What to look out for in October
The highlight of this month will be a meeting of EU environment ministers on 30 October, the first to be held under Portugal’s EU presidency.
Ministers will discuss a range of issues including December’s UN climate talks in Bali, water scarcity and emissions from transport fuels. They will meet again in December. EU leaders will meet informally on 18 October in Lisbon where they are expected to focus again on climate change.
The European commission is also expected to announce a plan to boost the development of hydrogen technologies in Europe and to issue a policy paper on maritime policy.
On 30 October EU environment ministers will agree the bloc’s negotiating strategy for upcoming global talks in Bali on a successor regime to the Kyoto protocol.
This third meeting of Kyoto protocol parties will be held between 3-14 December. Calls for a breakthrough in negotiations at the meeting have multiplied as talks approach.
In September Portugal released a statement of Europe’s key positions on climate. It affirms that the rise in global temperatures should not be allowed to exceed 2°C and calls for a 50 per cent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – with industrialised countries achieving cuts of 60-80 per cent.
Meanwhile, the European environment agency will publish its latest projections on greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. The agency will assess EU member states’ progress towards meeting their Kyoto protocol emission reduction targets. The European commission is also expected to issue a progress report.
Ministers will also discuss a commission legislative proposal to reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels by 10 per cent over ten years from 2010. They are expected to reach an agreement in December.
Ministers look set to back the proposal, according to a draft plan seen by ENDS in September. But the 10 per cent target remains in square brackets, reflecting reluctance by some governments to agree a target before finalising emission calculation methods and biofuel sustainability criteria. The commission proposes that these details be filled out later through an EU technical committee procedure.
Environment ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on a commission proposal to tackle water scarcity and drought in Europe.
Ministers are divided over the plan. A north-south split emerged at an informal ministerial meeting in Lisbon last month. Most southern European countries expressed support for new policies. Northern countries say existing EU legislation is sufficient.
On 10 October the commission is expected to launch a plan to boost hydrogen technologies in Europe. The plan will contain two main elements. The first will be a proposal for an EU regulation on car engines using liquid or compressed gaseous hydrogen, in part to lay down safety rules for the production of such vehicles. The second element will be the launch of a multi-billion euro project to boost development of fuels cells under the EU’s seventh research framework programme.
The commission will also publish a communication on EU maritime policy announcing a first set of actions it intends to launch immediately. It will follow a consultation launched last year after the publication of a green paper on the issue.
The EU’s future maritime policy aims to maximise the economic use of oceans and seas while protecting the environment. Other objectives include ensuring a high quality of life in coastal areas.
On 2 October the European parliament’s environment committee is expected to vote a legislative proposal on the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s emission trading scheme. The committee will also vote a draft EU framework soil protection directive proposed by the commission last year.
Parliament rapporteur Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines is proposing a significant softening of the plan. Under her plans an obligation for member states to establish risk reduction targets for priority soil degradation areas would be removed.
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