jmece_lab_event

"The European Parliament is only a “rhetorical champion” in the fight against climate change, with “limited impact” in shaping environmental agreements in the EU and the world. "

"The European Parliament is only a “rhetorical champion” in the fight against climate change, with “limited impact” in shaping environmental agreements in the EU and the world. "

Climate change event in Leeds

by FRANCISCO SEOANE PÉREZ

The European Parliament is only a “rhetorical champion” in the fight against climate change, with “limited impact” in shaping environmental agreements in the EU and the world. The current economic crisis, along with the shift of the centre of gravity of the EU to the East of the continent, are the two main reasons behind the watering-down by European governments of the ambitious so-called “climate legislative package” outlined by European representatives. These were the conclusions of a study on the role of the European Parliament in environmental policy-making presented at a seminar about climate change sponsored by the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence on 27 January 2009 at the Leeds Business School. The event was a prelude to the official inauguration of the Climate Change Centre on Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds.

JMECE Lab member Heidrun Herzogenrath-Amelung and Fabro Steibel

JMECE Lab member Heidrun Herzogenrath-Amelung and Fabro Steibel

The European Parliament aimed at making of EU countries the most advanced in the world in the fight against climate change. Although the ambitious goals of reducing contaminating emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 (as compared to the levels of emissions in the 1990s), and raising the percentage of renewable energy consumption from the current 8 per cent to a 20 per cent have been formally endorsed by the European governments, the final legislation is full of opt-outs so as to leave with little or no punishment the failure to achieve those self-imposed limits. The current economic crisis was the “perfect excuse” for countries like Poland and Italy to justify their opposition to the text submitted by the European Parliament, said Dr Charlotte Burns, a political scientist at the University of Leeds, who presented the initial results of a research project on EU environmental policy and politics conducted with her colleague Dr Neil Carter, a professor from the University of York. The centre of gravity of European politics has moved eastwards, giving more power to countries who are still heavily reliant on coal-generated power. The enlargement and the current financial crisis are the two factors that explain why “all actors were ready for any kind of deal”, according to Dr Burns. Had been otherwise, she said, the European Parliament may have rejected the legislation eventually approved. “The downgraded climate package has weakened the position of the Union as regards to the rest of the world”, said Dr Burns. The EU no longer can expect to lecture world leaders on how to fight global warming at the forthcoming international meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Dr Charlotte Burns, political scientist at the University of Leeds

Dr Charlotte Burns, political scientist at the University of Leeds

Comparing US and Europe

Dr Angela Carpenter, an expert on environmental legislation from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, reported on an on-going research project that aims at comparing the energy efficiency of oil refineries around the world, with a special attention on the question of whether those countries or states with stricter environmental regulations contaminate less. Although strong conclusions on causality cannot be raised from the data available, Dr Carpenter showed that US states with more rigorous environmental regulation like California are less polluting. This research project, led by Professor Andy Gouldson, the head of the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, is finding more difficulties than expected when trying to compare US and EU data on environmental issues. EU countries do not follow yet standarised procedures for collecting data on some of the parameters of interest, said Dr Carpenter.

Yorkshire and the Humber, a carbon-intensive region
Dr Stephen Brown, the Sustainable Development Manager at the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, reported on the local strategy to reduce carbon emissions. Mr Brown said that, along with the Ruhr in Germany, Yorkshire and the Humber has the record of highest emissions of CO2 in Europe. “Yorkshire is an intensive CO2 economy”, acknowledged Dr Brown. However, regional businesses have been willing to co-operate in tackling this issue, showing interest in some of the regional agency’s recent initiatives, such as plans for the capture and storage of carbon to minimise the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, and a trial “cap and trade” system for carbon. This programme, known as Carbon Action Yorkshire, is intended as a training for the forthcoming implementation of new national and EU legislation that will ask companies to buy pollution permits from other businesses that may have not reached their maximum limit of contamination. In theory, this system would penalize polluters and would reward those who are more energy efficient. Carbon Action Yorkshire is the UK’s first regional carbon trading scheme, remarked Dr Brown.

Climate Change Centre

Dr Stephen Brown, the Sustainable Development Manager at the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward

Dr Stephen Brown, the Sustainable Development Manager at the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward

This panel session on European environmental legislation and its implications to the regional economy in the Yorkshire was the prelude to the launch of the new Centre on Climate Change, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and based at the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, in partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science.

More information on the new centre at:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/media/press_releases/current09/cccep.html

Powerpoint presentation of the event:

Dr Stephen Brown / A Low Carbon Economy For Yorkshire and Humber

Dr Angela Carpenter / Benchmarking Petroleum Refinery Environmental Performance

Dr Charlotte Burns & Professor Neil Carter / Championing Europe’s Environment?: The European Parliament and Climate Change

AGENDA of the Event:

Speakers:

Dr Charlotte Burns & Dr Neil Carter, University of York and Dr Charlotte Burns, University of Leeds
“Championing Europe’s Environment? The European Parliament and Climate Change”

Dr Angela Carpenter, University of Leeds “Benchmarking Petroleum Refinery Environmental Performance: A Comparative Study of Performance in the US and EU”

Dr Stephen Brown, Yorkshire Forward “Yorkshire Forward perspectives on the development of a low carbon economy for Yorkshire and Humberside”

Venue: University of Leeds Business School (Room 1.33) / Times: 1.00 p.m. to 2.45 p.m.

Also, please notice that the Europa website hosts an interesting page about Climate Change (visit ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/home_en.htm )

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