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Economy

Commission Produce Country-Specific Energy Advice

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The European Commission has made economic recommendations to its Member States. The advice is country-specific, but many believe it fails to recognise the Europe-wide link to the Paris Agreement and more must be done to support Europe’s energy transition.

The European Commission has urged Belgium, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and the UK to address energy investment shortfalls – but without noting the need for energy investment to match the global Climate Agreement concluded in Paris in December and signed last month.

James Nix, Director of Green Budget Europe, said: “The Commission strangely stops half way it does press Member States to enhance their energy systems, but ignores the vital need that the resulting investment advances Europe’s transition to low-carbon energy, and delivers the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Green Budget Europe (GBE) say the EU doesn’t have the time – or money – to miss further reform opportunities to implement the Paris Climate Agreement. Nix added that a central provision of the Paris Agreement, to “make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development” can only be made real by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and shifting taxes from labour to pollution and non-renewable. He also said the Commission’s European Semester process must get behind the EU’s transition to clean energy, climate action and the circular economy.

GBE said: “Tax shift can help consolidate national budgets in a cost-efficient way while cutting the EU’s stubbornly high unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent hand in hand with the bloc’s 53.2 per cent level of energy dependence and the Commission has a much greater role to play in this.”

Nix added: “Environmental taxation across Member States is slipping, going down from 6.8 per cent in 2004 to 6.3 per cent in 2014. Labour taxes continue to make up more than half of total tax revenue (53.3 per cent) in the Euro zone while carbon emissions increased in 2015.”

Latvia is the only country requested to undertake “a growth-friendly tax shift towards environmental and property taxes”. And so, looked at overall, the 2016 Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) miss the opportunity to deploy environmental taxation to boost investment and employment on the one hand, while delivering benefits for climate, environment and resource use on the other.

Three countries, France, Lithuania and Ireland, were asked to broaden their tax base, with France and Lithuania encouraged to raise VAT to achieve this. Nix said: “Yet VAT is more regressive and less growth-friendly than shifting tax to pollution and non-renewables. It is not clear why environmental tax reform is being largely overlooked by the Commission, particularly when it fits so well with EU priorities.”

The Commission used its Country Reports, documents which run around 100 pages per country, rather than country-specific recommendations, to highlight four countries (Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and Luxembourg) lagging behind on climate. Similarly, four countries are at risk of missing the renewables targets (Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and Netherlands). Eight member states – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and the UK – need to step up energy efficiency measures.

While the Country Reports identify 21 EU member states with potential for environmental tax reforms, 14 states that need to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies, and another 18 that should act on Circular Economy, there were, with the exception of Latvia, no country-specific recommendations to advance such reform.

Constanze Adolf, Vice Director of GBE, said: “Finance Ministers have a key role in implementing the Paris Agreement. The Semester needs to be re-framed to help Finance Ministers and Member States transition to a low-carbon Europe and deliver the agreement reached in Paris.”

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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