BirdLife Europe e-news, Vol XI, Issue 2, February 2015
Climate change: the oblique tragedy, the paradox and the birds
 
Climate change is like no other man-induced phenomenon: it will affect (meaning, starve and kill) the poorest and most defenceless on Earth. Most who have done little or nothing to deserve it and in numbers never seen before in global conflicts. It’s an “oblique” tragedy: we, in the rich economies, pollute today (and yesterday), and tomorrow someone in one of the poorest regions on the planet suffers. An ethical paradox that makes global warming possibly the most unacceptable of all externalities.
 
That’s what early economists called these phenomena from the beginning: “externalities”, referring to the accidental nature of these unwanted consequences of economic activities. It was the dawn of industrialization and the main problem was the pollution poisoning and causing early deaths amongst workers in factories.
 
Free market economists believe, to this very day, that externalities depend on some “inefficiency” in pricing: if “polluting” is too cheap, there will be “excessive” pollution. That’s all, really. A system of taxes/incentives/rules will, on paper, solve that (hence the much debated “carbon tax”, emissions trading, etc.).
 
Much has been done since then, in terms of nature and health protection, and yet today we are confronted with the biggest externality in the entire history of human kind. A market failure so big that it will put our entire civilization’s future in question.
 
Working to save birds and biodiversity does not imply, at any stage, an underestimation of the tragic ending we are meticulously writing for our story. On the contrary, a “birdseye” view allows us to put this human tragedy in the wider context of one regarding all life forms on our planet; birds included of course.
 
This is why today, BirdLife Europe proposes a “manifesto”, a list of “musts”, for the European Union climate and energy policy to follow towards 2030: six “chapters” to help write a new story.
 
The Paper reads: «How the EU responds matters. How ambitious we are on climate, and how we deliver emissions cuts ‘on the ground’ in the energy and land use sectors, will greatly affect the world’s chances of averting a climate driven eco-disaster.
 
We need more ambitious targets on climate action, and we need a better approach to delivering the new fuels, carbon sinks, energy technologies and networks of tomorrow. The world’s people and wildlife need an ecologically resilient climate and energy revolution, led by Europe».
 
It is not solely a “European Union” problem: if global warming has a “virtue” it is certainly that of showing us how interconnected we are, across species, lands, and time. A concept dear to Ecology but apparently ignored by Mr. Juncker, the fresh advocate of the latest “buzzword” in the EU: Energy Union.
 
In this issue, Ariel Brunner explains how this new Big Word in President Juncker’s vocabulary is supposed to breathe new life into a European project that has lost its appeal with citizens and national governments. At the moment, the Energy Union is an empty shell and every lobby pushes its own individual product or technology. The tangible risk is that we will end up with a muddled mess.
 
Ivan Scrase goes into some of the operational details of the energy transition and writes: "An Energy Union focused around prolonging the lives of nuclear and coal power stations and securing supplies of foreign gas offers no positive vision for the future... for Europe to remain a world leader in tackling climate change, the Energy Union and all EU energy policy must embrace and operationalize a vision of a renewable electricity-based energy system".
 
Although some success stories come from countries such as Germany and its Energiewende, writes NABU, real life examples of good ideas going wrong are abundant. A decision nears in EU biofuels policy and yet strong limits on land based products have not been implemented, writes Trees Robijns, introducing a new website (biofuelsreform.com) that will help you understand what is happening and help you make up your mind about this controversial issue.
 
An American friend from BirdLife Partner Audubon, Ginny Kreitler, reminds us just how troublesome the footprint of EU renewable policies can be for the entire world. It is truly an inconvenient truth: the wood pellet production for EU energy markets creates a carbon debt and fosters unsustainable timbering practices.
 
Will policy makers listen to bird experts? Roman Senators certainly consulted their great grandfathers,
 writes David Howell about the Augures, the wise men who studied the flight of birds to give advice about decisions affecting the future. A lesson from the past that should find a second youth in our times.
 
Enjoy the reading (and send us your thoughts)... ​

 
Featured in this issue
EU Policy news                 
Featuring: Audubon
Partnership Stories
Events I Jobs
EU Policy news
Read BirdLife Europe's Manifesto on the EU Climate and Energy Package

Which Energy Union? A vision of hope vs. the geopolitics of fear

The Energy Union is the next Big Idea of the EU which is supposed to breathe new life into a European project that has lost its appeal with citizens and national governments. At the moment, the Energy Union is an empty shell and every lobby pushes its own individual product or technology. The tangible risk is that we will end up with a muddled mess.
By Ariel Brunner

Energy Infrastructure for a Sustainable European Energy Union

For Europe to remain a global leader in tackling climate change, the Energy Union and all EU energy policy must embrace the vision of a renewable electricity-based energy system. By Ivan Scrase

Decision time nears in EU biofuels policy

A news website is online, right when decision makers are negotiating the final stages of the new legislation on biofuels and the so-called Indirect Land Use Change. Biofuelsreform.org will help you understand what is happening and help you make up your mind. By Trees Robijns

COP 21 Negotiations

In 2011, countries at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa, agreed to establish a binding international agreement to tackle climate change by 2050 in the hopes that this would set the blueprint for national action. At COP21, which will be held in Paris later this year, we expect this agreement to be finalised. By Bruna Campos

Turning German Energy Around

The Energiewende – Germany’s energy transition - is still under pressure, even though the German government recently confirmed their CO2 emissions target (40% lower than 1990 levels). To reach this desired target, Germany needs to increase efficiency in the building sector, restructure its distribution network, phase out dirty supplies like lignite, but also ensure that renewable energy develops in an environmentally sustainable manner. By Sebastian Scholz, NABU (BirdLife in Germany)

Policy makers and birdwatchers: remember the Roman Augures?

Our society is far from sustainable and the EU’s objectives for 2030 are not ambitious enough. Once upon a time politicians would look at birds to take decisions regarding their future. A lesson from the past that has been forgotten. By David Howell
Featuring: Audubon

Ginny Kreitler, reminds us just how troublesome the footprint of EU renewable policies can be for the entire world:

USA vs. Europe: the troublesome footprint of EU renewable policies 
Wood pellet production for European energy markets, as practiced recently, creates a carbon debt through 2030 and fosters unsustainable timbering practices. Running power plants on imported wood pellets will weaken progress on decarbonizing Europe’s energy supply while contributing to the degradation of important habitats abroad. By Ginny Kreitler
 
Inspiring BirdLife Partners activities and success stories

RSPB resolves to tackle climate change from its own backyard

BirdLife Partners are committed to reducing their own carbon footprint, notably by generating their energy needs from renewable sources wherever possible. This year, the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) will be installing a wind turbine at its headquarters, which should help the organisation to reduce its emissions by 3%. Read more...

We want you to Spring Alive for birds this year

Nature is preparing for spring and providing everything that birds will need: thawing frozen lakes; waking animals from hibernation; budding leaves and berries; and taking insects to the air. Millions of birds fly enormous distances every year to feed and breed in Europe and Asia, and they need your support too. Read more...

Saving birds from electrocution: BirdLife Bulgarian Partner rewarded for its work on power lines

On 27 January, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in Bulgaria) and the BirdLife Partnership were rewarded with the Renewables-Grid-Initiative (RGI) “Good Practice Award” for their work on preventing bird deaths due to electrocution and collision with power lines in Bulgaria and Sudan. Read more...

Growing network is helping Montenegrin migrants

The BirdLife Partnership is building a growing network of people and organisations who are working together to look after migrant birds in the Mediterranean. Read more...

Of birds, mud and spas: the special chemistry of Lake Rusanda

Lake Rusanda in Serbia, has provided alkaline, highly therapeutic, mineral-rich muds for over a century. The lake and it’s unique alchemy has also made it an unusual hotspot for avian fauna as well. Read more...

Scientific breakthrough reveals evidence of ‘human fish’ locked away in cave system

How do you find physical evidence of a rare species when most of its habitat (the subterranean waters of limestone cave systems in the Balkans) is inaccessible to humans? The ‘human fish’ is the largest cave animal in the world. Despite this, Proteus anguinus – a blind, entirely-aquatic salamander commonly known as the olm, and endemic to the Dinaric Alps – is incredibly difficult to find. Read more...

The British Embassy becomes a haven for birds in the heart of Athens

The Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS, BirdLife in Greece) placed seven artificial bird nests in the garden of the British Embassy in Athens, following an invitation from the British Ambassador. Read more...
Events
 
January - June 2015: Latvian Presidency of the EU. Learn more about BirdLife Europe' s recommendations for a successful Presidency on our website.

26 February 2015, London (9.30am - 5pm): BESTGRID workshop "Good practice exchange". More details and registration.

4 March 2015, Brussels: Sustainable Future for EU Farming? Conference organised by the European Environmental Bureau, the Danish Ecological Council and BirdLife Europe. More information and registration.

 
Jobs
 
Wiss. Mitarbeiter/in in Brüssel EU-Naturschutzpolitik
Für unser Büro in Brüssel suchen wir zum 1. April 2015 eine/n wissenschaftliche/n Mitarbeiter/in für das zweijährige Projekt "EUNaturExchange" sowie weiterer Aufgaben (vorbehaltlich Projektbewilligung). More details
• Closing date: 27 March 2015

Wiss. Mitarbeiter/in EU-Naturschutzpolitik
Für unser Team in der Bundesgeschäftsstelle Berlin suchen wir zum1. April 2015 eine/n wissenschaftliche/n Mitarbeiter/in für das zweijährige Projekt "EU-NaturExchange"(vorbehaltlich Projektbewilligung). More details
• Closing date: 27 March 2015


BirdLife International Admin/Event Intern
• Location: Brussels, Belgium
• 6 month paid internship
The intern will assist the administration and event departments in the BirdLife Europe Secretariat Office in Brussels. Contact us for application information.


 
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Responsible editor: Angelo Caserta
   This publication receives its support by the European Commission and the RSPB