Thursday 30 October 2008

Big hurdles, but huge benefits

Thursday 16/10/2008 Page: 6

Mark RowsthornFEW people will be watching the outcome of the emissions trading debate in Australia with more interest than Mark Rowsthorn. As chief executive of Asciano, the ports and rail giant that has been spun out of Toll Holdings, he is acutely aware that a push for more environmentally friendly freight operations will favour rail and sea services at the expense of road transport. With rail accounting for a mere 5 per cent of the domestic freight load, the scope for growth and profits is obvious. Rowsthorn has welcomed Ross Garnaut's Climate Change Review report and supports the introduction of an emissions trading scheme. He is calling on government to resist calls from big business to back away from a full-fledged ETS.

If they're serious about what they're trying to do, politicising it and watering it down will just reduce the impact of it and, from my perspective, it will also reduce the impact of anything done about our industry, which is just ludicrous." Asciano cites statistics revealing that rail uses two-thirds less fuel than road per tonne of goods carried and is three times more environmentally efficient. And, according to the Australian Department of Transport's 2008 statistics, road transport accounted for 84.9 per cent of Australia's domestic transport greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 and 1616 deaths, compared with respective figures for rail of 4.6 per cent and 37 deaths. Yet Rowsthorn concedes that breaking the dominance of the all-powerful road transport sector will be tough, and that federal and state assistance will be required.

At some point governments need to sit up and take notice of the benefits from a congestion, from a safety, from an environmental climate change perspective and say, well, there's actually enormous benefit in switching from road to rail. Yes, there are lobby groups and the trucking industry is quite powerful and the rail industry has been fragmented, (but) I think I'm seeing signs now of the rail industry coming together and pushing some very common agendas." Asciano has had its own well-publicised issues, with high debt levels and a slumping share price getting headlines.

Another distraction has been a scorned takeover attempt in August from investment firms TPG Capital and Global Infrastructure Partners. Nevertheless, with Australia's freight task expected to double over the next 15 to 20 years and bottlenecks at ports such as Newcastle and Gladstone already threatening resources exports, it is clear that the opportunities for rail are significant. There are issues to confront, though. Infrastructure shortfalls have been well chronicled, while the fragmented ownership of rail lines across the country on top of different rail gauges between the states represents a major barrier to the greater uptake of rail transportation.

Rowsthorn says action is long overdue. "There's no common ownership of the track between Brisbane and Perth," he says. "There are all sorts of regulatory impediments in getting the job done and you've got a lack of spending on the infrastructure that really limits rail's ability to take the market share off road.

"So how are you supposed to, as an above rail operator, get any confidence about the future of the business? How are you supposed to plan your (freight) paths running trains between those capitals with all the different track ownerships? You've got misalignment of investment." Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics figures point to part of the problem. For the 2006-07 financial year, $11.85 billion was spent on roads and bridges compared with $2.48 billion on rail.

Rowsthorn suggests such lack of investment, if continued, will compound supply line difficulties in the future and increase dependence on roads. "You know, if the freight task doubles we have an expectation that the number of trucks on the road is going to double. I think that's just an incredibly asinine thing to do." Improving rail networks may take at least a decade and cost tens of billions of dollars. However, Rowsthorn says if upgrades are completed in "chunks" through upgrades of Sydney-Melbourne lines, then Sydney- Brisbane and ultimately a Melbourne- Brisbane rail project the investment will be manageable.

Asciano takes heart from the federal Government's appointment of respected industry figure Michael Deegan as the inaugural infrastructure co-ordinator, saying it is a sign that Canberra is taking freight transport issues seriously. "He's got a deep knowledge of rail and road," Rowsthorn says. He understands the bottlenecks and I think he's the sort of person that can see the sense in spending more on rail." Rowsthorn acknowledges "self-interest" in pushing for more rail freight, but is adamant it will have benefits for government, the environment, business and the public. "I think that just ticks a lot of boxes for the community, the country and not to mention ourselves. It's an important thing for the country to get right."

Power-packed clothing wins funds

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 16/10/2008 Page: 4

A PROJECT to develop small solar panels that can be woven into people's clothing to generate electricity is among the research initiatives to have won federal funding. The intricate use of solar panels is just one of 1100 projects included in the latest round of Australian Research Council funding, announced yesterday, which provides $363 million to the country's top researchers.

Boffins will use the money to study everything from the interactions between humans and robots to maintaining public health during heatwaves. South Australian researchers will study the most appropriate support services for grandparents who do plenty of childcare, while turning wastewater into drinking water will be studied in Western Australia.

Riverland solar farm

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 16/10/2008 Page: 28

ONE of the largest grid connected solar energy systems in the state will open in the Riverland. Solar Shop Australia began construction of the "solar farm" yesterday with work on the project due to be completed by the end of the month. The $250,000 Sun Farm near Renmark has 495 individual panels with the capacity to generate more than 55,000kWh of power a year.

Group slams energy plan

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 15/10/2008 Page: 8

The Energy Users Association of Australia has criticised the Rudd government for its 'unnecessarily ambitious' plan to introduce an emissions trading scheme and compensate coal electricity generators to help maintain investor confidence. The group claims that a similar move in the European Union resulted in big power companies reaping windfall profits at the expense of other industries less able to pass on the additional costs of carbon trading to consumers.

The EUAA also said the government should be focusing on transition to cleaner electricity sources rather than propping up the coal-fired generators. The National Generators Forum said it was important to protect the financial strength of the generators while TRUEnergy warned that any policy which financially impairs generators could jeopardise electricity supplies.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

$70m solar project to create 115 jobs

Canberra Times
Monday 13/10/2008 Page: 1

solar projectA $70 million high-tech solar cell factory to be built next year, possibly in Canberra or Queanbeyan, will create 115 skilled jobs, with exports worth more than $400 million to Europe's booming solar markets.

Spark Solar Australia, a Canberra based company co-founded by former Australian National University photovoltaic engineer Michelle McCann, will produce 19 trillion solar cells a year - enough to power 20,000 homes. The company has already attracted start-tip capital from a Swiss investment hind and four key commercial partners in Germany. One of the world's leading solar technology and commercialisation experts, German physicist Dr Peter Fath, has joined Spark Solar Australia as company chairman.

Global demand for solar cells is so strong that Spark Solar Australia is now finalising a contract to sell half its output to one of Europe's biggest solar panel manufacturers. Dr McCann said, "The market for solar cells is enormous and there are not enough cells being made globally to meet demand. Even before the factory is built, we expect to pre-sell almost all of our output for the first five years." The global market for solar cells is growing at a faster rate than markets for laptops, mobile phones and digital cameras.

Last year, the global photovoltaics market grew by 70 per cent, to $A21 billion. Dr McCann said the Spark Solar Australia factory would inject $84 million into the region's economy in its first five years and provide skilled jobs for science and engineering graduates.

"Australia is a world leader in solar technology. But sadly the small manufacturing base that exists here means that a lot of really excellent talent and research has gone overseas in the past. We want to change that." The company will initially export 90 per cent of its product and will be Australia's biggest manufacturer of solar cells.

A state-of-the-art factory, designed and prefabricated in Germany, will be built next year, with the solar cell production beginning in early 2010. The company is looking at potential factory sites in Home and Mitchell, as well as Queanbeyan and Wollongong.

"We would prefer to be close to the ANU for collaboration purposes, but of course we have to consider other business factors including state or territory government incentives. The incentives that other state governments otter are very attractive compared with those available in the ACT.

"Given the current global financial market turndown, if a future ACT Government could provide a loan guarantee to Spark Solar Australia, it would be enormously beneficial to our financing ability and would definitely send a decision to establish in Canberra instead of elsewhere." Dr McCann said manufacturing solar cells offshore - for example, in China - would provide only a marginal financial advantage because labor costs were about 8 per cent of total costs.

Emission scheme to go on

Hobart Mercury
Wednesday 15/10/2008 Page: 4

THE Rudd Government has rejected pressure to delay or water-down an emissions trading scheme planned for 2010 despite the world economic crisis. The Opposition and some business figures want the scheme put on hold while the world grapples with financial turmoil, but Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is unmoved. He said yesterday climate change had to be tackled and emissions trading was important. "Our ambition remains 2010. Climate change is not going to go away," he said.

"The long-terns economic cost to the entire economy, and to the entire global economy, of not acting on climate change remains formidable," he said. Business wanted consistency and predictability around emissions trading and they would get it. he vowed. The important thing was to get the scheme's design and rules right, and to neap it out early. Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, in Poland for greenhouse talks, said the financial crisis did not lessen the need to tackle climate change.

But she said the economic crisis would be taken into account in designing Australia's emissions scheme. Business heavyweight Don Voelte, chief executive of LNG company Woodside Petroleum, said emissions trading should be put on hold as the world economy withered. "Heck. I think it's off the table right now," the staunch critic of emissions trading said. "You can't put something like that in at this time until we get this whole fiscal chaos that is going on in the world straightened out."

Solar may give 25pc of power by 2050

Canberra Times
Tuesday 14/10/2008 Page: 3

Solar thermal energy could provide 25 per cent of Australia's power by 2050 if there is a commitment to build one solar energy station a year, a leading CSIRO scientist says. The manager of CSIRO's renewable energy projects, Wes Stein, told a public meeting in Canberra last night he had already discussed this future possibility with solar mirror manufacturers. "One solar energy station a year: that sort of scale would not scare them. This is technology that likes to be built big," he said.

Delivering the sixth annual Malcolm McIntosh memorial lecture, Mr Stein said Australia should aim to play a leading global role in developing next-generation energy technologies and was well placed to be a large-scale exporter of solar energy and expertise.

But greater support for research and development was needed. "There's plenty of work to be done," he said. "We need smarter solar collectors and clever optics to make more [and] better reflective surfaces. "We also need to come up with some fairly fancy new materials that can handle hot-spot temperatures and we can still improve thermal efficiency."

Mr Stein said solar thermal energy could be collected, stored as synthetic natural gas (syngas) and "transported around the world", creating lucrative export markets for Australia. Farmers suffering the impacts of climate change could switch from crops to earning income from "farming the sun".

"If you convert solar energy into liquid transport fuels, in a sunny environment somewhere in Australia, then three days later it's being exported for use in Tokyo or elsewhere around the world." The McIntosh lecture is given each year by a leading CSIRO scientist and honours the organisation's former chief executive British-born physicist Dr Malcolm McIntosh, who died in 2000.

Mr Stein, who has been a driving force behind solar thermal innovation in Australia, led the CSIRO team that developed the world's first high-concentration solar tower array, which uses 200 computer-controlled mirrors to generate more than 500kW of electricity. Debate over whether solar thermal could provide baseload power for Australia's grid was "a furphy question", he said.

Blowing with the wind

Tuesday 14/10/2008 Page: 2

THE biggest wind farm in Victoria is a step closer after Planning Minister Justin Madden ruled that plans to build a 282-turbine project west of Ballarat required no Environmental Effects Statement (EES).

But Mr Madden told the proponents to conduct further work on the wind farm's impact on flocks of Brolga, a large local bird. Mr Madden's decision to waive the EES requirements angered a local protest group, which said it was another example of country Victorians being ignored.

Solar research burning bright with funding

Weekend Australian
Saturday 11/10/2008 Page: 6

WHEN the National Solar Energy Centre opened two years ago on a small corner of land that once formed part of BHP's steel works, it was an optimistic, if not especially well-funded venture into the exploration of innovative solar technologies. Two and a half years later, funding looks set to increase by a multiple of 10 or more, with the federal Government's budget commitment of $50 million commitment to set up an Australian Solar Institute, incorporating the National Solar Energy Centre and building on its research.

The research facility employs 16 people, mostly engineers and research scientists. It consists of a 26 metre-high tower, and the largest high-concentration solar array in the southern hemisphere. These 200 panels, made of mirrored glass on a steel frame, track the sun, and concentrate its power up to 1000 times its natural strength on to a reactor suspended from the tower. And this is where the magic happens, according to Wes Stein, manager at the National Solar Energy Centre.

"The heat causes a chemical reaction between the natural gas, water and a catalyst in the reactor. This reaction effectively traps the solar energy in the chemical bonds of the natural gas." The resulting gas, solar gas, has 26 per cent more energy than natural gas but with the advantages of the stability and transportability of natural gas. "Solar gas can be stored, tankered and shipped to markets around Australia but also exported to any of the countries that currently import energy," says Stein.

He cites collaborative work with Tokyo's Institute of Technology, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and a growing relationship with the Chinese Academy of Sciences as examples of interest from overseas in the technology and in the product's potential.

To Stein, solar gas is a pragmatic solution in the search for transition fuels as Australia moves towards a greater mix of renewable energy sources. "Solar and gas are Australia's most abundant natural resources. In my 30 years in the industry I have seen the fossil and renewable industries bounce off each other often with more conflict than the willingness to work together." Solar gas, he suggests, makes use of existing gas infrastructure. "In terms of transition from the fossil fuel economy, it isn't about a sudden breakthrough overnight.

It is about scalability and the ability to integrate new sources of energy with existing electricity generation knowhow and reliable distribution. It isn't about taking risks and jeopardising supply." A demonstration array is currently under construction in Queensland. It will be completed in 2011.

The National Solar Energy Centre's research into solar gas is just a part of its research activities. solar thermal technology (allocated $50 million in the Rudd Government's budget) is also part of NSEC's plan. This uses a low concentration solar array to convert solar energy into heat to drive a turbine along the lines of traditional electricity generation but removing the need for fossil fuel. The centre is also researching the next generation photovoltaics (solar cells) with an emphasis on low cost and easy integration into the existing built environment.

Monday 27 October 2008

Biggest culprit turns to sun, wind

Weekend Australian
Saturday 11/10/2008 Page: 4

China turns to sun, windChina is the elephant in the international lounge room when it comes to global warming but, far from being ignored, it is constantly being held up by both sides of the argument on emissions management. Detractors of the Rudd Government's plans to introduce a unilateral carbon charge scheme in Australia point to China's emissions it is now the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, emitting 24 per cent of the global total and exceeding US emissions in 2007 by about 14 per cent and the enormous increases to come from its commitment to coal-fired power to meet rapid industrialisation.

Supporters of the Government's plans argue we will have little influence over China and other large emitters in the next round of international negotiations on global warming if we cannot ourselves demonstrate commitment and acceptance of economic pain. China, meanwhile, continues to press forward with coal-fired development while maintaining a hard line on a global carbon trading scheme in post-Kyoto negotiations. After the recent G8 meeting in Japan, China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil declined in follow-up talks to endorse a commitment to cut national emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 suggesting that the major developed nations would need to cut emissions by up to 95 per cent to win their support.

Last year China oversaw the commissioning of more than 80,000MW of new coal-fired capacity nearly triple Australia's coalburning generation and it has approved more than 200 new coal-burning generators, each 600MW or more, for delivery by 2012. (By comparison, NSW, which accounts for 40 per cent of Australian electricity consumption, has 12 units of 660MW.

Notwithstanding this activity and its tough negotiating stance, China is busy ensuring that the developed nations understand it is not "doing nothing" about greenhouse gases. One of its leading energy academics, Jianxiong Mao of Tsinghua University in Beijing, told a major clean energy conference in Manila in June that China is closing 4000 of its old, inefficient power stations of up to 300MW capacity and building 120,000MW of renewable energy.

In an interview in New Scientist magazine, Wu Changhua, Greater China director of the Climate Group, says that the country's highest decision-making body has conducted two study sessions on global warming in a year. The country, she says, is "deeply aware of its environmental problems." Wu notes that the Chinese Government has legislated to boost electricity production from renewable energy to 15 per cent by 2020, from 8 per cent at present, and to require 3 per cent to come from wind, solar energy and biomass.

Australian proponents of "showing China the way" gloss over the fact that the country already has 6000MW of wind farms a target Australia hopes to reach in 2020 and that it is aiming to have 100,000MW of wind energy in 12 years' time. China invested $US12 billion in renewable energy last year and its Government has estimated that it will need to spend an average of $US33 billion a year for the next 12 years to achieve zero-emissions and low-carbon goals.

China is also planning a six-fold increase in its nuclear energy capacity, raising a challenging issue for Australian federal and state governments that cannot bring themselves to develop new uranium mines despite estimates that their product could contribute a billion tonnes of greenhouse gas abatement worldwide a year compared with the current 400 million tonnes from our exports. The Chinese Government drives the wind program by insisting that consumers pay the actual price of production. Wu Changhua suggests China does not need any lessons in pursuing cleaner coal burning.

The Government, she says, is already investigating carbon capture and storage, pushing its power sector to buy the most advanced pulverised coal technology, and closely following development in integrated gasified combined-cycle plants. These turn coal into a gas and are in pole position at present to lead the shift to "clean coal" electricity supply. China is also the world's largest producer of solar photovoltaic cells, having doubled its output on sun power panels in each of the past four years.

The Chinese Government is also engaged in ensuring that Western journalists writing about its carbon emissions understand the situation. It points out to them that much of industrial emissions come from production of cement, aluminium and plate glass, essential ingredients for the economic revolution it is pursuing. Twenty per cent of Chinese emissions roughly equivalent to Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions come from cement production.

International government visitors to Beijing for the recent Olympics will have found their attention being drawn to an 11-story building housing the Sino-Japan Friendship Centre for Environment Protection. Here the city's pollution levels are monitored and research information passed on from the globe's most energy-efficient (because it is one of the most energy resource poor) nations. Japan has much to contribute it uses an eighth as much energy as China does to $1 in GDP.

Japan has sponsored 18 "model projects" in China involving emissions-reducing and energy-saving systems. Nippon Steel, Japan's largest steelmaker, for example, has introduced an eco-friendly coke-manufacturing process called dry quenching that is becoming widely used in Chinese operations it now has 30 factories using the technology. Japan, however, remains fearful of selling its best technology to China because low-cost competitors may steal it.

EU set to renege on climate pledges

Canberra Times
Saturday 11/10/2008 Page: 15

EU heads of state plan to use the global financial crisis as an excuse to renege on climate change commitments, sources close to energy talks in Brussels say. Papers suggest the European Union council, which meets next week, wants to drop the previous pledge of an automatic increase in emissions cuts if the world decides on a big climate change deal next year.

The council also intends to allow countries to avoid having to cut their own emissions by letting them purchase a large proportion of reductions from overseas. The EU has a target of a 20 per cent emissions cut by 2020. This would rise to 30 per cent if a global deal is signed.

But the papers show the European Union is seeking a new legislative process if the EU target rises above 20 per cent. This effectively shelves the move to 30 per cent and would take many years to complete. The commission justifies its proposals by saying EU countries paying for emissions cats would transfer tip to 42 billion euro ($A86.2 billion) to developing and other countries from 2008-2020.

It also wants a change in the auctioning of pollution allowances for power firms, which could lead to windfall profits estimated at tip to $A30.8 billion. Environmental groups said the moves could allow countries such as Britain to build a new generation of coal power stations without fear of exceeding their legally binding emission targets.

The head of international climate at Friends of the Earth, Tom Picker, said, "By simply buying cheap projects in developing countries, the EU will avoid making the type of transformations needed in our domestic economy to avoid dangerous climate change." Britain and Italy, among other nations, have been accused of trying to dilute pledges for renewable energy.

Hot rocking engineers

Independent Weekly
Friday 10/10/2008 Page: 22

No matter what side of the climate change debate you reside on there is no denying the exponential growth in electricity demand worldwide. Incredibly, consumption of electricity is projected to grow by nearly 100 per cent by 2020. Increasing demand for energy and concern over the ill effects of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere has produced an urgent need to explore clean, renewable sources of energy.

Further expansion of nuclear energy is largely unpopular and large-scale hydroelectric projects are now considered environmentally irresponsible. Solar and wind energy technologies have advanced and currently augment electricity supplies, but further advancement is required before these sources of electricity can be suitable as a base load power supply.

Hot Fractured Rock (HFR) geothermal energy is a known source of renewable energy with the capacity to carry large base loads. HFR geothermal energy is environmentally clean and does not produce greenhouse gases. HFR works by utilising heat generated by special high heat producing granites located 3km or more below the Earth's surface. The heat inside these granites is trapped by overlying rocks which act as an insulating blanket.

The heat is extracted from these granites by circulating water through them in an engineered, artificial reservoir. Standard geothermal power stations convert the extracted heat into electricity. GeoDynamics Ltd has been constructing a 1MW proof of concept plant near Innamincka in South Australia to generate electricity using HFR. This has the potential to make South Australia a leader in the generation and supply of renewable clean energy.

As of June 2008,33 companies had applied for geothermal license areas across Australia. According to the Government of South Australia, 23 companies have applied for 237 geothermal licenses covering more than 110,800 sqkm. These licenses account for more than 80 per cent of all geothermal exploration activity underway or proposed throughout Australia.

The upcoming Engineers Australia Breakfast Briefing presentation, to be held on Wednesday, November 12, will hear from Rod Smith, project manager for GeoDynamics Ltd at Innamincka. David Klingberg, chair of the Premiers' Climate Change Council and the 2008 Professional Engineer of the Year, will also deliver a presentation on the impact of climate change and emissions trading.

Attendance is open to Engineers Australia members and the general public. Register your attendance at the Engineers Australia SA Division Office on 82671783 or

Energy firm airs its Yass wind farm plan

Canberra Times
Thursday 9/10/2008 Page: 2

A Sydney-based renewable energy company is looking into building a wind farm near Yass. Epuron will study the wind potential of different sites to determine turbine numbers, their arrangement and location before presenting a concept plan to the community. Areas under investigation for the new wind farm include parts of Black Range, the Coppabella Hills and Carrolls Ridge.

Project director Simon Davey said Yass was well placed to benefit from investment in renewable energy. "With careful consideration and planning, projects like this can be developed in the Yass region with positive benefits to the environment, the local economy and the community," Mr Davey said.

"It will provide the capacity for the Yass region to establish ongoing, longterm, sustainable jobs through the service, construction and related manufacturing industries." Investigations in the area will include measurements of wind speed, noise propagation, visual impact studies, flora and fauna studies and assessment of heritage values.

Epuron plans to feed the electricity produced from the wind farm into the national electricity grid, to be consumed within the national electricity market. Mr Davey said the company had already received planning approval to build three wind farms, including one at Conroys Gap near Yass.

Yass mayor Nic Carmody said he believed the wind farm would have an environmental benefit, but he did not think it would provide "a direct benefit to the people of the Yass Valley". "We all need to be doing our bit for green energy," Mr Carmody said. "I think they should certainly be exploring it and see if it's worthwhile proceeding with it. "I know in the case of the previous [wind farm at Conroys Gap], there were a lot of people who were affected who live nearby. They do have concerns and valid concerns."

EU law makes power firms pay for all emissions

Thursday 9/10/2008 Page: 8

THE future of coal-fired power generation in Europe has been called into question after the European Union backed laws that would force power companies to pay for all their carbon dioxide emissions from 2013. The decision, which could cost the power industry 30 billion ($56 billion) a year and could trigger a steep rise in electricity bills, represents a huge boost for the renewable energy industry.

Chris Davies, an MEP who supported the legislation, said the decision by the EU's environment committee "effectively prevents the building of new coalfired power plants from 2015 unless equipped with CCS (carbon capture and storage technology)' . The new rules require final approval from the European parliament and EU member states. If granted, they would transform the economics of burning coal to generate electricity.

The move came despite fierce resistance from power industry lobbyists, who said the EU's aggressive emissions-cutting targets should be weakened because of the global financial crisis. Avril Doyle, an Irish MEP on the committee, said: "For all the trouble we have, the single greatest challenge facing us is climate change." The committee backed proposed changes to the EU emissions trading scheme, a program in which the bulk of permits are handed out to companies for free.

Members voted in favour of auctioning all emissions permits after 2013 for power companies. The committee proposed that other polluting industries, such as steel making, should pay for 15 per cent of permits in 2013, rising to 100 per cent by 2020. It had been unclear how the ETS program would evolve after 2012. The committee also offered to plough $14 billion from the scheme into carbon capture and storage research, an untried technology designed to strip out greenhouse gases at source and store them underground.

The bill is a key plank of the EU's plan to cut Europe's carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. The CBI welcomed the scheme yesterday, saying it would provide greater clarity for businesses. Europe's renewable energy industry endorsed the decision. "This new target underlines the urgency of action to deliver clean, sustainable energy now if we are to keep global temperatures within acceptable limits," said Maria McCaffery, of the British Wind Energy Association.

A vote before the full European parliament is likely in December, although opposition is expected from some heavily coal dependent countries, such as Poland. France, which has the EU presidency at the moment, wants to enshrine the bill in law by the end of the year.

Democratic leaders in the US House of Representatives yesterday proposed to reduce by 80 per cent in the next 42 years the gases from power plants, transportation and factories. The draft legislation would begin slowly, capping emissions of heat-trapping gases released by transportation and power plants first, then moving to other sectors of the economy.