January - June 2007

EU and US launch "green flights" plan
June, 19, 2007
(EURACTIV) - The European Union and US will work together to cut aircraft pollution by pooling research funds and improving the compatibility of their respective air-traffic control systems. The two sides said that it will help speed up the application of new emissions-reduction technologies, such as the "reduced-engine system" that enables planes to save fuel, release fewer greenhouse gases and make less noise when they land. But the deal is unlikely to hold off a dispute over a separate EU plan to make all airlines flying via Europe trade carbon permits.
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China Passes U.S. as World's Top Emitter of Carbon Dioxide
June 20, 2007  
BEJING, (AP) - China has overtaken the United States as the world's top producer of carbon dioxide emissions — the biggest man-made contributor to global warming — based on the latest widely accepted energy consumption data, a Dutch research group says. According to a report released Tuesday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China overtook the U.S. in emissions of CO2 by about 7.5 percent in 2006. While China was 2 percent below the United States in 2005, voracious coal consumption and increased cement production caused the numbers to rise rapidly, the group said.
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European Commission President Barroso Welcomes G8 Climate Change Agreement
June 8, 2007  
The leading industrialized nations (G8) agreed at least to halve global CO2 emissions by 2050 and to achieve this goal together. Leaders of G8 states acknowledged that the UN climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. The big emerging economies are also to be incorporated in the process..."European leadership, unity and determination have helped deliver this outcome. This is not the end of the fight against climate change; nor the beginning of the end. But it is surely the end of the beginning," said President José Manuel Barroso. President Barroso believes that the G8 has crossed the Rubicon: "It is no longer if we should act, but by when and how. And even on those points we have increasingly clear answers: in 2009, under a UN process." Also, President Jose Manuel Barroso said: "Today the G8 achieved five major goals:

  • recognition that climate change is a global problem which requires urgent, global solutions,

  • commitment to substantial global emissions reductions,

  • commitment to deliver a global agreement, including with targets, under the UN,

  • consensus that a global agreement is needed by 2009,

  • recognition that in fixing those targets due account should be taken of the European Union, Japan and Canada's targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent at least by 2050

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G8 Summit in Heiligendamm - Excerpt from the summary of agreements published by Germany on behalf of G8 leaders after their summit in Heiligendamm (source: BBC)

"...Combating climate change is one of the major challenges for mankind and it has the potential to seriously damage our natural environment and the global economy... In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed in Heiligendamm involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050... We have agreed that the UN climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. We are committed to moving forward in that forum and call on all parties to actively and constructively participate in the UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia in December 2007 with a view to achieving a comprehensive post 2012-agreement (post Kyoto-agreement) that should include all major emitters..."
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G-8 Leaders Back 'Substantial' Cuts In Gas Emissions
June 7, 2007
Leaders of the eight largest industrialized nations agreed Thursday to join forces to make "substantial" cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but at President Bush's insistence did not impose binding targets for the reductions. The agreement to fight rising temperatures notes the promises of EU nations, Canada and Japan to cut emissions in half by 2050. But the US and Russia would not be bound by that pledge. (Read More)

Breakthrough on climate protection
June 7, 2007
HEILEGENDAMM, (www.g-8.de) - The leading industrialized nations (G8) aim to at least halve global CO2 emissions by 2050. The Heads of State and Government agreed at Heiligendamm to achieve this goal together as part of a UN process. The big emerging economies are also to be incorporated in the process. The environment ministers of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change can now negotiate details of how these goals regarding global reductions are to be achieved. A post-Kyoto Protocol regulation is to be agreed during the Global Climate Change Conference to be held there. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Up until now it was not clear what this was to be based on. Now the successor agreement is to be adopted by 2009 and to contribute to the agreed UN process. It is also clear that all countries bear joint responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases, but in different ways. The Chancellor highlighted the leading role the Group of 8 had to play. "The industrialized countries must take the first step", she emphasized. The Chancellor felt that it was a great success that all eight of the G8 countries now acknowledged the results of the UN's most recent climate report. The so-called IPCC Report found that global warming is largely the result of human activity. Only by limiting CO2 emissions will it be possible to stop global warming. In order to avoid wide-ranging consequences, the international experts believe that it is absolutely essential that global warming be limited to 1.5 to 2.5°C.
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U.S. Rejects EU Emission Reductions
May 29, 2007
BERLIN, (AP) - The United States rejects the European Union's all-encompassing target on reduction of carbon emissions, President Bush's environmental adviser said Tuesday. James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the United States is not against setting goals but prefers to focus them on specific sectors, such as reducing dependence on gasoline and cleaner coal. ''The U.S. has different sets of targets,'' he said. Germany, which holds the European Union and Group of 8 presidencies, is proposing a so-called ''two-degree'' target, whereby global temperatures would be allowed to increase no more than 2 degrees Celsius -- the equivalent of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit -- before being brought back down. Practically, experts have said that means a global reduction in emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Connaughton, who is on a one-week bipartisan trip to Europe with members of the House of Representatives, said the U.S. favors ''setting targets in the context of national circumstances.'' But despite the disagreements, Connaughton said the G-8 meeting, which brings together the leaders of Germany, the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan, could still result in a productive conclusion.

(Read More)

Japan Proposes Halving Emissions by 2050
May 24, 2007
TOKYO, (WP) - The world should aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050 as part of a new global warming pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday. Abe, who plans to present his idea at the Group of Eight summit in Germany in June, said the proposed climate change treaty must be flexible enough to draw all nations' participation. Japanese officials have expressed reservations about setting specific targets in the early stages of negotiations for fear of discouraging major emitters _ such as the United States _ from participating. Recent climate change discussions have focused on what kind of a pact should follow Kyoto . Proponents of emission cuts have pushed for discussion of a post-Kyoto pact at the June 6-8 Group of Eight summit in Germany , and a December climate change conference on Indonesia 's Bali island. Delegates from 120 countries endorsed a report earlier this year, stating the world has the technology and wealth now to act decisively in time to limit a sharp temperature rise that would wipe out species, raise oceans and trigger economic havoc.

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Merkel unsure G8 will clinch climate breakthrough
May 24, 2007
BERLIN, (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged developed nations on Thursday to slash
greenhouse gas emissions but played down prospects that a G8 summit next month would produce a breakthrough in the fight against global warming. She wants the club -- composed of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- to agree concrete steps to halt global warming that would prepare the ground for an extension of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. Merkel faces strong resistance from the United States, which refused to sign up to Kyoto and opposes binding emission reduction targets despite recent U.N. reports warning of rising sea levels, droughts and floods linked to climate change. "It is important that the G8 develops a common understanding how climate change can be tackled and what agreements can be made for the period beyond 2012," she added. But the United States has given no sign it is willing to compromise. It wants key targets and timetables for combating global warming -- including a pledge to halve emissions by 2050 -- removed from a draft summit communique seen by Reuters.
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Joint science academies’ statement on growth and responsibility: sustainability, energy efficiency and climate protection
May 16, 2007
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences joined 12 other national science academies on May 16 in issuing a statement calling on world leaders - particularly G8 leaders who will meet in June - to address global climate change and energy-access issues by promoting low carbon-emission energy systems and more efficient use of energy. The Joint science academies’ statement on growth and responsibility: sustainability, energy efficiency and climate protection, says: “Our present energy course is not sustainable...The problem is not yet insoluble, but becomes more difficult with each passing day.”
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Read the Joint Statement)

Top scientists urge quick G8 climate change action

May 16, 2007
LONDON, (Reuters) -
Top scientists called on Wednesday for leaders of the world's rich nations to cease squabbling over global warming and take urgent action instead. The science academies of the Group of Eight (G8) -- Britain, the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy -- as well as five major developing nations South Africa, India, China, Brazil and Mexico made the call ahead of a G8 summit in Germany next month which looks headed for deadlock. Scientists said earlier this year average temperatures would rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport, causing floods, famines and storms and putting millions of lives at risk. Germany, which this year has the presidency of the G8, is trying to push though a strongly-worded statement from the June 6-8 summit insisting that action must be taken to limit the rise this century to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
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G8 at odds on climate change
May 15, 2007
BERLIN, (FT) -
Angela Merkel has admitted that Berlin and Washington remain deeply at odds on what next month's G8 rich nations' summit should decide on tackling climate change, with the German chancellor unwilling to compromise on certain targets that Washington finds unacceptable.  Merkel, a former environment minister, has now indicated that she is unwilling to negotiate about targets and findings - such as the 2ºC limit - which she believes are scientifically proven as necessary to curb long-term climate change.
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EU Energy Commissioner Calls for an International Agreement on Energy Efficiency
May 15, 2007
Brussels, (EU Press Release) -
At the Ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which is taking place on 14-15 May in Paris , Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs called for an International Agreement on Energy Efficiency. Initially this agreement would bring together OECD countries and key developing countries to agree on common approaches to saving energy. The Ministers also considered the important issues of how to overcome barriers to developing and implementing energy efficiency policies and technologies in IEA member and non-member countries and how to use international frameworks to facilitate the sharing of energy efficiency information and experience.
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The Warming Challenge
May 7, 2007
WASHINGTON, (NYT, Editorial) -
Yesterday’s report on global warming from the world’s most authoritative voice on climate change asserts that significant progress toward stabilizing and reducing global warming emissions can be achieved at a relatively low cost using known technologies. This is a hugely important message to policy makers everywhere, not least those in the United States Congress. Many of them have been paralyzed by fears — assiduously cultivated by the Bush administration — that a full-scale attack on climate change could cripple the economy. The report was the third this year from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The first report, in February, blamed humans for rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. A second report last month warned of famine, floods and other ecological disasters unless emissions were brought under control. The new report deals with remedies. It warns that over the course of this century, major investments in new and essentially carbon-free energy sources will be required. But it stresses that we can and must begin to address the problem now, using off-the-shelf technologies to make our cars, buildings and appliances far more efficient, while investing in alternative fuels, like cellulosic ethanol, that show near-term promise. The report also made clear the risks of delay, noting that emissions of greenhouse gases have risen 70 percent since 1970 and could nearly double from current levels by 2030 if nothing is done. For that reason, it said, it is vital for policy makers to discourage older technologies — coal-fired power plants with no capacity to store carbon emissions, for instance — so as not to lock in further increases in emissions, which would make the task much harder and more expensive down the road. From a political and legislative perspective, the report could not have been more timely. A run of fortuitous events — including the panel’s first two reports, increased agitation at the state and local level, and the recent Supreme Court decision authorizing the government regulation of carbon dioxide — has elevated the warming issue in the public consciousness and on Congress’s list of priorities. Moreover, many of the report’s proposals have already found a home in pending legislation. Bills to increase fuel efficiency in cars and trucks have been introduced in both houses; Jeff Bingaman, the Democrats’ Senate spokesman on energy matters, is drafting a measure that would require utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from wind and other renewable sources; Barbara Boxer, head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has offered an ambitious bill to greatly increase investments in alternative fuels. None of these bills are surefire winners. But by showing that the costs of acting now will be trivial compared with the price to be paid if we do nothing, the report can only improve their chances.
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US-EU claims of progress on global warming greeted with skepticism
May 5, 2007
WASHINGTON, (IHT) -
European Union and U.S. leaders are hailing what they say is a big step toward bridging their sharp differences on global warming. Academics and critics of President George W. Bush's policies, however, question whether he really gave any ground. At issue is a little-noticed sentence deep in a joint statement signed during an EU-U.S. White House summit Monday. It said senior officials would meet at a climate forum in Europe this year to discuss "market mechanisms, including but not limited to emissions trading."
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2007 US-EU Summit Statement: Energy Security, Efficiency and Climate ChangeApril 30, 2007
WASHINGTON, (White House News) - Ensuring secure, affordable supplies of energy and tackling climate change are central, interlinked global challenges facing the international community.  Addressing these issues requires urgent, sustained global action and an integrated policy approach, using a wide range of regionally, nationally or internationally defined policy tools and measures. We are determined to ensure access to affordable, clean, and secure sources of energy to underpin sustainable global economic growth and to protect our environment.
(Read the full statement
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EU Plans Shipping Emissions Cap
April 16, 2007
BRUSSELS, (Reuters) -The European Commission is going to include emissions from the shipping industry in its cap and trade system of emissions regulations. This means cruise and container ships, as well as aircraft, will be subject to regulation under the EU wide scheme.
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Military Sharpens Focus on Climate Change
April 15, 2007
WASHINGTON, (WP) - A Decline in Resources Is Projected to Cause Increasing Instability Overseas.
The U.S. military is increasingly focused on a potential national security threat: climate change. Just last month the U.S. Army War College funded a two-day conference at the Triangle Institute for Security Studies titled "The National Security Implications of Global Climate Change." And tomorrow, a group of 11 retired senior generals will release a report saying that global warming "presents significant national security challenges to the United States," which it must address or face serious consequences. The 63-page report -- which is being released a day before the U.N. Security Council holds its first-ever briefing on climate change -- lays out a detailed case for how global warming could destabilize vulnerable states in Africa and Asia and drive a flood of migrants to richer countries. It focuses on how climate change "can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world," in part by causing water shortages and damaging food production.
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Controversial Climate Report Paints Dire Future for Poor
April 10, 2007
BRUSSELS, (CNN) - After a marathon session, scientific experts and government delegates adopted the policy makers' summary of the second 2007 IPCC climate change report. Scientists haggled over specific wording in the report, with some experts claiming the report has been "dumbed down" in order to for countries like China to sign on to the report. The report confirms that global warming is occuring an the world's poor will bear the brunt of the negative effects.

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(Read IPCC Policy Maker's Summaries)

High Court Faults EPA Inaction on Emissions
April 3, 2007
US, (WP) - The U.S. supreme court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Clean Air Act by declining to regulate new vehicle emission standards. Justice John Paul Stevens was quoted as saying the EPA had no reasoned argument for not deciding whether green house gas emissions cause climate change. The case rebukes the Bush administrations stance of taking no action to curb CO2 emissions as well as potentially making it legal for states to take their own initiative on emissions regulation. Some environmentalists view this case as a turning point to force the federal government to act on a global scale to regulate emissions.
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EU slams United States, Australia on climate change
April 2 , 2007
BRUSSELS, (Reuters) - The European Union accused the United States and Australia on Monday of hampering international efforts to tackle climate change. EU environmental commissioner called out the US and Australia at a UN meeting, citing the need to bring the world's powerful countries into a binding environmental pact in order to draw is smaller, poorer countries. The EU decided to cut emissions by 20%, but said it would agree to a 30% reduction target if other large polluting countries would join. The US has been reluctant to set mandatory caps on green house gas emissions.
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Parliament Set to Back Tough Rules on Aircraft Emmissions
March 29, 2007
In December of last year, the European Commission proposed an emmissions trading scheme for the airline industry. The plan has the backing of the European Parliament and European Council, and law makers are ready to complete the details of the legislation by the end of 2007. The parliament is poised to suggest a more taxing scheme that limits the amount of credits an airline can buy, as well as adding a fuel tax. The initial proposal is set to take force in 2011, and will only include intra-European flights for the first year. The US Federal Aviation Administration will likely be at odds with a cap and trade scheme for airline emmissions as one representative stated that climate change does not figure into their environmental policy at this point.
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Germany's Merkel Pushes EU Climate Change Targets in Talks with Chinese Premier
March 20, 2007
German Chancelor Angela Merkel has started a dialogue with the Chinese government about combatting the effects of climate change. The EU has set an ambitious plan or reducing green house gas emissions by 20% by 2020, but also said they would push that target up to 30% if other governments would agree to do the same. The EU is targeting the US, China, and India to agree to cut emissions in order to have a positive global effect. The Chinese government seems to be warm to the idea of an international agreement on combatting climate change as the Chinese premier pledged that his country would increase its own efforts.
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US and EU Pledge to Work Together on Energy Needs
March 19, 2007
The United States' State Department hosted an energy security conference with top business and government leaders from the United States and Europe. The US-EU energy technology CEO forum was held to discuss the ways in which the EU and US can and should cooperate in ensuring that the energy consumption and production are not a source of geopolitical instability. The forum was attended by US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and EU commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
(Read Statements Made at the Forum
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UK Wants Road and Rail Emissions Cap
March 5, 2007
In advance of the upcoming 8-9 March European Council meeting, David Miliband, the UK environmental secretary, said that Britain would favour an expansion of the emissions-trading scheme. The UK is expected to fall short of its own target to cut emissions by 20% by 2010, with emissions from transport now rising faster than all other industrial sectors - emissions rose 10% in the period 1990-2004, and now account for 24% of all UK CO2 emissions. The initiative calls for include transportation emissions from cars and trains in the EU's emissions trading scheme, as they account for 24% of green house gas emissions in England.
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EU ministers commit to 20% emissions cuts by 2020
February 21, 2007
European Union environment ministers have commited to acheive "at least a 20% reduction" in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but failed to agree on how to share the burden between the 27 nations. The ministers agreed that the more developed Western EU countries should take the lead and bear most of the burden. The EU is willing to commit to a 30% reduction in emissions, but only if other developed countries will commit to the reduction for after 2012 when the Kyoto treaty expires. The EU is essentially putting pressure on the United States to agree to an international treaty on climate change. However, if the US and other developed countries such as Japan, South Korea, and India do not agree to a 30% reduction, the EU is prepared to go it alone.
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New Body May Help Cut Emmissions
February 17, 2007
A group of experts and diplomats gathered at a World Bank sponsored forum on climate change to discuss how to translate knowledge about climate change into action. The forum was attended by representatives from each G8 country, as well as Brazil, South Korea, China, India, Mexico, and the EU. Economists Jeffrey Sachs and Nicholas Stern addressed the attendees, stressing the need to implement existing international agreements of environmental policy, such as the Kyoto Treaty, as well as creating new venues for cooperation such as a World Environmental Organization.
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Official Says U.S. Supports International Cooperation on Global Warming
February 15, 2007
The United States has signaled to the international community, particularly the world's most advanced industrial economies, that it is committed to addressing climate change through international cooperation. Several U.S. congressman attended a 2 day summit on climate change with lawmakers from about 20 other countries, signed a resolution calling for a new agreement to succeed the Kyoto treaty. The Kyoto treaty will expire in 2012, and this resolution calls for a new international agreement to be decided on at the next G8 summit in 2009. German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the summit, agreeing to hold meetings in Germany before the 2009 deadline.
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Blair Bypasses Bush to Build a Consensus on Climate Change
February 14, 2007
British Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to devote his energy to promoting climate change issues after he steps down from office this summer. British Policy makers are currently working around the U.S. federal government to build cooperation over environmental policy by going directly to the states. They have approached the governments of 9 U.S. states to sign on to the EU's emissions trading scheme, following an agreement reached last year between Blair and California governor Arnold Schwartzenegger.
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Congress Tackles Global Warming
February 12, 2007
The United States Congress has issued several pieces of legislation in the past several weeks dealing directly with climate change and environmental policy. Some of the bills are relatively minor, such as creating tax breaks and incentives for producing biofuels. Others are more agressive, such as a bill sponsored by John McCain and Joseph Lieberman that calls for a cap and trade scheme, similar to that of the European Union. The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 10 senators. Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman plan to propose aggressive climate change legislation in the house of representatives by early June 2007.
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US and EU Boost Environmental Research CooperationFebruary 12, 2007
Under a new agreement between the European Union and the United States , scientists and researchers from both continents will be working closer together to more strategically address common environmental challenges. Research topics highlighted in the agreement include environmental information systems; the development of environmental and sustainability indicators; decision support tools; sustainable chemistry and materials; and the uses and impacts of nanotechnology. The agreement is expected to lead to greater direct collaboration between US and European researchers, joint sponsorship of conferences and workshops, coordinated calls for proposals and exchanges of information, methodologies and data. Cooperative activities will be coordinated by a Steering Group made up of representatives from both signatories.
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U.N. Report Confirms Human Activity to Blame for Earth's Warming Climate
February 5, 2007
A report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body responsible for monitoring climate change, states that climate change will have drastic effects in the next century and that the changing weather patterns are most likely caused by humans. The report has the signature of 2,500 scientists from 113 countries. It also has the backing of both Europe and the United States . However, the EU and US are taking slightly different approaches to the news. European law makers are calling for a “revolution” in global environmental policy, while the US is taking a more cautious approach.
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Chirac: U.S. risks EU tax unless Kyoto pact is signed
February 1, 2007
In a move to push the United States towards world environmental standards, French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac warned that Europe could impose a carbon tax if the US does not sign the Kyoto treaty and subsequent international environmental agreements. As unanimous signatories of the Kyoto treaty, European Union countries are leading the way in environmental policy with emissions reduction quotas under the Kyoto treaty and the emissions trading regime enacted in 2005. The US has focused its emissions policy around energy security and the development of high technology. In an attempt to harmonize environmental standards between the two, Chirac is proposing a carbon tax on all US imports to offset the costs incurred form stricter environmental policy.
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Climate change takes center stage at Davos
January 29, 2007
Climate change is the issue most often being discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland . Many world business leaders and heads of state are encouraged by President George Bush’s statements during the state of the union address. But many worry that it will not be enough, and view Europe as leading the way with their approach to the environmental challenges facing the globe.
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Merkel calls for challenging emissions controls
January 24, 2007
The differences between the U.S. and EU approaches to climate change are on the top of everyone’s mind at the World Economic Forum in Davos , Switzerland . In a marked contrast to George Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday, when he set an ambition to reduce gasoline usage in the US by 20 per cent over the next 10 years, Ms Merkel said she welcomed the opportunity for the European Union to "offer a [greenhouse gas] reduction target of 30 per cent, but we expect other large emitters to participate in that". With the US still refusing to set a mandatory limit on its emissions, the transatlantic differences remain wide, even though Ms Merkel welcomed the moves made by President Bush.
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EU Energy Blueprint puts Onus of Climate Change and Renewables
January 11, 2007
Environmental policy is one of the main pillars of the German agenda as Angela Merkel takes the helm as President of the European Union and head of the Group of 8. It was also a main topic of discussion during her visit with President Bush in Washington, DC on January 4 th. Germany and the EU have set out an ambitious agenda for reduce CO2 emissions and stem the tide of global climate change. But Merkel has made it clear that for any policy to succeed, it must have the support of other major industrial countries, especially the United States.
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