What is going on in the Arctic?

The Arctic is still a cold place, but it is warming faster than any other region on Earth. Over the past 50 years, the Arctic’s temperature has risen by more than twice the global average. In 2016, the annual mean temperature in Svalbard was 6 degrees higher than normal – so we are already witnessing actual consequences of global warming to Arctic life. These rapid changes have consequences well beyond the Arctic.

NSP 08-09-2017

What Arctic change does to the world

Once Arctic warming gets going, it has two important dynamics with unpredictable effects.

  • As the Arctic warms and sea-ice and snow-cover retracts, this weakens surface reflectivity. The bare ground and open water absorb more heat from the sun and amplify warming further. This feedback is an important reason why the Arctic warms at twice the rate of the global average.
  • The Arctic permafrost is a storehouse for trapped greenhouse-gases such as methane and CO2. When the permafrost is thawing, these greenhouse-gases could be released to the atmosphere, amplifying global warming further. These secondary effects are adding unpredictability. Unpredictability in terms of consequences – but also unpredictability in terms of the pace of climate change. As we know, unpredictability means enhanced risks.

Arctic warming is accelerating

A new scientific assessment of climate change in the Arctic, by the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), concludes that the Arctic is now shifting — rapidly and in unexpected ways — into a new state.

If we allow current trends to continue, they will have profound and accelerated impacts on ecosystems, human health and safety, industries and economies around the world. Certainly, this will also influence our security environment. Recent research indicates that this could increase risk levels not only in the Arctic, but in regions very far from the Arctic areas. This is due to the climate system – It is highly interconnected on the global scale. The Arctic region acts as a global cooling system by drawing warm ocean water from the south and cooling it down. This movement of warmer ocean waters to the north has a major influence on climate outside the Arctic; it accounts for northern Europe’s relatively mild climate, and it keeps the Tropics cooler than they would otherwise be.

The rapid melting of Arctic ice and snow is likely to weaken this global cooling system, amplifying global warming, and intensifying its consequences throughout the world.

Artic warming will amplify security risks

So while global warming is a multiplier of existing security risks and threats, the Arctic is an amplifier of global warming. Indirectly, a warmer Arctic will indeed also amplify security risks worldwide. We are seeing, and will see ever more extreme weather events. We are seeing more stress on critical ecosystems, including oceans, freshwater, and biodiversity. These changes, in turn, will have direct and indirect social, economic, political, and security effects.

Extreme weather can trigger crop failures, wildfires, energy blackouts, infrastructure breakdown, supply-chain breakdowns, migration, and infectious disease outbreaks. We can expect climate change to exacerbate current conditions: making hot, dry places hotter and drier, for example. Over the longer term, global climate change will change how and where people live, where they can produce food, as well as the diseases they face.

Science is increasingly concerned that more sudden, dramatic shifts could be possible. Such shifts in the climate or climate-linked ecosystems could have dramatic economic and ecological consequences.

Accelerated climate change

Accelerated climate change, therefore, is not only a significant risk factor in its own right – it is a factor that can interplay with and magnify other risk factors: economic, technological and demographic.

  • Economic risk – The globalised economy, the risks to free trade and the global economy are real.

The physical risks that arise from the increased frequency and severity of climate- and weather-related events that damage property and disrupt trade. The liability risks – the risks posed to companies business models by climate change. The transition risks which could result from the adjustment towards a lower-carbon economy. Changes in policy, technology and physical risks could prompt a reassessment of the value of a large range of assets. Just as we can have climate shocks and technological disruptions, we may also have “policy shocks” in response to dramatic climate events.

  • Technology induced risks – Combatting climate change will require faster technological change.

Technology is accelerating the pace of change around us, and in the process it is triggering new complex challenges, disruptions and tensions.

  • Demographic risks – Risks associated with demographic shifts.

Urbanization is a welcome trend in terms of more climate friendly living with regard to housing, transport systems and other public infrastructure. At the same time, with more extreme weather events, rising sea levels and pressure on critical infrastructure, urban centres are increasingly vulnerable.

Climate action is of high strategic importance

Climate change is a security challenge, and hence climate policy is of high strategic importance. The work in the GREBE project workpackage 4 is a small contribution to the strategic work on climate policy and security challenges – with a practical focus on business strategy models.

Climate policy matters!

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Could Norway become a hydrogen nation?

h2-hydrogen

Local businesses in Narvik says yes – we both can and shall become a green hydrogen nation. “Let’s use the surplus and trapped renewable energy to produce hydrogen – and distribute the hydrogen and make it accessible to growing zero emission markets in Norway and the rest of the world”. This is the conclusion from the Hydrogen meeting in Narvik arranged by Narvik Science Park.

The Renewable Energy Directive 

The EU Renewable Energy Directive establishes an overall policy for the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources in the EU. It requires the EU to fulfill at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020 – to be achieved through the attainment of individual national targets. All EU countries must also ensure that at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.  In November 2016, the Commission published a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive to make the EU a global leader in renewable energy and ensure that the target of at least 27% renewables in the final energy consumption in the EU by 2030 is met.

National action plans

The Directive specifies national renewable energy targets for each country, taking into account its starting point and overall potential for renewables. These targets range from a low 10% to a high of 50%. EU countries set out how they plan to meet these targets and the general course of their renewable energy policy in national renewable energy action plans – and the progress towards national targets is measured every two years when the EU countries publish national renewable energy progress reports.

The Directive promotes cooperation amongst EU countries and with countries outside EU (Norway) to help EU meet their renewable energy targets.

Norway – Hydrogen nation?

Norway would have a close cooperation with EU and will adapt to the Renewable Energy Directive by making national plans for Norway – especially for Hydrogen, where Norway would start to make a strategy for Hydrogen production and establishing Hydrogen Fuel stations  across the country from January 2017.

Norway is in a unique position as it has a surplus of renewable energy production, annually 20 Terrawatt hours, and limited grid capacity for export – which means trapped renewable energy production that could be used for Hydrogen production. There also exists a political will to support energy intensive industries such as hydrogen production. This means that hydrogen could play a significant role in the future – both as export of hydrogen and as fuel for national land transport (Network of Hydrogen fuel stations).

Hydrogen meeting in Narvik

The Narvik Hydrogen meeting was arranged by Narvik Science Park in cooperation with the Hydrogen production company; Glomfjord Hydrogen and the Hydrogen technology company; NEL Hydrogen – just to look into the interest for establishing Hydrogen fuel stations across Norway – and the local businesses interest for investing in Hydrogen fuel stations. 20 local companies say yes to hydrogen technology solutions and that Norway should become a hydrogen nation.

From Spring 2017 there would be a close cooperation between Narvik Science Park and ENOVA – to look closer into how local companies can contribute to investments in hydrogen technology solutions and establishing Hydrogen fuel stations in the Narvik region – as a bit of a national plan to become a hydrogen nation.

European Union policy for the Arctic

NSP 06-07-2016

The Arctic states have primary responsibility for tackling issues within their territories, many of the issues affecting the Arctic region can be more effectively addressed through multilateral cooperation.

This is why EU engagement is important in the Arctic region. Building on previous initiatives, the European Parliament has started the work on developing an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic – that focuses on advancing international cooperation in responding to the impacts of climate change on the Arctic’s fragile environment, and promoting and contributing to sustainable development in the European part of the Arctic (EU –Commission resolution by 27.04.2016).

  1. BACKGROUND

Reasons for EU’s focus on the Arctic region:

Climate change – In recent years, the Arctic’s role in climate change has become much more prominent. Wheras in the past attention focused almost solely on the effects of climate change in the Arctic, more recently there has been growing awarness that feedback loops are turning the Arctic into a contributor to climate change. Understanding these dynamics, and helping to develop specific strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the Arctic, will form the EU’s wider efforts to combat climate change.

Arctic environment – Given the important role of Arctic as a regulator for the climate of the planet and acting as a sink for long-range pollution, the EU has a duty to protect the fragile Arctic environment and strengthen ecosystem resilience. The EU Arctic policy will be an important element to produce the adaptation strategies that are needed to help Arctic inhabitants respond to the serious challenges they face because of climate change.

Sustainable development – Taking in to account both the traditional livelihoods of those living in the region and the impact of economic development on the Arctic’s fragile environment. The EU should contribute to enhancing the economic and environmental resilience of societies in the Arctic. A number of EU activities and decisions are having an impact on economic developments in the Arctic region and EU is a major consumer of products coming from the Arctic states, such as fish products and energy. Investment by European companies can help advance sustainable development in the Arctic region.

International strategic importance – In recent years, the arctic region has acquired a higher profile in international relations due to its increasing environmental, economic and strategic importance. The EU already contributes substantially to Arctic research and regional developments. The opportunities of the Arctic can also increase tensions in the region – thorough competition for the resources and increasing economic activity. It is now more important than ever to ensure that the Arctic remains a zone of peace and constructive international cooperation.

Investment – A recent report: “A Strategic Vision for the North – May 2015” estimated investment opportunities in the Barents region alone to be EUR 140 billion. Regional ‘Smart specialisation strategies’ combined with EU funding, can help to develop local models of sustainable growth and job creation in the European Arctic with potential benefits across the EU:

  • Investment by European private capital
  • Investment by the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)
  • Activities under the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE)

2. PRIORITY AREAS

Against this background the European Parliament has asked the Commission for Foreign Affairs to develop an integrated policy on Arctic matters, and to develop a framework for EU action and funding programmes that focuses on three priority areas:

  • Climate change and safeguarding the Arctic environment
  • Sustainable development in and around the Arctic
  • International cooperation on Arctic issues

The main target for the EU Arctic policy is research and innovation – which will play a key role across all the three priority areas.

3. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AND AROUND THE ARCTIC

Sustainable economic development faces specific challenges in the Arctic region. Compared with other parts of Europe, the European part of the Arctic region is rich in natural resources such as fish, minerals, oil and gas – but is characterised by lack of transport links such as road, rail and flight connections, and has a sparse population spread over a wide area.

This means that the European part of the Arctic region has a significant potential to support growth in the rest of Europe. Through its’ Member State and its’ close ties with Iceland and Norway, as members of the European Economic Area (EEA), the EU can play an influential role in shaping the future development of the European part of the Arctic through the application of EU rules relevant for the EEA and the deployment of financial instruments.

The climate of the Arctic region makes it an ideal innovation site for cold climate technologies and services. Harsh climatic conditions and fragile environment require specialised technology and know-how to meet high environmental standards – and a lot of other opportunities. The European Commission will help to monitor opportunities in the Arctic region by giving priority to:

  1. Sustainable economic activities and innovation:
  • Cold Climate Technology
  • SME Competitivness and innovation
  • Climate research
  • Green Economy – Renewable energy/Multi-source energy systems
  • Blue Economy – Aquaculture, fisheries, marine biotechnology

     2. Project financing through EU territorial cooperation programmes:

  • Interreg Nord
  • Botnia-Atlantica Programme
  • The Baltic Sea Region Programme
  • The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme
  • The Kolarctic cross-border cooperation programmes

 3.  Innovation support:

  • ESIF Programmes
  • Horizon 2020
  • European Investment Bank Group
  • The European Enterprise Network
  • European Arctic Stakeholder Forum
  • Arctic EU Funds
  • European Investment Advisory Hub
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

 4. Infrastructure Projects:

  • European Investment Bank (Transport connections, telecom, energy efficiency)
  • Trans-European network for Transport (TENT)

 

EUROPEAN ARCTIC STAKEHOLDER FORUM

Consultations between the Commission and the European External Action Service has lead to the conclusion that the Arctic region is suffering from underinvestment. Recognising this, the Comission will set up a European Arctic stakeholder forum with the aim to enhancing collaboration and coordination between different funding programmes. This temporary forum should bring together EU institutions, Member States, and regional authorities to contribute to identifying key investment and research priorities for EU funds in the region.

Complementary to the forum, the NPA programme will lead a pilot activity aiming at bringing together a network of managing authorities and stakeholders from various regional development programmes in the European part of the Arctic. It is to facilitate the exchange of information, plan and coordinate calls for proposals and monitor the impact of programmes on the region. The new collaborative network will also be open to participation by relevant national and international financing instruments. The network feeds into the work of the stakeholder forum in identifying the research and investment priorities.

To bring the results of the forum and network, the Commission will fund and facilitate an annual Arctic stakeholder conference in the European Arctic region – after 2017 – to strengthen collaboration and networking between stakeholders to improve international project development in the Arctic region.

CONCLUSIONS

Through its Member State and its close ties with Iceland and Norway, the EU would play an influential role in shaping the future development of the European part of the Arctic through EU rules relevant for the EEA and the deployment of financial instruments focusing on innovation priority areas, project financing, innovation support and infrastructure programmes.

The European policy for the Arctic region would guide the EU’s actions for the coming years, but the Commission will keep the Arctic policy under review in light of developments. This will als ogive the participants in the GREBE-Project opportunity to contribute to identifying key investment and research priorities to EU – through the European stakeholder forum and the NPA stakeholder network and take part in and bring result in to the annual Arctic stakeholder conference in 2018. Work Package 4 with focus on SME innovation and harsh climate conditions challenging the opportunities in the ‘Green Economy’ sector.

The rich resources of the Arctic region has the potential to support economic growth in the rest of Europe, and the strategic importance of the Arctic region has increased as a result of this – and the willingness to invest in the area is huge, both from EU investment fund and EU innovation programmes.

The GREBE-Project has participants from the Arctic region and EU – so the integrated EU policy for the Arctic gives the GREBE-projects opportunities to have an influence on the priority of identifying key investment area for the renewable energy sector in the arctic region.