Posts By :

    Almut Bonhage

    Denmark’s new government plans to boost climate and energy action

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    The new Danish government pledges to strengthen its 2030 target to reduce emissions by 70% below the 1990 level. The political programme also refers to:

    • energy efficiency improvements including requirements for energy savings in public buildings;
    • a national strategy for sustainable construction;
    • a comprehensive electrification strategy; and
    • a ban on the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2030.

    read more (in Danish)

    article in Climate Home news (in English)

    Towards energy efficient mortgages for all?

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    The World Green Building Council Europe network and partners launched a new report ‘Creating an Energy Efficient Mortgage for Europe: the supporting role of the green building sector.’

    The report argues that the finance and the green building sector must work together more closely to ensure that energy efficient mortgages will be made available to every borrower in Europe.

    A pilot scheme has already seen 46 major banks signed up to develop new green lending products. City and regional governments including the Scottish government have also committed to support the initiative.

    More information

    Ireland wants to boost energy renovations with new approach

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    The Irish government has published a Climate Action Plan setting out over 180 actions that need to be taken for Ireland to achieve its 2030 targets for carbon emissions, and put itself on track to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    It includes the delivery of a new Plan to retrofit 500,000 homes, with large groups of houses being retrofitted by the same contractor to reduce costs, smart finance, and easy pay back methods.

    The plan also foresees an increase in the number of Sustainable Energy Communities to 1,500.

    An online consultation has been launched.

    More information here

    Time to scrutinize and amend deficient Brexit environment legislation

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    Under no-deal pressures the UK government has been in a hurry to complete the copy across of the EU’s acquis and has already laid 515 Statutory Instruments, a quarter of them coming from Defra.

    Greener Alliance argue that as NGOs have only analyzed a small part of the laws, the Brexit delay now brings an opportunity to further scrutinize the Government’s legislative work and possibly push for amendments where required.

    According to Green Alliance, the fast passage process of legislation has diminished stakeholder involvement and parliamentary debate. It has also resulted in mistakes which will have important consequences on environmental protection. Defra did put in place a mechanism for advance viewing of legislation and for gathering ideas and advice, but this apparently came too late in the process to have meaningful impact and address deficiencies.

    For example, the UK replica of the chemicals safety legislation REACH, had to be amended after complaints from industry arose concerning transitional arrangements to avoid supply chain disruptions. Further, environmental NGOs have pointed to greater deficiencies, which are believed to lower protection levels (by deviating from the REACH governance system on stakeholder engagement and commitment to future outcomes).  

    Green Alliance article

    REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019

    Legal expert opinion identifies level-playing field enforcement gap

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    A legal opinion commissioned by the Greens in the German Bundestag has found that the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is not effective in enforcing the non-regression in the level of environmental protection, labour and social standards, set out in the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland – the so-called backstop of the draft WA.

    The backstop in regard to environment, excludes the non-regression provisions from the scope the WA’s enforcement mechanism (the dispute settlement mechanism including the binding decisions of the arbitration panel). Only the minimum requirements for the monitoring and enforcement related to environmental protection, which are the set-up of an “independent body” and the availability of judicial proceedings for members of the public and administrations, are covered by the WA’s enforcement mechanism. The opinion written by Dr. René Repasi from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, therefore argues that regressing from the common environmental protection level on its own cannot be challenged. What matters is whether the procedures are effective in sanctioning the regression. This means that only if an environmental regression takes place over a long time which the party’s own enforcement system fails to remedy, would a call to the WA’s arbitration panel stand a chance.

    Dr. Emily Lydgate, lecturer at the University of Sussex, finds the approach innovative in establishing a middle way between total alignment, like under the EEA Agreement, and much more distant trade agreement, like the ones with Canada and Korea.

    A further weakness identified by Dr. Repasi’s opinion in ensuring a level-playing field is the general nature of the non-regression provisions. A list of regulations do feature in the WA, but these are applicable only to Northern Ireland and not to the UK.

    The opinion concludes that the level-playing field should be rendered as clear as possible in legal terms. This would entail the environmental areas mentioned in the WA, such as industrial emissions, nature, chemicals and climate, being reflected by a list of legislation and standards, and their enforcement not being excluded from the scope the arbitration procedure.

    Dr. Emily Lydgate (2018). Environmental non-regression in the Withdrawal Agreement: forcing the EU’s hand on the Level Playing Field

    Dr. René Repasi (2019). Durchsetzung der materiellen Vorgaben des „Level-Playing Fields“ im „Backstop“ des Entwurfs für ein Abkommen über den Austritt des Vereinigten Königreichs Großbritannien und Nordirland aus der Europäischen Union in den Bereichen des Umwelt- sowie Arbeits- und Sozialschutzes. Expert opinion commissioned by the Greens in the Bundestag, Dr Franziska Brantner, MdB.

    The UK’s REACH-IT system is ready to provide basic functionality

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    The UK’s IT system for chemicals registration provides “basic functionality”, according to the UK Chemical Industries Association (CIA), which helped test it. However, some aspects need further work, including a functionality that would allow registrants of the same substance to contact each other, and clarification on process for companies importing or manufacturing a substance for the first time in the UK.

    Should the UK leave the EU’s chemicals safety regulation REACH under a no deal scenario, it will have to duplicate chemical registrations. Earlier this month, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove reassured a House of Lords subcommittee that Defra has the personnel and contingency plans ready for a no-deal Brexit, and has taken account of the concerns expressed by the chemicals industry association.
    Chemical Watch article

    The UK’s race to put Brexit Statutory Instruments in place

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    The UK government announced in November 2018 that a total of 700 Statutory Instruments (SIs) need to be adopted in preparation for Brexit. 515 SIs have been laid before Parliament so far, which amounts to approximately 10,269 pages of legislation. However, only 396 of the 515 SIs (76%) have completed their passage through Parliament.

    Defra has produced the most SIs, laying 122 (23%) before Parliament. A National Audit Office report stated that Defra needed 93 SIs “to complete the conversion of EU law into UK law at the point of exit”.

    The Government initially expected to lay 800-1,000 SIs before Parliament, but this number has been revised and reduced over the past few months.

    Brexit Statutory Instruments Dashbord, Hansard Society

    Energy efficiency first – From a policy win to sound national plans

    150 150 Almut Bonhage
    EE1st in draft NECPs

    Energy efficiency first is the new planning principle in the European Energy Union. It is set up to promote fair competition for energy efficiency investments in an energy generation dominated market.

    Applying the energy efficiency first principle will improve the cost-effective solutions for end users and is essential for achieving an affordable energy transition.

    Our assessment finds that governments across the EU have not demonstrated whether and how they applied the principle in drafting the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). The European Commission and Member States have until the end of 2019 to finalise the plans.

    download the assessment

    Energy Efficiency First

    Energy Efficiency First – from a policy win to sound plans

    444 629 Almut Bonhage
    EE1st in draft NECPs

    With the Energy Union Governance, Member States are required to use a common analytical basis to set their energy targets and measures, and present everything in one single document – the integrated national energy and climate plan (NECP). In this process, they shall take into account the interlinkages between the five dimensions of the Energy Union, in particular the energy efficiency first principle.

    This principle is further defined: Member States shall consider alternative cost-efficient energy efficiency measures which would allow achieving the objectives of the concerned energy planning, policy and investment decisions/measures by replacing them in whole or in part.

    This paper further elaborates on the history and the benefits of this approach. It also presents a review of 10 draft NECPs submitted by Member States to the Commission (see list in Annex I), with the aim to assess how the energy efficiency first principle was taken into account.

    Study by Marion Santini with contributions from Ioana Bere and Stefan Scheuer (Stefan Scheuer Consulting)
    Commissioned by European Climate Foundation


    Northern Ireland special situation requires toughening of UK’s Environment Bill

    150 150 Almut Bonhage

    Researchers from the Brexit and Environment network have stated that the Environment Bill needs to be amended in order “to work effectively and legitimately” in Northern Ireland (NI). This extension was a necessary step in order to avoid gaps post-Brexit (see more in Brexit Watch n°13). The main adjustments that will need to be made relate to objectives and principles, as well as the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP).

    The researchers have called for binding objectives and principles, including non-regression or environmental improvement that should apply to all actors during all stages of environmental governance. An over-arching environmental objective should also be defined in the Bill.

    It is also essential to take into account the special political and biogeographic case of NI. Authors point to NI’s history of poor environmental governance, and the limitations of financial resources and political will on environmental issues. In addition, its independent environmental agency (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) is situated within government offices. The OEP should therefore include provision for NI expertise for example through an additional office in NI, and by appointment of NI members.

    Brexit and Environment article

    Brexit Watch n°13 on the extension of the Environment Bill to Northern Ireland

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