Tuesday, 24 February 2009

EDF and Enel plan Italy’s nuclear revival

By Guy Dinmore in Rome
Published: February 23 2009 23:29

France’s EDF and Enel of Italy – Europe’s largest utilities – are set to relaunch Italy’s nuclear industry after a 22-year hiatus.
The move will follow an accord due to be signed in Rome today by President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The choice of the two energy companies – both in effect state-controlled – reflects the “national champions” policy of both governments.
It confirms the dominance in Europe of EDF and French nuclear technology in the form of the next generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR).
Industry sources said Enel would be the majority shareholder in a consortium with EDF. A later phase could bring in other shareholders, including Edison,a utility majority-owned by EDF, and possibly industrial consumers of electricity.
Claudio Scajola, Italian minister for economic development, said the accord would “concern all aspects of nuclear power,” including technical co-operation. The Italian parliament would approve a bill setting out a nuclear strategy next month, he said.
Mr Scajola did not specifically mention the Enel-EDF consortium. But he said that Enel’s international growth and its existing collaboration with EDF strengthened Italy’s national energy policy.
Italians voted in a referendum in 1987 – a year after Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster – to ditch nuclear power. Italy’s relatively advanced nuclear capability was mothballed or dismantled. It imported nuclear-derived electricity from France instead.
Mr Berlusconi’s centre-right government, supported by industry but with public opinion divided, has a target of producing 25 per cent of national electricity from nuclear power.
Recalling the quarrels within Italy’s nuclear industry in the 1980s when it introduced four competing technologies, Carlo Bollino, professor of energy economics at Rome’s Luiss university, said the government had made a good, pragmatic decision to bring together EDF and Enel.
He doubted the first concrete would be poured for five to seven years as Italy must first rebuild its nuclear safety authority and identify sites. Mr Scajola says that he wants to start building by 2013.
Jean-Michel Glachant, director of the Florence School of Regulation, said entry into Italy was very important for EDF, noting it was difficult to do business there “if you are not politically connected”.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Vattenfall agrees €8.5bn cash offer for Nuon

By Michael Steen in Amsterdam
Published: February 23 2009 11:35

Vattenfall, the state-owned Swedish power company, has agreed to buy the production and supply business of Dutch peer Nuon for €8.5bn ($10.9bn) in cash.
The deal follows last month’s announcement by RWE, the German utility, that it was buying Essent, another Dutch power company, for €9.3bn.
The sales have been prompted by a Dutch law on energy “unbundling” that calls for utilities to separate their regulated and unregulated businesses by 2011. In both cases, the respective power grids and distribution networks will remain in the hands of the local and regional governments that are the existing owners of both Nuon and Essent.
Lars Josefsson, Vattenfall’s chief executive, said the acquisition was part of a medium-term strategy to expand the group’s reach outside its core markets of Sweden, Finland, Germany and Poland.
“Our target area is the European Union north of the Alps,” Mr Josefsson told a news conference, noting that he saw further opportunities to expand in the UK, Benelux, France and Poland.
Vattenfall will initially take a controlling 49 per cent stake in Nuon, which produces and sells electricity and supplies gas. The Swedish group will build up its position to full ownership over the course of six years, the companies said. Vattenfall is paying €10.3bn for Nuon’s shares. The deal’s enterprise value is €8.5bn since Nuon has €1.8bn of net cash.
“The step-by-step transfer of shares underlines the joint commitment of Nuon’s shareholders and Vattenfall to secure the public interests and Dutch interests served by Nuon,” the companies said in a statement.
The prospective sale of the two biggest Dutch utilities to overseas rivals has provoked criticism in the Netherlands. Essent and Nuon had explored a merger to create a Dutch champion but that failed.
In measures aimed at pre-empting public concern in the Netherlands, four of the eight supervisory board members at Nuon will continue to be appointed by current shareholders and members of the works council and at least five board members will be Dutch residents.
Vattenfall said there would be no redundancies as part of the takeover. It will continue to use Nuon’s existing offices and use the Nuon name for at least four years.
Both Essent and Nuon argued that they needed to find international partners for their commercial operations in order to gain greater scale on the European energy market.
Vattenfall said the deal would allow the companies to accelerate investment in renewable energy and carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies. The Swedish group, which is also a nuclear operator at home, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050.
RBS, Rothschild and NIBC advised Vattenfall while Goldman Sachs and ING advised Nuon.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Climate change lays waste to Spain's glaciers

Spain loses 90% of its glaciers thanks to global warming, threatening drought as rivers dry up
Giles Tremlett
guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 February 2009 17.28 GMT

Spain has lost 90% of its glacial ice in the last century
The Pyrenees mountains have lost almost 90% of their glacier ice over the past century, according to scientists who warn that global warning means they will disappear completely within a few decades.
While glaciers covered 3,300 hectares of land on the mountain range that divides Spain and France at the turn of the last century, only 390 hectares remain, according to Spain's environment ministry.
The most southerly glaciers in Europe are losing the battle against warming and look set to be among the first to disappear from the continent over the coming decades. Their loss will have a severe impact on summer water supplies in the foothills and southern plains south of the Pyrenees.
"This century could see (perhaps within a few decades) the total, or almost total, disappearance of the last reserves of ice in the Spanish Pyrenees and, as a result, a major change in the current nature of upper reaches of the mountains," the authors of the report on Spain's glaciers said.
Scientists have ruled out the idea that the progressive deterioration of glaciers around the globe are part of normal, long-term fluctuations in their size. Europe's glaciers are thought to have lost a quarter of their mass in the last 8 years.
Prof Wilfried Haeberli, director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service, said that the rate of glacier loss is particularly quick. "Small glaciers disappear faster so the relative loss is much larger."
"They are the best indicators of climate change," he said . "I would even say these figures (for Spain) are optimistic. If the loss of ice goes on at the speed of the past 10 years they may disappear within ten to 20 years."
Scientists warn of potentially dramatic effects to agriculture as glaciers that feed rivers disappear, taking away a major source of summer water.
The glaciers under threat in Spain feed rivers such as the Gállego, the Cinca and the Garona which water the foothills and plains south of the Pyrenees.
"During the dry season, especially in Spain, they are nourished by glacier and snow melt," said Prof Haeberli.
He said that smaller glaciers, such as those in Spain and some in tropical countries such as Colombia and Kenya, would soon disappear as the planet heats up.
Even the Alps, though, stand to lose up to 75% of its glacial area by mid-century.
Glaciers provide a unique record of global climate change as scientists have been tracking their development since the International Glacier Commission was founded in Switzerland in 1894. Spanish glaciers were among those measured at the end of the 19th century.
The World Glacier Monitoring Service last year reported that glaciers around the planet were melting at a rate unseen for 5,000 years.
"It has become obvious that the ongoing trend of worldwide and fast, if not accelerating, glacier shrinkage … is of a non-cyclic nature," the service's report for the decade up to 2005 said.
The rate of melting more than doubled over that period when compared to the previous decade.
Changes were "without precedent in history" and would produce "dramatic scenarios", including the complete loss of glaciers in some mountains systems, according to the report.
"Glacier shrinkage … is not a periodic change and may lead to the deglaciation of large parts of many mountain regions by the end of the 21st century," the monitoring service report warned.
Early figures for 2006 and 2007 indicate that the speed of glacier melt around the world continues to increase.

Novera waits on wind power

By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent
Published: February 23 2009 18:31

The perils of relying on a dying form of renewable electricity were evident in full-year results from Novera Energy.
Losses at Novera, the target of abandoned takeover bids by 3i and Terra Firma last summer, deepened from £2m to £3.5m on higher administrative costs in the year to December 31. Turnover rose from £32m to £35.5m. Debt was £70m, with £20.4m cash in the bank that will be spent on wind farms.
However, Novera generated 2 per cent less electricity than last year, mainly because it relies on landfill gas, of which supplies are running out.
Novera shares dropped 1¾p to 35p on Monday.
Novera is the country’s second-largest producer of energy from landfill gas, after Infinis, owned by Terra Firma. Although landfill gas has been the biggest source of renewable energy in the UK in recent years, it is being overtaken by wind power, because the gas is a finite resource.
Novera said it was making “good progress” on its wind farms, with a 30MW farm in Yorkshire operational, and two farms with a potential of 62MW to 73MW with planning approval.
Andrew Shepherd-Barron, research director at KBC Peel Hunt, said: “Investors are not buying Novera for the landfill gas now but . . . because it’s a nice way to play the wind market.”
He said the value of Novera’s wind farms was not reflected in the share price.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Pro-nuclear Green candidate faces axe

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A Green Party parliamentary candidate is facing disciplinary action after calling for the reintroduction of nuclear power, which is strictly against party policy.

Chris Goodall, prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, upset many party members with his assertion in yesterday’s Independent that atomic energy has a role to play in the fight against climate change. Mr Goodall was one of four prominent environmentalists disclosed as having had a change of heart about the nuclear issue, having moved from an anti-nuclear stance to believing that atomic power is a necessary part of the energy mix in the struggle to cut carbon emissions and halt global warming.
The others are Lord Smith of Finsbury, the former Labour cabinet minister who now chairs the Environment Agency; Stephen Tindale, a former executive director of Greenpeace, and Mark Lynas, the author of two studies of climate change. But while the others are in essence free agents, Mr Good-all’s case is distinctive in that his views are now formally at odds with one of his own party’s key policy positions.
Resolute opposition to nuclear power has been a cornerstone of Green party policy for years, as is made clear in the party’s principal policy document, Manifesto for a Sustainable Society, which states unambiguously that a Green government, on taking office, would set a deadline for phasing out all nuclear power.
Mr Goodall’s remarks had left many party members “seriously concerned”, the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, MEP, said last night. “It is of great concern to me that a candidate should be promoting a policy which is at odds with the party manifesto, and I shall be taking that forward,” she said. “In any party, you have a range of different views, but once selected as a parliamentary candidate, you have a particular responsibility.”
The matter would be dealt with by the party’s regional council, after speaking to Mr Goodall directly, she said. Asked if this would include disc-iplinary action and possibly even de-selection as a candidate, Ms Lucas would only say: “We will be taking appropriate measures.”

EU prepares trade duties for U.S. biofuels

By James Kanter
Published: February 23, 2009

BRUSSELS: The European Union is preparing to impose trade duties on biofuels imported from the United States to prevent American producers from putting European producers of biodiesel out of business, diplomats said Monday.
Biofuels are developing into a big business, with annual sales of about €8 billion, or $10 billion, in Europe, and with imports of biodiesel from the United States worth about €1 billion.
The European Union and the United States generously subsidize their biodiesel industries. But European producers complain that producers in the United States benefit twice: from subsidies by the federal government to produce the biodiesel and again from subsidies granted by individual European governments when it is sold in Europe.
But Peter Power, the spokesman for the EU trade commissioner, Catherine Ashton, said the normal procedure in such trade disputes - where the European Commission proves that goods have been sold below cost and that EU industry has been harmed - was for the commission to impose provisional duties. He said that any definitive measures, lasting five years, would need approval by EU governments within four months.
EU trade officials began a formal investigation last year after European biofuel producers complained about unfair support for American producers. EU officials have said they suspect that the subsidies consist of federal excise and income tax credits along with a federal program of grants for increases in production, as well as various subsidies from state governments.

Europe makes large amounts of biodiesel from plant oils like canola and sunflowers. But the Continent, where diesel-powered cars and trucks are widespread, is also a net importer of diesel, including biodiesel made from crops like soybeans in the United States.
Highlighting the scope for trade disputes to escalate, Pascal Lamy, the director general of the World Trade Organization, called on world leaders on Monday to make joint efforts to show that the global trade environment is not deteriorating and that isolationist pressures are contained.
Power, the trade commissioner's spokesman, would not comment on whether duties would be imposed on the United States next month.
Raffaelo Garofalo, the secretary general of the European Biodiesel Board, an industry group, said action was urgent because some European producers had already gone bankrupt. The decision to impose duties "proves that our complaint was well-grounded," he said.
The EU duties would total about €44 per 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, of biodiesel, according to the EU diplomats. The diplomats requested anonymity because governments still needed to be formally consulted on the decision.
The dispute shows that despite talk about the need for global cooperation to fight climate change, countries may come into conflict as demand grows for important products and services.
The move against American producers, which is expected on March 13, comes at a highly sensitive time for global trade. Countries are maneuvering to protect their economies from being undercut by foreign imports to safeguard jobs and industries during the most severe economic downturn in several decades. "Governments should resist the temptation to raise trade barriers," Lamy said.

Great clean-up - can economic rescue plans also save planet?

Campaigners hope huge spending packages aimed at easing the slump will spell the first serious attempt to tackle climate change. But are they as green as billed?
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 February 2009

With governments around the world continuing to pump colossal sums of money into their plunging economies, a grand global experiment is under way: can the unprecedented spending provide not only a quick fix for the economic catastrophe but also the measures vital for dealing with global warming?
Many hope so, and Barack Obama is foremost among them. He sees his presidency as a rare moment in history when crisis can be converted into opportunity, and his $787bn economic recovery plan is putting that theory to the ultimate test. His goal is to seize the opportunity to put in place the architecture of a low-carbon and sustainable economy.
Calls for "green new deals" are coming from every part of the world and the US plan presents a case study on an epic scale, one that is being carefully monitored by other governments. Environment ministers at a United Nations meeting in Nairobi last week saw the US plan as a powerful signal to other governments to raise the green quotient in the next round of recovery plans. The G20 leading industrialised states will be grappling with those choices when it meets in London in April.
"It is very clear that a lot of countries are watching the green component of the Obama plan because they are very interested in quick wins," said Ed Barbier, a University of Wyoming economist and author of a United Nations Environment Programme report on a green recovery.
So how does the US plan stack up? American environmentalists are delighted. "We would never have been able to imagine legislation funding developments on this carte blanche scale," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace. "However, now you have an opportunity within this crisis, so let the experiment begin."
Elsewhere, the verdict is mixed. The $100bn (£68bn) in green measures represents just under 13% of the total package, falling short of the benchmark set in a recent report led by economist Nick Stern, that green measures should account for 20% of global economic recovery plans. It also fails to meet the UN target of 1% of GDP. South Korea devoted two-thirds of its $36bn recovery package, or about 3% of its GDP, to green investment. China allocated about a third of its $580bn recovery plan to green measures, concentrating on energy efficiency.
That is much higher than most European countries. The green portion of the EU recovery plan comes in a notch higher than the US plan at 14%. Germany's green investments account for 19% of its plan, but France is spending just 8%. There is no green component whatsoever to Poland's recovery plan, and Italy's efforts, in its $101bn package, are also negligible, according to a study by the climate change centre for excellence at HSBC. "I suspect that one reason some governments, including European ones, are reluctant to adopt green stimulus initiatives is they are still stuck in the 'old school' thinking that we have to revive the economy first before thinking about long-term low-carbon strategies," said Barbier.
However, Stern's colleague Dimitri Zenghelis, at the Grantham Institute, London, said that it was too early to draw up a definitive green ranking: "We have yet to see the full amounts governments are going to spend to stimulate the economy." Seen in that context, the American plan comes off well, especially considering the political battle that was waged as the plan moved through Congress.
The green recovery plan was incubated at a liberal thinktank, the Centre for American Progress. Its founder, John Podesta, was a former White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton and led Obama's transition team. The thinktank produced a plan late last year for a green new deal and many of those ideas survived in the 1,100-page package passed by Congress. The green elements include:
• funding to insulate domestic and public buildings;
• tax breaks and loans for solar and wind power firms;
• investment in a new electric grid;
• expansion of subways and inter-city trains.
American environmentalists say it is not worth quibbling about a few percentage points, given the huge sweep of the package and its swift passage. "The US a year ago was still in denial on issues of energy conservation," said Earl Blumenauer, a Congressman from Oregon and a champion of the environment.
Nick Robins, who heads the climate change centre at HSBC, argues the plan more than makes up in breadth what it lacks in total spending levels: "It gives a very, very comprehensive stimulus to the green economy across the key pillars: renewables, building efficiency, auto vehicle efficiency, mass transit and water."
The American plan also meets Stern's other prescriptions for an effective green stimulus - a concentration on building efficiency and renewable energy. Efficiency measures, such as insulation, sealing, and double glazing, account for the largest share of the $100bn. It is also thought to score well on its most basic purpose: rapid job creation. It is projected to create 2m jobs over the next two years, half of the 4m total envisaged by the package.
Congress, in giving shape to Obama's proposals, was adamant that programmes should be ready to go within the two-year deadline. But that meant that some of the most transformative measures - modernising the electrical grid and developing electric cars - were scaled back because the institutions involved could not handle such vast sums of money in a short timeframe. There are other gaps. Davies would have liked to have seen estimates of the emissions reductions promised by each measure in the package.
In Washington, the plan is often described as a down payment on the new green economy. Ultimate success will depend on whether Congress manages to push through legislation expected this year in three areas: expanding public transport, developing wind and solar energy and moving to cap carbon dioxide emissions.
"You can't just flip a switch on the green economy," said David Foster, director of the Blue-Green Alliance, which combines trade unions and environmental groups.
"But if we do all three, in addition to the down payment, we will be well down the road to getting the green economy really roaring."
As vast sums of money begin to flow into the US economy, and other governments prepare to commit even more, observers around the world will be watching closely to see whether saving the economy can, in fact, also save the planet.

Opportunities that are too good to miss

Nicholas Stern and Alex Bowen
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 February 2009

We are facing two global crises, one economic and one planetary. We cannot afford to choose to focus on one but not the other: we can act effectively and simultaneously on both fronts. Governments can commit over the next few months to public spending plans that make sound economic sense, both by stimulating economic recovery and by laying the foundations for sustainable low-carbon growth.
These are the big growth opportunities of the next two or three decades. They are too good to miss.
The important question is how best to tackle these two crises at the same time?
Our report, An Outline of the Case for a 'Green' Stimulus, identifies six key criteria against which public spending plans can be judged in terms of effectiveness in countering the deterioration of the global economy and the climate.
Four of these criteria primarily assess success in promoting economic recovery. The other two measure efficacy in limiting the adverse effects of climate change. The first criterion is timeliness. To have an impact on the recession, public expenditure needs to have its effect on economic activity within the next 18 months or so.
The second captures time-limitedness, the extent to which spending is temporary, brought forward or reducing a backlog of useful projects. Such spending avoids the long-term funding problem posed by permanent measures.
The other criteria rate actions in terms of their focus or targets: increased economic demand, job creation, use of resources (including the workforce) that might otherwise remain idle during a recession, effect on greenhouse gas emission and adaptation to a changing climate. Finally, there is the extent to which low-carbon technologies are "locked in" to the economy by the extra spending.
We then scored, on a three-point scale for each criterion, 23 specific proposals for public spending on buildings and industry, power generation, transport, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Each measure receives a total out of 18, making it possible to rank each measure.
Overall, energy efficiency measures were consistently the top performers across all sectors, capable of delivering timely boosts to the economy, opportunities targeted to sectors with more slack, and lower emissions. They also enhance energy security and help the less well-off with their fuel bills, although these benefits were not taken into account in our formal scoring.
In particular, energy efficiency measures for buildings and industry scored highly across the board, including better insulation for homes and public offices. The replacement of inefficient boilers, lights and appliances, using public money to incentivise private business, also received top marks.
However, new investments in large-scale 'green' infrastructure, such as carbon capture and storage projects (which bury the emissions from burning fossil fuels), were lower rated in terms of short-term fiscal stimulus. Although they are likely to help fight climate change, they do not provide an immediate shot in the arm for the economy. They must be part of a medium- and long-term strategy for low-carbon growth. In power generation, the promotion of renewable energy, for example through accelerated planning processes for wind farms, was top-rated, although timeliness is particularly difficult to achieve in this sector.
In transport, high scores were gained by improving the fuel efficiency of new cars, vans and heavy goods vehicles.
The expansion of forests, parklands, wetlands and rural ecosystems also received excellent marks.
The analysis makes it clear that many "green" measures also offer targeted and timely steps towards economic recovery if they are included in the fiscal stimulus packages being put together in many countries. Now is a good time to undertake useful public investment, because it is less likely to displace private spending in a recession.
The UK government is considering the composition of April's budget. We hope our criteria will help the Treasury choose those avenues of public expenditure that deal most effectively with the nation's immediate economic needs. The long-term measures that have been highlighted by the committee on climate change should also form part of the UK's strategy for low-carbon growth.
Similarly, we hope the new economic stimulus plan in the United States will also accelerate action on climate change, in line with the pledges made by President Obama and leaders in the house and Senate. We argue that public spending packages worldwide need to devote about US$400 bn (£274.7bn) within the next couple of years to 'green' measures that address the risks of climate change.
• Nicholas Stern and Alex Bowen are at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Ecconomics. Lord Stern led the government's Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, published in 2006. The full version of An Outline of the case for a 'green' stimulus is available online.

Will the recession cut our CO2 emissions?

Economic activity is slumping, the price of carbon trading credits plunging – but analysts forecast only a negligible slowdown in global warming

David Adam
guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 February 2009 18.29 GMT

As the recession bites, the economies of many countries are slumping. But is the consequent fall in demand for energy and goods significantly ­reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
In Europe, the emissions trading scheme provides a clue. Firms with high levels of pollution must buy carbon credits, the price of which has fallen below €9 from €30 last summer.
Analysts say the price drop reflects a slowing demand for credits as companies scale back production and cut their carbon emissions. But it could also indicate companies have sold large amounts of surplus credits to raise cash.
Frank Convery, professor of environmental policy at University College Dublin, said the big sectors in the trading scheme, such as cement, steel, pulp, paper and glassmaking, were all in sharp decline. "And all that feeds back into emissions."
Sectors of the economy not covered by the scheme, such as agriculture and light industry, are faring little better. "Every single one you look at, the output is heading south," Convery said.
Alex Bowen, an economist with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, who helped to write the 2006 Stern review on the economics of climate change, said transport would be affected too, as firms sent fewer goods and materials by road, sea and air. "Emissions from transport are likely to be hit quite a lot," he said.
Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change for the third quarter of 2008 showed a 8.5% fall in transport fuel consumption on 2007 levels — though this is more likely to reflect last summer's high prices.
Bowen said emissions from gas burnt in domestic heating, the other major source of UK carbon emissions, were less likely to shrink with the recession.
The actual impact of the recession on emissions will be confirmed only by the publication of national pollution ­figures, but these are issued infrequently and are usually out of date.
Overall, experts say the impact of the recession on global warming will not be very significant, because, despite ­policies to cut carbon emissions, the scale of a country's carbon emissions is still tied closely to its gross domestic product (GDP).
Bowen said the rule of thumb used in the Stern review was that a 1% change in GDP brings a 0.9% change in carbon pollution. That means the 2.5% decline in worldwide GDP for 2009 projected by the International Monetary Fund would reduce emissions by 2.25%.
Figures for the past five years ­suggest carbon emissions have risen by 2.5% each year, which indicates they could still rise by 0.25% this year, despite the economic downturn. The rise will continue to be driven by ­coal-fuelled economic growth in China and India, Bowen said, but more slowly than before.
Pieter Tans, a scientist with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which ­monitors CO2 in the atmosphere, said: "I see no sign of any slowdown of the global trend." Carbon dioxide levels have risen by between 2 and 3 parts per million (ppm) each year over the past decade. Tans said a 6% drop in emissions — equivalent to a near 7% drop in GDP — would reduce that annual growth rate only by 0.24ppm. "This is well within the year-to-year natural variability of the CO2 increase we have observed over many decades."
Preliminary measurements show the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached a new high of 386.6ppm in December 2008.
Keith Allott, head of climate change with WWF, said the recession would be a "painful blip" in emissions figures. "In terms of the global carbon budget we have for this century, it might buy us a year or two," he said. Allott warned the short-term cut in carbon emissions could "flatter to deceive", by suggesting the problem was under control, and should not be allowed to derail investment in clean energy. "We've seen a huge boom and bust in the economy. We can't afford a similar boom and bust in the climate."
There is one positive note for some European countries — the recession may help them meet tough greenhouse gas targets set under the Kyoto protocol. Nations such as Austria, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Denmark and Finland, are way off-track on Kyoto targets andface having to buy millions of credits to cover their shortfalls from 2012.
In Ireland, for example, experts say the recession has cut GDP by 9%, taking it back to 2005 levels. Convery says this has probably reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount, from the 70m tonnes recorded in 2006, to close to the 63m tonnes permitted under Kyoto. Ireland alone could therefore save €300m on purchases of carbon credits, Convery said.