What to look out for this month
France takes over the EU presidency on 1 July. French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to use France’s six-month spell at the helm to show the country is “back in Europe”. During its tenure, France will focus on climate change, energy and immigration. Biodiversity will also receive attention. EU energy and environment ministers will meet informally in Paris at the beginning of July.
The last committee meeting in the European parliament before the summer break will be on 17 July. The European commission will hold its last meeting on 23 July.
This year’s meeting of the G8 group of industrialised countries will be held in Hokkaido, Japan. The meeting’s main themes are climate change and global health. Environment ministers meeting in Japan in May called on G8 leaders to agree on a long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction goal. Last year the leaders agreed to “seriously consider” at least halving global emissions by 2050.
Japanese minister Ichiro Kamoshita said there was a strong political will to “go beyond this agreement”. But there was less enthusiasm for shorter-term climate targets, according to a statement issued after the ministers’ meeting. It acknowledged a “need” for such targets but failed to specify dates or concrete goals. The EU and Japan support the targets.
EU energy and environment ministers will meet informally in Paris on 3-5 July. Discussions will almost entirely focus on the commission’s energy and climate package. The ministers will also start preparations for this year’s international climate talks in Poznan´, Poland, and discuss the creation of an EU register of best practices on energy efficiency.
The commission will propose on 23 July fresh legislation to tackle illegal logging. Existing EU rules in this area are regarded as too weak, the commission says. ENDS understands that, under the plans, timber importers would be required to guarantee that imports come from certified sources.
The EU has signed partnership agreements with several timber exporting countries, requiring them to ensure imported products have been legally imported. But this requirement only applies to countries and regions that sign up to such agreements, meaning Europe is powerless to prevent illegal imports from non-participating countries.
Plans to revise the national emission ceiling (NEC) directive initially due in July are likely to be delayed, EU sources told ENDS. The commission is to propose national caps on emissions of five air pollutants for 2020. The delay is due to scheduling issues, ENDS understands.
The pollutants covered under the directive are sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ammonia and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
On 8 July, the European parliament is expected to vote on a second-reading agreement struck between a group of MEPs and governments at the end of June on plans to include aviation in Europe’s emission trading scheme. The parliament will also vote on minor legislative changes to the 2006 batteries directive proposed by the commission in May.
On 7 July, the environment committee is due to adopt an opinion on plans to increase the share of renewables in final EU energy use to 20 per cent by 2020. The energy committee leading on this dossier is expected to vote the plans on 16 July.
The environment committee will adopt a non-binding resolution on water scarcity and drought on 15 July.
The 28th meeting of the open-ended working group of the parties to the Montreal protocol on ozone layer protection will take place from 7 to 11 July in Bangkok, Thailand. Delegates are expected to discuss “critical use” exemptions for ozone-depleting gases chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) for the years 2009 and 2010.
Three parties have submitted requests: the EU, Russia and the US. Critical use exemptions for pesticide methyl bromide will also be discussed. Europe is to ban all uses of methyl bromide by the end of the year. This means it is to end all critical use exemptions and will not apply for quota rights for 2009.
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