Archive for the ‘#europe’ Tag

Report for Rio+20 shows world still increasing its ecological debts > Friends of Europe > Friends of Europe | Library | Paper   Leave a comment

 

 

“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published an interesting data collection of how the world has dealt with its ecological challenges since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Despite some progress in certain areas, overall the picture does not look rosy.

 

The publication entitled “Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20” is part of UNEP’s “Global Environmental Outlook-5” (GEO -5) series, the UN’s landmark report on the state and outlook of the global environment. The complete GEO-5 report will be launched in May 2012, one month before the Rio+20 in Brazil.

 

Although the authors of the report have carefully avoided providing any critical evaluation of the statistical data, anyone reading the 111-pages study can hardly conclude that global leaders have done a great job since they received a wake-up call about the world’s sustainability challenges twenty years ago.

 

Here are a few of the “gloomy” messages of the study:

World population has grown by 26% since 1992 (from 5.5 billion to 7 billion).

More people than ever live in megacities.

Global average meat consumption grew from 34 kg per person per year to 43 kg.

GDP has continued to increase but there are increasing doubts as to whether this has created more quality of life and more happiness.

The global use of natural resource materials increased by over 40% between 1992 and 2005, from about 42 to nearly 60 thousand million tonnes.

CO2 emissions increased by 36% between 1992 and 2008, from around 22 000 million to just over 30, 000 million tonnes.

The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998.

Sea levels have been rising at an average rate of about 2.5 mm per year between 1992 and 2011.

Oceans are becoming more acidic: the ocean’s pH declined from 8.11 in 1992 to 8.06 in 2007.

Nearly all mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner; and the speed with which this is happening is increasing.

Forest area has decreased by 300 million hectare since 1990, an area larger than Argentina.

Biodiversity is in serious decline and every year more species move closer to extinction.

The world has seen a huge increase in natural disasters.

Food production has continued to rise but only thanks to more use of fertilizer. It takes an average of seven to ten calories of input energy (i.e., mostly fossil fuels) to produce one calorie of food.

Irrigation has raised crop yields but also put pressure on freshwater availability

Since 1992, the proportion of fully exploited fish stocks increased by 13% and overexploited, depleted or recovering stocks increased by 33%, reaching 52% and 33%, respectively, of all fish stocks.

In 2010, 1,440 million people globally—that is 20% of the world population—are still suffering from “energy poverty.

 

And here are a few of the “good stories”:

Over the past 20 years, the Human Development Index has grown globally by 2.5% per year, climbing from 0.52 in 1990 to 0.62 in 2010, or 19% overall, showing substantial improvement in many aspects of human development but big inequalities still remain.

Women’s political influence is rising.

The value of internationally traded products has tripled between 1992 and 2009, from over US$ 9 to 28 million millions.

Although overall energy and material use continue to grow, there is a simultaneous general decline in emissions, energy and material use per unit of output (resource efficiency).

The consumption of ozone-depleting substances decreased by 93% from 1992 to 2009, and 98% since the Montreal Protocol’s was established in 1987.

Numerous multilateral environmental agreements were signed since 1992.

The private sector is increasingly adopting environmental management standards.

Land area used for organic farming is growing by nearly 13% per year.

Investment in sustainable energy has skyrocketed in recent years (although from very low starting levels).

The “global village” has developed rapidly as a result of new technologies and the Internet.

 

All in all, the UNEP study is an impressive work of data collection but it could have done with a little bit less spin and a bit more “hard” evaluation. But then again, maybe this document has a political function and the real meat can be expected in May of next year?

 

By Willy De Backer

Head of the Greening Europe Forum

via Report for Rio+20 shows world still increasing its ecological debts > Friends of Europe > Friends of Europe | Library | Paper.

Posted November 10, 2011 by arnoneumann in Environment, Green, UN

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Lagarde, New I.M.F. Chief, Rocks the Boat – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

Worse, as far as the men seated in the room were concerned, Ms. Lagarde was partly responsible for the collapse of confidence bedeviling the financial markets. She had dared to state what few of them would admit publicly: European banks were not as sheltered from this storm as they might seem.

Ms. Lagarde has backed off in the past. But this time, she did not climb down from her principal point: That many banks still need a bigger cushion against potential losses in the event of a Greek default. Last week, the monetary fund warned that Europe’s banks had as much as 300 billion euros at risk on various European government bonds but stopped short of saying they needed to raise that much in new capital.

Whatever the figure, it is almost certainly far more than the 2.5 billion euros that European regulators said the banks might need last spring. For some, the fact that so many European leaders are biting back proves that Ms. Lagarde has touched a nerve.”

via Lagarde, New I.M.F. Chief, Rocks the Boat – NYTimes.com.

Posted September 24, 2011 by arnoneumann in IMF

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100 Million Smart Meters to Be Installed in Europe by 2016, but Are End-Users Engaged? : Greentech Media   Leave a comment

“Until recently, the development of the smart grid in Europe was largely centered around the integration of the significant amount of large-scale and micro renewable generation that Europe is planning to install. Currently, 10% of Europe’s power is generated from renewable sources, compared to 2.5% in the U.S., and this share is set to reach 20% by 2020.

Utilities throughout Europe are now starting to roll out smart metering as part of a European mandate to have smart meters installed in 80% of European households by 2020. On the basis of ambitious plans announced by utilities and regulators in France, Spain, the U.K. and a gradual rollout in other European member states, GTM Research forecasts an additional 100 million smart meters will be installed between now and the end of 2016. However, so far, most utilities have used advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) more with the objective of reducing operational costs and non-technical losses rather than for empowering consumers through improved access to information about their power consumption.”

 

Smart metering rollouts are not only about technology; they are also very much about the process of rollout and the level of engagement achieved with consumers. Denmark’s SEAS-NVE, for example, paid careful attention to this aspect, to the point of training installers in how to talk to customers in their homes. As a result, the utility’s complaint rates dropped significantly and customers now save an average of 16% on their power bills.

 

Rather than focusing solely on technology, the key to persistent and effective consumer engagement is the provision of clear, timely and detailed information and actionable advice, placed in the context of larger societal objectives. Lowering transaction costs for consumers and strengthening social interaction, norms and values around energy use are key levers for increasing consumer engagement that are largely underutilized by utilities and regulators.  “

via 100 Million Smart Meters to Be Installed in Europe by 2016, but Are End-Users Engaged? : Greentech Media.

Posted September 23, 2011 by arnoneumann in Energy, Europe

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Germany Dims Nuclear Plants, but Hopes to Keep Lights On – NYTimes.com   1 comment

Implications of the decision by Germany to shut down its nuclear energy reactors in the light of the nuclear disaster in Fukashima Japan .

“With a total of 133 gigawatts of installed generating capacity in place at the start of this year, “there was really a huge amount of space to shut off nuclear plants,” Harry Lehmann, a director general of the German Federal Environment Agency and one of Germany’s leading policy makers on energy and environment, said of the road map he helped develop. The country needs about 90.5 gigawatts of generating capacity on hand to fill a typical national demand of about 80 gigawatts a day. So the 25 gigawatts that nuclear power contributed would not be missed — at least within its borders.

To be prudent, the plan calls for the creation of 23 gigawatts of gas- and coal-powered plants by 2020. Why? Because renewable plants don’t produce nearly to capacity if the air is calm or the sky is cloudy, and there is currently limited capacity to store or transport electricity, energy experts say.”

via Germany Dims Nuclear Plants, but Hopes to Keep Lights On – NYTimes.com.

Central Banks Search for Fixes to Calm the World’s Markets – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

The world is integrated economically  in so many ways . The public’s shift of focus  from last month’s USA debt ceiling crisis is now onto the S&P USA debt downgrading and even further now onto the Eurozone concern over Italy and Spain”s debt and bond yields. There is indeed a high level coordination happening but the limits of that coordination are hopefully not being reached. Timing and tolerances are very fine-tuned. The integrated Global economy is operating under certain structures , ie the global banking system. Undoubtably , a shadow sytem is being conceived and worked upon as the current structure is reaching its governance capacity.

“Mr. Dadush of the Carnegie Endowment acknowledged that it would be a big political undertaking to assemble support for an international bailout of Italy.

“There is no precedent. It would be extraordinarily fraught,” he said by phone from Washington. He said leaders have perhaps four months before borrowing costs for Italy and Spain reach the point where they cannot afford to refinance their debt. World leaders, he said, “cannot stand by and watch the biggest default in history unfold.” ‘

via Central Banks Search for Fixes to Calm the World’s Markets – NYTimes.com.

Posted August 7, 2011 by arnoneumann in Economic, Europe

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Italy: Call in the G20? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace   Leave a comment

“A bailout of Italy—on the order of that organized for Greece, Ireland, and Portugal—would require a loan of $1.4 trillion. Bailing out Spain would cost an additional $700 billion. Such sums, representing some 16 percent of eurozone GDP, are unlikely from eurozone members alone, even if the IMF provides one-third of these amounts. Such bailouts would not only strain the frail political support for these exercises to the breaking point, they would also call into question the debt-carrying capacity of the core European countries.

At the same time, given the systemic global implications of a financial collapse in Italy, and possibly Spain, the rest of the G20 could hardly stand idly by as another Lehman-class global credit crunch unfolded.

A globally coordinated bailout—led by the IMF and including bilateral assistance from the United States, Japan, China, the UK, and other countries—would amount to 5 percent of the rest of the G20’s GDP. It would inevitably have to carry far-reaching conditions not only on Italy, along the lines set out above, but also on the rest of the eurozone.”

 

via Italy: Call in the G20? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Posted August 7, 2011 by arnoneumann in Economic, Europe

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Trichet Urges New Vision for Europe – Bloomberg   Leave a comment

“European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet urged policy makers to revitalize the vision of an integrated Europe.

“These days, ‘Europe’ and the benefits it brings have come to be taken for granted,” Trichet said in a speech in Brussels last night, according to a text provided by the ECB. “Thanks to the success of European integration, the threat of war has become a memory of the past for many Europeans, in particular the younger generation. This makes it all the more urgent to develop a renewed vision of the kind of Europe we want and indeed need — a vision that is easily understood and shared among European Union citizens.””

via Trichet Urges New Vision for Europe – Bloomberg.

Posted June 29, 2011 by arnoneumann in Europe

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