Monday, January 15, 2007

Exxon & U.S. in possible U-turns on climate, and more European news

The past few days have been very eventful.... Exxon Mobil has started "denying its climate change denial" arguing that its position on climate has been "misunderstood".

The company claims it has stopped funding climate change denial lobbies such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which have been extremely active over many years in generating misleading information on climate science in the US and around the world. However, it remains to be seen whether it has really stopped funding this group, and whether the company will do the same with other smaller denial lobby groups it has been financing. However, the fact they are now willing to start discussing climate change policy options is a major step forward in this debate.

The UK's Observer reported on Sunday that the US is on the verge of a U-turn on climate change policy (this would be a logical step, given the US position against any regulation of greenhouse gases has been largely determined by the position of the strongest industry lobbies such as ExxonMobil). However, this is being denied by the US government, according to the New York Times.

As anticipated in the earlier post, the EU has also announced its new energy measures and a proposal for a long term climate target, which has received a lot of media coverage and which I have briefly outlined in another post on Europe, Planet Earth.

Another announcement that got slightly less attention was that in two weeks (24 January) the EU Commission will put forward proposals for binding legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars sold in the 27-nation trading bloc to an industry average of 120 grams per kilometre in 2012.

Currently car makers are subject to a voluntary agreement to reduce CO2 emissions to an industry average of 140 g/km by 2008, but they are set to miss that target. Asian manufacturers have until 2009 to meet the voluntary target, Reuters reported. The car industry is opposed to mandatory legislation, arguing that that voluntary agreements are better than mandatory ones (except that they are missing the current voluntary target largely because they chose to produce bigger and heavier cars and SUVs, which is why the Commission is now considering making the target mandatory).