Articles taggés avec ‘Climate change’

EU Funding: Effect of cosmic rays on climate to be quantified

Vendredi 29 août 2008

The EU’s Seventh Framework Programme has granted EUR 2.3 million over the next three years to an experiment that examines the influence of cosmic radiation on the Earth’s climate

 

 
 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.
 Individual grants for training and career development of researchers

 

The collaboration, entitled ‘Cosmic rays leaving outdoor droplets - Initial Training Network’ (CLOUD-ITN), began this August and is coordinated by Germany’s Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main. It supports eight PhD and two postdoctoral positions at nine partner institutions across Europe; work will largely be carried out at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN).

The observed climate warming since 1900 is largely attributed to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that are generated by human activity. Changes in solar irradiance are assumed to contribute relatively little to climate change. However, the effects of changes in UV (ultra-violet) radiation or galactic cosmic rays have not yet been quantified. Experiments to be conducted at CERN, a facility that sits astride the Franco-Swiss border, will seek to quantify the interactions of cosmic rays, UV radiation, aerosols and clouds. This in turn should improve our understanding of a so-called ’solar indirect’ contribution to climate change.

Cloud formation is one of the largest uncertainties in the climate change equation. But how do clouds form? When highly energetic galactic cosmic rays (which are generated by supernovas) enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they pull electrons out of the gasses they encounter, leaving a trail of charged molecules (ions) in their wake. New aerosol particles can then form and grow around these ions; water droplets use these particles as ‘condensation nuclei’ to form a cloud.

The CLOUD collaboration has developed an aerosol chamber which, when exposed to an elementary particle beam, can simulate the effects of cosmic rays on aerosol and cloud formation. The first prototype was developed in 2006 and the new, improved chamber will be used to carry out experiments on ion-induced nucleation and ion-aerosol interaction. This will lead to an improved understanding of the mechanisms of cloud formation.

The cloud chamber is a stainless-steel construction which measures 3m by 3.7m and is filled with all of the components thought to make up a cloud (air, water vapour, trace amounts of gases). These are continuously analysed with myriad analysing instruments. One of the analysers is a chemical ion mass spectrometer that can measure sulphuric acid concentrations at less than 0.1 parts per trillion; CLOUD is one of only three groups in the world that operates such an instrument. Galactic cosmic rays are simulated by a Proton Synchrotron accelerator.

The current prototype (called Mk2) will be used to carry out a broad range of important physics experiments over the next few years, after which it will be replaced by a final CLOUD facility that incorporates performance improvements and a newly developed aerosol pressure chamber.

The CLOUD-ITN project provides funds for eight PhD candidates to carry out work and write their theses on this research. A comprehensive training programme for the PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows has been set up, featuring annual summer schools and workshops on topics such as aerosol chemistry and physics, ion-induced aerosol nucleation and the influence of galactic cosmic rays on the climate in the past. The first summer school took place at Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station, Finland, this August.

All of the analysing instruments are provided by the partner institutes and supported by national funding agencies. Project participants include CERN, the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), the Universities of Helsinki (Finland), Leeds (UK), Reading (UK) and Vienna (Austria), the Institute for Tropospheric Research in Leipzig (Germany) and Ionicon Analytik in Innsbruck, Austria. The University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy in Sofia, Bulgaria have recently joined the collaboration. Russia’s Lebedev Physical Institute has also been awarded a research grant to support CLOUD activities by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) under the CERN-RFBR agreement on scientific cooperation.

The design manpower for the CLOUD Mk2 facility is provided by PSI, CERN and the University of Lisbon. The construction costs of the CLOUD Mk2 facility will be paid from a common fund shared among the partner institutes and by in-kind contributions.

 
  Source:
Cordis

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EU Funding:EU promotes sustainable products and technologies

Mercredi 16 juillet 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for research projects about climate change, pressure from growing human activity and prevention of risks on environment and health
 Grants for the demonstration of innovative technologies to energy efficiency and their introduction to the market for mass deployment.
 Grants for projects that promote various forms of innovation in enterprises and eco-innovation

Improving the environmental performance and in particular the energy efficiency of products and stimulating their market uptake are the core objectives of a package put forward by the European Commission today

It sets out a series of voluntary and obligatory actions to support a coherent and dynamic policy in the EU and internationally, helping to define eco-friendly products, informing the consumer through improved labelling and supporting their purchase through public procurement and fiscal incentives.

The action plan lists the initiatives the Commission will undertake in 3 areas:

1. A new product policy

Energy and resource-efficient consumer products

In the absence of voluntary action, the Ecodesign Directive presently provides a framework for setting compulsory minimum requirements and voluntary benchmarks for energy-using products. All energy-related products – that do not consume energy during use but have an indirect impact on energy consumption – will also be covered in future. This will allow addressing products such as water-using devices and windows. For example, water-saving taps and shower heads reduce water consumption and therefore also the amount of energy used for hot water without altering the user’s perceived well-being.

Mandatory labelling

Mandatory labelling will indicate relevant environmental parameters for a wider range of products, including energy-using and energy-related products.

Incentives and public procurement

The Commission also proposes that only products attaining a certain level of energy or environmental performance – identified by one of the labelling classes – are eligible for incentives and public procurement at national and EU levels. It will be up to Member States whether and in which form to provide incentives. Today incentives are granted for very different levels of environmental performance across the EU, sometimes in regions very near to each other thus limiting economies of scale for better performing products. In addition Member States are recommended to adopt common green procurement practices for goods and services not (yet) covered by the above plan.

Voluntary eco labelling

The EU Ecolabel scheme, which indicates the most environmentally friendly products on the EU market, will be extended to cover a wider range of products and services, such as food and drink products, and made less costly and bureaucratic. These changes will make the scheme more attractive to manufacturers and encourage them to innovate and offer more such products.

Retailers’ responsibility

A Retail Forum will be created, which will also include other stakeholders such as producers and consumers’ organisations. This forum will prepare actions to improve large retailers’ environmental performance, promote the purchase of greener products and better inform consumers.

2. Promoting leaner production

With a view to promoting leaner production, the proposals foresee:

- Developing targets and tools to monitor, benchmark and promote resource efficiency and eco-innovation. An Environmental Technology Verification scheme will be established, to support eco-innovation through increased confidence in new technologies
- Revising EMAS, the EU’s voluntary eco-management and audit scheme, to increase its uptake, notably among SMEs, by making participation less costly and involving organisations outside the EU
- Developing an industrial policy for eco-industries by first analysing the barriers to their expansion and to their full uptake by other sectors
- Promoting environmental performance in small enterprises (SMEs) through customized advice

3. Sustainable consumption and production internationally

In order to promote sustainable products worldwide, the proposals envisage:

- Supporting agreements of industry sectors as part of international climate negotiations
- Promoting and sharing good practice internationally
- Promoting international trade in environmentally friendly goods and services

Examples of gains in efficiency and cost reduction

30% of the energy used in buildings could be saved with positive economic effects in 2030. Better window insulation would contribute to reducing CO2 emissions by more than one fifth, while reducing costs to households. Significant gains are also estimated for water related devices such as baths, showers and taps.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

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EU funding: EUROCITIES Conference on Climate Change and Mobility

Mardi 24 juin 2008

Environment and transport experts from across Europe attend event in London

Around 100 participants from across Europe attended the EUROCITIES Conference on Climate Change and Mobility, which was jointly organised by EUROCITIES’ Environment and Mobility Forums and hosted by Transport for London. The joint session on 3 June was opened by Kia Andreasson (Vice-Mayor of Gothenburg, Political Chair of the Environment Forum) and Niels Torslov (Copenhagen, Technical Chair of the Mobility Forum).

London’s Climate Change Action Plan was presented by Shirley Rodrigues, Head of Environment at the Greater London Authority. The Plan aims to deliver major reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while also bringing financial benefits in terms of lower energy costs. It includes a series of measures that will drastically improve energy efficiency in buildings, businesses and the transport sector, while also making greater use of renewable energy sources.

A very interesting and fruitful panel discussion included contributions from: Ronan Dantec (Vice Mayor of Nantes), Mario Aymerich (European Investment Bank), Pedro Ballesteros (European Commission - DG Transport and Energy), Ian Hodgson (DG Environment) and Helen Woolston (Transport for London). The speakers analysed how climate change and urban mobility are being addressed at different levels of governance, and how integration can be improved.

More than 65 participants took part in a Projects Fair, starting with an introduction of the European funding opportunities that are available for cities in the mobility and environment sectors, followed by a project brokerage session in which a variety of project proposals were presented by the cities of Düsseldorf, Leeds, Rotterdam, Sheffield and Stockholm, plus the Region of Wallonia (Belgium).

During the afternoon, two parallel workshops dealt with the practical aspects of developing and implementing urban mobility policies that also contribute to tackling climate change. One workshop looked at how to facilitate cooperation among different actors and stakeholders, and the other focused on issues in relation to decision-making procedures.

The Conference was preceded on 2 June by meetings of various EUROCITIES Working Groups that deal with issues related to environment and mobility. Then on 4 June there were separate meetings of the Environment and Mobility Forums during which members discussed their respective ongoing activities and plans for the next two years.

 
  Source:
Eurocities
 
     

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EU Funding: Civil society meets for climate change Agora

Jeudi 12 juin 2008

If you are worried about climate change, then a conference taking place at the European Parliament this Thursday and Friday may be of interest

Known as an “Agora” after places of assembly in Greek city-states, the meeting brings together over 500 people - NGOs, climate experts and international experts to join MEPs in debating ways to combat climate change. The issue is a crucial one for the European Parliament as it will be required to legislate on EU-wide measures to reduce CO2 emissions.
The point of the Agora is for the views and proposals of members of civil society to be fully heard as the EU attempts to set out carbon reducing measures. Opened by EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering, Thursday morning will be devoted to setting out the state of play of international negotiations in reaching a post-Kyoto agreement. In December last year the international community agreed a “road map” setting out the way forward when Kyoto expires in 2012.

Debates and workshops to determine way forward

Among the speakers will be European Commission President José Manuel Barroso who will outline the climate change package aiming to reduce Europe’s Greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020. Italian MEP Guido Sacconi (PSE) and Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP-ED) will present the interim report of the special committee on climate change. Also speaking will be leading American intellectual Jeremy Rifkin who has long advocated policies to reduce climate change.

Thursday afternoon and Friday will see delegates divided into workshops on resources, techniques, solidarity, economics and governance.

- Natural resources and biodiversity
- Research, innovation and technologies
- Ethical questions related to climate change in particular that of solidarity;
- Economics, trade and development.
- Education, political and practical participation of consumers and citizens in relation to climate protection.

On Friday afternoon the results from the working groups will be presented in a plenary of the Agora and final recommendations will be agreed. All of the debates will be available live on the EP website on Thursday and Friday - making it possible to watch the Agora live wherever you are.

 
  Source:
European Parliament

Eu funding : Agriculture Ministers Discuss Pesticides Regulation and High Food Prices

Mardi 20 mai 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for research projects about climate change, pressure from growing human activity and prevention of risks on environment and health
 Grants for research projects concerning sustainable management, production and use of biological resources, through life sciences and biotechnology

At the meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, chaired by Slovenian Agriculture Minister Iztok Jarc, EU Ministers discussed the proposal for a Regulation concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market

Mr Jarc gave a report on the progress achieved by the Slovenian Presidency on this dossier, and returned the dossier to the working level. The Ministers also discussed high agricultural product and food prices and the possibility of adopting additional measures to stabilise agricultural markets.

The compromise proposal for a Regulation prepared by the Presidency includes a number of provisions protecting the health of humans, animals and the environment. The Regulation encourages the replacement of the most hazardous plant protection products by safer alternatives; in the event of specific national environmental protection or agro-technological circumstances, Member States will be able to reject the registration of certain products or restrict their use; professional users and producers of plant protection products will be required to keep records of the use of these products; the Regulation will also prevent the duplication of tests on vertebrates.

Mr Jarc also stressed the importance of defining the criteria for the approval of active substances, in which their impact on the long-term food supply in the European Union should be considered.

Due to the fact that the Regulation has been discussed in the Council and in the European Parliament almost two years it is necessary to ensure an early implementation of the reform in the pesticide field. The Presidency will return the dossier for discussion at the Council working level, so that appropriate solutions to unresolved issues may be found.

Debate on high food prices

On the basis of the Presidency report, the Agriculture Ministers discussed the high prices of agricultural products and food. In its discussion paper, the Presidency points to the reasons for the high food prices, such as climatic change, with frequent extreme weather phenomena, the increasing demand for food in developing countries, the growing world population, the production of biofuels and rising energy product prices.

Last year, under the common agricultural policy (CAP), the EU adopted specific short-term measures to reduce prices in the EU, such as increasing the volume of arable land by abolishing mandatory set-aside, increasing milk production quotas for 2008, reducing buffer stocks and export refunds and suspending import duties on almost all cereals.

In the current ‘health check’ of the common agricultural policy, the options being considered are: permanently abolishing the set-aside requirement, gradually abolishing milk quotas by 2015, adjusting market price aid in the cereal sector, and making the transition from support for energy plants to more effective solutions to bolster the bio-energy sector – without, however, adversely impacting on the production of foodstuffs and feedingstuffs – including the production of second-generation biofuels.

Climate change research

At their working lunch, the ministers discussed the contribution of research towards adapting the agricultural sector to climate change. The meeting was also attended by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel, and the European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik. The Presidency has drawn up a discussion paper, pointing up questions relating to the need for this kind of research and additional funding, exchanges of experience between Member States and transfers of knowledge to farmers, as well as the suitability of proposed solutions in the context of the review of the common agricultural policy.

 
  Source:
EU Slovenian Presidency