Sunday, September 11, 2016

GWPF Newsletter: Paris Deal? What Paris Deal?

Germany Scraps Coal Exit, Removes Concrete Targets In Weakened Climate Plan

In this newsletter:

1) Germany Scraps Coal Exit, Removes Concrete Targets In Weakened Climate Plan
Climate Energy Wire, 8 September 2016
2) EU Divisions Deepen Over Delay Of Paris Ratification
Euractive, 7 September 2016
3) Britain Set To Miss Legally Binding Green Energy Target
EurActiv, 9 September 2016
4) What Paris Deal? Turkey Plans 80 New Coal Power Plants
The Guardian, 6 September 2016
5) GMB Union Calls Corbyn’s Green Plans ‘Naïve And Short-Sighted’
Press Association, 7 September 2016

Full details:

1) Germany Scraps Coal Exit, Removes Concrete Targets In Weakened Climate Plan
Climate Energy Wire, 8 September 2016
Sören Amelang

Environmental organisations have responded to a government proposal to decarbonise the economy with outrage. They say the Climate Action Plan 2050 will fall well short of meeting climate targets, and accuse the environment ministry of caving in to pressure from the economics ministry and Angela Merkel’s Chancellery to water down ambitious plans and drop important details, like a deadline for the coal exit.
The final version of the German Environment Ministry’s Climate Action Plan has been published. But concrete targets included in previous drafts have been removed, prompting the Green Party to describe the document as an “admission of government failure”.

The Climate Action Plan was announced at the Paris Climate Summit as a framework for how Germany was to reach its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050.

Germany is already struggling to meet its 2020 climate targets, and is under additional pressure after Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly said she would make climate policy a priority of Germany’s G20 presidency next year.

The environment ministry’s final version of the plan is still to be coordinated with other ministries. But critics say it had already been watered down under pressure from Sigmar Gabriel’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, which insisted on the omission of a date for the coal exit.

Full story

2) EU Divisions Deepen Over Delay Of Paris Ratification
Euractive, 7 September 2016
Aline Robert

The inability of the EU’s member states to agree on an effort-sharing deal could delay the ratification of the Paris Agreement until late 2017. This would see the climate deal enter into force without the world’s biggest economic bloc. 

Image result for EU Paris Agreement GWPF
For Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan, the rapporteur on carbon market reform, enough is enough. “Climate action is not just about nice words and handshakes,” he said.

Long seen as the global leader on questions of climate change, the European Union was leapfrogged by the United States and China last Friday (2 September), with both big polluters ratifying the Paris Agreement together. It may still be some time before the EU is in a position to do the same.

“Commissioner Šefčovič said he was working with China and the United States on the application of the Paris Agreement. But this is not serious. The EU is not keeping its own house in order. There is now a gulf between rhetoric and reality,” said Duncan.

The passionate speeches of the COP21, during which the EU boasted of having formed a High Ambition Coalition with the small island states and the US have been followed by a complete inability to come to any kind of agreement between member states. […]

It is now very possible that the Paris Agreement could enter into force without the ratification of the EU, which would be a major political defeat for the bloc. For the deal to apply, it must be ratified by at least 55% of signatory countries representing 55% of global CO2 emissions.

With ratification already completed by 28 countries representing 40% of emissions, this hurdle is well within sight. If the situation became urgent, the EU could always bypass the ratification process at national level and declare itself competent to take the decision alone. While this emergency trump card may be tempting to the European executive, the political backlash from certain member states would be severe.

Ratification of the deal at EU level will in all likelihood be completed soon: the European Parliament will give its opinion in a consultative vote in mid-September, followed by the European Council in October. But this principle agreement alone is not enough.

National obstacles

The main obstacle to an EU effort sharing decision is Poland, which is still trying to negotiate subsidies for its coal-fired power stations in exchange for ratification.

“But nobody wants to support the coal industry today. This is absurd,” said Duncan.

Negotiations on effort sharing, or how to cut emissions of CO2 by 40% by 2030, have stumbled on this subject. As a result, “I think it is highly unlikely that the EU will ratify the agreement before the end of the year. The Slovaks, who currently hold the rotating presidency of the EU, say it will be the second semester of 2017,” said French Green senator Ronan Dantec, expressing his disappointment at the lack of progress made on the effort sharing deal.

“Not everything is decided, notably on the phasing out of coal, and climate-sceptic governments are strong in Europe,” he added.

Brexit is another factor holding up progress on the ratification of the climate deal.
Theresa May’s government has shed its climate minister, and the subject is not necessarily a priority, even if Ian Duncan is adamant that the UK will ratify the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016.

EU to blame for the delay?

“We really must ask questions about the EU’s responsibility. The historic polluters should ratify the Paris Agreement before India. We can hardly ask India or Russia to accelerate the process,” said Célia Gautier from the NGO Climate Action Network.

And the delayed ratification could have serious consequences. “It is wasted time that could have been spent on the real issue of how to enforce the agreement,” said Gauthier.

The EU’s loss of international credibility on climate change is one problem, but the economic consequences of this backward step could be even more serious. Once the leader on renewables, the EU is stagnating.

France, for example, will fail to meet its 2020 energy objectives, particularly that of generating 23% from renewable sources. Renewables currently account for 14.9% of France’s energy supply, and progress is slow.

And with the UK’s departure, the challenge will be even greater: achieving a 40% reduction in emissions without one of the major drivers of change could prove much more difficult. […]

Full story

3) Britain Set To Miss Legally Binding Green Energy Target
EurActiv, 9 September 2016

Britain is set to miss its 2020 European renewable energy targets, a parliamentary committee report said on Friday (9 September), setting a poor example for less wealthy countries as the world tries to rein in global warming.

Britain has a target to meet 15% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, but had achieved just over 8% by the end of 2015, according to the report, published today.

“The UK will miss its 2020 renewable energy targets without major policy improvements,” said Angus MacNeil, chair of the cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee.

Britain’s electricity sector is on course to meet its expected contribution to the target but energy used in transport and for heating homes and buildings is well behind what is needed, the committee report said.

The renewable target is a legally binding commitment set in accordance with the European Commission and the EU member states.

Britain could be fined by the Commission if it misses the target, although Britain’s decision earlier this year to leave the European Union means the status of such targets is unclear.

However, the lawmakers said a lack of clarity should not deter the country from trying to meet the goal.

“We agreed our 2020 renewable energy targets as part of the EU but they still have many merits, even as the UK Government prepares for Brexit,” MacNeil said.

“If the UK reneges on these targets, it will undermine confidence in the Government’s commitment to clean energy and the climate targets agreed in Paris,” he said. “The Government must recommit to the 2020 targets or, if necessary, set replacement targets to support the longer-term decarbonisation objectives of the Climate Change Act,” he said.

Full story

4) What Paris Deal? Turkey Plans 80 New Coal Power Plants
The Guardian, 6 September 2016
Arthur Neslen

Turkish coal plants are in line for eye-watering public subsidies and exemptions from environmental regulations, under an amended energy package delivered by the country’s parliament, late last week.

Image result for Turkey 80 coal plants

Turkey is a member of the G20, whose two leading economies – the US and China – agreed to ratify the Paris climate change agreement on Saturday.

The G20 summit which ended in Hangzhou, China, yesterday also came under pressure to put a deadline to an old pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
But MPs and campaigners say that the new amendment known as Article 80 could instead open Turkey’s door to extraordinary largesse for the coal sector and other big energy projects, unfettered by environmental considerations.

Turkey plans to build as many as 80 new coal plants in the next few years, on top of 25 that already exist, belching an extra 200m tonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere each year.

Under the new plan, any project deemed a “strategic investment” can be exempted from corporate taxes, tariffs, stoppages, and the duty to carry out environmental risk assessments, or even permitting applications.

Full story

5) GMB Union Calls Corbyn’s Green Plans ‘Naïve And Short-Sighted’
Press Association, 7 September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn’s policies on energy have been condemned as “naive and short-sighted” by one of Labour’s major union backers.

The GMB union, which represents energy workers, warned that “wishful thinking” would not keep the lights on as it tore into the Labour leader’s plans to ban fracking and phase out coal-fired power stations.

Mr Corbyn will set out his plans t o create an energy policy “for the 60 million, not the Big Six” if he becomes prime minister, including the creation of 300,000 jobs in the renewables sector.

The Labour leader will set a target of generating 65% of UK electricity from renewable sources by 2030 in a bid to make the country a world leader in green technology.

A Corbyn-led Labour government would ban fracking, as extracting gas is “not compatible” with the UK’s climate commitments because it is a fossil fuel.
The GMB, which is backing Owen Smith in the Labour leadership race, warned that Mr Corbyn’s policies would not work.

Justin Bowden, the union’s national secretary for energy, said: ” Everyone gets how – over time – renewable energy sources have an important role to play in a sensibly conceived mixed energy policy.

“However wishful thinking doesn’t generate the power we need to heat homes, keep the lights on and the economy functioning; this means that until there are technological breakthroughs in carbon capture or solar storage then gas and nuclear power are the only reliable, low-carbon shows in town for all those days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

“Limiting the UK’s options on achieving energy self-sufficiency by proposing an outright ban on fracking is naive and short-sighted.

“Gas is four times cheaper than electricity, the main reason why over 80% of homes use gas for heating, and access to gas is a key part of every fuel poverty strategy.

“While we are waiting with our fingers crossed for the technology to arrive, or quadrupling the size of the electricity infrastructure and asking everyone with a gas boiler to rip it out and replace it with an electric one, we should not be having to depend on Russia, Qatar, Kuwait or some combination of these regimes to supply us with gas to heat our homes and supply the gas for our crucial chemicals industry.”

Mr Corbyn would reinstate the Department for Energy and Climate Change scrapped by Theresa May when she took over as Prime Minister, a decision he described as “short-sighted and irresponsible”.

Launching his energy and environment manifesto in Nottingham, Mr Corbyn is expected to say: “When Labour gets back into power Britain will lead the world in action on climate change.

“We will act to protect the future of our planet, with social justice at the heart of our environment policies, and take our fair share of action to meet the Paris climate agreement – starting by getting on track with our Climate Change Act goals.

“We want Britain to be the world’s leading producer of renewables technology.”

Full story 

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

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