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  • WEAK EU RENEWABLES TARGETS HAIL FROM SHELL LOBBYING

    New documents show that Shell successfully lobbied to weaken EU renewable energy goals for 2030.

    According to new documents released under freedom of information laws, a key part of the agreement on emissions cuts reached within the EU in October 2014 was proposed by Shell in October 2011; in fact, Shell has lobbied the Barroso administration – at the time when Barroso was President of the European Commission – to discard the existing formula for linking carbon-cutting goals with binding renewable energy laws, arguing that “the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target, thus preserving competitiveness of industry, protecting employment and consumer buying power, to drive economic growth”. The company also maintained that a market-led strategy of gas development would save Europe €500bn in its transition to a low carbon energy system, compared to a strategy focused on renewable energies.

    In October 2014, EU countries agreed that they would cut their emissions by 40% on 1990 levels by 2030, but, even though Europe as a whole pledged a 27% share for renewables in the energy mix, following Shell’s recommendations the agreement doesn’t expect individual States to achieve the same goal. Consequently, clean energy supporters declared the 2030 package a missed chance to send a signal to clean energy investors and to reassure them on the long-term reliability of the European energy market.

    Shell is the sixth biggest lobbyist in the EU, and – according to participants in the 2030 negotiations – it was the first one to push for a single target in Brussels. However, it was not the strongest opponent of climate action, and is indeed considered to be the most progressive of the big fossil fuel firms; in fact, Shell supports carbon capture and storage technology and a strong emissions trading scheme (ETS), and believes that this approach – together with a focus on innovation funding – will support renewables without need for binding targets. Also, most of the company’s projects and operations are now focused on gas rather than on oil, but environmentalists still criticise its pursuit of Arctic drilling and its contribution to tar sands extraction in Canada.

    The “single target” variant agreed in Brussels has been hailed by supporters of nuclear power and shale gas, and clearly favours the development of the gas industry. Gas releases about half as much carbon as coal when burned (which, however, is still 40 times more than wind over its full lifecycle), and is seen as a backup to compensate for the intermittence of renewable energy supplies and as a way to create a bridge towards a cleaner energy system.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 27 April 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • OBAMA RAISES ALARM ON CLIMATE CHANGE

    During his visit at the South Florida Everglades, Barack Obama has urged the country to take a stand against climate change before it’s too late.

    He delivered a speech to demand action on climate change, declaring the dangers it creates an imminent threat to the country’s economy. According to the President, “we do not have time to deny the effects of climate change”; “this is not some impossible problem that we cannot solve”, “we can solve it if we have some political will”.

    Lately, Obama has often resorted to unilateral actions to push its environmental agenda against the will of the Congress, given the impossibility to enforce any legislative measure on climate change due to its Republican majority.

    Nevertheless, in his speech the President cast the issue of tackling climate change as a bipartisan calling, but the reality is that many Republicans even deny that humans have anything to do with global warming, and their declarations clearly affect the public opinion; in fact, a CNN/ORC poll taken in December 2014 shows that, while half of the American population believes that climate change is being driven by man-made emissions, the other half considers climate change to be a yet unproven fact or something that is not a result of human activity.

    Among the climate change deniers is precisely Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who didn’t greet Obama when he landed in Miami to visit the Everglades, and who has recently been accused by Florida’s newspapers to have put a ban among state employees on the use of the term “climate change”.

    Obama has chosen Florida to talk about climate change probably because this is one of the States that most is enduring the consequences of global warming, as extreme weather is seriously threatening its coastal cities and rising sea levels could taint fresh water supplies.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 24 April 2015

    (Source: CNN)

  • INDIA REVERSES ITS PREVIOUS POSITION AND EMBRACES HFC PHASE-OUT

    India has formally proposed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to enable a complete phase-out of HFCs.

    With a surprising and major move, India submitted a formal proposal to amend the Montreal Protocolto phase down HFCs, saying the country wants to stop the production and consumption of these gases using “expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol and continue to include HFCs within the scope of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions”.

    The amendment proposal is in line with an assurance India gave to the United States during Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in September 2014, and, according to the president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) Durwood Zaelke, it shows that the Indian Prime Minister can be “a leading climate voice on the global stage”.

    Also, with India becoming the leader of the HFC phase down, the amendment is likely to enter into force at the November Meeting of the Parties, and this could boost the UN Paris climate negotiations in December.

    However, India insisted that the phase out of the HFCs will depend on “flexibilities in terms of choice of alternative technologies and timeframe for transitioning to safe, technically proven, energy-efficient and economically and commercially viable technologies”; notably, the country subordinated its amendment proposal to the grant of a transition period of 15 years so that domestic industries get enough time to develop feasible alternatives.

    The Montreal Protocol – signed by India in 1992 – deals only with Ozone-depleting substances, and since the HFS does not deplete the Ozone hitherto it has not been considered as falling under its scope. In fact, it is listed as one of the greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol, but this Protocol – unlike the Montreal one – is not binding for developing countries such as India.

    Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are commonly used in refrigerators, air conditioners and insulating foams, and are gases with a substantial global warming potential, much higher than carbon dioxide’s.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 24 April 2015

    (Source: Times of India)

  • CHINESE CITIES ARE FAILING TO MEET THEIR AIR QUALITY STANDARDS

    New report shows that the vast majority of Chinese cities have alarming levels of air pollution.

    According to a report released by Greenpeace East Asia, more than 90 per cent of 360 Chinese cities haven’t met the national air quality standard in the first three months of 2015. The research has been conducted measuring the concentration of PM 2.5 – a fine particulate matter considered to be particularly dangerous due to the risks it can pose on human health – in the air, and the results have been disastrous: out of 360 cities, only 32 met the national air quality standard, while 141 had PM 2.5 levels that were more than twice the standard itself.

    The average concentration of PM 2.5 in the cities’ air was 66 micrograms per cubic meter, while the national standard is of 35 micrograms per cubic meter, and the figure is even direr if compared to the exposure limit recommended by the World Health Organization, which is of 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period.

    The report also shows that – despite a recent drop in the increase of coal use – China still has some of the most polluted cities in the world, together with urban centres in India and Iran. The most polluted provinces in China are Henan, Hubei and Hebei, which all have or are surrounded by coal-burning heavy industrial factories.

    However, the Greenpeace East Asia researcher Zhang Kai highlighted that small but significant progress has been made, as the policies announced in September 2013 by the central government to reduce coal use in three highly populated centres have actually led to substantial drops in PM 2.5 levels (for example, a nearly 13 per cent drop in PM 2.5 concentration has been registered in Beijing over a one-year period). Nevertheless, even in these centres the level of air pollution is still dreadfully high.

    Moreover, doubts have been recently cast on the government’s air-monitoring methodology, which has been accused of not taking into account some significant variables when measuring PM 2.5 levels, such as wind patterns and other weather phenomena; in fact, windy months can give the false impression that PM 2.5 concentration has dropped.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 23 April 2015

    (Source: New York Times International)

  • INDIA’S IPR THINK TANK: PRO MULTINATIONAL ALLEGES SWADESHI JAGRAN MACH

    Swadeshi Jagran Manch (Indigenisation Forum), a public interest group that is strongly opposed to multinational corporations has raised a demand to reconstitute IPR Think Tank. The think tank was formed by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in November to formulate a National IPR policy and advice on IPR issues.

    The group alleges conflict of interest amongst members as the body of think tank is dominated by representatives of multinational companies. Giving examples of the Convenor of the Think Tank Y K Sabarwal, an ex WIPO bureaucrat, is the Convenor of the IPR Committee of FICCI and Prathiba Singh who appears for telecom and pharmaceutical multinational firms, group says this membership in the think tank compromises its neutrality.

    The said allegations were pointed out in a letter to Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman. The letter further stated that conflict of interest would act as a barrier to draw a National IPR Policy that effectively addresses the development needs of the nation.

    Moreover criticising the draft IPR policy recently released by the think tank, it said it undermines the technological progress in areas necessary for revival of manufacturing sectors and asked the ministry to direct the reconstituted IPR think tank to identify the suboptimal flexibilities in the national IPR regime and make recommendation to optimise the use of flexibilities to facilitate technology dissimilation.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 01 April 2015

    (Source: Pharma Biz)