Other key stories below: Belgium Looks to Phase out Nuclear Power by 2025; Is Carbon Capture and Storage Storage on Track, Despite Setbacks?
President Obama, asked about a trade case U.S. solar manufacturers have filed against China, said China has “questionable competitive practices” on clean energy and his administration has fought “these kinds of dumping activities.”
Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest U.S. maker of solar cells and panels, and six unnamed U.S. solar manufacturers petitioned the U.S. government Oct. 19 to halt what they said was the dumping of heavily subsidized products by China’s state-supported solar industry into the U.S. market.
Obama, in an interview Tuesday with KGW NewsChannel 8 of Portland, Ore., responded to a question about whether he’d be willing to look at “any kind of actions” to protect green jobs in the U.S. He answered:
“We have seen a lot of questionable competitive practices coming out of China when it comes to the clean energy space, and I have been more aggressive than previous administrations in enforcing our trade laws. We have filed actions against them when we see these kinds of dumping activities, and we’re going to look very carefully at this stuff and potentially bring actions if we find that the basic rules of the road have been violated.”
The Solar Energy Industries Association, an industry group that represents foreign as well as domestic companies, has not taken a position on the petition, which seeks anti-dumping and countervailing duties against Chinese manufacturers to offset alleged violations of trade laws.
“Just because a company receives subsidies doesn’t mean it’s unfair,” John Smirnow of the SEIA told reporters about the petition. China-based Suntech, which has a manufacturing plant in Arizona, issued a statement saying “anyone can file one of these actions” so a petition doesn’t validate the merits of a case.
The United Nations body responsible for civil aviation weighed in against the European Union’s emissions trading scheme on Wednesday, increasing pressure on the EU to back down in what threatens to become a serious trade dispute.
After months of rhetoric on both sides, the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization voted to adopt a working paper from the United States, China and two dozen other nations urging the EU not to include non-EU carriers in its plan, according to sources at the meeting in Montreal.
Under the EU’s proposals to put a price on pollution, airlines will have to buy permits to help offset greenhouse emissions from jetliners operating in, to and from Europe
“It is disappointing that ICAO discussions once again focus on what States should not do instead of what they should do to curb growing aviation emissions,” Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s top climate action official, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately ICAO has missed again today the opportunity to tell the world when it will table a viable global solution.”
A European environment committee passed a resolution to extend its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol on climate issues beyond 2012.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in September from Durban, South Africa, the site a November conference on climate change, there must be a “clear decision” on “how the global collective effort to reduce emissions will go forward.”
Provisions under the Kyoto Protocol, she warned, are to expire in 2012.
Members of the European environment committee passed a resolution with 53 votes in favor, four against and three abstentions that calls on the European Union to give full support to continue the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
The resolution adds that EU countries would benefit from aiming higher with their greenhouse gas reduction commitments.
The European Parliament scheduled a vote on the resolution for mid-November, two weeks before the climate summit in Durban.
The world is on track to have 20 carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects by 2020, despite the high-profile cancellation of $l.5 billion in funding for a British plant last month, a leading industry proponent said on Wednesday.
A report by the Global CCS Institute on Wednesday also says CCS can be a cost-effective tool to curb greenhouse gas pollution from coal and gas-fired power stations when compared with other low-carbon emission technologies.
CCS involves trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) otherwise emitted by fossil fuel power plants, and piping it underground for long-term storage in spent oil fields or aquifers. The technology is also used in the natural gas sector and fertiliser making.
CCS is not yet competitive for the power sector but governments and the International Energy Agency see it as a key way to fight climate change by trapping and burying greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining stable energy supply.
While CCS is regarded as a part of the energy mix in coming decades, there are doubts about how quickly it will be adopted and the rate at which the technology’s costs will fall.
“Our view is a bit different,” said Brad Page, CEO of the Global CCS Institute, which is backed by governments and industry and based in Australia.
“Our latest status report shows there are 74 projects in progress around the world today. There are 8 in operation and another six under construction. Of those, 6 are power projects,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the Singapore International Energy Week.
Climate-change ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China, also known as the BASIC countries, have reached a consensus on a range of issues – including the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol – a month in advance of a conference in Durban, South Africa.
“There must be a Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate change official, after the Ninth BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change in Beijing on Tuesday.
“Countries should take action and put their promises into practice before 2020 and then further discuss the issues after that date on the basis of scientific analysis,” Xie said.
The extension of the Kyoto Protocol became a major focus of climate change negotiations after some countries opposed the Second Commitment Period at talks in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.
Belgium’s political parties have reached a conditional agreement to shut down the country’s two remaining nuclear power stations, owned by GDF Suez unit Electrabel, a government spokeswoman said earlier this week.
The plan for a shutdown of the three oldest reactors by 2015 and a complete exit by 2025 is conditional on finding enough energy from alternative sources to prevent any shortages.
“If it turns out we won’t face shortages and prices would not skyrocket, we intend to stick to the nuclear exit law of 2003,” a spokeswoman for Belgium’s energy and climate ministry said.
Belgium, which has seven nuclear reactors at two plants, had passed a law in 2003 outlining the planned shutdowns.
Sunday’s decision to affirm the law knocked GDF Suez shares lower Monday, closing down 4% in advance of Tuesday’s holiday in Belgium.
In 2009, atomic energy provided 55% of the country’s electricity generation, the latest available data from the International Energy Agency showed.
European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard called on Russia and other nations to design domestic rules to cut carbon from airlines and earn exemption from the bloc’s emissions-trading program as of next year.
Hedegaard highlighted an option in the EU law that excludes incoming flights from countries that enact equivalent measures to cut pollution from its air transport sector.
“You could set a target for your aviation sector, you could make an incentive for them to improve fuel efficiency for aviation, it could be many things,” she said in an interview after a meeting with Alexander Bedritsky, a climate adviser to President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow. “We do not define what that is. We invite a dialog.”
The EU, which aims to lead the battle against climate change, wants to impose carbon curbs on flights to and from the region from next year after airline discharges in Europe doubled in two decades. Countries including Russia, China and the U.S. are expected to lodge a formal complaint today about the EU’s first expansion of the emissions trading system beyond the bloc’s borders at a meeting of the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.