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December 7th, 2012:

Proposal for a new EU Environment Action Programme to 2020

The Commission proposal

Download PDF : com2011_571

The proposed programme builds on the significant achievements of 40 years of EU environment policy, and draws on a number of recent strategic initiatives in the field of environment, including the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the Low Carbon Economy Roadmap. It should secure the commitment of EU institutions, Member States, regional and local administrations and other stakeholders to a common agenda for environment policy action up to 2020.

General environment action programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early seventies. The Sixth EU Environment Action Programme covered the period 2002-2012.

While many EU Member States are struggling to cope with the economic crisis, the attendant need for structural reforms offers new opportunities for the EU to move rapidly onto a more sustainable path. The new environment action programme points the way towards making the most of these opportunities.

Tighter standards for PM proposed in the US

Strengthening the annual fine particle pollution standard will improve health protection and provide benefits worth billions of dollars.

On 15 June the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to update its national air quality standard for fine particle pollution (PM2.5). The proposal came in response to legal action filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the American Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association.

Pollution by fine particles causes serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children. It also contributes to the haze that envelops many US cities and national parks.

The proposal envisages a strengthening of the annual mean standard for harmful PM2.5 to a level within a range of 13 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) to 12 µg/m3, to be compared to the current annual standard of 15 µg/m3. For comparison, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended an air quality guideline value of 10 µg/m3 as an annual mean.

It is also proposed by the EPA to set a separate fine particle standard to improve visibility, primarily in urban areas. This standard could be set at either 28 or 30 deciviews.

The EPA points out that the proposal has no impact on the existing daily standard for PM2.5 at 35 µg/m3 or the existing daily standard for coarse particles (PM10) at 150 µg/m3, both of which would remain unchanged.

As a result of emission control action already taken or in the pipeline through the Clean Air Act, the EPA estimates that 99 per cent of all counties in the US will meet the proposed new standards without any additional action. EPA plans to make attainment/non-attainment designations by December 2014, with those designations likely becoming effective in early 2015.

States would then have five years, until 2020, to meet the proposed health standards, and states may request a possible extension to 2025, depending on the severity of an area’s PM pollution problems and the availability of pollution controls.

Under US law, EPA cannot consider costs in setting or revising national ambient air quality standards. However, to inform the public, the EPA is required to analyse the benefits and costs of implementing new standards. Therefore it will issue a regulatory impact analysis that estimates the potential benefits and costs of meeting a revised annual health standard in the year 2020.

EPA estimates that the proposed standards are expected to yield significant health benefits, valued at US$2.3 billion to 5.9 billion annually for a proposed standard of 12 μg/m3 and at US$88 million to 220 million annually for a proposed standard of 13 μg/m3. The estimated costs of implementing the proposal are US$69 million (for 12 μg/m3) and $2.9 million (for 13 μg/m3). This would result in a return of US$30 to US$86 for every dollar invested in pollution control.

“This proposal is long overdue,” said Paul Cort, the Earthjustice attorney who represented the Lung Association and NPCA in legal proceedings. “The fact that the EPA has been put back on track by the courts is an important first step in this process, but now the agency needs to set strong final standards to protect people from this deadly pollution. The law requires it, and the millions of Americans who live in areas made filthy by particle pollution desperately need it.”

Earthjustice, the American Lung Association and Clean Air Task Force urge an annual standard of 11 µg/m3 and a daily standard of 25 µg/m3. The groups collaborated to last year produce a report entitled “Sick of soot: How the EPA can save lives by cleaning up fine particle pollution”. According to this study, an annual standard of 11 µg/m3 and a daily standard of 25 µg/m3 could every year spare the American public from 35,700 premature deaths; 2,350 heart attacks; 23,290 visits to the hospital and emergency room; 29,800 cases of acute bronchitis; 1.4 million cases of aggravated asthma; and 2.7 million days of missed work or school due to air-pollution-related ailments.

The EPA will accept public comment for 63 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register, and will then issue a final ruling by 14 December 2012

Christer Ågren

Information on the EPA proposal:
Comments from the American Lung Association:

The costs of climate change

Download PDF : AN4-2012

Hong Kong’s waste-charges plan get broad support, government poll shows

Submitted by admin on Dec 7th 2012, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Cheung Chi-fai

Environmental Protection Department poll shows 60 per cent of respondents back scheme as a way to tackle rubbish-disposal problems

People will have to pay to have their rubbish dumped after the Hong Kong government finally took the next step in dealing with its mounting waste problem after years of delays.

Officials had pledged to introduce quantity-based solid-waste charges scheme, in which people pay according to how much rubbish they dump, by 2007.

The Environmental Protection Department said that a public consultation exercise held between January and April showed that about 60 per cent of respondents supported waste charges and believed that the quantity approach was the way forward.

While the EPD neither specified its preferred model of charging for waste nor spelled out details of the plan, in a paper submitted to the legislature yesterday it made extensive reference to Taipei’s experience in implementing the measure, in which households buy designated rubbish bags of varying sizes.

In the Taipei model, households are levied the equivalent of HK$0.50 for each kilogramme they discard. This is then used to dispose of the waste they generate. If Hong Kong adopted a similar scheme, a three-member household would pay about HK$40 a month, based on the average of 0.87kg of rubbish each person disposes of a day.

But a department official who declined to be named said that the waste charge, even if implemented, would not fully recover the cost of waste treatment. He said the charge would serve only as an incentive for people to cut their waste. He said more than 9,000 tonnes of solid waste a day was being dumped in landfills and that if there was no expansion, the landfills would reach their capacity by 2018.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said yesterday that he had invited the Council for Sustainable Development to help the public address key questions about the charging scheme, which he hoped would be implemented by 2016.

He said the questions would test the public’s level of tolerance in accepting the waste charges and other changes that would come with the measure, such as removing up to 20,000 rubbish bins from the streets so as to ensure proper enforcement of the charges.

The department’s officials said although Taipei’s waste charge had helped cut domestic waste disposal by about 60 per cent, up to 27 tonnes of waste were still being illegally dumped across the city each day.

Alkin Kwong Ching-wai, president of the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies, said that while the association supported the quantity approach, they were worried that the charge would increase their workload. “We are bound to spend more in cleaning up rubbish not properly thrown away, and we might be forced to increase management fee to pay for that additional expense,” he said.

Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth said the problems foreseen with introducing the charge could be overcome.

Its spokeswoman, Celia Fung, said that stringent enforcement could deter people from disposing of their waste illegally and that conventional rubbish bins on the streets could be replaced with recycling bins.


Environmental Protection Department


government poll

Source URL (retrieved on Dec 7th 2012, 6:18am):

BA and Solena to produce sustainable jet fuel


Airline British Airways (BA) and zero-emission bioenergy company, Solena, have progressed in their goal to produce sustainable jet fuel as part of their GreenSky London partnership, with BA reportedly making the ‘largest advanced biofuel commitment ever made by an airline’.

The British airline yesterday (6 December), announced that it has invested $500 million (£311m) in the partnership’s low-carbon jet fuel production facility and will purchase jet fuel produced by the GreenSky plant over the next 10 years. The fuel will be used in all BA flights operating out of London City Airport.

President and CEO of Solena, Robert Do, said: “Our GreenSky London project will provide clean, sustainable fuels at market competitive prices that will help address British Airways’ sustainability goals.

“The British Airways off-take agreement represents the largest advanced biofuel commitment ever made by an airline and clearly demonstrates the airline’s leadership and vision in achieving its carbon emission reduction targets.”

Though construction on the GreenSky plant has not yet begun, BA has confirmed that GreenSky London has signed an exclusive option on a site for the facility and consent work for the site has begun.

Once built, the facility is expected to annually convert approximately 500,000 tonnes of residual waste into 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel, 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel, as well as bionaphtha (a blending component in petrol), and renewable power.

Included at the site will be a biomass power station capable of producing 40 megawatts of electricity per annum. Electricity that isn’t used at the plant will then be fed into the national grid. The facility is hoped to be operational by 2015.

Chief Executive of BA, Keith Williams, said: “We are delighted that the GreenSky London project is getting ever closer to fruition. With world-class technology partners now in place, we are well on our way to making sustainable aviation fuel a reality for British Airways by 2015.”

As a result of this development, 150 permanent jobs are expected to be created, in addition to 1000 construction jobs.

The production of the sustainable jet fuel will fall to Solena Fuels Corporation, which will be responsible for converting waste matter into synthesis gas through a process of high temperature gasification and Oxford Catalyst Groups/Velocys, which will then convert the cleaned gas into liquid hydrocarbons.

According to Solena, the biofuels produced by this process are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 90 per cent over regular Jet A-1 fuel. Research conducted by Resource last year, however, indicated environmental groups were loath to praise the plans because of uncertainty over the provenance of the waste. Friends of the Earth campaigner Becky Slater said: “British Airways’ plans to produce aviation jet fuel from waste won’t necessarily be good for the environment, [but has] the potential to offer options for dealing with waste that cannot be avoided or recycled.”