The US Takes a Backseat to Europe on Environmental Reforms
Environmental markets are the most recent addition to a wide spectrum of energy and commodity marketplaces. It is not an easy task to remain in tune with developments in conventional types of markets (if I dare to name them this way) with their constantly shifting and transforming structures and changing types of participants. Following up on environmental products’ trading places, emerging and disappearing data providers and data reports is almost a full-time job. Driven by political agendae, environmental markets are very fluid, differ for different countries, and are actually non-existent in most. Products start getting traded on exchanges in anticipation of the pending regulations to be adopted, and later get delisted as bills don’t get approved. The elusive nature of environmental markets is a direct reflection of the government policies and programs and the most prominent ones, the EU and the US, are the main drivers in this quest.
While the U.S. and Canada are finding any excuse to escape prime membership in the tight global circle of cleaner and greener governments, the European Union continues to aggressively fight climate change by tightening its environmental goals and targets. The EU negotiated and established its 2020 goals a while ago; since then, the world has been waiting for results from the EU’s negotiations at the next stage. The next stage was finally revealed at the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy EU2030 conference, which took place in Brussels on January 22, 2014. Here, the European Commission revealed a new and very ambitious proposal.
After extended fighting amongst member states, the Commission’s results were announced and another landmark decision added to the annals of the world’s history. Now Europe intends to cut its GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and Europe hopes to produce 27% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
The Commission’s discussion of renewable sources’ share in the generation portfolio induced the most debates at the conference, with the U.K. being most opposed to tightening environmental targets. However, the U.K. was finally outnumbered and overruled by the EU’s largest members, including Germany, France, and Italy. In the end, the discussion of renewables seemed to be a battle that took place largely between Germany and the U.K., with Germany winning. It is interesting that Germany won this debate, given that Germany is the world’s largest producer of renewable power and is on the path to replacing all German nuclear generators with wind turbines.
Needless to say, Greenpeace, Wind Energy Alliance, Alliance to Save Energy, and environmental organizations still remained unhappy and disappointed with the results of the conference, as the EU’s targets were still softer targets than what these organizations had hoped for. These organizations’ dissatisfaction was deepened by the fact that the new renewable energy goals set for the EU as a whole give each member country the ability to develop its own energy mix to meet environmental targets. This is a large deviation from the 2020 renewables targets, which were binding for each member state. Some states, like the U.K., see the EU’s flexibility about member states’ energy mixes as a great achievement—a facet of the proposal that will allow individual states to concentrate more on GHG reduction in a way more suitable for their interests, enabling them to focus not only on renewables, but also on nuclear, carbon capture, and storage and energy efficiency technologies.
These changes and evolutions within energy markets result in a greater data load for market participants. Collecting environmental and renewables data is made easy with ZEMA, which collects the full spectrum of environmental data. ZEMA automatically captures, schedules, standardizes and displays environmental data on real time basis. Data can be collected on any frequency including by the second, minute, hour, day, and week, and clients are able to manage schedules to meet their specific needs.
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