Sunday

3rd Mar 2024

UK signals u-turn on climate deal

British environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, has suggested a u-turn in climate policies, suggesting voluntary targets for cutting emissions when the Kyoto climate agreement ends in 2012.

Environmentalists say that, without mandatory targets, the climate deal is effectively dead.

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Mrs Beckett was speaking ahead of a climate change summit in Montreal in Canada next week, where she represents the whole EU in talks to find out what is to follow Kyoto.

She said it would be impossible to achieve consensus on compulsory targets, according to UK Sunday paper the Observer.

Instead of compulsory national targets, future agreements could set targets for "sectors" - potentially transport, domestic energy use or industry, or even individual commercial sectors. Another idea is voluntary targets, she said.

"Voluntary targets are not worth the paper they are written on," Stephen Tindale, head of Greenpeace UK, commented to the Observer. "Without mandatory targets [the Kyoto Protocol] is effectively dead."

The UK is currently embroiled in a row with the European Commission on greenhouse gas emissions quotas, with EU courts set to rule on Wednesday if Brussels' refusal to accept London's delays over 2004 emissions planning is legal or not.

Last week a UN report concluded the EU as a bloc has achieved a reduction of only 1.4 percent in emissions from 1990 to 2003, far from the minus 8 percent target in 2012 that the Europeans have set themselves in the framework of Kyoto.

Goals set by the EU to increase the share of renewable energy also seem to have failed.

The target formulated by the European Commission to increase the share of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2020 is technologically impossible, according to the Italy-based Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), an institute financed by the EU itself.

In particular, solar cells would need significantly more start-up financing, as occurred in the past with nuclear energy, carbon and oil, according to an IES expert quoted by Die Welt.

But most EU research money is still spent on non-renewable energy production, the institute said.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, told the BBC's Sunday AM programme that the need to cut long-term carbon emissions made keeping nuclear capacity an attractive option.

French industry minister Francois Loos took another angle on energy though, urging the EU to raise limits on the use of bio-fuels in petrol and diesel.

In an interview with La Tribune newspaper, he said, according to Reuters: "For my part, I am ready to modify the French limits on diestar [bio-diesel] in gas oil. And I will go to Brussels to ask for a modification of the European levels [of bio-fuels] in petrol."

France is a large agricultural producer and aims to have bio-fuel make up 7 percent of all fuels by 2010.

EU states lose grip on climate change targets

Further efforts are needed to tackle climate change, the UN has warned in a fresh report, with greenhouse gas emissions in many EU states rising instead of decreasing.

EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it

Member states failed on Wednesday to agree to the EU's long-awaited Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive, after 13 EU ambassadors declared abstention and one, Sweden, expressed opposition (there was no formal vote), EUobserver has learned.

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

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