New Report: “A New Wave of European Climate and Energy Policy: Towards a 2030 Framework”

Hanrahan, G., (2013). A New Wave of European Climate and Energy Policy: Towards a 2030 Framework. Dublin, Ireland:  The Institute of International and European Affairs, 1-17.

Introduction: In the heady days of 2007, when climate change was climbing the political and public agendas, EU leaders committed to the ambitious trio of 20-20-20 headline climate and energy targets, to be delivered by 2020. This political commitment, formalised in the 2008 Climate and Energy Package, was designed to have normative force and demonstrate the EU’s climate leadership in the run up to the critical 2009 Copenhagen Conference.

Six years on, however, the landscape has changed dramatically. Political capital in Europe is consumed by the economic crisis and recovery efforts; climate has fallen down the list of political priorities globally; the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – the EU’s flagship climate protection instrument – is in turmoil; global investment in renewable energy fell in 2012; the unconventional oil and gas revolution in the US is driving a coal rush in Europe and casting EU high energy prices into sharp relief; momentum has not built around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and there is a shortfall in delivering the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target.

Nevertheless, significant progress has been made in beginning the low carbon transformation of Europe’s economy. Emission reductions are on track and the 2020 target looks set to be over-delivered, though much of this success is a result of economic stagnation. The rollout of renewable energy is also proceeding apace, aided by the decreasing cost of renewable technologies, which is in turn associated with economies of scale in Chinese manufacturing in particular. Member States have made a political commitment to 80-95% decarbonisation by 2050 and the European Commission’s Low Carbon, Energy and Transport Roadmaps to 2050 have begun to articulate what is possible in this respect. Many Member States are also busy setting out decarbonisation agendas, with the German Energiewende perhaps the best-known example.

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New Article: ‘Multi-Level Governance: Opportunities and Barriers in Moving to a Low-Carbon Scotland’

Sugden, D. et al. (2013). Multi-Level Governance: Opportunities and Barriers in Moving to a Low-Carbon Scotland. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 1-12

Abstract: In view of the challenge posed by climate change and the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, The Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry(2011) examined the barriers making it difficult for Scotland to change to a low-carbon society. The single most important finding is that, whilst widely desired, change is held back by the lack of coherence and integration of policy at different levels of governance. There is activity at the level of the EU, UK Government, Scottish Government, local authorities, local communities, households and civil society, but there is often a disconnection between policies at different levels. This impedes progress and also leads to mistrust among the general public. This paper brings together the background to ten primary recommendations featured in the Inquiry addressing the principal barriers. Above all, it is important to integrate the activities within city regions and to exploit opportunities in local communities. Reflecting on the Inquiry findings, we stress the economic, social and environmental opportunities to be gained from a low-carbon society and outline the step changes that need to take place within governance, city regions and local authorities and civil society.

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New Article: ‘Rational Climate Mitigation Goals’

Björnberg, K.E. (2013). Rational Climate Mitigation Goals. Energy Policy. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.12.057

Abstract: The overall goal of the UNFCCC is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. In policy practice, this goal is mainly operationalized through three types of mitigation targets: emission, atmospheric concentration and temperature targets. The typical function of climate mitigation goals is to regulate action towards goal achievement. This is done in several ways. Mitigation goals help the structuring of the greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement action, over time and between agents; they constitute a standard against which GHG abatement can be assessed and evaluated; they motivate climate conscious behavior; and discourage defection from cooperative abatement regimes. Although the three targets clearly relate to one another, there could be differences in how well they fulfill these functions. In this article, the effectiveness of emission, concentration and temperature targets in guiding and motivating action towards the UNFCCC’s overall aim is analyzed using a framework for rational goal evaluation developed by Edvardsson and Hansson (2005) as an analytical tool. It is argued that to regulate action effectively, mitigation goals should ideally satisfy four criteria: precision, evaluability, attainability and motivity. Only then can the target fulfill its typical function, i.e., to guide and motivate action in a way that facilitates goal achievement.

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‘Kyoto Protocol: Lifeline or Death at the Global Climate Change Summit in Durban?’

by Trusha Reddy, ISS
“We don’t want South Africa to be the death of Kyoto Protocol,” Minister of Environment, Edwina Molewa said recently, referring to the outcomes aspired to by the incoming South African COP17 Presidency from 28 November to 9 December 2011. But what are the real chances of life for the Kyoto and what are the stakes if we lose it?
 Most countries are calling for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, as the first one ends in 2012. The Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in 2005, is the only legally binding agreement for greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It commits 38 developed nations from 2008-2012 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 % below 1990 levels. The US never ratified Kyoto arguing that it would harm its domestic economy. Emerging economies also argued that their first priority is to develop, which requires higher energy use. Countries led by the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan now wish to see the demise of Kyoto and introduce a ‘pledge and review’ system instead of Kyoto’s system of binding targets. The resulting effect of killing Kyoto would be consolidate two separate tracks of the negotiation process, which was agreed to at the COP13, Bali in 2007, one with binding targets, the other with comparable national efforts and a long-term vision.

‘Carbon Trading in Africa: A Critical Review

Summary:  Africa is marginal to the carbon market, and the carbon market has been irrelevant to the continent’s efforts to tackle climate change – Oscar Reyes, Carbon Trade Watch This monograph presents a critical review of carbon trading in Africa. It  comprises a compendium of essays by an expert group of authors, each analysing key issues from a corruption and governance perspective. The chapters include a discussion on the context of and trends in the carbon market in Africa, offset projects in Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa, carbon finance and regulation. The authors explore issues around transparency and accountability, and examine the integrity of systems and processes aimed at achieving professed goals of climate change mitigation and sustainable development. While deficits in transparency and accountability do not necessarily constitute corruption, they are nevertheless seen as cause for concern as they provide opportunities for corrupt activities to take place. In general, corruption is approached in a nuanced way because carbon trading provides new and different ways of profiting illegitimately at the expense of a deteriorating climate. For this reason, the study adopts a broad definition of corruption, sometimes using it to indicate a particular or singular abuse, and sometimes to refer to systemic challenges.

Reddy, T. (2011). Carbon trading in Africa: A Critical Review, ISS Monograph, 184: 1-194 (Available for dowload at:

‘Climate policy to map out transition to low-carbon economy’

Engineering News, 14 October 2011 

South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy, which was approved by Cabinet this week, would help the country map out a socioeconomic transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said on Friday.

The policy would seek to balance the objectives of job creation, economic growth, environmental sustainability and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“Many criticise that our key policies are being dominated by other underlying objectives, such as employment for example. It would be a grave mistake to approach any new policy only in terms of reducing the country’s carbon footprint. Hence a balanced and mainstream approach is needed for the benefit of all South Africans,” Molewa toldEngineering News Online on the sidelines of the DBSA’s Greening Infrastructure Programmes in South Africa conference in Midrand.

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‘No ‘green’ earmarking plan for carbon tax revenue’

Engineering News, 2 June 2011 

Should South Africa, which produced about 500-million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) yearly, move ahead with the implementation of a carbon tax, the revenue generated would not necessarily be set aside specifically for environmental projects, National Treasury environmental and fuel taxes director Sharlin Hemraj stressed on Thursday.

The National Treasury, which aims to conclude its carbon-tax policy ahead of the 2012 Budget, currently favoured a tax on carbon emissions, and its discussion document proposed R75/t CO2e, increasing to around R200/t CO2e over time.

“The imposition of a tax is that money should be spent in a certain way and one of the common misconceptions is that revenue will be used to finance specific environmental activities with the implementation of a tax,” she explained at the Transport Forum, held in Johannesburg.

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