be doubled to take account of the impact of flying at high altitude, equating to 1,200 tonnes of CO2 (equivalent). Another carbon offsetting specialist suggested a rule of thumb that one tree would, over a lifespan of 99 years, soak up three quarters of a tonne of CO2 footprint amount to 900 more mature trees.

Here, however, things get tricky. Allowing for death, disease, felling and other mishaps, experts suggest you need to plant 5, 8 or even 12 trees to produce a single mature specimen. Taking a conservative figure of 8, Mr Blair would need to plant 7,200 saplings to ensure enough survived to old age. Blair-wood Forest, perhaps?

Alas, the final legacy of Mr Blair's swansong is unlikely to be as tangible. The Prime Minister is an enthusiastic, if some would say late, convert to ?green? travel. But in the fast-moving world of carbon offsetting, tree planting is so 1990s.

Like many such schemes, the Government?s own offsetting fund, through which Mr Blair is offsetting all his official travel since April 2005, focuses on so-called clean development: small renewable energy projects in developing countries.

Rather than a forest in his name, Mr Blair may help to endow a digester that turns pig effluent into methane gas to generate electricity in Mexico, or hydroelectricity generators in Fiji. Both are supported by EEA fund management, the Government?s recently appointed carbon offsetting broker.

His carbon credits may even end up financing wind turbines on the tin roofs of mud huts in Indian villages, a neat contrast with David Cameron?s own contribution to saving the planet in Notting Hill.


31 May 2007

SUPPORT FOR EU CARBON SCHEME

Fiona Harvey in London - The Financial Times - 29 May 2007

Europe's emissions trading scheme has been a success, in spite of the widely publicised problems in its first years of operation, a group of prominent environmental economists has concluded.

The verdict was given in the journal Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. The economists call the trading scheme "by far the most significant accomplishment in climate policy to date", and say the scheme will be "central to future global climate negotiations".

The economists, including Denny Ellerman of MIT, Barbara Buchner of the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Frank Convery, Joseph Kruger and William Pizer, said the European Union scheme should form the basis of a "global framework for managing climate policy".

They say the key advantages of the scheme are its scale - it is the biggest mandatory emissions trading scheme in the world - and the number of countries and companies participating. The EU accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, and the scheme covers about half of the EU's emissions.

Under the scheme, companies in energy-intensive industries are issued with permits for the amount of carbon dioxide they may produce each year. Companies wanting to produce more must buy permits from cleaner businesses.

But the scheme fell into chaos last spring when it was revealed that member states had issued more emissions allowances than were required.

This glut of allowances caused their price to fall by about two-thirds within a short time of the data being released. The price plummeted from highs of about ?30 to about ?11, before gradually declining to end last year at about ?7. The price then fell further and has been hovering between ?0.50 and ?0.30.

But the economists said the persistently high price of carbon in the first year of the scheme was evidence that emissions were being reduced by companies. They estimated that companies had cut their emissions by about 7 per cent as a result.


31 May 2007

TRAVEL INDUSTRY SET TO LAUNCH
CLIMATE CHANGE LOBBYING GROUP

Tim Webb - Independent on Sunday - 27 May 2007

A lobbying group chaired by former CBI boss Sir Digby Jones to represent the travel industry over climate change will launch by the middle of next month. Called Flying Matters, the coalition includes airports operator BAA, airlines British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic, as well as aerospace companies Airbus and Rolls-Royce. It will also represent trade unions, including T&G, and travel agents, and has appointed former energy minister Brian Wilson as vice chairman.

Environmentalists have been hammering airlines over the carbon emissions they cause. Currently, only carbon emissions resulting from UK domestic flights are included in government emissions figures. International flights departing from UK airports are excluded. Including all emissions from flights taking off from UK airports - domestic and international - the share of the UK's emissions caused by airlines could rise almost five-fold to 24 per cent by 2050.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, shocked the industry in December when he doubled air passenger duty on flights. Airlines pointed out that the tax was not directly linked to plane emissions. The industry believes that because it is losing the debate on climate change, this is allowing politicians to levy opportunistic "green taxes".

The lobbying group, which will have its own website, will try to influence the media and politicians.

The industry points out that improvements in fuel efficiency have led to a 70 per cent reduction in emissions per kilometre flown over the past 40 years. But further improvements in fuel efficiency are much harder to achieve.

Michelle Di Leo, campaign director of Flying Matters, said: "Flying isn't a luxury - it underpins our economy and contributes to our lives in so many ways. It is precisely because flying matters that this coalition has been formed to ensure we're part of a balanced and informed debate about our contribution to climate change and what we're doing about it."


20 May 2007

RYANAIR ANGERS GREENS WITH 1M FREE FLIGHTS

Airline says it will pay all taxes, fees and charges
Website crashes repeatedly under strain

Patrick Collinson and Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 17 May 2007

There have been 1p sales before, but until now Ryanair has never paid people to fly. Yesterday it began a give-away of 1m flights where the airline pays the taxes, fees and charges, sparking an unprecedented rush of "binge buyers" clambering to book tickets for close to nothing.

The Ryanair website collapsed several times as 4m attempts were made to grab tickets in the first five hours after the offer went live at 10am yesterday. The airline said it had enjoyed its busiest day ever and "an unprecedented level of demand".

The give-away comes as Ryanair struggles to fill its planes amid an unexpected drop in demand across the low-cost airline industry during April. The airlines have been hit hard by the doubling of air passenger duty just as they have been taking delivery of new planes and opening up scores of new routes. What the airlines call "load factors" ? the proportion of seats filled in each plane ? have dropped across the board.

A Ryanair spokesman said: "This is about getting bums on seats. We are paying to get passengers into our planes ? we'll be paying the tax that they would normally have to pay. There?s no point in flying planes empty."

Typically Ryanair passengers flying from its London Stansted hub have to pay £35 to £40 in taxes, fees and charges for a return flight, including £10 in air passenger duty (APD) on outbound flights.

But Ryanair's move was immediately branded as "grossly irresponsible" by Friends of the Earth. Its aviation campaigner, Richard Dyer said: "Passengers may be getting a free ride , but the planet certainly isn't. It is unbelievable that Ryanair is resorting to such tactics."

The airline said it hoped to re-coop the taxes it will be paying on behalf of flyers by getting them to pay for add-ons such as on-board snacks, travel insurance, car hire and hotel bookings. "There has been a softening in the market and we're trying to get people back flying again."

Travellers hoping to take advantage of the offer yesterday had to battle not only a creaking website but also a myriad of add-on charges that made obtaining free flights difficult, though not impossible. The airline's booking system automatically adds travel insurance of £6.50 per person, a priority boarding charge of £4 or more, and £10 per bag put in the hold. However, these can be removed before proceeding to payment.

The offer covers flights from June 2nd to October 27th and includes most of the airline's routes, but the free flights are not available at peak travel times such as weekend getaways.

The cost of the give-away to Ryanair is likely to be around £10m. A 1m seat sale involves 500,000 outbound flights ? which at £10 APD adds up to £5. Other fees and charges ? such as Ryanair?s infamous wheel chair charge ? already go straight back to the airline's coffers.

City analysts said the move was further confirmation that demand for air travel is entering a period of turbulence. A week before yesterday's announcement Ryanair said it would discount 10m tickets over the summer, while easyJet said some ticket prices would fall due to intense competition. Industry observers have warned that a boom in capacity is not helping either. Buoyed by stronger profits after years of difficult market conditions, airlines are investing millions of pounds in new aircraft and prices are coming under pressure as the likes of Ryanair and easyJet struggle to fill their new planes.

"It's all further evidence of a softening of the demand. The Ryanair announcement is about launching an eye-catching promotion, grabbing the public's attention and getting people booking again," said Andrew Lobbenberg, an analyst at ABN Amro bank. An easyJet spokeswoman said the airline did not compete directly with Ryanair and would not be launching a similar offer: "As far as we are concerned it is just another publicity stunt."

British Airways added to fears of a widespread slowdown in the airline market by launching another major sale, its third in 4 months. The airline, Europe?s third largest, slashed fares for a number of European routes on its lucrative summer schedule. However, a BA spokesman said it was not a knee jerk reaction and had been planned for some time. "We often run tactical sales throughout the year and this is no different," he said.

Ryanair, easyJet and BA have admitted in recent weeks that they are struggling to fill their planes. Industry executives deny that the softer demand is due to a passenger boycott following an onslaught from the green organisations, who are urging the government to curb demand for air travel by raising taxes.

OUR COMMENT: Well, they would say that wouldn't they? If this reaction is the way the aviation market responds to the government?s ? very small ? taxing effort to curb demand, what hope for the battle against climate change? Only the government can influence this kind of behaviour. It should begin by curbing airport expansion! Stop Stansted expansion for a start!

The Inquiry into the refusal of BAA's application to expand the number of flights from Stansted airport by another 23,000 flights a year commences at Endeavour House, in the airport, on Wednesday May 30th and will continue, with a break in August, until October. Main evidence will be provided first by Uttlesford District Council (with the support of Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils), they will be followed by BAA, then by Stansted Airlines Association (who are actually opposing increased use of the one runway). SSE will be appearing in late July, followed after the break by Much Hadham Parish Council (who suffer from noise), the National Trust (defending Hatfield Forest) and Saffron Walden & District Friends of the Earth. During the course of the Inquiry very many individuals have booked to speak, both at Endeavour House and at a number of local Inquiry sittings arranged for those who might have difficulty in getting to the airport.

Pat Dale


20 May 2007

2020 CLIMATE TARGET "TO BE FELT ACROSS EUROPE"

ENDS Europe DAILY 2319 - 11 May 2007

Virtually all EU countries will have to make large cuts in greenhouse gases to ensure "fair" contributions to the bloc's goal of a 20 per cent reduction by 2020, German researchers say.

Mediterranean countries that escaped lightly in the EU's existing "burden sharing" arrangement running up to 2008-12 will be hit hardest. The EU's ten most recent members will not escape.

EU leaders backed the 20 per cent by 2020 target at their summit in March. The European commission has begun the politically delicate task of working out how each country should be asked to contribute. No numbers have been put publicly on the table until now.

In its weekly bulletin published on 2 May, German economics research institute DIW took tried to fill this gap. Taking into account progress by each EU country since 1990 and national shares of emissions, it estimates that every EU-25 country except Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will have to cut emissions by between 13 and 28 per cent between 2004 and 2020.

Under the EU-15 burden sharing arrangement for Kyoto, national targets varied wildly from minus 28 per cent for Luxembourg to plus 27 per cent for Portugal. Performance against targets has also varied and many states are well off track to meet their Kyoto targets.

Under DIW's model, only Portugal among EU-15 countries (at plus 3 per cent) would be allowed any emissions increase between 1990 and 2020. Ireland, Greece and Spain, which were also permitted big increases up to 2008-12, would have to reduce by 6 per cent, 6 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. At the top end of the scale, the UK would have to reduce by 30 per cent and Germany by 31 per cent.

Taking into account countries' actual progress since 1990, or the lack of it, fair contributions to 20 per cent by 2020 would require even more equality, DIW calculates.

Among EU-15 countries, Germany, at 17 per cent, would actually have the easiest challenge, followed by the UK with 18 per cent. All other countries would have to reduce emissions by 20 per cent or more from 2004 levels. The countries with the toughest challenge would be Spain (28%), Portugal (27%), Ireland and Greece (both 25%), which were allowed the biggest rises up to 2008-12 ? and up to 2004 have overshot their limits by huge margins.

According to DIW, the EU-10 new member states will also have to make very meaningful contributions. Aside from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, required reductions from 2004 to 2020 will range from 13 per cent for Hungary and 14 per cent for Slovakia to minus 27 per cent each for Malta and Cyprus, two countries that, uniquely, have no Kyoto greenhouse gas target.


20 May 2007

GERMANY AND US IN CLIMATE STANDOFF AHEAD OF G8

ENDS Europe DAILY 2322 - 16 May 2007

A difference of opinion between Germany and the US over the need for clear targets is already threatening to scupper hopes of a strong commitment on climate change emerging from next month's G8+5 summit.

According to media reports, German chancellor and summit host Angela Merkel is insisting on a mention in the summit declaration of at least one of two targets: either a commitment to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees this century, or to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.

Ms Merkel's top scientific advisor on climate change, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, told ENDS on Tuesday that a declaration including at least one of these elements was essential to "provide a long-term orientation for climate policy".

But the US government remains opposed to any mention of targets and timetables in the communique, which is expected to emerge from the summit in Heiligendamm on 8 June. British prime minister Tony Blair held talks in Washington on Wednesday with President George Bush aimed at reaching a breakthrough at the summit.

The EU would need "a sophisticated strategy and lots of patience" to reach an agreement at Heiligendamm, Mr Schellnhuber warned. "As a minimum, the meeting must not be seen as a nail in the coffin of a [post-Kyoto] agreement - we need a psychological result."

Germany and the UK have drawn up practical proposals for reducing emissions in the world's heaviest polluting countries, for potential inclusion in the summit conclusions. Mr Schellnhuber told ENDS action on energy efficiency would be a priority proposal.

He also detailed plans to encourage other countries and regions to establish carbon trading schemes along the lines of the EU's emissions trading scheme. These could then be linked in a "system of systems", with credits being traded between them using some form of exchange rate to create a global carbon price for carbon.

"Until we have a global price for carbon we cannot succeed", he said. of the UN's climate change convention, Yvo de Boer, the talks will "clear the brushwood" ahead of Bali.

Meanwhile officials from 166 nations are continuing discussions in Bonn this week, aimed at preparing the ground for formal negotiations on a post-Kyoto agreement in Bali in December.


20 May 2007

MURDOCH: I'M PROUD TO BE GREEN

News Corp boss orders his entire empire to convert
and become a worldwide enthusiast for the environment

Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - The Independent - 13 May 2007

In one of the most unexpected conversions since Saul of Tarsus hit the road to Damascus, Rupert Murdoch is turning into a green campaigner. He is making the whole of his worldwide operations carbon neutral and setting out to "educate and engage" his readers and viewers about global warming.

He believes his companies' "global reach" presents "an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness and to stimulate action around the world". A former sceptic who confesses to having been "somewhat wary of the warming debate", he laid on his first global webcast for all his employees on Wednesday to tell them that he was "changing the DNA of our business". He added that he had started with himself, buying a hybrid car.

Mr Murdoch's conversion, which may surprise employees like Jeremy Clarkson, was heavily influenced by his son James - who took BSkyB carbon neutral a year ago this week - as well as by Tony Blair and former US vice-president Al Gore. All three attended his annual meeting for senior executives in Pebble Beach, California, last year where he was convinced to take the lead on the issue.

Mr Murdoch has bought a Toyota-made Lexus GS450H "green" car, and other practical measures include solar-powered golf carts to carry people round the Fox film lot in Hollywood, building environmentally friendly studios, replacing company fleets with hybrids, using renewable energy, and offsetting remaining emissions by financing windpower in India.

The world's most prominent media tycoon is being hailed by environmentalists as the most important of a chain of high-profile new recruits to the battle to control climate change, including Sir Richard Branson and Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco.

His planned campaign "to change the way the public thinks about these issues" could be particularly effective because of the strength of his operations in the United States, China and India, the three most critical countries for tackling global warming. Mr Murdoch told his employees: "We must first get out own house in order."

News Corporation has a carbon footprint of at 641,150 tons a year and will now aim to be carbon neutral by 2010. News International, which publishes his British newspapers, and the publishers HarperCollins will achieve this goal by the end of the year and all books published by the imprint Fourth Estate are to be printed on recycled paper from 1 July.

But the main thrust of the campaign will be "to inspire people to change their behaviour" through films, television productions and news operations. It will aim "to weave this issue into our content, make it dramatic, make it vivid, even sometimes make it fun". As a start, MySpace is launching a channel devoted to climate change, and Fox television is developing "a solutions-based campaign". Today's Sunday Times and News of the World both major on plans by Gordon Brown for new eco-towns.

Mr Murdoch says: "Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just 1 per cent. That would be like turning the state of California off for almost two months."

OUR COMMENT: Let's hope he takes up the challenge!

Pat Dale


11 May 2007

EU GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS DOWN IN 2005

ENDS Europe DAILY 2316 - 8 May 2007

EU greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2005, according to preliminary figures released by the European environment agency on Monday. The data mark a reversal in a trend of rising emissions over the previous two years.

In a preview of full figures to be published next month, the agency says releases of the six gases in the Kyoto protocol "basket" decreased from 2004 levels across the EU-27. It does not say by how much and it is unclear how the trend has been affected by the inclusion of new EU members Romania and Bulgaria in EU statistics.

Most of the reduction is down to decreases in emissions of gases other than CO2, it says.

Emissions from the EU-15 member states have also dropped for the first time in three years. Releases fell by 0.8 per cent in 2005. Their emissions now stand at 1.9 per cent below the Kyoto baseline level. The fifteen countries are bound through a burden-sharing agreement to meet a joint target of -8 per cent during 2008-12. The remaining EU members have an individual target or no target at all (Malta and Cyprus).

The agency says efforts in three sectors contributed to emission reductions in the EU-15 in 2005: heat and electricity production, households and services, and road transport. The same three were held responsible for emission increases in 2003, with road transport the key culprit in 2004.

Reductions in the energy sector stemmed primarily from lower levels of coal-fired power generation. Ongoing agency analysis shows this could have been down to lower gas prices, increased hydroelectric production or the influence of the EU carbon emission trading scheme.

The biggest cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 by country were in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands.

The first two also registered decreases in 2004. Spain recorded the biggest absolute increase in emissions in 2005, though there are indications that its carbon dioxide releases have subsequently fallen.

The new data were submitted to the UN framework convention on climate change last month as the EU's official greenhouse gas inventory for 1990-2005. The agency will further analyse the figures and publish them in a full report in mid-June.


11 May 2007

13 YEARS TO TURN ROUND GLOBAL WARMING

Fiona Harvey and Gernot Wagner - Financial Times - 5 May 2007

The world has until 2020 to reverse the trend of rising greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, the world's top climate scientists warned yesterday.

Achieving this would reduce the world's annual gross domestic product by 3 per cent in 2030, the UN expert panel concluded. Emissions have been rising for the past 150 years.

Charles Kolstad, professor of environmental economics at the University of California and a lead author of the report, told the FT: "It is costly but affordable. You do not want to throw that kind of money away. But if you want to accomplish the goal, then the cost is acceptable."

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to the required level can be achieved with today's technologies but bringing them into widespread use is likely to require extensive changes in public policy, according to the report published in Bangkok, Thailand, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group convened by the UN.

The cost of cutting emissions to the required levels would be about $1,500bn a year from 2020, according to estimates made by the FT based on data published by the IPCC. Global GDP is projected to double from $45,000bn last year to about $90,000bn in 2020.

The IPCC also estimates that $20,000bn must be spent by 2030 on the world's energy infrastructure which, if used in ways that help to reduce emissions, will help defray the costs.

The report said the cost would be equivalent to shaving growth in the world's GDP by only 0.12 percentage points a year by 2030.

Most of the technology needed to achieve the necessary cut in emissions is already commercially available, including nuclear power, renewable energy generation and measures that promote energy efficiency.

Geoff Levermore of Manchester University, a lead author, said: "The [report] shows there is the technology available, it is affordable, but that improved government policies around the world are now required to help reduce emissions."

Michael Grubb of Cambridge University, another lead author, warned against underestimating the effort: "This is really urgent because emissions are galloping off in precisely the wrong direction: they are rising rapidly. That is very sobering."

If emissions were to peak in 2015, which is viewed as unlikely to be achieved, and thereafter fall by about 50-80 per cent over the next several decades, global warming would be limited to about2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the IPCC report found. The world has already warmed by about 0.7°C in the past century. But if emissions continue to grow until 2030, which is widely viewed as more likely, temperatures would probably rise by 3°C above pre-industrial levels.

This corresponds to a level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere equivalent to about 535 to 590 parts per million of carbon dioxide, according to the report.

Scientists fear that at levels above that, the likelihood of "feedback" effects which amplify temperature rises could result in runaway climate change - a rapid acceleration in temperature and effects such as more violent storms, desertification and a sharp reduction in agricultural productivity.

This is the third and final part of the most authoritative assessment of climate change to date, which has been six years in the making and drawn on the work of more than 2,500 scientists. The two previous parts of the IPCC's assessment were released earlier this year.

The key findings have been agreed unanimously by more than 100 governments, including those of the US, China, India and the European Union, and will form the basis for international policy.

They will also provide the framework for discussions, set to begin this December in Bali, on a successor to the Kyoto protocol on climate change, the main provisions of which expire in 2012.

Though the picture of climate change painted in the report is bleak, the report showed signs of agreement that the costs of avoiding the worst effects are not as great as had been feared.

Prof Grubb said: "You could not conceive that this report would have been agreed two years ago, when the US was in a completely different position regarding the economics of climate change."


11 May 2007

CITY WAKES UP TO ECONOMIC THREAT OF GLOBAL WARMING

Higher temperatures could mean disruption to crops, a rapid rise in inflation and catastrophic famine. Richard Wachman on how the business world is at last taking extreme weather seriously.

The Observer - 6 May 2007

In 1798 Thomas Malthus forecast that a huge increase in population would outpace food production by the mid-19th century, leading to a catastrophic famine. He was wrong. Malthus could yet be proved right, though not in the way he envisaged.

Today, scientists worry that global warming will lead to the sort of disaster Malthus predicted. If average temperatures keep rising, drought could devastate arable areas in developing countries where population growth is most pronounced, leading to widespread starvation. If the earth gets hotter, the polar ice caps will melt, causing sea levels to rise. The result will be floods that disrupt food production, and threaten life itself.

It may sound like a scene from a Hollywood disaster movie, but sober-headed City economists are beginning to publish reports that look at the implications of climate change as 'extreme weather events' become more commonplace.

A paper by Roger Brown, chief economic strategist at investment bank UBS, points out: 'The recent acceleration of inflationary pressure reflects a rise in food prices caused by a weather-induced global reduction in supply.' He says that 'a cursory glance at different countries shows that there has been a pronounced acceleration in food price inflation since mid-2006. Agricultural production may not continue to increase as rapidly as it has in the past while, at the same time, population growth accelerates, putting staple food prices under pressure.'

Brown adds that less developed regions are likely to show the most rapid rise in population, as well as the largest drops in agricultural production. 'The Asian and African river deltas are anticipated to be the areas most severely impacted by flooding.'

The effect of global warming appears to be with us already. There has been an exceptionally warm spring in Europe - Britain and Holland have had their warmest April on record. It raises the spectre of drought unless more rain falls. The consequences could be water-rationing and the threat of blackouts, as demand for air-conditioning and refrigeration soars in the summer, disrupting economic activity and potentially costing business millions.

While we could see a jump in inflation if fruit and vegetable harvests fail, a further point is that converting food crops to 'clean' fuel - ethanol and biodiesel - is pushing up the price of maize.

The short-term effect of higher food prices on the economy may be difficult to gauge but the big question is what happens in the longer term. The issue exploded into the open last October when UK economist Sir Nicholas Stern claimed that global warming could shrink the world economy by 20 per cent by the end of the century if nothing was done, but that action today would cost just 1 per cent of GDP. He recommended a package of measures such as green taxes, a worldwide carbon trading emissions scheme, energy efficiency and halting deforestation to cut greenhouse gases. He also said the development of new green technology would offer significant compensation for business and that over £1trn of savings could be made if an international agreement was reached that caps greenhouse emissions at levels forecast for 2035.

John Llewellyn, senior economic policy adviser at Lehman Brothers, recently produced a report entitled The Business of Climate Change in which he argued that there was now a consensus that global warming would have far-reaching economic consequences. Llewellyn says: 'Global warming, we judge, is likely to prove one of those tectonic forces that - like globalisation or the ageing of populations - gradually but powerfully changes the economic landscape in which our clients operate, and one that causes periodic sharp movements in asset prices.'

In Britain, business organisations acknowledge that the debate has become mainstream. Michael Roberts, director of business and the environment at the CBI, says: 'We don't challenge the consensus that man-made greenhouse emissions have played a role in bringing about climate change.' Nor does he ignore fears of future armed conflict over the scarcity of natural resources such as water. 'It is not something we dismiss lightly. Geopolitical events affect the global economy and threaten the prosperity that most of us in the West take for granted.'

OUR COMMENT: A pity the aviation industry doesn?t take the situation seriously enough to consider the effects of their insistence on more and more expansion and act accordingly.

Pat Dale


11 May 2007

FIDDLING WITH FIGURES WHILE THE EARTH BURNS

The latest initiatives to stop global warming won?t save us,
James Lovelock tells Jonathan Leake

Times Online - 6 May 2007

If you want to get some idea of what much of the Earth might look like in 50 years? time then, says James Lovelock, get hold of a powerful telescope or log onto Nasa?s Mars website. That arid, empty, lifeless landscape is, he believes, how most of Earth?s equatorial lands will be looking by 2050. A few decades later and that same uninhabitable desert will have extended into Spain, Italy, Australia and much of the southern United States.

?We are on the edge of the greatest die-off humanity has ever seen,? said Lovelock. ?We will be lucky if 20% of us survive what is coming. We should be scared stiff.?

Lovelock has delivered such warnings before, but this weekend they have a special resonance. Last week in Bangkok, Thailand, the world?s governments finalised this year?s third and final report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) setting out how humanity might save itself from the worst effects of climate change.

In it was a message of hope, albeit a faint one. The report set out a complex mix of political, economic and technological solutions. If they all worked, said the report, they could achieve huge cuts in the 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) released by humanity into the air each year, thus keeping global temperature rises below 3C.

At the same time in Cologne, Germany, 4,000 sharp-suited bankers, lawyers and financial traders at Carbon Expo 2007 were congratulating themselves on the booming new markets in carbon credits that will, they boasted, save the world as well as making them rich.

?I have a dream,? Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told the delegates. He set out his belief that carbon trading will help stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and aid developing countries by transferring £50 billion a year to these nations from the First World to support green development.

For Lovelock, however, such dreams are dangerous nonsense on a par with a drowning man clutching at straws. ?It?s all ridiculous,? he sighed. ?These new markets do some good in that they generate wealth and keep these people employed, but they and the IPCC are just raising false hopes. We have done too much damage to the world and now it is changing too fast for us to make much difference.?

Lovelock?s view is that the world has two stable states: the ?icehouse?, when ice covers both poles, sometimes extending far into lower latitudes in the form of ice ages; and the ?greenhouse?, when all the ice melts. Both have already happened many times in the Earth?s history.

?Human outpourings of greenhouse gases have flicked the switch that turns the world from its colder to its warm state ? and it is probably too late to stop it,? he said. ?The warming impact of the carbon we have already released is such that the Earth has taken over and our greenhouse gas emissions are being amplified by nature itself.?

Lovelock believes that the transformation is happening far too fast for humanity to tackle, especially in a world that remains committed to economic growth and whose 6.5 billion population is predicted to reach more than 9 billion by mid-century.

For evidence, he points to Siberia where the melting of the permafrost, already widely reported in scientific literature, will enable bacteria to decompose organic matter that has accumulated in the soil over tens of millions of years ? potentially releasing billions more tons of CO2 ?I have just come back from Norway where the temperatures are even further above normal than Britain?s. The climate is changing every year now. Everyone can see it ? as in this very warm April. By mid-century the heatwave [in Europe] that killed 20,000 people in 2003 will be a cool summer by comparison.?

At first sight Lovelock?s predictions seem wildly at odds with the IPCC?s reports, but in many ways the only difference is in the vividness of the language. ?The progressive acidification of oceans due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is expected to have negative impacts on marine shell-forming organisms (ie corals) and their dependent species,? said the IPCC report detailing the impacts of climate change ? its careful language draining the drama from a warning that vast tracts of the ocean may turn so acidic that little life will be left in them.

It added: ?At lower latitudes, especially seasonally dry and tropical regions, crop productivity is projected to decrease for even small local temperature increases (1-2C), which would increase risk of hunger.? What these measured tones imply, warns Lovelock, is that millions ? perhaps hundreds of millions ? of people living in equatorial lands will be forced from their homes, with most of them heading northwards. ?The world will face mass shortages of food and water. That will lead to wars and the effective clearance of vast areas of land as the deserts spread,? he said.

Lovelock?s reputation as a scientific seer was founded four decades ago when he published his Gaia hypothesis. His idea, that the Earth?s chemistry, climate and life were all closely linked into a kind of self-sustaining system, is now received wisdom. It has become clear that the first life forms on Earth transformed its early climate and atmosphere, generating the oxygen that allowed life to evolve ? eventually into us.

What?s more, that process continues. Oxygen is a reactive gas that would vanish from the atmosphere were it not for the plankton, and plants that keep topping it up.

Lovelock?s warnings may seem remote (and he hasn?t always been proved right) but with Britain basking in record spring heat he says our scepticism about the damage we can expect from global warming is understandable. ?Britain and Scandinavia are becoming green oases. In 2050 or soon after, most of the world may be scrub and desert and most of the oceans will be denuded of life, but temperatures here will remain very tolerable. The downside of that is that we risk becoming like a lifeboat with millions of refugees trying to settle here.?

He is not alone in predicting a huge northwards shift in human populations: in his new book, How the World will Change with Global Warming, Professor Trausti Valsson, an Icelandic academic, predicts how population centres will move north.

?The Arctic ice cap is melting. When it goes it will open up new shipping routes, new fishing grounds and new oil fields,? said Valsson. ?The Arctic Ocean will become the new Mediterranean with Siberia and Canada as the centres for human culture and civilisation.?

Lovelock is fond of recounting how, on a recent lecture tour of America, he was accosted by earnest academics seeking advice on whereabouts in Canada they should buy their second homes.

Behind such comic anecdotes, however, lies the grim possibility that billions of people face a miserable life and death as humanity finds a new equilibrium with the Earth. At 87 Lovelock acknowledges that he is unlikely to be one of them. His concern is for the generations represented by his nine grandchildren. ?What we have lived through, the 20th century, has been like a great party. Adults now have had the best time humanity has ever had. Now the party is over and the Earth is reckoning up.?


11 May 2007

THE MINISTER SPEAKS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

A long speech, but policy on aviation remains grounded

Speech on transport and climate change

IPPR event - Transport: Acting on CO2?

DfT Press Notice - 28 March 2007

I am delighted to be here to discuss the challenges and opportunities we face as we work together to address climate change.

I would like to thank IPPR for inviting me to speak. They are an organisation already with a strong tradition of important work on climate change and transport. And I hope this is built upon in the coming years through the establishment of their climate centre.

Because it is only through informed debate - and yes, robust action from governments, industry, individuals and from civil society- that we will address the climate change challenge.

15 years ago I, like many others, read one of the best books authored by a politician in recent decades - Earth in the Balance by Al Gore. I fear I probably bored him with my reflections on it recently when we met. But we did reflect together that in the years between his book's publication and now, climate change has moved from an issue of scientific debate to one of public concern and growing scientific consensus. Today climate change is the greatest long term challenge we face. It is, I would argue, one of the three great international challenges of our time. Alongside global poverty and security, climate change is a real and present threat that we must face up to. That we must act on.

All three issues also have at least two other things in common. First, as I look out at this room here today, I see people who care about these issues. We know that it is our generations - I thought I better be careful not to upset the 20 year olds here today - our generations that our children will hold accountable on these issues. We have a moral responsibility to act. And to act now.

The three issues of global poverty, security and climate change also share something else, in that they are linked challenges. This is an era of increasing interconnectedness. National politics is becoming an increasingly international endeavour. As Bill Clinton has put it, we have moved from an era when politics was defined as 'it's the economy stupid' in the 90's, to an era defined by 'it's the economy plus': the economy plus immigration, the economy plus travel, the economy plus communication. To which we must also add: it's the economy plus the environment.

Today we increasingly recognise that our actions have global consequences. The World Health Organisation estimates that 150,000 people are already dying each year from the effects of climate change. Many, many more will have their lives adversely affected by climate change in the years to come.

We also know that it is largely those areas of the world least capable of dealing with climate change that will be most seriously hit. Declining crop yields, rising sea levels and ocean acidification will of course affect us all - either directly or indirectly - but the wealthiest countries of the world will be those most resourced to adapt.

And these effects of climate change threaten to foster instability, with food security, water security and energy security brought centre stage. These are local issues with global causes and consequences. To meet them we need what Margaret Beckett has called 'the globalisation of responsibility'.

To me this means that we have to recognise both the power and the limits of individual action. Our progressive values, our shared experience, show us that through collective action we achieve far more than we do alone. This is not to argue individual action is unimportant - far from it. Rather, it must be placed within a framework that secures changes across society in a fair and equitable manner.

From science and economics to action

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report reinforced the strength of the scientific consensus. The Stern Review on the economics of climate change published towards the end of last year has moved the debate on from the science of climate change to the economics of climate change. As you will all know, the report argues that to stabilise carbon levels at an appropriate level, a global emissions cut of at least 25% compared to now is required. As a developed country, we must, of course, do more. Further, the economic cost of not acting - or delaying action - on climate change far outweighs the costs of action, providing an economic rationale for the fight against climate change that is also helping win the argument internationally.

But candidly, I fear only part of this argument has been heard. Talk of a 'planetary emergency' is frequently part of today's news coverage. What has been less widely discussed is Stern's analysis that the right policy actions can both meet the scientific challenge and the public's expectation of economic growth. So while I welcome the increased public concern the report has stimulated, our responsibility now is to deepen the public understanding of the capacity to meet the scientific challenge if the right steps are taken. The challenge, if you like, is to match the increased concern with increased clarity on how to act.

As individuals, we all can and must play our part to tackle climate change. But the sacrifice agenda on its own is not, and will not be, enough. What we stop doing is one part of it, but how we change what we do is the vital next step.

To take just one example of Nicholas Stern's approach, he is clear that the way to meet this challenge is not through arbitrary limits on individual sectors of the economy, nor a willingness to make arbitrary decisions on individual pieces of infrastructure. Instead he argues for an economy-wide approach to extract the maximum UK's emissions.

Globally, aviation accounts for around 1.5 per cent of emissions. These are, of course, rising percentages. But given the inherently international nature of aviation, it is vital we establish the right international framework.

That is why I have previously called for the Chicago Convention to be re-written. This international document - drafted back in 1944 - which governs international aviation, makes literally no reference to the contemporary concerns of security or of the environment. In fact it is an impediment to action, and that is why we will continue to press for its reform ahead of the next ICAO conference in Montreal.

Simultaneously, the UK has been leading the effort within Europe for aviation's inclusion within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and welcome the fact that the Commission has recently published its proposals. Just as Europe pioneered emissions trading schemes after the Kyoto agreement, so it must be equally pioneering in including aviation in the present scheme.

It is through such a cap and trade system that we as individuals, industries and economies can make choices on the actions that must be taken within a declining cap.

That is why the UK government has recently published its draft Climate Change Bill. Consistent with Stern's analysis, this commits us to at least a 60% reduction in domestic carbon emissions by 2050, from 1990 levels. It also contains enabling powers to help make this happen. This is the first of its kind in any country. It sets out a framework for moving the UK to a low-carbon economy, demonstrating the UK's leadership as progress continues towards establishing a post-2012 global emissions agreement.

Because let us be clear - it is only through international agreement that we will properly address the climate change challenge. I am proud of the UK's global role on this issue. But the UK does, after all, only account for 2% of global emissions. To take perhaps one of the most apposite examples: China plans to build 49 new airports and expand a further 71. This is not an argument for inaction. On the contrary, it is an argument for a strong international response to the challenges that we face. The up-coming Bali round of negotiations will be an important step as we establish a post-Kyoto framework with the participation of the US.

Transport: acting in a Stern-consistent manner

Yet notwithstanding our global leadership role, transport is periodically accused, here and abroad, of being a sector neglecting its climate change responsibilities. So I want to take this opportunity to set out the action this government is taking in transport against the rigorous framework set out by Stern.

Within this context, surface transport provides an opportunity to deliver significant reductions in carbon emissions, because from kerosene in aircraft to the petrol in our cars, transport is - of course - heavily reliant still on fossil fuels. Within an economy-wide approach, as long as overall emissions are declining sufficiently, this is theoretically sustainable. The atmosphere doesn't discriminate on the basis of the source of carbon emissions - and obviously this applies to geographical location as much as economic sector.

But we must ensure we take a long-term view in order to meet ready to meet future realities. And a recognition of the importance of seeking reductions in carbon emissions from the transport sector leads one inexorably to the issue of surface transport.

Why? Because surface transport accounts for around 90 per cent of transport's domestic emissions. And its emissions have also increased in relative and absolute terms since 1990, with carbon emissions from road transport, for example, increasing by 9.6 per cent between 1990 and 2005.

In large measure this reflects increased prosperity, as we are travelling further and more often by private vehicle. The number of vehicles on the road has increased from around 27 million in 1996 to over 33 million now. But this emissions figure also reflects a specific increase in emissions from HGVs and LGVs. So my Department will shortly be launching significant new work on the future efficiency of the freight distribution network, to see how government can bring about better environment performance in this sector, including through new vehicle technologies and more intelligent distribution systems.

The DfT has already undertaken some work in this area. Indeed, we will be shortly publishing the Low Carbon Transport Innovation Strategy. This document demonstrates that surface transport provides a real opportunity to deliver significant reductions in carbon emissions through technological advancement.

And remember, the Department is one of those departments where the rubber quite literally hits the road. Our key challenge is to reduce carbon, not reduce mobility. Indeed, within this context our challenge is this: in the years ahead transport must become one of the solutions to climate change, not simply one of the problems.

Stern: regulation

Sir Nicholas Stern sets out the tools by which such an approach can be addressed - involving regulation, trading, fiscal measures, removing the barriers to behaviour change and technological innovation. So let me take those in turn.

On regulation: we have welcomed the recent EC proposals to establish mandatory targets for vehicle fuel efficiency. It is clear that the current voluntary agreement has not worked sufficiently well. As the Chancellor made clear in his Budget speech, not only is the UK supportive of the mandatory approach, but we also want a long-term framework. That is why, working with industry, we should embrace a medium term objective of 100 grams of carbon emitted per kilometre.

This would deliver significant carbon savings, in the range of 4 million tonnes of carbon in 2020 and has the potential to be one of the biggest interventions we can make as a government in transport sector. Given the integration of the European car market, this can only be achieved by working closely with Europe - just another example of why in today's world you cannot be pro-environment and anti-European.

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation - perhaps up there with the High Level Output Specification as the most inelegant phrase my department uses - also has a crucial role to play here. By requiring that biofuels make up 5% of all surface transport fuel sales by 2010, we hope to deliver 1 million tonnes of carbon savings per year. That is the equivalent to taking around 1 million vehicles off the road.

We are currently consulting on the details of this and the potential to extend the scheme towards a 10% biofuel mix, of course providing sustainability criteria are met.

This is an important, contemporary and contraversial issue. It can be too easy for people to just assume that a biofuel is - environmentally - a good thing - that it will necessarily deliver carbon reductions. Yet the way the biofuel is produced - including any changes to land use - and transported are fundamental to any calculations of carbon savings.

Now given international legal obligations there is work to be done. But this challenge is one I believe we should not respond to by placing an immediate freeze on biofuels - as George Monbiot argued yesterday in the Guardian. Rather, as I wrote in a letter to the European Commission last month, we must work together to strengthen the rules on the area of sustainability. Once again the UK is leading the debate within Europe on this issue and I hope we can progress the necessary legal framework as quickly as possible.

As an interim step, we have established a reporting framework, requiring the disclosure of the carbon savings and wider environmental impact. These reports will be made public and we will publish league tables on the best and worst performers.

Mandatory targets for fuel efficiency and biofuels, are two examples where the Government is using regulation - as Stern suggests - to deliver significant carbon savings. This is also being done in a way that provides market certainty. By establishing long term, clear frameworks for carbon reduction, the private sector can plan its investments and innovate towards achieving the objective of carbon reduction.

But influencing the supply of vehicles and fuel is only one side of the coin. As Stern advocated, we must also incentivise the take up of greener technologies, and we are through fiscal measures.

Stern: taxation

The company car tax regime introduced in April 2002 was a significant step in the Government's continuing strategy to protect the environment by encouraging company car drivers to choose more environmentally friendly cars. This is leading to reductions in emissions - around 0.2 to 0.3 million tonnes of carbon in 2005. We hope they reach around 0.5 million tonnes of carbon by 2012.

And as the budget just last week further demonstrated, we are using the car tax system to both tax the most polluting vehicles whilst simultaneously encouraging the purchase of more fuel efficient vehicles. And the differential in fuel duty for biofuels - of 20 pence per litre - will be maintained until the spring of 2010. Again, providing certainty for the industry as it invests in this developing technology.

The policies set out in the climate change programme should deliver around 6 million tonnes of carbon savings in 2010, compared to what they would have been. And the extra policies outlined above are designed to take us even further.

Stern: removing the barriers to action

So the Government is using all three mechanisms under Nick Stern's first 'leg': taxation, trading and regulation mechanisms. But the Government is also acting to remove the 'barriers to action', as Stern put it. Through the provision of information and public transport investment, we are encouraging behaviour change.

Indeed the Government has recently launched the Act On Co2 campaign. The first use of this new brand has been our Smarter Driving campaign, launched on 11th March. You may have seen the adverts in the newspapers or on the billboards. These are designed to make the simple point that small changes in behaviour can have an impact on emissions and your wallet. Smarter driving - or eco driving - has the potential to reduce emissions on average by 8%. This is, deliberately, a message of empowerment - we can all act on C02. We are also aiming to bring forward a second stage of the campaign in the coming months, providing consumers with information on the most fuel efficient vehicle in each class.

Providing information to the public about the consequences of their actions can deliver significant results. This is why I am so keen on the carbon calculator we've recently installed on the Transport Direct website. This provides a facility for users to calculate their fuel use and carbon emissions for any journey they make - and also details on how they can be offset. We will be shortly extending this to other modes of transport, enabling comparisons for different trips.

And providing information for the public to make informed decisions on their travel behaviour is also crucial. And as the early results from the Sustainable Travel Towns demonstrate, this can lead to real results. Our Sustainable Travel Towns - Peterborough, Darlington and Worcester - are perhaps not that widely known. They are pilots, established in 2005 and 2006 to provide targeted travel marketing and personal journey planning. While I stress these are early survey results, they suggest an over 10 per cent increase in public transport use and a commensurate decrease in private car use amongst those surveyed.

This kind of intervention, encouraging what are called Smarter Travel Choices, is useful in 2 ways. It can help address congestion and encourages more environmentally friendly travel choices. They are the types of measures that help remove Stern's barriers to action.

Now as research commissioned by DfT in 2004 reported, smart measures can encourage drivers to use alternative modes of transport. This is primarily a congestion relieving policy tool, but can also help deliver in addressing transport's carbon emissions. As a department we have a joint target with the Department for Education and Skills, that by March 2010 all schools in England will have a school travel plan. More than 10,000 schools already have one in place. And last year we announced grants to encourage 'walking buses' for school children. Over 3,200 primary schools - more than 1 in 6 - will receive these grants, as I announced just 2 days ago. At the same time I launched the national roll-out of the 'Bikeability' scheme, which combines the new cycle training standard designed to provide children with the on-road skills they need to handle modern traffic conditions.

In February this year DfT launched the National Business Travel Network, operated by the Transport 2000 Trust, to promote and encourage wider take-up of travel planning both for the commuter and during the course of business. Travel planning can reduce car use to the workplace we understand by between 10 and 25 per cent.

So working with businesses is also an area of real opportunity. As well as the potential benefits of travel planning, they are significant transport users and these are also consumers of vehicles. Fleet vehicles, for example, account for half of all new vehicles purchased each year. There are a number of schemes running in this area already - for example the DfT-funded Energy Saving Trust's green fleet reviews.

My department has been considering the feasibility of developing a comprehensive transport accreditation scheme and we will be discussing this with interested businesses during the summer. This will aim to encourage and recognise those businesses who implement best practice and show improvements in the environmental performance of their transport activities.

This will also ensure that we are coordinating our work with businesses, so government is providing coherent advice and support to encourage action in this area. It will also help mainstream green travel activity as a central part of a company's activities. We will seek to get as wide a take up as possible. Success in this area would be dependant on the buying power deployed could deliver significant market transformation.

This summer we expect to receive the first business cases from those authorities interested in taking forward local road pricing pilots, to address local congestion. I am expecting and hoping that as part of these bids authorities will propose significantly more spend on Smarter Choices, along the lines of our Sustainable Travel Towns. So there is the prospect, therefore, of our initial pilots also being extended to major towns and cities across England in the coming years.

Investment in public transport to make this happen

But of course encouraging those smarter choices also requires the provision of viable alternatives. This is why our record, sustained investment in public transport is not incidental but vital and central. In rail, we are investing £88 million a week in the network. We now have more people travelling by train than any time since the 1940s. This certainly presents new challenges - especially capacity. But we are now in a position to invest in meeting this challenge - as my announcement just 2 weeks ago of 1,000 new rail carriages demonstrates.

We have also doubled spending on buses - with over £2.5 billion being invested every year in the bus network. We have seen the first year-on-year increases in bus patronage literally for decades, but patronage remains patchy across the country. This is why, last year, we published proposals to give those authorities that need them the powers to make a real difference to the way transport is delivered in their communities, especially bus services.

We therefore have the prospect of real innovation in this area. Our policy on road pricing - that we have a national debate on road pricing, and that in the first instance government works with interested local authorities to bring forward pilots as local solutions to local problems - will be part of a package of significant reform. We have consistently stressed that significant investment in public transport is a key part of the package. But the associated roll out of the Smarter Choices agenda akin to our Sustainable Travel Towns means that in the coming years many households within pilot road pricing authorities should receive targeted travel advice.

Not only would this help reiterate that our intentions are primarily to address congestion it could also provide a significant impetus to public transport in those areas. Combined with our work on workplace and school travel planning, we would have a comprehensive package in place.

Outside of public transport we have also invested in cycling. To be fair the Mayor of London has led the way on this agenda. I doubled the cycling budget last year and am looking to do more to place cycling higher up the transport agenda.

So as a government we are working on both the supply and demand side of transport. We are acting now - at the forefront of the debate in Europe - to influence the fuel efficiency of vehicles on the road. And we are providing incentives - and some disincentives - to encourage environmentally friendly behaviour, so that we all face up to our climate change challenge.

But when people are travelling for work, to see family and friends and for leisure, I don't think we are going to win this argument by telling people they have to travel less. We have to win the argument that they should travel differently. This is why our approach of a package of measures is so important. It means we influence the technologies available, we encourage their take up and we provide more environmentally friendly travel choices.

But as we look out into the decades ahead, the challenge is to make surface transport one of the cleanest sectors of the economy. Again our Low Carbon Transport Innovation Strategy provides a useful assessment. Across a number of technologies - fuel, materials and engine efficiency - there is the prospect of very low, or even zero carbon vehicles.

We must ensure that we capitalise on that opportunity.

Stern: investment in research and development

As the Stern Review argued, there is a clear role for government here. Through establishing regulatory controls and product standards, for example - which I discussed earlier. But also through support for research and development.

The Government already has a number of programmes in place to support the development of these new technologies. For example the Energy Technologies Institute, the Environmental Transformation Fund and the DfT's Low Carbon Research and Development Programme. We also hope to announce more targeted support in LCTIS.

These initiatives are working to stimulate low carbon technology and help bring it towards market. They also help us exploit economic opportunities, making sure the UK is at the forefront of the emerging technologies.

That is why the Chancellor's announcement of the joint King/Stern Review in the Budget is so important.
For while we are interested in exploring the opportunity of securing a medium-term fuel efficiency target of 100 grams per kilometre, we must also look further.

So that's why Professor Julia King and Sir Nicholas Stern have been tasked with identifying how surface transport vehicles could be 'decarbonised' over the next 25 years and how government might accelerate their cost-effective introduction. They will also explore how the UK can maximise the economic opportunities of this agenda and how the UK can influence emerging markets and technology transfer. The terms of this review will be published shortly.

The terms of that review reflect a real challenge. And to explore this challenge we must draw on the considerable experience and expertise of the UK vehicle technology sector - and indeed beyond. This is both a challenge and a huge opportunity to British industry and British science.

Conclusion

Let me, by way of conclusion, offer a different way of explaining the challenge we face by recounting what John Ashton - the Government's climate change envoy - recently described to me. He explained that globally we face a basic challenge over the next generation. 21 trillion dollars will be invested in new energy and transport infrastructure. The question we face is: how, globally, do we ensure this investment advances a low carbon economy?

When faced with the necessity to act, humankind has in fact a history of delivering - from the wheel to putting a man on the moon.

Limiting our ambition is not the best way to limit climate change.

We were the country that led the industrial revolution at the turn of the 19th Century. We can, with the right choices, lead the post fossil fuel revolution.

But my key objective isn't to reduce mobility, it is to reduce carbon.

That is why, along with aviation, we want the EU to consider including surface transport in the EU Emissions Trading scheme. That is why we need to do more on the issue of biofuels.

That is why the medium term challenge of 100 grams of carbon emitted per kilometre is one we should embrace. And why now we must explore how by 2030 zero, or close to zero, emissions cars could be commonplace on Britain's driveways.

In the years ahead transport must become one of the solutions to climate change, no longer simply one of the problems.

That is our shared challenge.

That is our shared responsibility.

And working together I believe it can be our shared achievement -.amount of carbon for the minimal cost through all sectors taking their place within a framework delivering a reduction in carbon emissions.

International frameworks

Yet some of the recent contributions to the debate around climate change have owed more to 'capturing headlines' than 'capturing carbon'. The suggestion that VAT on domestic air travel - which could of course be passed on to business travellers - ignores the fact that domestic air travel accounts for only 0.4 per cent of UK emissions. Today, aviation accounts for around 6.2 per cent of the UK emissions. We need international action.


5 May 2007

EU AVIATION CARBON TRADING PLAN DISSECTED

ENDS Europe DAILY 2313 - 3 May 2007

MEPs held their first debate this week on draft EU plans to bring airlines into the EU's carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS). In a debate on Wednesday the European parliament's environment committee discussed outline amendments from rapporteur Peter Liese to draft legislation tabled by the European commission last December.

"The ETS is failing and we have to correct some of the glaring errors as we bring aviation in," Mr Liese told MEPs. He wants emission targets to be set by benchmarking against the best-performing aircraft, with much more auctioning of emission permits. Several members supported him.

The debate revealed significant support for bringing the sector into the ETS from 2010, instead of the 2011 proposed by the commission. "There's no reason why we shouldn't go for 2010," said German MEP Matthias Groote of the socialist PSE group.

But some committee members favoured delaying the entire plan until a new global climate policy is in place. "If we're going to go it alone we're going to upset an awful lot of countries, this could scupper international negotiations," German liberal MEP Holger Krahmer said. "How about waiting until we have a new Kyoto commitment period which gives us a chance to start again?"

Others suggested holding off until the introduction of a global aviation emission trading scheme, or even ditching trading altogether in favour of air fuel taxes. "This is a simple step that could be done overnight and would mean aircraft have to think seriously about how price sensitive their fares would be," British MEP Caroline Jackson said.

The commission's proposed two-phase introduction of aviation into the ETS, giving flights into or out of the EU a year to adjust to the scheme, got no support. "My worry is the second phase would be delayed, and a number of flights would escape the rules," said Mr Liese. This could push tourism away from EU countries to nearby non-EU countries such as Turkey, he said.

The idea of a separate trading scheme for the aviation sector, proposed by the parliament in a non-binding resolution last year, now has few backers. In a reponse to Mr Liese's proposals, Green MEP Caroline Lucas, who was rapporteur on the resolution, said the commission's plans were "plainly inadequate".

A number of members wanted a tighter cap on emissions than the commission's suggestion of 100 per cent of average sector emissions between 2004 and 2006. Many also wanted the cap to incorporate a coefficient factor to include the non-CO2 effects of aircraft emissions.


5 May 2007

DIVISIONS OVER GLOBAL WARMING
THREATEN EU-US CLIMATE MEETING

The Independent - 27 April 2007

Divisions over climate change threaten to derail a set piece EU-US summit and overshadow moves to strengthen transatlantic economic ties.

With time running out before Monday's meeting in Washington, some EU diplomats suggested that a weak declaration on global warming would be worse than no statement at all.

The meeting, which will be hosted by George Bush and attended by Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was seen as an opportunity for Europe and the US to align their positions on climate change before a G8 meeting in June. That gathering will be chaired by Ms Merkel, who holds the presidencies of the EU and G8 and who is pressing for a deal on the fight against global warming.

But the divisions prompted key players to play down the importance of the meeting yesterday. The US ambassador to the EU, C. Boyden Gray, said the summit "will not be a defining moment" on climate change, suggesting that agreements on transatlantic economic co-operation will be more concrete and far-reaching.

The German EU presidency said it was confident that the communiqué language will be agreed. However, European diplomats cast doubt over the likelihood of a significant breakthrough. The US has dug in over its insistence that there should be no commitment to binding targets unless developing countries such as China and India follow suit.

The hard line from the White House prompted internal divisions on the European side and tension among different parts of the government of Germany.

Ms Merkel's economic adviser, Jens Weidmann, reflected the caution over what can be achieved, conceding that it was "asking for a bit too much" to expect the US to be convinced to sign up to binding CO2 emissions targets.

He added: "What's important is that we engage in discussions with our American friends which make it clear for the need to act, and on that basis we can pursue discussions as part of the G8 process."

European officials have been fighting for a communiqué that makes a reference to EU climate change policies, recognises that the problem of global warming is manmade and that there is a need to reach a worldwide deal on tackling it but that the EU has committed to a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.

Mr Gray said there were "some differences" over the declaration, adding: "The main difference is over the weight you give to new technologies versus binding targets now."

The US argues that it is investing more than the EU in technologies such as carbon capture, which could help countries such as China to tackle emissions.

He said there would be "real meat on the bone" of discussions on setting up a transatlantic economic council to identify barriers to trade and co-ordinate regulations and commercial and technical standards.


5 May 2007

BETTER NEWS

UN climate experts set out mitigation scenarios

ENDS Europe DAILY 2314 - 4 May 2007

Atmospheric greenhouse gas levels can be stabilised at safe levels and at a reasonable cost, the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change said on Friday. But it warned that urgent action is needed to reverse the growth in emissions within one or two decades in order to tackle the threat of climate change.

The panel (IPCC) said a global carbon price was needed to provide incentives to invest in lower carbon technologies. This could be done through emissions trading, carbon charging and taxes, or financial incentives for technology switching.

The findings came in the IPCC's third instalment of its fourth climate change assessment report, released on Friday, which focuses on measures to mitigate climate change. It follows two previous papers on the science of climate change and its likely impacts.

Panel head Rajendra Pachauri said the report should galvanise the world into action. "Unless there's a package of policies and market forces, you're not going to get a major diffusion of technology" that would lead to big emission cuts, he said.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said the report confirmed the need for significant global emission cuts and urged the rest of the world to "follow the EU's lead".

The report's key finding is that limiting emissions such that the global temperature rises no more than 2-2.8 degrees Celsius would cost up to 3 per cent of global GDP in 2030.

This would mean emissions beginning to decline within around fifteen years and being cut to less than 50 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. By 2050 the GDP cost of achieving this could be as much as 5.5 per cent, the IPCC says, though regional costs may differ significantly.

The IPCC said the technologies needed to stabilize emissions at safe levels either exist or will be commercialised in the coming decades. In the future, "advanced" renewables such as wave and tidal energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are expected to play a key role, it said.

For energy-intensive industries the report urges greater controls on non-carbon dioxide emissions and the use of more efficient equipment. Future solutions include CCS for cement, ammonia and iron manufacture.

Energy efficiency is vital for all sectors in most regions, the panel says. In the buildings sector, efficiency improvements could reduce CO2 emissions by around 30 per cent "with net economic benefit", especially in the developed world.


5 May 2007

GLOBAL CLIMATE PLAN "MUST INCLUDE PLANES, SHIPS"

ENDS Europe DAILY 2314 - 4 May 2007

Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and shipping should be included in a post-2012 international climate policy agreement, according to the Dutch environmental assessment agency (MNP).

In a study released last week MNP says incorporating the two sectors into a post-Kyoto international climate regime would be more cost-effective than tackling their emissions separately in schemes such as those being discussed by Icao and the IMO - the United Nations governing bodies for aviation and shipping respectively. These sector-specific schemes have only "very modest" potential, MNP says.

Aviation and shipping are currently excluded from the Kyoto protocol, meaning their emissions are not taken into account in meeting national reduction targets. Yet they represent two of the fast-growing sources of emissions.

The Dutch study argues that they are prime candidates for inclusion in an international trading scheme because, without a massive switch to biofuels, there are limited opportunities for abatement within the sectors. Trading would enable them to fund emission cuts in other sectors to offset their own emissions.

On aviation, the study argues that non-CO2 impacts on climate change should also be considered for inclusion in a future UN carbon accounting scheme. It estimates the total impact of aviation on climate to be 2.6 times that of CO2 alone. Focusing only on cutting CO2 could actually increase emissions of nitrogen oxides, it adds.


5 May 2007

AIRLINES SPLIT ON EU EMISSION TRADING PLAN

ENDS Europe DAILY 2314 - 4 May 2007

Airlines are divided over a European commission proposal for a staged introduction of the aviation sector into the European emission trading scheme (ETS), it emerged from a debate at the Carbon Expo trade fair in Cologne on Thursday.

The European commission has proposed incorporating intra-EU flights into the ETS from 2011 and all flights entering or leaving the bloc from 2012..

"The two-step approach is hard to understand," Karl-Heinz Haag of German carrier Lufthansa told the conference. Because the contribution of aviation to total emissions is already small, any serious proposal must apply to all flights immediately, he said.

But Udeke Huiskamp from Dutch airline KLM said the two-stage approach would build confidence by allowing the EU to show trading works before inviting others to join it. "If you start with a system you can't enforce because there is no broad mutual agreement... you create enormous risk it will fail," she said.

KLM is supported by British Airways, SAS and Air France, and environment commissioner Stavros Dimas has used the same argument to defend the two-stage idea. But it has been sceptically received by MEPs and ministers.

Meanwhile airlines are united on other issues: both Mr Haag and Ms Huiskamp opposed auctioning. Ms Huiskamp said that if airlines' access to Kyoto credits was also limited, their ability to invest in fleet renewal could be reduced.

In a separate development, consultancy ICF has predicted that incorporating aviation in the ETS could raise carbon prices by E2-5 per tonne. A European commission assessment has predicted no significant impact on price.


5 May 2007

CARBON PROJECTS CAN PROVE A RISKY BUSINESS

Fiona Harvey in London and Jonathan Wheatley in São Paulo - The Financial Times - 27 April 2007

The rush to go green suggests easy money for investors in projects that reduce carbon dioxide output. The reality is otherwise: many carbon projects turn out to be high risk.

Project failures and over-optimism among developers, together with a tendency to exaggerate in applications, mean that 40-50 per cent of the carbon credits anticipated under the Kyoto protocol will never be delivered, carbon traders say. Tom Frost, carbon analyst at Numis Securities, said: "I would expect that about half of the credits would not come through in the end."

The Kyoto treaty requires qualifying projects to be certified by the United Nations clean development mechanism (CDM) board. In the same grand buildings on the banks of the Rhine in Bonn where the Marshall Plan was drawn up after the second world war, the UN clean development board scrutinises applications.

UN officials say developers tend to overestimate the number of credits their projects will generate, in part because they incorrectly assume that the number in their application request will act as a ceiling. In fact, developers can claim more credits, provided that extra emissions can be verified. Other projects suffer long delays or are abandoned.

For instance, the FT visited a project to generate energy from waste at the University of Rio de Janeiro, which began seven years ago. "We've had a lot of delays and a lot of difficulties," said Henrique Saraiva, UsinaVerde's chief executive. "We were approached by buyers [of carbon credits] long before we were ready to sell." He said the main problem was in building partnerships with engineering companies. Two firms worked on the project and pulled out before UsinaVerde finally reached agreement with a smaller outfit.

The pilot project has been monitored by Bureau Veritas Quality International, a Paris-based certification company. By the end of May, its voluntary emission reduction credits should go on sale, three years after its pilot unit began operating. If the project is taken up by city councils and reproduced on a larger scale, plants should qualify for UN emission reduction certificates. UsinaVerde's technology was approved as a clean development mechanism by Brazilian certifiers in October 2005.

Another project to set up solar panels in South Africa, from which the German charity Atmosfair was hoping to buy UN credits, appears to have been delayed indefinitely, as the city of Cape Town has hit difficulties finding finance.

However, the UN said that its processes, which have been criticised for being lengthy, bureaucratic and expensive, produced carbon credits of a reliably high standard. The UN credits trade at about 25 per cent higher than equivalent credits in the unregulated voluntary market.

The board sends projects back to the developers for amendment if there is evidence of fraud, malfeasance or incompetence. By late March, officials said 570 projects had been approved and only 14 sent back, all for incompetence. They attributed the low failure rate to the stringency of the process. "If you were fraudulent, you would be less likely to apply under the CDM," one official said.

Emissions trading - history of an idea
By Gernot Wagner

The idea of emissions trading goes back more than 100 years to Alfred Marshall, a British economist, and Henry George, a US contemporary, writes Gernot Wagner. Their insight was that assigning property rights to the environment was a good way to protect it.

Unless someone owns the environment, polluting it - in the absence of state regulation - is costless. Of course, governments can step in and simply outlaw pollution, and often do so.

In the 1960s, economists Thomas Crocker of the University of Wyoming and John Dales of the University of Toronto revived the idea.

Each realised it was wasteful to give individuals the same fixed pollution limits, even though this might seem fair. Setting limits and then enabling individuals to trade their allowances in emissions markets was a better way to protect the environment at least cost.


27 April 2007

LET'S CLEAR THE AIR, AVIATION IS THE BIG POLLUTER

Readers' Letters - Herts & Essex Observer - 26 April 2007

Derek Winter suggests that aviation is unfairly accused of being a major polluter ("All at sea over CO2 emissions" Observer Letters, April 12th). Perhaps he is umaware that in the UK aviation is now responsible for about 6% of our carbon dioxide emissions.

But these emissions directly into the atmosphere are far more damaging than those at ground level, by a factor of between 2 and 4. This means that aviation is now responsible for at least 11% (and possibly as much as 20%) of the UK's contribution to global warming.

The industry is the fastest increasing cause of carbon dioxide emissions, the figures having doubled in the last 15 years. If allowed to grow at the present rates, than we will have no chance of meeting the government's targets for reduction.

Stansted Airport is not going to go away, but if we are serious about tackling climate change, then it should not get any bigger.

Michael Young
Wimbish


27 April 2007

PLANE FREIGHT THE MAIN CULPRIT

Readers' Letters - Herts & Essex Observer - 26 April 2007

Your correspondent Derek Winter quotes statistics to support the view that shipping (because it carries 90% of the world's goods) and not aviation is the big offender regarding carbon dioxide emissions.

However, the freight of one container transported by air is responsible for 10 times more emissions than the equivalent carried on a large container ship.

We should certainly aim to curtail shipping expansion, but this must be achieved through buying British goods and produce wherever possible, thereby reducing our imports.

Elspeth Horsman
Little Hadham

OUR COMMENT: The EU is, at the moment, trying to assemble legislation designed to cut shipping emissions. To date, very little attention has been given to reducing pollution from ships' engines, and, like cars, there is room for a lot of improvement. With aircraft, while fuel efficiency has improved, there is no prospect of a step change reduction in the foreseeable future.

Pat Dale


27 April 2007

A TAXING ISSUE FOR SSE

Readers' Letters - Herts & Essex Observer - 26 April 2007

David Cameron recently announced his party may impose higher levels of taxation on those of us who travel more than once a year by air. The debate that followed concluded that second home owners were likely to be some of the worst affected by these proposals.

So far, local campaign group stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has not stated if it is in favour of this policy. I assume that many of its members are likely to be second home owners, given the affluence enjoyed by many in this part of the country, and travel regularly via Stansted Airport.

Would SSE and its campaign director in particular ? a resident of France I understand ? like to confirm where they stand on this matter?

More than 200,000 UK residents own a second property abroad and rely heavily on air travel to split their time between two locations. If groups like SSE want to take away this option by taxing them out of the sky, they have a right to know.

George Mason
Sawbridgeworth

OUR COMMENT: A personal view: The immediate objective in opposing the expansion of the airport is to restrict the number of flights and passengers using Stansted Airport to its present cap and give local residents, who suffer the noise and traffic pollution, the confidence that their local quality of life will not get any worse. Even more important for the rest of the population is the threat of climate change which is seriously aggravated by ever increasing aircraft emissions. Cheap flights from Stansted encourage too much flying and are subsidised by the non-flying public. No fuel tax for a start. So, an aviation tax would even things up and could reduce the number of flights if people have to pay the true costs of the flight. May we suggest using the train? There is little time difference if you use the French rail system, bearing in mind you have to report at the airport 2 hours in advance. Or a coach? If its Spain, take a ferry to Bilbao or Santander and have a relaxing sea journey. The journey should be part of the foreign experience.

Pat Dale


27 April 2007

SETTING AN EXAMPLE
EIGHT LEADING BRITISH FIRMS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN
TO HELP SHOPPERS CUT CARBON EMISSION

Tesco to halve price of energy-saving light bulbs
M&S to relabel clothes to encourage 30C washes

Rebecca Smithers, Consumer Affairs Correspondent - The Guardian - 24 April 2007

Eight of Britain's leading companies yesterday launched a campaign to help shoppers cut carbon dioxide emissions. The move is designed to encourage families to reduce household emissions by one tonne - or 10% - over the next three years.

The supermarkets, who were criticised yesterday by the charity ActionAid for chasing the "green pound" while exploiting workers abroad, announced a series of measures at a briefing yesterday.

Tesco said it would halve the price of its energy-saving light bulbs, while Marks & Spencer is relabelling its clothes to encourage people to wash them at more environmentally-friendly, lower temperatures of just 30C.

The other companies which have signed up are B&Q, Barclaycard, British Gas, O2, Royal & SunAlliance and BSkyB, while others set to join this year include HSBC bank and National Express. The coalition also has the support of the Energy Saving Trust, the National Consumer Council, the Church of England, Stop Climate Chaos and Live Earth.

If every household takes up the "We're in this together" campaign initiatives over the next three years, there is a potential saving of 25m tonnes of CO2 - more than the combined emissions of Scotland and Wales. Partners will provide either products, services or advice for consumers to help reduce household emissions.

The campaign was formed as a response to research showing that people feel powerless when faced with the challenge of climate change. It is spearheaded by the Climate Group, an NGO created to act as a catalyst between business, state and civil groups to tackle climate change.

Tony Blair, who attended the launch with the environment secretary, David Miliband, said: "The old argument was that we couldn't afford to take action on the environment because it would hurt the economy. I think what we've heard from these companies today is that it's a win-win."

Mr Blair said energy-efficient lightbulbs were already used in Downing Street, and that the government's car fleet was being subject to stricter green standards.

Tesco chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, said: "Our customers tell us they want to do more in the fight against climate change, but want our help to make it easier and more affordable. We have set ourselves a target to sell 10m energy-saving light bulbs in the coming year. A big part of helping customers to buy green products is to bring the price down so we have also halved the cost of energy-saving bulbs."

Stuart Rose, chief executive officer of Marks & Spencer, said the company is to re-label almost three-quarters of its clothing ranges to include the words "Think Climate - Wash at 30C" on the garment care labels, in a move that could save around 40% energy per wash. He said: "We know our customers are concerned about climate change and want to minimise their impact on the environment. If we all moved to washing at 30C we could save enough electricity to light every street lamp in the UK for 10 months."

BSkyB is introducing a new feature in set top boxes which will automatically send them into "deep standby" at night when not used between 11pm and 4am.

Robin Oakley, senior climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said: "Sky is among the few companies forging ahead to cut out energy wastage in their products, and it is time this became the priority for companies producing all our appliances.

"Even apparently small things like appliances that switch themselves off when we forget can make massive CO2 and energy savings when multiplied across the population."

Save your energy

Tesco: Halving the price of energy-saving light bulbs in order to sell 10m over the next 12 months compared with 2m now. Doubling sales space for them and making them easier to find.

Marks & Spencer: Labelling nearly 75% of its clothing with the care instructions: "Think climate, wash at 30 degrees C". As chief executive Stuart Rose said yesterday: "If it's not dirty, wash at 30."

Royal & Sun Alliance: Offering a "smart box" that gives motorists regular reports on how green their driving behaviour is.

B&Q: Developing new insulation products and easier ways to plan, buy, use and install products that stop heat escaping.

O2: Encouraging mobile phone owners to hold on to their handset rather than choose a new model by offering credits to those who continue to the end of their contract.

Sky: Introducing a feature in set-top boxes that will send them into power-saving "deep standby" after 11pm if sitting idle.

Barclaycard: Launch of new green credit card called Barclaycard Breathe, which offers discounts and lower rates on green products and transport options.

British Gas: Has devised an energy saver report, which is an audit on 17 questions about a home's energy efficiency, leading to an overall rating. Suggests improvements such as energy-efficient boilers and offers incentives.


27 April 2007

CHINA COULD OVERTAKE US AS BIGGEST
EMISSIONS CULPRIT BY NOVEMBER

Tipping point for CO2 was not expected until 2010
Rapid growth confounds global expectation

John Vidal, Environment Editor - The Guardian - 25 April 2007

China may overtake the United States as the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases within months, one of the world's leading energy analysts predicted yesterday.

Dr Fatih Birol, chief economist of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said the country's economic growth had been so fast in 2006 and 2007 that the historic global shift of climate-changing emissions from west to east which was previously predicted for 2009 or 2010 could now happen by November. But these predictions paled into insignificance, said Dr Birol, if China took no measures to restrain emissions. At current rates, he said, it would be emitting twice as much CO2 as the world's 26 richest countries together within 25 years.

"[By then] CO2 emissions which come from China alone will be double the CO2 emissions which will come from all the OECD countries put together - the whole US, plus Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand" said Mr Birol.

China has signed up to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, but, as a developing country, it does not have a cap on its emissions. The new prediction that it will become the world's largest contributor of greenhouse gases this year will add to pressure for it to control emissions after 2012 when the treaty runs out.

"Without having China on board, no international climate change policy has any chance of success at all. "Without China playing a significant role, all the efforts of every other country will make little sense. It is terribly important."

However, Dr Birol accepted that on a per capita basis, people in rich countries still emit far more than individual people in China. US emissions in 2004 , the most recent figures available, totalled 5,799 million tonnes of CO2 from 293 million people, compared to China's 4,732 million tonnes of CO2 between 1,296 million people. Historically, China has also contributed little to the present buildup of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

"By 2030 we calculate each individual in China will emit nearly 7 tonnes of CO2 a year, but the average in OECD countries by then will be 13 tonnes," said Dr Birol

China's breakneck industrial growth, which has been running at nearly 10% a year for four years and was reported to have increased unexpectedly to 11% in the first three months of 2007, has been fuelled almost entirely by burning coal. The most populated country in the world has the world's second largest coal reserves, estimated to be over 185bn tonnes, and 70% of all its greenhouse emissions can be traced to coal. This compares with 32% in the US.

Moreover, there is no sign that China is about to reduce its emissions. Last year it built an average of five 300 megawatt coal-powered electricity plants a week, and burned more than 1.2bn tonnes of coal. Energy consumption in China is expected to continue rising fast as it aims to quadruple the size of its economy by 2020.

It is also massively increasing the amount of oil and other fossil fuels that it uses. Between 1996 and 2003, its oil imports increased from 20 million tonnes to 90 million tonnes. The number of cars on its roads has increased by at least 30% since 2002.

However, China has made serious attempts to stem the growth of its emissions. It demands far higher emission standards from its vehicles than the US, and plans to produce 16% of all its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, while reducing the energy intensity of its economy by a further 20%. China improved its energy intensity by more than 60% between 1980 and 2004.

But while China's leaders speak of their awareness of climate change and the need to address emissions, not enough is being done, say analysts. A progressive renewable energy law came into force in 2006 but it has been implemented slowly. This week state officials are expected to say at a conference in Milan that only 80 wind farms have so far been built - far less than in Britain or Denmark.

China is well aware of the probable effects that climate change will have on the country. According to a report published by its government at the weekend, change will mean larger deserts, more severe droughts and reduced water availability, as well as declining crops and increased spread of disease. The country is also vulnerable to sea level rises and the shrinking of glaciers which provide much of its river water.

However, it is widely believed in economic circles that the country should focus on development first before cutting greenhouse gas emissions. China this week delayed publishing its long anticipated national "action plan" on climate change. It gave no reason.

Hotter air

Gases present in the atmosphere absorb radiation from the earth's surface causing heat to be retained. This property acts as a natural blanket over the earth's surface. Without this effect the earth's surface would be 20 to 30°C colder. Humans are adding to the naturally occurring greenhouse properties of the atmosphere which leads to increased global warming

International agreements aim to cut back six greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is by far the most widespread but others are significant.

Carbon dioxide is mainly emitted by the burning of fossil fuels.

Methane is widely emitted from landfills, coal mines, oil and gas operations, and agriculture.

Nitrous oxide is used as an anaesthetic, and also released naturally from bacteria in soils.

Hydrofluorocarbons are used by industry as a refrigerant.

Perfluorocarbons mainly derive from the semiconductor industry.

Sulphur hexafluoride is used by the electrical industry in circuit breakers.


23 April 2007

BAA PASSENGER CAP DOESN'T SUIT COUNCIL

Readers' Letters - Herts & Essex Observer - 12 April 2007

Last November, Uttlesford District Council refused planning permission for Stansted Airport expansion and remains committed to resisting growth beyond the current cap opf 25 mppa.

At that time the airport operator BAA proposed that there should be no limit on the number of passengers. Having lodged an appeal against the UDC's decision it has now unilaterally proposed a condition restricting passenger numbers to "about 35 mppa".

This moving of goalposts seems to be a habit with BAA: readers will recall that it refused to engage in public debate on its proposals last autumn. Uttlesford's refusal of planning permission was based on the damage that would be done by a 35 mppa Stansted, which is why we do not believe that BAA's concession of a cap changes the basic position: no expansion beyond 25 mppa is acceptable to the Council.

BAA's manoeuvre must not have the effect of limiting the thoroughness with which its proposals are examined nor of stifling public debate.

We would like to reassure the public in Uttlesford that all the views that were presented to the Council in our consideration of the application will be presented to nextm month?s public inquiry into BAA's appeal as part of the council's own evidence.

Our demand is that the inquiry is a full and thorough examination of all the impacts of expansion on our community and the wider world. In this respect we are in the hands of the Inspector and we are confident that he will ensure that attempts from any quarter to frustrate a full inquiry do not succeed.

Councillors Mark Gaylor, Jim Ketteridge and Elizabeth Godwin
Leaders of the Liberal Democrat Conservative an Iindependent groups

OUR COMMENT: The Inquiry begins on May 30th at Endeavour House, Stansted Airport. It is expected to last until October, with a few days break in June and the whole of August. Final details will soon be published.

Pat Dale


23 April 2007

EIB ACCUSED OF NEGLECTING GREEN TRANSPORT GOALS

ENDS Europe DAILY 2305 - 20 April 2007

The European investment bank (EIB) more often jeopardises than contributes to EU goals to limit climate change and the environmental impact of the transport sector, campaign group CEE Bankwatch claimed in a report released on Wednesday.

The group says the EIB is not doing enough to promote a decoupling of transport from economic growth and a modal shift from road and air to cleaner options like rail, as advocated by a 2001 European commission white paper.

Of E112bn invested by the bank in transport projects globally from 1996 to 2005, CEE Bankwatch says over half has gone to road infrastructure and aviation. The proportion is over two-thirds for projects in central and eastern Europe, it says. Of E2.8bn in industrial loans, nearly a third went to car makers. This is at least three times more than to any other sector.

Matthew Arndt, head of road and rail projects at the EIB, said the report was "well-informed" and "useful" but did not draw out a change in bank funding patterns following the white paper. Since 2001 funding for rail had "taken off" and by 2005 it had surpassed road funding, he told ENDS. In any case, he said, the environmental aims of the white paper had changed.

CEE Bankwatch urged the EIB to develop an overarching strategy for its transport investments to ensure it more actively promotes EU transport policy, especially by biasing funding towards urban public transport and rail. Mr Arndt said an overall strategy would not be compatible with how the bank currently works, which is to judge projects on an individual basis. This process includes environmental criteria, he said.

The group also called on the EIB to halt investments in the aviation sector and to restrict its loans to the road sector and car industry to maintenance, safety improvements and research into better technologies. Annual greenhouse gas reduction targets should be set for the whole transport portfolio, it said.


23 April 2007

CANADA ALARMED OVER KYOTO COSTS

BBC News - 21 April 2007

Kyoto targets would hit Canada hard, says John Baird

Canada could see a deep recession if it were to meet its Kyoto targets for reducing emissions, the country's environment minister has warned.

John Baird claimed petrol prices would leap and thousands of jobs would vanish if Canada tried to reduce greenhouse gases by 6% from 1990 levels by 2012.

Canada was one of the first countries to adopt the Kyoto Protocol in 1998. But the ruling Conservatives have tried to ditch the treaty, which was adopted by a previous Liberal government.

'Unattainable'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who came to power in January last year, has argued the Kyoto timetable is unattainable. Yet his minority government could be faced with implementing the measures after an opposition Liberal bill was passed by the Canadian parliament's lower House.

It will now be considered by the Senate, the unelected upper house, which traditionally rubber-stamps legislation passed to it by the House of Commons.

Mr Baird told a Senate committee the only way the government could meet its Kyoto commitment was to impose costs on the entire economy and, in effect, "manufacture a recession".

A steep rise in natural gas prices, electricity and petrol, driven by the additional carbon price of generating fossil fuels, would have a huge impact on the cost of running a business and would lead to a 25% increase in Canada's unemployment rate by 2009, he said. Some opposition MPs and environmentalists countered that Mr Baird's findings were based on assumptions chosen for their frightening conclusions.


18 April 2007

WORLD BANK 'MUST ACT ON CLIMATE'

BBC News - 12 April 2007

Mr Benn wants the World Bank to set carbon limits

The World Bank needs to set bold new targets to help tackle climate change, UK International Development Secretary Hilary Benn has said.

Speaking ahead of Word Bank meetings in Washington at the weekend, he wants to see new global levels for investment in renewables and energy efficiency.

Mr Benn also wants extra funds available to help poorer nations adapt. He said the scale of the problem of global warming needed to be "matched by the size and strength" of the Bank.

'Helping poorer nations'

Mr Benn is due to outline his proposals in a speech this morning at the School of Oriental And African Studies in London.

Mr Benn says the World Bank needs to take the lead. He is also calling on the Bank to expand its work on rainforest protection by piloting new ways to provide alternative incomes for people living in rainforests, rather than cutting them down.

Mr Benn said the World Bank's priorities should include:

Setting new targets for reducing carbon emissions
Higher targets for investment in renewable energy, such as wind and solar power
Investment in energy in the world's poorest countries
Helping developing countries shift to a low carbon economy
Help for countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as investment in alternative crops

"We know that continuing our current pattern of energy use will have devastating consequences for the Earth's climate and people's lives," said Mr Benn.

"The Bank should play the leading role in promoting cleaner and more efficient approaches, not just in energy - but in transport, carbon-efficient buildings and protecting forests too."

He added that the UK was ready to do its part through the new £800m Environmental Transformation Fund. Recently announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown, it will provide resources for a range of activities being financed under the UK's Clean Energy Investment Framework.


18 April 2007

RYANAIR CONSIDERS LAUNCH OF LONG-HAUL AIRLINE TO USA

Associated Press, London - 12 April 2007

LONDON (AP) ? Budget carrier Ryanair is considering launching a separate airline that would fly long-haul between Europe and the United States around the turn of the decade. Ryanair on Thursday confirmed comments made in an interview by Chief Executive Michael O'Leary that he has already had speculative approaches from U.S. airports about setting up a service.

More competition is expected on trans atlantic routes after the European Union approved an aviation deal with the United States last month to open up the restricted routes to new rivals.

The "Open Skies" deal, which takes effect from the end of March 2008, will allow airlines to fly from anywhere in the EU to any point in the U.S., shedding limitations that also discourage them from charging what they like or combining with other carriers.

O'Leary told trade magazine Flight International that the new airline could fly to five or six U.S. cities from European bases and offer one-way fares as low as $12. It would serve secondary U.S. airports such as Baltimore and Providence in Rhode Island and would also have "premium class" seating.

"By mid-2009, we will be carrying 70 million passengers at 23 bases across Europe," he told the magazine. "It will be relatively straightforward for us to do a deal for 40 to 50 long-haul aircraft and connect these bases trans-atlantically."

Ryanair is not the only airline to speculate on joining the transatlantic route to the U.S. ? Zoom Airlines Ltd., the U.K. unit of Canada's Zoom Airlines Inc., said separately it plans to start what it describes as low-cost flights between London's Gatwick Airport and New York beginning June 21.

OUR COMMENT: This was inevitable once the clear skies agreement was signed. Goodbye to any solution to climate change if low cost Atlantic air flights take off. BAA must be regretting its offer to cap flights at Stansted to 35 mppa! Think how many passengers could be attracted to the Jumbos? Think too of all the extra noise and pollution from more long haul aircraft. This sudden announcement also shows how difficult it is to predict the future fleet mix at any airport. Decisions of individuals like O?Leary can have huge effects on the airport environment.

Pat Dale


7 April 2007

CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT REACHED

BBC News - 6 April 2007

The impact of climate change has been a major source of dispute

Agreement has been reached among delegates at a major conference on climate change in Brussels.

A final accord was struck after delays caused by disagreement over the likely impact of global warming.

"What we have is a very good document," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report is expected to say climate change is already having major impacts on the natural world. The panel believes there is also a discernible, though less marked, impact on human societies.

Scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries met through the night, trying to agree on the wording of a summary for policy makers. Several delegations, including the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India, had asked for the final version to reflect less certainty than the draft.

The report will be sent to world leaders in time for a G8 summit of industrialised nations in June. It is the second in a series of IPCC reports coming out this year, together making up its fourth global climate assessment.

The first element, on the science of climate change, released in February, concluded it is at least 90% likely that human activities are principally responsible for the warming observed since 1950.

The third part, due in May, will focus on ways of curbing the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations and temperature. A fourth report in November will sum up all the findings.


7 April 2007

BILLIONS FACE CLIMATE CHANGE RISK

BBC News - 6 April 2007

The impact of climate change has been a major source of dispute

Billions of people face shortages of food and water and increased risk of flooding, experts at a major climate change conference have warned.

The bleak conclusion came ahead of the publication of a key report by hundreds of international environmental experts.

Agreement on the final wording of the report was reached after a marathon debate through the night in Brussels.

People living in poverty would be worst affected by the effects of climate change, the gathered experts said.

"It's the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Mr Pachauri said those people were also the least equipped to deal with the effects of such changes.

Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Outlining the report's findings, Martin Parry, co-chairman of IPCC Working Group II, said evidence showed climate change was having a direct effect on animals, plants and water.

"For the first time, we are no longer arm-waving with models; this is empirical data, we can actually measure it," he told a news conference.

Key findings of the report include:

75-250 million people across Africa could face water shortages by 2020

Crop yields increase could increase by 20% in East and Southeast Asia, but decrease by up to 30% in Central and South Asia

Agriculture fed by rainfall could drop by 50% in some African countries by 2020

20-30% of all plant and animal species at increased risk of extinction if temperatures rise between 1.5-2.5C

Glaciers and snow cover expected to decline, reducing water availability in countries supplied by melt water The report states that the observed increase in the global average temperature was "very likely" due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The scientific work reviewed by IPCC scientists includes more than 29,000 pieces of data on observed changes in physical and biological aspects of the natural world.

Eighty-nine percent of these, it believes, are consistent with a warming world.

Year of reports

Scientists and politicians have welcomed the report.

"This further underlines both how urgent it is to reach global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how important it is for us all to adapt to the climate change that is already under way," European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told the Reuters news agency.

Farewell to a melting glacier
Briny future for Malta

"This is another wake up call for governments, industry and individuals. We now have a clearer indication of the potential impact of global warming, some of which is already inevitable," said Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society.

"The challenge is now to support those people living in the most vulnerable areas so that they are able to adapt and improve their ways of life."

The wording of the summary of the report, which will be sent to world leaders in time for a G8 summit of industrialised nations in June, was finally decided after scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries worked through the night.

Several delegations, including the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India, had asked for the final version to reflect less certainty than the draft.

It is the second in a series of IPCC reports coming out this year, together making up its fourth global climate assessment.

The first element, on the science of climate change, released in February, concluded it was at least 90% likely that human activities are principally responsible for the warming observed since 1950.

The third part, due in May, will focus on ways of curbing the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations and temperature. A fourth report in November will sum up all the findings.


7 April 2007

GOOD NEWS

Supreme court rules against Bush in global warming case

James Vicini - Reuters - 2 April 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a defeat for the Bush administration, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a U.S. government agency has the power under the clean air law to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming.

The nation's highest court by a 5-4 vote said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "has offered no reasoned explanation" for its refusal to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions from new cars and trucks that contribute to climate change.

The ruling came in one of the most important environmental cases to reach the Supreme Court in decades. It marked the first high court decision in a case involving global warming.

Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are also emitted by cars, trucks and factories into the atmosphere. They can trap heat close to the earth's surface like the glass walls of a greenhouse.

Such emissions have risen steeply over the past century and many scientists see a connection between this rise and an increase in global average temperatures and a related increase in extreme weather, wildfires, melting glaciers and other damage to the environment.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the court majority, rejected the administration's argument that it lacked the power to regulate such emissions. He said the EPA's decision was "arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law."

In sending the case back for further proceedings, Stevens said the high court did not decide which policy the EPA must follow. "We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute," he wrote.

The Bush administration has consistently rejected capping greenhouse gas emissions as bad for business and U.S. workers.

The court's four most conservative members -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both appointees of President George W. Bush, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- dissented.


7 April 2007

NEW REPORT PUBLISHED ON LINKS BETWEEN
AIR QUALITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

DEFRA - 3 April 2007

More consideration must be given to the links between climate change and air quality pollutants, according to a new report published by the Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG).

Air quality in the UK has improved considerably in recent years as emissions of pollutants have been cut thanks to legislation and technological advances.

However, the impacts of pollution controls on climate change and how climate change will affect air quality in the future is uncertain. That is why Ministers commissioned the AQEG to consider this issue.

The AQEG report found that:

Air quality pollutants, such as particulate matter and ozone, influence climate change. Control of the gases that lead to the formation of particulate matter and ozone can therefore affect both air quality and climate change. Current international climate change policies do not recognise these impacts.

Hot summers like the 2003 heatwave are likely to become the norm by 2040, leading to increased summer smogs unless emissions affecting ozone concentrations are substantially reduced. Episodes of winter smog, by contrast, are likely to be less prevalent.

It is essential that the interlinkages between emissions of air quality and climate change pollutants are recognised in assessments of the impacts of policies and developments for industry, transport, housing etc.

Most measures that lead to a reduction in demand or an improvement in the efficiency of an activity or product, benefit both air quality and climate change. Such measures should be actively promoted.

Local, National and European policies must recognise the interactions between air quality and climate change pollutants in developing measures to reduce them.

Professor Mike Pilling, AQEG chairman, said:

"The report draws together the most up-to-date research on the linkages between climate change and air quality. It examines the scientific background to these interactions and identifies synergies, where measures to improve air quality can help to tackle climate change, and trade-offs where policy measures in the two areas act in opposition. I hope this report is a useful contribution to this important policy area."


6 April 2007

"WE'LL DITCH SECOND RUNWAY"

Shadow transport minister?s election pledge over Stansted Airport expansion

Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 29 March 2007

Tory transport supremo Chris Grayling this week pledged to ground plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport if his party wins the next General Election. The shadow minister stood in front of the Three Horseshoes at Mole Hill Green ? which will disappear if BAA?s expansion takes off ? and promised to protect the East Herts and Uttlesford countryside from Stansted becoming a second Heathrow with around 68mppa by 2030.

Mr Grayling said simply: ?I don?t think the second runway is a good idea?.

He expects the next election to be in 2010. While he admitted it might then be too late to reverse an earlier Labour decision, backed by a public inquiry, he stressed: ?If the decision is waiting on my desk, we do not support it?.

His pledge provoked a pithy riposte from Labour minister and Harlow MP Bill Ramell: ?I?ve always opposed a second runway at Stansted, but the Tories are being a bit disingenuous. The decision will be made by Uttlesford District Council, and planning law dictates that objections must be based in planning law, not personal opinions. Conveniently, the Tory transport spokesman?s comments may just mean the issues will never cross his desk because he?s set out a prior view, regardless of the planning merits. So, he can safely oppose it sure in the knowledge it will never be put to the test.?

Mr Grayling believes the main fight is now over the second runway, as BAA?s application to fully utilise the existing runway with around 35 mppa is to be determined by a public inquiry starting next month.

His assurances on G2 were welcomed both by the party faithful in Uttlesford and Stop Stansted Expansion. After a tour, including Dunmow, Thaxted, and Stansted, and a meet and greet session, Mr Grayling explained his opposition. ?This is a nice country area, with an airport alongside it. It's not a large brownfield site waiting for development.?

He said conservatives were committed to damping down demand for flights on environmental grounds, but did not want to destroy the aviation industry. He believed the economic benefits of travel were best directed to regions in need of regeneration, such as Liverpool, and said airport expansion should be a ?strategic development for the nation?.

Mr Grayling said that the infrastructure of the South East was already stretched and did not need the burden of airport growth added to other housing development.

That was a message he intended to deliver to BAA this week, too. ?We do not believe we should be building lots of new airport capacity?, he said. Today (Thursday) the Liberal Democrats were making their anti-airport position clear with a visit from their Shadow Environment Secretary Chris Huhne. He will visit Le Knells, the listed building at Coopers End facing demolition if the Stansted plans go ahead. He will tell owners John and Rosemary Welsh, members of SSE, that the party opposes all new runways in the South East.


6 April 2007

UK CARBON EMISSIONS RISE IN 2006

ENDS Europe DAILY 2294 - 30 March 2007

The UK's carbon dioxide emissions rose by 1.2 per cent in 2006, preliminary figures released by the environment ministry show.

Environment minister David Miliband admitted on Thursday the rise was "worrying" and put it down to a switch to coal in the electricity sector due to higher gas prices. Industry ministry figures showed that power sector CO2 grew by 4.5 per cent in 2006.

The increase does not jeopardise the UK's effort to meet its Kyoto protocol target but does push the government further away from a self-imposed goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. The figure also underlines the ambition of UK proposals earlier this month to set much deeper and legally-binding cuts in emission for 2020 and 2050.

Green group WWF called the increase a "disgrace for Britain" and claimed in its own report that power sector emissions had actually increased by 6 per cent in 2006.

The government said the UK remained on track to exceed its wider Kyoto target to reduce a basket of six greenhouse gases by 12.5 per cent by 2012. Emissions in 2006 stood at 15 per cent below 1990 levels and will drop to almost 24 per cent below by 2020, it said.

In the same announcement the ministry released figures showing the UK was on course to meet air pollution emission targets under the EU national emission ceilings directive. All air pollutant emissions were down or stable, except for mercury, nickel, selenium and the persistent organic pollutant HCB, whose emissions rose slightly.

In a related development earlier this week the government unveiled plans to provide an extra two million tonnes of woodfuel a year by 2020. The plan will save 400,000 tonnes of carbon annually, the government says.


6 April 2007

SOMEWHAT OVERDUE?

Government consults on carbon pricing for airlines

News Environment - 2 April 2007

The government has launched a nine-week long consultation on how the aviation sector can play its part in combating climate change through the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

The EU ETS places a total cap on the amount of carbon dioxide that industries covered by the scheme can emit and allocates allowances to cover emissions within this. If airlines within the scheme emit more than their allocation of carbon allowances, they will have to buy an equivalent number allowances from the carbon market. Those that emit less - for example, as a result of introducing more efficient technology - will be able to sell their allowances. Putting a price on emitting carbon is designed to create an incentive for industry to invest in low carbon technology.

Aviation minister Gillian Merron said: "We have led the debate in Europe in calling for aviation to be brought into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Aviation plays an important role in our economy and a balance needs to be struck and maintained between environmental, economic and social considerations. Aviation should meet its environmental costs and emissions trading is the best option for this."

Environment and climate change minister Ian Pearson added: "Much of UK industry already plays its part in the EU ETS which now covers nearly half of the UK's carbon emissions. While still relatively small, aviation is the fastest growing source of emissions in the UK and, like other sectors of the economy, the aviation industry needs to take its share of responsibility for tackling climate change."

The consultation seeks responses on which flights should be included in the scheme - for example, those arriving in and departing from the EU or just those flying between EU airports, when aviation should enter the scheme, how the scheme should be regulated, and how allowances will be allocated.

According to the DfT, emissions from aviation grew by 87% between 1990 and 2004 and international aviation accounts for 6% of UK CO2 emissions with domestic aviation accounting for 0.4%. Aviation emissions account for 1.3% of global CO2 emissions.


6 April 2007

EMISSIONS SOAR FROM UK GENERATORS

BBC Online - 28 March 2007

Coal remains a staple fuel for many economies

Carbon dioxide emissions from Britain's power stations have grown markedly in recent years, a report has concluded.

Commissioned by the environmental group WWF from consultants IPA, it found that UK power sector emissions rose by nearly 30% between 1999 and 2006. As gas prices have risen faster than coal, generating companies have used more of the higher carbon fuel.

WWF says that the "dash for gas" of the early 1990s has been replaced by a de facto "roll to coal".

This is a disgrace for Britain

UK power sector emissions were 6% higher in 2006 than in the preceding year, it said. The government admitted that emissions have risen in recent years, but said that could be tackled with new initiatives.

Game talk

"This is a disgrace for Britain, and shows that for the past decade the government has talked a good game on climate change while failing dismally to tackle emissions from this highly polluting sector," said Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF UK.

"If the government is serious about climate change, the power sector has to be brought to heel, either through incentives or legislation, so that coal burn is dramatically reduced."

In the early 1990s, the opening up of North Sea reserves prompted a move to gas, which saw coal-fired power stations close and cleaner gas-fired plants spring up in their place.

Electricity Calculator

Carbon emissions fell as a result - the main reason why Britain was able to adopt a relatively strict Kyoto Protocol target.

"Emissions from electricity generation are down substantially on 1990 levels, the base year for our Kyoto target," said a spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

"They have risen more recently, something we are aiming to stem through measures to bring on more low-carbon energy. Renewable energy in the UK has been growing at a rapid rate over recent years, from only 1.5% in 2001 to almost 5% today, and in May we'll publish our Energy White Paper to develop this and other low-carbon forms of energy even further."

Low pressure

Since 2002, coal prices have risen by about one-third and gas prices by two-thirds, with gas showing a lot more volatility.

The various mechanisms designed to bring down emissions, such as the UK's Renewables Obligation and the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), have not been enough to combat this financial pressure towards coal.

"It is conceivable that without these measures, emissions from the power sector would have been much higher," the report suggested. "However, the policy framework has clearly been insufficient to put the power sector onto a downward path."

IPA sees a high price for carbon as a key driver towards lowering emissions in the power sector.

The government admitted last year that it would fail to meet its longstanding commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010. WWF said that even the government's longer-term targets, announced in the Climate Change Bill earlier this month, of CO2 reductions of about 30% by 2020 and 60% by 2050, would be in doubt unless it curbed the growth in coal burning for electricity.


6 April 2007

CLIMATE CHANGE "COULD CREATE 200m REFUGEES"

Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor - The Times - 1 April 2007

EQUATORIAL lands that are home to hundreds of millions of people will become uninhabitable as food and water run out due to climate change, scientists will warn this week.

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be published on Friday, will warn that the temperature rises of 2-3C predicted by 2050 spell global disaster for both humanity and the environment.

It will say that up to 40% of animal and plant species face extinction as rising temperatures destroy the ecosystems that support them. And it will point out that the 29 billion tons of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere each year are acidifying the oceans ? threatening to destroy coral reefs, plankton and many commercial fish species.

By the middle of the century, the report will warn, more than 200m people could have been forced from their native lands by rising sea levels, floods and droughts, with many more facing early deaths from malnutrition and heat stress.

The report comes amid government embarrassment over the latest figures for Britain?s greenhouse gas emissions. Last week David Miliband, the environment secretary, admitted they had risen by 1.5% last year despite repeated Labour pledges to cut them.

?The picture that emerges from the research is quite appalling,? said Rachel Warren, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and one of the IPCC?s senior authors. ?It is just horrendous realising what damage climate change can do to ecosystems.?

The IPCC report is a collation of the best peer-reviewed scientific research into the impact of climate change, published over the past five years or so.

It will say that many of the worst effects on humans will be caused by water ? or lack of it ? in the form of floods, drought, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and ocean acidification.

Nearly a third of the world?s land surface may be at risk of extreme drought by 2099, compared with about 1%. Such a change would destroy farmland and water resources and lead to mass migrations of ?environmental refugees?.

The IPCC will also warn that the Amazon rainforest could be in danger. Professor Diana Liverman, director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, said the region was already experiencing an alarming reduction in rain.

?The warming of the oceans seems to be changing the water cycle,? she said.

In lands close to the equator, especially in Africa, declining crop yields could leave hundreds of millions of people unable to grow food.

In Europe, one of the most obvious early impacts will be the destruction of Alpine ski resorts, with about 70% losing snow cover by 2050.

The IPCC will say it is ?too late? to avert some degree of climate change. It will call on humanity to cooperate on adapting to the changes ? while trying to limit them by cutting emissions.


6 April 2007

UK MINISTERS LACK POLITICAL WILL
TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE

Kevin Donovan - News Environment - 31 March 2007

After figures showed a rise in carbon emissions by 1.25 per cent last year, the Government was condemned this week for lacking the political will to tackle climate change.

Environmental groups said Britain was making no real progress on cutting emissions, while ministers blamed the increase on a switch from gas to coal for electricity generation.

Last year, the UK produced total greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 658.1 million tonnes. This was down about 15 per cent from the 1990 figure of 775.2 million tonnes.

But output rose from 544.2 million tonnes in 2005 to 560.6 million tonnes in 2006, a significant rise compared with previous years.

Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth, said: "These pathetic figures highlight the need for tougher action to tackle climate change. Government proposals for a new climate-change law must include annual targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions by at least 3 per cent each year. This would force successive governments to put climate change at the core of all their policies and ensure that the UK moves towards a low-carbon economy."

"Most of the solutions to climate change already exist. It is the political will that's lacking."

Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace said: "2006 was the year of government green spin, but the numbers don't lie. For all the announcements and new reports, only one thing really matters - is New Labour reducing Britain's carbon footprint? And the answer is no."

This week's figures do not include emissions from the UK's share of international aviation and shipping, which are rising even faster. Emissions from international aviation rose 5.7 per cent between 2004 and 2005, due to an increase in the number of flights. Between 1990 and 2005, emissions from aviation fuel use more than doubled. A public consultation on what the Government's new climate law should contain ends in June.

David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, said yesterday: "Any increase in carbon dioxide emissions is worrying, even though these figures do not include the effect of emissions trading."

"While these figures are provisional, they underline why concerted effort to tackle climate change, both from Government and wider society, is absolutely critical. The Climate Change Bill is a central part of that drive. It will set the long-term legal framework for reducing emissions over the next 45 years and beyond, helping to enable the transition to a low carbon economy and provide a foundation for galvanising international resolve."

"Despite this year's provisional figures, we have a good foundation to build on. We're still on track to almost double our Kyoto commitment, with an estimated 23.6 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2010, and we expect the long-term downward trend to continue."

He said the projected increase for last year demonstrated the effect external forces, such as fluctuating fossil fuel prices, could have on annual emissions. While he acknowledged the need for decisive action, Mr Miliband said there was evidence of a real shift in attitudes.

"In 2005, household carbon dioxide emissions decreased 4.6 per cent on the previous year and I'm hopeful that, when the final 2006 figures are available, there may be evidence of a continuing trend as more people make changes to their everyday lives," he said.

Peter Ainsworth, the Shadow Environment Secretary, said: "Only last Monday, David Miliband was boasting about how well the Government is doing on cutting carbon emissions. But these figures prove that, contrary to what he has said, we are still heading in the wrong direction and have nothing to boast about. For all the spin and rhetoric, Labour is failing on climate change."


6 April 2007

NOT ONLY IS THE GOVERNMENT FAILING
FIRMS FAIL TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Juliette Jowit, Environment Editor - The Observer - 1 April 2007

Companies and public bodies in Britain face expensive repair bills, penalties and even litigation because they are not adapting infrastructure and business plans to the threat of climate change, the government's UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) has warned.

The United Nations will publish the second part of its latest global assessment of climate change this week, warning of heatwaves, droughts and big storms, which will cause famine, rising sea levels, mass migrations and even wars.

While more companies are committing to reduce their share of greenhouse gases, plans to adapt to changing weather patterns are further behind, said Chris West, UKCIP's director: 'It's a second response for many people. Because the climate change signal is arising out of a sea of [statistical] noise people are slow to rise to the signal.'

Some organisations are beginning to adapt to climate change, including the Ministry of Defence, the Highways Agency, and the Environment Agency; but many businesses and public authorities seemed to be put off because mitigation is easier to measure and adaptation appears expensive, West said.

'It's not the response that everybody's been bombarded with over the last few years,' he told The Observer. 'It's a hard concept to grasp and I think business has been slow.'

Examples of the problem included new schools and other building designs not taking account of expected hotter temperatures, greater storms and rising seas he said. Taking the example of schools, he said, if temperatures become unbearable, there would be a risk that private builders could be penalised for poor conditions, and possibly sued by shareholders. Education authorities could be taken to court by pupils claiming their education was damaged. Such problems applied to much of Britain's infrastructure, valued by the Treasury at £800bn.

'Assuming it lasts 100 years that's £8bn a year we need to spend just replacing it,' said West.

'How much of that £8bn is being spent on things that are going to be fit for purpose for their lifetime? I have no evidence that the amount of that £8bn being spent [on adaptive structures] is anything greater than zero.'

West's concerns appeared to be supported by the British Chambers of Commerce. A spokesman said: 'We haven't really got a position on that, and [we] don't think many businesses are that far down the line.'

Peter Montagnon, director of investment affairs for the Association of British Insurers, said they did not have research on how prepared businesses were. 'This is about good management - good risk management and good management of operations,' he explained.


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