Tag Archives: emission targets

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 19th May 2015

Mortgage lending soars as Ireland’s recovery goes from strength to strength

   

Recovery could hit a speed bump as figures don’t yet reflect Central Bank lending rules

First-time buyers continue to dominate the property market although latest figures show a slow return of property investors

Mortgage lending rose by 73% in the first quarter of 2015 to € 983m, as first-time buyers continued to dominate the market.

However, both the value and volume of mortgage lending was down on the last quarter of 2014, and the impact of tighter lending requirements from the Central Bank, which came into force on February 11th, has yet to be fully observed.

According to data published on Tuesday by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, some 5,618 new mortgages worth €983m were drawn-down in the first quarter, up by 64% on the same period in 2014, but down by 26% on Q4 2014, traditionally the strongest period for mortgage lending. This compares with Q1 2007 when 7,919 loans worth some €7.8bn were drawn-down.

First time buyers accounted for more than half (53.6%) of these loans, followed by those trading up (31.9%). Just 320 buy-to-let mortgages were drawn down during the period, accounting for 5.7% of the total. While down on Q4 (395), the figure is up 74% on Q1 2014, suggesting that investors are looking to take advantage of strong rental growth.

The average loan size rose to € 175,016 in Q1 2015, up 5.5% on Q1 2014.

Central Bank rules

Davy economist Conall MacCoille expects total new mortgage lending to reach €4.5bn in 2015, up from €3.7bn in 2014 and €2.4bn in 2013. However, growth rates have slowed, and Mr MacCoille said that the new lending rules from the Central Bank “will constrain credit availability as the year progresses”.

As of yet, the figures reveal little about the impact the new rules might have.

Juliet Tennent, economist with Goodbody Stockbrokers, says that while it is difficult to quantify the incidence of those who received mortgage approval under the “old” regime accelerating home purchase in the aforementioned figures, the Q1 numbers are encouraging as is the strong approvals figure for March, noting that the recovery has some “momentum”.

Ireland will struggle to meet its EU GHG emission reduction target

   

Figures released by the EPA on Monday show that significant effort will be needed for Ireland to meet its EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets

Figures released by the EPA on Monday show that significant effort will be needed for Ireland to meet its EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has predicted that Ireland will struggle to meet its EU greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction targets, which demand a 20% reduction by 2020 on 2005 levels.

The latest figures show that annual emissions from Ireland’s non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector, in which agriculture and transport dominate, are projected to be 9% to 14% below 2005 levels by 2020, which compares unfavourably to the 2020 target.

The EPA does add, however, that overachievement of annual limits in the period 2013-2017 under the best case scenario will allow Ireland to cumulatively meet its compliance obligations over the period 2013-2020.

This best case scenario assumes that ambitious policies and measures out to 2020 will be implemented in full, including reducing energy consumption in our homes and businesses and increasing renewable fuels in transport and heating.

Commenting on the latest figures, Laura Burke, EPA Director General said, “Our economy is now beginning to grow again and we must balance our focus on growth with a focus on becoming more sustainable and reducing emissions. Considerable effort will be needed between now and 2020 to implement key policies and measures in order to deliver projected emissions reductions. These include improvements in energy efficiency across the industry, commercial and residential sectors and reducing emissions from transport.”

Agriculture and transport dominate the non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector. Together they account for approximately 75% of Ireland’s non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector emissions in 2020, with agriculture at 46% and transport at 29%. For the period 2013-2020, agriculture emissions are projected to increase by 2%.

The EPA added that even if Ireland complies with its 2013-2020 obligations there will be as yet undefined new obligations for the years 2021-2030.

A starting point for post-2020 obligations in excess of the range of expected outcomes for 2020 (i.e., 9 – 14% below 2005 levels) will inevitably lead to severe compliance challenges early in the following decade and beyond.

Eircom needs more fibre to keep pace with new competition

    

What do Eircom’s results really tell us about its prospects in the near future? Has it turned itself around?

By the standards of recent years, the results are good.

Quarterly revenue growth, even taking into account seasonal factors, is a decent achievement.

If such growth continues, as executives are guiding, confidence will increase.

The company is a lot leaner than it was two or three years ago, too, and appears to have successfully changed its focus to high-speed broadband, an area it largely ignored until it almost collapsed two years ago.

But it still has some big decisions ahead. The biggest one is whether, and to what extent, it is prepared to walk the walk in terms of rolling out fibre broadband.

Directly piped to houses broadband?

That means proper fibre broadband that is piped directly into homes and businesses, not the type that only connects to old-fashioned copper phone lines from half a mile away. (Such ‘eFibre’ lines may be perfectly adequate for most of today’s uses, but are not long-term solutions.)

Eircom would undoubtedly prefer to ‘sweat’ its existing infrastructure – its copper landlines – for as long as it possibly can before having to invest several hundred millions more. That would mean relying on ‘eFibre’ DSL copper-hybrid infrastructure.

But rival entities such as the new ESB-Vodafone fibre broadband firm Siro are set to plough ahead with a €450m investment to connect 500,000 premises to direct fibre by 2018. And UPC, whose broadband speeds are over twice what Eircom can achieve with its current technology, has hoovered up a huge percentage of broadband subscriptions in urban areas. So if Eircom is to keep pace, it needs to invest hundreds of millions in new fibre infrastructure, even if it forestalls a return on investment for shareholders.

Is it prepared to do this? So far, it has indicated that it will match fibre roll-out plans in 50 towns by the ESB-Vodafone’s Siro company. And it could get a big boost if it wins the Government’s upcoming National Broadband Plan tender, which is likely to prioritise fibre to 700,000 rural premises. But it needs to keep investing to keep its momentum going.

New study on brain exercises for healthy ageing in people with Down syndrome

      

Researchers specialising in ageing in persons with an intellectual disability at Trinity College Dublin have just begun a new study to examine if cognitive training for adults with Down syndrome can have a protective effect for healthy ageing. The study is being conducted in the context of a growing concern by the researchers involved regarding levels of dementia in an ageing Down syndrome population in Ireland and varying standards of care, support and diagnostic pathways around the country.

The BEADS study (Brain Exercises for Adults with Down syndrome) will investigate the feasibility of using existing brain training games with a cohort of older adults with Down syndrome without dementia, and measure the effectiveness of the training in positively influencing levels of executive functioning such as planning, attention and memory.

Dementia is a critical issue for adults with Down syndrome, both in terms of rates of occurrence and the early age of onset in this particular group pf people. In a recent report by IDS-TILDA, the Intellectual Disability Supplement to The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, the researchers found that in the three year period since the first wave of data collection was conducted in 2010, the prevalence of dementia among people with Down syndrome had almost doubled from 15.8% to 29.9%. These are much higher levels than the 1.5% seen in the general population. Other Trinity studies have found that the average age of onset of dementia for people with Down syndrome was 55 years of age with some cases presenting in their early 40’s. By comparison, onset for the majority of people with dementia in the general population was at over 65 years of age.

In the general population there has been a lot of research conducted on the protective value of cognitive stimulation, or brain training, and its importance in healthy ageing. This is even more vital in a population of adults with Down syndrome as typically fewer opportunities for cognitive training and development were presented throughout their lives. As of yet, there has been little work in Ireland or indeed internationally on cognitive training and its influence on executive functioning for older adults with intellectual disabilities.

Speaking about the importance of conducting new research which will address the challenges with increasing levels of dementia in people with Down syndrome in Ireland, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in Trinity and Principal Investigator of IDS-TILDA, Professor Mary McCarron said: “Dementia has become such a significant challenge to the successful ageing of people with Down syndrome and we must do more than simply provide care. Other successes in the lives of people with Down syndrome occurred because we found new ways to increase opportunities; we can do no less as we confront the challenge of dementia.”

“In tandem with new studies such as BEADS which hope to help with improved levels of healthy ageing for people with Down syndrome, the Irish healthcare system must also urgently address the specific diagnostic and care needs of this group of people in a comprehensive, systematic and consistent way,” Professor McCarron concluded.

Sea lions get their teeth brushed at Scottish safari park

  • Part of an oral national health campaign

     

Poppy the sea lion gets a kiss from head sea lion keeper Frances Reid at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling.

It is National Smile Month, so some of the sea lions at Blair Drummond have been having their pearly whites brushed. They’ve been trained to have it done from an early age.

Poppy the sea lion has her teeth cleaned by head sea lion keeper Frances Reid at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling.

A group of sea lions at Blair Drummond Safari Park have been getting their teeth cleaned to help mark the start of a national oral health campaign.

The animals lined up to get their gnashers polished at the park near Stirling as National Smile Month got under way around the UK.

Poppy the sea lion has her teeth cleaned by head sea lion keeper Frances Reid at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of health issues and improve the oral health of millions of people throughout the country.

And while brushing a sea lion’s teeth might seem an odd thing to do, park bosses insist it is vital to their welfare.

Head keeper Frances Reid said: “Sea lions will live a lot longer in captivity then their wild counterparts, so their teeth need to last a lot longer.

“Just like our own teeth, we need to control the amount of plaque building up on them and reduce the amount of decay.

“Also if our sea lions get something stuck in their teeth, we can remove it easily without the need to put them under general anaesthetic and call the vet in.”

One of the sea lions, 10-year-old Poppy, was trained at an early age to get her teeth cleaned.

Trainer Sam Clark said: “We achieved it through positive reinforcement, so lots of encouragement and food rewards until she had complete trust in us and was confident to have her teeth brushed.

“A sea lion has 18 teeth on the bottom jaw and 18 on the top, and they only have one set of teeth in their lifetime, so we need to be able to inspect them daily.”

Planet Earth now has a flag for interplanetary relations

    

Let’s imagine for a moment that we’re on the cusp of the next great space race.

With private space enterprise a reality, the possibilities of incredible new spacedrive technologies, and a plan to colonise Mars in the next decade, it’s a wonderful time to be a space nerd.

But when humankind reaches Mars, what flag will we plant proudly in the surface?

There is actually an Outer Space Treaty (part of Space Law, which is also a thing) that bans countries from claiming celestial bodies as territory.

And so, a Swedish designer has taken it upon himself to create the International Flag of Planet Earth.

Designed by Oskar Pernefeldt as a graduation project at the Beckmans College of Design, it’s not yet an “official” flag for Earth – however that would be decided – but NASA is thanked on the contributors page for the project.

It’s not known how they were involved, though.

“Current expeditions in outer space use different national flags depending on which country is funding the voyage,” Pernefeldt wrote about the project.

“The space travelers, however, are more than just representatives of their own countries. They are representatives of planet Earth.”

As a design student, he set out to design something that not only reflect humanity’s existing flags – rectangular, wider than it is tall – but also has some meaning in the symbol.

Our little pale blue dot is unique in our survey of the known universe so far for its large quantities of liquid surface water – and so Pernefeldt chose a deep, rich blue as his primary colour – to offset a pure white flower.

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News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 20th October 2014

€250m investment to see five new S.F.I. research centres created

 

Aim of Science Foundation Ireland research centres is to achieve a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland’s research system

Mark Ferguson, director of of SFI Science Foundation Ireland, said that the new research centres “will make a significant contribution to Ireland’s economy, employment and reputation”.

Almost €250 million is to be invested in five new world-class Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centres, in a move aimed at enhancing research in critical and emerging areas of the economy including applied geosciences, software and medical devices.

The Department of Jobs through SFI will invest €155 million in the initiative, which will be combined with €90 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners.

The funding will support “cutting-edge research in critical and emerging sectors of the economy which are key for job creation in Ireland”, and the funding will be provided over the next six years, 2014-2020. The five SFI Research Centres will be involved in over 165 industry collaborations with partners ranging from multinationals to SMEs and including Intel, Google, Microsoft, Medtronic Vascular Galway Ltd, Xilinx, Huawei and many more.

The investment is the second tranche of funding under the SFI Research Centres Programme; last year € 300 million (€ 200 from SFI and € 100 from industry) in funding was announced for seven research centres, the largest ever combined Government and industry co-funding collaboration of its kind in the research field in Ireland.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton said that the initiative is “aimed at achieving a step-change in the reputation and performance of Ireland’s research system”.

“This builds on the announcement of seven similar centres last year. With twelve world-class SFI Research Centres, Ireland is now well placed to take the lead developing cutting-edge research and new technologies, ultimately delivering more commercial ideas and jobs,” he said.

Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, “These five new SFI Research Centres were selected following a highly competitive and rigorous international peer review process which screened for scientific excellence and assessed potential economic and societal impact.

These five SFI Research Centres complement the seven we announced last year – which are already having a major positive impact: making important scientific advances, initiating and enhancing enterprise, training people with appropriate skills, winning EU projects and enhancing Ireland’s international reputation. These SFI Research Centres combine scientific research with deep and significant enterprise engagement, excellence and impact. We are confident that they will make a significant contribution to Ireland’s economy, employment and reputation.”

The five centres involve a collaborative partnership across institutions in Ireland with participation from Cork Institute of Technology; Dublin City University; Dublin Institute of Technology; Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; Dundalk IT; NUI Galway; Maynooth University; Royal College of Surgeons Ireland; Trinity College Dublin; Tyndall National Institute; University College Cork; University College Dublin; University of Limerick and Waterford Institute of Technology. The five new SFI Research Centres are as follows:

Tánaiste Burton gives smart-alec answers to Mary Lou McDonald in Dail

“I’m sorry that’s not good enough? And I’m sorry if this breaches Dáil etiquette.”

  

The Deputy leader of Sinn Fein Mary Lou McDonald unleashed a tirade against Joan Burton in the Dáil this afternoon over what she contended was an attempt by the Tánaiste to avoid answering a question about water charges.

“You know what Tánaiste, if anyone had any doubt as to whether or not you gave a toss about struggling families, they’ve had —by your smart-alec, dismissive and inaccurate response — they have their answer.”

The row centred on a letter sent by Wicklow County Council to tenants in the Rental Accommodation Scheme — which is run by local authorities — warning them that they may face eviction if they don’t pay their water charges.

Addressing concerns raised by McDonald, Burton pointed out that Sinn Féin and independent councillors controlled the Council, and suggested local representatives should contact their county manager to discuss the situation.

But a fuming McDonald accused her of deliberately misrepresenting how government works, saying it was local authorities’ responsibility to administer policy laid down in Dublin.

“Smart-alec Tánaiste thinks it is smart to disregard the concerns that RAS tenants now have that their inability to pay your awful charge could jeopardise their home,” McDonald said.

“You stand up and give me a smart-alec response.

I’m sorry that’s not good enough … and I’m sorry if this breaches Dáil etiquette.

 Who pays for water?

McDonald’s presentation of the Council letter in the chamber comes in the wake of uncertainty in recent days over the position of landlords whose tenants can’t or won’t pay their water charges.

Irish Water was telling people on Twitter yesterday that if a tenant refused to pay, the landlord would be held accountable. A revised statement today from the semi-state didn’t really clear the matter up, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan said this morning that more clarity was needed.

Indeed, Sinn Féin’s own Pearse Doherty even took to Twitter yesterday to try and find out what would happen in cases like the one being faced by the tenants in Wicklow.

Amid sustained heckling from the Sinn Féin backbenches, the Tánaiste told McDonald today that she should put a phone-call in to her own party’s public representatives in Wicklow.

She also talked up the water charges relief measures introduced as part of Tuesday’s Budget, which she said would benefit “something like 700,000 households”.

“That would be the first thing I suggest that your councillors advise the tenants of,” Burton said.

After McDonald’s ‘smart-alec’ comments, the Tánaiste changed strategy in her second response, talking up the various other measures introduced by ministers Noonan and Howlin this week which she said would benefit struggling families

“I’m not sure you have much experience of what it is like not to be well-off or to be unemployed,” she said…

But she was drowned out by a chorus of angry voices as she continued along the same tack, advising McDonald, essentially, not to lecture her on such issues.

“There’s an awful lot of angry men in Sinn Féin, I will say that,” Burton observed, as the heckling continued.

Lads, lads try and control it… It’s being turned on and off like a water tap.

“Try and just put a stop to it.

Burton eventually ran out of response time in the session, but she finished her answer by again advising Sinn Féín to take the issue up with Council management in Wicklow.

Prostate cancer is not something to keep quiet about

 

It’s time men came out of the closet and opened up about their health.

Prostate cancer is mainly a disease of older men (although 25pc of cases are in younger men) and is often slow growing.

I think it’s great we’re focusing on men’s health this week. Men’s health does seem to get overlooked and despite (or could it be because of…) the facts that men don’t live as long as women, and up until recently, most doctors were male – it never seems to take centre stage. Men are often apologetic about seeking help with their health.

“Sorry, Doc, I’m only here because she sent me…” And I sometimes wonder is it part of that ‘Boys don’t cry’ ethos that prevents men from looking after their own needs and maybe causes them to suffer in silence. Prostate disease is a good example of this.

Your prostate is a small doughnut shaped organ that sits just below your bladder, and your urethra (outflow pipe) passes through the centre of it. It’s normally about the size of a chestnut but it enlarges with age.

Prostate cancer is mainly a disease of older men (although 25pc of cases are in younger men) and is often slow growing. And the symptoms – caused by the prostate cancer pressing on the urethra, sometimes partially blocking it – are often difficult for men to discuss.

‘Waterworks problems’ as the euphemism goes, include; poor stream, hesitancy, dribbling, urgency, incomplete voiding and incontinence. But these are not easy things to bring up, so men often don’t mention it and put up and shut up about their symptoms. I should point out that these symptoms don’t mean you have prostate cancer, they can be caused by normal, age-related enlargement of the prostate, but they do mean you should be checked out. Other symptoms such as pain at the base of the penis or passing blood are not normally caused by benign enlargement and should be checked out straight away.

The normal first line tests are a PSA blood test and a rectal examination. Which is not nearly as bad as people fear it to be? There’s quite a bit of controversy about prostate screening using the PSA blood test. International guidelines state men under 50 and over 69 should not be screened and that those in between those ages, should be told that the test, which is non-diagnostic, may lead to over investigation or over treatment – which can cause real side-effects. In a chestnut shell, what that means, is if you have a high PSA blood test, you’re obliged to go on for further investigations and biopsies and these investigations can cause problems, with urinary continence or with erections and ejaculation. Hence the controversy.

If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, the treatments are varied from ‘watchful waiting’ through to surgery, radiation and chemo. Watchful waiting for many older men is preferable, as prostate cancer in the elderly, often runs an indolent, slow, non-lethal course. If however you’re younger or the cancer is more advanced or aggressive – more invasive, surgical treatment is likely to be right for you.

Age is the single biggest risk factor for prostate cancer. With heredity and race also playing a role. But in terms of protective factors – having low blood cholesterol and a healthy diet seem to be the biggest game-changers. Keeping your cholesterol low is the most closely linked factor for remission and all prostate cancer sufferers should stick to a very low fat diet and may need a statin. Regular ejaculation has been shown in some studies to lower your risk of prostate cancer – so far from being bad for you; masturbation may in fact prevent prostate cancer. There’s something you were never told in school.

If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about it. Particularly if you’re a younger man and you have a family history. It’s time men came out of the closet and opened up about their health.

World’s deadliest spider shows up in family’s groceries

  

 

A family in South London has been “deeply traumatized” after the father discovered a deadly spider while unpacking the family’s groceries. The spider, called the Brazilian wandering spider, or Banana spider is the world’s most venomous arachnid.

The venomous spider got loose in the London home after the delivery of an online order from Waitrose. The arachnid had been hiding in a bunch of bananas, and when Tim, the father, picked the fruit up to put the bananas in a bowl, the spider made its appearance.

Waitrose delivered an online order to a London home with an unwanted hitchhiker in the bananas.

Tim, who would not give his last name, was so shocked he dropped the bananas into the bowl, trapping one of the spider’s legs. The six-inch diameter spider tried to make a run for it, tearing off one of its own legs in the attempt. This is when the father noticed the spider had been sitting on an egg sac.

With the spider in hiding somewhere in the kitchen, the couple’s two young sons fled the house as the parents made a frantic search. Waitrose was called, and employees came immediately to join the search. Meanwhile, Tim, who had taken a picture of the spider, did an online search and discovered the spider was a Brazilian wandering spider, the most venomous spider in the world.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said they couldn’t handle such a dangerous animal, and advised the couple call the police. The police said they couldn’t remove the spider, either.

  The captured spider in a thick plastic box.

Waitrose then sent in a pest control expert. Searching for the elusive killer spider proved to be difficult because it had gone into hiding. “We had no idea where it had gone. We were terrified. We got ourselves and our kids out of the house straight away,” Tim told the Guardian.

Steve Tripplett, the pest control expert straight away put the egg sac in the freezer to kill the eggs. Then, using a three-foot-long stick, he probed the fruit bowl, finding the spider hiding under the bananas. He says the spider went into an aggressive stance, standing on its hind legs and showing its fangs.

Tripplett was able to maneuver the spider into a plastic box which he sealed inside two additional boxes. It is understood the spider was shipped off to ascientific center abroad. The family, still upset over the morning’s events, opted to spend the night with friends.

It took several hours to get the spider captured, but the family was very relieved.

  The Brazilian wandering spider

The Brazilian wandering spider is also sometimes called the banana spider or armed spider. It belongs to the genus Phoneutria, Greek for murderess. There are eight species, with two being very notorious in the literature. In the 2010 issue of the Guinness Book of World Records, the Brazilian wandering spider is listed as the most venomous spider in the world. The Guinness book also points out that an effective antivenom is available and there have been few fatalities.

The wandering spider gets its name because it roams the forest floor at night, searching for prey. It does not have a lair or build webs. During the day it hides under logs, in termite mounds or in th among the leaves of banana trees (This is where the name banana spider comes from).

The toxicity of the venom from a bite from this spider is what makes it so dangerous. The venom contains a neurotoxin that affects the nervous system. The neurotoxin can cause excess salivation, an irregular heartbeat, and prolonged, painful erections (priapism) in men that sometimes last for hours. At deadly concentrations, the lungs are affected, leading to asphyxiation and death. As venomous as these spiders are, their venom is also being studied as a possibly treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Europe emission targets ‘will fail to protect our climate’

   

Europe’s leaders are about to consign the Earth to the risk of dangerous climate change, a UN expert says.

Prof Jim Skea, a vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the EU’s plan to cut CO2 emissions 40% by 2030 is too weak.

He says it will commit future governments to “extraordinary and unprecedented” emissions cuts.

The Commission rejected the claim, saying the 40% target puts Europe on track for long-term climate goals.

The 40% target – proposed by the European Commission – will be finalised at an EU summit this week.

A spokesman for the Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: “Our 40% target is in line with science as it puts us right on track to meet our 2050 goal of cutting emissions by 80%-95%.

“This is what developed countries will need to reduce by 2050 according to the IPCC to keep global warming below 2C.”

But Prof Skea, vice-chair of the economics working group of the IPCC, told BBC News the EU’s 40% target for 2030 would not lead to the desired cut by the middle of the century.

He said the easy climate protection measures – like energy saving – had been snapped up, leaving to future leaders the job of introducing new clean technologies in every walk of life.

“I don’t think many people have grasped just how huge this task is,” he said. “It is absolutely extraordinary and unprecedented. My guess is that 40% for 2030 is too little too late if we are really serious about our long-term targets.”

Step change

He believes some politicians have not grasped the relative mathematics of transforming the energy economy step-by-step from 1990 baseline through to 2050.

He says the Commission’s current stance means that future leaders will need to make a three-fold cut in just 20 years – which Prof Skea believes is scarcely credible.

Prof Skea believes governments are setting targets by what appears to be politically achievable rather than what is necessary to transform the way we make and use energy as the century unfolds.

Much of the political difficulty lies in fears that Europe’s competitors will not play their part in reducing emissions, leaving EU firms and consumers saddled with high energy prices.

Poland says the 40% target will damage its economy. Other nations like the UK say the target should be made more ambitious if the US and China agree strong action to protect the climate.

Other negotiations around the EU’s climate and energy package centre on whether Europe should agree a mandatory energy efficiency target.

Environmentalists and several industry groups argue this is the best way of cutting emissions whilst also reducing dependency on Russian gas.

The UK’s Energy Secretary Ed Davey maintains that nations should be able to decide on their own strategies for cutting emissions without being bound by too many rules.

Prof Skea, who is based at Imperial College London, agrees with him. The best way of cutting emissions, he says, is by Europe ratcheting up efficiency standards across all products that use energy.

Some politicians recently complained that new EU efficiency standards were denying people the opportunity to buy the best vacuum cleaners.

But Prof Skea maintains that industry standards take the least efficient machines off the market, which benefits consumers without excessive political pain.