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Analysis of the implementation on the Paris Agreement

An analysis on how to translate the Paris agreement into action in a German context.

Greenpeace Germany and consultancy New Climate Institute have completed a first brief analysis of how to translate the goals of the international climate regime as determined by the Paris Agreement into the German context.

“Firstly, emissions reduction scenarios on a sectoral level from existing literature sources are compared. Since the literature on this topic does not cover 1.5°C scenarios for Germany to a sufficient degree, global scenarios and the total CO₂ budget available for 1.5°C are taken as a basis. Conclusions are drawn from the comparison of different emissions reduction scenarios.

Key messages

To be compatible with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement …
• … global CO₂ emissions from energy generation and use as well as from agriculture and forestry will need to decrease +to zero by 2035. This way, temperature increase is likely to be kept “well below 2°C” and aim towards 1.5°C without taking the risk of needing to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere on a large scale in the future. Simultaneously, a smaller budget of emissions remains for sectors where (according to most models) a reduction in emissions would be exceedingly demanding, as is the case for non-CO₂ emissions from agriculture through livestock and soil.
• … developed countries such as Germany would have to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to zero earlier than the global average, i.e. CO₂ emissions before 2035.
• … the share of renewables in the energy mix (electricity production, building heating and cooling, industry, and transport) should reach 100% in Germany before 2035. The provision of electricity entirely from renewable sources should be achieved before 2030. This assumes the agreed phaseout of nuclear energy and no use of CCS.
• … the lignite and hard coal phase-out from electricity production should be achieved by around 2025 in Germany.
• … avoidance of travel, modal shift and increase in share of cars without combustion engines, e.g. through the development of electric mobility, are necessary beyond current targets in Germany.
• … 5% of Germany’s existing buildings need to be renovated to nearly zero energy standards per year, in addition to 100% of new stock conforming to nearly zero energy standards.
• … energy efficiency and electrification in industry have to be enhanced, in addition to research and development.
• … emissions from agriculture and forestry need to eventually be reduced to nearly zero as well, even if a little later than energy-related emissions.

A large part of the CO₂ budget available to limit temperature increase to 2°C or 1.5°C has already been spent. In order to limit the global average temperature increase to the above-mentioned levels, the cumulative emissions over this century are the determining factor. If emissions are too high now,CO₂ could theoretically still be removed from the atmosphere at a later point in time. However, the technology that could enable this subsequent removal, i.e. the utilization of biomass in combination with carbon capture and storage (CCS), entails significant problems and risks. This brief analysis consequently assumes that the emission budget has to be reached without these “negative emission” technologies.”

Compiled and translated from German by Reinhold Pape

Tougher air pollution targets needed

Revision of EU’s key legal instrument for improving air quality – the NEC directive – is currently the subject of intense negotiations.

Starting in late February, representatives of the EU’s three legislative bodies (the Council, Parliament and Commission) have held a series of trialogue meetings over spring and early summer to negotiate a revised National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) directive with the aim of reaching a final compromise by June 2016.

While the Commission and the Parliament aim for an ambition level that would result in a 52 per cent reduction in premature deaths from air pollution between 2005 and 2030, the Council (i.e. the member states) argues for a significantly less ambitious target of 48 per cent. The latter would in effect result in an additional 16,000 annual premature deaths in 2030, on top of the more than a quarter of a million annual premature deaths that are expected to remain if the Commission’s proposal was to be implemented.

According to the environmental group European Environmental Bureau (EEB), approximately 130,000 EU citizens could die prematurely between 2016 and 2030 if the emission reduction targets for air pollutants are weakened in line with the Council’s position.

The Council’s 48-per-cent target was the outcome of mismanaged negotiations under the Luxembourg Presidency last year, when many member states got away with very unambitious emission reduction commitments (ERC). For example, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania got away with weakening their ERCs for all five pollutants, and Italy and the UK managed to lower their national targets for four of the pollutants. (See table in AN 1/16, page 9.)

Now it is up to the Parliament and the Commission, hopefully with support from the Dutch Presidency, to push member states to accept more ambitious ERCs, especially for particulate matter (PM) and ammonia (NH₃) – pollutants that have particularly high adverse effects on human health. Ammonia is also the main culprit for ecosystem damage through eutrophication.

A possible compromise that would achieve a 50 per cent reduction in premature deaths has ben put forward by the Dutch Presidency to the member states. This would among other things simply that big member countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, which are also responsible for large shares of the emissions, would need to accept slightly stricter ERCs, especially for PM and ammonia.

Another issue of debate is that the Parliament is also pushing for binding targets for 2025, compared to the Commission’s proposed indicative targets, while the Council only wants some sort of vague guiding figures for 2025. Having binding intermediary targets would obviously better ensure that countries really are on track to meet their 2030 ERCs.

When the Council agreed its position in December 2015, member states removed the ozone precursor methane completely from the directive. However, both the Commission and the Parliament want to keep it in, although a majority in the Parliament supported exclusion of the main source of methane emissions from agriculture, i.e. from livestock’s enteric fermentation, which in 2005 contributed more than a third of the EU’s total methane emissions. A compromise has been tabled that would reduce the EU’s overall methane ERC from 33 to 20 per cent, which equals the result of excluding enteric methane.

Other issues of contention include among others the five additional flexibilities introduced by the Council in order to make it easier for member states to comply; to what extent emission abatement measures listed in Annex III should be binding or just voluntary; the timing and extent of reporting and review; and public access to information and justice.

A fourth, possibly final, trialogue meeting on the revision of the NEC directive is due in early June.

Christer Ågren

How much do we need to cut emissions?

A few years ago, while evaluating the environmental improvements that are expected to result from the revised Gothenburg Protocol by 2020, scientists at the CCE made a rough estimate of what additional reductions in acidifying and eutrophying emissions are needed to achieve levels of depositions that no longer exceed the critical load limits.

This was done using the very simplified approach of assuming uniform (same percentage) gradual emission reductions for all European countries and for international shipping. The starting point was the emission levels projected for 2020, assuming full implementation of the revised Gothenburg Protocol.

For eutrophication it was shown that an additional 70 per cent reduction in total nitrogen emissions (nitrogen oxides and ammonia) would bring the exceedance of the critical loads for nutrient nitrogen close to zero. The total area at risk of eutrophication in Europe would still cover about two per cent, but the magnitude of exceedance in these areas would be quite low.

As regards acidification, exceedance of the critical loads approached zero at an additional 60 per cent combined reduction in emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and ammonia. The remaining area at risk in Europe would come down to less than one per cent.

No detailed analysis was made regarding the locations of the remaining areas at risk (e.g. their spread between countries) or what types of ecosystems (e.g. nature  protection areas) would still be exposed to excess deposition.

Source: CCE Status Report 2012, link:

“We need clean air.”

This summer the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) will present a new report “Towards cleaner air”, an assessment of the current scientific knowledge on air pollution based on 35 years of research, monitoring and policy developments.

Some of the report’s key findings have been published in a brief summary for policymakers.

It makes for interesting reading. Despite some significant progress in reducing the emissions of many pollutants, it notes that problems still exist, and that additional action is urgently needed.

Each year, air pollution causes nearly half a million premature deaths in the EU. It is also the cause of allergies and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, which result in extra medication and hospitalisations as well as millions of lost working days.

But it is not only people that suffer from air pollution. Excess deposition of acidifying and eutrophying air pollutants damages nature and biodiversity.

Agricultural crops, forest trees and even man-made materials, including monuments and buildings of high cultural value, are all suffering.

Air pollution is transboundary in nature – it can be carried hundreds and even thousands of kilometres by winds in only a few days. Many cities have taken action to improve local air quality, for example by banning cars from city centres or improving public transport.

This is both necessary and good. But even in big cities a significant share of the pollution emanates from sources outside of the city, or even outside of the country.

This is why local and national measures have to be complemented by international action at European level, and – when it comes to dealing with ground-level ozone – even at the northern hemispheric level.

This is also why the EU has a National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) directive that is designed to make all member states contribute to improvements in air quality in a fair and cost-effective manner.

The current NEC directive dates back to 2001 and sets national emission caps for 2010. It is now subject to revision, with the aim of setting new national emission reduction targets up to the year 2030.

Despite all the negative impacts of air pollution and the fact that most member states are struggling with bad air quality, many national governments – including those of large countries such as the UK, France, Poland and Italy – refuse to accept the fair (and actually quite unambitious) targets of the original proposal.

In particular, they want to lower their national targets for ammonia reductions.

And they want to scrap the methane targets. As agriculture is responsible for 90 per cent of ammonia emissions and half of methane emissions, it is obvious that these positions are being pushed by organisations primarily representing the interests of industrial livestock farming.

Some member states are also seeking greater flexibility, which in this context is a euphemism for a greater right to pollute. Paradoxically, in most cases, the countries that argue for lower national emission reduction targets and greater flexibility are the same ones that are currently the subject of infraction measures by the Commission because they have failed to comply with the EU’s minimum air quality standards. In essence this means that they have failed to protect the health of their citizens.

What we need now is a new NEC directive with targets that ensure a high level of protection for health and the environment, resulting in reduced health bills, improved productivity, longer and healthier lives and a richer natural environment for the benefit of us all. We need clean air.

Christer Ågren

Finland: 1,600 early deaths every year due to air pollution

Air pollution is estimated to cause some 1,600 premature deaths in Finland every year, says a new report from the Environment Ministry. Deaths caused by air pollution shorten the lifetime of the individuals by an average of 16 years.

Taken across the entire population, this means that the life expectancy of Finns is shortened by an average of over five months due to air pollution.

Most of the health damage is caused by tiny particles (PM) or by nitrogen oxides.

About half of the PM concentrations in Finland emanates from emissions from outside the country, while the other half comes from domestic emission sources, primarily from small-scale wood burning (46%), other energy production (16%), traffic exhaust gases (12%), street dust (10%), peat production (9%), and industry (7%).

Source: Environment ministry press release, 13 April 2016

Zero waste press conference against landfill in Debagoiena, Basque Country

A group of citizens from Debagoiena held a press conference on February 16 in front of the Community of Debagoiena with the slogan “Landfill no!”. Among people who took part were members of Zero Waste Gipuzkoa (Zero Zabor).

They emphasized that Debagoiena is separately collecting 80% of their waste, while the rest of the municipalities reach under 50% separate collection, this is why they have underlined that they will start speaking about “solidarity” when “others start to be responsible”.

They will not accept receiving mixed waste in Debagoiena and they demand Debagoiena municipality refuses the landfill project in Epele. Their aim is to create a regional proponent to work in order to fulfil these goals.

In the press conference, they have said the following:

“Most of the waste which is not recycled or composted in Gipuzkoa is going to be thrown without any treatment in Debagoiena. 100,000 tons of mixed waste will be brought to our region, while within Debagoiena we are generating only 5,000 tons of waste.

We know that these kind of landfills create many problems, both in terms of health and environment: bad smells, an increase of rats and scavenger birds, the coming and goings of large lorries, methane, large amounts of land taken over, pollution of streams and aquifers due to leaching…

The solution is not to build an expensive and polluting infrastructure, the example of Debagoiena is a role model for a healthy solution. Our region is doing things well, important organisations have congratulated us and we have become a reference point in Europe because we have recycled 78% of our waste. But we haven’t got this results out of respect for the environment.

We have got it due to compulsory separate collection (with containers in some places and with cubes in others) and we think the results are improvable. If only Gipuzkoa would recycle the same percentage, things would be completely different and we would not need toxic incinerators or polluter landfills.”

Croatian municipalities adopt ‘Zero Waste 2020’ strategy

Since 2006 the seven municipalities of the lower Međimurje (The City of Prelog and the municipalities of Kotoriba, Donja Dubrava, Donji Vidovec, Sveta Marija, Goričan and Donji Kraljevec) have been developing a joint waste management system. Organised by the municipally owned company Pre-Kom, waste has been separately collected in the region since 2007. With the region currently ranked top in terms of separate collection within Croatia, it seemed the next logical step was the creation of a society without waste, or the implementation of a ‘Zero Waste Strategy’.

Zero Waste 2020 commitments

By the adoption of a ‘Zero Waste Strategy’ the municipalities of the region have committed to meeting the following waste management conditions by 2020:

  • 70% of useful waste to be extracted, processed and recovered (recycling, composting, anaerobic processing, or other acceptable means of useful waste recovery) through separate waste collection.
  • The amount of bulky waste and combined waste will be reduced from the current (2015) level of 98.8 kilograms per capita per year to 50 kilograms per capita per year by 2020.
  • The priorities in the field of waste management (prevention of waste, reuse and recycling) will be reinforced to the fullest extent, waste incineration will be avoided, the amount of waste deposited on landfills will be reduced to the lowest possible level.
  • An analysis of useless waste will be conducted yearly, and an operative strategy and campaigns for further improvement in waste management will be defined based on the results of the analysis.

In addition to the initiated activities in waste management, and according to Waste management plans of municipalities of lower Međimurje, the municipalities commit to start and take part in the following activities:

  • Organising educational sessions related to sustainable development and waste management and to promote the zero waste development strategy.
  • Work on projects related to reuse of the collected waste (clothing, shoes, etc.).
  • Promote separate waste collection of biodegradable communal waste and the composting of it.
  • Promote the use of compost given back to users.
  • Promote increasing the amount of households included in the waste management system.
  • Introduce a billing system based on the volume of collected waste.
  • Start projects on all levels of development, or public and private initiatives in order to secure improvement of living standards and sustainable development in their areas.
  • Encourage green construction using environmentally friendly materials.
  • Take part in sustainable mobility (car sharing, walking, bus transport, etc.).
  • Promote new lifestyles (tourism, catering, Fair trade commerce, etc.).

In order to track their progress, the municipalities have formed the ‘Council for Waste Management in Lower Međimurje’ which will track the fulfilment of the goals of the international strategy for “Zero waste”, this council will consist of:

  • The Mayor and municipality heads of ULGs
  • The Director of PRE-KOM.
  • A representative of Zero Waste Europe / Zelena akcija

The president of the Council is a Director of PRE-KOM, and the council will meet at least once every six months.

In adopting a ‘Zero Waste Strategy’ the region of Lower Međimurje will join an international community of municipalities moving towards zero waste. This community includes; New Zealand (the first country in the world to include the Strategy in its national legislation), New Scotia, British Columbia in Canada, Buenos Aires in Argentina, San Francisco in California, Canberra in Australia and many other local communities, regions and cities across the EU.

The municipalities of lower Međimurje are becoming a key example of good practice in waste management, and an exemplary model for other local communities in Croatia and around the world in the struggle towards a zero waste society.

Current waste management practices & infrastructure

In the area of lower Mešimurje, mixed communal waste is collected in black containers, biodegradable communal waste is collected in brown containers, bulky waste is collected after a phone call, paper and carton are collected in blue containers or bags, plastics in yellow containers or bags and metal and glass are collected in free bags. Aside from the gathering infrastructure, Pre-Kom. manages a composting plant, a sorting plant and a recycling yard.

Amounts of bulky and mixed communal waste disposed on a landfill per household:

  • 2011 2,888 t — 424 kilograms per household (128.5 kg per capita)
  • 2012 2,801 t — 409 kilograms per household (123.9 kg per capita)
  • 2013 2,794 t — 407 kilograms per household (123.9 kg per capita)
  • 2014 2,862 t — 412 kilograms per household (124.8 kg per capita)
  • 2015 2,299 t — 326 kilograms per household (98.9 kg per capita)

Amount of separately collected, processed and recovered waste:

  • 2011 16.93 %
  • 2012 19.04 %
  • 2013 19.63 %
  • 2014 22.39 %
  • 2015 49.58 %

By completion of the separate waste collection system and by introducing containers for biodegradable waste, Pre-Kom. has already significantly increased the amount of separately collected waste in 2015, compared to 2014. Analysis show an increase in other materials collected separately door-to-door. In 2015, 49,58% of waste has been collected and processed separately, which is a better than EU average of 43%. The results weren’t achieved quickly, they were achieved by continual investments and upgrades to the waste management system.

Considering what has already been achieved, municipalities of lower Međimurje aspire to demonstrate some of the best waste management practices in the world and to lead the way a zero waste society.

Zero Waste speeds up in Croatia after Zelena akcija

On Wednesday 24 February, representatives of the city of Prelog and six surrounding municipalities signed the European “Zero Waste 2020” strategy at a conference in Prelog organised by NGO Zelena akcija / Friends of the Earth Croatia and the communal waste company PRE-KOM. In signing the strategy, the local authorities – which are already leaders in sustainable waste management in Croatia – have committed to meet the ambitious goal of 70% separately collected waste by 2020.

Attendees at the conference included Minister of Environmental and Nature Protection Slaven Dobrović, Assistant Minister Lidija Runko Luttenberger, head of the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund Sven Muller, the Assistant Minister for Enterprise and Trade, the Head of Međimurje County, relevant Mayors, Heads of Districts, communal companies and representative of Zero Waste Europe. 18 NGOs from the Zero Waste Croatia* network were also present. After the conference the NGOs met with Assistant Minister Luttenberger on the topic of advancing sustainable waste management in Croatia.

The seven local authorities in Lower Međimurje for whom Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia drew up recommendations (the city of Prelog, and the districts of Goričan, Donji Kraljevec, Sveta Marija, Donji Vidovec, Donja Dubrava and Kotoriba, with altogether more than 25 000 inhabitants) managed to separately collect more than 50% of waste in 2015. As this moved them to the top of the league tables for separate waste collection and recycling in Croatia, signing on to the international Zero Waste 2020 strategy was a logical next step.

Siniša Radiković, Director of PRE-KOM commented:

“Our wish, by accepting this strategy and implementing Zelena akcija’s recommendations, is to separately collect and treat 70% of useful waste by 2020, landfill less than 30%, and reduce the amount of landfilled waste to less than 50 kg per inhabitant per year, which is in the range of the most successful cities and districts in the world”.

“Thank you for making our task easier, and that is to continue changing waste management policy in the Republic of Croatia. Until now the policy has been to mix and burn waste – thank you because you have shown that another way is possible”.

“According to the experience of many zero waste communities in the world, three ingredients are needed for success: political support, good management and commitment to meeting ever higher targets. The town of Prelog and the surrounding districts have shown that they have all these ingredients. I hope that other communities in Croatia will soon join them, to the benefit of their inhabitants and the environment.”

“Lower Međimurje has shown that in a relatively short period of time it is possible to create a good quality waste management system and become a good example for others. I’m proud that Zelena akcija contributed to this success with its analysis. This shows that NGOs have relevant knowledge and that when the authorities are ready to listen to well-argued recommendations, significant results can be achieved”.

In order to enable the commitments in the Strategy, the Lower Međimurje Waste Management Council was formed, which will include the local waste management companies along with Zelena akcija. Together with Zero Waste Europe, Zelena akcija will monitor progress towards the targets and assist with implementation of the measures to prevent, re-use and recycle waste.

At the meeting of the Zero Waste Croatia network with Assistant Minister, Marko Košak, Waste Managament Programme coordinator in Zelena akcija and Zero Waste Croatia network presented the current situation with waste management in Croatia. Erika Oblak from Zero Waste Europe presented the Zero Waste Europe network and successes by particular cities and districts. Ms Luttenberger presented the priorities of the Ministry for Environment and Nature Protection with regard to implementing a good quality waste management system. The NGOs provided comments on problems with the system and suggestions for the planned new national Waste Management Plan for the period until 2021.

The main message from the NGOs was that the new plan needs to ensure a long-awaited shift from mixing and burning waste to reducing, re-using, separating and recycling waste, as done by Prelog and neighbouring districts. The Assistant Minister clearly stated that the Ministry will ensure that the system is changed for the benefit of people and the environment, and that environmental organizations will have an important role in this process. A similar sentiment was expressed by Minister Dobrović during the conference “The problem in Croatia is large and I therefore welcome NGOs which actively work on the promotion of the zero waste concept. We all have a common task and even if it has not been like that until now, from now on problems will be resolved by sitting together around the table and all suggestions will be examined.”

Zelena akcija believes that the city of Prelog will achieve its ambitious targets by 2020 with the implementation of the proposed measures. We hope that other communal waste companies, with expert assistance from NGOs and support from the Ministry and Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, will also advance their waste management systems according to Lower Međimurje’s example and satisfy the needs of both residents and the environment.

Network of European Zero Waste Municipalities

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EU Adopts Circular Economy Package, But Is It Good Enough?


Stakeholders are yet again criticizing the European Commission’s new Circular Economy Package. The original policy, released in December of last year, was denounced as insufficiently ambitious, resulting in its dismissal and a review process over the course of 2015. The Commission adopted the revised package on December 2nd, but some claim the new policy is even weaker than the original.

The rationale for circular economy legislation is clear. In the words of the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development: “Our planet and our economy cannot survive if we continue with the ‘take, make, use and throw away’ approach. We need to retain precious resources and fully exploit all the economic value within them. The circular economy is about reducing waste and protecting the environment, but it is also about a profound transformation of the way our entire economy works. By rethinking the way we produce, work and buy we can generate new opportunities and create new jobs.”

Timmermans went on to say the new Circular Economy Package “sets a credible and ambitious path for better waste management in Europe with supportive actions that cover the full product cycle. This mix of smart regulation and incentives at EU level will help businesses and consumers, as well as national and local authorities, to drive this transformation.”

Unfortunately, there has already been some debate on the validity of those claims. Charitable organization Friends of the Earth said the new Circular Economy Package “is worse than the old one,” “notably weaker than its predecessor,” and “falls short in many areas.”

The organization acknowledged the policy will be an improvement over the status quo, but notes that the target for reuse and recycling of municipal waste was reduced from 70 percent to 65 percent by 2030, and two other targets — a target to reduce food waste by 30 percent between 2017 and 2025; and a target for an overall reduction in the total amount of resources used — were removed altogether. Friends of the Earth added that the Commission did not follow through on recommendations to incorporate a plan to measure land, water, carbon, and raw material footprints.

“The Commission’s proposal is a disappointment in that it doesn’t nearly go far enough. It is now on the Parliament and Member States to ensure that high recycling targets are maintained, and that binding obligations to reduce absolute resource consumption are included in the final package,” said Samuel Lowe, Resource Use Campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) also criticized the policy, suggesting it could do more for encouraging innovation in materials and waste.

“Just increasing the individual recycling targets for key materials like paper, plastics and aluminum will not be sufficient to match innovation,” said Bertil Heerink, director general of ACE. “Measures must be taken that strengthen existing recycling solutions, foster innovation in new recyclable materials and recycling techniques, resulting in a further increase in recycling of beverage cartons across Europe.”

The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy targets are:

A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030;
A common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030;
A binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030;
A ban on landfilling of separately collected waste;
Promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling;
Simplified and improved definitions and harmonised calculation methods for recycling rates throughout the EU;
Concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis – turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material; and
Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (e.g. for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles).
Several proposed directives on waste and fact sheets were also released. The European Commission expects the proposals to create energy bill savings of €465 per year per household by 2020, and over 170,000 jobs by 2035 through waste management efforts. Over 500 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions reductions are expected between 2015 and 2035.

The circular economy action plan will be funded by over €650 million from the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, €5.5 billion from structural funds for waste management, and investments in the circular economy at the national level.