Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sweden 'a climate change winner'

But they are still trying to put a gloomy face on it

Sweden would be one of the winners from climate change, with bigger crop yields and fewer deaths from cold, according to a new report from the European Commission. Crop yields in northern Europe would rise by up to 70 percent by 2071 if average European temperatures were to rise by 2.2 percent, giving a boost to Sweden's farming industry, according to the Financial Times, which has seen the report.

In Mediterranean countries, however, there would be more droughts and fires and agricultural land would become less fertile. "Plants and animals associated with certain geographical regions are already moving or dying," the FT quotes the report as saying. All countries would suffer from the negative effects of climate change. Sea levels could rise by up to a metre, threatening many parts of Sweden. More acidic oceans would hit fish stocks.

The report, based on material from the Commission's Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security, is due to be published next week. In it, the authors call for a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, but conclude that this would only cost 0.19 percent of the EU's gross domestic product.



To retain leadership in the battle to curb climate change, the European Union believes it must show the rest of the world how to stop a predicted ecological catastrophe, while maintaining a healthy environment for business. But that lofty goal -- the promise of green growth -- looks somewhat different from the factory floor, according to Michel Wurth, president of Arcelor Mittal France. Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steel company with 135,000 workers in Europe, is among several companies that are sending out distress signals two years after the EU began capping carbon dioxide emissions from 10,000 factories and power plants.

Tougher EU policies to cap emissions "could threaten two of our plants" because they would significantly raise costs, Wurth said during a recent interview. Instead of battling pollution, he argued, the measures were encouraging "less production in Europe and more imports from places with fewer environmental regulations" -- a result that Wurth deemed "absolutely ridiculous."

Industrialists like Wurth are not the only ones questioning why they should shoulder the cost of creating a low-carbon economy at a time when most of the rest of the world pollutes with far fewer constraints. As the EU introduces a far-reaching energy plan Wednesday that will spread the burden of combating global warming even more widely, a fierce debate is unfolding about whether industry and the European economy can afford higher commitments to pollution-reduction targets, and whether Europe should make unilateral commitments, while large polluters from the United States to China are taking smaller strides.

"We need to demonstrate environmental leadership, but there is no point in doing so if we have no followers -- especially if this comes at significant cost to the EU economy," Guenter Verheugen, the EU industry commissioner, wrote to Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, in November. "Our growth and jobs priority must not be endangered," Verheugen said.

For now, the EU is standing firm. Its so-called Emissions Trading Scheme -- in which companies like Arcelor Mittal and producers of power, cement, pulp and paper limit their carbon emissions by trading credits -- is the largest system of its kind and the main tool used by Europe to reach goals outlined under the Kyoto Protocol.

In the volley of proposals to be announced Wednesday, the EU will go further, calling for a "new industrial revolution" to make additional reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, increase Europe's sources of renewable energy and raise competition among the largest energy producers....

Officials in the Union are seeking to avoid a showdown with national governments over the controversial issue of promoting nuclear energy by leaving it to capitals to decide whether to produce nuclear power. Even so, the text on Wednesday is expected to say that reducing nuclear power would make it more difficult to cut Europe's carbon output.

The knottiest immediate debate is emissions targets, which the EU is expected to set out as far out as 2050. Some industries fear that a recommendation by the EU's environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, to cut emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as a way keeping temperatures no more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, will squeeze them out of business.

The world's biggest polluter, the United States, refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, so its businesses generally do not face similar targets. Australia also has rejected the accord, while China and India have resisted mandatory cutbacks.

Verheugen, the EU industry commissioner, favors a less-stringent target, and has recommended setting them closer to 15 percent below 1990 levels in order to safeguard European competitiveness.

On Wednesday, EU officials could set the bar at a compromise level of about 20 percent by 2020 and suggest far more ambitious targets of 35 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050, according to a draft of the EU report on energy policy.

For some European industries like air travel, the main concern is that competitors with less business in Europe will face lower costs. Lufthansa, the German airline, complains that capping the emissions of carriers using EU airports "puts Europe's aviation industry to a severe disadvantage in global competition."

For other industries, the main concern is the higher cost of electricity, which was exacerbated by the introduction of emissions trading. The Norwegian company Hydro has closed two aluminum units in Germany since 2005 because of high power costs, in part citing tough environmental laws in Europe. A Norsk Hydro spokesman, Thomas Knutzen, said his industry would make new investments mainly in countries that "do not have obligations to reduce their CO2 emissions through Kyoto."



The European Union will sabotage its aim of getting developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions sharply if it sets a lower target for itself than it seeks for the rest of the world, Greenpeace said on Tuesday.

The European Commission, in a new set of energy and environmental policy measures, is expected to propose on Wednesday that developed nations cut emissions of gases, blamed for global warming, by 30 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. At the same time, the Commission will propose the 27-nation EU set a target of reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in the period, with the possibility of increasing that goal if the international community agrees to a broader cut.

Environmental group Greenpeace said an EU goal of a 20 percent cut would undermine the chance of a larger target on the world stage. "We think that this is a political and scientific blunder," said Mahi Sideridou, climate policy director at Greenpeace in Brussels, adding the 20 percent target resulted from political bargaining rather than climate change science. "They are fiddling while the planet is burning," she said.

The EU, which played a key role in bringing the Kyoto Protocol into force, has struggled to reconcile its role as a leader in the fight against climate change with its effort to boost the competitiveness of its own members.



The Dutch government contributes to maintaining two very polluting chemical factories in China. The factories produce cooling agents in a process during which a gas is released which is 11.700 as powerful as CO2 and which also affects the ozone layer. The Netherlands pay the factories, together with Italy and Spain, 775 million euros until 2012, as was agreed upon last year. The Dutch contribution is 69 million.

The Chinese factories get their money as a reward for making their production process more environmentally friendly. This way the Dutch government wants to help China to reduce environmental pollution. Furthermore, it helps the Netherlands to meet their Kyoto-protocol goals, the international agreements to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The transaction with the two Chinese chemical factories are the largest environmental deals ever.

'It is scandalous the Netherlands is involved in this' says Lucas Reijnders, professor in environmental studies. The environmental organizations are of the opinion that the Netherlands rewards the polluting industries too much this way. 'This is a perverse incentive', says Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace International. 'Such transactions are so profitable for China that it is worthwhile for the country to establish new polluting factories.'

'These transactions conflict with previous environmental agreements', says Donals Pols of "Millieudefensie" (Environment defense). In 1987, rich and poor countries already had agreed that the so-called soft CFC's produced in factories should be banned. But according to Pols the Chinese factories stay in business unnecessarily long by the Dutch Money. China is rich enough to quit producing this cooling agent and to change to less damaging, but more expensive alternatives, according to Reijnders. 'Western countries should pressure China.'

A spokeswoman of the department of environmental affairs (VROM) recognizes the danger of a perverse incentive for the Chinese factories. However, according to her this is not the case here. 'This is not about new, but about existing factories. According to international agreements these factories have to close down only far beyond 2012'. The Chinese factories thus cannot be forced to close down and to use other cooling agents other than soft CFC's. 'But we are very alert on not closing deals with factories that recently have been built.'

To meet to the Kyoto demands western companies and governments can also pay foreign polluting industries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The Dutch contribution in the contribution of a total of 775 million euro is, according to the VROM department, 69 million euro. With it the government obtains a CO2 emission reduction of 16 million tons. This amount equals the emission of four million cars, each with a mileage of 20 thousand kilometers. In total the Dutch government pays foreign companies 450 million euros until 2012 for cleaner production processes.

De Volkskrant, 4 January 2007 (in Dutch).


While China is turning its environmental problems into a shrewdly managed financial asset -- managing carbon credits -- critics worry that some projects Beijing is encouraging are siphoning Western carbon-market investment away from the kind of emission-reduction projects the burgeoning global "carbon market" was designed to encourage: those that generate energy more cleanly, such as natural-gas-fired power plants and wind turbines.

China, the world's No. 2 emitter of greenhouse gases behind the U.S., has also become the biggest source of developing-world carbon credits bought by Western investors, benefiting both Chinese corporations and Chinese government tax receipts, especially since China has mandated that only companies with a majority Chinese ownership can own projects generating carbon credits, and Beijing is effectively imposing minimum prices for its carbon credits. The World Bank, a major player in the global carbon-credits market, estimates the market was worth $21.5 billion in the first three quarters of 2006, about double its value in all of 2005.

But investors are showing a preference for deals to destroy a greenhouse gas called HFC-23 that scientists say is thousands of times more potent than CO2 and that is a byproduct of the manufacture of a common refrigerant, HCFC-22. Investors prefer them because the gas's potency compared with CO2 and the relatively low cost of installing the machinery that destroys it mean the projects spin off massive numbers of carbon credits at rock-bottom prices. In fact, selling the credits from HFC-23-destruction projects typically generates more profit than selling the actual refrigerant. As a result, regulators worry that the carbon market is encouraging companies in the developing world to make more of the underlying refrigerant than they otherwise would -- so they can produce more of the global-warming gas, destroy it, and sell the credits.

The Wall Street Journal, 8 January 2007


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: