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Highlights on climate and energy R&I, policy roundup and funding opportunities

24 January 2022
In this issue:
 
  • EU Parliament elects new president
  • Energy poverty and rule of law key factors in Social Climate Fund debate
  • EU issues guidelines on foreign interference in research
  • European Commission’s quarterly market reports confirm influence of global gas prices in EU
  • Have your say: EU solar energy strategy & renewables permitting and power purchase agreements
  • EU energy ministers still fractured over Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and taxonomy
  • European Parliament brings forward decarbonisation and energy efficiency discussions
  • Carbon inequality set to dramatically increase by 2030
  • IEA electricity market report: surging electricity demand is putting global power systems under strain
  • Most vulnerable and poorest countries struggle to get any climate adaptation funds
News
EU Institutions
EU Parliament elects new president. Roberta Metsola, a Maltese MEP from the EPP group, wants to bolster the fight against authoritarianism, discrimination, and climate change.

Read more here
 

Energy poverty and rule of law key factors in Social Climate Fund debate

The first draft report from the European Parliament on the Social Climate Fund has opened up debates among the Members of the European Parliament (EP). Esther de Lange and David Casa, the two rapporteurs for the file, have made clear that the instrument will not only be a money handout but should represent a serious effort to tackle issues across the EU. The rapporteurs expressed the intention to link the Social Climate Fund and compliance to the rule of law and EU countries enshrining the 2050 climate neutrality goal in their legislation. Furthermore, they have proposed a definition of energy poverty, which does not exist today throughout the EU. The two MEPs have defined energy poverty as “households in the lowest income deciles whose energy costs exceed twice the median ratio between energy costs and disposable income after deduction of housing costs”. This ambitious plan is likely to ignite debates outside the EP, with countries and citizens concerned by the effect of the green transition on their finances.
 
Read more here and here
 

EU issues guidelines on foreign interference in research

The European Commission published a toolkit on mitigating foreign interference in research and innovation. The publication outlines best practices to support higher EU Education Institutions and Research Performing Organisations protect their “fundamental values, key research findings and intellectual assets”. The toolkit is released as fears over technology espionage from China are heightened, and the western world collectively takes a more cautious approach to science cooperation. A senior Commission official said the guidelines would help research institutions block “actions that could put in danger the technological leadership and sovereignty”, which is in line with the EU’s new motto for international research cooperation – “Open strategic autonomy”. The non-exhaustive list of possible mitigation measures can help R&I actors develop a more comprehensive approach to tackling foreign interference that can comprise four phases: awareness-raising, prevention, response and recovery, ensuring a balance between risk reduction and resilience enhancement while ensuring effective response and recovery capabilities.
 
Read more here and here
 
 
European Commission’s quarterly market reports confirm influence of global gas prices in EU

Wholesale gas prices in the EU rose to record levels in the third quarter of 2021, influenced by global gas markets, according to the Commission’s quarterly gas market report. The trends identified provide a stark contrast with what was seen in the same period of 2020. The same is true for the quarterly electricity report, highlighting that electricity consumption returned to pre-pandemic levels. On the gas market, the report outlines how European wholesale gas prices continuedly increased in the third quarter, rising to 85€/MWh by the end of September, triggering an energy price crisis. In addition, the quarterly electricity report highlights that EU consumption in the third quarter rose to levels seen in the same period of 2019 – driven by steady economic recovery and an easing of lockdown restrictions. However, the economic recovery caused prices to surge and significantly disrupted global supply-chains, rising to 105 €/MWh in Q3 2021 – equivalent to 211% higher than Q3 2020. The rally of gas prices has reversed the coal-to-gas switching registered in the last year, boosting coal generation gains despite increasing carbon prices during Q3 2021.
 
Read more here
 

Have your say: EU solar energy strategy & renewables permitting and power purchase agreements

The European Commission launched two new publication consultations relating to the EU’s renewable energy strategy:
 
The EU new strategy for solar energy, due for publication later this year, aims to support the Commission’s proposal to double the share of renewables to 40% by 2030. The consultation looks at how best to achieve the required increase in solar energy capacity. It underlines that the cost-efficient development of this technology within a more integrated energy system cannot be sufficiently achieved by EU countries alone and seeks to clarify what measures are needed. Read more here

The second consultation aims to improve permit-granting procedures for renewables projects and facilitate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). The input will serve as preparation for a Commission guidance document, due for publication in the summer, aimed at facilitating an acceleration in the deployment of renewables in the EU. Read more here
 

EU energy ministers still fractured over Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and taxonomy

Energy ministers from the EU member states met last week (20 January) to discuss the most pressing matters on their tables, mainly including the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and the recently proposed EU green taxonomy. The CBAM is yet to see the light, but it has already created heated discussions inside the EU and with commercial partners. China, for one, has voiced its discontent with the move, mentioning that the Mechanism would infringe the World Trade Organisation’s principles. In addition, Germany has also been cautious over the CBAM’s deployment schedule, with others opposing its implementation entirely (according to sources, Spain, Portugal, Poland and Austria in particular). During the meeting, the division on nuclear energy also emerged. Germany’s environment minister reportedly said that “nuclear power is neither sustainable nor economic”, while France’s counterpart stated that “nuclear is a decarbonised energy” and pointed out that renouncing to it would create issues. Austria, Spain, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are still opposed to nuclear’s inclusion in the taxonomy.
 
Read more here
 

European Parliament brings forward decarbonisation and energy efficiency discussions

The European Parliament has recently published two reports on decarbonisation of energy and energy efficiency. The studies aim to provide science-based recommendations on important regulatory frameworks, including gas, coal and hydrogen reforms. The experts notice that decarbonising the energy system should imply a higher electrification of transport and heating, needing a massive build-up of renewables. However, national plans are not there yet: increased investments in infrastructure in the 2021-2030 decade will be crucial for achieving the current objectives. Regarding energy efficiency, on the other hand, experts believe future efficiency gains to be modest. The main obstacles mentioned are uncertainty about the long-term value of energy efficiency investments, lack of awareness of the strategic importance of energy efficiency projects within firms, and lack of clarity on decarbonisation pathways.
 
Read more here and here
International Energy News
Carbon inequality set to dramatically increase by 2030

According to a recent report by Oxfam International and Institute for European and Environmental Policy, the world’s richest 1% are set to have per capita consumption emissions in 2030 that are 30 times higher than the global per capita level compatible with the 1.5⁰C goal of the Paris Agreement. At the same time, the footprint of the poorest half of the world population is set to remain several times below that level. By 2030, the richest 1% is on course for an even greater share of total global emissions than when the Paris Agreement was signed. This report once again proves that tackling extreme inequality and targeting the excessive emissions linked to the consumption and investments of the world’s richest people is vital to keeping the 1.5⁰C Paris goal achievable.

Read more here and here


IEA electricity market report: surging electricity demand is putting global power systems under strain
In its recently published semi-annual Electricity Market Report, the International Energy Agency (IEA), underscores the need for a massive increase in investment. Global electricity demand surged in 2021 pushing prices to unprecedented levels and driving the power sector’s emissions to a record high. According to the IEA, more difficulties lie ahead in the coming years if governments fail to drive a massive increase in investment in clean electricity generation and modern grids. Driven by the fast economic rebound and extreme weather, last year's 6% rise in electricity demand was the largest in percentage terms since 2010. Electricity produced from renewable sources grew by 6% in 2021, but that was not enough to keep up with skyrocketing demand. Much of the gap was filled by coal-fired generation, which grew by 9%. As a result, CO2 emissions from power generation rose by 7%, also reaching a record high, after having declined the two previous years.

Read more here
 

Most vulnerable and poorest countries struggle to get any climate adaptation funds

A new study covered by the Carbon Brief portal argues that many countries in Africa are struggling to access adaptation funds to prepare them for climate change. A major injustice of climate change is that many of the nations facing the gravest threats lack the resources to prepare for it. The Green Climate Fund is one means of addressing this problem. It is a UN initiative that was explicitly set up to provide money to some of the most climate-vulnerable parts of the world. The fund has already distributed billions of dollars. However, as the study finds, more than half of the money for adaptation during 2015-19, nearly half of the countries the researchers identified as most vulnerable, including some of the world’s lowest-income states and others experiencing armed conflict, did not receive any support for adaptation projects at all.

Read more here
EU Institutional Agenda
Council of the EU
Working Party on Energy, 
25 January
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on International Environment issues,
25 January
Agenda not available yet
Working Party on the Environment,
25-28 January
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on Research,
27 January
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on International Environment Issues,
27 January
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on Energy,
27 January
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on the Environment,
31 January
Agenda not available yet.
European Parliament
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy,
26 January
Agenda available here
Committee on the Environment,
26-27 January
Agenda available here
EERA Events 
#Horizon Europe

EERA Horizon Europe Brokerage Event
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

Following the good reception of the Horizon Europe brokerage event organized last year, EERA is organizing a new one dedicated to the Horizon Europe’s calls of 2022. The purpose of the event, targeting exclusively the EERA community, is to foster transversal collaboration with the aim of creating new and strengthening existing consortia.

External Events
#Carbon Cycles

Conference on Sustainable Carbon Cycles
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

On 31 January, the European Commission will host a virtual conference on sustainable carbon cycles. The conference will bring together decision makers and experts from different backgrounds to share their experiences in view of the upcoming EU regulatory initiative on the certification of carbon removals.

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