Poland’s use of vetoes on EU climate goals has no legal basis

By Tierney Smith

– The day’s top climate change stories as chosen by RTCC
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Thursday 25 October

Last updated: 1710

Poland: As EU environment ministers met today to set their mandate for Doha,Poland is said to be backed by seven other Central and Eastern European member states on the issue of excess AAUs. They have called for all credits to be carried over, and to be able to use their AAUs with no limits.

While earlier today, a released document raised doubts over Poland’s ability to veto EU climate policies, the mandate heading into the COP18 summit must still be decided on consensus – not majority.

“No limit is acceptable, whether it is for the use or sale of AAUs,” said Polish Minister Marcin Korolec. “The Presidency knows very well what is acceptable for member states: another formula is needed.” (Euro Politics)

US: Naturalist David Attenborough has spoken out about US politicians attempts to duck the issue of climate change. He says this is down to the economic cost of tackling it and warned it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to the dangers.

“[It] does worry me that the most powerful nation in the world, North America, denies what the rest of us can see very clearly [on climate change]. I don’t know what you do about that. It’s easier to deny.” (Guardian)

Scotland: A new study from WWF Scotland found that for the government to meet its commitment of a 36% reduction in emissions from Scottish homes by 2020, it would have to invest £4.6 billion in improving energy efficiency. That is three times the current and projected expenditure. (New Scotsman)

US: The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart has given global suppliers five years to comply with its environmental rules or risk being pushed off US shelves. The new requirements were announced in China, there the company has over 20,000 suppliers, and could compel workshops to improve energy efficiency, waste reduction and other environmental markers. (Reuters)

EU: Poland’s use of a veto to block EU climate goals for 2050 has no legal basis, according to internal legal document from the Council of the European Union. “A qualified majority of weighted votes in favour cast by at least two-thirds of members” is all that decisions require according to a response to a transparency request by WWF, from the Council’s General-Secretariat. (Euractiv)

Earlier this year Jason Anderson, head of climate and energy at WWF Europe told RTCC: “We don’t and it seems they don’t, have any idea how they came to the convention of having unanimous council decisions.”

But as environment ministers meet today in Luxembourg ahead of the UN climate summit in Doha next month, Poland continues to block decisions. Ministers have said they have agreed on virtually all areas of the EU’s negotiating mandate but the paragraph on AAUs as Poland refuses to sign off on anything that will not allow them to trade its excess units in the future. (European Voice)

Arctic: A new project from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aims to use old US ship logs to help track Arctic climate change. NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said archived logs could help establish a baseline of historical weather data to complement that collected from satellites and ground observations. The group will be getting volunteers to transcribe the thousands of pages of logbooks from 1850 to World War II. (Reuters)

UK: Climate change sceptic and oil company director Peter Lilley MP has been appointed to the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee. The Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden was one of five MPs who voted against the Climate Change Act in 2008. (Guardian)

Worldwide: A conference in London has agreed a target to cut gas flaring by 30% over five years.  Environmentalists have called for an outright ban of the process. Flaring happens mostly in remote areas where excess natural gas – a by product of oil – is released and burned.  The World Bank says $50 billion in fuel goes up in polluting smoke every year. (BBC)

China: Electric vehicle sales are unlikely to meet the government’s targets with only 13,000 vehicles purchased from 2009 to 2011, well short of the target of 500,000 sales by 2015. The latest figures have put the brakes on speculation that China’s electric car manufacturers were poised to leapfrog established vehicles. (BusinessGreen)

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