The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 2011 and 2011 Deselect

  1. On 29 September 2011 the European Commission asked Germany to comply with EU water legislation. The Commission is concerned with Germany's interpretation of the key notion of water services. The Water Framework Directive is Europe's key tool for protecting its waters. It establishes a framework for action in the field of water policy. One of the measures to achieve its objectives is the obligation to adopt a cost recovery policy for water services that includes the environmental and resource costs of water use, taking into account the "polluter-pays" principle. Germany is of the opinion that cost recovery should apply only to the supply of drinking water and the disposal and treatment of wastewater. The Commission however sees water services as a wider notion that also includes water abstraction for the cooling of industrial installations and for irrigation in agriculture; the restriction of surface waters for navigation purposes, flood protection or hydro power production; and wells drilled for agricultural, industrial or private consumption. According to the Commission, Germany's exclusion of these activities from water services hinders the full and correct application of the Water Framework Directive.

  2. Aviation will become part of the EU's emissions trading system (EU ETS) from 2012. On 26 September 2011 the European Commission published the benchmark values which will be used to allocate greenhouse gas emission allowances free of charge to more than 900 aircraft operators.

  3. On 23 September 2011 the Federal Council rejected the German Parliament’s proposal for an Act on the Demonstration and Implementation of Technologies for Carbon Capture, Transport and Permanent Storage of C02 (CCS Act).

  4. On 24 August 2011 the federal government submitted a draft ordinance on the Allocation of Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowances for the Trading Period 2013 to 2020. The draft transposes the EU Commission Decision 2011/278/EC of 27 April 2011 determining transitional Union-wide rules for harmonised free allocation of emission allowances. The ZuV 2020 draft still needs to be approved by parliament.

  5. On 26 July the Commission published restrictions on the industrial uses of creosote, a carcinogenic substance. Tough restrictions will come into force on 1 May 2013, following a tightening of rules by the European Commission. Creosote, a carcinogenic substance, may no longer be placed on the EU market unless a company receives an authorisation to do so. The Commission's new decision amends the Biocides Directive and stems from a risk assessment of the effects of creosote on human health and the environment. Creosote is a carcinogen at any level, and there are significant environmental risks when wood treated with creosote comes into direct contact with soil or water. Member States must adopt and publish national laws that comply with this legislation by 30 April 2012 at the latest.

  6. The new recast RoHS Directive (DIRECTIVE 2011/65/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 8 June 2011 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (recast)) has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 1 July, 2011, and entered into force 21 July 2011. The new law is a revision of the RoHS Directive on the restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. It will continue to ban lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and the flame retardants Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). The previous RoHS Directive covered several categories of electrical and electronic equipment including household appliances, IT and consumer equipment, but it has now been extended to all electronic equipment, cables and spare parts. Exemptions can still be granted in cases where no satisfactory alternative is available. The list of banned substances will be reviewed on a regular basis.

  7. On 19 July 2011 the Council has adopted the "radioactive waste and spent fuel management directive", proposed by the Commission on 3rd November 2010.

  8. On 7 July 2011 the German Parliament approved the controversial CCS bill. 306 MPs voted in favour, 266 against, and one abstained.

  9. On 21 June 2011 the SPD/Green government of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia adopted a Climate Protection Act. The draft bill is the first of its kind in the sixteen German states. It enacts climate protection targets in NRW and shall be the legal basis for emission reduction and mitigation measures. Total green house gas emissions in NRW shall be reduced by at least 25% until 2020 and by at least 80% until 2050 compared with 1990.The draft bill will now be submitted for review by selected associations (Verbändeanhörung). The government wants to introduce the bill to parliament in summer.

  10. On 7 June 2011 the European Parliament endorsed a compromise deal on the revision of Eurovignette Directive. The final vote will allow member states to charge all vehicles above 3.5 tonnes not only for infrastructure costs but also for noise and pollution. The revised Eurovignette Directive is the first EU law to implement the bloc's wider strategy of internalising the external costs of transport.

  11. Cadmium in jewellery, plastics and brazing sticks will be banned in the EU from December 2011. The new legislation prohibits the use of cadmium in all types of jewellery products, except for antiques. The ban also covers cadmium in all plastics and brazing sticks. The ban ensures that EU consumers are better protected against exposure to cadmium, and will reduce environmental pollution from cadmium. It will be adopted as an amendment under REACH. The new legislation prohibits cadmium in all plastic products while encouraging the recovery of PVC waste for use in a number of construction products. As PVC is a valuable material that can be recovered a number of times, the new legislation allows the re-use of recovered PVC containing low levels of cadmium in a limited number of construction products, without danger for the public or environment. The new ban will be listed in Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation (Regulation No. 1907/2006 for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).

  12. On 13 April 2011 the German government adopted the draft act on the demonstration and application of technologies for the capture, transport and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). This has created the prerequisite for CCS testing projects in Germany to receive EU support. In a technical assessment process the Länder can designate areas in which CO2 storage is permissible and in which it is not.

  13. On 1 April 2011, European Commission Regulation (EU) 310/2011 of 28 March 2011 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for aldicarb, bromopropylate, chlorfenvinphos, endosulfan, EPTC, ethion, fenthion, fomesafen, methabenzthiazuron, methidathion, simazine, tetradifon and triforine in or on certain products, was published in the Official Journal.

  14. On 18 March 2011 the Federal Council of Germany cleared the European Law Alignment Act for Renewable Energies (EAG EE). The act transposes Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, but most importantly cuts solar feed-in tariffs and the so-called green power privilege pursuant to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).

  15. On 17 February six substances of very high concern was moved from the candidate list to the authorisation list, known as Annex XIV, under the EU's REACH regulation (Regulation No 1907/2006 for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). The following 6 chemicals are the first entrants in the Annex XIV: 5-ter-butyl-2,4,6-trinito-m-xylene (musk xylene), 4,4'-diaminodiphenylmethane (MDA), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD), bis(2-ethylexyl) phthalate (DEHP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). For each substance listed a "sunset date" is provided, ranging from 2014 to 2015. From this date the substance may only be placed on the market or used if an authorisation has been granted or an application for authorisation has been made before the "latest application date".

  16. On 24 February 2011 the German Federal Parliament approved the joint proposal for solar feed-in tariff changes in the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) agreed in late January by the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and the solar industry association BSW Solar. Parts of the regular solar feed-in tariff cuts due at the beginning of 2012 are brought forward to 1 July, respectively 1 September 2011 for freestanding installations. The July/September reductions of up to 15% shall depend on PV capacity installed in March, April and May 2011.

  17. On 16 February 2011 the German cabinet adopted a draft act on special provisions for noise caused by children at childcare centres and play areas. The aim of this act is to further develop existing noise protection law. An amendment to the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) will ensure that noise caused by children at childcare centres, play areas and at other such establishments is generally not classified as having "harmful effects on the environment". Additionally, when assessing the impact of such noise the immission limit values and target values such as those applicable to industrial installations and sport centres must not be applied as they do not reflect the tolerance that can be expected regarding noise caused by children.

  18. On 15 February 2011 the European Parliament gave a green light for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vans, in a vote to introduce CO2 limits in the EU for new vans and other light commercial goods vehicles. The rules, agreed with Member States, include incentives to make highly-efficient vehicles as well as penalties for manufacturers that miss the targets. Parliament approved the legislation with 534 votes in favour, 117 against and 15 abstentions. The rules aim to spur innovation in industry, setting an initial target of 175g CO2/km. Under the terms of an agreed phase-in, the average emissions of 70% of a manufacturer's fleet must meet this limit in 2014 and the average of all its vehicles by 2017. The legislation also sets a limit of 147g CO2/km to be achieved by 2020.

  19. The European Commission (EC) has established a new method for detecting marine biotoxins in bivalve molluscs, with techniques based on liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. This method will replace the previous mouse bioassay. The Official Journal of the European Union published on 10 January, Regulation (EU) 15/2011, which amends the previously applicable rules on the subject, dating from 2005. This Regulation entered into force on 31 January 2011.

  20. On 26 January 2011 the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources - IBAMA gave the go-ahead for initial work to begin on a huge hydroelectric dam on a tributary of the Amazon River. IBAMA approved the clearing of forest at the planned site for the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant.

  21. The Directive on industrial emissions 2010/75/EU (IED) has been adopted on 24 November 2010 and published in the Official Journal on 17 December 2010. It will enter into force on 6 January 2011.