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UK & Europe - Nov 10

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Europe Must Stop 'Fetishizing' American Relationship

Gregor Peter Schmitz, Spiegel
It's Europe Week in Washington. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been asked to speak to a joint session of the United States Congress on Tuesday as part of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Only about a hundred world leaders have ever addressed a joint session of Congress. The last German chancellor to be bestowed the honor was Konrad Adenauer, who spoke before the US legislature in 1957 during the Cold War.

Shortly after on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama will also greet top European Union leaders at the EU-US summit. A special strategy meeting is planned on energy issues.

One might almost believe that in this new Obama era, Europe's phone number -- that same telephone number that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger jokingly suggested years ago -- is now available in Washington's most influential little black books. But is anyone really dialing those digits? Experts at the European Council on Foreign Relations, an influential think tank that American billionaire philanthropist George Soros founded in 2007, are skeptical. The role of the think tank -- which describes itself as the first "pan-European think tank," and which has offices in Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and Sofia -- is to "promote informed debate on the development of coherent, effective and values-based European foreign policy."

The council released a study on Monday called "Toward a Post-American Europe," based on wide-ranging interviews and research conducted in the 27 EU member states. In it, the authors make a clear appeal to European leaders: This "fetishization" of the trans-Atlantic relationship must stop, write Jeremy Shapiro and Nick Witney. It is high time that Europe declare a new, "post-American" age and do away with old myths about the trans-Atlantic relationship. Myths like the idea that the continent's security is dependent on American protection, is one example they cite. Or the one about American and European interests being the same at heart. Or the myth about European unity being damaging to the trans-Atlantic relationship because, as the authors put it, "ganging up on the US would be improper -- indeed counterproductive -- given the 'special relationship' that most European states believe they enjoy with Washington."...
(2 Nov 2009)


Britain rules out climate treaty at summit

Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor, The Independent
British Government officials believe there is no hope of signing a legally binding climate change treaty in Copenhagen next month.

The positions of major world powers are so far apart that another year or even more may be needed to negotiate a world climate treaty, senior British sources said at talks in Barcelona, which end today.

The likely delay will dismay millions of people in countries already threatened by global warming and further heighten the risk of dangerous climate change. It means another 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide will go into the atmosphere from industry, power generation, transport and deforestation before the world can agree on how to cut it back and try to keep rising temperatures below the critical C above the pre-industrial level, which is regarded as the danger threshold.

...The key accord – if it is eventually signed – may now be known by the world as the Mexico City treaty, which is where the next full-scale UN climate meeting is scheduled to be held, in December 2010.

Writing today for The Independent the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, also admits that a deal in Copenhagen is now unlikely. "The barriers to agreement on climate finance remain substantial," he writes. "Even if countries agree the levels of finance, few will want to hand over money if they lack confidence in the means of delivering it."...
(6 Nov 2009)


Recession 'fuels UK shoplifting'

BBC news
Shoplifting has surged to record levels in the UK, fuelled by the recession, according to a study.

The value of retail goods stolen rose 20% to £4.88bn in the year to June, the Centre for Retail Research said.

The UK had the highest amount in value of shoplifted goods in Europe and was third behind the US and Japan globally, data from 1,069 retailers suggests.

Checkpoint Systems, which commissioned the report, said there had been a rise in "middle-class" shoplifters.

It said more people were now stealing goods simply to maintain their standard of living rather than to sell them on.

Checkpoint Systems vice-president Neil Matthews added: "This is epitomised in the recent uprising of the middle-class shoplifter, someone who has turned to theft to sustain their standard of living...
(10 Nov 2009)


10 new nuclear power stations named

Alan Jones, Press Association
A huge expansion of nuclear power was signalled by the Government today as it named 10 sites where new power stations could be built.

The first is set to be operational by 2018 and, by 2025, nuclear electricity generation could amount to around 40% of new energy provision.

Nine of the new sites are in England, including three in Cumbria, with the 10th in Anglesey, North Wales.

Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband also set out an "ambitious" new policy for the transition to clean-coal generation, as well as confirming targets for generating 30 per cent of electricity by renewable sources by 2020.

The announcements were coupled with moves aimed at speeding up planning decisions on new energy projects aimed at cutting decisions to one year.

Mr Miliband said significantly more generating capacity was needed in the long term to meet the UK's low-carbon energy challenge, partly because of the intermittency of wind generation...
(9 Nov 2009)

Hmmhhh..."partly because of the intermittency of wind generation..." but what about this one?


Spain's windfarms set new national record for electricity generation

Giles Tremlett, the Guardian
Wind energy provided more than half of Spain's total electricity needs for several hours over the weekend as the country set a new national record for wind-generated power.

With high winds gusting across much of the country, Spain's huge network of windfarms jointly poured the equivalent of 11 nuclear power stations' worth of electricity into the national grid.

...The new record, which beat a 44 % level set earlier last week, came as strong winds battered the Iberian peninsula.

The massive output of wind turbines meant the Spanish grid had more electricity than was needed over the weekend. In previous years similar weather has forced windfarms to turn turbines off but now the spare electricity is exported or used by hydroelectric plants to pump water back into their dams — effectively storing the electricity for future use.

...José Donoso, head of the Spanish Wind Energy Association, recalled that just five years ago critics had claimed the grid could never cope with more than 14% of its supply from wind...
(9 Nov 2009)

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