Climate: first setback for a pioneering complaint against the EU

Portuguese forest owner, French laundress, Romanian shepherd … families affected by global warming have seen their complaint against the EU's climate policy rejected, but they intend to continue this pioneering judicial fight on a European scale.

The EU Court of First Instance ruled the first-ever appeal of this kind at European level inadmissible, challenging in particular the admissibility of these individual applications.

“The action, inadmissible, is rejected,” concluded the decision, dated May 8 and consulted by AFP, reinforcing the arguments of the Council and the European Parliament.

This appeal was filed just one year ago, on May 24, 2018, by ten families from eight countries, from the Union but also Kenyan and Fijian, mostly living in agricultural and tourist activities, who were demanding EU to further reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Among them, a family from the Italian Alps who guide tourists on glaciers, or German restaurateurs of a North Sea island facing the rising waters. Or a Romanian shepherd forced to climb further into the mountains to feed his herd, and a Portuguese silviculturist who saw in 2017 his property destroyed by forest fires.

All were asking the court to cancel three directives regulating emissions from industrial sectors and member states.

But the European judge found that they did not meet the conditions of admissibility, namely that they were specific addressees of the legislation, or directly and individually concerned.

“It is true that every individual is probably affected in one way or another by climate change,” writes the judge. “However, the fact that the impacts may differ from person to person does not mean that there is a status to act against a measure of general application,” he adds, referring to national courts.

NGOs, including the Climate Action Network (RAC), the bearer of this case named “People's climate case”, have announced their intention to appeal to the European Court of Justice by mid-July.

– “disappointing but not surprising” –

“In addition to supporting climate change with new generations, this is the only thing I can do to protect my children and my grandchildren,” said Maurice Feschet, a 73-year-old French laundress. “I have to appeal this decision because unfortunately politicians are not able to take the necessary measures in favor of the climate.”

The Court “has every latitude to interpret the law differently and to initiate new legal developments, which the plaintiffs call their wishes,” say the NGOs, also noting that the trial judge has in any case underlined the reality of climate change and its impacts.

For climate advocates, this first decision is “disappointing but not surprising”, given the general difficulty of citizens to seize European justice.

A UN committee in 2017 pinned the EU, accused of not guaranteeing its citizens the right to go to court on environmental issues. Member States have since asked the Commission to evaluate these access conditions.

The remonstrance may help to move the jurisprudence of the Court, said the lawyer Antoine Le Dylio, co-editor of another complaint, “the Case of the century”, filed against the French State in the Paris court with the support of 2 million petitioners.

Litigation is increasing around the world, with rising temperatures and record GHG emissions. According to the Grantham Research Institute, more than 270 cases are pending in 25 jurisdictions outside the United States where litigation reaches more than 800 cases.

The EU is committed to reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990.

The European Parliament has called for raising these targets to 55%. Ten states, including France, Spain and Belgium, called on all leaders to agree on carbon neutrality by 2050 and on raising the 2030 target to the June European Council.

Government Crisis in Austria: Chronicle of the “Ibiza Affair”

05/17/2019

“Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “Spiegel” publish a video with explosive content: It shows the Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache in a conversation on Ibiza 2017.

The right-wing populist FPÖ politician is promising prospective Russian oligarchy public contracts.

For this she should help his party to electoral success.

05/18/2019

After the publication Strache resigns.

He calls the video a “targeted political assassination”.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) announces the end of the coalition.

In September there should be new elections.

In short, the FPÖ has demanded the replacement of the controversial Interior Minister Herbert Kickl.

05/19/2019

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen receives Kurz in the Presidential Chancellery.

The Federal President says that he has lost confidence “in a part of the Federal Government”.

Kickl writes on Facebook, the Chancellor and Federal President would have suggested a resignation.

In the evening, Norbert Hofer is unanimously nominated as the new party leader of the FPÖ.

The FPÖ politician Johann Gudenus filmed with Strache in the scandal video leaves the FPÖ.

05/20/2019

Hofer threatens to withdraw all FPÖ ministers, Chancellor Kurz should drop the Interior Minister Kickl.

Despite the government crisis, the EU Commission signals its full confidence in the institutions of the Alpine republic.

Also in Germany the scandal waves:

The SPD asks Kurz to fire the remaining ministers of the FPÖ.

In the evening, Chancellor briefly announced that he wants a dismissal of Interior Minister Kickl.

That had agreed briefly with Van der Bellen.

Officially in Austria only the Federal President can dismiss a Minister.

As a result, a Freedom Party spokesman announces that all right-wing ministers are leaving the government.

Until the election, their posts will be taken over by experts or top officials.

05/21/2019

On Facebook, Strache affirms his innocence: “We're going to track down the backers of the criminally created video and dirty campaigning, and I've got nothing to blame for, so I'm fighting!”

Who is Pieter Heerma? | News Hour

Pieter Heerma succeeds Sybrand Buma as the group chairman of the CDA. Heerma is 41 years old and has been a member of the Lower House since 2012. He does not have the ambition to become a party leader. “I am mainly out of a sense of duty here. My ambition is to lead the ship in the direction of the next elections.”

In the negotiations about the current cabinet he was the second of party leader Buma. This experience can be very useful in managing the government fraction in the Lower House.

For the position of party leader, who will only be appointed later, the names of ministers Hugo de Jonge and Wopke Hoekstra and state secretary Mona Keijzer are mentioned.

Design your own European Union here, what do you find important?

Accountability

The questions and explanations in the interactive were created in consultation with Europe expert Casper van Vliet from the europa-nu.nl site and experts at the Law, Economics, Governance and Organization faculty of Utrecht University, including PhD student Pauline Phoa. Her PhD research is about the European internal market and protection of fundamental rights.

The first four questions are about four pillars under current Europe. Namely (1) free movement of persons, (2) free movement of goods, services, employees, (3) the euro and (4) a form of joint administration. The other five questions are about current themes that play or have played recently: summer and winter time, a joint environmental policy, roaming costs, flight taxes and a European army. The last five questions depend on what you fill in question 4. Without a form of joint administration, the equalization of roaming costs or the introduction of a European army is not realistic.

The deputies vote a contribution of the aerial if not to tax the kerosene

The deputies voted in the night of Monday to Tuesday in committee for a contribution of the air transport to the financing of the other modes of transport, without going to a taxation of kerosene, subject which must be regulated “on a European scale” according to the government.

This contribution of approximately 30 million euros will be a reallocation of excess revenue from the solidarity tax on air tickets, known as the “Chirac tax”, to the benefit of the Agence Financière des Transports de France ( AFITF).

Introduced in 2006, this tax feeds the solidarity fund for development (FSD) within the limit of an annual ceiling of 210 million euros. So far, the surplus of this tax was intended “to the deleveraging of the civil aviation subsidiary budget”, said the Minister of Transport Elisabeth Borne during the examination of the bill of orientation of mobilities in commission.

The amount of this contribution could be around “40 million euros next year” or “50 million euros” in the following years, said the co-rapporteur of the text Bérangère Abba (LREM), author of the adopted amendment .

Taxation of air transport, in order to improve the protection of the environment, is included in the program of the list of the presidential majority for Europeans. Emmanuel Macron has meanwhile said he wants to advance “on the common taxation of kerosene in Europe”, pleading for “a real international negotiation” on this subject, in an interview on Monday to the regional press.

“France will push for a tax on air transport but that must be done at European level,” said Ms. Borne before the Committee on Sustainable Development. But she can “already address a sign of its mobilization on the subject” via this contribution, she said.

If Jean-Baptiste Djebbari (LREM) praised “a contribution between the modes of displacement (…) quite salutary”, the oppositions criticized the measure.

“We are creating an additional gas plant,” said Valérie Lacroute (LR), proposing to allocate an additional portion of the TICPE (domestic consumption tax on energy products) to Afitf.

The Socialist Christophe Bouillon judged the funding “not up to the ambitions” posted in terms of “clean” transport.

The former “walker” Matthieu Orphelin welcomed “a first step” but “it is absolutely necessary to go further”: he will defend in the hemicycle amendments in favor in particular of “an ecological contribution to takeoff”.

Timmermans and Weber clash in fierce debate

Steuern, support, support

Timmermans and Weber kicked off with a debate about the climate. Timmermans argues for a European CO2 tax: “You have to be honest about that. Without a CO2 tax, we will not achieve those goals. Innovation cannot do that alone. That is of course a difficult story, but it is the only fair story to confront the citizens with the consequences of that very risky climate change. In a ruined climate there are no jobs at all anymore, are they? “

“Steuern, steuern, steuern”, Weber responds, or “taxes, taxes, taxes”. Weber thinks Timmermans' carbon tax is' typically left-wing politics in the European Union '.

“We have to take a new road, that is why I am hammering away at innovation. In France, the Yellow Hesjes took to the streets because they could no longer afford petrol. Those who live in the countryside and have to drive far are taxed. but stimulate “, says Weber who says he wants to focus much more on innovation.

Dying in the polling station: these were the first elections for everyone

It is eight o'clock in the morning, the polling stations are opening. “People make queue”, Limburgsch Dagblad writes about it three days later. “Never seen so many married couples together.” Many couples went to the polls together, now that it was possible for the first time. “The women would like it to be a vote every week, someone says, because now the man is not leaving his wife home.”

But many women also came to vote alone, the Limburg newspaper almost said, “armed with the ballot, holding on as if it were something precious”. In The Hague, some women admitted that they had not slept all night, nerves write the Hague evening paper The Fatherland.

Voice seekers

There were more than three million people entitled to vote in 1922, doubling compared to four years before, when only men were allowed to vote.

The right to vote went a little further than that be allowed to votes: you had to. There was an obligation to vote, so you were obliged to go to the polls and cast your vote (or vote blank). If you did not do this, you had to report to the mayor of your place of residence why you had failed. If he agreed with your statement, nothing was wrong. But in the most extreme case, 'vote seekers' could receive a reprimand or a fine of up to three guilders.

Tragic deaths

Everyone had to show up at the polling station. Even people who might not have done that without that obligation. The Delftsche Courant Two days after the 1922 elections, for example, reported a tragic incident in the village of Slikkerveer in South Holland. There “a man in the polling station, after he had voted, fell dead.”

Telework is effective in reducing pollution

Difficult to do without the car, seven out of ten French use it to get to their place of work, according to INSEE. However, the transport sector, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in France, owes this poor place to road traffic. In order to fight against pollution linked to commuting to and from work, public authorities in particular encourage businesses to use teleworking. The government has eased the regulations governing the practice in the fall of 2017.

A number of companies are looking into the issue but “not enough, even if there is a trend upwards,” observes the AFP Jérémie Almosni, head of the transport and mobility department at the Agence de l'Agence. environment and control of energy (Ademe). In the private sector, 29% of employees practiced teleworking on an occasional or regular basis in 2018, compared with 25% the previous year, according to an Ifop survey.

Initially for the quality of life more than for the environment

“It is rather the concept of quality of life at work that leads companies to take an interest in the issue, except for those subject to the obligation to establish a travel plan,” says Almosni. More than 17,000 establishments are concerned, subject to the Energy Transition Law or a plan to protect the atmosphere, according to ADEME.

At Somfy, based in Cluses (Haute-Savoie), about 38% of employees telework, up to two days per week. The group totaled 4,785 days of telework in 2018, which enabled employees to avoid traveling 170,000 kilometers. With this device, Somfy “has killed two birds with one stone”, responding to both a “social” and “CSR” goal (social and environmental responsibility), AFP reports to Vincent Bouchet, director of social affairs. of the group. “It's important for employees to feel that the company is part of a bottom-up movement to preserve the environment, that it tests and implements different devices,” he adds.

“Not the miracle solution” but “always taken”.

Although teleworking is synonymous with a reduction in the number of kilometers driven, there are certain factors that can blur the beneficial effect on air quality. “People will take the opportunity to make other trips, for example go shopping or look for children at school,” says AFP Anne Aguilera, researcher at the French Institute of Science and Technology Transport Transportation. planning and networks (Ifsttar). These journeys are generally shorter than the distance between the home and the workplace, but they weaken the environmental record of telework day.

The car has been left in the garage, so other family members can take advantage of it to make extra trips.

“There are many rebound effects, which have been quantified in different studies” abroad, especially in the United States or Japan, says Ms. Aguilera. This work generally shows a limited decline in the number of kilometers traveled. In France, Patrice Tissandier, teacher researcher at the laboratory Theoriser and model for development (Théma), conducted simulation work using algorithms on the city of Lille. Result: between 3 and 5% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions according to the scenario applied (higher or lower rate of teleworkers, telework at home or in other places etc.).

“It's always taken, but it is not a miracle solution,” says Tissandier. “We must have a global vision of mobility, offer a panel of solutions so that each individual can opt for the one that suits him,” he demonstrates to AFP. Encouragement to carpool through the development of an internal service linking, the use of the bike with aids to purchase, or creation of a specific shuttle service, the options are many, adapted to different budgets .

Trump threatens to provoke “official end of Iran”

“If Iran wants to fight, it will be the official end of Iran, no more threats against the United States,” Donald Trump said on Twitter on Sunday. Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated as the United States announced the deployment of the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers in the Gulf, citing “threats” from Iran. The Trump administration ordered non-essential diplomatic personnel to leave Iraq, citing threats from Iraqi armed groups backed by Iran.

On Sunday, a Katyusha rocket was fired at the Green Zone in Baghdad, which houses government institutions and embassies, including the American one. It was not clear in the immediate aftermath that was behind this attack.

US-Iranian relations are at their lowest since President Trump decided a year ago to withdraw from the international agreement reached in 2015 to limit the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions against Teheran, and since the reinstatement of US economic sanctions against Iran last November. The US press speculates on differences in Donald Trump's cabinet on how to deal with the Iranian case. According to US media, National Security Adviser John Bolton is pushing for a hard line against Iran, but others in the administration are opposed. DonaldTrump himself recently said he must have “tempered” John Bolton.

Iran minimizes the risk of a war

For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, however, played down the possibility of a new war in the region on Saturday. After a visit to China, Mohammad Java Zarif said “certain (…) that there would be no war since we do not wish conflict and since no one is illusion about its ability to confront Iran in the region, “the official Irna news agency reported. Saudi Arabia on Saturday called for summits of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab League summits, following sabotage of vessels in the Gulf and attacks on pumping stations in the kingdom.

These two extraordinary summits to which Ryad invites its partners will be held May 30 in Mecca “to discuss these attacks and their consequences on the region,” said the official Saudi news agency. It is a question of “consulting and coordinating with the brother leaders” on “all the subjects likely to reinforce security and stability in the region”. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country “does not want a war” with Iran and “will do everything possible to prevent it”, while ensuring that Ryad is ready “to defend and defend his interests “if the other party chooses to go to war.

Rising global oil stocks

The regional allies of the kingdom hailed the Saudi invitation. The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that in the current “critical circumstances” the Gulf and Arab countries must show unity. On Sunday at a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates expressed concern over rising global oil stocks. Exporting countries have affirmed their determination to stabilize the market despite tensions in the Gulf.

The countries of OPEC are “unanimous in their willingness to continue working to achieve stability between supply and demand,” said Saudi Energy Minister Khaled al-Faleh, whose country is the first global exporter of oil. Despite the drop in Venezuelan oil exports caused by the political crisis in Caracas and Iran, and despite the decline in production of OPEC members, crude inventories continue to rise, according to the UAE. Also a member of the organization, Iran, whose oil sector is hit by US sanctions, was absent from the meeting.

Saudi Arabia's main regional rival, Iran, has been fingered by Ryad after attacks on a Saudi oil pipeline claimed by Yemeni rebels backed by Tehran, which a Saudi-led military coalition is fighting in Yemen. These attacks came a few days after unclaimed “acts of sabotage” in the Gulf that affected Saudi oil tankers, among others. Ryad nevertheless assured Sunday that the security of his oil industry was “solid”.

(With AFP)

Inaugural visit to Bulgaria: Unlucky Maas: Third aircraft breakdown in three months

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has arrived in Bulgaria because of an aircraft breakdown with a delay of about 70 minutes to his inaugural visit.

Reason was according to the pilot that an auxiliary turbine supplied too little compressed air for starting the engines. Therefore, an external air supply had to be requested as a jump start.

But the Minister was still lucky in the accident: Dates did not burst because of the breakdown. However, a meeting with Prime Minister Boiko Borisov had to postpone Maas for an hour. Nevertheless, the Bulgarian head of government warmly welcomed his guest from Germany with a hug. On Monday, Maas wants to lay the foundation stone in Sofia for the new building of the German Embassy.

The SPD politician flew with an Airbus A321 to Bulgaria. The Bundeswehr's readiness to fly uses the short- and medium-haul aircraft only since December. It can carry 82 passengers, is 840 km / h fast and can cover distances up to 5000 kilometers.

The Federal Government had purchased the aircraft last year needed. It did not take half a year until the first breakdown. Thus, none of the four different types of aircraft intended for government flights is now free of breakdowns. The others are the Airbus A340 (long haul), the A319 (medium haul) and the Global 5000 from Bombardier (long haul).

For Maas, this is already the third breakdown of a government aircraft within three months. At the end of February he stopped to make an African trip to the Malian capital Bamako. He had to wait 20 hours there for a replacement plane. At the beginning of April he had a flat tire when landing in New York. Before his first breakdowns, he had flown nearly 300,000 kilometers without a breakdown for almost a year.

The federal government has now drawn consequences from the numerous mishaps in government airmen. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) has commissioned the procurement of three new long-haul aircraft to complement the fleet of 14 aircraft, some of which are quite old.