The EUobserver reports that the car industry in Europe yet again have won the battle agains stricter emission rules. The European Union had originally decided that the average car produced in the EU could not emit more tan 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2012. The date is now pushed to 2015, and fines for non-compliance has been reduced.
The EUobserver writes:
In the European Commission’s original car emission reduction proposals, which have been all but gutted, the companies were to have introduced the reductions on all cars sold in the EU by 2012. Instead, there will be a phase-in to allow car companies to adjust.
The commission had originally pushed for €95 across the board from 2012, but under the deal, firms will now be fined five euros per car for the first gramme that exceeds the limit, €15 euros for the second gramme and €25 for the third. For four grammes and above, car companies will be fined €95 for each gramme. After 2018, however, the €95 fine will be imposed on the very first gramme that breaches the cut-off.
This change will probably make emissions from new cars in Europe rise slightly in the coming years. From an average of 158 grams per kilometre to 164 grams per kilometre.
The car industry, backed by the major car producing countries has managed to kill a car fuel-efficiency law in Europe for the second time in a decade,” said Jos Dings of Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based environmental group.
It is mainly the German car producers that have lobbied for less strict standards. Generally they produce heavier and more polluting cars than the French and Italian producers. The German government has been involved on the industries side for a long time. EUbusiness wrote last December:
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the powerful German auto industry slammed a European Commission proposal Wednesday to slap heavy fines on car-makers that fail to meet emissions targets.
So, we know where the power sits. No surprise I guess.
The EU has for a long time taken slight interest in what has been happening on its northern Arctic periphery. That is set to change. The Commission has just released a communication to the parliament and the council on “The European Union and the Arctic Region”. This could be good news, it could be bad.
A communication like this is often the first step leading to a thorough policy from the Union. The first step is actually quite interesting and , I believe, sets the Union on a right path. Except that is, that this document as so many documents today is schizophrenic. On one hand it makes all the right noises about climate change and the environment. They write beautiful words, such as these:
The vast sea and land spaces of the Arctic region are vital and vulnerable components of the Earth’s environment and climate system. Arctic air temperatures have been increasing twice as much as the global average. Coverage of sea ice, snow cover and permafrost have been decreasing rapidly, triggering strong feed-back mechanisms that accelerate global warming. Accelerated loss from the Greenland ice sheet would raise sea levels rapidly and considerably. In spite of harsh conditions, melting of ice and new technologies will gradually increase access to Arctic living and non-living resources as well as to new navigation routes. Although the Arctic remains one of the most pristine areas on Earth, it will be increasingly at risk from the combined effects of climate change and increased human activity.
It seems that they understand the problem, I thought, for about half a minute. That was the time it took me to reach this paragraph:
Support for the exploitation of Arctic hydrocarbon resources should be provided in full respect of strict environmental standards taking into account the particular vulnerability of the Arctic.
So climate change is extremely important, but we still need to drill for more oil and gas. Somehow that double standard, seen often these days, keeps amazing me. Still I guess it is a step forward the climate change actually is put first in the document. And, truth be told, no other governments are less schizophrenic. I guess there are two good reasons for actually exploiting arctic hydrocarbons. It could possibly make the EU less dependent on Russian natural gas, and natural gas could replace coal fired electricity. I don’t believe either scenario.
However the document contains more than climate change and hydrocarbons. It sets a very interesting path for multilateral cooperation in the Arctic, within the framework of UNCLOS. Even more interesting it ponders the possibilities of setting up new legal frameworks in the Arctic. I think that it would be very good if the parts of the Arctic not under national sovereignty could be handled in the same way as the Antarctic is handled. With a treaty that protects the environment an demilitarizes the polar basin. I have been thinking about this more as a dream, but with the EU warming to the idea it could be a distinct possibility.
The full implementation of already existing obligations, rather than proposing new legal instruments should be advocated. This however should not preclude work on further developing some of the frameworks, adapting them to new conditions or Arctic specificities.
Iceland has major financial problems. The currency is in free fall, and interest rates rises sharply. Iceland has already nationalised the third largest bank in the country.
This has triggered a debate in Iceland about EU membership and adoption of the euro as currency. I do not not have strong opinions about how Island should arrange themselves in relation to the EU, but I think that it’s time for that Norway do what we can to help Iceland in this situation. Norway is in a very strong financial position. We can make sure that the icelandic government and central bankhave to money and credibility to back up it’s currency and contribute to get the Icelandic economy back up.
The country’s credit rating was slashed after the Glitnir nationalisation. The Icelandic krona, which had lost more than half its value since last summer, lost a further 14% this week.
The government is openly divided on whether to keep the currency or ditch it – and adopt the euro.
There’s a growing sense that this country, with just 300,000 people, is too small to cope. Sigurdur Kristjanson, an MP from the prime minister’s party, disagrees.
I’m no economist, but I’m sure that Norway has the ability to back up a neighbour in need. The Norwegian primeminister and minister of finance should let the Icelandic government know that we are ready to help if they need it.
Some media, including Der Spiegel and EUObserver reports that it was U.S. neokonservatives that paid for the Irish no-campaign.
Der Spiegel quoted the French Europe Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet from a meeting in Lyon:
“Europe has powerful enemies on the other side of the Atlantic, gifted with considerable financial means.”
He was putting the blame for the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty on some surprising shoulders: neoconservatives in the United States. “The role of the American neocons was very important in the victory of the ‘no,’” he said.
The starting point for discussion about this is that an organization with the name Libertas spent some 1.3 million euros in the no campaign in Ireland. Twice as much as Fianna Fail used on the yes campaign. Speculation is based on the fact that the founder of Libertas also is director of Rivada Networks. This company sells trades a lot with the US millitary. Several of those who worked for Libertas was paid by Rivada. It is not public how Libertas got by their money. The Herald writes a little about the background of the founder of Libertas here. They put particular emphasis on that several former American millitary officers are on the Board of Rivada Networks. Speculations increased after some comments from John Bolton, former U.S. UN ambassador. According to Der Spiegel:
John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, was in Dublin to deliver a speech on trans-Atlantic relations a week before the vote. He warned that the treaty could “undercut NATO,” something that would be a “huge mistake.” According to Bolton, known for being one of Washington’s most outspoken hawks, if the EU had its own military capability people will think NATO redundant and that Europeans “can take care of their own defense.”
It is not surprising that the European Parliament hungrily has embraced this matter – they seems to be far from ordinary people. Rather than discuss the reasons why people in Europe do not want an ever closer union and work to change the EU to something the people need and want, they use their time on conspiracies. My impression is that the EU parlamentarians are some of the most federal-minded people that are, and that they to a small degree understand why the EU is faced with so much opposition among people. In any case, EUObserver writes that:
The European Parliament’s delegation to the US will on its next trans-Atlantic visit ask Congress about allegations that the Irish anti-Lisbon Treaty campaign was funded out of America.
The parliament’s political group leaders – the “conference of presidents” – made the decision on Thursday (25 September) following calls for transparency by the Irish and French governments and the European Commission.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of the green group in the European Parliament expresses the rather strange reaction that many on the European left have; that the CIA is behind all that is evil in the world. The EUObserver quotes him on:
“The Irish press revealed that there possibly exists a link between the financers of the No campaign in Ireland and the Pentagon as well as the CIA … If proved true, this would clearly show that there are forces in the US willing to pay people to destabilise a strong and autonomous Europe,”
I think Cohn-Bendit and others have much more to gain from working to make the EU more democratic and less federal than to use their time on the search for U.S. supported conspiracies
The Arctic is melting – drill for oil. That is the response from the European Commission at least if we are to believe the EUObserver, that writes:
Drilling for oil in the fragile northern environment must go ahead with European financial and political support for the sake of EU energy security, energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs declared on Friday (19 September) at a debate on the subject in Brussels.
“You cannot say [the Arctic] is a sanctuary,” said the commissioner “… otherwise, where will will we get our energy from?”
The lack of logic is of course amazing. We are doing badly, lets do worse. But is is a good example of how we have com in this predicament at all. To continue doing what we are doing is the most important thing. The lack of imagination is mindgobling.
So you say, is there really such a thing as global warming? I dare you to look closely at the graph below.
However, the EU is not the only ones that is looking north. I have written about it here, but take a look at this quote from the same EUObserver:
In August last year, a Russian submarine planted a flag on the Arctic sea floor underneath the North Pole, while on Wednesday (17 September), during a meeting of the country’s security council, President Dmitry Medvedev set in motion plans to claim part of the Arctic shelf as national territory.
The move will “turn the Arctic into Russia’s resource base of the 21st century,” he said at the meeting.
Meanwhile, Conservative Canadian Prime Minister, whose nation also has competing claims on the north, has also pledged to assert Arctic sovereignty while campaigning ahead of the country’s 14 October federal election.
Too many people sees dollars where they should see warning flags