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EU halts emissions trading after hacking

Climate change study had 'significant error': experts
Washington (AFP) Jan 19, 2011 - A climate change study that projected a 2.4 degree Celsius increase in temperature and massive worldwide food shortages in the next decade was seriously flawed, scientists said Wednesday. The study was posted Tuesday on EurekAlert, a independent service for reporters set up by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was written about by numerous international news agencies, including AFP. But AAAS later retracted the study as experts cited numerous errors in its approach. "A reporter with The Guardian alerted us yesterday to concerns about the news release submitted by Hoffman & Hoffman public relations," said AAAS spokeswoman Ginger Pinholster in an email to AFP. "We immediately contacted a climate change expert, who confirmed that the information raised many questions in his mind, too. We swiftly removed the news release from our website and contacted the submitting organization."

Scientist Osvaldo Canziani, who was part of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was listed as the scientific advisor to the report. The IPCC, whose figures were cited as the basis for the study's projections, and Al Gore jointly won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007 "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change," the prize committee said at the time. Canziani's spokesman said Tuesday he was ill and was unavailable for interviews. The study cited the UN group's figures for its projections, combined with "the business-as-usual path the world is currently following," said lead author Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund (UEF), a non-profit group headquartered in Argentina. But climate scientist Ray Weymann told AFP that the "study contains a significant error in that it confuses 'equilibrium' temperature rise with 'transient temperature rise.'"

He also noted that study author Hisas was told of the problems in advance of the report's release. "The author of the study was told by several of us about this error but she said it was too late to change it," said Weymann. Scientist Scott Mandia forwarded to AFP an email he said he sent to Hisas ahead of publication explaining why her figures did not add up, and noting that it would take "quite a few decades" to reach a warming level of 2.4 degrees Celsius. "Even if we assume the higher end of the current warming rate, we should only be 0.2C warmer by 2020 than today," Mandia wrote. "To get to +2.4C the current trend would have to immediately increase almost ten-fold." Mandia described the mishap as an "honest and common mistake," but said the matter would certainly give fuel to skeptics of humans' role in climate change. "More alarmism," said Mandia.

"Don't get me wrong. We are headed to 2.4, it is just not going to happen in 2020." Many people do not understand the cumulative effect of carbon emissions and how they impact climate change, Mandia said. "This is something that people don't appreciate. We tied a record in 2010 (for temperature records) globally. That is primarily from the C02 we put in the atmosphere in the 70s and early 80s, and we have been ramping up since then," he said. "So it is not good. We are seeing the response from a mistake we were making 20 years ago, and we are making bigger mistakes today." Marshall Hoffman of the public relations firm that issued the report on the UEF's behalf said the group stands by the study. "Earlier, NASA and NOAA estimated that the global temperature increased one degree from 2005-2010. If this stays on the same path, that will be two degrees by 2015. We see that path increasing more rapidly," Hoffman said, in part, in his explanation. Asked for comment on Hoffman's response, Mandia told AFP: "He is still confused."
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Jan 19, 2011
The European Union on Wednesday suspended trading in carbon credits for a week after hackers broke into the national trading registries and stole and then sold millions of euros worth of credits.

"This transitional measure is taken in view of recurring security breaches in national registries over the last two months," the European Commission said in a statement.

The European Union Emission Trading Scheme (or EU ETS) is the largest multi-national, greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world. Limits are placed on the amount of carbon dioxide companies may emit, and those who pollute less are free to sell them to companies that need more.

Hackers were able to break into the national registries of several EU members and steal the credits and then sell them on the spot market, according to the commission.

Credits stolen from the Czech Republic were worth seven million euros.

The commission said it would work with national authorities to determine what minimum security measures need to be put in place before the suspension of a registry can be lifted.

This is not the first time criminals have targeted the ETS. Last year a series of emails sent to trick users into divulging their passwords, a type of attack known as "phishing", sparked panic and forced a halt into trading in numerous countries.

The European police organisation Europol estimate a value added tax (VAT) scam on carbon credits in 2008 and 2009 netted criminals five million euros.

earlier related report
Eon CEO calls for European energy strategy
Berlin (UPI) Jan 19, 2011 - Eon Chief Executive Officer Johannes Teyssen, the head of Germany's largest utility, said Wednesday European governments should drop national energy policies for a European one by 2020 or lose out to dynamic competitors such as China.

In a speech in Berlin, Teyssen derided the sometimes conflicting national policies that he said are hurting the European energy industry's competitiveness by preventing technology advancements and slowing a necessary modernization of the continent's energy grid.

"Europe should completely abolish, by the end of this decade, its different national energy policies," Teyssen said at the Handelsblatt energy conference, which runs through Thursday. "I don't see any other way to reach our ambitious targets in Europe without overburdening its economies."

There are different standards for wind power technology in different European nations, Teyssen said. "The Chinese should be happy about this," he said, alluding to the increasing competition in the renewable energy sector from Chinese manufacturers in the wind and solar energy sectors.

A truly European energy strategy and an integrated market, he said, would create much-needed investment security and could even be "the basis for a successful Europe."

Teyssen said he expected EU ministers to re-evaluate the European Union's current energy strategy to push for more European integration at a Feb. 4 EU summit.

German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen, whose office is preparing the German position at the next summit, said he was in favor of an integrated market.

"We need a European market with European targets and conditions," Roettgen said, adding that jointly developed technology efficiency standards, for example, would benefit German high-tech exporters.

Roettgen has been a strong supporter of Germany's renewable energy law, the EEG, which regulates clean energy funding. If the EEG would be "Europeanized," as Teyssen has suggested, growth of Germany's domestic solar power market -- the world's largest when it comes to installed capacity -- is poised to grind to a halt (and move to sunnier regions).

Germany in 2010 saw an estimated 10 gigawatts of new installations, compared to 4 GW the year before.

Because the renewable energy feed-in tariff is paid by German taxpayers via their electricity bills, the 2010 solar module sales record has driven up power prices. The so-called eco-tax jumped from 2 cents to 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour at the start of this year. As subsidies are guaranteed for 20 years, Germany faces billions of dollars in costs for decades to come. This year alone, German consumers subsidize renewables with $17.6 billion, German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said Tuesday at the Handelsblatt conference.

A breakthrough seems imminent: Roettgen announced the industry and the government had come to an agreement on the solar subsidy cut, without providing details of the deal, to be unveiled Thursday.

Solar sector lobbying group BSW earlier this month told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper it was ready to accept cuts "by up to 12 percent" as early as July.

The industry has warned against more drastic cuts or even a cap, saying it could lastly damage Germany's green tech sector.

One of the world's leading, the German renewable industry employs roughly 340,000 people. The EEG has boosted the share of renewables in the German power mix to 17 percent and has been emulated all over the world.

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