Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from Europe
Intensifying its efforts to curb the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, the United Nations today launched a new mechanism to generate significant reductions in such emissions in central and eastern European transition economies through a system of "carbon credits" acquired by developed countries.
Cutting household carbon emissions has full government support, in theory. But try taking bigger steps to turn your house into an eco-home and you end up generating more heat under your collar than anywhere else. As Jeanette Winterson writes, going green is not only hard work but also excruciatingly expensive because the Government is doing little to help in real terms. In her determination to use eco-friendly building methods when renovating her cottage, the author discovered that, rather than providing incentives, the Government is taxing homeowners trying to do the right thing, adding thousands to the cost of installing rainwater harvesting systems and geothermal energy.
Thousands of us are signing up to plans from energy suppliers that promise to provide our energy from renewable sources. But while green tariffs might ease our consciences, do they actually make any difference to the environment? Under green tariffs, energy suppliers promise to match your electricity use by putting the same amount of energy from renewable sources – mostly wind farms – back into the national grid. But environmental groups are not certain of the schemes’ green credentials. Friends of the Earth used to produce a league table of green tariffs, ranking them according to their benefit to the environment. However, it has now ceased the exercise because it says it has become impossible to accurately gauge how much good the schemes do.
The European Union should adopt binding energy savings targets and look into launching a new trading scheme to encourage businesses to use renewable energy sources, Denmark’s prime minister said on Friday. Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Reuters the 25-nation bloc, struggling to reduce rising dependency on imported gas and oil, should follow Denmark’s example as it develops a common energy policy at a time of high fuel prices and growing global demand.
The country’s pioneering role in wind energy is threatened unless local governments ease building codes, warns the minister of the environment. Strict zoning codes have virtually halted the construction of new wind turbines in Denmark, according to Marianne Bender, the chairperson of the Organisation for Sustainable Energy. While 748 turbines were put into operation in 2000, that number fell to a mere 6 in 2006. ‘Protests from citizens and lobby organisations have hindered the building of wind turbines many places in the country,’ she told daily newspaper Nyhedsavisen. ‘At the same time, one of the government’s first actions was to remove subsidies so turbines had to compete on market conditions.’
This demanding work is carried out by the MoD at no charge to the developer. Since the beginning of this rush for wind the MoD have received about 4500 applications and this year it is running at between 70 and 100 per month. They all have to be assessed, and many of these will be re-assessed so the work is enormous.
David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, was accused yesterday of running a “brazen” spin operation, after it emerged that his promise of more money for clean energy sources will mean less money for energy-saving projects. At last month’s Labour conference Mr Miliband announced he was putting £10m into a programme run by the Carbon Trust, a private company established four years ago to involve businesses in fighting global warming. The grant will be used to get private companies to build wind turbines to generate power. He forecast that the scheme would generate enough electricity to supply 250,000 houses. A footnote to an accompanying press release from the Environment Department (Defra), however, reveals that the money has come out of the £20m allocated to Defra in the Budget in March - money that was to be invested in energy-saving measures.
A renewable energy scheme is being funded by cuts from other projects designed to promote household energy efficiency, the BBC has learned. At the Labour conference, Environment Secretary David Miliband promised £10m to help fund projects like wind power. But it has emerged schemes to promote double-glazing and insulation are to be cut to fund it. A Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesman said energy efficiency was crucial.
THE Government is proposing to favour some renewable energy sources over others in an attempt to kick-start types of green power that have been slow to take off. The approach could mean that less well developed forms of renewable energy, such as marine or solar power, receive more subsidy in the form of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs). Established forms of renewables, such as onshore wind farms, could receive fewer ROCs. The proposals to reform the ROC system were issued for consultation today as Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, stuck the first spade in the ground at what will be Britain’s biggest onshore wind farm — Whitelee — operated by ScottishPower on Eaglesham Moor outside Glasgow.
Carbon offset schemes are designed to neutralise the effects of the carbon dioxide our activities produce by investing in projects that cut emissions elsewhere. They work through the rapidly growing trade in carbon credits, each worth the equivalent of a tonne of carbon. Offset companies typically buy carbon credits from projects that plant trees or encourage a switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. They sell credits to individuals and companies who want to go "carbon neutral". Some climate experts say offsets are dangerous because they dissuade people from changing their behaviour.
Green consumers and businesses who want to neutralise their carbon emissions face being ripped off by unscrupulous operators who exploit the growing market in carbon offset schemes, a Guardian investigation has revealed. The surge in interest in such schemes, which invest millions of pounds in forestry and clean energy projects in the developing world, has created a lucrative market in carbon, which is unregulated and subject to little scrutiny. Campaigners and analysts say independent standards are urgently needed to protect consumers and to ensure the promised carbon savings are delivered. Francis Sullivan, a carbon offset expert who led attempts by banking group HSBC to neutralise its emissions, said: “There will be individuals and companies out there who think they’re doing the right thing but they’re not. I am sure that people are buying offsets in this unregulated market that are not credible. I am sure there are people buying nothing more than hot air.”
The Norwegian government is to subsidize energy produced from renewable sources from 2008, the energy ministry said Thursday. Under the new system, producers of wind power will receive NOK80/MWh ($12.08/MWh), while producers of power from biomass will receive NOK100/MWh. In addition, hydro power producers will receive NOK40/MWh for the production representing the first 3 MW of the capacity in the plants.
The UK government’s proposals to band the Renewables Obligation have again stirred industry debate. The UK government signaled early this year that it would put forward proposals to band the Renewables Obligation, thereby effectively selecting winners and losers from an array of renewable technologies and awarding them differentiated renewable obligation certificates. As energy suppliers and generators await the banding outcome, debate as to the most viable and practicable approach rages.
Wind turbine projects on public sites like hospitals and council houses will receive a £10m funding boost as part of the Government’s efforts to open up the ‘largely untapped’ public sector to the renewables industry, the environment secretary said on Wednesday. The scheme will see up to half a billion pounds invested in onsite renewables, mostly wind turbines Defra wants to see 500MW worth of onsite renewables installed on public land through the Carbon Trust “Partnership for Renewables” scheme, which will work with public bodies as well as the private sector to provide funding for the initial stages of project development and management. Wind energy expansion on this scale would bring Britain’s wind energy generating capacity up by 25%, Defra calculates.
The Ramblers’ Association today called for an urgent reform of the subsidy which supports renewable energy developments on the UK, including a massive reduction in the funding given to large scale land based windfarms. The call comes after the RA’s Chief Executive, Christine Elliott, examined the impact of new windfarm developments in the Scottish Highlands.
The scheme would allow householders, small businesses and community groups to claim grants for installing the likes of solar panels and wind turbines.
Green issues are no longer the preserve of sandal-wearing activists. They have entered the mainstream business world and galloped up the boardroom agenda. At the same time, booming markets for trading carbon credits, effectively created by the Kyoto treaty in 1997, have attracted scores of investors focusing on green- energy projects.
A £6m fund to boost renewable energy in the east of Scotland has been unveiled by the Scottish Executive. It came as Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen said more Scots companies should be branching into the sector. The Sigma Sustainable Energies Fund, backed by the public and private sector, will see successful companies receive as much as £500,000.
May I draw attention to two relevant issues in the wind energy debate: 1) Radar and 2) Renewable Obligation Certificates.
On the back of a recent expansion of wind power in the Irish Republic, the government has announced an increased renewables target of 15% of total generated output by 2010. The increase is supported by the recently-announced renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFIT) program, but this method of financial support raises more questions than answers over the economics of Irish green power.