Failure at Copenhagen = failing next generation

I fail to see how the continuation of inefficient and wasteful methods of energy production serve either companies or society. There is now a downplaying of the expectations that Copenhagen can bring. There is discussion that agreements can be reach later next year, that the timing is not right.

We have enough facts and knowledge of the bargaining positions of the different countries… will delay really result in a better agreement? Failure to come to agreement now will only cause more damage both to the environment and to companies needing to know what direction to move in. An uncertain business environment will be plagued by uncertainty on how to deal with the natural environment.

Those  businesses that are not prepared to make the transitions will be the ones that stand to benefit from failure. These business like, oil companies that are not sufficiently diversifying, will gain in the short term. However, the current financial crisis shows what short term-ism brings for businesses and society. The creation of a binding and clear agreement will provide the necessary structure for businesses to begin ramp up their investments into greater efficiency and sustainable business models.

Ljubljana: the EU’s Energy Outpost

The SCEE region is continuing to draw in the rest of Europe. The seating in Ljubljana, Slovenia of the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators – ACER means a key (the key?) energy institute is now located in the region.  While it beat out Romania and Slovakia for the title, it serves as an essential placement of a key institution away from Brussels. Whether this removes the Brussels group think from the agency remains to be seen, but it can only bode well to help re-balance the EU’s overally Western orientated energy policy and decision making tilt.

There can be something said about geographic location, besides the old adage of location, location, location. In the US the establishment of New York as the finance capital of the country and Washington D.C as the political capital was done on purpose. It remains to the be seen whether ACER develops into something with substantial influence of power, or as one friend called it, a paper tiger.

The location (although previously decided to be somewhere in the SCEE region) can act as an influence itself to instill some comprehension of the issues facing the region. The obvious lack of actual interest in the SCEE region from Brussels (as displayed over Nabucco and post 2009 gas crisis projects) can only be improved. Maybe to create policy reorientation takes sending bureaucrats to an isolated outpost.  Hopefully Ljubljana can instill a sense of geopolitics and create awareness of the differences between old and new member states .

Just as Czarist Russia and pioneer America set about establishing outposts to claim their territories, the EU is now establishing its agencies in this rough and tumble region. For us savages, or those that have gone native, we can only hope that a sense of place can rub off on those working in ACER and those visiting the agency.

Controlling corruption: How many people does it take?

corruption 2

The flurry of corruption related stories and even ‘counter’ stories about corruption in Hungary, the question arises as to how many people are enough to begin to tackle corruption. The answer for Hungary is 26 people. From Hungary Around the Clock,

The Bureau for Public Procurement and Protection of Public Interests, the so-called anti-corruption office, is to open on March 1, 2010.

It will consist of 26 people and will be allowed to fine organisations that gain illegitimate advantage.

With the weekend arrests and allegations of corruption at BKV and at Budapest Airport (who would have thought?) it remains to be seen whether 26 people is enough. Maybe this amount is only for state owned companies.

Absorbing the cold and not EU money

“Designing a policy without ensuring the necessary finances for its implementation, however, is akin to setting out naked for a polar expedition.”

Ready for Global Warming

Just picture that. You got your sled, you got your chocolate you even have your fury boot and mittens on. But you got no hat, no coat and no pants. This is the picture that CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe provide us with their study on the failure of New Member States to absorb funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency. You may have some comforts, but you are going to get cold. The graph below describes the significant deficient in absorption.

I recently interviewed some people concerning energy efficiency for a project that I’m working on. The ability to effectively finance energy efficiency projects was a top concern of theirs. This included coming up with schemes for banks to increase their lending and for governments to institute effective policies.

The results of this study indicate the severity of the problem to effectively find ways to manage already existing, or matching, money for projects. It doesn’t appear to be just finding the funding sources, according to this study, the funding is there. In order for these programs to be effective the institutional capacity must be there.

Graph from Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth
Souce: CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth

Overall, the study provides a nice assessment of the barriers existing in each country. And according to them, when you get down to the reasons, climate mitigation projects are not seen as a priority.

I think this explanation is too broad to be accurate. Maybe a better core reason, or explanation, is that energy efficiency isn’t as appealing as other projects, or energy subsidies that can be handed out. The concentration by policy makers has been on supply side ‘greening’ while little has been done for demand side ‘greening’. For anyone looking at the numbers and the payback of energy efficient technologies it is profitable. Therefore simple economics are not the reason for the failure to institute widespread programs. We can only hope the politicians and heads of institutions don’t wait too long before bringing us the clothes so we don’t have to stand around naked.