Iceland’s new government puts environmental issues and global warming at the forefront

1007993

A new government was formed in Iceland on the 30th of November after an election in October. The Left Green movement, the independence Party and the Progressive Party joined forces and formed a government. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chairman of the Leftist-Green Movement is Iceland’s new Prime Minister, making her the second woman to hold that position in Iceland, as well as the first ever socialist leader in the country.

In the government agreement are the environmental issues and global warming at the forefront. Iceland is guided by the goal of the Paris Agreement of 2015 to limit the average increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere to 1.5°C from the reference level. The main aim of the government’s climate policy is to avoid negative effects of climate change on marine life. In no other part of the world has the temperature risen as much as it has in the Arctic. Thus, it is incumbent upon Iceland to conduct more extensive studies of acidification of the ocean in collaboration with the academic community and the fishing industry. Iceland is moreover bound to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases, based on the 1990 level, by 2030.

It is the government’s wish to go further than is envisaged in the Paris Agreement and to aim to have a carbon-neutral Iceland by 2040 at the latest. The aim is to achieve this by making a permanent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions and also through changes in land use in accordance with internationally recognized standards and by incorporating approaches that take account of the local ecology and planning considerations. Support will be given to industrial sectors, individual enterprises, institutions and local authorities in their attempt to set themselves targets pertaining to climate-change.

The government aims to have all major public projects assessed in terms of their impact on the climate-policy targets. Concessions for new investment projects will be subject to the condition that the projects have been assessed in terms of their impact on climate and how they conform to Iceland’s international undertakings regarding reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. Emphasis will be placed on involving all players in society, and the general public, in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and support will be given to innovation in this sphere. A climate council will be established and a plan of action on emission reductions will be drawn up, with a time-scale, and financed.

The plan of action will include targets regarding transport and the proportion of vehicles powered by environmentally friendly fuels in the total number of vehicles in Iceland, utilization 22 — levels of fuel and power in business and industry, the introduction of international conventions on the protection of the oceans, ‘green steps’ in state operations and a Climate Fund, and moves will be made to prohibit the use of heavy oil in vessels within Iceland’s economic zone. Collaboration will be established with sheep farmers on neutralizing the carbon emissions from sheep farming in accordance with a plan of action. Other production sectors will also be invited to collaborate on comparable projects.

Advertisements

GREBE Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA & Arctic Regions

4-1-cover

Global climate change impacts Europe in many ways, including: changes in average and extreme temperature and precipitation, warmer oceans, rising sea level and shrinking snow and ice cover on land and at sea. These weather phenomenons have led to a range of impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and human health and safety. There is no doubt that the changes in climate will have a strong impact in our daily life, whether we accept extreme weather conditions as a new phenomenon or not. Adaptation to the past history data, present observed and future predicted impacts will in the coming decades be needed, as well as be complementary to global climate mitigation actions. Narvik Science Park has made a report on this in the GREBE-Project.

4-1-image

Background

The harsh climatic conditions experienced in many NPA regions, particularly high north and arctic regions, present significant challenges to SMEs and start-ups that can seriously impact on the viability of their businesses. Winter storms regularly occurring in the high north, known as polar lows or arctic weather fronts, can bring about sudden and extreme drops in temperatures, with debilitating ice and snow conditions developing quickly. Also, in the North West Europe the influence from the North Atlantic Oscillation give rise to storms, resulting in high winds and precipitations. These conditions frequently give rise to unsafe working conditions and suspension of business operations, particular in the case of technology installations. Operational environments in these areas are often vulnerable irrespective of climatic conditions, given their isolated, remote locations, far away from technical maintenance staff, and which are often difficult to access by road, air or sea. Businesses located in these areas must compensate for fragile and less robust parameters, in order to cope with unforeseen sudden disturbances (for instance, climate change effects).

There are significant climate challenges in the partner regions with different types of harsh weather. Low temperature, hard winds, and rain/ snow conditions can be extreme in the NPA regions. The question is – how to find the best process conditions for business in remote NPA communities, where knowledge transfer is an important aspect. A harsh local/regional climate, sparsely populated areas together with rural geographic related issues and poor infrastructure have a tendency to bias the company’s business models.

Effects on GREBE regions in Northern Europe

Findings from the work of NSP – In the northeastern part of Europe there is a high societal disturbance caused by wind, rain and in some sense also freezing rain. Since the occurrence of harsh weather conditions are not frequent, the effect will be more palpable. In comparison the norther part of Europe, i.e. Iceland has a frequent presence of high wind conditions that in this case will be more of a “normal” continuous state in daily weather.  In the northeast coastal regions of Europe, the weather is more unpredictable with suddenly arising storms, i.e. polar lows, delivering both rain/snow and windy conditions. In the mainland northeast regions there are precipitation and in conjunction with this often cold climate.

“Local extreme weather” – The weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions is considered to be affecting the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when affects and may have serious consequences to compete in an open market. The trends in towards more local extreme weather is indicating the following spread in northern Europe:

  • Ireland/Northern-Ireland – Wind & Storms
  • Scotland – Rain & Wind
  • Iceland – Wind & Cold
  • Norway – Snow & Cold
  • Finland – Ice & Snow

The economic outcome is then a vulnerable factor in these NPA regions that gives a negative bias for local business and a non-favorable competitive disadvantage compared to similar businesses in other EU regions.

The Regional readiness

The readiness from the society to handle harsh weather and local “extreme” conditions varies from country to country in northern Europe. The regional readiness in local “extreme weather conditions” should be an important measure when establishing new enterprises and a serious risk analysis should be made before each activity starts, by taken in account the possibility for weather disturbance. Based upon the description below from each GREBE partner region, an indicative regional or even local perception has to be defined. The overall measure that indicates some connection between local “extreme weather frequency” and a corresponding indication of society readiness can be of great value. This opens for a discussion and action plans or even a business strategy plan, concerning suddenly weather extremes that are changing in a fast manner, like for example in frequency and behavior. This will also reflect the current climate change in coherence with business activities that we are experiencing and specifically when it is expected to make the biggest noticeable effect on the environment in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions. The regional readiness in society is of great importance when considering time loss of energy, restriction in transportations or not operational production.

However, the impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions. The frequency of these weather phenomenons can be severe when an indirect impact occurs, e.g. avalanches, coldness, strong winds and flooding will also in the future cause disturbances in the society. These occurrences mainly affect the accessibility to production plants and the mobility of staff. Nevertheless, there is always a high risk that the safety aspect will in each situation not be fully understood. The “local extreme weather” is always important to relate to for both personnel and business operations.

Conclusions –  climate effects on society business

  1. Regional cooperation – The widely spread geographical areas of northern Europe, is experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to its location, but also possible opportunities that can be overcome and realized by regional cooperation. The experience from each region may be introduced to other Northern European areas and innovations from different parts in society can be used to create specific growth initiatives and common efficient business opportunities of the European Northern and Arctic regions in a climate efficient way. One major impact of challenges and initiatives in business operations is the influence of weather conditions on society and in the extension also SME business operations and productivity located in these areas.
  2. Strategic handling – Today, many operators in society refer to weather as a restriction in budget and argue that it is a phenomenon that has an actuable impact on business. However, the weather can be a strong benefit for the business when an updated insight into the specific local conditions is available and by using a strategic handling document based upon regional knowledge and experience from other businesses. Even national weather organizations are today providing companies this service.
  3. Variety of weather – The final implication is that a change in weather pattern will result in a variety of weather phenomenon that can affect the NPA regions in a different matter. There are different effects on the society, depending upon the specific region, i.e. flooding, wind, and disturbance on roads by fallen trees and avalanche.

You can download the report from the GREBE Project website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/GREBE-Report-on-the-Influence-of-Environmental-Conditions-in-NPA-Arctic-Regions.pdf

Norway to fund 8 new centres for Environment – friendly Energy Research

NSP image 06-06-2016

The Research Council of Norway has granted funding to 8 new centres for Environment- friendly Energy Research. Each new centre is guaranteed an annual funding for up to eight years. The total annual allocations from the Research Council to the centres will be roughly NOK 160 million.

The centres were selected on the basis of scientific merit, potential for innovation and value creation, and the extent to which they fulfill government targets relating to energy and greenhouse gas emission.

The 8 new Centres will start up in 2017 – and be fully operating from 2018. The Centres will work to reduce greenhouse gas emission in Norway and inrenationally, utilise energy more efficently, and increase the production of renewable energy. The Centres will also has as a task to disseminate the results of their research and contribute to a knowledge-based debate on environment-friendly energy.

Long-Term Initiative

The funding of the centres is a long-term initiative from the Research Council to generate solutions to climate – and energy- related challenges and promote industrial development. The centres comprise dynamic research groups and a large number of user partners from trade and industry and the public sector. The user partners will take active part in the centres management, financing and research activities.

The long-term perspective for each centre provide greater opportunity to achieve valuable results in the field of energy and climate research – results that can also be applied in trade and industry for added value. The long-term initiative is designed an build upon:

  1. Long-term Perspective
  2. Stable financial framework
  3. Outstanding research environments
  4. Industrial actors
  5. Public administration
  6. Cooperation between research, Industry and public administration

 The 8 new centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research:

Centre:   (1) Norwegian CCS Research Centre –
Focus Area: Co2 – capture, transport and storage
Research: SINTEF Energy Research
Industry: 25 Partners

 

Centre:   (2) Norwegian Research Centre for Hydropower Technology
Focus Area: –          Develop Hydropower technology for the future

–          New solutions for utilising flexible hydropower

Research: Norwegian University of science and Technology (NTNU)
Industry: 31 Partners

 

Centre:   (3) Norwegian Centre for Sustainable Bio-based Fuels and Energy
Focus Area: –          Develop technology for second-generation biofuels

–          Achieve 30 per cent reduction in production cost

Research: Norwegian University of Life Science (UMB)
Industry: 40 Partners

 

Centre:   (4) Centre for Intelligent Electricity Distribution
Focus Area: –          Modernisation of the electricity grid (Flexibility, Efficiency)

–          Enable the grid to handle interactions with renewable energy

Research: SINTEF Energy Research
Industry: 26 Partners

 

Centre:   (5) Centre for an Energy Efficient and Competitive Industry for the future
Focus Area: Raising energy efficiency in Norwegian Industry
Research: SINTEF Energy Research
Industry: 36 Partners

 

Centre:   (6) Research Centre for Sustainable Solar Cell Technology
Focus Area: –          Production of silicon-based solar cells

–          Developing the world’s most environment-friendly process

Research: Institute for Energy Technology (IFE)
Industry: 15 Partners

 

Centre:   (7) Mobility Zero Emission Energy Systems
Focus Area: –          Energy for the transport sector (Hydrogen + Batteries)

–          Business models for zero-emission transport

Research: Institute for Energy Technology (IFE)
Industry: 38 Partners

 

Centre:   (8) The Research Centre for Smart Cities
Focus Area: –          Solutions for zero-emission zones in smart cities

–          Renewable energy benefit for local environment

Research: Norwegian Univercity of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Industry: 32 Partners

 

Harsh weather and the effect on renewable energy SMEs

NSP blog post 15-12-2015The company ‘Narvik Science Park’ (NSP) is located in Narvik in the Northern Norway about 250 km north of the polar arctic circle.  NSP are responsible for Work Package 4 in the GREBE project.  Work Package 4 is directed towards the influence of environmental conditions in the NPA and Arctic regions and how SMEs in the regions are coping with weather constraints. The weather may affect the companies in many different ways, for example, in infrastructure, logistics and production.

The aim of Work Package 4 is to get an overall picture of the effects of weather related constraints in the different sub-regions and to estimate if there is a negative impact on Renewable Energy SMEs concerning and how production and results are affected by weather.

As an example, the Norwegian Metrological Institute has registered 180 weather warnings in Northern Norway during 2014.  How does this impact the renewable energy regarding installations, infrastructure, profit and competition in the sector?

This is the daily challenge for many SMEs in the renewable energy sector – approximately every second day there will be severe weather conditions which in some way will affect their business, and according to several climate reports, the situation will be even worse in the coming years.

Narvik Science Park will lead Work Package 4 and the aim is to publish a report on the different weather conditions affecting the regions within Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) programme and to follow up demands and successful solutions that improve the situation for doing business in the NPA and Arctic regions of Europe.