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  • INDIA AND CHINA RELEASE A JOINT STATEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

    The Indian prime minister and the Chinese president have pledged to cooperate in tackling climate change, and in a joint statement have urged rich countries to honour their financial commitments.

    Chinaand India are respectively the first and third biggest greenhouse gas emitters. During Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in May, they released a joint statement announcing their commitment towards greater cooperation in the battle against climate change. The two nations decided to strengthen their partnership in clean energy technologies, energy conservation and efficiency and sustainable transportation, and stressed that they are “undertaking ambitious actions domestically on combating climate change … despite the enormous scale of their challenges in terms of social and economic development and poverty eradication”.

    In the statement, India and China call on developed countries to enhance their efforts to reduce global carbon emissions by raising their pre-2020 climate goals, and especially urge them to keep their promise to provide finance, technology and other needed support to developing countries, thus helping them reduce their own emissions. In fact, wealthy countries have committed to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to emerging countries, but so far thefunding has been slow in coming.

    China and India have not submitted their plans to cut carbon emissions (the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) to the UN yet, but they say they will do so in time for the global climate summit that will be held in Paris in December.

    The United States and China – the world’s two main emitters – have recently agreed to set stronger limits on carbon emissions starting from 2025, and after this plan has been issued India has been urged to make its own commitments too; however, Modi has highlighted that the country can’t commit to emissions cuts at the moment, as it needs to industrialize and eradicate poverty, and said it will focus on fostering the use of clean energies. In relation to this matter, he reaffirmed his intention to quintuple India’s renewable energy capacity by 2022.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 15 May 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • EU COMMISSION ACCUSED OF TAKING BACKWARDS STEP ON TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE

    In this year’s Country Specific Recommendations, the EU Commission removed all calls to cut fossil fuel subsidies, thus triggering environmentalists’ strong criticism.

    During its yearly audit of 26 economies in May, the European Commission dropped all demands to end subsidies for fossil fuels, apart from a minor call for Luxembourg to “broaden” its environmental tax base. Campaigners – who accused the Commission of “cowardice” – have therefore raised doubts over the European Union’s commitment to tackling climate change, stating that this constitutes a major backwards step in the bloc’s policy; in fact, last year the EU’s executive arm directly addressed member states and demanded the enhancement of environmentally-friendly measures, for instance by urging 8 countries to start taxing pollution and 17 to boost renewables, electric grids and energy efficiency.

    Datafrom the International Monetary Fund reveal that the European Union’s fossil fuel subsidies were worth €79 billion in 2011, and according to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) the UK is channelling €1.2 billion a year – mainly deriving from tax exemptions – into oil and gas projects. Other data from the ODI show that the world is spending half a trillion dollars a year on fostering fossil fuels’ production, and in 2012 the International Energy Agency stated that this is six times more than what it is assigned to the development of renewable energies.

    Accordingly, the existing situation outlines a “triple-lose scenario” for the planet: subsidies are channelled into high-carbon assets that can’t be exploited if the world is to avoid temperatures rising above 2°C, and this deprives investments in cleaner alternatives and undermines the chances of an effective global pact.

    Europe is accountable for a tenth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and together with the US is leading the battle against climate change (for example, it pledged to cut emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels), but its latest inaction on polluting subsidies clearly goes against its commitment.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 15 May 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • CHINA’S COAL CONSUMPTION KEEPS DECLINING

    Reveal data shows that coal use has dropped in China in the first four months of 2015, accelerating a trend already observed in 2014.

    Greenpeacereleased new data revealing that China’s coal consumption fell by nearly 8% in the first four months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014. This analysis follows previously-released data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluding that China’s coal use dropped by 2.9% in 2014, and therefore confirms this trend and suggests that the use of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel by its main emitter could be in a terminal decline.

    Moreover, Greenpeace estimated that the coal decline would lead to a 5% drop in China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, bringing them down by an amount equal to the total CO2 output coming from the United Kingdom over the same timespan.

    The fall in coal use can be explained in light of the state of China’s economy, for which 2015 may be the worst year in 25 years, but it is also due to new regulations that address the problem of air pollution and make the industry more competitive, to the ongoing “war” on smog, and to the shift to a services-driven economy.

    The environmental organization stated it based the findings on various sources, including China’s industrial output figures for April and custom data showing a 38% drop in coal imports. However, Chinese coal statistics have often been called into question, as many analysts maintained that data were being under-reported by local governments and businesses; nevertheless, Lauri Myllyvirta, the analyst who calculated the figures for Greenpeace, stated that the new statistics should be trusted “because in the current economic situation no government has an incentive to publish falling numbers for industrial growth”.

    If the reduction continues until the end of the year and the data will confirmed to be right, this drop would be the largest year-on-year fall ever recorded in any country.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 14 May 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • UN CLIMATE CHIEF TAKES STOCK OF THE SITUATION IN VIEW OF DECEMBER SUMMIT

    Christiana Figueres described the efforts that are being made to strike an effective climate deal, and highlighted that this agreement will boost – and not slow down – economic growth.

    The head of the UN climate convention Christiana Figueres took stock of the current situation in view of the much-anticipated climate summit that will be held in Paris in December, where nearly 200 states are expected to reach an agreement on a global and binding deal to tackle climate change. The UN climate chief particularly stressed that – unlike what many have asserted – a global climate deal would not be a “silver bullet” and would not slow down economic growth, but, on the contrary, it would boost it, as it would wipe out greenhouse gas emissions.

    Figueres stated that a “framework agreement” that will form the foundation of long term commitments is now being developed by diplomats, but that it will take time to deliver, and its results “will be harvested over time”. She also maintained that the aim is to strike an “enabling and facilitative” deal rather than one focused on imposing sanctions, and that all countries – irrespective of their sizes – will have to contribute “in a transparent and measurable way”. Also, for the deal to be effective, more offers of financial and clean technology assistance to help developing countries shift away from fossil fuels will have to be made.

    States are expected to issue their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to describe what levels of carbon cuts they can contribute ahead of the Paris summit, but so far only 38 countries – collectively representing only 30% of global emissions – have set out their plans. However, Figueres believes there will be “another wave” of submissions in June and during the summer, before the October 1 deadline, when the UN will start to review the offers.

    It is critical to come to an agreement as soon as possible if the world wants to avoid catastrophic consequences; in fact, last year a UN panel of researchers stated that the world has less than 30 years of emissions at current levels before an unbearable level of warming – more than 2C compared to pre-industrial levels – is reached.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 14 May 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • SHIPPING SECTOR LACKS TRANSPARENCY ON GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

    Cargo owners are demanding more transparency as current rules in the maritime transport sector forbid the publication of carbon footprint data.

    International Maritime Organization (IMO)discussed viable ways to track down the energy efficiency of the entire global merchant fleet, which counts c. 50,000 ships. Countries agreed to collect information on the carbon footprint of their ships, but there’s no clarity yet about what kind of data will have to be collected or about how this information will be used.

    Hitherto many transport buyers have signed up to the Clean Shipping Index, a tool for cargo owners to select clean ships and minimize their own environmental footprint. This register shows the environmental performance of more than 2000 ships from 50 carriers, but for every ship covered, 24 are not, so companies often have to guess the environmental impact of their maritime transport and are not able to supply transparent data to their customers.

    Some countries, such as Norway and Ireland, have already expressed their support for measures imposing transparent reporting on states, but others object that data from individual ships are commercially sensitive and should not be made public. Because of these disagreements, the current international policy regulating emissions in the sipping sector is completely unsatisfactory, as IMO can collect data for its own analysis, but can’t publish it for shipping clients.

    Given that the marine transport sector is accountable for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, new regulations need to be implemented, or the shipping share will probably double by 2050. In relation to this matter, Jytte Guteland, a Swedish politician, stressed that “if the maritime sector would like to be a leading sector in the future … it needs to also be one of the sectors who takes responsible actions for climate change”.

    The European Union has already committed to registering the emissions of large ships visiting its ports starting from 2018.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • ANTARCTIC BIGGEST ICE SHELF AT RISK OF COLLAPSE

    The biggest ice shelf of the Antarctic, Larsen C, is thinning from above and below and could soon collapse, with major consequences for global sea levels.

    A team of scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and led by Dr Paul Holland analysed the condition of the Larsen C ice shelf, which is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula, and found out that it is thinning due to warmer ocean and air temperatures that are causing losses of ice from both above and below. Indeed, researchers used satellite radar imagery taken between 1998 and 2012, and discovered that throughout this timespan Larsen C lost 4 metres of thickness.

    Being Larsen C more than twice the size of Wales, its collapse – which, according to Dr Holland’s team, could happen within decades – could contribute significantly to sea level rise. Scientists recently warned that the collapse of ice shelves in the Antarctica could add metres to the global sea levels, and Professor David Vaughan, who is director of science at the BAS, stated that the collapse of Larsen C alone could lead to a few centimetres of sea level rise, and therefore poses a serious threat on coastal communities around the world.

    The study was published in May in the journal Cryosphere, and is of particular interest as it reveals that, even though losses are significant both from above and below, the main driver is ice loss from below; in fact, the shelf is floating on increasingly warm ocean currents, and this is causing a loss of around 28 centimetres of ice a year from below. The ice shelf is also thinning from above, as the layer of snow on top is becoming more compact due to warmer air, which is melting the snow and filling into air pockets; more specifically, it is estimated that this is contributing another 3.7 centimetres a year to the thinning of the ice shelf.

    Dr Vaughan stressed the importance of the finding that oceanic warming is the major driver of the melting of the ice, and said that “if, as this piece of work is beginning to indicate, the oceans have a role in the Antarctic Peninsula as well then actually we have to start thinking about ice shelves around the rest of the Antarctic on those same time scales of several decades”.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • SEA LEVEL RISE IS ACCELERATING FASTER THAN THOUGHT

    New researches prove the IPCC climate modelling right and belie previous studies that suggested that the rate of sea level rise had slowed down in the 1990s.

    A new study conducted by the University of Tasmania and led by Dr Christopher Watson analysed sea level data between the years 1993 and 2014, and found that –unlike what previous researches maintained - sea level rise accelerated throughout this timespan; in fact, foregoing figures of the rise during the early 1990s were too high, and gave the false impression that the rate of sea level rise had decreased by 0.058 mm/year2 between 1993 and 2014, while it actually sped up by between 0.041 and 0.058 mm/year2 .

    Sea level rise is calculated through tide measuring instruments placed around the world and, since 1993, through altimetric satellites, but both these instruments may supply imperfect data. Indeed, tide gauges sit on lands that are constantly shifting, and satellite instrumentation has lost some of its accuracy during the 1990s due to degradation, which led to imperfections in the measurement of the slight but significant changes occurred in sea levels because of climate change. Dr Watson’s team compared the two data sets, and was therefore able to identify where each was going wrong.

    The outcome of this new research is into line with the modelling of the UN’s climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Professor Jonathan Gregory from the University of Reading, who is one of the lead authors of the IPCC’s most recent climate report, said the study was indeed “interesting and useful” and supported the predictions of the models.

    The IPCC’s landmark report in 2013 stated that sea had risen on average by 3.2 mm per year since 1993, and Professor Gregory’s report predicted that sea level could rise between 28cm and 98cm by 2100 depending on the amount of human-caused carbon emissions.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 12 May 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

     

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • SHELL AUTHORISED TO RESTART ARCTIC DRILLING OFF ALASKA

    The US government’s decision to approve Shell’s plan for oil exploration off Alaska’s Arctic coast triggered fierce opposition from environmentalists who fear an ecological disaster.

    In May, Royal Dutch Shell won the US government’s approval to restart drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic, whose seas contain an estimated 24 billion barrels of oil according to the US Geological Survey. Abigail Ross Hopper, who is director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the body that approved Shell’s plan, said that all the possible consequences of the exploration have been considered, and that “any offshore exploratory activities will continue to be subject to rigorous safety standards”.

    However, even BOEM’s own Environmental Impact Statement warned that “there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills”, and environmentalists and campaign groups have fiercely opposed the agency’s decision, and believe it hasn’t adequately assessed the potential safety and environmental impacts of restarting drilling operations in the Arctic. In fact, especially given that the nearest coast guard station supplied with adequate equipment for facing a spill is more than 1,000 miles away, they hold that Shell’s activities are likely to lead to an ecological disaster in the region on an even greater scale than the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which caused the death of 11 people and spilled almost 5 million barrels of crude into the ocean.

    In 2012, Shell had been forced to suspend its drilling operations in the Arctic due to the failure of a key piece of safety equipment that would be used to tackle oil spills and after the Kulluk, the drilling rig it was using, ran aground after it was being towed back to port. Noble Drilling, a company that was working for Shell, had to pay $12 million of fines and community payments, and Shell wasn’t able to restart its operations in the following years because of various legal problems and setbacks.

    According to the executive director of Alaska Wilderness League Cindy Shogan, Shell’s 2015 are even riskier than the 2012 ones, and Tim Donaghy, senior research specialist at Greenpeace, stated that the US government’s approval of such a plan is an example of regulators “looking the other way while Shell gets away with shortcomings that could lead to a disaster in the Arctic”. Also, many say this operation could undermine the Obama administration’s efforts to tackle climate change and foster the use of clean sources of energy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 12 May 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • ANTARCTICA’S ICE MELTING RATE IS COSTANTLY INCREASING

    New researches show that Antarctica has lost an average amount of 92 billion tons of ice per year since 2003, even though the cause has not been scientifically demonstrated yet.

    Dr Christopher Harig and Dr Frederik Simons, geoscientists at Princeton University in the US, used a US-German research satellite called GRACE (short for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) to measure the extent and pattern of increased ice loss in the Antarctica. Data supplied by the satellite have been reported in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and show that the loss has been dramatic especially in the West Antarctic region, where the 121 billion tons a year rate of ice loss registered in 2008 had doubled by 2014.

    Since 2003, the continent has shed ice at the ever-increasing rate of six billion tons a year, while the West Antarctica’s melting rate hastened and reached 18 billion tons a year during the same timespan. These figures led researchers to conclude that there has been an annual average loss of 92 billion tons a year in the continent.

    However, scientists are not positive yet about the cause of this phenomenon, even though Dr Simons highlighted that “with the rapidly accelerating rates at which the ice is melting, and in the light of other, well-publicised lines of evidence, most scientists would be hard-pressed to find mechanisms that do not include human-made climate change”.

    Dr Harig stressed the consequences ice melting is having on sea levels, and stated that “if we continue losing mass in those areas, the loss can generate a self-reinforcing feedback, whereby we will be losing more and more i.e., ultimately raising sea levels”.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 11 May 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

     

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • INDONESIA SHOULD STRENGTHEN ANTI-DEFORESTATION POLICY TO REDUCE GHG EMISSIONS

    Deforestation of Indonesia’s jungles is releasing carbon pollution back into the atmosphere, driving the bulk of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Indonesiais not among the countries with the highest amount of emissions coming from industry or the energy sector, but the widespread deforestation its jungles are subjected to is causing the release of carbon pollution back into the atmosphere, thus making Indonesia the world’s fifth biggest emitter.

    With the aim of achieving a 26% or more emissions cut by 2020 compared to business as usual levels, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had implemented the so-called “forest moratorium”, a policy protecting some of the country’s forests that called for no new licenses to convert primary forests and peat lands for other uses such as timber or palm oil. The moratorium has been extended in 2013, and now is up for renewal again; extending it one again would further demonstrate the Indonesian government’s commitment to tackling climate change.

    New researches conducted by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Center for Global Development and others on the moratorium’s impacts on climate found that thanks to this policy Indonesia has reduced emissions from forest clearing by 1-2,5% over a four-year period, which is a good but insufficient result, still far from the country’s 26% goal and from the reductions needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

    In order to strengthen the moratorium’s effectiveness, the Indonesian government should firstly increase local awareness and understanding of the policy, thus giving local governments the chance to weigh in on how it is designed and implemented. Moreover, it should stop allowing exceptions for “national development projects”, and should focus on increasing yields through different measures instead. Lastly, Indonesia should implement long-term policies, for example by signing agreements with countries willing to provide funding for forest conservations (as it has already happened with Norway).

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 11 May 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

     

     

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • BANK OF AMERICA TURNS ITS BACK ON THE COAL-MINING INDUSTRY

    In its new coal policy, Bank of America says it will divest from the coal-mining sector and increase lending to green projects.

    In early May, during its annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bank of America released its new coal policy and announced its commitment to reduce its financing to coal-mining companies; in fact, the policy states that “Bank of America will continue to reduce our credit exposure to coal extraction companies”. The bank also pledged it will increase its investments in renewable energies, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage.

    This decision follows the bank’s acknowledgment of the risks coal investments entail: a Bank of America spokeswoman said that “over the last several years, the coal mining sector has experienced a challenging environment in which increasing risks and shifting dynamics have reshaped its landscape”, and the policy makes explicit reference to pollution regulations, changes in economic conditions, increased competition from shale gas and renewable energy. Also, a research from the think-tank Carbon Tracker recently stressed that the US coal sector has entered a “structural decline”.

    The announcement has been hailed by many as a momentous step forward in the shift away from fossil fuels, and Amanda Starbuck, who is climate and energy programme director at the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), stated that this “acknowledges the responsibility that the financial sector bears for supporting and profiting from the fossil fuel industry and the climate chaos it has caused”. RAN also highlighted that Bank of America is the first global bank to pledge a scale down in its coal mining exposure.

    However, according to the Coal Finance Report Card, Bank of America is still among the main investors in the coal-mining sector worldwide, and in 2014 financed coal mining companies with more than $1.3 billion.

    Moreover, among the bank’s clients is Coal India, a major Indian company that reportedly perpetrates human rights abuses and exploits child labour. With regard to this matter, the new policy says the bank would take into account “the impacts of client operations on local communities. We support fundamental principles of human rights, and expect our clients to do the same”.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 8 May 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • NEW ZEALAND’S CLIMATE TARGETS WILL NOT BE EASILY ACHIEVED

    New document from the New Zealander government says achieving post-2020 climate targets will be a big challenge, and the country will need international carbon market access.

    In May, the government of New Zealand released a consultation document regarding its post-2020 climate targets, and stressed the costs the country would have to bear to cut greenhouse gas emissions; specifically, the document asserts that – for the same cost as the European Union’s 40% reduction from 1990 to 2030 – New Zealand’s emissions would grow 10-20%.

    Nowadays an average New Zealander emits 17 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, while the world average is 8 tonnes, and half of the country’s emissions originate from the agricultural sector, which is quite unusual for a developed country. The copious forests present within New Zealand’s territory have so far efficiently worked as carbon sinks, but most of them are expected to be harvested over the next 15 years, so the government will have to come up with an alternative solution.

    New Zealand’s climate minister Tim Groser said that the country faces “particular challenges, and setting an emissions reduction target will not be easy”, especially given that 80% of the state’s electricity already come from renewables sources of energy. Developing electric vehicles and biofuels could help achieving climate goals, but the minister believes that eventually New Zealand will need international carbon market access. The nation is already largely relying on its emissions trading system to meet its target of a 5% emissions cut by 2020.

    The most criticised part of the consultation is the one related to costs. The government estimated the cost to households of cuts between 5% and 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels to range from NZ$1,270 to $1,800 a year, or 1-2% of the forecast NZ$85,000 average income under business as usual; however, Russel Norman from the Green party stated that the document is “unbalanced and inaccurate”, and that “the government has written a consultation document to suit its head-in-the-sand approach to protecting our economy and environment from the threat of climate change”. Norman also urged the country to “at least” match the EU goal of a 40% emissions cut by 2030.

    New Zealand is expected to submit its national climate plan to the UN within the next months.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 8 May 2015

    (Source: RTCC)