Sunday, February 26, 2006

Clean Energy on Europe’s Roof

The world famous winter resort St. Moritz in the Engadine region of Switzerland is all set to become Europe’s highest altitude energy city through an ambitious energy project

The date and place could not have been more appropriate: June 21, 2003, the first day of summer plus the longest day of the year, and Engadine, where the sun shines an average of 322 days per year. A photovoltaic installation went on stream at the Piz Nair valley station in St. Moritz, thus marking the official opening of the Clean Energy Tour St. Moritz – Piz Nair. This stage goal is part of the overall energy project called Clean Energy St. Moritz/Engadine. The aim of the project, which has been realized at between 1,770 and 3,057 meters above sea level, is to promote renewable energy generated from water, sun, wind and biogas and to increase the energy efficiency of the St. Moritz resort area. Public authorities, private industry and energy suppliers have joined forces to finance the project. St. Moritz would like to set an example for nature and a clean energy. “We know that time is running out,” said the Swiss Executive Federal Council member Micheline Calmy-Rey in her speech at the opening ceremony. “Energy consumption is increasing at an alarming rate, as are emissions of greenhouse gases in industrial countries.”

Solar energy is represented with three examples

The Clean Energy Tour is a unique experience involving energy, climate and nature,” explains Project Manager Willy Ziltener. The starting point of the educational energy and environmental tour is the oldest electricity plant in Switzerland located south of Lake St. Moritz. Via the mountain stations Chantarella and Corviglia, the tour leads to Piz Nair by cableway and aerial railway. The use of solar energy is illustrated by the 162 solar panels along the tracks of the Corviglia railway. With an annual production of about 12,000 kWh, the photovoltaic installation at the Piz Nair mountain station is the highest altitude facility of this size in Europe.

The fashionable restaurant at Corviglia, which is frequented by top stars like Roger Moore, offers an interesting view of the new photovoltaic installation of the Clean Energy Tour. It was constructed at a distance of some 50 meters on the southern side of the Piz Nair valley station. Its production is equivalent to the annual energy requirements of three households in a Western industrial nation. The facility was built in just two months by RWE SCHOTT Solar GmbH, a joint venture of RWE Solutions, Frankfurt on the Main and the technology company SCHOTT.

In his speech at the opening Dr. Martin Zimmermann, Sales Manager, Photovoltaic at SCHOTT Switzerland stressed the importance of solar energy in conserving the world’s resources. “RWE SCHOTT Solar is totally dedicated to accelerating the economic efficiency of this regenerative energy source. This is not only a means to protect the environment, but in the medium term, it is also a way to create a new branch of industry and, as a consequence, new jobs."

While the main focus is on solar energy, the windmill on Munt da San Murezzan is meant to symbolize the use of wind power. Another example of renewable energy is the ARA Celerina, a facility for the production of biogas. The electricity produced by all the facilities is fed into the public electricity grid.

After following the charming trail to St. Moritz with its panoramic views, the interesting and informative tour ends at the “Leaning Tower,” the trademark of the town where in 1878 the first electrical light in Switzerland was illuminated by electricity generated from hydropower.

Potential and environment

According to the Clean Energy Association in St. Moritz, electricity production from renewable sources is “... indeed the most suitable form of generating electricity in ecological terms.” However, the association goes on to say that this “green” electricity should be used deliberately and efficiently. There are limits to the use of renewable energy. Not all valleys can be flooded or all streams drained; nor can all windy landscapes be filled with windmills.

A sustainable electricity production from renewable sources necessitates consideration for the landscape and for the particular local and regional ecological circumstances. The St. Moritz region demonstrates that this is possible. The various hydropower plants fulfill the internationally strictest standards in terms of ecologically sustainable electricity production. “The symbolic, demonstrative and communicative effects of the individual facilities of the Clean Energy Tour are important for sustainable energy production,” says Dr. Hanspeter Danuser, Director of St. Moritz’s spa. “The facilities help gain publicity, acceptance, sympathy and goodwill; they promote clean energy and make it chic and trendy.”

Solar Electricity for 40,000 Households in Boulder City, Neveda

Receivers from SCHOTT make up the heart of a solar power plant in Nevada

On February 11, 2006, the ground-breaking ceremony for the "Nevada Solar One" solar power plant took place in Boulder City, Nevada. This will be the first solar thermal power plant to be built in the last 15 years. It was commissioned by the U.S. project group Solargenix Energy. SCHOTT, the German technology group, will be providing 19,300 solar receivers that will form the key components of the 64 megawatt power plant. “Nevada Solar One” is expected to begin providing energy to the grid in June 2007, and will produce enough electricity to meet the energy demands of about 40,000 households. The use of solar power to produce electricity at the plant, rather than fossil fuels, will result in a reduction of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing approximately one million cars from U.S. highways.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Arup unveils plans for world’s first sustainable city in Dongtan, China

Arup, the global planning, engineering and design consultancy, has signed a contract with Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) to plan the world’s first sustainable city – an eco-city – at Dongtan, in Shanghai, China.

SIIC has appointed Arup as a strategic partner to work with them in the development of Dongtan as a dynamic, liveable and eco-friendly city, which will in turn define the future of sustainable urban development in China and beyond.

Arup’s approach to integrated sustainable urban planning and design will help to turn SIIC’s vision into reality and will create a city with lower energy consumption and one which is as close to being carbon neutral as possible within economic constraints.

Arup is responsible for the integrated master-planning of the built environment in Dongtan. Arup is providing a full range of services, including urban design, planning, sustainable energy management, waste management, renewable energy process implementation, economic and business planning, sustainable building design, architecture, infrastructure and even the planning of communities and social structures. The role is extremely broad and will require a long term vision and involvement from Arup.

Dongtan eco-city night view

Dongtan is situated in an extremely strategic position very close to Shanghai and on the third largest island in China, situated at the mouth of the Yangtze river. Dongtan is three quarters the size of Manhattan and will be developed as a sustainable city to attract a whole range of commercial and leisure investments. It will be a city where people will be able to live and work in a high quality environment. The intention is to evolve Arup’s sustainable urban design and planning into a blueprint for the future planning of Chinese cities.

Dongtan is currently a large area of mostly agricultural land which has been earmarked by the Mayor of Shanghai and the Chinese Premier as the site of China’s first sustainable eco city. A high quality road infrastructure is currently being built that connects Dongtan to the Shanghai mainland.

Peter Head, Director, Arup said: ''Arup is delighted to be working with SIIC on such an ambitious development that could well prove to be the template for sustainability in city planning – not only in China, but elsewhere in the world. Our appointment sends out a clear message that the Chinese Government is willing to find ways of overcoming the challenges of creating sustainable cities in the face of significant climate change, environmental pollution, water shortages and the need for the use of cleaner energy.''

Mr. Ma, Director, SIIC said: ''We are delighted to be partnering with Arup to help deliver our vision of creating China’s first sustainable and ecologically-friendly city.''

Gary Lawrence of Arup’s Seattle office, the firm's Urban Strategy Leader and a senior adviser on the Dongtan project, said: ''There is a growing recognition in China that long term economic and social vitality depends upon more efficient, effective use of nature's resources, coupled with improved human and environmental health. In light of that recognition, SIIC has chosen to be among those leading China toward a more sustainable future. We are honored that they have asked Arup to help them achieve their vision for a better way to achieve their urban future.''

The first phase of Dongtan is planned to be completed by 2010 when the Expo will be held in Shanghai. This phase will include a wide range of developments with urban parks, ecological parks and world class leisure facilities. Priority projects include the process of capturing and purifying water in the landscape to support life in the city. Community waste management recycling will generate clean energy from organic waste, reducing landfills that damage the environment. Combined heat and power systems will provide the technology to source clean and reliable energy. Dongtan will be a model ecological city, and its buildings will help to reduce energy use, making efficient use of energy sources and generating energy from renewable sources.

SIIC and Arup recognise the global need to reduce carbon emissions and the importance of taking responsibility for bringing about change. Both SIIC and Arup are committed to reducing carbon emissions on this project and plan to offset emissions generated by air travel, where incurred on this project. Arup has formed a partnership with emissions brokerage CO2e to make this possible. The Arup project staff are also committed to offsetting carbon emissions generated in their personal lives. In the UK, for example, this typicall equates to an average of 9 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person each year, which will be offset by the Arup project staff. Arup’s payments will help to fund a mini hydro renewable energy project in China.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Daimler Chrysler: oil from a Wasteland - The Jatropha Project in India

In a simple process plant oil is converted into bio diesel fuel. Crossing India a Mercedes-Benz C-Class tested the fuel on the road.

From Jatropha Oil to Biodiesel

Parallel to the search for the most effective way to cultivate the jatropha plant, the project partners are pursuing another important goal: the development of a simple and economical process for converting the plant oil extracted from the oilseed into high-quality biodiesel fuel. For this purpose, the scientists at CSMCRI have set up three small pilot plants in Bhavnagar that have a combined production capacity of 100 liters of biodiesel per day.
In these chemical mini-factories, the jatropha oil is subjected to a process called transesterification. Plant oils - those derived from jatropha as well as the oilseed rape and soya beans from which biodiesel is produced in Europe and the U.S. - consist mainly of triglycerides, the fatty acid esters of glycerin. They are extremely viscous and tend to resinification -
qualities that are not desirable inside a fuel tank.

Transesterification, in which the glycerin is replaced by methanol, makes it possible to use the processed plant oil as fuels. However, that’s only the first step in the transformation of plant oil into biodiesel. After transesterification, the resulting raw product is centrifuged and washed with water to cleanse it of impurities, such as glycerin and excess methanol. Only at the end of this process is the biodiesel of usable quality.

The CSMCRI team was not willing to wait until after the first harvest in order to start the search for the right process for refining jatropha oil, so it bought eight tons of jatropha nuts that farmers had gathered from wild plants in various parts of India. By spring 2004, the team had extracted a total of 1,300 liters of high-quality biodiesel from this raw material using a variety of processes. The biodiesel was passed to DaimlerChrysler India, which used it to fuel an eye-catching round trip through the country. A Mercedes-Benz C 220 CDI specially modified to use jatropha biodiesel toured the country between April and May 2004, covering around 5,900 kilometers and visiting 11 major cities on a route extending from Pune to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi.

The results of the experiment have been very satisfactory for two reasons. Firstly, it has revealed that jatropha-based biofuel can be used without any problems in modern CDI engines adapted for biodiesel. What’s more, this fuel produces only half of the unburned hydrocarbon emissions and one-third of the particulate emissions produced by diesel fuel derived from crude petroleum.

Secondly, the team from DaimlerChrysler India received a tremendous amount of public interest. According to George Francis from the project team headed by Klaus Becker in Hohenheim, two more Indian states are now in the process of setting up and financing jatropha cultivation in wasteland areas.

The fuel specialists at DaimlerChrysler Research, under the leadership of Rudolf Maly, have now taken an in-depth look at the quality of biodiesel made from jatropha. “This fuel has not yet reached optimal quality, but it already fulfills the EU norm for biodiesel quality,” says Maly. “That’s a remarkable achievement, in view of the simple production processes involved.” Maly’s team subjected the emissions associated with jatropha biodiesel to tough laboratory tests that confirmed their Indian colleagues’ observations of the advantages of this fuel. In addition, this renewable fuel’s high cetane values, very low sulfur content and high oxygen content give it excellent combustion properties.

“What’s more, the CO2 balance of fuels derived from renewable energy sources is much better than that of fuels based on crude oil,” Maly adds. After all, the combustion of biodiesel releases only the amount of CO2 that the plant removed from the atmosphere when it was growing. Only the amount of energy used for the cultivation, harvesting and transport of the plants plus the energy needed to produce biodiesel affects the CO2 balance. And in principle, it is possible to significantly reduce that energy figure.

More on Daimler Chrysler

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dutch Company to Make Diesel from Plastics Waste

A Dutch environmental technology company plans to build 15 plants that will produce diesel fuel from plastics waste in 14 European Union countries, the firm said on Tuesday.

Envosmart chairman John Bouterse told Reuters the plants will be built in the next five years with a total investment of 200 million euros ($234 million) and will be based on an environmentally-friendly technology.

"We will start building the first plant in Germany after the summer ... and then build plants in Sweden, Poland and the Netherlands next year," he said.

The German plant will produce 38 million litres of diesel per year by processing 42,000 tonnes of plastics waste.

The other countries where Envosmart will build smaller factories are Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, and the Czech Republic.

The Dutch firm will sign a licensing agreement on Wednesday with Australian company Ozmotech, which has developed the technology to transform plastics waste into diesel.

Envosmart said the production process captures most of the polluting gases and liquids, making the diesel environmentally clean.

Envosmart's fuel can be used in any standard diesel engines of trucks, buses, trains, boats, heavy equipment and generators, the company said.

Biofuels no panacea: EEB urges Commission to keep close watch on wider environmental and social impacts

On publication today of the European Commission's Biofuels Strategy, green group the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is warning against a forced march promoting biofuels without certainty that all biofuel feedstock production will not harm the environment, in the EU or in developing countries. The EEB recognises that the Commission does declare a commitment to ensuring the environmental sustainability of biofuels policy, but questions whether the political drive to go for a large-scale introduction will leave space in practice for necessary environmental scrutiny. The EEB is also strongly against the gift the Commission is aiming to give the car industry, stipulating that the introduction of biofuels would reduce the pressure to produce more fuel-efficient cars.

John Hontelez, Secretary General of the EEB - Europe 's largest federation of environmental citizens' organisations representing some 20 million concerned Europeans - said today: " This Biofuels Strategy is helpful to assess and discuss the environmental benefits and risks, but we should guard against overestimating the potential of biofuels to combat climate change. Biofuels are just one solution, not a panacea. Much more effective gains in the transport sector would be made by moving forward with technological innovations, increasing fuel efficiency and promoting cleaner transport modes. And biomass can often be used for energy production in an environmentally better way than converting it into a biofuel " [1].

The EEB is in strong opposition to the proposal in the Strategy that biofuel consumption could be calculated as part of agreed CO 2 reduction targets for cars. John Hontelez: " CO 2 from biofuels is as problematic for climate change as CO 2 from fossil fuels. The fact that biofuel production also binds CO 2 should be taken as a contribution to further combating climate change, and not for relieving pressure on the car industry to mainstream more environmentally sound models, such as hybrids. We insist that this outrageous idea is removed or rejected by the Council and Parliament ".

The Commission appears to want to move forward with ambitious consumption levels for biofuels, yet there is no concrete evidence so far of how exactly care will be taken to avoid environmental and social problems in the developing world, such as increased habitat destruction in tropical countries. And whether the EU's cross-compliance system - which is currently implemented in as many different ways as there are member states, with highly variable ambition levels - will guarantee the limiting of environmental impacts of biofuel production in the EU is very questionable. Cross-compliance does not address fertiliser use, for example, which is just one activity amongst many that have negative climatic impacts and deserve urgent attention.

Agriculture Policy Officer at the EEB, Pieter de Pous, said: " Although the Strategy's impact assessment acknowledges the fact that negative environmental and social consequences could be very significant - especially in developing countries - it is unclear from the current Commission's proposal how they intend to avoid these effects in a credible way. There needs to be a more sophisticated system than simply playing around with tariffs and claiming that cross-compliance will solve everything. A compulsory certification system for environmentally sound biofuel production, accompanied by reliable traceability, should be put in place ".

The EEB strongly urges the Commission to deliver promptly on its commitment to ensure the environmental sustainability of biofuels production, and proposes the setting up of a stakeholder forum to advise on the process.

For further information please contact:
Pieter de Pous , EEB Policy Officer for Agriculture, Biodiversity and Soil Protection
Email:, Tel: +32 (0) 2 289 1306

[1] For example, the use of biomass for power production leads to substantially greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than use for transport fuels, assuming a similar area of farmland is used in each case. Compared with biodiesel 3 to 10 times greater CO2-eq. savings can be achieved, and compared with bio-ethanol 2 to 2.5 times more (from: 'Biomass: for vehicle fuels or power generation?', CE, 2003).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

GROWing the next generation of water recycling plants

A vegetated rooftop recycling system has been developed that allows water to be used twice before it is flushed into the communal waste water system.

The Green Roof Water Recycling System (GROW) uses semi-aquatic plants to treat waste washing water, which can then be reused for activities such as flushing the toilet.

GROW is the brainchild of Chris Shirley-Smith, whose company Water Works UK is collaborating with Imperial College London and Cranfield University. The researchers are funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

So-called grey water from washbasins, baths and showers is pumped up to the GROW system, which is constructed on the roof of an office or housing block. It consists of an inclined framework of interconnected horizontal troughs. Planted in these troughs are rows of specially chosen plants that gently cleanse the grey water. Trickling through the GROW framework, the plants' roots naturally take up the dissolved pollutants, leaving 'green water'. Green water is not drinkable and will be dyed with a vegetable colour to signify this, but it can be used to flush toilets or water the garden.

More than half the water used in the home and workplace does not need to be of drinkable quality yet it comes from the same pure source as our kitchen taps. Using GROW, much of the water that enters a building can be used twice before being placed into the national wastewater management system.

"We had to carefully choose which semi-aquatic plants to use. One of the most successful is water mint, whose roots have disinfectant qualities," says Professor David Butler, who oversees the project at Imperial College. The other plant species include the yellow flag iris, marsh marigold, and the common reed. They are chosen to be resistant to the pollutants they absorb. By planting more than one species, the engineers guard against an unusually dirty batch of water exceeding a particular species' tolerance level. Should one species die off, there will still be others there to continue the job until the dead plants can be replaced.

The beauty of the system is that it is not 'high-tech' in the traditional sense. "It does not require sophisticated maintenance, just tending, like any garden," says Butler.

The next aim for GROW is to see if it can be reduced in size to sit above a household water butt, making it serviceable for individual households. The team will also investigate whether the addition of an ultraviolet light can enhance the disinfection of the water. They hope to market GROW commercially in the second half of 2006.

GROW is one project in a much larger EPSRC-funded Sustainable Water Management programme (WaND) that Professor Butler oversees at Imperial. "Our overall aim is to contribute towards sustainable water management in new developments. We hope that GROW will be one of the tools that can help us achieve that goal," says Butler.


Notes for editors:

GROW won the 2004 Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)/Black&Veatch World of Difference award. It was also exhibited on the CIWEM stand at the Chelsea Flower Show, where it gained a bronze medal. It was also a finalist in the Environment Agency's 2005 sustainability awards.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is the leading professional and examining body for scientists, engineers, other environmental professionals, students and those committed to the sustainable management and development of water and the environment. Its website is:

Chris Shirley-Smith, whose company Water Works UK is working to commercialise GROW can be found on the web at:

The WaND programme (Water Cycle Management for New Developments) can be found on the web at:

Commission urges new drive to boost production of biofuels

The European Commission today adopted an ambitious EU Strategy for Biofuels, with a range of potential market-based, legislative and research measures to boost production of fuels from agricultural raw materials. The paper, which builds on the biomass action plan adopted in December 2005, sets out three main aims: to promote biofuels in both the EU and developing countries; to prepare for large-scale use of biofuels by improving their cost-competitiveness and increasing research into 'second generation' fuels; to support developing countries where biofuel production could stimulate sustainable economic growth. Increased use of biofuels will bring numerous benefits, by reducing Europe's dependence on fossil fuel imports, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing new outlets for farmers and opening up new economic possibilities in several developing countries.

"There has never been a better moment to push the case for biofuels," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "Crude oil prices remain high. We face stringent targets under the Kyoto Protocol. And the recent controversy over imports of Russian gas has underlined the importance of increasing Europe's energy self-sufficiency. Raw materials for biofuel production also provide a potential new outlet for Europe's farmers, who have been freed by CAP reform to become true entrepreneurs."

Development Commissioner Louis Michel highlighted the potential opportunities that biofuels production present for developing countries, notably those affected by the sugar reform. "Many developing countries are naturally well placed for the production of biofuel feedstocks, particularly those traditionally strong in sugar production. The expanding EU market for biofuels will provide them with new export possibilities. The EU will help them maximise this opportunity with support for knowledge transfer and development of their market potential."

The Strategy picks out seven key policy axes, pulling together the measures the Commission will take to promote the production and use of biofuels.

1) Stimulating demand for biofuels.

A report will be published in 2006 on a possible revision of the biofuels directive; Member States must be encouraged to favour biofuels (including second generation products), and consideration will be given to biofuel obligations; the Commission has brought forward a proposal to promote clean and efficient vehicles.

2) Capturing environmental benefits.

The Commission will examine how biofuels can best contribute to emission targets; work to ensure sustainability of biofuel feedstock cultivation; and look again at limits on biofuel content in petrol and diesel.

3) Developing production and distribution of biofuels.

The Commission will propose a specific group to consider biofuels opportunities in rural development programmes; and increase monitoring to ensure no discrimination against biofuels.

4) Extending supplies of feedstock.

The Commission is making sugar production for bioethanol eligible for CAP support schemes; it will assess possibilities to process cereal intervention stocks; finance an information campaign for farmers and forest owners; bring forward a forestry action plan; and look into the possibilities for using animal by-products and clean waste.

5) Enhancing trade opportunities.

The Commission will assess the possibility of putting forward a proposal for separate customs codes for biofuels; it will pursue a balanced approach in trade talks with ethanol-producing countries; and propose amendments to the "biodiesel standard".

6) Supporting developing countries.

The Commission will ensure that measures for ACP Sugar Protocol countries affected by the EU sugar reform can be used to support the development of bioethanol production; develop a coherent Biofuels Assistance Package for developing countries; and examine how best to assist national and regional biofuel platforms.

7) Research and development.

The Commission will continue to support the development of an industry-led 'Biofuel Technology Platform' which will make recommendations for research in this sector. Biofuels will have a high priority in the 7th Framework Programme, in particular the 'bio-refinery' concept - finding valuable uses for all parts of the plant – and second generation biofuels. Through research, production costs could be cut considerably beyond 2010. Through its Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, the Commission will support market introduction and the dissemination of proven technologies.


In the EU, transport is responsible for almost one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore essential to find ways of reducing emissions from transport.

Nearly all the energy used for transport comes from oil, for which the EU is heavily dependent on imports.

Processed from biomass - a renewable resource - biofuels is a direct substitute for fossil fuels in transport and can be readily integrated into fuel supply systems.

Support to the biofuel sector also offers new income possibilities in rural regions and contributes to the Lisbon Agenda by developing long-term replacements for fossil fuel.

In a number of developing countries, production of biofuels could stimulate economic and environmental benefits, create employment, reduce energy import bills and open up potential export markets. For example, bioethanol could be a feasible alternative for sugar producing countries affected by the recent EU sugar reform.

The EU must also continue to support research into second generation biofuels, such as ligno-cellulosic ethanol, Fischer-Tropsch biodiesel and bio-dimethyl ether (bio-DME).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Global Chemicals Strategy Given Green Light by Governments

9th Special Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme/Global Ministerial Environment Forum

Dubai/Nairobi, 7 February 2006 - A new global initiative aimed at making chemicals safer for humans and the planet was agreed today at an international conference in Dubai.

Called the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management or SAICM, the new initiative covers risk assessments of chemicals and harmonized labeling up to tackling obsolete and stockpiled products.

It also carries provisions for national centres aimed at helping countries, especially in the developing world, train staff in chemical safety including dealing with spills and accidents.

The initiative contained in the Dubai Declaration and agreed to by over 100 environment and health ministers puts the globe on track to meet a commitment made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

Here governments agreed to aim to use and produce chemicals in ways that minimize adverse effects to health and the environment.

It is among the first concrete outcomes of the 2005 World Summit held in New York in September attended by heads of state.

SAICM, a voluntary agreement, comes at a time when global chemical production is set to climb by as much as 80 per cent over the next 15 years.

Between 70,000 and 100,000 chemicals may be already on the market with an estimated 1,500 new ones being marketed each year.

Meanwhile chemical production is shifting from the developed to the developing world.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “I am delighted that governments could agree to this new chemicals initiative which I sincerely believe will be a step change in the way we use and produce chemicals. All kinds of chemicals are vital in the modern world. They have a key role in overcoming poverty and delivering sustainable development”.

“Nevertheless, if the past is our guide, some seemingly benign products can prove to have deleterious impacts. Meanwhile developing countries need help in terms of the better use, handling and disposal of chemicals. So we must use the best science and treat chemicals with respect,” he added.

Over the years a range of chemical-related treaties have come into force including the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. It covers chemicals like the pesticide DDT and substances such as PCBs once widely used in certain kinds of electrical equipment.

Mr Toepfer said: “But it has been clear for some time that simply ticking off groups of chemicals one by one was becoming impractical. A new approach, a new way forward for chemicals management was needed, which is what SAICM now offers”.

The governments, meeting in advance of the 9th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, also gave support to a multi million dollar fund called ‘Quick Start’ Programme aimed at giving financial support to national action plans especially in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

UNEP, which helped organize the Dubai meeting along with other UN bodies and organizations and which involved participation from industry, business, trade unions and other civil society groups, will house the SAICM secretariat.

Viveka Bohn of Sweden, who chaired the Committee of the Whole of this week’s International Conference on Chemicals Management, praised the President of the Conference: “There are many people that should be thanked for achieving this outcome. But no one more than the Mariano Arana, Minister of Housing, Land Planning and Environment of Uruguay, whose calmness and integrity played an important role in achieving a good result”.

Notes to Editors

Details of the Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environment Forum including this week’s International Conference on Chemicals Management, can be found at

First offshore turbine installed in Germany

Germany now has its first offshore wind turbine. Nordex AG installed its N90/2500 offshore some 500 meters off the quay wall of the Rostock international port. The project was planned by WIND-projekt GmbH, Börgerende, with both companies working closely with regional partners, which have been committed for many years to developing the economic structures required for future offshore business in Rostock in conjunction with the municipal and state governments. “The Breitling project is a model for future wind farms planned for the Baltic Sea,” explains Carlo Schmidt, managing director of WIND-projekt.

In autumn 2005, the sheet-pile wall for the base was established at a water depth of around two meters. The support on which the turbine stands has a diameter of 18 meters. A total of 550 tons of sand, 500 tons of cement and 100 tons of steel were used for the base. With a height of 125 meters, the turbine was erected on two pontoons with an area of 1,750 and 900 square meters respectively.

This marked the second time that Nordex had installed an offshore turbine. Back in summer 2003, it had erected an N90 off the Danish port of Frederikshavn in the Kattegatt. “In this way, we were able to gain a lot of experience and thus enhance our turbine to such an extent that it achieved the greatest energy yields at the test farm in its second year of operation,” says Thomas Richterich, CEO of Nordex AG. The turbine which has now been installed off Rostock features numerous optimized solutions and, with its rotor diameter of 90 meters, achieves an output of 2,500 kilowatts. This means that the N90 exceeds the wing span of the new A380 superjet by some ten meters.

The next step will be for the Rostock syndicate to construct the “Baltic 1” offshore windfarm off the peninsular of Darss. Also being planned by WIND-project, it will have a capacity of approx. 54 megawatts and partially comprise Nordex turbines.

“This wind turbine will give the city of Rostock a new hallmark,” said state minister of economics Dr. Otto Ebnet. “I am pleased that this turbine is being planned, built, assembled and operated by local companies. The development of offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea provides a decisive basis for growth in the offshore industry. The reference projects will play a key role in international business and keep local companies ahead in terms of expertise.”

Monday, February 06, 2006

Climate change: Green Week is first Commission event to go‘climate neutral’

The European Commission has taken action to ensure that its major annual environmental conference, Green Week, does not contribute to climate change. According to estimates, Green Week 2005 generated emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases equivalent to 139 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). The main source of emissions was the travel activities of conference participants. The Commission has now offset these by buying emission allowances for the same amount of CO2 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The allowances will be cancelled so they cannot be used in the future. This makes Green Week 2005, held in Brussels last June with climate change as its key theme, the first 'climate neutral' event organised by the Commission. The Commission intends to do the same for Green Week 2006, which will be held from 30 May-2 June and will focus on protecting biological diversity.

By making Green Week climate-neutral the Commission is showing that it practices what it preaches when it comes to leading the fight against climate change. The Commission encourages the other EU institutions as well as event organisers in the public and private sectors around Europe to adopt this practice systematically. It welcomes that the organisers of this summer's World Cup soccer tournament in Germany also intend to make this event climate-neutral.

Estimating emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions are not measured directly at source but estimated from fuel consumption and use of other resources on the basis of well-established methodologies and mathematical formulae known as conversion factors. The Commission's Directorate-General for Environment, which organises Green Week, contracted consultants[1] to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the lighting and heating/air conditioning used for Green Week 2005, the waste generated by it and the travel and accommodation for speakers and exhibitors paid for by the Commission.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from these areas were estimated at the equivalent of 139 tonnes of CO2. Half of the total – 70 tonnes – was due to emissions from air travel by speakers and exhibitors. The next biggest emissions source was electricity consumption at the Green Week venue, which emitted 44 tonnes, followed by hotel accommodation with 15 tonnes. Waste accounted for one tonne of emissions.

Emissions due to travel by visitors other than speakers and exhibitors were not included in the total since these participants were invited to make their travel climate-neutral on a voluntary basis.

Buying and cancelling emission allowances

Having established the level of emissions from Green Week 2005, the Commission then contracted an intermediary[2] to buy emission allowances for 139 tonnes of CO2 on its behalf. This was done on the international carbon market that has developed as a result of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Though the ETS targets large emitters in the power and heat generation industry and certain energy-intensive industrial sectors, capping their emissions by giving them a limited number of annual emission allowances, anyone is free to buy or sell these allowances in the market. The 139 allowances were bought for the Commission on 19 January at the prevailing market rate. Including transaction costs, the cost of the operation was 3,500 euros.

The allowances will shortly be cancelled, ensuring that 139 tonnes of CO2 are taken out of the carbon market permanently. The Commission's small purchase has not had any noticeable effect on the market, which in its first year has seen over 250 million trades in emission allowances, worth around 5 billion euros.

The Commission considered using other methods of offsetting emissions, including investment in emission-saving projects in developing countries through the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), but decided to buy ETS emission allowances because it was the simplest option in administrative terms.

More information about the ETS can be found at:

More information about Green Week 2006 is at:

Green week: Biodiversity is life! 30 may-2 june 2006

Biological diversity - or biodiversity - embraces the variety of genes, species and ecosystems that constitute life on Earth. It stems from over 3000 million years of evolution.

Mankind - as a living being - is himself part of biodiversity, and human existence would be impossible without biodiversity. Biodiversity is crucial to the services' supplied by nature - the climate, the provision of water and air, soil fertility, the nutrients cycle and the production of food, fuel, fibre and medicines. Our economic competitiveness, employment, security, quality of life all depend on biodiversity.

Nevertheless, we are now witnessing a steady loss of biodiversity. This is of great concern from an emotional, cultural but also economic point of view. Indeed, many scientists consider the loss of biodiversity on a par with climate change in terms of the threat it poses to human societies.

Our responsibility for biodiversity extends well beyond our neighbourhood or even Europe. Indeed, our lifestyle relies heavily on the import of resources and goods from all over the world, often encouraging unsustainable exploitation of natural resources… and therefore loss of biodiversity.

In their endeavour to preserve and restore biodiversity, EU Heads of State and Government agreed 'to halt the loss of biodiversity [in the EU] by 2010' and to restore habitats and natural systems. This very challenging commitment reflects how strongly EU citizens feel about biodiversity.

Biodiversity loss is not inevitable. We must consider 2010 as a milestone and look even further ahead, acknowledge our intricate relationship with nature and strive for a more balanced form of development.

Green Week 2006 will direct the spotlight on four main components of our endeavour to halt biodiversity loss: biodiversity as a global issue, the management of natural resources, space for nature, and biodiversity and society.

Green Week will provide a unique opportunity for exchange of experience and best practice among non-governmental organisations, businesses, various levels of governance and the public. We hope to see you at Green Week and encourage your active participation in the debates.

visit Green Week web site

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Launch of the HYCHAIN Project: 150 hydrogen vehicles to be tested in 4 regions of Europe

The European Union has committed to using 20% alternative fuels by 2020 to address two goals: to reduce its member States’ dependence on fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, coal) and to limit emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, responsible for climate change and some respiratory illnesses.

Using hydrogen as a source of energy is a promising alternative solution. Used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, with water as the only emission, and has tremendous potential to provide clean and silent energy.

Today, only several hundred prototype vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel-cells are on the road across the world. In addition to their high cost, their widespread use is also curbed by their restricted operating range and by a limited infrastructure for hydrogen distribution, essentially a few dozen “pilot service stations” where it is possible to “fill up” with hydrogen.

The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project will allow users in four regions of the European Union to test 150 full size electrically-powered vehicles fuelled by hydrogen fuel cells: scooters, tricycles, wheelchairs, small utility vehicles and minibuses. The initial priority will be fleets belonging to municipal departments in the partner cities (maintenance workers, gardeners, etc.) as well as wheelchairs in use in partnership with some hospitals in the Rhône-Alpes region of France (the greater urban community of Grenoble Alpes Métropole), Emilia Romagna in Italy (city of Modena), Castilla y León in Spain (cities of Soria and León) and Nordrhein Westfalen in Germany (the greater urban community of the Emscher Lippe region). This Project, which will take place over a 5-year timeframe, consists of two phases: 2006 to 2007 will be spent on manufacturing vehicles and developing infrastructure; and from 2008 to 2010, the vehicles will be tested in the four regions under actual conditions.

To fuel these vehicles with hydrogen simply and safely, the HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project will also permit the development of innovative support services: for example, vending machines will make it possible to recharge the vehicle’s hydrogen fuel cell by replacing an empty cylinder of hydrogen with a full cylinder of hydrogen under very high pressure (up to 700 bar) in complete safety thanks to technologies developed and patented by Air Liquide.

The HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project also has an important social component: it aims to promote the development of a new industry in Europe to a well educated public, notably by promoting the rules which will apply in the future to these environmentally friendly technologies.

François Darchis, member of the Executive Committee of Air Liquide, stated: “We are particularly proud to be the general coordinator of this great European project, a world first. Hydrogen as a source of energy is a solution for the future. This project will allow all the partners involved to carry out real-life tests, notably by relying on the hydrogen know-how we have been developing for over 30 years. HYCHAIN-MINITRANS is fully consistent with the sustainable development values at the very core of our business strategy.”

Funded by the Directorate-General Energy and Transport of the European Commission for 17 million euros (out of a total budget of 37.6 million euros), the HYCHAIN-MINITRANS Project is a world first. Coordinated by Air Liquide, it comprises a network of 24 European partners : AXANE, BESEL, WIN, Air Liquide Italia, CEA, INERIS, INPG, PAXITECH, ASCOPARG, Air Liquide Espana, CIEMAT, DERBI, RUCKER, CEU, DOMENECH, IBERDROLA, WI, HYDROGENICS, MASTERFLEX, FAST, VEM, DEMOCENTER, Air Liquide Deutschland.

Friday, February 03, 2006

New Hilton Vancouver, Washington Offers Upscale Amenities with a ``Green'' Twist to Revitalized Downtown Vancouver

Facility Set to Become First Hotel to Receive the U.S. Green Building

Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating

Located at the heart of revitalized downtown Vancouver, Washington, the brand-new 226-room Hilton Vancouver is the city's new meeting place for visitors and residents alike, offering upscale amenities, a new restaurant, stylish accommodations, and extensive convention and event facilities. With an eye toward the well-being of hotel guests as well as the local community, all of these features are wrapped up in an eco-friendly design that maximizes sustainability while minimizing impact on the environment. The hotel is currently registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and is, according to the architects, scheduled to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating after completion, which would make it the first LEED certified major hotel in the country.

The new Hilton Vancouver, Washington faces the redesigned Esther Short Park, with its extensive green space and facilities for public gatherings, and is across the street from the Vancouver Farmers Market, which draws an average of 8,000 visitors each weekend day to downtown Vancouver. The hotel is also near a recently-developed, pedestrian-friendly community of shops, cafes, offices and housing. Nearby scenic attractions are ideal for day trips.

The Hilton Vancouver, Washington is owned by the City of Vancouver, Washington, and managed by Beverly Hills-based Hilton Hotels Corporation (NYSE:HLT).

"The new Hilton Vancouver, Washington perfectly embodies the reinvigorated essence of the Hilton brand, just as it provides a centerpiece for the thriving new downtown of Vancouver," said Jeff Diskin, senior vice president, Hilton Brand Management, Hilton Hotels Corporation. "We expect to see this new hotel become a much-valued resource for its eco-friendly design, legendary Hilton hospitality, attractive guestrooms and functional meeting facilities."


Designed by the Portland, Oregon architecture firm of Fletcher Farr Ayotte, the hotel's design features glass canopies at the entrance, a two-story lobby, a grand staircase, and large windows in the lobby, restaurant and bar overlooking the park. The design visually integrates itself into the neighborhood environment, and a warm, neutral color palette was chosen for the interior. The interior spaces establish a Northwest theme through the use of local, handcrafted artisan lamps in the hallways and meeting rooms, and natural, long-lasting materials including brick and stone.

Beneath the handsome facade is a myriad of sustainable design strategies, including sensors that adjust the climate control systems when rooms and hallways are vacant, a heat-reflecting roof, water-efficient landscaping, and guestrooms with operable windows for maximum comfort and flow of fresh air. In order to support the community, local vendors were used wherever possible.


Guestrooms are equipped with the luxurious Hilton Serenity Bed and the Hilton Serenity Bath Collection, which features hair and skincare products from Crabtree & Evelyn's La Source line of spa-quality products. Other features in each room include two 2-line phones with voicemail, minibar and coffeemaker, a large ergonomic desk with executive chair, and a 27" high-definition flat screen TV. The seventh floor has been designed with deluxe accommodations, providing extra amenities, such as bathrobes, complimentary bottled water in addition to upgraded furnishings with crown molding and larger work desks. Ten upgraded rooms on the third floor feature generous patios overlooking Esther Short Park, and 10 suites graciously welcome guests with added space and comfort.

The hotel's restaurant, Gray's At The Park, is a Northwest Bistro serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, featuring regional dishes and Washington wines. The menu will draw heavily from produce available at the Vancouver Farmers Market across the street. The cozy bar features a fireplace and comfortable seating.

When it's time to revive and rejuvenate, guests will enjoy the indoor heated swimming pool and a cutting edge fitness center featuring Nautilus equipment. In addition to the hotel's fitness center, guests can check out a Hilton Travel Fit Kit, an in-room mini gym designed by Bally Total Fitness.

Guests will have access to all features expected in a Hilton hotel, including top-notch service and a helpful concierge desk that can assist them in achieving an enjoyable, productive stay.

A wide array of meetings and events can easily be accommodated in 30,000 square feet of function space, including two ballrooms and nine meeting rooms. A complete conference services staff and audio/visual team will ensure attention to every detail. Business travelers will be able to maintain productivity using the high-speed wireless internet available throughout the hotel and the new, technologically advanced self-service business center that is being rolled out across the Hilton brand.


Vancouver, Washington boasts significant cultural and historic attractions, including the Pearson Air Museum, situated on the nation's oldest operating airfield; the Fort Vancouver National Historic site, which was once the center of political, cultural and commercial activities of the Pacific Northwest; several wineries and Uptown Village, where visitors can step back in time on upper Main Street and visit antique and gift shops, restaurants and boutiques.

Nearby scenic attractions are perfect for day trips, including the Pacific Coast less than 90 miles to the west, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Mt. Hood less than two hours away. The spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area lies 30 minutes to the east. In summary, Vancouver, Washington combines the excitement of a major metropolitan area with small-town charm and abundant recreational opportunities.

Travelers staying at this hotel have the opportunity to participate in the Hilton HHonors(R) guest reward program, allowing guests to earn both hotel points and airline miles for the same stay at more than 2,700 hotels worldwide.


The Hilton Vancouver, Washington is the area's premier new full-service hotel. The hotel is 10 minutes from downtown Portland, Oregon, and 12 miles from Portland International Airport. The address is 301 West 6th Street, Vancouver, Washington, 98660. Phone: (360) 993-4500. For more information or to make reservations, contact Hilton Reservations Worldwide at 1 (800) 445-8667 or visit

Hilton Hotels Corporation is recognized internationally as a preeminent hospitality company. The company develops, owns, manages or franchises approximately 2,300 hotels, resorts and vacation ownership properties. Its portfolio includes many of the world's best known and most highly regarded hotel brands, including Hilton(R), Conrad(R), Doubletree(R), Embassy Suites Hotels(R), Hampton Inn(R), Hampton Inn & Suites(R), Hilton Garden Inn(R), Hilton Grand Vacations Club(R) and Homewood Suites by Hilton(R).


The Hilton Vancouver, Washington integrates some of the most advanced environmentally-friendly features found in the hotel industry today. The hotel is currently registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and is scheduled to receive a LEED rating after completion, which would make it the first LEED certified major hotel in the country. According to the architecture firm of Fletcher Farr Ayote, there are several key energy-saving and waste-reducing strategies implemented in the hotel's design and construction, listed below.

Reduced energy use: Alternative fueling stations are available for electric cars. Minimal parking spaces will be provided, encouraging employees to find alternative methods of transportation to work. Additionally, the Hilton Vancouver, Washington will run on 30 percent less energy than local codes require. C02 sensors recognize when people have left rooms and hallways that aren't in use and turn off the heating and cooling system. Administrative offices are also equipped with sensors that turn off the lights when the offices are not in use.

Stormwater management: The property's landscaping uses local native plants that need little water during the area's long, dry summer season. Stormwater from the building is funneled to underground dry wells, which provide a natural filtering mechanism for the pollutants that have accumulated on the roof or around the building.

Fighting the urban heat island effect: A white reflective roof on top of the hotel helps it dissipate heat and reflect it back into space, rather than adding to the heat island effect that can afflict urban areas.

Interiors: All guest rooms will have operable windows to allow fresh air into the building and control indoor pollutants. Many of the building materials, including steel and particle board, were purchased from local vendors within 500 miles of the hotel. Interior paint, carpet and carpet glue are low-emissions materials, meaning that they emit few of the hazardous chemicals that traditional paints and carpets do.

Green construction practices: Seventy-five percent of the construction waste from the hotel was recycled. The building was constructed with recycled steel and recyclable brick.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Climate change: Commission welcomes conciliation agreement on fluorinated

The Commission welcomes the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council last night in Conciliation to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases. Fluorinated gases are extremely powerful and long-lived greenhouse gases used in refrigeration, air conditioning, fire-fighting, electrical transmission systems and various industry processes. Reducing their emissions is a requirement under the Kyoto Protocol and will help the EU and its Member States meet their emission targets under the Protocol. Based on a proposal made by the Commission in August 2003, the legislation agreed today includes a Regulation tackling emissions from stationary applications using these gases as well as banning some products and equipment containing them, and a Directive providing for the phase out of the fluorinated gases currently used in vehicle air conditioning systems.

"The legislation agreed today will make a significant contribution to the EU's efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to meet its Kyoto commitments" said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "It is an important first step because most F-gases have a global warming effect thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. By agreeing on this legislation, the EU has once again demonstrated its commitment to the fight against climate change."

Fluorinated gases

The fluorinated greenhouse gases covered are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). These gases currently account for 2% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions. However, their warming impact on the atmosphere – their times that of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the most common greenhouse gas. If no measures were taken, the Commission estimates that emissions of fluorinated gases would be 50% above 1995 levels in 2010. With the measures agreed today, they will be reduced by more than 20% from 1995 levels by 2012 and by even more subsequently.

Regulation on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases

This Regulation will reduce emissions by focusing on the containment of these gases, notably by setting leakage inspection standards for refrigeration, air conditioning and fire fighting equipment as well as provisions for the recovery of the gases from such equipment when it reaches the end of its life. The Regulation will strengthen monitoring of the emissions of the gases, introduce labelling of certain products and equipment so that key information on these gases is made available, and set up EU-wide minimum standards for training and certification for personnel concerned.

Furthermore, where containment is not feasible or the use of certain fluorinated gases is inappropriate, marketing and use will be banned. Examples include their use in magnesium die-casting and the marketing of vehicle tyres, non-refillable containers, windows, footwear, one-component foams, self-chilling drinks cans, novelty aerosols, new fire protection systems and fire extinguishers containing these gases.

Directive to phase out HFC-134a from air conditioning systems in new vehicles

The Directive will phase out HFC 134a, the refrigerant currently used in car air conditioning system, from 1 January 2011 onward for new vehicle models and from 1 January 2017 for all new vehicles. In addition, vehicle air conditioners should not leak more than 40 grams of HFC-134a per year. If the vehicle has two evaporators, as can be the case in some minivans for instance, the maximum leakage rate should not be higher that 60 grams per year.
Under both pieces of legislation, Member States are invited to promote the use of more environmentally friendly technologies and alternatives.

Next steps
Following today's conciliation agreement, the final adoption of these legislative acts by Parliament and Council is expected by mid-2006. Member States will then have 18 months to transpose the Directive, while the Regulation will enter into force unchanged 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal and will apply 12 months from the date of entry into force.
The legislation is only a first step. Once in force there will need to be a period of monitoring and evaluation, after which the Commission will consider the need for additional measures on the basis of a thorough review.
More information on fluorinated greenhouse gases and the background to this proposal are available at:

European citizens in favour of a European Energy policy, says Eurobarometer

A majority of EU citizens (47%) would prefer European level decisions on the new energy challenges such as energy supply security, growing energy consumption and climate change, 37% and 8% prefer energy decisions on a national or local level respectively. This is one of the conclusions of a Eurobarometer poll presented today by Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. Those people asked would choose renewable energy and R&D as the means to tackle such problems and are willing to learn how to use energy more efficiently. "The message from the citizens is a clear one – energy is a concern for all Europeans and people expect clear and concrete actions on all political levels. Europe needs a real energy policy focused on security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability" said Commissioner Piebalgs.

The survey, conducted between the October 11 and November 15, 2005 in the 25 EU Member States and acceding candidate countries, reveals that citizens consider renewables, research & technology as the main means at national level to reduce the current energy dependency. Almost half of all EU citizens (48%) believe that their national government should focus on developing the use of solar power followed by promoting advanced research for new energy technologies (41%) and developing the use of wind power (31%). Regulation for the reduction of dependence on oil (23%) and developing the use of nuclear power (12%) are less appreciated among the respondents.

Public opinion seems to be aware of the vital role energy plays in economic competitiveness. In fact, results of the last Eurobarometer wave[1] show that a more efficient use of energy is seen as a means to improve the performance of the European Economy by 1 out of 4 citizens within the European Union (26%, 2 points more than in the last Eurobarometer).

"I want to save energy, but tell me how"

The Poll also reveals that European citizens are interested in learning more about energy efficiency, especially because of the impact that certain energy saving measures could have on their bills. Most European citizens (43%) would like to receive more information on efficient use of energy. Also such incentives as tax reduction to encourage energy efficiency are regarded as a priority that public authorities should focus on. This view is supported by 40% of EU citizens.

Eight out of 10 citizens take energy consumption into account when purchasing energy consuming devices. The attention is higher when buying cars or refrigerators (almost 60% state they pay much attention) than for light bulbs (43%).

Despite significant variations between countries, it can be said that citizens seem to be more concerned about energy consumption in the new Member States than in the EU-15 group. Behaviour concerning light bulbs is revealing: among the six countries where the result for "a lot of attention" exceeds 50%, five are new Member States. In Malta, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy almost 6 out of 10 respondents stated that they paid a lot of attention to the energy consumption of light bulbs, while in Spain, Greece or Ireland this proportion decreases to 3 out of 10.

Ready for "affordable" efforts

A significant percentage of Europeans (40%), most likely those who are more sensitive to environmental issues, would be prepared to pay more for energy from renewable sources (2 points more, compared to the former survey[2]). 27% would even accept an increase of 5% (3 points more) and 13% a higher price rise. The evolution seems to confirm that the price "ceiling" is situated at a 5% price increase.

Yet the country to country analysis reveals the existence of significant differences between opinions of citizens in EU-15 and the new Member States. The latter group is more reluctant to pay higher prices for "green energy". The survey indicates that economic situation or the unemployment rate of one's country, can have an impact in this trend.

"Don't touch my car"

When it comes to changing the habits of the use of cars, the rise in fuel prices seems to have an impact only if a certain ceiling (around 2€/liter)[3] is reached: more than 2 out of 10 Europeans stated they would use their car "a lot less often" while 3 out of ten declared they would do so "a bit less often". Such a situation would have a more notable effect on citizens in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Austria with almost one third of the population stating that they would be prepared to significantly reduce the use of cars/vehicles. On the other hand, Irish, Cypriots, Maltese, Dutch, and particularly Slovenians (between 36% and 47%) would use their cars as often.

Eurobarometer survey :

[1] EB 64 Autumn wave. QA63: "Which of the following statements would you prioritise to improve the performance of the European economy?"

[2] Eurobarometer 57 carried out in 2002: "Would you be prepared to pay more for energy produced from renewable sources than for energy produced from other sources? (IF YES) How much more would be prepared to pay?"

[3] The price barrier was adapted in each country to the national situation.