Saturday, July 2, 2016

GWPF Newsletter: Brexit Spells End Of Europe’s Climate Obsession








Germany Starts Roll-Back Of Climate Policy

In this newsletter:

1) Brexit Spells End Of Europe’s Climate Obsession
Reuters, 30 June 2016
 
2) Germany Starts Roll-Back Of Climate Policy
Reuters, 29 June 2016
 
3) Poland Introduces Bill Favouring Coal Over Renewable Energy 
New Europe, 30 June 2016
 
4) UK Move To Set CO2 Target Faces Challenge
Financial Times, 1 July 2016
 
5) British Offshore Wind Projects At Risk After Brexit Vote
Reuters, 1 July 2016
 
6) Could Brexit Sink The Paris Climate Agreement?
The Christian Science Monitor, 29 June 2016
 
7) Brexit: ‘The EU’s Climate-Political Nightmare’
No Tricks Zone, 30 June 2016

Full details:

1) Brexit Spells End Of Europe’s Climate Obsession
Reuters, 30 June 2016

Political upheaval has likely pushed climate change down priority list, experts warn

BRUSSELS/LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) – Britain’s exit dashes the European Union’s leadership ambitions on efforts to slow climate change, leaving the bloc on the sidelines while others endorse the global pact it championed to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week, EU environment ministers jointly called for action “as soon as possible” to avoid being absent when the deal struck in Paris last December to limit global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius locks into place.

Britain’s vote to leave the union has disrupted everyday affairs and probably displaced climate concerns as a political priority. It also removes one of the EU’s strongest voices in favour of emissions-cutting policies…

The EU’s reversal from being the key broker clinching the landmark deal to lagging on its ratification and implementation would deal a blow to the bloc’s credibility and influence on how the global climate rules are written.

“The likely scenario is that come Marrakesh, the EU will be very embarrassed,” said an EU source close to the talks.

Britain has long championed the fight against global warming: it was one of the first nations to adopt a legally-binding framework to cut emissions with its Climate Change Act in 2008.

At U.N. climate talks in Paris, it committed to a single EU target of reducing emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels with the 27 other EU nations.

“It (Brexit) would reduce the level of clout of the EU in UN climate negotiations,” said Ruth Davis, a political adviser to Greenpeace and a senior associate at E3G.

“I’m afraid that overall I see that as a lose-lose.”

 
2) Germany Starts Roll-Back Of Climate Policy
Reuters, 29 June 2016
 
BERLIN -- Germany has abandoned plans to set out a timetable to exit coal-fired power production and scrapped C02 emissions reduction goals for individual sectors, according to the latest draft of an environment ministry document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
 
An earlier version of the draft document that was leaked in May had suggested that Germany should phase out coal-fired power production "well before 2050" as part of a package of measures to help Berlin achieve its climate goals.
 
The new version, which was revised following consultation with the economy and energy ministry, has also deleted specific concrete C02 emissions savings targets for the energy, industry, transport and agriculture sectors. 
 
The document forms the government's national climate action plan for 2050 and lays out how it plans to move away from fossil fuels and achieve its goal of cutting CO2 emissions by up to 95 percent compared to 1990 levels by the middle of the century.
 
The original proposals met with hefty opposition from unions, coal-producing regions and business groups who said it would cost jobs and damage industry.
 
Full story
 
3) Poland Introduces Bill Favouring Coal Over Renewable Energy 
New Europe, 30 June 2016
 
By reducing the role of renewables in its energy mix, Poland could go beyond 80% dependence on coal for electricity production. The new bill adopted on Tuesday overhauls a system of green certificates that polluters must buy, while moving to create regulatory barriers for wind farms.
 
The new law envisages a system of green energy auctions that will be technology-specific, with Poland moving to favour biomass and biogas.
 
In the short run, the new bill is a boon for a struggling coal mining industry.
 
Poland is one of the biggest producers and consumers of coal in the EU 28, generating 80% of its electricity from the black staff. Being the world’s eighth largest producer of coal, Warsaw also has to consider the 100,000 jobs at stake. 
 
Brussels and Warsaw are heading for an inevitable standoff on energy policy.
 
Full post 
 
4) UK Move To Set CO2 Target Faces Challenge
Financial Times, 1 July 2016
Pilita Clark
 
The UK agreed on Thursday to set a legally binding goal committing the country to steep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions designed to help ward off climate change. But in a sign of the uncertainties triggered by Britain’s vote to leave the EU, the move was dismissed as potentially “unlawful” by the think-tank founded by Nigel Lawson, the former Tory Chancellor and a member of the Leave campaign’s strategy committee.
 


Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy [Forum] said it was wrong for the government to set in law a fifth “carbon budget” committing the UK to cut emissions 57 per cent by 2032 from the levels of 1990.

The goal was “based on the now incorrect assumption that the UK will still be in the EU by 2030”, the [Forum] said.

It also assumed the UK would remain in the EU emissions trading scheme, the world’s largest carbon market, and be “covered by the EU’s Paris agreement terms”, it said. […]

Lord Lawson is one of a number of influential Leave campaigners who have long questioned the cost of measures to tackle climate change. His foundation says the science of global warming is “not yet settled”.

It is still unclear if the new government required after the resignation of David Cameron as prime minister will maintain existing climate policies.

Full story (subscription required)

5) British Offshore Wind Projects At Risk After Brexit Vote
Reuters, 1 July 2016
Karolin Schaps

The British offshore wind industry, already bruised by subsidy changes, faces uncertainty after Britain voted to leave the European Union, with investors worried about future government incentives, exchange rates and export duties. 

Portugal's Energias de Portugal-EDP said it could delay its Moray Firth offshore wind energy project in Scotland and German engineering giant Siemens said it was reconsidering plans for an expansion of its planned manufacturing plant in the port of Hull in north east England. […] 

The result of the vote has made it more difficult for offshore wind investors, who are mainly international, to predict foreign exchange rates, an important factor as many of them buy equipment in euros.

Full story

6) Could Brexit Sink The Paris Climate Agreement?
The Christian Science Monitor, 29 June 2016
Aidan Quigley
 



Following Britain's 52 percent to 48 percent vote to leave the European Union, climate scientists and activists are expressing concerns that the decision to leave the EU could have potentially disastrous effects on the nation's climate policy.

Climate scientists and activists say Brexit will complicate the ratification process of the newly ratified Paris Agreement. It also may have longer-term implications, as the new government installed after Brexit will likely try to roll back environmental regulations and not prioritize addressing climate change.

The immediate effect of Brexit on climate change, as Grist reported, could be positive. An economic slowdown would cause a drop in Britain's carbon emissions, as emissions fell worldwide by 1.5 percent during the 2008 recession.

However, Britain's future participation in the Paris Agreement is now in question, as the Guardian reported. As the EU submitted a plan as a 28-member bloc in Paris, Brexit requires a "recalibration" of the agreement, as Christiana Figueres, the chief of the United Nations climate secretariat, cautioned before the vote.

That recalibration could effectively weaken the European Union's commitment and focus on addressing climate change, Guy Edwards, co-director of the Climate and Development Lab at Brown University in Providence, R.I., wrote in an opinion piece published by The Boston Globe. 

Full story

7) Brexit: ‘The EU’s Climate-Political Nightmare’
No Tricks Zone, 30 June 2016
P Gosselin

Economics editor Daniel Wetzel at Germany’s center-right national daily Die Welt here writes that the Brexit may be the end of the Paris climate treaty and that it is a climate-political nightmare for the EU.

Already, he notes, the price of CO2 emissions certificates has plummeted to near low-grade levels, see chart at Die Welt.

DWO_FI_CO2_Emissionen_jb_1.jpg

The Welt journalist writes that those holding these CO2 certifcates saw a large chunk of value get wiped out. Already at the end of last year the certificates had a value of near 9 euros. Now they are hovering at less than 5 euros.

The reason for the plunge in price, Wetzel writes, is that Great Britain will no longer be bound to the European Emissions Trading system, and so dozens of UK power plants will no longer need their certificates and will likely dump them on the European market, causing their price to plummet further. The result, Wetzel writes:

For industrial plants all over Europe there will be hardly any financial incentive left to invest in CO2-saving efficiency technology.”

New political constellation at Westminster

Activists are still hoping that Britain will remain in the Emissions Trading Scheme, even after exiting the EU, just as non EU member Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein are currently doing. Wetzel asks whether Britain will continue staying commited to ambitious CO2 reductions as it has in the past. One factor that speaks against continued commitment to reducing CO2 emissions is that “among Brexiteers and EU-skeptics in Unitted Kingdom – as is the case with the German AfD – the number of climate skeptics is especially high“.

Wetzel adds:

In part not only is the man-made impact on climate questioned, but whether climate change is happening at all. In a new political constellation in Westminster, the high British climate targets may not be possible to maintain in the future.”

A weakened Europe in climate negotiations

Here Wetzel cites a recent research paper by the Chatham House that looked at the possible impacts on climate policy should Britain vote to leave the EU. The Chatham Report has in its conclusion:

A diminished EU, for its part, would be weaker in managing relationships with Russia, which already seeks to divide it and to negotiate bilateral energy deals with individual member states. The EU would also be less able to influence global climate negotiations alongside other major powers such as China and the United States, as it would represent a much smaller share of the global economy and of global emissions. This would not serve the longterm interests of either the UK or the EU.

The report concludes that in the event of a British exit (which is now the case), Britain would be freer to decide its energy policies on its own without meddling from Brussels.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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