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Issue Date:- 19 May 2008


A Southport Euro-MP is overseeing new legislation that could be themissing linkin the fight against climate change.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) involves removing carbon dioxide from coal burnt in power stations. The inert gas is then moved by pipeline for permanent storage in rocks miles beneath the Earth’s surface.  Almost all strategies for stabilising the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere require CCS to supplement other measures. The only other option would be a very high concentration of nuclear power.

Plans to accelerate the use of this technology to curb CO2 emissions from coal and gas-fired power stations are to be put to EU ministers later this year.

New funding measures and the mandatory use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) techniques are being proposed by Chris Davies who is responsible for steering the draft law through the European Parliament.  The Liberal Democrat Euro-MP warns that unless coal-fired power stations are forced to adopt CCS to prevent carbon emissions escaping to the atmosphere all the benefits of developing wind power and other forms of renewable energy will be completely wiped out.

“Coal is responsible for 24% of Europe’s CO2 emissions and 50 new power plants are due to be built within the next 5 years,” he warned. "Each one these will increase the problem of global warming, wiping out the gains made from 2,000 or so wind turbines.  The development of CCS must be brought forward and there is no time to be lost. The world's demand for electricity requires the use of coal but to allow the construction of hundreds more dirty power plants makes a nonsense of all other strategies to reduce emissions.”

The European Parliament has appointed Mr Davies as its lead negotiator (rapporteur) for the draft directive on the geological storage of carbon.  He wants legislation to prohibit from 2015 the authorisation of any new fossil fuel power plant not equipped to capture and store 90% of its CO2 emissions. All existing plants should be retrofitted with CCS technology by 2025.  He says the priority must be construction of the 12 large scale demonstration projects promised by Europe’s Prime Ministers but not yet identified, and he wants the incoming French Presidency of the EU to take a lead in resolving how the objective will be realised.

“The demonstration projects are essential to develop the range of technologies available and secure cost reductions. Potential developers are waiting on governments to take a lead,” he said.

The European Commission estimates that by 2030 the cost of operating CCS-equipped coal-fired power plants will be only 10% more than at present, taking into account allowances for the removal of CO2 available through the emissions trading scheme.  But initial costs of introducing the technology and building the pipeline infrastructure to transport the gas to suitable injection sites could more than double construction costs.

To support the first movers Chris Davies says that a temporary mechanism needs to be introduced to the EU's emissions trading system to allow the first CCS developers to be able to claim tradable credits for every tonne of carbon they store.  He said:- “At present the power companies are hanging back hoping that the costs of CCS will come down. By introducing a short term ‘double credit’ incentive I want to get them racing forward and competing to build CCS plants. The early movers should be able to gain rewards for a limited period.  CCS isn't a magic bullet, but by curbing the release of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere it can help the world buy the time it needs to develop zero carbon technology for the long term."

Fewer business flights should clip the wings of Liverpool airport expansion

THE majority of top UK businesses hope to cut business flights in the coming decade according to WWF-UK’s report Travelling Light, which raises serious questions regarding current UK policy on airport expansion and its supposed links to the nation’s economic health.

Liverpool has been one of Europe's fastest growing airports in recent years, increasing its annual passenger numbers from 875,000 in 1998 to in excess of 5 million in 2007. Expansion plans could see passenger numbers double in 10 years. If plans are approved, the airport could attract an additional 5 million passengers a year by 2016.   Their master plan to 2030 established a framework for continued growth including new routes to long haul destinations. This will be made possible by an extension of the runway to accommodate larger aircraft.

WWF’s report, based on an independent survey, examined travel policies among FTSE 350 companies. Of the 100 surveyed, almost 75% have, or are in the process of developing, a policy to encourage green business travel. Also 89% said they expect to cut flights over the next 10 years and 85% see videoconferencing as a way to achieve that.

Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK said:- “This report has revealed that there is a real appetite among many of the UK’s biggest businesses to reduce the number of flights they take. For many companies, travel is a major contributor to their carbon footprint - more than 50% in some cases - and green alternatives such as videoconferencing not only provide a swift solution for cutting carbon, they can also save businesses time and money. In the current economic climate, and with increasing carbon accountability, videoconferencing is an easy win for businesses.”

WWF’s One Planet Future campaign is challenging businesses to ‘Cut 1 in 5’ flights. If all European companies were to cut their business travel by 20% and use video or audio conferencing instead, it would save 22 million tonnes of CO2 each year - the equivalent of taking one third of the UK’s cars off the road.

“There’s an important message here for local councils and the UK Government,” Peter Lockley continues. “The UK’s biggest businesses believe they can fly less and still remain competitive - so why do we need expansion? We’re told that expansion at Liverpool is vital for the local economy and business links, but if business travellers - who currently account for more than a fifth of passengers from the UK - are increasingly choosing to hold ‘virtual meetings’ instead of taking flights, then the case for airport expansion begins to evaporate.”.

Too Good to be True?

UP to £500 will be given away to unsuspecting shoppers in Belle Vale Shopping Centre

There is no catch; we really are giving away free money!  Although it’s not as easy as you may think. When offered free money by a stranger most people’s first reaction is to walk away. Some have even sprinted!

The money will be distributed randomly to shoppers on Wednesday 28 May 2008, from 2pm.  We would like to invite you along to help us give away the money and witness first hand the response we get as we hand out crisp notes of cash to shoppers.

Why not bring a photographer and get a photo of your local Shopping Centre trying to give away free cash?  You might be surprised at what you see!

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