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VW seeks comprehensive deal on emissions with US regulators

Volkswagen aims to agree a deal with US authorities that resolves as many issues related to its emissions cheating scandal as possible at once, a senior manager at the German carmaker told Reuters. “It must be our goal to negotiate a comprehensive solution, which could also include the lion’s share of expected penalties,” the person, who asked not to be named because talks with US authorities were confidential, said on Thursday.

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Almost six months after it admitted to installing test-rigging software, Europe’s largest carmaker has still to reach an agreement with US regulators on how to fix almost 600 000 affected cars. VW also faces mounting legal action – the US Justice Department sued the company in January for up to $46-billion for violating environmental laws and this week sent VW a civil subpoena under a bank fraud law. A federal judge has set a March 24 deadline for VW to say whether it has found a fix acceptable to the authorities.

The VW manager said it was unlikely that a compromise would be reached by then. He said negotiations were focused on fixes for affected cars as well as compensation for excessive nitrogen oxide emissions. German magazine Wirtschaftswoche had reported earlier that VW could buy emissions rights for nitrogen oxide. VW declined to comment on details of a possible deal, saying only that it was in constructive talks with US regulators. The VW manager also said that talks included a contribution to electric mobility in the US, for instance by investing in a network of charging stations for electric cars. The idea that VW could set up a factory for electric cars in the US is meanwhile off the table, he said. VW aims to fix as many of the affected cars as possible and buy back vehicles where a fix is not possible.

Chief Executive Matthias Mueller has said in January that he believed a new catalytic converter system could be fitted to most affected US vehicles in a solution he believed might satisfy regulators. “I think we can now offer a package that will come very close to what the EPA is expecting from us,” he said at the time.

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Source: engineeringnews


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Green means go for Hotel Verde and Datacentrix

High performing and secure ICT solution provider, Datacentrix, has been helping keep the lights on (and off) – literally – at Hotel Verde, South Africa’s greenest hotel and the first hotel in Africa to offer carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing.

Hotel Verde was built to be as sustainable as possible from the ground up. This includes energy-efficient LEDs used for lighting throughout the hotel, with a number of controls helping reduce the energy they consume, such as motion sensors in all public areas that activate the lights and switch them off after 15 minutes if there’s no further movement. The hotel also uses light level sensors, which measure the amount of light that’s available – including natural light from windows and skylights – and dims or brightens the output of the lights to ensure only the required amount of light is given out at any time.

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Appointed to roll-out a number of systems prior to the official opening of the energy and water-efficient hotel two years ago, Datacentrix initially implemented the lighting control system, together with biometric access control, building and property management systems, video conferencing facilities, an audio and video system, room management software, and a video surveillance solution and storage.

The company also put into operation a structured cabling infrastructure (including telephone, BMS cabling and Ethernet, which enables guests to view a dedicated television channel that displays the hotel’s most updated energy and water consumption statistics, as well as its waste management), a managed power over Ethernet (POE) local area network (LAN), firewalls, fibre Internet connectivity, telephone and WiFi systems, and a staff time-and-attendance solution.

Besides this, Datacentrix still interfaces with a number of the third party solution providers as part of its multiyear outsourcing agreement with Hotel Verde. “We are currently in full swing in terms of the maintenance side of our project,” explains Hotel Verde operations manager, Philippe Marechal. “Datacentrix provides us with managed services to maintain hardware, such as our network equipment, desktops and printers, and also assists with maintaining other systems, for example, our telephone solution, acting as a single point of contact for Hotel Verde.

“Datacentrix has a good understanding of the hospitality industry and its specific needs, having worked with several local hotel groups,” says Marechal. “It was the obvious choice when it came to appointing an IT infrastructure and services partner, working very closely with Hotel Verde when it came to setting up our facilities from scratch, and still assisting with the management of our other service providers.”

Aside from its experience within the hospitality sector, Datacentrix also met Hotel Verde’s non-negotiable service provider criterion of being located within a maximum of 160 kilometres from the hotel, as part of its carbon-offsetting programme, which complements the hotel’s other green initiatives. “Not only does Hotel Verde offer guests and conference delegates a carbon-neutral stay at the hotel by offsetting carbon emissions through responsible carbon capturing and reduction projects, we also believe in responsible procurement.

“This means that our suppliers are chosen based on the sustainability of their own practices and their proximity to the hotel. To reduce the carbon impact of transportation, all suppliers used by Hotel Verde must be based within a 160km radius,” he adds.

Hotel Verde is the first hotel in Africa to achieve the Platinum LEED certification level, as assigned by the United States Green Building Council. In addition, it was the recipient of the Imvelo Award 2014 by Lilizela for Best Overall Environmental Management System, and won the World Responsible Tourism Award 2014 by World Travel Market, London for Best City Hotel.

“It has been a real honour for Datacentrix to be involved in the establishment of this exceptional, sustainably operated business,” says Juane Peacock, managing director: coastal regions and Enterprise Information Management (EIM) at Datacentrix. “One of our strategic imperatives involves building long-term partnerships with customers, which enables an intimate understanding of their business and its systems. To have been involved with Hotel Verde since the very beginning has allowed us to help create the most efficient, effective technology environment for them.”

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Source: itweb


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London drivers urged to turn off engines in bid to tackle air pollution

Plans announced by Boris Johnson would see the capital’s drivers encouraged by signs and volunteers to turn off their engines in traffic jams

London drivers will be encouraged by volunteers and signs to turn off their engines in traffic jams to tackle the capital’s illegal air pollution levels, under plans announced by Boris Johnson on Thursday.

But campaigners accused the mayor of failing to take hard measures to cut the city’s pollution problem, which has seen six sites including Oxford Street, Knightsbridge and Brixton Road already breach annual limits just weeks into 2016.

Johnson’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) for cutting pollution does not come into effect until 2020 and only covers central London. The schemes unveiled today are those that have won £5m from an air quality fund.

Nearly £200,000 will be spent on new electronic signs and measuring equipment at Tower Bridge to ask drivers not to leave their engines idling when the bridge opens, causing congestion for the 31,000 cars that cross it daily. But there will be no enforcement or incentive for doing so.

Another scheme will see “friendly, trained volunteers” sent out on to the streets of eight boroughs including the City of London on high pollution days, to talk to drivers about turning their engines off.

Source: theguardian


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Electric cars won’t save our cities

You could be forgiven for thinking that electric cars are a magic bullet for transforming the streets of the UK. London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has claimed they will soon make buses in the capital redundant, and the city has launched a £100m project to encourage more people to use electric cars. There is, presumably, a clear case for saying London would be transformed for the better by electric vehicles.

Alas, we struggled to find this case written down anywhere. So we sat down with a blank spreadsheet and tried to work it out from first principles. We began by listing the problems that motor vehicles currently bring to cities. Then, we asked what electricity could do to address each of these.

Is electric better?

Perhaps the most obvious reason people get excited about electric vehicles is pollution. Conventional vehicles spew some very noxious stuff into our streets,killing many thousands each year (pdf), including several thousand in London alone. Electric vehicles offer a real advantage in reducing the dangerous nitrogen oxide and particulate matter in urban areas.

But as well as being cleaner, are electric vehicles also greener? That’s a different question – one to which the answer is entirely dependent on how the nation generates its electricity. In 2014, 19.1% of the UK’s electricity (pdf) was generated from renewables compared with 30% for gas and 30% for coal.

This heavy use of fossil fuels means the electric car is not as eco-friendly as it might initially appear. Electric vehicles basically move the fossil-fuel combustion from inside the car to another part of the country (safely outside the purview of any elected mayors). They don’t do much about how we’ll stop our nation emitting greenhouse gases.

The problems of today’s vehicles, however, go far beyond emissions. The hypermobility (pdf) they provide permits suburban sprawl (and thus extra greenhouse gas emissions) as it becomes possible for people to live, work and shop at places distant from one another. And there is another big space problem: a car used for 50 minutes a day is unused 96.5% of the time. Frequently cars are stored on roads and pavements, to the detriment of traffic flow, aesthetics, councils’ finances and the needs of vulnerable road users.

Simply swapping one engine for another does nothing to solve a raft of other problems. The UK has a billion-pound health crisis (pdf) arising from physical inactivity. Shifting shorter journeys – for example, those under two miles – from cars to active travel modes such as walking or cycling is one of the best things(pdf) any developed nation can do to tackle its health problems. Electric vehicles, at best, leave this problem untouched.

Self-driving cars

Perhaps what electric vehicle champions are really thinking of – especially when they suggest they will replace buses – is self-driving electric cars. Taking the driver out of the picture overcomes some issues, most obviously the problem of collisions – there is a high global and UK death toll from people crashing their vehicles.

A switch to driverless vehicles gives us an opportunity to rethink our relationship with cars. We could move away from the old idea that everybody should own their own car and have a much smaller number of automated cars, each in frequent use and summoned when people need them.

Self-driving cars might overcome some genuine problems, such as the number of cars on the road and where we store all the unused cars. But this future requires car makers to sell few cars rather than many. This makes it unlikely any real change will happen – especially given the cosy relationship car manufacturers have enjoyed with governments. There is a lack of ambition and vision from the motoring industry which, for all its innovation, avoids addressing underlying issues.

And even if we did shift to fewer shared vehicles, we are still left with the issues of urban sprawl, and questions about health and wellbeing. Even driverless cars do not address these fundamental problems. We need to stop building towns and cities on the self-fulfilling assumption people will travel by car. There is no future in which humans can sit down all day without paying an enormous health price. If driverless cars appear in streets anything like today’s, we risk falling into the most pathetic of robot uprisings, where they transport us helpfully from place to place while we remain inactive, growing fat and increasing our risk of cancer and diabetes.

Electric vehicles should not be considered a panacea for sustainable transport but rather a possible part of the puzzle. We need to rethink the journeys we make. Many of our urban journeys are short and we should plan cities with that in mind. Perhaps in the future we will continue to drive to the city, but we won’t drive through the city. Let’s turn cities back into a place for human beings to make their short journeys in a physically active way.

Source: theguardian


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Is Food Security Breaking through in Paris Climate Talks?

The latest news from Paris is cautiously optimistic that we will have an agreement by Friday. What does it mean for agriculture and food security? Although the French government has shown great leadership championing agriculture at COP21, it is not yet really on the table for the negotiators.

The good (and surprising) news comes from the commitments the countries have submitted. A recent CGIAR analysis of the first 150 country climate commitments (INDCs) submitted ahead of the UN climate talks revealed that countries appear to prioritize agriculture more than the negotiations have. 80% of commitments included agriculture in mitigation targets, and 64% included agriculture in adaptation strategies. Willingness to address agriculture and food security finally appears to be having some impact.

As Tim Grooser, Climate Minister of New Zealand put it: “After many years of banging my head on a brick wall, trying to get attention for agriculture in UNFCCC, we are finally being heard”. While this is unlikely to have a big impact on the result in Paris on Friday – it paves the way for more progress to be made in Marrakech at COP22, next year, via scientific (SBSTA) meetings held in Bonn in June 2016.

4 pour mille – solutions in soil

One of the most promising new ideas at the Paris climate talks so far, is the French government’s “4 pour mille” initiative. The name 4 pour mille (or 0.4%) refers to the annual increase in soil carbon, which would offset atmospheric carbon emissions. As the carbon reservoir in the soil is two to three times larger than all the carbon in the atmosphere, the initiative focuses attention on the huge potential agriculture has to become a critical part of climate change solutions. Agriculture and forestry alone can capture carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and sequester it in the soil.

Increasing soil carbon not only mitigates climate change, it also increases – or restores – soil health and fertility, thereby helping agriculture to adapt to climate change and improve environmental health overall. Yields will go up, farms will be more resilient, and emissions will be reduced as a co-benefit.

The private sector has made commitments in Paris aswell. A coalition of companies joined together under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to focus on low carbon agriculture solutions. Monsanto has announced that its operations will be carbon neutral by 2021, in just 5 years. John Bryant, the CEO of Kelloggs, went a step further in Paris by not only committing to carbon neutrality for its own operations, but also to work with farmers in its supply chains to make half a million farmers climate smart.

A proposal for the developing world

In Paris CGIAR announced a $225 million proposal that would take climate smart agriculture and 4 pour mille to seven developing countries: Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Nepal and Colombia. Farmers will co-develop and share widely climate-smart interventions that boost the levels of carbon captured in soils, such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry and improved forage systems. In those seven countries we estimate that farmers would be able to improve their agricultural yields by 20% and offset greenhouse gas emissions by 15% or 25 megatonnes of CO2e.

This will contribute to CGIAR’s own commitments to work, with partners, to reduce agriculture related emissions by 0.8 Gigaton, or 15%, by 2030, restore 190 million hectares of degraded land, save 7.5 million ha of forest from deforestation, and increase water and nutrient efficiency by 20%.

Source: organicconsumers


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COP21 Paris Agreement — Tickles Car Industry

Representatives of 195 nations came to Paris to attend the UN COP 21 summit to ‘tackle’ the climate change crisis faced by the citizens of the world due to a suicidal model of development and unsustainable industrialization.

The nations attending were represented by Heads of State, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Vice-presidents, Ministers and thousands of diplomats. There was also a vast rainbow of NGOs and activists scrutinizing their every move. The UN was represented by Ban Ki Moon, its Secretary General, and by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and by hundreds of its diplomats. Despite this very high level of representation and even if many of the world’s top journalists covered the COP 21 event, there was no serious mention or detailed coverage of what the world needs to do with its more than 1 billion cars, trucks and buses and with its public transport, even though transportation is a major cause of toxic, climate changing gases.

It is well known by all of us that combustion engines are used to commit suicide by desperate people who lock themselves in a garage with the engine of their car running until its toxic emissions kill them. With more than a billion cars in circulation and more than 66 million new cars produced every year, it is time to realize that the atmosphere is our collective garage and to declare that: combustion engines belong in a museum as a sign of how humanity almost committed mass suicide, killing millions of people each year with poisonous gases from cars, trucks, buses and other combustion engines throughout the world.

Government officials have to face up to their lack of responsibility in protecting citizens. Mainstream politicians have been the principle defenders of the combustion engine and the car industry, and the silent but avid opponents of increased investments in mass transport. Appalling examples of these suicidal transport policies can be seen in Europe and Japan and especially in the United States and Canada. Many others such as Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, Turkey, Australia, South Africa, Russia are not much different.

G20 nations are not the exception in this suicidal defense of the combustion engine and there continues to be a marketing push to own big and heavy weight cars as a status symbol. Both are not only unnecessary but should be illegal. It is high time that the use of the combustion engine as the main form of personal and cargo transport be outlawed.

The COP 21 deadlines do not have a real sense of urgency. If COP 21 was to be considered a meaningful summit, then a major decision on public transport should have been adopted. Developed nations must introduce EMERGENCY MEASURES like reducing the use and circulation of combustion engine vehicles by 20 percent by the end of 2016, then by 40 percent by the end of 2018 until they are all out of circulation in 5 years, by the end of 2020.

These goals are achievable with an aggressive and well thought-out public transport policy and new legislation on combustion engines, size and weight of all vehicles. There are countries in Europe like the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain (all car producing nations) where the cost of travel by train is artificially high and where night trains are almost illegal, measures designed to help auto manufacturers sell vehicles, buses and trucks that can pollute and kill us 24 hours a day.

Which political leaders are willing to fight until all of us can breath fresh air again and millions stop dying due to air pollution? I am sorry to say, I can’t name a single one among the leaders of the G20 nations.

If we want fresh air, we must accept it’s TIME FOR CHANGE! High time to create a real TASK FORCE with a sense of mission that has as its goal to stop all deaths caused by air pollution and to take a giant step towards stopping climate change.

Most of those who travelled to COP 21 created a lot of air pollution but did not tackle the real issues, they only tickled the auto industry.

What do you think? Should we relegate the combustion engine to its rightful place: museums?

Source: huffingtonpost


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The No. 1 Green Building Benefit: Lower Operating Costs

The building industry is rapidly developing new technology to manage emissions and improve energy efficiency and water management, while also lowering operating expenses.

“Commercial and industrial property owners who oversee green buildings will see a significant savings across energy, trash, water and maintenance costs,” says USGBC spokeperson Leticia McCadden. “Over the next four years (2015-2018), the green construction industry is expected to save $2.4 billion in energy.”

This was evident the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild 2015 last week. And according to a new green building trends report previewed at the event about 70 percent of survey respondents cite lower operating costs as the greatest benefit of green building.

“Green buildings are better for the environment, better for business and better for the people within them,” says John Mandyck, United Technologies Corp. chief sustainability officer. “Green building activity continues to accelerate, with growing awareness of occupant and tenant benefits, speaking to the fact that the real, tangible benefits of green buildings are becoming more widely recognized.”

Green Building Doubling Every Three Years

United Technologies Corp co-funded the World Green Building Trends 2016 report by Dodge Data & Analytics. It surveyed 1,000 building professionals from 69 countries, building on 2008 and 2012 research, and found respondents across all regions studied projected that more than 60 percent of their projects would be green projects by 2018, with a doubling from current projects across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The largest percentage of green building activity continues to be in the commercial building segment, comprising 46 percent of respondents’ future green building projects. Activity in institutional buildings — schools, hospitals and public buildings — is expected to surpass green building projects in existing buildings (38 and 37 percent respectively) by 2018.

The full findings of the report, which will be available in 2016, reaffirm 2008 and 2012 research that green building is doubling every three years.

Forty percent of respondents noted client demands as a driver for green building activity, followed by environmental regulations (35 percent). Both categories increased over 2008 and 2012 responses. From an environmental perspective, reducing energy consumption (84 percent) and reducing water consumption (76 percent) topped the list as important.

Water Management an Emerging Focus Area

Benjamin Freas, Navigant Research senior research analyst, said at Greenbuild he heard more interest in water management as well as how buildings fit into smart cities. Water management in buildings is an area Navigant continues to watch as well.

“Water has historically been too cheap to worry too much about in commercial buildings,” Freas says. “Increased focus on water scarcity and declining prices of control hardware is starting to unlock the water management market.”

Another area for growth is in building controls. As HVAC, lighting and other equipment become increasingly efficient, future efficiency gains will rely on managing how the equipment operates, Freas says.

Green Building Challenges

“The biggest change in building controls is the continuing convergence of IT and building technology,” he says. “This is enabling better integration between building systems and providing more data to building systems. In turn, with more data, buildings can operate beyond the scope of optimized local systems to improving operation on a building level.”

While an “unprecedented level” of green building technology has emerged to keep occupants comfortable while reducing operating expenses, the challenge to building owners and operators is the cost-effective implementation of this technology, Freas says. Big data allows buildings to run more efficiently and these high-tech features help building owners better attract and retain tenants.

“The biggest opportunity comes from how to deliver this functionality,” Freas says. “It will be an internet of things platform. But, will it be traditional building controls companies adapting their offerings to the internet? Will it be IT infrastructure companies pulling building networks into their purview? Will it be consumer electronics manufacturers leveraging the ubiquity of mobile devices to provide meaningful data to building systems?”

Role in Climate Change

James Cameron weighed in on climate change and green building at the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild 2015.

A keynote speaker at last week’s event, the director of films including “Avatar,” “Titanic” and “The Terminator,” told the Washington Post that growing populations mean massive building in cities globally. “If all those buildings are constructed the way we’ve traditionally constructed buildings it will be an enormous spike in greenhouse gas emissions,” Cameron said.

On a global scale, green buildings can play a key role in helping manage climate change, says the US Green Building Council.

As the COP21 climate talks in Paris approach, the USGBC has joined with other councils around the world to advance the green building sector by 2030 and achieve by 2050 two major goals: net-zero-carbon new building in addition to energy efficiency and deep refurbishment of existing stock. For the first time, COP will feature a Buildings Day to highlight the importance of green buildings as a critical piece of the climate change response. And USGBC has committed to, in the next five year, scaling up efforts to support certification of a projected over 5 billion square feet of green building with LEED and EDGE.

Source: environmentalleader


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Green buildings, urbanization top agenda of Africities Johannesburg summit

Accelerating the pace of urbanization and migration and the disproportionate level of poverty and under development in Africa will top the agenda of the United Cities of Local Governments of Africa, UCLGA, summit slated to hold between November 29 and December 3, 2015 at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The summit will also explore issues relating to public transportation, urban agriculture, informal trading, neighbourhood development, green buildings, parks and open spaces, and public safety in urban settings.

Green building, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, US EPA is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.

Recently, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came up with a report which revealed that green buildings could be a key means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the report, green buildings could play an essential role in any efforts to reduce the impact of anthropogenic global warming, particularly given projected gains in the emission levels of the international construction sector.

The construction sector which is a key contributor to global warming is expected to undergo a doubling of energy consumption and related emissions by mid-century across the globe, if it proceeds along its current path.

The Johannesburg summit tagged Africities 2015, according to the Secretary General, UCLGA, Jean-Pierre Elong-Mbassi, would be attended by the representative head of local governments across the continent and will be used to push for the principles of Pan-Africanism as well as to promote unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among African people and African States.

Elong-Mbass told newsmen that the Africities Summit which is now in its 7th edition, will create a platform for tackling issues affecting urban“and economic development across the continent with a sharp focus on“collaborative partnerships, best practices, innovative and strategic thinking and solutions to the challenges of development and urbanisation.

He said: “With a vision of building the unity of Africa and promoting “its development through the grassroots, the UCLGA’s dedication“throughout its history has been driven by its commitment to the empowerment of local people in local communities and their“participation in the development of Africa and its governance.

“We have been campaigning for the decentralisation of power, referred to as, ‘the second liberation of the continent,’ as well as advocacy for citizenship through participation and collaboration, best practice and transparency in local government. “The summit is held every three years. This year, more than 5,000 participants are expected from across Africa and the globe, and over 25 open sessions for stakeholders ranging from the World Bank on one side, to slum dwellers on the other.
The theme of this year’s summit is “Shaping the Future of Africa with the People: Africa’s Local Government Contribution to the Africa 2063 Vision.”

Those expected to participate in the summit include local and national government officials, Heads of State, economists, city and financial planners, as well as investors and other stakeholders.

Source: vanguardngr


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Carbon tax will harm SA

Pretoria – The first carbon tax payment will be due in early 2018, despite warnings that implementation of the tax will harm economic growth and strategic sectors such as mining and manufacturing in the short-term.

Judge Dennis Davis, chairman of the Davis Tax Committee, last week warned it was not a good time to implement a carbon tax.

He is quoted as saying companies will pass on the additional cost to consumers, especially poor consumers.

The committee’s objective is to assess South Africa’s tax policy framework and its role in supporting the objectives of inclusive growth, employment, development and fiscal sustainability.

However, the National Treasury says the tax has been designed to ensure that its overall impact will be not adversely affect strategic sectors once it is implemented.

In addition, treasury says, it will only have a “marginal negative impact” on economic growth over the short term.

The latest figures from Stats SA indicated that economic growth decreased by 1.3 percent during the second quarter of this year.

Treasury says the combined effect of the rates and exemptions and a reduction in the electricity levy will ensure “revenue neutrality”.

But, it also says that although the tax will be revenue neutral from a “macro-economic perspective”, it will not necessarily be neutral for companies with “significant emissions”.

Ernie Lai King, SA Institute of Tax Professionals’ (SAIT) board member and head of tax at law firm Hogan Lovells, says there has been strong plea from business and labour to follow Australia’s example to abandon carbon taxes.

The proposed tax is expected to be imposed at a rate of R120 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2), rising by 10 percent every year. However, if the proposed revenue recycling measures are taken into account the effective tax rate will range between R6 and R48 per tonne of CO2.

“The fear is that South African companies may be held back economically by carbon taxation, which could act as a barrier to industrial and commercial progress,” says Lai King.

He adds companies will find it difficult to influence reductions in emissions, given the dependence on fossil fuels for the generation of energy.

Duane Newman, director of Cova Advisory and head of the SAIT tax incentive committee, says the basic design of the tax has not changed, but it is clear that treasury has taken some of the concerns raised into account.

Treasury said given the country’s developmental challenges, the tax will be gradually phased in. One of the proposed measures is a reduction in the electricity levy. The levy has been increased to 3.5c/kWh.

The implementation date has been set at 1 January 2017, with the first full year being from then until December 2017.

“The challenge for many companies is that the reporting periods will be out of line with their financial year end,” says Newman.

He says it is also clear that some of the carbon tax will be levied at company level on emissions at the factory, and emissions from burning petrol or diesel will be collected through the fuel levy system.

If carbon tax is collected on all fuel sold in South Africa, it could have an inflationary effect.”

Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group associate Gillian Niven says that the revenue received from carbon tax will not be ring-fenced, but will nonetheless be “recycled”.

One of the modelling exercises initiated by treasury shows that a carbon tax with broad sector coverage implemented gradually and supported by “effective and efficient revenue recycling measures will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission.

The tax design allows for certain tax-free thresholds, and the combined effect of all the thresholds will be capped at 95%.

Newman says this means a company will only pay R6 per tonne CO2 if all the thresholds were applicable, and a maximum of R48 per tonne CO2 if not.

Niven adds treasury is in the process of finalising regulations to give effect to the carbon offset scheme and is engaging the Department of the Energy and the Department of Environmental Affairs on the administration of the offset scheme. Draft regulations will be published for public comment in early 2016.

Comments on the draft bill have to be submitted by 15 December this year. A revised bill incorporating the comments will be submitted for approval by the Cabinet.

Source: iol


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World Leaders Urge Global Carbon Pricing

BONN, Germany, October 20, 2015 (ENS) – Global carbon pricing is an idea whose time has come, heads of government said in a joint declaration today, urging their peers to set up carbon markets and tax carbon emissions ahead of climate talks in Paris in December.

For the first time, a statement urging countries and businesses around the world to put a price on carbon was issued by national leaders from Europe, Africa, Asia, South and Central America, in an effort to control dangerous climate change.

The call to price carbon comes from the Carbon Pricing Panel, a new group convened by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria.

President Kim said, “There has never been a global movement to put a price on carbon at this level and with this degree of unison.”

“It marks a turning point from the debate on the economic systems needed for low carbon growth to the implementation of policies and pricing mechanisms to deliver jobs, clean growth and prosperity,” said President Kim, an American physician of Korean descent who has headed the World Bank Group since 2012.

“The science is clear, the economics compelling and we now see political leadership emerging to take green investment to scale at a speed commensurate with the climate challenge,” said Kim.

Government leaders who expressed their support for carbon pricing represent both industrialized and developing countries: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, French President François Hollande, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

California Governor Jerry Brown and Mayor Eduardo Paes of Rio de Janeiro also signed the statement.

The panel hopes to spur faster action ahead of the Paris climate talks November 30 – December 11. There, world leaders are expected to sign a legally-binding, universal agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions to hold global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The conference is known as COP21, as it is the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Private sector support for the carbon pricing push comes from the largest U.S. institutional investor the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the French multinational electric utility ENGIE, the Mahindra Group of India, and Netherlands-based Royal DSM.

These corporate entities will help link business needs with public policies through the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, an action-based platform that will be launched in Paris on November 30.

Interviewed by “Le Figaro,” earlier this month, ENGIE Chairman Gérard Mestrallet announced the company’s decision to build no more new coal-fired power plants in the more than 70 countries in which it operates.

“Well ahead of the COP21 meeting, we have lobbied for a realistic carbon price high enough to encourage operators to invest in renewables and limit their CO2 emissions. Since we believe that this price signal will become firmly established as a necessity and that the price of carbon will strengthen, investment in high-emission coal-fired power plants will be significantly penalized,” said Mestrallet.

The panel’s carbon pricing statement comes as a part of a last week of pre-Paris discussions in Bonn that ends October 23. The meeting aims to agree the language of the global climate change agreement for the Paris conference.

A draft of the agreement to be approved in Paris currently excludes language on carbon pricing because some countries are opposed to the use of markets to address climate change.

rench President François Hollande said, “If we really want to send market signals to enable enterprises to make their decisions under optimal economic conditions, which may be optimal ecological conditions, then the issue of carbon prices inevitably arises as it is the most tangible signal that can be sent to all economic actors.”

“I am aware of the fears created by this notion of carbon pricing, particularly among the most carbon-intensive industries, which have concerns, and rightly so, over their competitiveness,” said Hollande. “We must therefore act with resolve.”

“Countries, big countries such as China, are already setting carbon prices. Europe already has a carbon market,” Hollande pointed out.

During his visit to the United States on September 25, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that in 2017 China will start its national emission trading system, covering key industry sectors such as iron and steel, power generation, chemicals, building materials, paper-making, and nonferrous metals.

With 1.4 billion people, China is the world’s most populous country and the number one greenhouse gas emitter. The United States is number two.

An emissions trading system works on the cap and trade principle. A cap, or limit, is set on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted by the factories, power plants and other installations in the system. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions fall.

Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed. They can also buy limited amounts of international credits from emission-saving projects around the world.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today, “Low carbon technologies are an element in the fight against worldwide climate change. With a price for carbon and a global carbon market, we promote investment in these climate friendly technologies.”

“Many governments are already putting a price on carbon as part of their climate protection strategies. We should advance our effort along this path further so that we can actually reach our goal of maintaining the two degree upper limit.”

Around the world, about 40 nations and 23 cities, states and regions have implemented or are putting a price on carbon, with programs and mechanisms covering about 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The number of implemented or scheduled carbon pricing instruments has nearly doubled since 2012, reaching an aggregate market value of about $50 billion.

The EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) is a cornerstone of the European Union’s policy to combat climate change and its key tool for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively.

The first, and still the biggest, international system for trading greenhouse gas emission allowances, the EU ETS covers more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 31 countries, as well as airlines.

Now cities are setting up their own carbon emissions markets.

Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro and chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, said, “Putting a price on carbon will serve to accelerate our efforts to build low-carbon urban prosperity – not just in Rio, but in fast-growing cities around the world.”

“Rio de Janeiro, like most of Brazil, is already experiencing the impacts of climate change – and we’re already taking action. We’re investing heavily in climate-resilient infrastructure, and we’re also committed to slashing carbon emissions across our economy,” said the mayor.

Speaking for the IMF, Lagarde said, “Finance ministers need to think about reforms to fiscal systems in order to raise more revenue from taxes on carbon-intensive fuels and less revenue from other taxes that are detrimental to economic performance, such as taxes on labor and capital.”

Lagarde said, “They need to evaluate the carbon tax rates that will help them meet their mitigation pledges for Paris and accompanying measures to help low-income households vulnerable to higher energy prices.”

Source: ens-newswire


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