Category Archives: Environment

Carbon Emissions Fraud: the Plot Thickens

It turns out that many – including people working at Germany’s biggest banks and energy firms, have been involved in carbon emissions credit VAT fraud.

Europol has estimated that in some countries, up to 90% of the whole market volume was caused by fraudulent activities.

This is obviously worrying. The Commission says that the newly introduced reverse charges will change the game. It is very important indeed to curb speculation, since the whole emission trading scheme can be seriously compromised if sufficient control mechanisms are not introduced right away.

Whither Biodiversity in the EU?

The Council conclusions on biodiversity reveal a disparaging truth: we have failed to reach our own targets for prevention of biodiversity loss. The document says that both the EU and the global biodiversity 2010 targets have not been met and that biodiversity loss continues at an unacceptable rate entailing very serious ecological, economic and social consequences.

According to the conclusions the main reasons are incomplete implementation of certain legal instruments, incomplete and poor integration into sectoral policies, insufficient scientific knowledge and data gaps, insufficient funding, lack of additional efficiently-targeted instruments to tackle specific problems, and shortcomings in communication and education to enhance awareness.

So what does the Council do – it devises a new headline target of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. The idea is to develop a EU post-2010 Biodiversity Strategy, including an impact assessment, which should establish the baseline for measuring the halt of biodiversity loss and its restoration, propose sub-targets and also identify the necessary, feasible and cost-effective measures and actions for reaching them.

I do hope that this new approach will be successful. I am also encouraged by the understanding of the Council of the need to advance work on the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services and to incorporate it into policy making and implementation.

Let’s hope that appropriate action follows.

Hedegaard: No Climate Deal before 2012

Climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard has said that a legally binding deal on climate change would not be achievable before the ‘Cop 17′ – the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is to take place in December 2011 in South Africa.

According to Mrs. Hedegaard he EU would have to take a “step-wise approach”, including different paths for influencing the international debate. The European Council’s meeting on 25-26 March 2010 will address primarily the climate change dossier.

Report on the Public Goods Provided by Agriculture

A new, comprehensive report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy evaluates the concept of public goods as applied to agriculture in Europe and assesses the feasibility of policy support for the provision of public services by agriculture.

According to the report there are many public goods supplied by agriculture, such as farmland biodiversity, water quality, water availability, soil functionality, climate stability, air quality.

The report finds out that the public highly values environmental public services. According to the report there is a large potential for highly productive farming systems that adopt environmentally beneficial production and provide public services. Such practices include less intrusive agriculture, energy efficiency improvements and targeted measures such as the use of buffer strips.

Commission: Waste Management Agency is Needed

A European Commission study recommends setting up a dedicated European body to oversee the implementation and enforcement of EU waste law. The new agency should tackle the underlying problems of poor implementation and enforcement of European waste legislation. The scale of the problem has grown in recent years following increases in waste generated and shipped in the enlarged EU.

Current gaps in implementation and enforcement have led to wide-scale illegal dumping and large numbers of landfills and other facilities and sites that do not meet EU standards. In some Member States, waste infrastructure is inadequate or missing.

EU Stays at 20% Reduction Target

The EU and its member states have confirmed their willingness to be associated with the Copenhagen Accord negotiated during the UN climate change conference in December 2009.

However, the EU has not unilaterally increased its greenhouse gas emissions target, but offered conditional offer of a 30% reduction, if other developed countries commit to comparable emissions reductions and developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and capabilities.