Crib notes: EU to release latest raft of climate, energy legislation

This week’s top climate politics and policy stories. Sign up to have our Friday briefing and Monday’s crib notes sent to your inbox

EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete stressed the upsides of (Pic: European Union)


Clear your hard drive: a monster file is coming. Brussels releases its “Winter Package” on 30 November, a 1,000-page piece of legislation that will form a key part of its energy strategy.

The proposals are split into eight sections and cover a broad array of the European Union’s energy policies, including efficiency, renewables and grid connections.

“We will propose a European framework for capacity remuneration mechanisms to ensure coherence, cross-border participation and avoid market distortions,” said EU climate chief Miguel Arias Canete in a speech last week.

“It might therefore be necessary to include strict environmental criteria in such mechanisms to avoid giving wrong incentives that might lead to stranded assets as our emission cap gets tighter.”

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A text leaked in mid-November indicated the Commission may ramp its 2030 efficiency target up from 27% to 30%, although it’s unclear whether this has support across all 28 member states.

“My position is clear. If you want to perform you need a binding target… at least at EU level so you have a benchmark. 27% is not enough. 30% delivers enormous benefits,” Canete said in a separate event hosted by Politico Playbook last week.

Last week a coalition of leading businesses including Philips, Veolia, Knauf and Schneider urged the Commission to set a 40% target

“Europe must increase the scale and rate required to meet its Paris climate commitments and if we want to secure a cost-effective energy transition, both a binding ambition for energy efficiency and clear long-term vision are needed,” they said in a letter.

Full background & relevant documents are available on the Commission website.

Biodiversity time

The UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is preparing for a landmark environment summit, COP13, which starts on 4 December in Cancun. The US isn’t a party of the CBD so the Donald can’t pull out. We’ll have a preview of the meeting this week. (Website link here).

Fillon proposes €30 CO2 floor

Winning the France’s centre-right presidential primary on Sunday evening, former prime minister Francois Fillon is likely to be the man to stop the National Front’s Marine Le Pen in May 2017.

Although climate change did not feature in the primaries, Fillon’s environment policies are worth reading – in particular his proposal for an EU-wide carbon price (one the current incumbent in the Élysée Palace has also backed).

“Europe has set CO2 emission ceilings per country (quotas) so all those that produce CO2 are concerned. If a country has not consumed its quota, it can sell tons of unused CO2, and those who have consumed more can buy it. The price of a tonne must then be set: the higher the price, the greater the incentive to reduce its emissions. Until now this market is not functioning well, it has generated numerous frauds and the price per ton is not deterrent. For this system to be effective, it must be at least € 30 per tonne…

“Europe will have to negotiate in parallel with the United States, China and other countries to achieve compliance with the floor price per tonne of CO2, based on the decisions approved at COP 21.”

Other policies he talks of include incentives for electric vehicles, carbon capture and storage technology and expansion of nuclear power.

Le Pen’s views on climate change are unclear. In 2012 she said she was “not sure” if humans were linked to global warming, although in 2014 she launched a “New Ecology” movement.

OPEC talks in Vienna

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meet in Vienna today to try and work out how the bloc will meet its goal to cut production, the first move at this scale for nearly a decade.

“We expect demand to recover in 2017, then prices will stabilize, and this will happen without an intervention from OPEC,” said Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih in an interview with Saudi media.

“We don’t have a single path which is to cut production at the OPEC meeting, we can also depend on recovery in consumption, especially from the US.”

According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are “at odds” over the planned cuts, while talks are also taking place with major hydrocarbon exporter Russia, which is not a member of OPEC.

“The group will need to cut in excess of 1m barrels a day to hit its target of 32.5m b/d that was set in a provisional accord in September,” reports the FT. Non-OPEC members are also being approached to make further cuts in a bit to stabilise volatile oil prices.

China’s wasting billions on coal

$490 billion to be precise, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative. It calculates that in July nearly 900 gigawatts of operating coal capacity was being used less than half the time, with another 200 GW in the construction pipeline.

On top of that – the world’s biggest carbon polluter also has 405 GW of capacity planned, with a capital cost of half a trillion US dollars.

“Low carbon capacity targets in the 13th Five Year Plan coupled with a low power demand environment will likely strand coal capacity,” reads the report.

“Additional capacity beyond existing plants is only required by 2020 if power generation growth exceeds 4% per year and coal plants are run at a capacity factor of 45% or less.” Power generation growth is currently 3% per year.

US pipeline protests intensify

Officials say they will close access to a campsite at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota where campaigners against the 1,170-mile Dakota Access Pipeline have based themselves for months.

Local tribes say the hydrocarbon pipeline will harm the Missouri River and pollute sacred grounds. Clashes between protestors and police have taken place for months.

“This pipeline would carry toxic fracked oil from North Dakota across four states, and under the Missouri River immediately upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation,” said green group in a statement.

“That makes it a threat to the sacred land and water of native communities and a disaster for the climate.”

2017 will be cooler than 2016

Some publications are already getting excited about the wane in global temperatures since the El Nino weather event died off. But it’s not – apparently – news to professor Peter Stott of the Met Office.

“Three record-breaking years for global temperature would be remarkable. The year 2015 was exceptionally warm and, like 2016, was influenced by the warm El Niño circulation in the tropical Pacific,” he says.

“As the El Niño wanes, we don’t anticipate that 2017 will be another record-breaking year in the instrumental record. However, 2017 is likely to be warmer than any year prior to the last two decades because of the underlying extent of anthropogenic warming due to the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.”

Trump’s climate and energy policies

…the wait continues

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