Saturday, April 28, 2007

Germany pledges to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 40%

Back in the mid 1970s the United States Congress held hearings leading up to the enactment of the “Energy Policy Conservation Act,” representatives from the major automobile manufacturers were invited to testify on the proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. These would establish mileage standards for new passenger cars in accordance with the testing and evaluation protocol set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

These proposed standards were extremely controversial at the time. Congress specified that CAFE standards must be set at the “maximum feasible level.” Determinations of maximum feasible level were to be made considering four factors: (1) Technological feasibility; (2) Economic practicability;(3) Effect of other standards on fuel economy; and (4) Need of the nation to conserve energy.

The major automobile manufacturers all sent representatives. German and Japanese manufacturers sent engineers. American car makers sent lawyers.

Germany and Japan read the writing on the wall and got the jump on developing fuel efficient automobiles.

As Yogi said, "It's like déjà vu all over again". (GW)

Germany plans to cut climate emissions by 40%

27 April 2007

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel (center in the above photo) has unveiled an eight-point climate-change action plan, promising to cut the country's greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% before 2020, or double the amount pledged by the EU as a whole.

The new German plan to slash greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% before 2020 goes beyond the EU's commitment formulated by EU leaders at their Spring Summit in March. During that meeting, the EU-27 promised a unilateral 20% reduction by 2020, increasing even to 30% in the event of large economic powers such as the US and China following suit.

Berlin's Climate Agenda 2020 calls for a "transformation of the industrial society". In order to reach its 40% target (a reduction of 270 million tonnes of CO2), the document proposes eight measures:

  • Modernising power stations (-30 million tonnes);
  • doubling the amount of combined heat and power (CHP) use (- 20 million tonnes);
  • increasing the share of renewables in electricty production to 27% (- 55 million tonnes);
  • cutting electricity consumption by 11% (-40 million tonnes);
  • improving energy efficiency of buildings (-41 million tonnes);
  • using more renewables for heating (-14 million tonnes);
  • increasing fuel and engine efficiency in transport and more use of biofuels (-30 million tonnes), and;
  • reducing emissions of other (non -CO2) gases such as methane or F-gases.

Gabriel's plan explictly rejects a revival of nuclear power and sticks to the coalition comprise between the SPD (Social Democrats) and CDU-CSU (Christian Democrats) to phase-out atomic energy. The investment costs for these plans would be €3 billion, whereas climate change could lead to damage costs of €137 billion, the report states in a short paragraph on financing.

Germany is clearly trying to position itself as climate-change leader in the run-up to the June G8 meeting in Heiligendamm.


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