Added to Case Law, ICJ
ICJ case Argentina – Uruguay (Papermills)
Argentina complained at the ICJ that Uruguay authorized the construction of two polluting paper mills at the river Uruguay, a natural resource shared by the two countries. One planned mill was not constructed, the other is operational. The ICJ agreed that violations did take place of the ‘ Statute of the River Uruguay’ from 1975, a treaty in which the two countries agreed on mutual obligations with regard to scheduled activities, notably if these could bring about significant environmental damage. These violations were only of a procedural nature, according to the ICJ. No conclusive evidence showed that substantive norms were breached: the paper mill is believed to be operating in line with applicable pollution norms and meets the standards set out in the Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document (BREF) drawn up under the EU’s IPPC Directive. Ordering the dismantling of the mill would not “constitute an appropriate remedy for the breach of procedural obligations” (nr 275). The declaration that such a breached took place is assumed to constitute appropriate satisfaction for Argentine. Interestingly enough, the ICJ contemplated that a rule of customary law developed under which an EIA is obligatory in certain cases, notably when shared natural resources are at stake. In two dissenting opinions, the alleged failure to adequately deal with scientifically complex disputes in a state-of-the-art manner and the disregard of the precautionary principle are regretted.
Sector: General, Water, EIA
Added to Sectors, General
In the context of current steps to strengthen the EU greenhouse gas emissions target to a 30% reduction by 2020 and ongoing steps to implement the 3rd phase of the EU emissions trading scheme, the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament commissioned a study to properly assess the reality of the ‘carbon leakage’ risk in Europe as well as policy options for addressing the problem. According to the study, European policymakers were in fault when they decided that industry sectors highly exposed to international trade should qualify as being at risk of carbon leakage. Currently, this concerns 164 sectors while the paper concluded that only 13 industrial sectors in Europe are “truly” at risk of carbon leakage such as steel and cement. A second mistake according to the study concerns EU’s executive approach to combat carbon leakage through extra free allowances. The study suggests that border tax adjustments may be more appropriate and that only one compensation measure per sector should be applied. The study concludes that the commission’s ‘carbon leakage arguments’ have been exaggerated and should therefore not be allowed to influence the upcoming debates on strengthening the EU’s emissions target and implementing legislation.
The Spanish presidency and the future Belgium presidency have indicated their coherent support for a debate on the future EU environmental policy during a workshop in Madrid. The theme of the workshop was the EU’s seventh environment action program (7EAP) which is aimed to set policy orientations for after 2012. 7EAP has not received full commitment from the European Commission yet, however environment commissioner Janez Potocnik has indicated that the program could commence in 2011. According to its provisional work for the program, Belgium will push for a Council of Ministers’ resolution on better environment policy instruments, an assessment of the existing EAP and initial orientations for a 7EAP. Belgium has announced to organize a conference on policy instruments at the end of November.
France’s newly adopted major environmental law, the ‘Grenelle 2’, has failed to win political consensus following heavy criticism in its lower chamber e.g. the Assemblée Nationale. The law outlines France’s environmental objectives for the coming years covering a wide range of sectors such as transport, agriculture, waste and energy. The critics are mainly concerned with lack of ambition in the plans. Rules on carbon tax which were initially supposed to be included in the law have been dropped and an eco-tax on lorries has been postponed. Ambition in the law can be seen through a temporary ban on the use of the controversial bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby feeding bottles. The law is also foreseeing an experimentation phase starting in July 2011 during which environmental labels for products will be introduced.
Added to Sectors, Chemicals
Several environmental organizations such as the European Environmental Bureau together with an alliance of leading electronic companies such as Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Sony Ericsson are together urging the EU to restrict more hazardous substances in electric and electronic equipment (EEE) in order to avoid more global dioxin formation. The restrictions concern bans on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in the Restrictions on Hazardous Substances directive (RoHS) from the end of 2015 onwards. According to research report by green group ChemSec, alternatives are available, cost effective and suppliers are willing to scale up their production of these alternative materials. MEP’s are concerned with the costs that might outweigh the benefits. The European Parliament’s environment committee is debating whether to ban further substances as part of the revision, or to adopt criteria for proposing future restrictions. The Committee will vote on the RoHS proposal on 3 June after which European Parliament will consider the directive in plenary in July 2010.
Added to Sectors, Energy
The European Parliament has approved agreements reached by member states concerning proposals to revise EU rules on energy labeling and energy performance of buildings. The new directive on energy labelling will introduce an additional “plus” class on top of the existing A grade in order to provide more detailed information on energy consumption for household appliances such as fridges and washing machines. Additionally, the scope of the energy label will be extended to energy-using products in the commercial and industrial sector as well as energy related products which do not consume energy but have a significant direct or indirect impact on energy savings. The second agreement concerns the revised directive on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD) which has the objective to help consumers to cut their energy bills and the EU to reach its climate change target of using 20% less energy in ten years’ time. The measures include existing building to upgrade and new buildings to include high energy-savings standards by the end of 2020. The European Commission has announced to present the rules on both proposals in the Official Journal in June.
Following the announcement made by the German environment ministry regarding the freeze on subsidies for solar heating, biomass and heat pump installations, EU trade association ESTIF has warned that this will put the whole renewable heating sector in danger. The subsidies were introduced in late 2008 as part of Germany’s economic recovery plan to encourage the replacement of old heating systems with more energy-efficient ones. According to ESTIF, the announcement on the freeze came without any notice and will lead to scale down production, reduce workforce and even cause bankruptcy which will lead to a structural weakness in the solar thermal market since Germany represent 38% of the European market. The German solar industry association shares this concern and further adds that it is uncertain whether the ambitious goal of an 18% share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix in Germany can be reached by 2020 without the full contribution of renewable heating. ESTIF has requested the German parliament to lift the budget freeze as far as it blocks investments in solar thermal installations and urges political decision-makers to maintain supportive framework conditions once they have been successfully set up in order to ensure the positive investment climate and sustainable framework conditions for the solar thermal sector in Europe.
Added to Sectors, Waste
The European Commission has released a paper on the management of bio-waste in the EU. The biowaste legislation has been much debated upon. The commission first drafted legislation in 2000 but the plans got shelved in 2005 following complaints from campaign groups and several member states. The revised waste framework directive required new legislation to be considered and therefore the commission launched a consultation in 2008. The commission has now announced that a significant body of legislation governing biowaste has been established and concludes that there are no policy gaps at EU level that new legislation could solve. It has instead listed several priority areas in order to strengthen the existing legislation through better implementation and enforcement. These priority areas include biowaste’s collection, treatment, recycling and enforcement. The paper also indicates that specific indicators for bio-waste prevention with possible future binding targets, as well as compost standards and guidelines on the application of life cycle and assessment in the waste sector will be required.
Added to Upcoming Events
* 2nd Annual European Renewable Energy
Platts European Renewable Energy 2010 will bring together senior decision makers and stakeholders from wind, tidal, solar, biomass and other renewable sectors to discuss key issues at the forefront of the European renewable energy industry.
Location: Kempinski Hotel Bristol, Berlin, Germany
Date: 10-11 June 2010
Added to Vacancies
* Waste Works Education Centre Manager
Waste Works is looking for an experienced educator with a background of delivering hands-on education programmes to young people and members of the local community for the management of the Waste Works education centre. As a professional project manager, the individual will be required to be a hard working and confident individual committed to high environmental specifications with excellent communication skills and the ability to lead a small team and thrive on balancing a variety of responsibilities. The centre is based in one of the largest in-house office waste recycling centres in the UK and provides visitors opportunities to learn about the environment and see recycling in action.
Location: Manchester, United Kingdom
Deadline: 15 June 2010
The fast growing Centre for Alternative Technology is looking for an experienced manager with excellent communication and influencing skills to complete their newly Operations Team in the foremost eco-centre in Europe, based in mid-Wales. The post required leadership in a number of departments e.g. finance, personal, media and fundraising.
Deadline: 28 June 2010
Wybe Th. Douma (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Jens Hamer (Court of First Instance of the European Community, Luxemburg)*
* All views expressed are entirely personal and can in no way be attributed to the General Court or ECJ
Leonardo Massai (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Iram Velji (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Marco van der Harst (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
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