Mitigation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Climate change mitigation and the strategy

Climate change mitigation can be defined as action to decrease the intensity of radiative forcing in order to reduce the warming of the planet. In contrast, adaptation involves acting to tolerate the effects rather then reducing the source. Most often, climate change mitigation scenarios involve reductions in the concentrations of greenhouse gases, either by reducing their sources or by increasing their sinks.

The UN defines mitigation in the context of climate change, as a human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases. Examples include using fossil fuels more efficiently for industrial processes or electricity generation, switching to renewable energy (solar energy or wind power), improving the insulation of buildings, and expanding forests and other “sinks” to remove greater amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

At the UNFCCC conference of parties in Cancun and Durban parties to the convention reiterated that a temperature rise limited to 2°C (3.6 °F) compared to preindustrial levels is the maximum acceptable, of which 0.8 °C has already taken place.

The European Union adopted the ‘climate and energy package’ June 2009, which is directed towards reaching the bloc’s targets of 20% Renewable Energy and 20% Emission Reduction by 2020 (20-20-20). The pathway envisaged is illustrated in the figure below

The core package comprises four pieces of complementary legislation:

A revision and strengthening of the Emissions Trading System (ETS), the EU’s key tool for cutting emissions cost-effectively. A single EU-wide cap on emission allowances will apply from 2013 and will be cut annually, reducing the number of allowances available to businesses to 21% below the 2005 level in 2020. The free allocation of allowances will be progressively replaced by auctioning, and the sectors and gases covered by the system will be somewhat expanded.

An ‘Effort Sharing Decision’ governing emissions from sectors not covered by the EU ETS, such as transport, housing, agriculture and waste. Under the Decision each Member State has agreed to a binding national emissions limitation target for 2020 which reflects its relative wealth. The targets range from an emissions reduction of 20% by the richest Member States to an increase in emissions of 20% by the poorest. These national targets will cut the EU’s overall emissions from the non-ETS sectors by 10% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

Binding national targets for renewable energy which collectively will lift the average renewable share across the EU to 20% by 2020 (more than double the 2006 level of 9.2%). The national targets range from a renewables share of 10% in Malta to 49% in Sweden. The targets will contribute to decreasing the EU’s dependence on imported energy and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The maltese action plan to reach this target can be found here

A legal framework to promote the development and safe use of carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS is a promising family of technologies that capture the carbon dioxide emitted by industrial processes and store it in underground geological formations where it cannot contribute to global warming. Although the different components of CCS are already deployed at commercial scale, the technical and economic viability of its use as an integrated system has yet to be shown. The EU therefore plans to set up a network of CCS demonstration plants by 2015 to test its viability, with the aim of commercial update of CCS by around 2020. Revised EU guidelines on state aid for environmental protection, issued at the same time as the legislative package was proposed, enable governments to provide financial support for CCS pilot plants.

The climate and energy package creates pressure to improve energy efficiency but does not address it directly. This is being done through the EU’s energy efficiency action plan.

To implement the above and to enable the accomplishment of the targets set Malta as published in September 2009 a National Strategy for Policy and Abatement Measures relating to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions following a review of the work submitted to it by the Climate Change Committee it had appointed in June 2008 and a review of the feedback received following the national consultation process the Ministry held between January 2009 and March 2009.

This Strategy seeks to articulate the action that is to be adopted. Moreover, the Strategy has sought to prioritise each action – on the basis of financial cost, ability to implement, clear economic and environment impact, immediate positive impact and whether an abatement measure stems from a specific EU and/or UNFCCC requirement. Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction encompass practically everyone in public policy. An attempt, therefore, to present the Strategy as conclusive and definitive would only serve to discredit what is an important step forward in this critical policy domain.

Thus, where it was so possible, the Strategy, basing itself on the excellent work of the Climate Change Unit within the Malta Environment and Planning Authority now within the Malta Resources Authority, has sought to estimate the impact in terms of Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction as a direct result of a particular abatement measure.

Moreover, a number of actions proposed in the Strategy require further detailed studies in their own right – comprehensive analysis to determine whether the respective action under consideration in actual fact is realisable, and more importantly, that it renders the highest tCO2e reduction in Greenhouse Gas for every €1 investment required to realise the said measure.

It is imperative, therefore, to emphasise, that the presentation of this Strategy is one step in the long journey that requires a process of change, review and transformation in the way Malta has behaved to date with regards to Climate Change by placing it, and therefore the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions, at the heart of public policy.

It is also imperative to underline that the Strategy as presented in this document is not immutable: mistakes will be made, lessons will be learnt, circumstances will change, new challenges will emerge and unforeseen opportunities will arise. It so follows that the actions stipulated in the strategy are updated, this is done by the Report on Projections, Policies and Measures which outlines the specific actions being undertaken and their effect on GHG emission.

The report published in 2011 highlights sectoral measures in Energy, Waste, Transport and Agriculture, which include measures that have already been undertaken, are being undertaken and planned to be undertaken in the near future.

These include measures related to the diversification of energy supply and augment the use of Alternative green and renewable energy sources, mainly through the installation of new efficient generation capacity including the upgrades in generation equipment of Delimara Power station, the installation of new generation capacity in Delimara to replace the older less efficient generation capacity in Marsa Power Station, which in turn will be completely shut down following the commissioning of the first interconnection cable between Malta and Sicily. The latter will enable Enemalta to purchase electricity from the European grid giving also the possibility to choose supplier of energy giving priority to greener credentials and a lower Carbon footprint like renewable energy providers. The local penetration of renewables (wind farms, solar water heaters etc.) is also envisaged in the Strategy and a number of measures are included in the PAMs report. Photovoltaic solar water heaters, micro-wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy production are being incentivised through a number of schemes managed by the Malta Resources Authority and Malta Enterprise (schemes specific to Industry) also through specific projects financed by central government and European funds the government is aiming at reducing significantly it own Carbon footprint (e.g. installation of Photovoltaic on Public buildings). These measures will significantly increase the efficiency of energy production and diversify energy sources used ensuring security of supply together with a significantly lower carbon footprint from the supply side.

From a demand side (demand side meaning what and howmuch energy are requiring for their consumption) a number of energy efficiency initiatives in the domestic and industrial sectors are being implemented to help Malta achieve its national energy efficiency. These measures are very well described in the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan Published in 2011. Most of the measures direct the end-user towards utilisation of fewer energy intensive products and when not avoidable, the most energy efficient products are encouraged. The introduction of smart metering gives the possibility to the consumer to monitor more accurately his consumption, together with incentive schemes on the purchasing of energy efficient home appliances and incentives given to facilitate the uptake of energy efficient lighting have helped reached meaningful goals in undertaking a drastic mentality change in the conception of value of energy.

Transport is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, the implementation of a series of measures including the public transport reform is aimed at encouraging the use of more efficient means of transport. Positive modal shift (shifting transportation method) towards more use of public transport is highlighted as the option with greatest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The introduction and use of alternative fuels like autogas and sustainable biofuels like Bio-ETBE and biodiesel will also contribute to a reduction in emissions of this sector.

The modernisation of agricultural holdings including the introduction of modern animal and manure management techniques together with the implementation of the nitrates action program, which is chiefly targeted towards reducing the excessive application of nitrates in agriculture and the consequent negative effects will also significantly reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from the agricultural sector.

Waste management can be a significant GHG source if not well managed. The introduction of up to date management practices, can significantly reduce these emissions. The promotion of management of waste streams according to the waste management hierarchy in Figure 1, results in reduced resource loss and lower emissions, without significant reductions in consumption. Waste management measures include the promotion of waste prevention measures in the home and industry, implementation of resource recovery plants like St. Antnin Material Recovery Facility, and energy recovery facilities (St. Antnin Mechanical Biological treatment plant and thermal treatment facilities). In addition gases from already existing disposal sites like Maghtab and Ghallies landfills are being collected and combusted generating thermal and electrical energy, further augmenting the capacity of energy recovery from waste.

Figure 1:

GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS MONITORING

Like any other environmental policy, commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions requires the development of specific action for different sectors. The first action is to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions being produced. Observing the trends improve the understanding and help in identifying the scale of the problem. Should action be decided upon, targets can then be set. This is followed by defined policies which direct the action. The implementation of such policy action is routinely monitored. Analysis of the predominant trends in greenhouse gas emission enables the performance of developed policies. These are designed to reduce such emissions. The ultimate result is the effective management of each country and the combating of climate change through action.

The European Union’s Monitoring Mechanism

Regulation 525 2013 of the Euorpean Parliament and of the council of 21 May 2013 on a mecanism for monitoring and reporting greenhose gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and union level relevant to climate change, constitutes the backbone of the European Community’s greenhouse gases (GHG) monitoring system. This decision originates from the EU’s commitment to implement it’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

As an EU member, and in accordance with the EU’s Monitoring Mechanism Articles 3(1) and 3(2) respectively; Malta has the obligation to submit an annual National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory and a biennial report on Climate Change policies, measures and projections (PAMs)

GHG emissions monitoring and the related policies adopted, enable Malta to assess the effectiveness of applicable policies and measures. This is a key component in managing actions and in meeting agreed commitments. Such efforts are combined, together with the other EU Member States, in the Climate Change and Energy package that was adopted in December 2008.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

The National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory is the key tool used for the monitoring and reporting of emissions; both in terms of the sources and the removals by ‘Sinks’. The format of inventory reporting is based on international reporting procedures which were agreed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It uses set calculation methodologies as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

What is the Global Warming Potential of Greenhouse Gases?

 

Different Greenhouse Gases (GHG) have varying capacities to cause global warming. This depends on their unique radiative properties, their molecular weight and the lifetime of the compounds within the atmosphere.

A simple working method provides for the calculation of the relative contribution of a unit emission of each gas, relative to the effect of a unit emission of CO2 integrated over a fixed time period. A 100-year time horizon has been chosen by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in view of the relatively long time scale for addressing climate change. The calculation method established the Global Warming Potential (GWP)  for each individual GHG.

The GWP can thus be defined as the warming influence over a set time period of any GHG, relative to that of CO2.

Overview of Source and Sink Category Emission Estimates and Trends

Energy is the largest contributor of GHG emissions in Malta with a share of 88.8% of the gross national emissions. Within this sector the energy industries (power plants) account for the majority of the emissions (72.3%) and this has increased by 41.2% between 1990 and 2011. This activity also remains the highest contributor overall.

The second highest contributor is transport (which incorporates road transport, national navigation and domestic aviation), this accounts for 21.1% of the energy sector emissions, and representing an increase of around 61.9 % over the time series covered by this report. The other energy sub sectors together make up the remainder of this sector’s emissions.

Emissions within the Industrial Processes sector account for 4.7% for 2011. Here one should note that many of the industrial process categories as stipulated by IPCC guidelines do not occur in Malta. The Solvent and Other Product Use sector comprises a very small amount of the total emissions throughout the whole time series; in 2011 it accounted for less than 0.1% of total emissions. The sector has also seen a decrease of 47.3% over the whole time series.

Agriculture in Malta is estimated to contribute around 2.4% of total national GHG emissions for 2011. The Waste sector has the third largest share of the total GHG inventory emissions (4.3%), with the largest portion of emissions for the reporting year 2011 resulting from the Solid Waste Disposal on Land category (86.1%), followed by liquid waste (13.2%). The overall trend in this sector for the whole time series is one of continued increase in emissions (235% increases over 1990).

The Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector includes yearly estimates of carbon dioxide emissions and removals by particular vegetation types. In 2011 -59.67 Gg of CO2 removals were estimated, accounting for a net removal equivalent to 2.0% of the total emissions for 2011.

The most recent GHG Inventory for Malta is accessible at the following link:

National Inventory Report 1990-2011.

Report on Projections, Policies and Measures

As an EU Member State, Malta is obliged to submit a biennial report on national projections, policies and measures in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 525/2013.

The scope of this report, (which is informally referred to as the PAMs Report), is to assess the projected potential progress by Member States on GHG emissions limitation and reduction up to a defined year. Although, at present, under the Kyoto Protocol, Malta does not have any limitation or reduction targets, the country is still bound by the obligations of the EU acquis, including the compilation and submission to the European Commission of this report.

The PAMs report covers the same sectors as are addressed in the national GHG inventory, namely energy (including transport), waste, agriculture, industrial processes and land use, and contains information on national policies and measures (implemented, adopted and planned) which limit and/or reduce GHG emissions by sources or enhance removals by sinks and projected GHG emissions by sector for the years 2015, 2020 and 2025

The PAMs Report can be considered as the basic policy and implementation management tool for countries to monitor progress towards achieving their targets on GHG emissions limitation and reduction until the year 2020 for the same sectors as those covered by the national emissions inventory.

Malta’s latest PAMs reports can be accessed here:  2013 Policies and Measures and Projections Report.

Effort Sharing Decision

Scope of the legislation

The Climate Change – Energy package agreed by the EU in December 2008 included a new legislative instrument, Decision 406/2009/EC  (so-called Effort-Sharing Decision) which addresses anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases that are not covered by the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS, Directive 2003/87/EC).

In Malta’s case, non-ETS emissions include all non-CO2 GHG emissions from the two local energy generation power plants (these plants fall under the EU ETS in respect of CO2 emissions), emissions from road transport and domestic navigation, waste, agriculture, industrial processes, solvent and other product use, fuel combustion in industry and in the residential, institutional and commercial sectors, as well as fugitive emissions from fuels. These emissions currently account for approximately one third of Malta’s total GHG emissions.

GHG emissions from international aviation and shipping (aviation and maritime bunkers), which are the only greenhouse gas emitting sectors not covered by emission limitation or reduction obligation sunder the Kyoto Protocol, are excluded from the Effort Sharing Decision. While efforts continue at international level to find means by which emissions from such sectors can be regulated on a global scale, a major share of EU GHG emissions from aviation (international as well as domestic) are now included in the EU ETS.

At this stage, GHG removals related to land use, land use change and forestry are also excluded from the scope of the Decision.

The aim of the Effort Sharing Decision is to reduce, by 2020, non-ETS GHG emissions by 10% from 2005 levels across the EU. Each Member State will contribute to this effort according to its relative estimated capability, with national emission targets ranging from -20% for richer Member States to +20% for poorer ones.

Apart from the final target for 2020, the Decision sets intermediate binding annual targets for the period 2013 to 2020. The annual emission allocation defined by this linear trajectory cannot be exceeded, except to a (quantified) limited extent through the use of the flexibilities provided for in the Decision. These include the possibility for Member States to borrow from their own allocation for the subsequent year, acquisition of additional allowances from other Member States and the use of credits from project activities. Member States whose efforts result in emissions that are below the target can carry forward surplus allowances to subsequent years or transfer their unused allocation to other Member States.

Member States will be subject to corrective actions in the event that the annual emission allocations are exceeded. Such actions include a deduction from the Member State’s emission allocation for the following year, the obligation to submit a corrective action plan, and the temporary suspension of eligibility to transfer part of the Member State’s emission allocation and project mechanism credits to another Member State until compliance is achieved.

Malta’s Target

Malta has agreed to a target for 2020 that has been set at +5% relative to its 2005 GHG emissions. This means that by 2020, Malta’s non-ETS emissions can only increase up to 5% when compared to the non-ETS emissions in 2005, as reported in the national GHG emissions inventory.

As a Member State with a positive target for 2020, Malta’s annual targets for the period 2013 to 2020 will be defined by a straight line trajectory between 2009 and 2020, with the starting point in 2009 equal to the average of non-ETS emissions for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Malta’s trajectory under the Effort-Sharing Decision (sources: DG CLIMA, European Commission)

Malta’s Projections:

To provide the government with guidance on the prospects of Malta reaching the targets described above projections based on available data are drawn up and reported in the .  This report is updated every other year as per obligation under Regulation (EU) No 525/2013.

Further information:

 More information on the Effort-Sharing Decision may be accessed here >>>>Link