The 7th Conference of Concrete Marketeers and Promotion Officers organised by the European Concrete Platform in Brussels on 17 and 18 March 2009 under the title “Promoting Sustainable Concrete Systems and Solutions” has been ahuge success. Over 100 participants from 23 countries representing all member associations of the ECP took part in three sessions covering communicating to politicians and decision-makers (B2D), raising awareness amongst the general public (B2Ci) and delivering concrete messages to professionals (B2Bi).
CEMBUREAU has issued two updated Safety Data Sheet templates for clinker and cement, together with updated template guidelines. While the content of the templates has not changed, the documents have been updated to incorporate references to the new Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (implementing the Globally Harmonised System in the EU) as published in December 2008 (as opposed to the Draft Commission proposal), and updates following the adoption of the Regulation.
Earlier this month CEMBUREAU responded the European Commission’s Green Paper on the management of bio-waste in the EU, highlighting that co-processing in the cement industry is the optimum way of recovering energy and material from waste. It offers a safe and sound solution for society, the environment and the cement industry, by substituting non renewable resources with societal waste under strictlycontrolled conditions.
The Czech Presidency has proposed a simplification of existing EU waste legislation. Environment Minister Martin Bursik said that the idea would be to encourage the separation of waste by proposing that local fees for waste collection be directly tied to the amount of waste produced. The new law would also tighten requirements for landfill operations and increase the powers of regional authorities. The Czech Finance Ministry is also considering applying reduced VAT rates to waste management services, and is pushing for VAT cuts for recycled products at EU level
The European Court of Justice has heard the case for the annulment of Regulation (EC) No 1013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste (OJ 2006 L 190, p. 1). The Commission submitted that its choice of a double legal basis for the Regulation was based on the appreciation that the Regulation includes, bothas regards the aims pursued and its contents, two linked components, neither of which can be regarded as secondary or indirect as compared with the other.
Seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector rose by 1.3% in the euro area and by 1.8% in the EU27 in January 2009, compared with the previous month. In December 2008, production fell by 2.8% and 1.8% respectively. Among the Member States for which data are available for January 2009, construction output rose in five and fell in six. The most significant increases were registered in Slovenia (+22.4%), Spain (+7.8%) and Sweden (+2.2%). The largest decreases were recorded in Hungary (-13.9%), Germany (-7.8%) and Romania (-6.4%).
EU policy on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in the area of buildings is vital in order to ensure that environmental improvements are made, says a report from the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC). Previous research by the JRC has shown that energy consumption during the use phase of buildings is by far the most important factor to take into account for the life cycle environmental impacts of buildings, and that residential buildings are responsible for 27% of final energy demand in the EU.
The European Commission plans to publish a White Paper on adapting to climate change on 1 April. Among other things, the Communication will examine the possibility of mandatory sustainability criteria in harmonised construction standards. The Commission also wants to develop vulnerability indicators for a number of economic sectors by 2011 and also wants to establish by then an EU-wide information exchange platform to help stakeholders adapt successfully to climate change.
The European Commission plans to invest €105 billion in environmentally friendly projects over the next few years. The focus includes water and waste management and energy efficiency. The funding will come from the EU’s 2007-2013 Cohesion Policy, and is triple that allocated to environmental projects in the 2000-2006 period.
March’s meeting of the Ecofin Council underlined European finance minister support for incentives to enhance the global carbon market. This would be achieved by linking emission trading schemes within the OECD by 2015, and with ‘more advanced developing countries’ by 2020. However, ministers left the issue of funding the fight against climate change unresolved. They emphasised that while the “EU is ready to contribute its fair share”, most funding should come from the private sector.
A proposal to revise the 2003 EU Energy Tax Directive is expected to be launched by the European Commission as part of a package of measures on environmental taxation. A draft proposal drawn up by the Commission’s tax department has been sent to other departments for internal consultation. The Commission also plans to issue a policy paper on the role of taxes in energy and environmental policy.
An informal meeting was organised earlier this month by the European Commission with Member States and stakeholders on establishing an EU-wide NOxi and SO2 trading scheme for IPPCi (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) installations. The pollutants are regulated under the EU’s 1996 IPPC Directive, which is currently being revised (see February Eurobrief). Several EU industry associations, including CEMBUREAU, are against any move to set up a cap and trade system for NOx and SO2.
The European Parliament’s Industry, Technology and Research (ITRE) Committee adopted Anni Podimata’s (Party of European Socialists, Greece) Report on energy labelling earlier this month. All compromise amendments were adopted. The Report supports maintaining the existing A-G energy labelling currently in operation in the EU, arguing that sticking with A-G labelling does not mean that policy makers cannot be innovative.
The European Parliament voted to adopt in plenary first reading the Environment Committee’s Report on a recast of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPCi) Directive almost in its entirety earlier this month. All but one of the amendments to Holger Krahmer’s (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Germany) Report were adopted in Parliament’s plenary session.
The revised guidance on how the cement and lime sectors can apply best available techniques (BATi) under the EU’s IPPCi (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) industrial pollution directive will be adopted in April by the information exchange forum chaired by the European Commission. A working group reached consensus on all BAT recommendations in a draft revised BREFi document published in February. The BREF guidance document was developed by a technical working group managed by the IPPC Bureau in Seville.
The UK has spent just £6.4m on research into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) since 2004, according to figures released by the Department of Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) this month. More than €1.25bn of EU money was also recently ring fenced for CCS projects and the UK hopes to gain a share of it to fund a second CCS demonstration plant in the UK.
The International Emission Trading Association (IETA), which represents emission trading businesses, has criticised EU plans to shut down the clean development mechanism (CDMi) for larger developing countries. The IETA says that the CDM is “one of the main private finance success stories of the Kyoto protocol”. It claims that proposals to phase out the CDM are being made before an alternative model for private funding has been established. The European Commission wants to introduce a sectoral approach to replace the CDM in advanced developing countries under a new global climate deal.
Projects to help curb greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world may be abandoned because of the global financial crisis. The World Bank says that slow economic growth could make it easier for developed countries to meet their emission targets without having to make pollution-reduction investments in poorer nations. Many western companies have bought credits abroad to offset greenhouse-gas emissions at home as a cheaper alternative to installing new equipment. But the financial crisis has meant that demand for emissions credits is lower.
Too little progress is being made if the EU is to meet its objective of a 20% energy efficiency improvement by 2020, says the European Commission. As a result, a “sincere re-evaluation” of EU energy efficiency policy has been called for. The Commission intends to propose a revised EU energy action plan by the end of 2009. Any revised plan would likely set out additional policies deemed necessary for the EU to achieve the 20 per cent objective. Efficiency improvements in the building sector could be a priority.
The European Commission plans to release a proposal that would enable Member States to reduce the amount of Value Added Tax (VAT) applied to greener products as a cost-effective means of promoting the production and use of energy-saving materials and energy-efficient appliances and equipment. The Commission’s tax and customs department has been drawing up draft proposals that would enable governments to apply for reduced VAT rates on a limited number of specified products.