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

7 February 2022
In this issue:
 
  • Final taxonomy proposal includes nuclear and gas activities, with limitations linked to emissions
  • New EU standardisation rules aim at promoting a green Single Market
  • Gas crisis continues in Europe, with impact on prices and energy production system
  • A closer look at Open Access for European Universities
  • Disagreement persists over EC’s plans for lump sum funding to cut red tape in EU research funding programmes
  • European Research Council’s indicative dates for calls for proposals under Work Programme 2023 out
  • World biggest companies fail over net-zero claims
  • Weather and geopolitics likely to drive natural gas markets in 2022, IEA report suggests
  • Deployment of renewables and biodiversity conservation not conflictual under appropriate policy and regulatory framework
News
EU Institutions
Final taxonomy proposal includes nuclear and gas activities, with limitations linked to emissions
The European Commission has presented on the 2nd of February the Taxonomy Complementary Climate Delegated Act on climate change mitigation and adaptation, which covers gas and nuclear activities. The document was finalised after months of discussions, including a group of Member States rejecting the proposal and the Commission's expert advisors opposing the inclusion of the two sources. The European Parliament and the EU Council will have four months now to scrutinise the document and object to it if needed. The institutions may also request two months of additional scrutiny time. The Council will have the right to object to it by a reinforced qualified majority, which means at least 20 Member States,. The European Parliament can object by a majority of its members voting against in plenary (i.e., at least 353 MEPs).
 
Read more here and here
 
 
New EU standardisation rules aim at promoting a green Single Market
 
The European Commission presented a new Standardisation Strategy last week, outlining its approach to standards within the Single Market and globally. According to the Commission's proposal, new standards are required to keep up the pace of innovation and green ambitions needed for the long-term strategic objectives. The new strategy will enhance European leadership internationally while supporting innovation and improving European governance. It comes as a response to mounting fears that the EU will lag behind China and the US in setting technological standards for key sectors such as batteries, computers and other industrial products.
 
Read more here
 
 
Gas crisis continues in Europe, with impact on prices and energy production system
 
The gas crisis currently ongoing in Europe has impacted not only energy bills but also the energy production system. In 2021, the crisis stopped the coal phaseout in electricity markets, as analysed by financial think-tank Ember. Gas prices rose 585% in 2021, "resulting in one of the largest energy price shocks since the OPEC oil embargo of 1973," analysts found out. This resulted in a coal power decline by merely 3%, compared to a 29% reduction in the past two years. Over the last two years, coal generation declined in Spain (-42%), and Greece (-43%), but those were offset by increases in other countries like Ireland and Poland. Brussels is trying to address the situation, including a review of the contingency plans for disruptions to gas supply. The tension at the Ukrainian border aggravates the situation, but the Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson stated that the current gas stock and the commercial partnerships for LNG supply will keep the EU safe.
 
Read more here and here
 
 
A closer look at Open Access for European Universities
 
The European University Association (EUA) published a report following up on the 2020-2021 Open Science Survey. The report presents the findings of the survey in terms of how well universities monitor Open Access activities, how universities are preparing for the implementation of Plan S, applying to all Horizon Europe projects, and steps taken to implement Open Access further. The EUA also published its Open Science Agenda 2025, defining the Association's priorities in this field and describing the context, challenges and developments for the coming years. Drawing from universities' experiences, the Open Science Agenda 2025 defines three priority areas: Open Access to scholarly outputs in a just scholarly publishing ecosystem, FAIR research data, and research assessment. More importantly, the Agenda aims to support universities transition to Open Science, contribute to fostering Open Science and encourage universities play a proactive role in the regulatory and financial frameworks shaping this process.
 
 
Disagreement persists over EC’s plans for lump sum funding to cut red tape in EU research funding programmes
 
Four years ago, the European Commission began a pilot for lump sum funding to cut red tape in EU research funding programmes. Instead of disbursing the money based on costs incurred, paying lump sums allows the Commission to pull together various costs under work packages that do not require detailed financial reporting, such as timesheets, travel invoices and payslips. The European Parliament's panel for the future of science and technology (STOA) commissioned a study on the pilot from Research Institutes Sweden (RISE) that found the lump sum system being popular among beneficiaries. Based on this success, the Commission is preparing a plan to rollout the new system, starting with a number of topics in the 2022 work programme, and rolling out in big numbers in 2023. However, research stakeholders continue to call for caution and a slower rollout of the new system: they argue that the survey is based on limited experiences of implementing a project on a lump sum system, and the projects are yet to be completed. 
 
Read more here
 
 
European Research Council’s indicative dates for calls for proposals under Work Programme 2023 out
 
The European Research Council (ERC) has published indicative dates for calls for proposals under the Work Programme 2023. However, as the Programme has not yet been approved, the dates of the calls are still tentative and subject to change. The indicative dates aim to help applicants, who should expect the calls to open around the third trimester of 2022, plan their work and get ready for the calls.
 
Find the dates here
International Energy News
World biggest companies fail over net-zero claims
 
Some of the world's largest companies, such as Amazon, Ikea, Nestlé and Unilever, are failing to live up to promises they will reach net-zero emissions, according to a recent analysis. According to the analysis performed by the research group New Climate Institute and NGO Carbon Market Watch, the 25 firms studied are currently on track to cut their CO2 emissions by only 40% rather than the 100% cuts claimed to reach net-zero. The Financial Times adds that out of the 25 companies, which together account for 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, half were found "to have no absolute emissions-reduction goal for their 'net-zero' target year". Near-term targets were of particular concern, as the report showed that the companies surveyed would only cut their emissions by about 23% on average by 2030, falling far short of the figure of halving the emissions during the next decade suggested by climate scientists. Responding to the media publications, some of the companies mentioned in the report questioned the methodology of the analysis.
 
Read more here and here
 
 
Weather and geopolitics likely to drive natural gas markets in 2022, IEA report suggests
Global natural gas consumption rebounded by 4.6% in 2021, more than double the scale of the previous year's pandemic-caused decline, according to the IEA latest quarterly Gas Market Report, which analyses recent developments and provides a forecast for 2022. IEA suggests that weather patterns are likely to remain the principal driver of both prices and volatility in the coming weeks, although there are also other crucial factors at play, notably geopolitical ones. Unprecedentedly high gas and electricity prices have hurt consumers and retailers, and those negative impacts are likely to spread outside Europe and last beyond the current heating season, according to the report. The current market situation is a stark reminder to gas-consuming countries of the importance of implementing and updating their security of supply policies, the report notes. This includes measures to protect consumers and optimise the use of infrastructure, especially storage.
 
 Read the report here
 

Deployment of renewables and biodiversity conservation not conflictual under appropriate policy and regulatory framework
 
Climate and biodiversity crises evolve simultaneously, and it is a common concern that rapid renewable energy expansion, which is a key part of decarbonising global energy systems, may take up land precious to the planet's wildlife. In a new study by Carbon Brief published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors suggest that, while conflicts between renewables and protected areas do occur, overlap need not be as severe as previously suggested, if renewables are deployed with appropriate policy and regulatory controls. According to the research, there are only few countries in the world where renewables deployment has high likelihood of conflicting with biodiversity protection and conservation goals. Renewable energy has impacts on biodiversity across its whole lifecycle: from the construction of solar panels to the operation of hydroelectric, to the eventual decommissioning of wind turbines. There is some evidence for positive impacts: for example, offshore wind farms create de facto protected areas and allow degraded seabed communities space to recover from industrial fishing. Overall, the research suggests that with appropriate policy and regulatory controls, it is possible to continue  pursuing the crucial climate intervention of transitioning energy systems while also protecting areas that are rich in biodiversity.

Read more here
 
EU Institutional Agenda
Council of the EU
Working Party on the Environment,
8-11 February
Agenda not available yet
Working Party on Atomic Questions,
9 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on International Environment Issues,
9-11 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on Energy,
10 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on the Environment,
14 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on Research,
14 February
Agenda not available yet.
EERA Events 
#Energy Materials

EM4I 4th Workshop - Sustainability Assessment of materials and technologies for clean energy transition
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

The 4th of the Energy Materials 4 Innovation (EM4I) workshop will focus on the societal needs and technological advancement, and how to foster new collaborations necessary for achieving the Clean Energy Transition. During the second day of the workshop, invited experts will discuss key topics: LCSA, sustainable manufacturing, critical raw materials, social-economic aspects and 2050 scenarios. 

External Events
#EU Industry Days

Unlocking the future: EU industrial ecosystems on the path to the green and digital transition
Location: Online & Brussels
Information & registration: click here

EU Industry Days is Europe's flagship annual event, highlighting industrial frontrunners and ongoing industrial policy discussions whilst improving the knowledge base of European industry. The 2022 edition will take place in a hybrid format in Brussels and will stimulate discussions across industrial ecosystems. It will also hold discussions on how the young generation can shape the future of the EU industry, in line with the European Year of Youth. 

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