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Press Release: The Green Deal Industrial Plan: A welcome initiative but missing critical climate conditions 

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 09:03

On 1 February, the European Commission announced a Green Deal Industrial Plan to enhance the competitiveness of Europe’s net-zero industry and support the fast transition to climate neutrality. The plan, aimed at scaling up of the EU’s manufacturing capacity for net-zero technologies and products, consists of four pillars: a simpler regulatory framework, faster access to funding, enhancing skills and open trade. The Commission also aims to propose a Net-Zero Industry Act to identify goals for net-zero industrial capacity and provide a regulatory framework suited for its quick deployment.  

While the intentions behind this Communication are welcome, the announced measures mostly summarise existing support mechanisms. But more importantly, the Communication doesn’t underline the critical condition for receiving any additional support – significant emission reductions. The suggested measures announce more simplification and flexibility for accessing funds. However, flexibility should not come at the expense of a beneficial climate impact; if taxpayers are footing the bill, the investments for industry need to deliver significant emissions reductions.  

Hydrogen: supported as an individual technology, but without needed safeguards 

The Communication includes a wide variety of measures to simplify and accelerate the deployment of hydrogen, spanning from accelerated permitting to easier access to finance and direct subsidies. Hydrogen will be an essential element of industrial deep decarbonisation, so creating the appropriate regulatory and financing framework will enable this decarbonisation.  

However, to ensure the efforts laid down in this communication deliver the climate effects that we need, Europe must ensure that hydrogen is produced with additional resources, and that it is reserved to those sectors that have no other decarbonisation pathways. Otherwise, hydrogen risks becoming a further threat to the climate, instead of a crucial climate solution. 

We thus urge the Commission as part of the Green Deal Industrial Plan to adopt the delegated act on RFNBOs to provide the industry with regulatory certainty and the climate with adequate protection, and to include a very clear prioritisation strategy for industrial sectors with no other decarbonisation pathways into the auction scheme of the Hydrogen Bank. Similarly, we urge the institutions to ensure that a definition encompassing the whole lifecycle analysis of GHG emissions of low-carbon hydrogen is included in the Gas Market Package, together with a strict minimising of blending. Only with these safeguards in place hydrogen can contribute to building a European green industry. 

CO2 infrastructure: general support present, but specific needs missing from the picture 

The development of CO2 infrastructure is needed in industries where other options, such as direct electrification, have a limited deployment potential. The Communication touches upon several regulatory and financial aspects that would benefit the uptake of an EU wide CCS value chain.   

The pillars of simple regulatory environment, faster permitting promoting strategic cross-border projects (transportation and CO2 infrastructure) are welcome and helpful to overcome bottlenecks standing in the way of deployment. Such a simplified regulatory framework would need to be harmonised across industries to incentivise a confident EU-wide CCS value chain development. The Communication also allows greater Member State flexibility when it comes to dispersing State Aid towards decarbonisation technologies such as CCS, potentially opening up much needed financing.  

However, the lack of specific support mechanisms for CCS is a cause for concern since the technology will play a key part in the decarbonisation of industries such as the cement sector. In comparison, other technologies such as hydrogen are mentioned numerous times as a focus area. Although hydrogen is sure to play a role in EU decarbonisation, the specific focus on it creates a risk of syphoning funds away from CCS, direct electrification measures, and other necessary technologies jeopardises the realisation of an effective industrial climate action plan. For example, the Hydrogen Bank uses funds from the Innovation Fund, making fewer funds available for capital expenditure-heavy activities like CCS. 

New renewable energy generation and grid infrastructure development: resting on REPowerEU plans 

Accelerating the pace at which renewables are deployed and delivered to large consumers, such as industrial players, is crucial for the decarbonisation of European industry. In that context, the Communication’s plans on simplifying regulations, minimising bureaucratic burdens and establishing a large-scale skills partnership for onshore renewable energy will contribute to the acceleration of RES deployment in the EU.   

However, while the extension and strengthening of smart electricity grids to accommodate large quantities of renewables is mentioned, it’s not supported with any additional measures outside of the existing REPowerEU plan. When it comes to State Aid, extending the provisions to all renewable technologies (in REDII) is necessary, but should still be accompanied by robust assessments that will prevent any potential negative environmental impacts.  

The Communication also announces that the Commission intends to extend the new competitive bidding mechanism for scaling up manufacturing of components for solar and wind energy. This would be a welcome change from the current emphasis on hydrogen and sorely needed to deploy the additional RES generation necessary to power the direct electrification and hydrogen production targets. 

Embodied Carbon: the recognition of full climate impact of materials is key  

A predictable regulatory environment, such as the Commission proposal aims to establish, is crucial to effectively decarbonise the building sector. The proposal does indeed refer to the construction and manufacturing sectors as “key to the green transition”, but it fails to address building materials altogether, which are traditionally manufactured via CO2-intensive processes. Thus, we urge the Commission to explicitly include crucial materials such as cement in the scope of “products that are key to meet our climate neutrality goals” .  

We welcome the Commission’s acknowledgement of the role that European standards have in rolling out new industrial value chains. Establishing clear standards that set thresholds for embodied carbon content in construction materials, together with mandatory green public procurement criteria, will send a clear signal for the creation of lead markets for low-carbon materials, whose uptake will help accelerate the decarbonisation of the building stock. Specific support mechanisms such as carbon contracts for difference are also needed for various low-carbon products, such as cement and steel. 

In addition, a harmonised approach at EU level for embodied carbon requirements will ease the burden on industry players that are having to deal with different legislation to that end, as some Member States already include embodied carbon provisions in national legislation (e.g., Denmark). The Net-Zero Industry Act must not only ensure the highest level of harmonisation across Member States, but also that the rapid deployment of clean technologies promotes standardised LCA data collection in buildings. 

Conclusions: What’s missing? 

Overall, the Communication identifies the correct challenges for industrial decarbonisation, but falls short on a few key elements. Going forward, the Net-Zero Industry Act must demonstrate a strong commitment to supporting projects which deliver real emissions reductions. All additional support, financial or regulatory, should only be provided under the condition that the receiving projects and products are climate compatible.  

In addition to the needed conditionality, the support aimed at clean technologies should have a stronger focus on the specific infrastructure needed to decarbonise industry. Renewable energy generation and targeted use, the development of grids and CO2 infrastructure are all important elements that will need to be supported in order to create a thriving carbon neutral industry in the EU. 

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Joint letter: Building fit-for-purpose hydrogen infrastructure requires an independent body

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 02:40

In a recent letter co-signed by several NGOs, we urged members of the European Parliament to adopt the alternative compromise amendment in the Gas and hydrogen markets Regulation that enables the creation of an independent hydrogen network development entity (European Network of Network Operators for Hydrogen – ENNOH). This entity must be run by hydrogen network operators whose mission and interest are solely in planning a cost-efficient and proportionate hydrogen infrastructure development, with no conflict of interest.

Read here: Joint letter to EP – ENNOH

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Hungary will thwart EU sanctions against Russia’s state nuclear corporation, reports say

Fri, 01/27/2023 - 10:26

Hungary will veto any European Union sanctions against Russia affecting nuclear energy, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday, according to newswires.

Ukraine has called on the 27-nation EU to include Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in sanctions but Hungary, which has a Russian-built nuclear plant it plans to expand with Rosatom, has blocked that.

Orban reiterated in the radio interview that sanctions on nuclear energy “must obviously be vetoed,” according to Reuters.

“We will not allow the plan to include nuclear energy into the sanctions be implemented,” the Hungarian premier said. “This is out of the question.”

EU-member Hungary has repeatedly criticized EU sanctions on Russia over its invasion of neighboring Ukraine, saying they failed to weaken Russia meaningfully, while they risk destroying the European economy.

The West has not imposed sanctions on Rosatom since the invasion began, despite the corporation’s role in the takeover of the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex in southeastern Ukraine, Europe’s biggest such plant.

Hungary’s Paks nuclear power station has four Soviet-built VVER-440 reactors with a combined capacity of about 2,000 megawatts, which reached full operational capacity in 1987. The plant generates about half Hungary’s power and gets its nuclear fuel from Russia.

Under a deal signed in 2014 with Russia, Hungary aims to expand the Paks plant with two Russian-made VVER-1200 reactors with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts each.

Poland and Lithuania advanced the notion of sanctioning Rosatom earlier this month, proposing that that Rosatom or its leadership be blacklisted in the EU as a first step. Ukraine itself has vociferously demanded Rosatom be sanctioned.

According to Rosatom itself, the war in Ukraine has done little to dampen its profits.

Speaking in December, Rosatom CEO Aleksey Likhachev told Izvestiya newspaper that the corporation’s 2022 exports grew by 15 percent.

“[Exports will grow] by about 15%. But one must understand that this is far from the limit,” Izvestia quoted Likhachev as saying in remarks published on December 26.

Likhachev ascribed the growth to, among others, contracts already being implemented, supplies of fuel, enriched uranium products, as well as conversion services,. It also includes the construction of 23 nuclear power units at projects in a dozen countries, he added.

Even in conditions of war and sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, “our portfolio of foreign orders for 10 years ahead is stable at the level of $200 billion,” Likhachev said. “This year we will overcome a psychologically important barrier in the supply of our products abroad in the amount of $10 billion.”

Including Hungary’s, there are currently 18 Russian or Soviet designed nuclear power plants operating in the EU. The majority of these plants depend on Rosatom for fuel deliveries, as well as storage of that fuel when it has been used. For it’s part, the United States relies on Rosatom for about one-quarter of its enriched uranium supplies.

Overall, Rosatom controls about 30 percent of the global market for uranium enrichment and 17 percent of the market for reactor fuel, and out of the approximately 450 nuclear power plants around the world, about 20 percent of them are Russian- or Soviet-designed.

 

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Bellona applauds election of new ZEP chair Eve Tamme

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 03:23

The Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP) chose Eve Tamme as its new Chair on Wednesday, 18 January 2023.

ZEP is the technical adviser to the EU on the deployment of CCS — a European Technology and Innovation Platform (ETIP) under the Commission’s Strategic Energy Technologies Plan (SET-Plan). Bellona is one of its founding members and co-chair, helping ZEP develop its role as a bringer of needed expertise to set up the necessary regulatory and financing framework to develop CCS infrastructure at scale and where needed.

With her background in the Global CCS Institute, and her extensive work on CCS and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), Eve Tamme is a trusted thought leader in this field. Her network within the European policy-making field and her links with Eastern Europe will bring a new and broad horizon to the impact that ZEP can and should have on the deployment of CCS in all of Europe.

Eve Tamme will follow in the footsteps of the previous chair of ZEP, Graeme Sweeney, who sadly passed away last year. Graeme led the Platform through a key transition initiated by Bellona to refocus Europe’s CCS debate toward energy-intensive process industries, as well as laying the foundations for a science-based EU framework for carbon-dioxide removals. With her extensive experience and skillset, Eve is very well placed to build on this legacy and accelerate developments to enable Europe’s net zero ambitions. Bellona greatly looks forward to working with her and ZEP to that end.

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Lead Markets 101

Fri, 01/20/2023 - 05:37

What are green lead markets? 

Lead markets generally denote a geographically distinct submarket that pioneers the successful adoption of an innovative design and/or product. In green lead markets, this innovation refers to products being more sustainable and low-carbon. Green lead markets may take different shapes and sizes and can range from green purchase agreements between public and/or private entities to municipal, regional or national policies encouraging the uptake of green products. 

The fundamental step of creating green lead markets is to generate a comprehensive CO2-footprint of a good or service in order to identify what is ‘green’ and which products should be pulled to the market. To ensure alignment with carbon neutrality goals, such a system needs to account for the whole lifecycle carbon of a product and include both the ‘operational carbon’, so the CO2 emitted during the use of a product, and the ‘embodied carbon’. The latter refers to the CO2 from input materials and processes going into a product, as well as the emissions resulting from products’ refurbishment and end-of-life treatment. 

For more information on ‘embodied carbon’, read here

What are ‘green premiums’? 

Investments in innovative new production processes and new feedstock supply to reduce the carbon footprint and improve the sustainability of a product come at a cost. This higher cost of production, which is generally passed down to the price of the final good, is called a ‘green premium’. Currently, there is not effective carbon price to balance this premium. As a result, these green products are at a competitive disadvantage.  

The opposite of a green premium is a ‘brown penalty’. This can occur, for example, when a functioning carbon price has internalised the environmental cost of products, making more climatically and environmentally harmful production processes and their outputs more expensive. 

What is ‘green procurement’? 

Procurement is an organisational process by private or public entities to ensure the buyer receives goods, services or works from an external source at the best possible price-quality ratio. This is often achieved through a tendering or bidding process, while accounting for aspects of quality, quantity, time and location. In green procurement, the carbon footprint and sustainability of a good will be given significant weight in the final decision.   

Green procurement is an important tool to create lead markets, due to the purchasing power of major buyers. Such procurement deals, therefore, generally happen between two businesses (B2B) and between businesses and the public sector. Green procurement can be implemented through internal requirements, such as minimum green content requirements of products, thresholds for CO2 intensity of final goods, and an internal CO2 pricing mechanism as part of the tendering process.  

How can lead markets help drive climate neutrality?  

Lead markets are a transitional tool and deliver an economic incentive for goods that are not yet competitive. The cost of climate action often requires initial incentives in the form of subsidies. These can include capital grants for new equipment and Contracts for Difference (CfD) to cover the ‘green premium’ of the final product. By creating a niche market on which this premium is willingly taken over by a buyer, lead markets create a business case that is no longer dependent on direct subsidization.  

Raising the spotlight on the emissions associated with a final product allows lead markets to encourage innovation and new processes along entire value chains of a final product. By restricting enabling access to only those products that are green, lead markets send a signalling effect to other ‘lag’ markets and generate economic interest in the delivery of green products to gain access. The result is growing competition in an equally growing market, shaping and being shaped by general consumer preference, potentially resulting in a ‘brown penalty’ and making the conditions of a lead market the new ‘normal’.  

Figure 1: Interactions between demand- and supply-side policies. Source: How product standards can grow the market for low-carbon industrial products. Frontier Economics (2022), 

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

IAEA plans continuous presence at all Ukrainian nuclear sites as war grinds on

Thu, 01/19/2023 - 07:35

The International Atomic Energy Agency is placing groups of experts at all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants to reduce the chances of severe accidents as Russia’s invasion continues, agency director Rafael Grossi said Wednesday.

The United Nations body already has a presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the largest in both Ukraine and Europe — which has been held by Russian forces since early in the war.

The IAEA’s permanent presence at all four of Ukraine’s nuclear stations, with at least 11 staff in total, marks an unprecedented expansion for the agency. IAEA technicians will also be at Chernobyl, the now-closed nuclear plant that was the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster that spread fallout over much of Europe.

In the latest incident highlighting the nuclear safety and security risks in Ukraine, the South Ukraine, Rivne and Khmelnitsky NPPs reduced their power output during the weekend while the country’s energy infrastructure was under missile attack. The levels have since been restored.

Ukraine also reported that missile attacks on Kyiv caused a fire in a warehouse on the site of the Kyiv Research Institute. The site holds a defueled research reactor, the core of which is stored in a spent fuel storage facility on the site. No personnel were injured. Radiation monitoring was performed and no changes were measured.

“From tomorrow, there will be two flags at all of the nuclear facilities in Ukraine; one of Ukraine and the second of the international nuclear agency,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a joint press conference with Grossi at the government headquarters in Kyiv on Wednesday.

Grossi arrived in Ukraine this week to raise the IAEA flag and install staff at each nuclear facility, visiting Chernobyl on Wednesday and Rivne Tuesday. Staff will remain at the facility for “as long as they are requested” by the Ukrainian government, he said.

The IAEA flags flying in Ukraine are “not just symbolic” said Grossi. “They reflect and they will signify the presence of some of the best-renowned experts in safety and security who will provide advice, and technical support during this very difficult time to each facility facing different challenges and problems depending on the situation.”

Shmyhal also said he requested the IAEA to impose sanctions on Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, and deprive Moscow of rights and privileges within the IAEA, as well as to halt any form of nuclear co-operation with the country. Grossi said that decision would fall on member states to discuss.

Grossi said that the IAEA experts — who are present at Ukraine’s request — will deepen the technical expertise at each plant to prevent nuclear accidents as Russia’s war, now in its 11th month, continues, as well as monitor nuclear safety and security systems.

“Quite simply there are attacks on (the plants),” Shmyhal said. “We want to avoid any nuclear accidents, therefore we turned to the IAEA for security and protection.”

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukrain  is located on the frontline of ongoing battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces. Russian forces captured the facility in March, and it has repeatedly come under fire since. All six reactors there are now shut down, though the plant is still connected to the electricity grid for safety reasons.

Grossi is pressing to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around Zaporizhzhia, where the IAEA has been present for more than four months.

“I remain determined to make the much-needed protection zone a reality as soon as possible. My consultations with Ukraine and Russia are making progress, albeit not as fast as they should,” Grossi said in an earlier statement on Tuesday.

At the press conference he said the IAEA was still in consultation with the Ukrainian government about establishing the zone. “We are closer to a good outcome,” he said.

Staff at Zaporizhzhia are also being urged to sign contracts with Rosatom, while the national Ukrainian operator Energoatom is urging them not to do so, the IAEA said, adding that their inspectors at the plant have nonetheless reported that “despite all the challenges, the plant still has adequate operational staff to maintain the safe operation of all units at the plant’s current level of functioning.”

 

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Embodied Carbon 101 

Thu, 01/12/2023 - 01:03

The goal of climate neutrality requires every part of our economy to decarbonise. An important aspect of this transition is to think of goods and services not in isolation but as part of a system. Embodied carbon is important in this respect and is beginning to receive the attention it deserves, both from policymakers and companies. For Bellona, it is an important new work area to complement our work on climate action, particularly in industry.  

What is Embodied Carbon? 

Embodied carbon is an essential category of emissions to take into account in order to achieve climate neutrality. It represents both the CO2 footprint of the ingredients and processes going into a product, as well as the emissions resulting from a product’s end-of-life treatment. Embodied carbon differs from operation carbon, which is the carbon that is emitted through the use of a product. In other words, embodied carbon reflects all of the emissions associated with or ‘embodied in’ a certain good, with the exception of operational carbon. Together, embodied and operational carbon covers the whole lifecycle emissions of a product. 

Why does Embodied Carbon matter? 

Being able to compare the emissions of different products beyond their operational emissions is fundamental to reaching carbon neutrality. By including embodied carbon in the overall footprint of each consumer product, we raise awareness for the whole carbon footprint of a product, we can drive a climate-neutral production of outputs along the product chain, and we also enable greater sustainability of our lifestyles.  

Two Examples of Embodied Carbon 

Built Environment 

Embodied carbon can reach 50% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a new building, and its relative share is growing. Stricter energy efficiency legislation and progress in renewable energy transitions are reducing the operational carbon, thereby increasing the proportionate share of embodied carbon over the lifetime of a building.

 Embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructures is associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole lifecycle of a building or infrastructure. It covers the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of buildings and infrastructures and their materials.   

Electric Vehicles (EV) vs Internal Combustion Engines 

The higher upfront emissions of manufacturing an electric vehicle versus a traditional combustion engine vehicle have been an important part of the debate around the sustainability and climate benefit of electric mobility.  

Embodied carbon in a car relates to two primary factors. Firstly, the emissions generated through the provision of feedstock and fuel, and secondly, the manufacturing process, including the associated CO2 with the production as well as the end-of-life emissions, which includes the recycling of steel and the battery in an EV. Indeed, for an EV, the carbon-intensive process of manufacturing batteries is the key factor in its higher up-front emissions. Whereas EVs run on electricity that has a certain carbon intensity, they do not actually emit any carbon as combustion engines do during the use of the vehicle. 

Source: Based on EPA, https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/electric-vehicle-myths 

How can we reduce Embodied Carbon? 

Embodied carbon adheres to both climate action and sustainability hierarchies.  

The first step, therefore, is to avoid the potential of (unnecessary) carbon being emitted in the product design. Reducing material input reduces the carbon footprint associated with the material’s production. Material efficiency and sufficiency can therefore play a major role in reducing embodied carbon emissions through choosing refurbishment over new-builds, apartments or townhouse rows over single-family houses and smaller, lighter cars over bigger ones. Saving materials makes both ecological and economic sense. 

The second step is reducing emissions across the necessary production parts, such as replacing high-carbon cement with low-carbon alternatives, including climate-friendly types of cement and concretes. Electrifying construction machinery and improving the logistics of materials to and from the building site. Utilising low-carbon steel and sustainable sourcing batteries from factories electrified with renewable energy.  

The final step goes back to the inception of the product by designing, for example, buildings or cars not only to use fewer and more climate-friendly materials but also to include plans to improve their disassembly and recyclability or reusability at the end of life.  

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Event Summary: “Global governance of CDR: carbon accounting of transboundary projects” at COP27

Mon, 01/09/2023 - 07:07

On the 10th of November 2022, Bellona hosted an event on Global Governance of Carbon Dioxide Removal: carbon accounting of transboundary projects, moderated by Mark Preston Aragonès, Policy Manager at Bellona Europa. Nestled in the Blue Zone of COP27[1], where access is restricted to delegates with UNFCCC accreditation, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the Bellona Pavilion welcomed Nils Anders Røkke, Executive Vice President, Sustainability, at SINTEF and Matthias Honegger, Senior Consultant at Perspectives Climate Group to broaden the discussion after Dr Samantha Eleanor Tanzer, CDR Research and Technology Manager at Bellona Europa presented on a soon-to-be-published NEGEM project draft[2] report on global governance of carbon dioxide removal (CDR). With a capacity of around 40 people, the room was full, with more participants standing by the entrance. This event at COP27, under the auspices of the Horizon 2020 project, NEGEM, looked to highlight the role of CDR in long-term climate targets and the transboundary challenges that arise from deploying them across countries.

The recording of the event is available here.

1 Opportunities and Challenges of CDR

Setting the stage, Dr Tanzer touched upon the role CDR plays in achieving net zero targets, saying:

“Getting to a net zero world is a huge challenge that relies primarily and always on massive and rapid reductions of the greenhouse gases that we emit to the atmosphere. But carbon dioxide removal systems, that physically extract and permanently store carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, will be an integral, if limited, part: in speeding those reductions towards net-zero; at balancing residual fossil emissions and other greenhouse gases at net-zero; and then extracting historical emissions of greenhouse gases to reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO₂ in the long run.”

Given their impactful role in net-zero dates and beyond, CDR methods are diverse and varied in CO₂ extraction and storage, ranging from biological or chemical processes to mineralisation or geological storage. This diversity of methods proves to be a challenge as a “one-size-fits-all” approach towards accounting, monitoring, and verifying will not be possible. This is compounded by the complexity of long-chain CDR systems, encompassing a wide range of activities such as energy required for transport and other services, which all impact need to be included into the accounting of a removal activity.

In the second presentation, Matthias Honegger touched upon the ongoing discussions on Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement where the Supervisory Board has been asked to provide guidance on removals. He highlighted the contentious mention of ocean and product reservoirs in the proposed definition for CDR in the preliminary text. The text, which differs from the established IPCC definition, contains additional requirements for removals, on areas such as monitoring, reporting and verification, possible reversals and negative social and environmental impacts. In terms of the legal text, Honegger stated that there is an emerging agreement for considering a removal a mitigation outcome “upon capture with intent of long-term storage”. He mentioned that this is an additional complication since the EU’s carbon removal certification is likely to provide yet another definition of removals.

2 Getting accounting right

The maths behind the accounting is straightforward Dr Tanzer explained:

“Only the net carbon dioxide removal measures the decrease in atmospheric greenhouse gases. which is of course the point of CDR. [It’s] also really important to make sure that we are only measuring these physical flows of removals and emissions. We have to make sure that we’re only counting physical flows of greenhouse gases, the extraction, the storage, the emissions. [Emission] avoidance and reduction should always be accounted for separately.”

Tanzer continued to highlight three key considerations for a good CDR accounting system, as elaborated in the draft report on Global Governance of Carbon Dioxide Removal.

  1. A robust definition of CDR that accounts for the physical extraction of CO₂ from the atmosphere, the amount permanently stored and all the associated emissions with the entire process.
  2. Clear metrics to CDR, which also means clearly separating measures that are reductions and avoidance over removals.
  3. Frameworks for monitoring and verifying removals that are science based.

However, the current form of legal text under UNFCCC that defines a mitigation outcome across borders is ambiguous. Honegger pointed out that there needs to be a clarity on who can claim credit for mitigation outcomes and inconsistent handling of this credit would complicate the ability to appropriately track carbon flows.

Nils Anders Røkke, participating alongside Honegger in a panel discussion, touched on the need to think about new accounting methodologies to trace CO₂ along the whole value chain and the work SINTEF does using blockchain to achieve this. He points out the need for such a robust system of accounting to avoid false claims.

3 Gaps in Global Governance

At a global level, appropriate accounting for emissions or their reductions aligns physical sciences with climate responsibility. An effective framework for accounting for this climate responsibility requires clarity in four key areas: the goals defined, the metrics and methodologies used for accounting, the jurisdiction and finally the liability for said emissions.

Using the example of a Bio-CCS[3] value chain, Dr Tanzer expanded upon the complexity of accounting for net CDR in a system based on territorial accounting. Under the reporting guidelines of the IPCC, accounting becomes more complicated. Even if the net CDR might be appropriately accounted for, the liability and jurisdiction among the countries involved in the value chain are handled differently. There is added ambiguity when dealing with emissions from international transport, which are counted but not attributed. The complication stems from having to decide which emissions and removals happen in whose jurisdiction, leading to the larger question that hangs over CDR accounting: Whose removal is it?

Who claims credit for a removal is still a difficult question to answer, especially with a value chain that crosses borders. Moreover, the gap within the accounting of CDR at this scale is quite evident:

“There is an inherent dichotomy between the territorial accounting framework that’s used for national and international emissions reporting and life cycle system accounting needed for CDR”, said Dr Tanzer.

The attribution of emissions and removals, according to life-cycle accounting frameworks dictate that they be attributed to the CDR system, while territorial accounting frameworks attribute emissions within the borders to the nation itself. These parallel methodologies point to the root problem in not being able to definitively attribute removals to a particular stakeholder.

Expanding on the ambiguity regarding liability, Honegger added:

“The challenge I think, in practical terms, that we have before us is how to consider and acknowledge and legally and economically deal with the fact that the storing country adopts a liability by storing CO₂ from another country. And as a host country I would imagine Norway [cited as an example] would need to enter into an agreement with the company that is actually affecting that storage in order, perhaps through insurance or some other agreement, to account for that and actually make sure that the storing entity has all the incentives it needs, and all the liability taken care of. And of course, then looking at this transaction as a service agreement in a sense that it also needs to consider for that fact and compensate essentially for the liability that is being adopted.”

4 Closing core gaps and moving forward

Dr Tanzer concluded her presentation providing multiple recommendations. To build a foundation to tackle transboundary accounting issues, several fundamental steps should be taken:

  1. An international agreement on a robust definition of CDR.
  2. Methodologies to monitor and verify heterogenous CDR systems.
  3. Science-based frameworks to account for non-biological removals and non-geological permanent storage.
  4. Explicit treatment of delayed extraction, storage permanence and reversal risk.
  5. Liability for international transport emissions.
  6. Explicit CDR targets that sit on top of emission reduction targets.

Upon this foundation, more nuanced questions can be answered by putting the following in place:

  1. Framework for attributing ownership of whole chain CDR emissions and removals.
  2. Guardrail regulations to ensure resources are used sustainably.
  3. Avoiding over-exploitation and unjust distribution of CDR use.
  4. Deciding how to take responsibility for historical emissions.

A separation of frameworks for accounting for CDR from territorial emissions as established under the IPCC framework forms a valid means of counting the actual physical flow of carbon.

Honegger further pointed to bilateral agreements under Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement that help develop high-quality pilot activities for CDR. He explained that these pilot projects, which can be publicly scrutinised by civil society organisations, can help identify issues and set early examples for robust and consistent accounting frameworks.

Røkke on what steps need to be taken moving forward reiterated the need to focus on the four definitional principles of removals. In addition, he mentioned the worrying developments of lobbyists in the EU pushing for measures that are not removals to be attributed as such, highlighting once again the issue of false claims:

“I think it’s really important to keep to these four principles of physical removal, that we have good and consistent rules on accounting and that we do not enter into the kind of pathways which actually adds emissions to the atmosphere.”

Comments were raised from the audience, questioning the validity of attributing a mitigation outcome upon the capture of CO₂ with intent of storage, rather than at the point of permanent storage. The general takeaway from the session was the need to establish clearer guidance on how to define and account for CDR, both nationally and internationally, as well as clarifying the accounting rules for permanent biogenic CO₂ storage and for direct extraction of CO₂ from the atmosphere.

[1] COP27 is the 27th Annual ‘Conference of Parties’ to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It serves as the highest governing body for matters relating to climate change, relying on a consensus between all participating countries.

[2] The final report will be published at negemproject.eu

[3] Sometimes also referred to as BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage). Bellona uses the broader term ‘Bio-CCS’, which also includes non-energy uses of biomass.

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

German minister Habeck’s visit to Norway: Joint plan for a climate-neutral future 

Fri, 01/06/2023 - 05:09

Germany and Norway have committed to a strategic partnership on climate protection, renewable energies and green industry. During German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck’s visit to the Scandinavian country, he and Norwegian ministers signed a Joint Declaration on the partnership and a Joint Statement on hydrogen. In addition, Habeck and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre presented the points on which they want to work together in the coming years. The capture and permanent storage of CO2 (CCS) also plays an important role. 

Bellona welcomes the intensification of cooperation for a climate-neutral energy and raw material supply. However, when it comes to hydrogen, we see some risks that could jeopardise the achievement of climate targets. 

CCS – Germany paves the way for the use of the technology  

“Better put CO2 into the ground than into the atmosphere.” With this statement, Habeck made it clear at the press conference that the government sees the technology as a relevant building block on the road to climate neutrality. Since the technology is proven and safe, and sometimes inevitable for example in industry like cement or lime, CCS is an unavoidable step towards climate neutrality. With this partnership, the road should be paved towards German CO2 being brought to Norway and stored there.  

Bellona welcomes the German government’s cooperation and openness to CCS. The fact that at this point there is no credible 1.5 degrees scenario without the technology has seemingly landed with the German government. How Germany deals with the specific issue of CCS and what the legal framework will look like, should be clarified in the Carbon Management Strategy, for which a process has been set up in the first half of the year. Bellona Germany sees itself as responsible for accompanying this process and contributing with its expertise of over 20 years of work on the topic. The Federal Ministry of Economy and Climate (BMWK) must now not slacken its pace and determination to create the legal framework that is still missing. 

One point that should also be examined in the carbon management strategy is storage in Germany itself – offshore in the North Sea or also on land. “It would be good for the government to make its own permanent geological storage possible,” says Dr Erika Bellmann, Managing Director of Bellona Germany. “This could ensure equitable access to all sites and strengthen the negotiating position vis-à-vis exporting countries like Norway.”  

Green and blue hydrogen – but only where it makes sense 

In addition to wind energy, Germany would also like to import hydrogen from Norway in the future. The infrastructure, a pipeline, is to be in place by 2030. This is to be built in a joint project of energy companies RWE and Equinor. Until green hydrogen is available in sufficient quantities, blue hydrogen produced from natural gas and decarbonised by CCS is to be imported. “Blue hydrogen can help reduce emissions faster,” Bellmann explains. “Especially for a climate-neutral industry, where hydrogen is used as a raw material and a chemical agent, it makes sense.”   

However, the imported hydrogen is also to be used in energy production. At the joint press conference, Habeck spoke of “hydrogen-ready” gas-fired power plants that will run on hydrogen in the future. So far, “hydrogen-ready” is essentially an empty phrase and ultimately means that hydrogen is not available and the plants will be run on unabated fossil gas instead. This may also jeopardise the reaching of climate goals. “It would be more efficient and climate-friendly to purchase renewable electricity directly,” Bellmann notes. “This should also be more of a focus of the German-Norwegian partnership.”  

However, a real innovation push for hydrogen technology, for example for hydrogen-based industrial plants – as also announced by both parties as a point of cooperation for a European green alliance – would be a very welcome step. 

Overall, Bellona assesses the meeting and the clear commitment to work together on a climate-neutral future as very positive. The CCS partnership in particular is a goal we have been working towards for a long time. Now, the German government must also act nationally and secure the success of the bilateral cooperation. The agreements will only develop their full potential if electricity and hydrogen from Norway do not get stuck in northern Germany. Power lines and hydrogen pipelines must also be built within Germany. Likewise, CO2 transport must be made possible within Germany in order to make Norwegian storage capacities accessible to industrial sites located far from the coast. 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Swedish Presidency of the EU Council: What this means for climate action 

Fri, 01/06/2023 - 02:11

These are the priorities of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of 2023. 

New year, new EU Council presidency. As of January 1st, Sweden assumed the Presidency of the EU Council for the first six months of 2023, and it does so with clear priorities: “security, competitiveness, green and energy transitions, democratic values and the rule of law.” 

This presidency finishes the joint programme that started in January 2022 with the French Presidency and continued in the second half of 2022 with Czechia’s Presidency. The end of the Swedish presidency will be followed by a new ‘trio’: Spain, Belgium, and Hungary.  

But before the new trio starts, the Swedish agenda is packed with priorities promising to determine policy outcomes well into 2030. These priorities have been marked by Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, which has highlighted the need for rapid industrial decarbonisation and the acceleration of the energy transition, as the energy system is directly linked to European security and the democratic values of the EU. 

With European economies severely affected by the war, the green and energy transitions take centre stage, with the ‘Fit for 55’ package setting the framework for climate action. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson recognises the EU’s climate leadership and declared Sweden’s intention to strengthen this position during the Presidency. 

Energy 

As the Swedish Presidency states in its programme, “joint European steps towards independence from fossil fuels are necessary not only for the green transition, but for our security.” And if the current geopolitical landscape proves something, it is the need to become independent from Russian fossil fuel imports and strengthen the EU’s energy system. A secure supply of fossil-free electricity is of paramount importance to achieve this while decreasing the energy system’s carbon intensity, which is why the reform of the electricity market is a top priority of this Presidency. 

The Gas Market Package is listed as another primary concern, as it could serve to reduce natural gas use while increasing the proportion of renewable and low-carbon gases in the energy system. For it to do so, the definition of low-carbon gases must include their full climate impact, and the blending of hydrogen with natural gas must be minimised due to their limited availability.  Read Bellona’s recommendations here

As part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, the Swedish presidency also plans to continue driving forward the trilogues on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and on the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). The results should reflect the ambitions set out in the 2030 targets, by setting out the right framework for additional deployment of renewable energy generation. Bellona supports the initiative of the Commission to expedite permitting processes for renewable energy deployment.  The RED should also include higher targets for the direct use of renewable electricity in industry, together with strict requirements for the deployment of additional renewable electricity generation for hydrogen production. The use of hydrogen should also be prioritised in sectors where the direct use of renewable electricity is not achievable.  

Furthermore, there are plans for advancing the work on the reform of the Energy Performance for Buildings Directive (EPBD), with aim to increase energy efficiency in buildings and improve the availability of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs). This is a step in the right direction, but to account for the full climate impact of the buildings sector, the embodied carbon emissions of buildings (i.e., the emissions that come from the manufacturing of construction materials and associated construction processes) must be taken into account. The EPBD must be an instrument in accounting for whole-life carbon in buildings, from material manufacturing to end-of-life disposal, to construction and building renovation as well as operational energy efficiency. Sweden, as one of the front-running Member States in embodied carbon legislation for buildings, is in a favourable position to drive forward the negotiations for a comprehensive and harmonised approach to include embodied carbon considerations in the EPBD

Transport 

Regarding transport, the Swedish Presidency intends to advance the negotiations on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), recognising it as “an important aspect in terms of sustainably and efficiently strengthening and modernising Europe’s transport infrastructure”. Currently, the lack of recognition and support for different ways of transporting CO2, such as by road, rail, and ships, risks missing the opportunity to optimise cooperation with other networks, like CO2 pipelines, that are supported under the TEN-E regulation. We look forward to the Swedish Presidency taking the opportunity of the ongoing revision of the TEN-T Regulation to remedy this inconsistency and bring the Regulation in line with the Commission’s ambition to establish a European cross-border, open access, and multimodal CO2 transport infrastructure. As Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson maintained during the 2022 CCUS Forum: “putting the right infrastructure in place is a must”. 

The programme also communicates an intention to initiate negotiations on proposals on the road, rail and intermodal transport that the Commission is expected to present later this year, including a package for green freight transport. Proposals on aviation are also expected to improve the internal aviation market. The ReFuelEU Aviation Initiative is undergoing Trilogue negotiations, and Bellona’s stance can be found here. On maritime transport, negotiations on the legislative acts in the Maritime Safety Package will also be initiated in the Council. 

Hydrogen, as a current hot topic, is subject to appear in several proposals related to energy and transport. As is argued regarding the Renewable Energy Directive, Bellona stresses the importance that any hydrogen supplied must be required to come from renewable energy sources and that the additionality of renewable energy must be ensured to avoid diverting renewable electricity generation capacity from its current use in the power sector. Read more about the place of hydrogen in an energy-efficient EU here

Environment 

A preliminary agreement on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), one of the major files of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, was found in December during the Czech Presidency, leaving room for the Swedish Presidency to engage in political discussions on some of the remaining files.   

It will also advance the proposal for Carbon Removal Certification Mechanism to develop robust accounting methodologies for carbon removal processes. Bellona welcomes this effort but highlights that the definition of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) must be clear and conform to these principles. There must be a separation of sinks, the commodification of carbon in natural sinks must be prevented, and the role of CCU must be minimised due to its limited potential for permanent storage. Certification of CDR is good news, but it must be gotten right. Bellona’s reaction to the initial proposal can be found here

Several circular economy initiatives are also on the list, such as establishing penalties for disposing of products that can otherwise be recycled or reused or rewards for products with significantly lower emissions than conventional/carbon-intensive products. Robust and accurate greenhouse gas accounting methodologies will be essential to avoid the greenwashing of circular products. A legally binding agreement on plastic pollution is also likely to take place during the Swedish Presidency of the Council. 

Following up on the outcomes of the UN Climate Conference (COP27) and the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) is also mentioned in the programme. Sweden will need to start the preparations ahead of COP28 for alignment on clear pathways to achieve net zero with intermediate targets, as a key element of the Presidency’s work. 

Internal market and industry 

Bellona welcomes the Presidency’s intention to prioritise the work on the interconnected negotiations on the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and the Construction Product Regulation (CPR), as well as the recognition that both regulations should be aligned to ensure that the effective decarbonisation of the construction sector. On the CPR, Sweden, as the leading Member State in green public procurement (GPP) also has the potential to drive the negotiations towards stronger GPP criteria in construction projects.  

What’s missing? 

The programme does not dive into the Council’s plans to tackle some regulatory files, such as the Sustainable Product Initiative, which, according to Bellona, should be given a more prominent place in the priorities list. Assessments must take into consideration the full value chain of production – including embodied carbon – of a given product. Not doing so can result in misleadingly favourable market conditions and a very real negative climate impact.  

** 

With so many relevant issues to tackle, the Swedish Presidency is bound to be leading the Council through a bustling six months, in a period where climate action is more urgent than ever if we want to meet the 2030 targets. Fortunately, the previous Presidency managed to conclude the political discussions on several key files, including the ETS and CBAM. However, most of the political agreements on the rest of the ‘Fit for 55’ package will need to happen during the Swedish Presidency, ahead of the next European elections in May of 2024, which will take centre stage from autumn of this year.  

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Carbon Dioxide Removal and Certification – What is it and why is it needed?

Thu, 12/22/2022 - 04:07

Together with Carbon Gap and Clean Air Task Force, Bellona Europa developed a fact sheet on the reasons why carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and certification is needed.

Recently, the EU made a first step towards certifying CDR with its Carbon Removal Certification Framework, but this will require substantial work to get right.

In its efforts to regulate the certification of CDR properly, the EU should focus on:

  • creating a real climate benefit;
  • measurability;
  • permanence;
  • additionality;
  • avoiding leakage;
  • avoiding double counting;
  • avoiding unintended impacts.

Read the fact sheet here.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Call for European Commission Communication to recognise the need for a carbon capture and storage strategy to reach climate neutrality in Europe

Tue, 12/20/2022 - 04:24

As the Fit for 55 package nears completion, the carbon capture and storage (CCS) discussion has reignited in the EU as it has become clear that it will be needed to cut emissions fast. As CCS moves from planning to deployment, in part with the aid of the EU Innovation Fund, the need for a policy framework, based on a robust set of guiding principles and safeguards is needed to facilitate the deployment of critical infrastructure for industrial decarbonisation at scale by 2030. Deployment of CCS in Europe should prioritise high-value applications, and hard-to-electrify industrial processes with unavoidable process emissions, while also implementing appropriate guardrails. These are necessary to achieve greater public acceptance.

We welcome the European Commission’s announcement to publish its Communication on the Strategic Vision on CCUS in early 2023. However, the European Commission’s recently published Work Programme for 2023 excludes plans to publish said Communication. We strongly urge the Commission to grant such a Communication priority, in line with the need and urgency expressed by CCS stakeholders at the CCUS Forum and the commitment made by European Commission officials present.

Download the open letter:

Letter on CCS Strategy

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Bellona signs open letter protecting the Innovation Fund to ensure real climate action and support industrial transformation

Thu, 12/15/2022 - 00:34

A strong reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) is needed in order to rapidly reduce emissions from the goods and services Europe produces. Supporting clean technologies and innovation through the Innovation Fund is crucial to ensure the necessary tools to decarbonise, such as hydrogen, next-generation renewables, carbon capture and storage, and carbon removal, are available. We, the undersigned, are concerned with the provisional agreement on RePower EU, which would enable Member States to use grants financed by the Innovation Fund (60%) and front-loading ETS allowances (40%). This will weaken and reduce the size of the Innovation Fund in order to raise revenues for RePowerEU at a time when an overall increase in funding would on the contrary be more needed than ever.

Read the letter:

Open-letter_-Protecting-the-Innovation-Fund

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Kyiv and Moscow trade accusations while safety zone around nuke plant is discussed

Thu, 12/08/2022 - 07:14

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the goal of a proposed safety zone around the besieged Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southern Ukraine was to “stop Ukraine shelling” the plant, while Kyiv said Moscow was amassing advanced weapons at the site.

Both Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of attacking Europe’s largest nuclear power complex, risking a potentially catastrophic nuclear accident.

Kyiv meanwhile said that that the plant’s Moscow occupiers have begun to deny entry to Ukrainian employees who have refused to sign contracts with Russia’s atomic firm, which now claims to oversee the plant.

Previous to the war, some 11,000 Ukrainians worked at the plant. That staff has now dwindled less than a quarter of that, posing another set of concerns around the plant’s safe operation.

In early October, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an decree declaring that the plant and all of its assets belonged to a Russia-owned enterprise called JSC Operating Organization of Zaporozhye NPP. The United Nations nuclear watchdog — the International Atomic Energy Agency — has refused to recognize the Russian operator, saying in a statement that the Zaporizhzhia plant is a Ukrainian facility.

Since Russia launched its invasion in February, the Zaporizhzhia facility has come under repeated artillery attacks, prompting the IAEA to appeal for a demilitarized safety zone surrounding the plant.

Russia, which has been hot and cold on the issue, finally seemed to be warming to the proposal, though both sides have failed to agree to the details of what the initiative would look like.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said earlier this week that the agency hoped to have an agreement on a secure zone in place by the end of this year.

“My commitment is to reach a solution as soon as possible. I hope by the end of the year,” Rafael Grossi told Italian newspaper La Repubblica in an interview published on Friday.

Grossi did not rule out meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Our goal is to avoid a nuclear accident, not to create a military situation that would favour either one party or the other”, Grossi said.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant provided a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia’s invasion, and has been forced to operate on back-up generators a number of times. It has six Soviet-designed VVER-1000 water-cooled and water-moderated reactors running on uranium 235.

The reactors are shut down but there is a risk that nuclear fuel could overheat if the power driving the cooling systems is cut. Shelling has repeatedly cut power lines.

 

 

 

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Norway must accept an oil & gas-free Arctic

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 07:09

The Norwegian government may fail to conclude a green industrial agreement with the EU, unless Norway accepts the EU’s demand for a fossil-free Arctic in the agreement. Failure to conclude such an agreement would be to the detriment of future-oriented industries in Norway, like offshore wind and batteries.  

– “When the EU launched its Arctic Strategy last year, laying the foundation for a fossil-free Arctic, I said this would be challenging for Norway. At the time I was laughed at. But I think I had a point”, says Bellona founder Frederic Hauge. 

The draft agreement that Dagens Næringliv has access to shows that the negotiation stand-still boils down to a disagreement about fossil fuels. Norway wants wording that support further Norwegian oil activity after 2030, which the EU rejects. The EU, on the other hand, wants Norway to agree that oil and gas should remain in the ground in the Arctic, in line with the EU’s Arctic plan. Norway is resisting this. 

For decades, Bellona has fought for the EU to set restrictions on fossil extraction in the Arctic. In October 2021, the EU took a stand in its Arctic Strategy to halt oil and gas activity in the Arctic and also signaled intentions to put an end to imports of oil and gas originating from the region. Earlier that year, US President Joe Biden suggested that the Arctic must be protected against all fossil activity. 

At the time, Bellona-founder Frederic Hauge said: 

– “Norway is completely out of step with the world when they insist on continuing to search for oil and gas in the Barents Sea, which is part of the Arctic. I’m in danger of becoming an opponent of Norwegian EU membership – because we cannot risk Norway gaining influence and destroying the EU’s climate policy.” 

Last year, the EU put forward its Arctic Strategy, which involves working toward a moratorium on oil and gas activities, as well as the intent to not buy hydrocarbons from the region. In an interview with Dagens Næringsliv last autumn, the then newly appointed Norwegian climate and environment minister Espen Barth Eide said that he was not worried about the signals from the EU about the Arctic. 

Bellona-founder Frederic Hauge now believes that the realities are catching up with Norway. 

– “The EU expects Norway to contribute to climate action, even where it hurts and is difficult. One can wonder whether there will be an agreement at all, if Norway does not agree to phase out oil and gas activities in the Arctic. I don’t think the EU will give in”, says Hauge. 

Is Norway willing to risk future industries for Arctic oil and gas?  

On a number of occasions, the Norwegian government has emphasised the importance of a June meeting between Timmermans and the Norwegian Minister of Energy Terje Aasland. This meeting has been referred to by the Norwegian government as proof that the EU wants more Norwegian oil and gas. The reality is that what the Norwegian’s tout as an agreement between Timmermans and Aasland, is a dialogue with the Commission, expressed in a Joint Statement.  

The green industrial agreement currently being negotiated would be something entirely different as it’s an agreement with the entire EU and must be negotiated with all the countries in the EU. The statement from the meeting with Timmermans cannot be taken as evidence that the EU wants Norwegian oil and gas from the Arctic.  

Bellona believes that while the intention of the June statement was initially good, namely to strengthen EU-Norway (energy) relations in the face of Europe’s biggest geopolitical crisis since the Second World War,  that statement has now ended up being taken hostage in Norway’s lobbying to get the EU to finance gas pipelines from the Barents Sea. Bellona is aware of  intense lobbying from the fossil industry to get this on the agenda.  

It will be a major defeat for all the other Norwegian industries if the Green Industry Deal falls through because of the Arctic oil and gas issue. Not least because it will damage Norway’s standing with the EU, as it will only strengthen the impression that the Norwegian authorities are willing to be a mouthpiece for oil and gas, at the expense of other industries.  

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Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Will Russia raise its sunken subs now that it has invaded Ukraine?

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 07:02

This article, authored by our editor Charles Digges, originally appeared in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

When Russia assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021, Moscow brought the environmentally minded eight-nation body an ambitious proposal. Over the next 14 years, it would raise from the depths of the Arctic a toxic array of rusting nuclear garbage—including two entire nuclear submarines—that had been dumped during the Soviet era.

The project was estimated to cost about $394 million at current exchange rates and had the backing of Vladimir Putin. His Arctic development plan ordered the retrieval of the subs and the accompanying radioactive waste by 2035.

Russian gas, oil, and mineral conglomerates wanted the wrecks cleared away from nascent Arctic shipping routes. Fishermen from either side of Russia’s border with Scandinavia, concerned that radioactive leakage from the submarines’ reactors would contaminate fisheries, also celebrated the news. It was a rare alignment of the stars, pleasing environmentalists, business interests, the Kremlin, and European governments all at the same time.

By November 2021, discussions were underway with the powerful European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which promised to help fund a preliminary review to establish how the subs should be lifted.

Then, in February, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Since then, the West has imposed a raft of sanctions against Moscow, and the intergovernmental buzz on the Arctic submarine and radioactive junk lift has gone silent.

Norway was among the first to step back, ceasing scientific exchanges with Moscow as soon as May and pausing funding to its decades-old bilateral nuclear safety commission with Russia in June. Days later, Moscow retorted tartly, saying it, too, was ceasing its work with the commission over the “unfriendly line” Norway had taken since the beginning of hostilities in Ukraine.

For an alliance that had weathered political tremors as turbulent as Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the rift was profound. Even when mutual distrust between East and West had been high, Norway and Russia had been able to reach above the politics to safely dispose of the most toxic elements of Cold War history. But the invasion of Ukraine proved to be a last straw.

Moscow insists that it will lift the submarines on its own. But does it stand any chance of doing so by itself? And if it can’t, what is at stake?

A history of cooperative cleanup.

Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States built more than 400 nuclear submarines, assuring each superpower the ability to fire nuclear missiles even after their land-based silos had been decimated by a first strike. The fjords and coastlines around Murmansk adjacent to NATO member Norway became the hub of the Soviet Northern Fleet, and a dumping ground for radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

After the Iron Curtain fell, the disturbing scale of this legacy came to light. It was revealed that at Andreyeva Bay, a nuclear submarine refueling site just 60 kilometers from the Norwegian border, 600,000 metric tons of irradiated water leaked into the Barents Sea from a nuclear fuel storage pool in 1982. The site contained 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies pulled from more than 100 subs, many kept in rusted containers stored in the open air.

Fearing contamination, Norway spearheaded a sweeping cleanup effort with other Western nations. Combined they spent more than $1 billion to dismantle 197 decommissioned Soviet nuclear subs that rusted dockside, still loaded with spent nuclear fuel. One thousand Arctic navigation beacons powered by strontium batteries were replaced, many with solar powered units provided by the Norwegians.

What is still in the sea?

Like numerous other countries, including the United States, the Soviet Union had a habit of dumping its radioactive problems at sea.

The 1993 White Book—a sort of confession to this dumping published by crusading ecologist Alexei Yablokov when serving as Boris Yeltsin’s environmental minister—outlined the scope of the problem, though for years its revelations continued to be viewed by many in the Russian government as state secrets.

A 2019 feasibility study for the sub lifting project, drawn up by the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority with the help of other European nuclear safety agencies, confirmed Yablokov’s data and laid bare what the Soviets had intentionally sunk: 18,000 radioactive objects, including 19 vessels and 14 nuclear reactors.

While the radiation emitted by most of these cast offs has been smothered to near background levels thanks to decades of built-up undersea silt, a study by the Russian Academy of Sciences nonetheless identified 1,000 objects that still produce high levels of gamma radiation.

Ninety percent of that radiation is emitted by six objects that Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear firm, has deemed urgent and targeted for lifting: two nuclear submarines; the reactor compartments from three nuclear submarines; and the reactor from the legendary icebreaker Lenin.

“We consider even the extremely low probability of radioactive materials leaking from these objects as posing an unacceptable risk for the ecosystems of the Arctic,” Anatoly Grigoriev, Rosatom’s head of international technical assistance, said in July.

The two nuclear submarines—which together contain one million curies of radiation, or about a quarter of that released in the first month of the Fukushima disaster—pose the greatest challenge to lift and have received most of the press.

The first of these is the K-27. Launched in 1962, the 360-foot sub suffered a radiation leak in one of its experimental liquid-metal cooled reactors after just three days at sea. Over the next several years, the Soviet navy attempted to repair or replace the reactors, but in 1979, they gave up and decommissioned the vessel.

Too radioactive to be dismantled conventionally, the K-27 was towed to the Arctic Novaya Zemlya nuclear testing range in 1982 and scuttled in one of the archipelago’s fjords at a depth of just 33 meters. The sinking took some effort. The sub was weighed down by asphalt to seal its fuel-filled reactor and a hole was punched in its aft ballast tank to swamp it.

But the fix won’t last forever. The sealant around the reactor was only meant to stave off radiation leaks until 2032. More troubling still is that the K-27’s highly enriched fuel could, in the right circumstances, generate an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction leading to a significant local release of radiation.

The other submarine, the K-159, was in use from 1963 to 1989. It was added to the toxic subsea catalog in 2003, after the Cold War’s end. But its position north of Murmansk, astride some of the Barents Sea’s most fertile fishing grounds and busiest shipping lanes, has made it a source of special anxiety. Already a 305-foot rust bucket from years of neglect, the K-159 sank while being towed to a Murmansk shipyard for dismantlement, killing nine sailors who were on board to bail out water in transit.

Unlike the K-27, however, no safeguards to secure the K-159’s two reactors were put in place before it sank, meaning it went down loaded with 800 kilograms of spent uranium fuel.

Researchers dredge sediment samples from around the K-159. Credit: Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority

The danger the subs pose to the environment

Expeditions to the subs in recent years haven’t revealed serious upticks in contamination beyond background radiation levels. A joint Norwegian-Russian mission to the K-159 in 2018 discovered breakage along the sub’s hull, but, as in years previous, reported no elevated radiation levels in sediment and seawater samples.

Similarly, a Russian expedition to measure radioactivity around the K-27 this past October, which charted contamination levels in glaciers surrounding Novaya Zemlya, found nothing amiss.

But experts from both sides of the Russian border say that such circumstances won’t last. Officials at the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority insist that leaks from the K-159 are only a matter of time—and that even rumors of increased contamination could damage the Arctic fishing industry.

Alexander Nikitin—a former Russian Navy submarine captain with Norway’s Bellona Foundation who sat on Rosatom’s public advisory council before it disbanded over the Ukraine war—agreed. In his accounting, the subs will continue to degrade and slowly release cesium 137 and strontium as water seeps into the reactors.

2013 study by Norway’s Institute of Marine Research used computer simulations to model what impact that might have on local populations of cod and capelin, Norway’s Arctic cash crop. The study showed that if all the radioactive material from the K-159’s reactors were to be released in a single “pulse discharge,” it would increase the levels of slow-decaying cesium 137 in the muscles of cod in the eastern Barents Sea at least 100 times.

That would still be below limits set by the Norwegian government following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. “Here the question is that some of the radionuclides leached out of the reactors can get into fish—and the fish onto someone’s dinner table,” Nikitin said. “It’s difficult to estimate the impact.”

Even low doses, he said, would be enough to scare consumers off Norwegian fish. As of 2021—a decade after the Fukushima accident — there were still 15 countries banning the import of seafood from Japan, despite numerous studies establishing acceptably low concentrations of radionuclides in fish caught in that area.

By one estimate, a ban on fish from the Kara and Barents Seas could cost the Norwegian and Russian economy a combined $140 million a month—an economic hardship that some say would be worse that any direct environmental damage.

Will Russia do it alone?

Moscow has stumbled in its first solo steps on this project. As recounted with unusual candor by Atomnya Energia, a Russian nuclear industry trade publication supported largely by Rosatom itself, the project can’t even secure financing from Russia’s Ministry of Finance, which called Rosatom’s cost projections “insufficiently substantiated.”

The K-159 nuclear submarine at dock in Gremikha awaiting its final tow. Credit: Bellona

“But how can I substantiate the cost of work that has never been done before?” the publication quoted Rosatom’s Grigoriev as lamenting. Russia also blew past a deadline to deliver an overarching road map outlining how the project would be undertaken due to bureaucratic confusion and squabbles.

One problem: Russia lacks the kind of special vessels that can lift a submarine. The last time the country attempted such an operation, the Kursk, a 17,000-metric ton vessel, sank during a military exercise in August 2000. That botched rescue attempt fueled indignation at Putin, who was then less than a year into his first presidential term.

After delaying the arrival of Norwegian rescue divers to the Kursk for nine days, during which time the surviving crew perished, the Kremlin was quick to invite the Dutch companies Mammoet and Smit International to coordinate the technically demanding raising of the wreck a little more than a year later.

With the Dutch, and anyone else, almost surely unwilling to help, Russia is alone with trying to build its own salvage vessels to lift the K-27 and K-159—ship construction that would inflate the estimate cost of the lifting operation by another several million dollars.

Numerous designs for such a ship have been batted about—employing anything from balloons to giant pincers to lift the subs—but nothing has come of them. At the July conference, Oleg Vlasov, who heads Malakhit, Russia’s federal marine engineering bureau, complained that he didn’t have enough technical information about the wrecks from Rosatom, despite the numerous expeditions to them, to even begin designing such a vessel.

“We’ve been talking too much and for too long,” Oleg Vlasov, who heads Russia’s federal marine engineering bureau, warned Rosatom in July. If Russia doesn’t act soon, he said, the vessels will become so enfeebled in their watery graves that it might be safest to leave them where they are.

It is this scenario that Nikitin finds the most likely after the invasion of Ukraine.

“The issue of lifting these sunken objects will continue to be postponed and obscured, and the authorities will begin to explain that they don’t pose a serious threat, and that over time they’ll become safer, and so on,” he said.

He added that none of the Rosatom meetings about the sub lift that he attended prior to the invasion of Ukraine had focused on Russia building its own vessels to lift the subs. Rather, they focused on which countries to ask to lift them.

But Nikitin and other members of Russian civil society who made up Rosatom’s public council won’t be attending more such meetings in the foreseeable future. And transparency on the Russian side—honed over many difficult years—might be one of the biggest environmental casualties of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The post Will Russia raise its sunken subs now that it has invaded Ukraine? appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Russia’s nuclear icebreaker port says sanctions aren’t impacting decommissioning work

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 08:16

Sanctions imposed against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine have not hampered the decommissioning and dismantlement of retired nuclear icebreakers, Russian officials said at a conference last week, though western experts cautioned that such rosy claims were unlikely to last.

The icebreakers in question — the Arktika and the Sibir — were long stalwarts of Russia’s civilian nuclear fleet, which is the largest in the world. They were decommissioned to make way for two newer icebreakers of the same name, though their safe dismantlement was in question as more and more of the Russian budget goes to finance the war.

Now Russian officials say the Sibir has been completely dismantled and its radioactive remains disposed of, predicting that the Arktika will follow the same path.

But Bellona’s Alexander Nikitin said that nuclear decommissioning work in Russia was unlikely to continue at such a tempo.

“Sooner or later, sanctions will begin to affect Russia, including projects for the dismantling of nuclear ships and the management of radioactive waste,” he said. “In this uncertain period, we are unlikely to hear from anyone in leadership that the war is having a negative impact on the operation of their enterprises. Therefore, despite the peppy statements of various leaders, we must continue to carefully monitor the process of dismantling nuclear ships and the safety of these operations.”

Nikitin also noted that the bulk of machinery Russian uses to dismantle its decommissioned icebreakers was supplied by foreign governments in the 1990s. That equipment is now getting old, he said — and foreign governments are unlikely to help replace it while the war in Ukraine continues.

In October 2016, the Sibir was transferred from Atomflot, the Murmansk-based icebreaker headquarters to the Nerpa shipyard, where dismantling and unloading of the reactor compartment equipment were carried out. This dismantled equipment was then transferred to special packing that was transferred to Sayda Bay for long-term storage.

According to Alexander Malyshkin, a leading specialist in the service of nuclear steam generating plants, dismantlement and target programs at Atomflot, no one has ever performed such work.

But Malyshkin said that certain elements of the vessel were still radioactive after dismantlement, including the ventilation system and pipelines. As a result, the ship was transferred back to Atomflot in 2019, where additional procedures were carried out to rid it of contamination, which finally occured in 2021.

After the remains of the vessels are evaluated by a third party contractor, Atomflot will sell them for scrap. In August, Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s nuclear oversight body, terminated the vessel’s license and certified it was no longer a radiation source.

Meanwhile, work to dismantle the Arktika continues, said Malyshkin. The vessel operated from 1975 to 2008 and was finally greenlighted for dismantlement in 2018 at Nerpa.

The dismantlement procedures have gone mostly as they did for the Sibir. But Malyshkin noted that the lower sections of one of its reactor compartments remains contaminated.

“The Arktika will show us whether we can deactivate it from surface non-removable beta contamination,” said Malyshkin. “If we can, we will be guided by the concept of unloading all equipment. It’s cheaper. Now there is an experimental decontamination of all premises. At the end of December, we will receive a conclusion on whether it is possible to deactivate the Arktika afloat in the same way as the Siberia. If this does not work out, we will have the only option left – putting it on the slipway on the Nerpa, cutting it into pieces, sending the dirty pieces to Sayda, and the clean ones for scrap metal.”

Currently, work is underway to decontaminate those parts of the Arktika that could not be decontaminated at the Nerpa shipyard.

International cooperation on safely storing the Lepse — a former nuclear icebreaker service ship that was one of the most radioactive vessels — began in 1994. But the main  work of dismantlement began only in 2011.

In 2014, the ship was transferred to Nerpa where it was divided into its bow and stern sections, with the stern section sent to Sayda Bay for long-term storage. In 2018, the bow section, which contained decades of spent nuclear icebreaker fuel, was enveloped in a special protective shelter for extraction of the fuel assemblies,

In 2019 and 2020, 620 of those fuel assemblies were unloaded from the Lepse and transported to Atomflot on a special ship. From there they were sent to the Mayak reprocessing facility in the Ural Mountains by rail. The price tag for the operation, not counting the special radiation shelter and waste handling, was under one billion rubles, or $16 million.

However, some 19 damaged and deformed spent fuel assemblies remained in the vessel, and were not removed until summer of 2021, arriving at Mayak this year.

Within the budget for the program was the construction of special storage equipment for spent fuel assemblies at Sayda Bay in 2022. In 2023, the remains of the Lepse’s bow will be transported to Sayda Bay. And in 2024, work will be complete on securing the radioactive waste that emerged as a result of unloading the spent fuel, the funding for which has already been earmarked.

This leaves two vessels in the berths of Atomflot that are awaiting dismantlement – the icebreakers Rossiya and Sovietsky Soyuz. The dismantlement of both is planned before 2030.

 

The post Russia’s nuclear icebreaker port says sanctions aren’t impacting decommissioning work appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Certifying removals, an essential step for net-zero

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 05:38

Today, the European Commission proposed the ‘Carbon Removal Certification Framework’ (CRCF), a much-anticipated piece of legislation which could become an essential component of the EU’s climate policy architecture in the coming years. Find our recent press release here.

Bellona welcomes this proposal, which could become a crucial tool for the coherent deployment of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), but stresses that several key policy guardrails are missing from the proposal, namely a clear definition, a clear focus on storage liability, and clear guidelines on how different types of removal certificates can and cannot be used. Most importantly, the Commission fails to define removals properly. By including reductions in its definition, the Commission has failed to separate removals and reductions, weakening climate benefits and opening space for improper accounting.   

The good 

Broadly, CRCF aims to provide a carbon accounting tool to reliably quantify how much CO2 is being removed from the atmosphere. This is a vital step towards reaching the EU’s climate neutrality target, where CDR will need to play 3 sequential roles:  

  1. accelerate the EU’s climate efforts by supplementing emission reductions, before net-zero 
  2. balance out a minimal amount of stubborn ‘residual’ emissions, at net-zero 
  3. remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than is being emitted, after net-zero 

Once in place, the CRCF should enable the EU to quantify how much CO2 is being removed, how many greenhouse gases are being emitted in the process of doing so, and how to make sure that the stored CO2 is kept away from the atmosphere permanently. 

However, the current proposal is only the first step towards achieving this aim. At this stage, it only establishes some very basic principles for the certification of carbon removals along with a governance structure to develop methodologies. In doing so, the proposal also establishes an expert group which will support the European Commission.  

Despite the significant media attention and hype that has been generated in anticipation of this proposal, it is not likely to produce any usable methodologies for a few years. It is vital that the Commission keeps its course on working through this process robustly rather than quickly. Monitoring and quantifying carbon flows is not an easy task, especially when crossing territorial boundaries1.  

The bad 

Bellona is deeply concerned by the absence of some key elements in the proposal.  

First, the definition of Carbon Dioxide Removal must be robust and comprehensive. Bellona recommends including the following four principles in the definition:  

  1. Carbon dioxide is physically removed from the atmosphere. 
  2. The removed carbon dioxide is stored out of the atmosphere in a manner intended to be permanent. 
  3. Upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions, associated with the removal and storage process, are comprehensively estimated and included in the emission balance. 
  4. The total quantity of atmospheric carbon dioxide removed and permanently stored is greater than the total quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted to the atmosphere 

Collectively, these four principles define all activities which result in Carbon Dioxide Removal and exclude those that do not. The Commission proposal, however, includes activities that do not constitute removals. The inclusion of reductions via “reduction of carbon release from a biogenic carbon pool to the atmosphere” in the definition of a carbon removal weakens the text. 

Second, storing carbon in soils and trees is very different from storing carbon in geological formations or minerals. The various methods of removing and storing carbon should be counted, managed, and certified in different ways, ideally based on the type of sink where the carbon is being stored. This is extremely important to ensure that fossil emissions, which stay in the atmosphere for millennia until removed, are not balanced out by removals stored in the biosphere, where the carbon is more likely to be re-emitted in the future.  

Bellona has written a briefing exploring various ways of managing permanence, with the key recommendation of managing the biological and geological carbon cycles separately.  

The proposal hints towards this approach, by distinguishing 3 different types of removals: ’permanent removal’, ‘carbon farming’, and ‘carbon storage in products’. However, the proposal does not point to any meaningful use for this separation. The lack of a clear definition of these different removals risks improper and unfair use of certificates. Bellona strongly recommends that these different types of removals be clearly delineated in both methodology development and in the potential uses of certificates arising from those activities. 

Third, there is an important responsibility attached to ensuring CO2 remains stored. While the framework takes steps in acknowledging different durations of storage across different removals as well as risk of reversals, it lacks definition of relevant monitoring periods and how it influences potential payment for these emissions. A removal is only as good as its storage. A clarity in storage liability is key to ensuring storage is properly handled on timescales that match the climate benefits that removals provide.   

The ugly 

Most importantly, the CRCF proposal should also seek to provide clarity on the future of carbon removal in Europe. As it stands, the CRCF is intended to develop reliable methodologies to produce carbon removal certificates, without providing any indication of how these may be used. This is of critical importance to ensure carbon removal is used in a manner coherent with the EU’s climate goals. If storing carbon in soils can be used in the same way as storing carbon in geological formations, in spite of their significantly different characteristics, polluters may find it more interesting to buy cheap, reversible offsets than to reduce their own emissions. At the same time, suppliers of more expensive and permanent removals will be undercut. 

Next steps 

Following the proposal, the European Parliament and European Council will both have their say on how the CRCF should be structured.  

In parallel, an Expert Group, will accompany the European Commission in detailing definitions and methodologies over the coming months and years. Bellona has applied to join this expert group. 

Bellona will be active in both processes, pushing the following points: 

  • Introduce a clear definition of carbon dioxide removals based on the four principles listed above 
  • Separate the different types of removals and their potential use as certificates 
  • Ensure removals do not cannibalise efforts to reduce emissions, with separate targets and frameworks  

The post Certifying removals, an essential step for net-zero appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Bellona closes its offices in Russia

Sun, 11/27/2022 - 03:00

Bellona was active in Russia for more than 30 years. Now those activities have ceased, and Bellona has established a new office in Vilnius, Lithuania, where Bellona’s experts, relocated from Russia, will continue their work.  

“We have been keen to retain our expertise and will use it to assist Ukraine, while at the same time we must prepare for the increased security risk at Russian nuclear installations and waste storage facilities,” says Bellona founder Frederic Hauge.  

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine leads to significant environmental challenges. 

Bellona previously had an office in Kyiv and Bellona’s experts know the Soviet nuclear technology used in Ukraine very well. It is this expertise that Bellona is now concentrating in its new office in Lithuania. 

“We know that for many years there will be a need for international assistance and cooperation to clean up Ukraine, both in terms of cleaning up and securing nuclear installations, nuclear waste and other large releases of environmental toxins as a result of the war,” says Hauge.  

The war and the many attacks on the Ukrainian nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities with spent fuel pose an acute threat.  

“Bellona considers these to be war crimes and is deeply concerned about the consequences,” says Hauge. “Chernobyl must be secured further, all planned international measures have been halted. Zaporizhzhia is exposed to an enormous pressure and risk, and this applies to several other power plants that are under fire.” 

There are tens of thousands of used fuel elements that must be handled and large expenses are expected in order to secure areas at former uranium processing facilities, according to Bellona. In addition, there is the clean-up at Chernobyl, which has now been put on hold due to the war.  

Bellona will not give up 

“Bellona has played a central role in cleaning up similar conditions in Russia,” says Hauge. “The establishment of a new Bellona office in Vilnius must therefore be seen in a long-term perspective, where Bellona will use its experience gained from securing nuclear waste in Russia for 30 years to be able to assist Ukraine in securing their enormous amounts of nuclear waste and to solve other environmental problems by finding technical solutions and securing international funding.” 

In the long term, Bellona will also work for new sustainable energy production and industrial development in the country and will help find financing for this.  

Enough is enough 

“Bellona finds it tragic to end our work in Russia,” says Hauge. “The war makes it impossible to continue. Bellona played an important role in the glasnost period in creating transparency around environmental conditions in Russia. We have fought many important environmental battles with accusations of espionage against our employee Alexander Nikitin, who was acquitted in the Supreme Court in 2000 and later played a central role in Bellona’s extensive work at our offices in Murmansk and St. Petersburg.”  

After almost three decades in Russia, the environmental fight must continue from the outside. Bellona will be working on revealing Russian environmental issues, but the format of work has to change. 

“Bellona cannot carry out its work without the understanding of central government actors in Russia, where we have constantly been exposed to attacks and attempts to brand us as foreign agents,” says Hauge. “It is also impossible for us to cooperate with the current regime, which invades a neighboring country and with a nuclear industry that engages in nuclear terrorism and threats. The war therefore means that all Bellona’s activity inside Russia has ceased.” 

“As a result, Bellona is very concerned about increased risks at the nuclear installations and waste storage facilities in Russia,” says Hauge. “Bellona will seek to maintain and update our documentation on environmental conditions in Russia. The current situation increases the nuclear risk from Russia and there is reason for this to worsen in the future.” 

Bellona is marking the start of its work from Lithuania by publishing the environmental magazine Environment & Rights, which describes what we now know about the environmental problems in Ukraine as a result of the war. 

Facts about Bellona’s work in Russia  

  • Bellona was founded after the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
  • Bellona traveled to Russia for the first time in 1989 in collaboration with the action group Stop the death clouds in Kirkenes to stop the large sulfur emissions from nickel production at the border.
  • In 1991, Bellona sailed into the Soviet nuclear test site on Novaya Zemlya and was arrested. This made Bellona’s name known in Russia and was the start of efforts to expose and document to the world the vast amounts of hazardous nuclear waste in Russia. Bellona’s reports later formed the basis for a number of internationally funded projects to secure nuclear waste in Russia.
  • 1992: Bellona visited Murmansk on board the Bellona vessel Genius. On the trip, it was documented that a number of nuclear submarines lay rusting in port and that ships with large quantities of nuclear and radioactive waste were docked at the harbor in the middle of Murmansk.
  • In 1992, Bellona revealed that large quantities of liquid radioactive waste had been dumped in the Barents Sea, and that 12 radioactive barrels and 17 submarines with their reactors had been sunk in the Kara Sea.
  • In 1992, Bellona discovered that a large number of poorly secured strontium powered radio thermal electric generators (RTGs) were used to power Russian lighthouses along the entire Russian coast. As a result of international cooperation and funding following the reveal, 1,000 such radiation sources were removed and secured across Russia.
  • In 1992, Bellona traveled to Chelyabinsk to investigate the conditions at the plutonium production facility and other nuclear installations in the area. Bellona published a report that read like a horror story about the conditions, which created an international furor at the environmental conference in Rio that same year. Bellona later went on to make extensive revelations about the other two plutonium facilities in Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk.
  • In 1994, Bellona rented two nuclear icebreakers and brought the EU’s environmental commissioner to Murmansk together with the Nordic foreign ministers to have a conference to establish EU funding for nuclear cleanup in Northwest Russia. The irradiated nuclear service ship Lepse was the first major waste issue that was agreed to be dealt with at this meeting. The ship contained many broken nuclear fuel elements and was finally completely dismantled and secured in 2020. Bellona was given central responsibility in this work.
  • In 1994, Bellona established its first foreign office in Murmansk.
  • In 1995, Bellona’s office in Murmansk was searched by the FSB security police.
  • In 1996, Bellona employee Aleksandr Nikitin, a former captain in the Soviet Northern Fleet, was arrested by Russia’s FSB and accused of high treason and espionage. The background was a Bellona report on radioactive contamination within the Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula and Arkhangelsk in Russia. The case was a major test for the Russian legal system. Authorities attempted to keep the charges against Nikitin secret, to refuse him the choice of his own lawyer, and to pass laws that would convict him retroactively. Bellona devoted enormous resources to Nikitin’s defense, and published the report he had contributed to. Nikitin was eventually acquitted by the Russian Supreme Court in 2000, and he remains the only person to have ever won such a case against the Russian security services.
  • In 1998 Bellona established a new office in St. Petersburg – an environmental rights center. Here, a legal team worked to provide free legal aid to Russian citizens concerning environmental matters and to conduct legal proceedings on major environmental matters on behalf of the environmental movement in Russia.
  • Since the 90s, Bellona’s work contributed to: the dismantlement and securing of more than 100 nuclear submarines in the Russian Arctic (about 200 in total throughout Russia); the dismantlement and safe storage of world’s most radioactive ship Lepse; the safe storage of radioactive waste at naval bases along the coast of the Kola Peninsula, including at Andreyeva Bay, Gremikha and in Sayda Bay. In Andreeva Bay alone, there were 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies, several of them damaged and very difficult to handle safely. Altogether, as a result of Bellona’s revelations, international support for radiation cleanup projects in Russia totaled some $2.5 billion.
  • Bellona has been involved with the establishment of the dry storage at Sayda Bay in the Murmansk region, where 117 reactor compartments from the Russian Northern Fleet are now stored. Bellona was instrumental in bringing about collaboration in developing TUK-18 containers, which make it possible to transport broken fuel cells, allowing for the cleanup of otherwise very dangerous waste.
  • After the Nikitin case, Bellona worked ardently to create a dialogue with Russian nuclear authorities and avoid suspicion, despite the full acquittal of Alexander Nikitin by the Supreme Court in plenary session.
  • From 2011 until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Bellona played an important role in Russian nuclear energy agency Rosatom’s Public Council. Bellona used its position to share information with the rest of the Russian public, and to urge Rosatom toward greater transparency and better processes for public participation in its decision-making. At the same time, Bellona closely followed the clean-up work in the border areas between Norway and north-west Russia, as well as overall questions of how Russia handles challenges with waste and pollution in other parts of the country.
  • From 2014 to 2021, Bellona conducted a unique project to deploy charging infrastructure in the Russian Arctic, with the goal of popularizing electric vehicles in the region. As a result of Bellona’s work, it is now possible to travel from Norway to Russia’s Arctic capital Murmansk in an EV. Bellona also made a technical plan for chargers needed to travel between the Barents and Baltic seas.
  • Since Bellona started its work in Russia, the organization has involved more than 15,000 students in environmental legal work, provided free legal aid to thousands of ordinary Russians and organizations, held more than 800 environmental classes for more than 16,000 Russian schoolchildren and published more than 10,000 articles and over 100 reports on environmental challenges and solutions. More than 30 of these reports have dealt with nuclear safety. Bellona has also published 84 issues of its environmental magazine “Environment and Rights.”

 

 

 

The post Bellona closes its offices in Russia appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

NGOs urge EU Commission to set target for zero emission trucks for 2035

Thu, 11/24/2022 - 07:17

Together with 38 European environmental, health and consumer associations, Bellona signed an open letter asking the European Commission to set the deadline at 2035 to oblige all new trucks to be zero emission.

The letter states the following:

The time to set an end date for diesel trucks is now, requiring an ambitious midterm target of at least 65% in 2030 to be ready in time. We, the signatories, form a broad coalition of 39 environmental, health and consumer associations from across Europe, representing people in more than 14 European countries. We call on the Commission to ensure that all new trucks are zero emission by 2035 at the latest. A 100% zero emission target for trucks in 2035 is the minimum level of ambition needed if the EU is serious about reaching climate neutrality by 2050, given that on average most trucks stay on our roads for more than 18 years. Ambitious HDV CO2
standards are needed to make zero emission for heavy-duty a reality and rapidly scale up the supply of clean trucks. In particular, we urge you to:

  • Ensure each and every new truck sold in 2035 is zero emission.
  • Increase the 2030 CO2 reduction target to at least 65%, thereby ensuring a rapid scale-up of ZET production.
  • Start early enough and move the 30% target from 2030 to 2027.
  • Extend the regulation to all heavy-duty vehicles, including small and medium lorries, vocational vehicles, buses and coaches as well as trailers.

Read the whole text here.

The post NGOs urge EU Commission to set target for zero emission trucks for 2035 appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

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