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    Covanta Holding Corp., a developer and operator of large-scale renewable energy projects, has agreed to purchase two biomass energy facilities and a biomass energy fuel management business from The AES Corp. According to the companies, the facilities are located in California's Central Valley and will add 75 MW to Covanta's portfolio of renewable energy plants. Alternative Energy Retailer - May 31, 2007.

    Two members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are proposing a study designed to increase the availability of ethanol across the country. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., held a news conference Tuesday to announce that he has introduced a bill in the U.S. House, asking for a US$2 million study of the feasibility of transporting ethanol by pipeline. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Des Moines Register - May 30, 2007.

    A new market study by Frost & Sullivan Green Energy shows that the renewables industry in the EU is expanding at an extraordinary rate. Today biofuels and other renewables represent about 2.1 per cent of the EU's gross domestic product and account for 3.5 million jobs. The study forecasts that revenues from renewables in the world's largest economy are set to double, triple or increase even more over the next few years. Engineer Live - May 29, 2007.

    A project to evaluate barley’s potential in Canada’s rapidly evolving biofuels industry has received funding of $262,000 from the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI). Western Barley Growers Association [*.pdf] - May 27, 2007.

    PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC), the biofuel unit of Philippine National Oil Company, is planning to undertake an initial public offering next year or in 2009 so it can have its own cash and no longer rely on its parent for funding of biofuels projects. Manila Bulletin - May 27, 2007.

    TMO Renewables Limited, a producer of ethanol from biomass, has licensed the ERGO bioinformatics software developed and maintained by Integrated Genomics. TMO will utilize the genome analysis tools for gene annotation, metabolic reconstruction and enzyme data-mining as well as comparative genomics. The platform will enable the company to further understand and exploit its thermophilic strains used for the conversion of biomass into fuel. CheckBiotech - May 25, 2007.

    Melbourne-based Plantic Technologies Ltd., a company that makes biodegradable plastics from plants, said 20 million pounds (€29/US$39 million) it raised by selling shares on London's AIM will help pay for its first production line in Europe. Plantic Technologies [*.pdf] - May 25, 2007.

    Shell Hydrogen LLC and Virent Energy Systems have announced a five-year joint development agreement to develop further and commercialize Virent's BioForming technology platform for the production of hydrogen from biomass. Virent Energy Systems [*.pdf] - May 24, 2007.

    Spanish energy and engineering group Abengoa will spend more than €1 billion (US$1.35 billion) over the next three years to boost its bioethanol production, Chairman Javier Salgado said on Tuesday. The firm is studying building four new plants in Europe and another four in the United States. Reuters - May 23, 2007.

    According to The Nikkei, Toyota is about to introduce flex-fuel cars in Brazil, at a time when 8 out of 10 new cars sold in the country are already flex fuel. Brazilians prefer ethanol because it is about half the price of gasoline. Forbes - May 22, 2007.

    Virgin Trains is conducting biodiesel tests with one of its diesel engines and will be running a Voyager train on a 20 percent biodiesel blend in the summer. Virgin Trains Media Room - May 22, 2007.

    Australian mining and earthmoving contractor Piacentini & Son will use biodiesel from South Perth's Australian Renewable Fuels across its entire fleet, with plans to purchase up to 8 million litres from the company in the next 12 months. Tests with B20 began in October 2006 and Piacentinis reports very positive results for economy, power and maintenance. Western Australia Business News - May 22, 2007.

    Malaysia's Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui announces he will head a delegation to the EU in June, "to counter European anti-palm oil activists on their own home ground". The South East Asian palm oil industry is seen by many European civil society organisations and policy makers as unsustainable and responsible for heavy deforestation. Malaysia Star - May 20, 2007.

    Paraguay and Brazil kick off a top-level seminar on biofuels, cooperation on which they see as 'strategic' from an energy security perspective. 'Biocombustiveis Paraguai-Brasil: Integração, Produção e Oportunidade de Negócios' is a top-level meeting bringing together the leaders of both countries as well as energy and agricultural experts. The aim is to internationalise the biofuels industry and to use it as a tool to strengthen regional integration and South-South cooperation. PanoramaBrasil [*Portuguese] - May 19, 2007.

    Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS and Petrobras SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a biofuels joint venture. The joint venture will undertake technical and financial feasibility studies to set up a plant in Brazil to export biofuels to Portugal. Forbes - May 19, 2007.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

EU questions US climate plan

Yesterday, President George Bush outlined a proposal to tackle climate change. The US wants to organise a summit of the 15 biggest polluters to draw up a strategy by 2008 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the plan, the free market, technology and voluntary, national targets alone should be sufficient to address the planetary crisis. The US did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Critics say the plan is weak and vague, looks at the short term only, ignores years of ongoing multilateral efforts, will delay concrete action and rejects measurable and enforceable targets.

Some think the mere fact that the Bush administration finally recognises the threat of global warming means it has 'crossed the Rubicon' and that the US government may be negotiated into a more serious and comprehensive approach. Others see the plan as a "poison pill", aimed at preemtively killing all hope for a G8 agreement on climate change.

The White House proposal comes ahead of the G8 Summit to take place in Heiligendamm, Germany, next week. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chairs the Summit, has put global warming at the top of the agenda and wants an agreement that will form the basis of the meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December in Bali, Indonesia, when U.N. officials hope to launch formal talks on a post-Kyoto treaty.

Merkel, whose country also holds the rotating EU Presidency, has staked Germany's year long presidency of the G8 on reaching such a deal. She backs a far more ambitious plan that would limit average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Practically, this will require - by 2050 - a global reduction in emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels. The EU's plan also calls for binding carbon emissions targets and a multilateral, global agreement similar to the Kyoto Protocol, including instruments to trade carbon certificates globally. The US had earlier indicated it will not accept binding targets and the new plan rejects them again.

The clash between the EU and the US positions was illustrated by José Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission: "It is clear that we need a more ambitious position from the US." He added that "the US is relying strongly on market mechanisms in the battle against climate change, and rightly so. But market mechanisms only work when one has binding targets." Mr Barroso stressed that the US preoccupation with technology to tackle global warming would only work if Washington signed up to a global system of "measurable, binding, enforceable targets."

On the need for a multilateral approach, the EU chief said "I hope that the United States intends to use the meeting as an opportunity to make the G8 summit contribute towards the UN's multilateral climate protection system." Barroso added that "in the US Congress there is very visible support for more ambitious proposals." Touring Europe, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indeed indicated support for a multilateral and far more comprehensive approach than that sketched by the White House.

"The leading role of the UN on climate change is non-negotiable," the chief German negotiator on climate change, Bernd Pfaffenbach, was cited as saying by the UK paper Guardian. Another German official described the US proposal as a "poison pill" aimed at undermining G8 and UN efforts to tackle global warming:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who has been the lead negotiator for the G8 climate deal, has shed his diplomatic veneer and lashed out at the voluntarist US plans: "Now is not the hour of diplomacy. Now is the hour for real action." The German environment minister then took on the US directly, saying "the challenge remains that of convincing the Americans that they have a responsibility -- also for their own citizens who suffer from climate change." According to Gabriel, the US position makes it easier for developing nations to sit back and do nothing about reducing their own emissions. Countries such as India and China, said Gabriel, "have the attitude: 'if the industrialized nations don't take responsibility, then why should developing countries do so?' The only solution is to continue negotiations with the Americans and to put them under pressure."

Under Merkel's leadership, the EU has set ambitious targets for cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. A similar goal has been set for increasing the use of renewable energy resources. The EU also leads negotiations in preparation of a post-Kyoto agreement by the UNFCCC.

However, the influential German newspaper Financial Times Deutschland predicts the G8 summit, which takes place from Wednesday to Friday, will mark Merkel's "greatest foreign policy defeat" to date at the hands of Bush.

More information:
Jurnalo: EU head Barroso slams Bush climate plans, predicts failure at G8 - June 1, 2007.

EU Observer: Europe questions US conversion on climate change - June 1, 2007.

Euro Today: EU leaders greet new strategy with caution - June 1, 2007.

BBC: US seeks new greenhouse gas goals - May 31, 2007.

Washington Post: US rejects EU emission reductions - May 29, 2007.

Der Spiegel: Gloves Off in Row on Climate Change - May 29, 2007.


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