The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 2009 and 2009 Deselect

  1. The EU has adopted new legislation on plant protection. Substances with problematic properties will, as a rule, no longer be authorised in plant protection products. This includes substances that are very hazardous to the environment: in addition to the internationally outlawed POPs, this also applies to substances which are very slow to biodegrade, accumulate in living organisms (and thus in the food chain), and are also (eco-) toxic (so-called PBTs – persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic). Substances that are carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors, or mutagenic to man and animals will also be banned in future. Every EC Member State must lay out concrete targets, measures and a timetable for a National Action Plan (NAP) to mitigate the risks and impact of plant protection product use on man and the environment. This may include integrating a protective strip of land along bodies of water so as to limit any input of pesticides. The new regulations on plant protection were published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 24 November 2009.

  2. On 5 October 2009 the Spanish Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs published in the Official State Bulletin a total prohibition on the catch of hammerhead and thresher sharks. The Ministerial Order will take effect on 1 January 2010. It will prohibit the catch of all hammerhead sharks and thresher sharks by all types of fishing gear used by the Spanish fleet. Transhipment, landing and commercialising these species will also be prohibited. Spain has become a pioneering country within the European Union by regulating its shark fisheries.

  3. The new German Energy Saving Ordinance 2009 came into force on 1 October 2009. The amendment of the Energy Saving Ordinance is a fundamental key element of the Integrated Energy and Climate Programme (Integriertes Energie- und Klimaprogramm - IEKP) of the government decided in December 2007. The changes affect primary energy requirement, thermal insulation for exterior building elements, heat transmission losses and the calculation procedure for residential buildings. The next adjustment of the German Energy Saving Ordinance is already planned for 2012 in accordance with the federal government’s so-called ‘Meseberg resolutions’ for integrated energy and climate policy.

  4. The Council adopted a directive improving current rules on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties for infringements (3664/09)on 14 September 2009. The new provisions aim at improving maritime safety and enhancing protection of the marine environment from pollution by ships.

  5. The European Union ban on the manufacture and import of 100 watt and above light bulbs has come into force.

  6. On 24 August 2009 the Biomass-electricity-sustainability ordinance entered into force in Germany. This ordinance is intended to ensure that in future all biomass used for electric power generation is produced in compliance with binding sustainability criteria. Proof of sustainability will, from 1 January 2010, be a necessary prerequisite to receive the basic remuneration and bonuses under the Renewable Energies Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz - EEG).

  7. The Commission Directive laying down, pursuant to Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, technical specifications for chemical analysis and monitoring of water status has been adopted and enters into force on 21 August 2009. The objective of this Directive is to establish common quality rules for chemical analysis and monitoring of water, sediment and biota carried out by Member States. The Directive shall be transposed within 2 years from entry into force.

  8. Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed the final Bundesrat endorsement of the environmental law reform. For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany uniform nature conservation and water management legislation will come into force which will be directly applicable in the whole country. New regulations on protection from non-ionising radiation will now also enter into force.

  9. The US House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 on 26 June 2009. It was passed by a narrow margin of 219 votes to 212.

  10. The EU climate and energy package entered into force on 25 June 2009.

  11. 24 June, 2009: Germany delayed CCS law until after election. Realising there is too much disagreement, Germany's ruling politicians on Tuesday dropped a pending national CCS law and postponed it until after general elections in September 2009.

  12. On 12 June 2009, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation concerning the placing on the market and use of biocidal products (COM(2009)267). The proposed Regulation will repeal and replace the current Directive 98/8/EC concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market. This proposal aims at significantly increasing the safety of biocide products used and placed on the market in the European Union. It proposes to phase out the most hazardous substances, particularly those that may cause cancer, and to introduce new rules for articles such as furniture and textiles treated with biocides, which are not covered by existing legislation. It introduces simplified legislation, whilst providing new incentives for companies to develop safer products against harmful pests and germs. . The Helsinki-based European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will be involved in the authorisation of some of these products through a centralised approach. The proposal should enter into force in 2013.

  13. Germany will be the first country to ratify the Statute of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The Bundestag and Bundesrat have concluded the necessary national legislative procedure in record time. Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has welcomed this and stressed the merits of Bonn as the site for the IRENA Secretariat. The German government has applied to host this new Agency in the UN city of Bonn.

  14. On 27. May 2009 the Federal Cabinet passed a decision paving the way for the auction of emission allowances. The Ordinance adopted by the Cabinet on the auctioning of emission allowances (Emissionshandels-Versteigerungsverordnung, EHVV 2012), still needs the consent of the German Bundestag. It especially regulates the auctioning of an annual 40 million emission allowances for the years 2010 to 2012 which were not allocated to power plant operators free of charge. The Ordinance stipulates that for the next three years (2010 to 2012) the same quantities of allowances shall be auctioned each week at one of the existing emissions trading exchanges, in the form of the products traded there (spot and futures markets). The auctioning itself will be conducted in line with the straightforward procedure usual for such transactions. The exchange supervisory authority and the processing of successful bids shall be subject to the same rules as other stock exchange dealings. This means that the particular advantages of emissions trading will apply to auctioning as well, since in emissions trading supply and demand of all the participants on the market determine the current value of the emission allowances. The Auctioning Ordinance only envisages government intervention in the pricing process in exceptional cases, where individual tenderers attempt to manipulate the auction price with their bids, thus abusing the system. The Auctioning Ordinance contains an opening clause explicitly enabling other EU member states to auction their allowances on the German trading platform as well.

  15. The court in Braunschweig rejected an application for an emergency ruling to end the ban of cultivation of Monsanto's MON 810 GMO maize.

  16. On 20 May 2009 the German Federal Cabinet adopted amendment of the Ordinance on small firing installations (1. BImSchV).

  17. The European Parliament voted on 5 May 2009 to ban the sale of all seal products in the EU, except those hunted by indigenous communities. The aim of the new EU legislation is to regulate the internal market and to address EU citizens' concerns on the welfare of seals during commercial hunts. Canada and Norway are threatening to take Brussels to the World Trade Organisation because of the ban, which still needs to be endorsed by the EU's 27 national governments.

  18. The European Commission welcomed the formal adoption of the climate and energy package and legislation to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and transport fuels. The climate and energy package consists of four legislative texts: A Directive revising the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which covers some 40% of EU greenhouse gas emissions; An "effort-sharing" Decision setting binding national targets for emissions from sectors not covered by the EU ETS; A Directive setting binding national targets for increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the energy mix; A Directive creating a legal framework for the safe and environmentally sound use of carbon capture and storage technologies. The package is complemented by two further legislative acts that were agreed at the same time: A Regulation requiring a reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 120g per km, to be phased in between 2012 and 2015, and further to 95g per km in 2020. This measure alone will contribute more than one-third of the emission reductions required in the non-ETS sectors; A revision of the Fuel Quality Directive requiring fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel production chain by 6% by 2020. The six legislative acts will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal, expected in May.

  19. The Commission has adopted a new ecodesign measure. The regulation sets requirements for the energy efficiency of external power supplies. They convert power input from the mains power source into lower voltage output for household and office products. The requirements address both the active efficiency, i.e. the efficiency when power is supplied to for example a notebook when being actually used, and the no-load power consumption, i.e. the power which the supply still uses when for instance the notebook is not plugged in. These requirements come into force in two steps in 2010 and 2011, and correspond to internationally recognised efficiency criteria, which are achieved by models with significantly enhanced efficiency compared to a current average model.

  20. The European Parliament adopted a first reading agreement on the voluntary EU Ecolabel ("EU flower") system for environment-friendly products to become less costly and bureaucratic to use. The label has so far been awarded to over 3,000 products such as detergents, paper and shoes. The resolution was adopted with 633 votes in favour to 18 against.

  21. The Federal Cabinet adopted the draft act on the capture, transport and permanent storage of carbon dioxide in deep underground rock formations (carbon capture and storage, CCS). The draft act transposes the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide into German law.

  22. Federal Administrative Court of Germany has ruled that operators RWE and Vattenfall may not extend the lifespan of their Biblis A and Brunsbuettel nuclear power plants as they had sought. The operators of the nuclear power plants had planned to transfer allowances to produce power at the Mülheim-Kärlich nuclear power plant to Biblis A and Brunsbuettel and thus operate the power plants longer than initially planned.

  23. On 18 March 2009 the Commission adopted two ecodesign regulations to improve the energy efficiency of household lamps and of office, street and industrial lighting products. The two regulations lay down energy efficiency requirements which will save close to 80 TWh by 2020 and will lead to a reduction of about 32 million tons of CO2 emission per year. Inefficient incandescent light bulbs will be progressively replaced by improved alternatives starting in 2009 and finishing at the end of 2012.

  24. On 11 March 2009, the Federal Cabinet decided to pass four new draft environmental laws into the parliamentary process. The four laws are: Act on the simplification of environmental law, Act on water law reform, Act replacing the Federal Nature Conservation Act, and the Act regulating protection from non-ionising radiation.

  25. The ban on testing of cosmetics products on animals in the European Union entered into force on 11 March 2009.

  26. As of July 2009, vehicle tax is to be calculated on the basis of emissions caused. For older vehicles, CO2-based vehicle tax is to be introduced gradually as of 2013.

  27. On 1 February 2009 Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the proposed Environmenal Code has failed. He accused the CSU of a blockade policy.

  28. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) truly came into being on January 26, 2009 at the Founding Conference of IRENA in Bonn. More than 100 government delegations from across the world attended the conference and a total of 75 nations signed the Agency’s statute.

  29. The Batteries Act (BattG) implements the EU Batteries Directive in Germany. A register for manufacturers of batteries and accumulators will be set up according to EU requirements. The Federal Environment Agency will manage the register which will allow it to gain an overview of the enterprises active on the market. It will also allow the Agency to prosecute enterprises trying to dodge their own obligation to dispose of their products at the expense of their co-competitors. In the process UBA will be entitled to fine "free-riders". The draft act also determines that 35% of the portable batteries placed on the market annually will have to be recovered and recycled as of September 2012 at the latest. After September 2016 this percentage will increase to 45%. The current regulations pertaining to the recovery and disposal of portable, automotive and industrial batteries remain largely intact. The new Batteries Act (BattG) replaces the current Batteries Ordinance (BattV) in place since 1998.

  30. The new Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging ("CLP Regulation") contributes to the GHS aim that the same hazards will be described and labelled in the same way all around the world. By using internationally agreed classification criteria and labelling elements, it is expected to facilitate trade and to contribute towards global efforts to protect humans and the environment from hazardous effects of chemicals. The new act will complement the REACH Regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. The CLP Regulation enters into force on 20 January 2009 and will, after a transitional period, replace the current rules on classification, labelling and packaging of substances (Directive 67/548/EEC) and mixtures (Directive 1999/45/EC). The deadline for substance classification according to the new rules will be 1 December 2010 and for mixtures 1 June 2015.

  31. The European Parliament adopted in second reading a Regulation to replace the current legislation on plant protection products, based on a Commission proposal from 2006.

  32. Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of Council of 16 December 2008 on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and amending Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council comes into force.

  33. At the beginning of 2009, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) is to take over responsibility for the Asse II mine.

  34. On 6 June 2008 the Bundestag adopted the Act on the promotion of renewable energies in the heat sector (“Erneuerbare-Energien-Wärmegesetz”). Owners of new buildings must cover part of their heat demand from renewable sources. All forms of renewables can be used. The Act will enter into force on 1 January 2009. All new buildings constructed after this date must comply with the Heat Act.