The European Union will spend ‚¬270 billion ($375 billion) a year to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, the European Commission said yesterday in releasing its “road map” for moving to a low-carbon economy.
The commission, which is the European Union’s executive arm, for the first time also set targets for 2030 and 2040, envisioning emission cuts of 40 percent and 60 percent, respectively. It proposed increasing its target for 2020 to 25 percent from the current 20 percent, acknowledging opposition from Eastern European countries to proposals by France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Denmark to raise that goal to 30 percent.
It also said that, if left unchanged, current policies are projected to only be enough to reduce emissions by 30 percent in 2030 and 40 percent in 2050.
“The longer we wait, the higher the cost will be,” Connie Hedegaard, the E.U. climate commissioner, said in a statement. “As oil prices keep rising, Europe is paying more every year for its energy bill and becoming more vulnerable to price shocks. So starting the transition now will pay off.”
The road map recommends that Europe should achieve its goals largely through domestic measures, since by midcentury, international credits to offset emissions will be less widely available than today. By 2050, any credits used would increase the overall emissions reduction beyond 80 percent.
The ‚¬270 billion equals 1.5 percent of E.U. gross domestic product.
“When you say the number out loud, it sounds like a fantasy, but you have to compare it with the oil savings we would achieve,” Hedegaard said in an interview with Danish daily Berlingske. “We’ll achieve savings of between ‚¬170 billion and ‚¬320 billion [$236 billion and $445 billion] in oil imports.”
This was calculated with the oil price at $88 per barrel, while today it traded above $104. “Instead of sending money to Saudi Arabia and Libya for oil, we should invest it here at home,” she said.
The European Union said its plan would save ‚¬40 billion ($56 billion) per year in costs to fight pollution and ‚¬27 billion per year ($37 billion) in medical costs due to the cleaner air.
Small-scale “eco-farming” could double food production in many of the world’s poorest regions and also help fight climate change, according to a United Nations report unveiled Tuesday.
The spectre of world hunger looms ever larger as the global population continues to balloon, especially in the least developed nations.
Today more than a billion of the planet’s nearly seven billion people live at the edge of subsistence on less than a dollar per day.
Food prices have flared in recent years due to climate-related natural disasters, with the cost of several staple foods reaching unprecedented levels last month, according to the UN’s food price index.
By mid-century, when the global population is expected to surpass nine billion, food shortages will become even more critical as will the need for additional output.
But the key to boosting output in poor countries is a shift from mono-crops doused with chemical fertilisers and pesticides to more sustainable techniques that can both increase yields and repair the environment, the report said.
“We are not in a situation in which agriculture can only be about increasing production,” said lead author Olivier De Schutter, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
“It must also be about limiting the impact on ecosystems … and preserving agro-biodiversity. It must be about increasing the income of the farmers.”
Conventional farming degrades soils, fuels climate change, is vulnerable to weather shocks, and relies on expensive inputs, he pointed out.
“It is simply not the best choice anymore,” he told AFP by phone.
As the price of oil roars above $100 per barrel and gasoline nears $4 per gallon, a cry for solutions understandably goes up. Higher gas prices amount to a regressive tax increase on the American consumer, with all that implies for the ability of the U.S. and global economies to sustain their fragile recovery. Some in Congress, citing the disruption of production in Libya, are asking President Obama to uncork theStrategic Petroleum Reserve, the government-owned emergency supply – currently 727 million barrels – that Congress established 36 years ago. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) says tapping the strategic reserve would “mitigate the runaway increase in prices [like] that we saw in the summer of 2008.”
So far the Obama administration has resisted these calls, which is very much to its credit. Oil prices remain well below 2008 levels, and, despite the troubles in Libya, global supplies are still adequate, in part because Saudi Arabia and other producers have more than enough spare capacity to make up for whatever Libya can’t supply. Historically, presidents have tapped the reserve to cope with acts of God (hurricanes Ivan and Katrina) or major wars (Operation Desert Storm in 1991). The exceptions – a 23-million-barrel sale in 1996 to help pay down the deficit, and President Bill Clinton’s election-year use of 30 million barrels in 2000 – prove the rule: It’s best to interpret the 1975 law limiting use of the reserve to “severe energy supply interruption” strictly – lest global oil speculators start trading on U.S. gas-price politics along with all the other factors that roil the markets.
Key senators said Tuesday they hope rising gasoline prices will serve as the impetus to reincarnate a bipartisan “gang” of lawmakers who worked in 2008 to develop a compromise energy bill.
The lawmakers hope to revive a now-disbanded group of senators who developed an energy plan in 2008 – when gas prices were at an all-time high – that would have expanded offshore drilling and provided incentives for alternative vehicles, among other things.
The group was at first known as the “gang of 10,” but that number grew to 20 as more lawmakers joined the coalition. But the gang ultimately fell apart as Republicans, under the banner of “drill, baby, drill,” pushed for more concessions from Democrats on offshore drilling.
With gas prices at a two-year high – the average gallon of gas in the United States is $3.51 – some lawmakers want to try again. The lawmakers are mulling a range of proposals that deal both with transportation fuels and power sources.
“We have a new situation here with Libya and gas prices going up to at least look at some type of ‘American Energy Standard’ to encourage more renewables, nuclear, clean coal, everything,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who was a member of the gang in 2008. “The only way we are going to do it is if we start in the Senate with a bipartisan group.”
Klobuchar said she has reached out to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), two of the founding members of the group, about whether they would like to hold talks on a bipartisan energy bill. Klobuchar has also reached out to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).
Impax Asset Management Group Plc (IPX), Hudson Clean Energy Partners and HGCapital are among at least 15 international investors suing the Spanish government over retroactive cuts to the country’s solar power subsidies.
The companies have invested more than 4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in Spanish solar photovoltaic projects and are seeking reparations under the Energy Charter Treaty, the law firmAllen & Overy that’s representing the fund managers said today in an e-mailed statement. They didn’t specify how much damages they’re seeking. Two calls to Spain‘s industry ministry today weren’t answered.
The government on Dec. 23 issued a decree that cut subsidies for existing solar power plants, which industry executives and investors say should have been guaranteed for 25 years under a 2007 law. Today’s suit follows the Jan. 12 announcement by the Photovoltaic Business Association lobbying group that it would challenge the cuts in the Supreme Court.
“The changes that Spain has made to the PV sector will cause substantial harm to these investors,” Stephen Jagusch, international arbitration partner at Allen & Overy, said in the statement. “Spain’s actions appear clearly inconsistent with the investor protections afforded by the Energy Charter Treaty, which is why we and the investors believe there is very strong case for compensation.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants OG&E Corp and American Electric Power Co Inc (AEP) to reduce air pollution at three coal-fired power plants in Oklahoma or convert the facilities to natural gas.
The EPA acted because the state’s plan did not adequately reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions enough to meet the regional haze requirements under the Clean Air Act.
AEP spokesman Stan Whiteford said, “We’re disappointed the federal EPA did not go along with the state implementation plan, which was carefully designed to provide flexibility to develop reasonable and cost effective approaches that meet the objectives of the environmental rules.”
Whiteford said AEP has had lots of experience installing scrubbers at its eastern coal plants and estimated it could cost $700 million and take about five years to design, engineer, permit and install new SO2 scrubbers on the two units at its Northeastern plant.
The EPA however only gave the utilities three years to add the scrubbers, switch to natural gas or use a combination of these approaches.
The EPA wants OG&E Corp to clean up the 477-megawatt Unit 4 the 517-MW and 5 at the Muskogee plant and the 522-MW Unit 1 and 524-MW Unit 2 at the Sooner plant. American Electric Power Co Inc is to clean up the 460-MW Units 3 and 4 at its Northeastern plant.
The units provide enough low cost, baseload power for more than 2.3 million homes.
AEP’s Whiteford could not say whether AEP would install the scrubbers. He said AEP’s next move was to look at the EPA proposal and prepare for the public meeting on April 13 in Oklahoma City.