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War, Peace and the Green Economy

This magazine is about the world’s collective and potentially transformational journey towards a green economy. It is also about taking you, the reader, on what we hope is an equally fascinating ”green voyage” across some key parts of Europe as well as to Africa and China.

This magazine is about the world’s collective and potentially transformational journey towards a green economy. It is also about taking you, the reader, on what we hope is an equally fascinating ”green voyage” across some key parts of Europe as well as to Africa and China.

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MAGAZINE<br />

01<br />

22<br />

Outside shocks are<br />

supercharging <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal – for now<br />

Nuclear <strong>and</strong> gas in EU<br />

taxonomy is ‘biggest<br />

greenwash ever’<br />

China <strong>and</strong> EU can – must<br />

– cooperate on green<br />

goals, despite differences<br />

Path to a just transition<br />

in Africa is via green<br />

industrialisation<br />

<strong>War</strong>, <strong>Peace</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> <strong>Economy</strong>


CONTRIBUTORS<br />

Shada Islam is <strong>the</strong> editor of <strong>the</strong> EUobserver<br />

magazine, columnist for EUobserver, <strong>and</strong><br />

visiting professor at <strong>the</strong> College of Europe.<br />

Matt Tempest is comment editor at<br />

EUobserver, <strong>and</strong> a former political<br />

correspondent for The Guardian in London<br />

<strong>and</strong> news editor at AFP in Paris.<br />

Elena Sánchez Nicolás is <strong>the</strong> climate<br />

<strong>and</strong> tech reporter at EUobserver, also<br />

responsible for infographics.<br />

Wester van Gaal is green economy reporter<br />

with EUobserver.<br />

James Kanter is editor of <strong>the</strong> EU Scream<br />

politics podcast <strong>and</strong> a former correspondent<br />

for <strong>the</strong> International Herald Tribune <strong>and</strong><br />

The New York Times.<br />

Nikolaj Nielsen is migration correspondent<br />

at EUobserver.<br />

Eszter Zalan is democracy <strong>and</strong> rule-of-law<br />

reporter at EUobserver focusing on central<br />

<strong>and</strong> eastern Europe.<br />

Lisbeth Kirk is <strong>the</strong> founder of EUobserver.<br />

Tomas Luko is sales <strong>and</strong> marketing director<br />

at EUobserver.<br />

Henner Sorg is sales <strong>and</strong> marketing manager<br />

at EUobserver.<br />

Leon Mangasarian worked as a reporter <strong>and</strong><br />

editor for Bloomberg News, dpa <strong>and</strong> UPI in<br />

Berlin, East Berlin, Bonn <strong>and</strong> Brussels.<br />

Alfonso Medinilla Is Head of climate <strong>and</strong><br />

green transition - geopolitics <strong>and</strong> energy,<br />

European Centre for Development Policy<br />

Management (ECDPM)<br />

Fu Jing is executive vice president of Xiamen<br />

Torch Academy in China’s coastal city of<br />

Xiamen.<br />

CREATIVE DIRECTION<br />

Studio Limbo - www.studiolimbo.be<br />

PRINTED BY<br />

Designpress GmbH<br />

ADDRESS<br />

EUobserver<br />

Résidence Palace<br />

International Press Centre<br />

Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 155<br />

1040 Brussels - Belgium<br />

CONTACT<br />

contact@euobserver.com<br />

Editorial<br />

This magazine is<br />

about <strong>the</strong> world’s collective<br />

<strong>and</strong> potentially<br />

transformational<br />

journey towards a<br />

green economy. It<br />

is also about taking<br />

you, <strong>the</strong> reader, on what we hope is<br />

an equally fascinating ”green voyage”<br />

across some key parts of Europe as well<br />

as to Africa <strong>and</strong> China.<br />

Editing <strong>and</strong> writing <strong>the</strong> magazine has<br />

been an unpredictable journey in itself.<br />

Our initial plans, drawn up in January,<br />

were based on <strong>the</strong> assumption of<br />

continuing peace in Europe. All that<br />

changed suddenly on February 24<br />

when Russia invaded Ukraine, upending<br />

many of <strong>the</strong> questions we took for<br />

granted, including <strong>the</strong> future of <strong>the</strong><br />

EU’s <strong>Green</strong> Deal.<br />

As we go to press, it is still not clear<br />

how <strong>the</strong> war in Ukraine will reshape <strong>the</strong><br />

global green transition. Some are hoping<br />

for a stepping up of moves towards<br />

renewables while o<strong>the</strong>rs speculate that<br />

some already-reluctant governments<br />

will seek to delay such plans.<br />

The topic is vast, fascinating <strong>and</strong><br />

multi-faceted. To polish up your green<br />

credentials, we have a glossary of key<br />

climate-related terms <strong>and</strong> a visual<br />

journey through <strong>the</strong> most defining moments<br />

<strong>and</strong> initiatives which mark <strong>the</strong><br />

EU’s green transformation. For easier<br />

reading, we have divided <strong>the</strong> magazine<br />

into three parts:<br />

First, we look into <strong>the</strong> more interesting<br />

<strong>and</strong> intriguing internal aspects of <strong>the</strong><br />

EU’s <strong>Green</strong> Deal. The magazine kicks<br />

off with our lead article which says<br />

that – at least for <strong>the</strong> moment - Russia’s<br />

war against Ukraine <strong>and</strong>, before that,<br />

Covid 19, are supercharging <strong>the</strong> project,<br />

instead of derailing it. There is criticism,<br />

however, that <strong>the</strong> EU’s decision to<br />

include natural gas <strong>and</strong> nuclear power as<br />

“transitional activities” in its sustainable<br />

investments guidelines for green finance<br />

could turn out to be “biggest greenwash<br />

ever.”<br />

Meanwhile, increasing nuclear energy<br />

capacity has re-emerged as an option to<br />

help Europe cut dependence on Russian<br />

fossil fuels <strong>and</strong> in Germany, we explore<br />

whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> government’s pro-renewables<br />

rhetoric is really being translated<br />

into easy-to-implement policies.<br />

Second, we take a closer look at <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal’s external fall-out, especially<br />

on African countries where <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

has been advocating an “African <strong>Green</strong><br />

Deal” as a centrepiece of <strong>the</strong> continent’s<br />

economic recovery. Our interviews <strong>and</strong><br />

articles reflect more nuanced African<br />

thinking on <strong>the</strong> topic <strong>and</strong> warn that <strong>the</strong><br />

EU’s much-publicised Global Gateway<br />

connectivity initiative as well as <strong>the</strong><br />

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism<br />

are not universally welcomed in Africa.<br />

Finally, we talk to former <strong>Green</strong> MEP<br />

Magic Magid who is campaigning for<br />

climate justice <strong>and</strong> to MEP Mohammed<br />

Chahim who says a large chunk of <strong>the</strong><br />

proceeds from <strong>the</strong> Carbon Border tax<br />

should be used to help low-income<br />

countries to build renewable energy<br />

systems <strong>and</strong> clean up <strong>the</strong>ir industries.<br />

Ug<strong>and</strong>a’s young climate activist Hilda<br />

Flavia Nakabuye explains why she will<br />

not stop her campaign for greening<br />

Africa.<br />

With its diversity of authors <strong>and</strong> views<br />

<strong>and</strong> its globally inclusive approach, we<br />

believe <strong>the</strong> magazine sharpens ongoing<br />

EU discussions on <strong>the</strong> green economy.<br />

We really enjoyed putting this magazine<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>and</strong> we hope you enjoy<br />

reading it.<br />

Shada Islam<br />

3


TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

26<br />

30<br />

32<br />

In this issue<br />

Path to a just transition<br />

in Africa is via green<br />

industrialisation<br />

African economies risk<br />

suffocation by EU ‘shock’<br />

carbon tax<br />

China <strong>and</strong> EU can –<br />

must – cooperate on<br />

green goals, despite<br />

differences<br />

6<br />

10<br />

14<br />

36<br />

38<br />

40<br />

Outside shocks are<br />

supercharging <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal – for now<br />

Nuclear <strong>and</strong> gas in EU<br />

taxonomy is ‘biggest<br />

greenwash ever’<br />

German wind<br />

energy stumbles<br />

INTERVIEW:<br />

Magic Magid: The<br />

paradox at <strong>the</strong> heart of<br />

EU’s <strong>Green</strong> Deal<br />

INTERVIEW:<br />

The ‘carbon tax’<br />

MEP with one eye on<br />

Mozambique<br />

‘The government is<br />

hearing us, but not<br />

listening to us’ Ug<strong>and</strong>an<br />

activist warns<br />

16<br />

20<br />

24<br />

44<br />

46<br />

Europe’s<br />

<strong>Green</strong> Push<br />

Does <strong>the</strong> Ukraine war<br />

mean a renaissance for<br />

EU nuclear energy?<br />

‘Global Gateway’:<br />

In Africa, scepticism<br />

about <strong>the</strong> EU’s green<br />

connectivity plan<br />

Forget <strong>the</strong> scaremongers:<br />

climate change will not<br />

lead to mass migration<br />

to Europe<br />

Europe’s <strong>Green</strong> Push<br />

An A-Z glossary of<br />

climate change terms<br />

5


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE EU<br />

Outside<br />

shocks are<br />

supercharging<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU <strong>Green</strong><br />

Deal – for now<br />

Russia’s war against Ukraine <strong>and</strong>, before that, Covid 19<br />

risk derailing <strong>the</strong> EU’s ambitious <strong>Green</strong> Deal. Instead,<br />

as Wester van Gaal explains, both external shocks have<br />

supercharged <strong>the</strong> project – at least for now.<br />

By WESTER VAN GAAL<br />

of <strong>the</strong> struggle between liberal democracy<br />

<strong>and</strong> authoritarianism - it presented<br />

Europe as a green soft power alternative<br />

to China, Russia <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> United States.<br />

As we now know, parliament approved<br />

<strong>the</strong> proposal - <strong>and</strong> even asked <strong>the</strong> commission<br />

to increase its climate ambitions<br />

fur<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Climate change as national<br />

security issue<br />

Fast forward to <strong>the</strong> first quarter of 2022<br />

<strong>and</strong> with <strong>the</strong> onset of Russian president<br />

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,<br />

gas prices are surging <strong>and</strong> calls to wean<br />

Europe off Russian gas have become<br />

louder <strong>and</strong> more persistent.<br />

“Climate policy is now a matter of<br />

national security,” an EU official told<br />

EUobserver.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> time of writing, it is still unclear<br />

whe<strong>the</strong>r Europe will ultimately sanction<br />

Russian oil- <strong>and</strong> gas imports, given that<br />

Germany is especially reliant on Russian<br />

gas imports. But <strong>the</strong> new German Chancellor<br />

Olaf Scholz has already halted <strong>the</strong><br />

controversial Nord Stream 2 project <strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> EU appears ready to double down on<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal.<br />

European speeches rarely excite. The<br />

EU’s lawmaking process is incremental<br />

<strong>and</strong> disjointed, <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> stakes are often<br />

obfuscated by detail <strong>and</strong> too many acronyms.<br />

But when European Commission<br />

vice-president Frans Timmermans, on<br />

December 13 2019, had to convince <strong>the</strong><br />

European Parliament to approve <strong>the</strong><br />

l<strong>and</strong>mark <strong>Green</strong> Deal, Europe’s overarching<br />

policy to become <strong>the</strong> world’s<br />

first “climate-neutral bloc” by 2050, he<br />

brought out <strong>the</strong> big guns.<br />

“We choose to go for climate neutrality<br />

in 2050 <strong>and</strong> do <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r things. Not because<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are easy, but because <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

hard,” he said, adapting <strong>the</strong> ‘Man on <strong>the</strong><br />

Moon’ speech by John F. Kennedy.<br />

Wrapped in <strong>the</strong> pathos of past scientific,<br />

industrial <strong>and</strong> civic success, Timmermans<br />

presented <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal as a do<br />

or die moment in European history. It<br />

would “organise <strong>and</strong> measure <strong>the</strong> best of<br />

our energies <strong>and</strong> skills,” he said. “Because<br />

that challenge is one that we are willing<br />

to accept. One we are unwilling to postpone.<br />

And one which we intend to win.”<br />

It was meant to solve <strong>the</strong> problem of<br />

political disagreement <strong>and</strong> paralysis<br />

among EU member countries while also<br />

serving <strong>the</strong> external goal of projecting a<br />

unified image. By attaching it to <strong>the</strong> Cold<br />

<strong>War</strong> narrative of <strong>the</strong> space race - a symbol<br />

“The <strong>Green</strong> Deal is also <strong>the</strong> answer to <strong>the</strong><br />

security challenge in <strong>the</strong> energy field,”<br />

Timmermans said in <strong>the</strong> wake of <strong>the</strong> invasion.<br />

On March 8, two weeks after <strong>the</strong><br />

Russian military offensive, <strong>the</strong> Commission<br />

presented plans to decrease Russian<br />

gas imports by two-thirds before <strong>the</strong> end<br />

of <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

RepowerEU introduces some new measures.<br />

It will require gas storage across <strong>the</strong><br />

EU to be filled up to at least 90 percent of<br />

its capacity by October 1 each year.<br />

In addition, it projects increased Liquified<br />

Natural Gas (LNG) imports from<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r countries, mainly <strong>the</strong> United<br />

States. It even encourages EU members<br />

7


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE EU<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

to burn more coal temporarily.<br />

And crucially, it requires member states<br />

to speed up <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal, especially its<br />

emission reduction policies (dubbed “fit<br />

for 55”).<br />

Current policies would already decrease<br />

gas consumption by 30 percent by 2030.<br />

By speeding up measures, to be paid for<br />

with existing p<strong>and</strong>emic funds, <strong>the</strong> commission<br />

estimates it can reduce Russian<br />

natural gas imports to 55 billion cubic<br />

meters before <strong>the</strong> end of <strong>the</strong> year, down<br />

from 155mcm last year.<br />

Before <strong>the</strong> Ukraine war, <strong>the</strong>re<br />

was <strong>the</strong> p<strong>and</strong>emic<br />

Before <strong>the</strong> war, it was <strong>the</strong> Covid-19 virus<br />

which almost scuppered <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal.<br />

Even as Timmermans was presenting his<br />

bid idea to <strong>the</strong> European Parliament in<br />

December 2019, almost 9000 kilometres<br />

away, a Wuhan resident surnamed Chen<br />

was <strong>the</strong> first human on earth to fall sick<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Covid-19 virus.<br />

“Everything changed overnight,” an<br />

EU official reflecting back on <strong>the</strong> first<br />

p<strong>and</strong>emic months told EUobserver.<br />

Unwittingly, “patient zero” launched a<br />

post-p<strong>and</strong>emic new normal, changing<br />

EU politics, <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal, along<br />

with it.<br />

By setting <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal up as a geopolitical<br />

tool, encompassing both domestic<br />

politics <strong>and</strong> foreign relations, a dynamic<br />

emerged in which uncertainty <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

p<strong>and</strong>emic began feeding into <strong>and</strong> driving<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal.<br />

Climate<br />

policy is now<br />

a matter<br />

of national<br />

security.”<br />

“There was a fear <strong>the</strong> p<strong>and</strong>emic would<br />

derail <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal,” an EU official<br />

said, with some EU leaders openly calling<br />

to “shut down” <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> Deal <strong>and</strong><br />

focus on battling <strong>the</strong> virus. But instead,<br />

<strong>the</strong> p<strong>and</strong>emic super-charged it. Threatened<br />

by a total economic shutdown <strong>and</strong><br />

Frans Timmermans, EU<br />

Commission lead for <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal<br />

Source: European Parliament<br />

by a lack of medical supplies, which it<br />

turned out were primarily produced in<br />

China, member states in rapid-fire mode<br />

agreed on a slew of policies that built on<br />

EU climate policies.<br />

The most consequential was NextgenerationEU,<br />

a €750bn p<strong>and</strong>emic fund that<br />

would support governments by issuing<br />

joint European debt.<br />

Much of <strong>the</strong>se investments were meant<br />

to support citizens <strong>and</strong> boost <strong>the</strong> p<strong>and</strong>emic<br />

response. But one-third of this<br />

was earmarked for <strong>Green</strong> Deal investments,<br />

which toge<strong>the</strong>r with <strong>the</strong> regulate<br />

seven-year budget added up to €600bn<br />

- more money <strong>the</strong> continent has ever<br />

spent on climate policy.<br />

This collective action was coordinated by<br />

<strong>the</strong> commission, who pushed <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong><br />

Deal as <strong>the</strong> bloc’s main growth strategy<br />

throughout <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

EU banks joined in<br />

This was supported by an unprecedented<br />

response from <strong>the</strong> European Central<br />

Bank, which promised to buy up all government<br />

debt (1850bn eventually) under<br />

its so-called p<strong>and</strong>emic emergency purchase<br />

programme (PEPP).<br />

Financial institutions like <strong>the</strong> European<br />

Investment Bank (EIB) <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> European<br />

Bank for Reconstruction <strong>and</strong> Development<br />

(EBRD) pooled <strong>the</strong>ir resources to<br />

help support p<strong>and</strong>emic stricken economies<br />

by spending a large part of <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

funds on climate action.<br />

This set up a system of collective action<br />

between institutions <strong>and</strong> member states,<br />

now described by <strong>the</strong> EU as “Team Europe.”<br />

From a climate policy perspective, <strong>the</strong>re<br />

is no question this approach has been<br />

successful.<br />

By <strong>the</strong> end of 2020, even coal-reliant<br />

states like Pol<strong>and</strong> recognised <strong>the</strong> need<br />

(<strong>and</strong> benefit) to decarbonise <strong>the</strong>ir economies<br />

with EU money, <strong>and</strong> agreed to<br />

increase <strong>the</strong> bloc’s legally binding emissions<br />

reduction goal from 40 percent to<br />

a net 55 percent cut by 2030 - now enshrined<br />

in <strong>the</strong> European Climate Law.<br />

Governments were seen propping up<br />

entire economic sectors, changing ideas<br />

of what governments <strong>and</strong> institutions<br />

should <strong>and</strong> could do - tied toge<strong>the</strong>r into<br />

its central climate policy. Reflecting on<br />

this moment in May 2021, EU foreign policy<br />

chief Josep Borrell later said that Europeans<br />

are “masters of disjointed efforts.”<br />

He added: “Each policy tends to develop<br />

according to its own logic <strong>and</strong> rhythm.<br />

The way to go is to use <strong>the</strong>se instruments<br />

as part of one political strategy.”<br />

Uncertainy looms<br />

Since its launch in 2019, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> deal<br />

has become <strong>the</strong> EU’s linchpin policy,<br />

tying toge<strong>the</strong>r questions of stimulating<br />

<strong>and</strong> investing in <strong>the</strong> economy, responding<br />

to <strong>the</strong> climate crisis, <strong>and</strong> foreign<br />

policy threats. Questions like joint debt,<br />

huge fiscal <strong>and</strong> monetary crisis support<br />

<strong>and</strong> massive public investments in green<br />

infrastructure are now part <strong>and</strong> parcel of<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU’s policy toolkit.<br />

But even as some of its efforts have proven<br />

successful under pressure crises <strong>and</strong><br />

conflict, it is unclear where it will lead.<br />

Before <strong>the</strong><br />

Ukraine<br />

war, it was<br />

Covid 19<br />

that almost<br />

scuppered<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong><br />

Deal.<br />

For one, <strong>the</strong> future success of <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong><br />

Deal is almost wholly dependent on <strong>the</strong><br />

availability of money. And <strong>the</strong>re are signs<br />

that in addition to <strong>the</strong> impact of <strong>the</strong> Russian<br />

war, <strong>the</strong> period of massive monetary<br />

interventions <strong>and</strong> government generosity<br />

may be drawing to a close.<br />

The ECB has already decreased its p<strong>and</strong>emic<br />

asset purchases. Although <strong>the</strong><br />

bank has not yet signalled that it will<br />

increase interest rates, worries over inflation<br />

will pressure <strong>the</strong> bank’s management<br />

to do so.<br />

This will lead to an increase in borrowing<br />

costs for governments, while energy<br />

prices will by all expectations remain<br />

high. As a result, increasing investments<br />

in renewables is likely to become more<br />

difficult.<br />

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi,<br />

who previously served as ECB president,<br />

has already called for a new version of <strong>the</strong><br />

NextgenerationEU fund to pay for green<br />

investments <strong>and</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> financial<br />

fallout from <strong>the</strong> war by issuing mutual<br />

debt.<br />

But opposition to joint European debt<br />

remains potent among “frugal” nor<strong>the</strong>rn<br />

EU member states. Magdalena Andersson,<br />

<strong>the</strong> Swedish prime minister, recently<br />

warned that “some countries always<br />

find new arguments why <strong>the</strong>y shouldn’t<br />

pay <strong>the</strong>ir expenses.” Such intransigence<br />

will complicate debates over revamping<br />

EU fiscal rules to be held this year.<br />

Even if crises <strong>and</strong> conflict have driven <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal forward in recent years, this<br />

may not continue to be <strong>the</strong> case in <strong>the</strong><br />

future. Political will <strong>and</strong> determination<br />

can go just so far. The <strong>Green</strong> Deal has<br />

survived two major external challencges.<br />

But without sustainable long-term financial<br />

resources - ei<strong>the</strong>r through governments’<br />

monetary financing or joint European<br />

debt – <strong>the</strong> EU’s flagship initiative is<br />

at risk of impasse. ◄<br />

About<br />

Wester van Gaal<br />

Wester is a journalist from <strong>the</strong><br />

Ne<strong>the</strong>rl<strong>and</strong>s with a focus on<br />

<strong>the</strong> green economy. He joined<br />

EUobserver in September 2021.<br />

Previously he was editor-in-chief of<br />

Vice, Mo<strong>the</strong>rboard, a science-based<br />

website, <strong>and</strong> climate economy journalist<br />

for The Correspondent.<br />

9


WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

Nuclear <strong>and</strong> gas<br />

in EU taxonomy<br />

is ‘biggest<br />

greenwash ever’<br />

The EU’s decision to include natural gas <strong>and</strong> nuclear power as<br />

“transitional activities” in its sustainable investments guidelines<br />

for green finance continues to generate massive controversy.<br />

Critics call it <strong>the</strong> “biggest greenwash ever.”<br />

By ELENA SANCHEZ NICOLAS<br />

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine <strong>and</strong> EU<br />

plans to reduce its reliance on Russian<br />

fossil-fuel imports have raised more<br />

questions over <strong>the</strong> fate of <strong>the</strong> European<br />

Commission’s controversial taxonomy<br />

proposal.<br />

EU member states were already split over<br />

<strong>the</strong> role of gas <strong>and</strong> nuclear in <strong>the</strong> energy<br />

transition <strong>and</strong>, thus, in green finance —<br />

even before <strong>the</strong> war in Ukraine.<br />

The reasons are obvious: gas projects<br />

still generate significant greenhouse gas<br />

emissions <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>re is no proven sustainable<br />

solution for nuclear waste.<br />

Never<strong>the</strong>less, <strong>the</strong> decision to include gas<br />

<strong>and</strong> nuclear was partially justified on <strong>the</strong><br />

ground that it provided energy security<br />

for <strong>the</strong> 27-nation bloc. Critics say <strong>the</strong><br />

proposal undermines <strong>the</strong> credibility of<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU taxonomy as a science-based investment<br />

tool, gives credence to claims<br />

of greenwashing, creates confusion in<br />

financial markets, <strong>and</strong> will cause major<br />

delays in <strong>the</strong> much-needed transition<br />

away from fossil fuels.<br />

The taxonomy does not ban outright investment<br />

in activities not included in <strong>the</strong><br />

guidelines — but it is designed to steer<br />

investments away from companies <strong>and</strong><br />

investors which falsely claim to be environmentally<br />

sustainable.<br />

‘Gold st<strong>and</strong>ard’ gone<br />

Experts have warned that including natural<br />

gas (with a higher threshold than<br />

<strong>the</strong> one recommended by experts) <strong>and</strong><br />

nuclear power in <strong>the</strong> EU’s sustainable<br />

11


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE EU<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

fooling ourselves,” he said, because <strong>the</strong><br />

taxonomy must be “a credible st<strong>and</strong>ard”<br />

to fulfil its goal.<br />

Natural gas has been tentatively identified<br />

by Brussels as a transition fuel until<br />

renewables <strong>and</strong> storage capacity can operate<br />

at a sufficient scale, but many have<br />

questioned <strong>the</strong> financial reasons for including<br />

it in <strong>the</strong> green taxonomy.<br />

Overall, investment in fossil fuels does<br />

well in financial markets — with gas<br />

projects gaining a significant increase in<br />

profitability in recent years. And experts<br />

argue that actually excluding gas projects<br />

from <strong>the</strong> EU taxonomy would not have<br />

created a risk of underinvestment in gas<br />

generation as a transition energy source.<br />

Conversely, an analysis from <strong>the</strong> international<br />

EDHEC Business School found<br />

that its inclusion in <strong>the</strong> financial guideline<br />

may create price distortions <strong>and</strong> an<br />

incentive to limit future investments in<br />

renewables.<br />

Investments for a gas-fired power plant<br />

are estimated to take more than a decade<br />

to be amortised, <strong>and</strong> gas plans tend<br />

to operate an average of 25 to 30 years<br />

in Europe. This raises concerns among<br />

experts about <strong>the</strong> taxonomy leading to a<br />

delay in <strong>the</strong> transition away from fossil<br />

fuels.<br />

Ursula Woodburn from <strong>the</strong> UK’s<br />

cross-sector group of business leaders,<br />

CLG Europe, said that this transition is<br />

supported by many businesses who see<br />

<strong>the</strong> benefits it offers.<br />

The war in Ukraine shows how geopolitical<br />

tensions can cause “massive disruption”<br />

in an energy system based on fossil<br />

fuels, she warns.<br />

“The EU should rapidly transition away<br />

from fossil fuels, fossil-fuel investments<br />

<strong>and</strong> subsidies to deliver climate stability,”<br />

she added.<br />

The decision to include gas <strong>and</strong> nuclear<br />

in <strong>the</strong> taxonomy was slammed as <strong>the</strong><br />

outcome of a both lengthy <strong>and</strong> highly-politicised<br />

process. But <strong>the</strong> European<br />

Commission has also come under fire<br />

for looking at this tool purely through a<br />

domestic prism — despite its impact beyond<br />

EU borders. ◄<br />

Politico A5 ad - 210x148mm.pdf 1 16/03/2022 14:17<br />

Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout “The whole idea of creating a EU ‘gold st<strong>and</strong>ard’ is gone” Source: European Parliament<br />

finance rules may lead to fur<strong>the</strong>r greenwashing<br />

in financial markets.<br />

University College Dublin professor<br />

Andreas Hoepner, who has been one of<br />

those leading academic opposition on<br />

<strong>the</strong> taxonomy, describes it as probably<br />

“<strong>the</strong> biggest greenwash ever.”<br />

The proposal, he said, ignores rigorous<br />

scientific analysis <strong>and</strong> weakens <strong>the</strong><br />

credibility of <strong>the</strong> whole EU sustainable<br />

finance agenda. And it may even lead to<br />

an increase in emissions incompatible<br />

with <strong>the</strong> Fit-for-55 package <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> EU’s<br />

climate targets.<br />

The rules were meant to create common<br />

st<strong>and</strong>ards for classifying taxonomy-aligned<br />

economic activities as environmentally<br />

sustainable.<br />

But Laurence Tubiana, one of <strong>the</strong> key<br />

architects of <strong>the</strong> 2015 Paris Agreement,<br />

EU member<br />

states were<br />

already split<br />

over <strong>the</strong> role<br />

of gas <strong>and</strong><br />

nuclear in<br />

<strong>the</strong> energy<br />

transition<br />

<strong>and</strong>, thus, in<br />

green finance<br />

— even before<br />

<strong>the</strong> war<br />

in Ukraine.<br />

has warned that investors may go elsewhere<br />

to seek more “more reliable science-based<br />

criteria” to classify <strong>the</strong>ir investments.<br />

“The whole idea of creating a ‘gold st<strong>and</strong>ard’<br />

is gone” with gas <strong>and</strong> nuclear power<br />

included in <strong>the</strong> EU taxonomy, Dutch<br />

MEP Bas Eickhout told EUobserver in<br />

an interview.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> credibility of <strong>the</strong> whole taxonomy<br />

hanging by a thread, Eickhout<br />

warned of <strong>the</strong> impact on green bonds,<br />

given that funds raised from <strong>the</strong>se bonds<br />

could be used for gas <strong>and</strong> nuclear projects.<br />

The transition towards net-zero<br />

emissions will require massive investment,<br />

but not enough money is currently<br />

going into projects delivering climate<br />

neutrality, he said.<br />

“If we now lower <strong>the</strong> st<strong>and</strong>ard in order<br />

to mobilise <strong>the</strong> money, <strong>the</strong>n we are still<br />

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MY<br />

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13


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE EU<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

German wind<br />

energy stumbles<br />

A case study: red tape, “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBYs), <strong>and</strong> <strong>Green</strong> vs <strong>Green</strong><br />

conflicts are putting a brake on Germany’s rapid wind expansion.<br />

By LEON MANGASARIAN<br />

Germany’s new coalition government of<br />

Social Democrats, <strong>Green</strong>s <strong>and</strong> Liberals is<br />

promising big on massively accelerating<br />

<strong>the</strong> transition to renewable energy.<br />

The backbone of this pledge is more<br />

windmills, bigger windmills, built faster<br />

<strong>and</strong> utilising far more l<strong>and</strong>.<br />

“Wind energy is one of <strong>the</strong> supporting<br />

pillars of <strong>the</strong> energy transformation,”<br />

says <strong>the</strong> German Advisory Council on<br />

<strong>the</strong> Environment, which consults with<br />

<strong>the</strong> federal government in Berlin. “If it’s<br />

not exp<strong>and</strong>ed far more swiftly, <strong>the</strong> German<br />

climate protection goals cannot be<br />

achieved.”<br />

Yet even as Russia’s Ukraine war adds<br />

geopolitics to reasons for more domestic<br />

energy, a trifecta of bureaucracy, furious<br />

local opposition <strong>and</strong> intra-<strong>Green</strong> battles<br />

on wind energy vs protecting iconic birds<br />

like eagles will make delivery of Germany’s<br />

expansion of wind power arduous at<br />

best.<br />

Bureaucracy,<br />

local<br />

opposition<br />

<strong>and</strong> intra-<br />

<strong>Green</strong> battles<br />

will make<br />

Germany's<br />

expansion of<br />

wind power<br />

arduous.<br />

This is not <strong>the</strong>ory. These are my experiences<br />

as our family forestry business<br />

seeks to build wind turbines on four different<br />

sites in eastern Germany.<br />

Wind turbine construction has been<br />

strangled in Germany by multiple constraints.<br />

The amount of electricity produced<br />

by newly-built windmills has<br />

plunged to less than half of <strong>the</strong> record<br />

peak set in 2017 for each of <strong>the</strong> last four<br />

years.<br />

The <strong>Green</strong> party’s minster for economy<br />

<strong>and</strong> climate protection, Robert Habeck,<br />

plans to radically increase <strong>the</strong> number of<br />

wind turbines <strong>and</strong> wants two-percent of<br />

German territory to be used for windmills<br />

— to enable Europe’s biggest economy<br />

to produce 80 percent of its electricity<br />

from renewables by 2030 (up from 42<br />

percent today) <strong>and</strong> be carbon-neutral by<br />

2035.<br />

But Habeck’s problem is that windmills<br />

bitterly divide his followers between<br />

those prioritising clean energy <strong>and</strong> those<br />

wanting nature conservation, even at <strong>the</strong><br />

cost of de-growth. Habeck’s ministry declined<br />

to give an in-person or telephone<br />

interview for this story <strong>and</strong> did not reply<br />

to emailed questions.<br />

Habeck must try to do this in consensus<br />

with regional <strong>and</strong> local leaders, as well as<br />

his own <strong>Green</strong> party. Yet it’s unlikely he’ll<br />

succeed unless <strong>the</strong> full legal force of <strong>the</strong><br />

federal government is used to slash laws<br />

that — in my view — are designed to prevent<br />

<strong>the</strong> expansion of wind turbines.<br />

A couple of examples.<br />

In thinly-populated eastern Germany,<br />

four-out-of-five states ban building<br />

windmills in forests. My state, Br<strong>and</strong>enburg,<br />

is <strong>the</strong> only exception that allows<br />

<strong>the</strong>m. This blanket ban removes a huge<br />

l<strong>and</strong> mass, far away from where people<br />

live, as potential wind energy sites.<br />

Across most of Germany, <strong>the</strong>re’s an arbitrary<br />

1,000-metre rule (in Bavaria a de<br />

facto 2,000 metres) that says windmills<br />

cannot be built any closer to a house. In<br />

terms of nighttime noise limits this does<br />

not make sense. Studies show that windmills<br />

can be located 600 to 700 meters<br />

from a house <strong>and</strong> still not exceed <strong>the</strong><br />

decibel limits.<br />

A report by Agora Energiewende, a think<br />

tank, shows that cutting <strong>the</strong> limit to 600<br />

metres, <strong>and</strong> allowing wind turbines in<br />

forests, would increase <strong>the</strong> potential l<strong>and</strong><br />

available for windmills to 15 percent of<br />

Germany’s territory, up from eight percent<br />

under <strong>the</strong> 1,000 metre <strong>and</strong> no forests<br />

rule.<br />

Decibels <strong>and</strong> peregrine falcons<br />

But putting windmills in forests inspires<br />

fury — even among many forest-owners<br />

who would profit from <strong>the</strong>m. I’ve seen<br />

this first-h<strong>and</strong> in my role as chairman<br />

of <strong>the</strong> advisory committee for a forestry<br />

cooperative which manages 17,000 hectares<br />

of forest in eastern Germany.<br />

As I have discovered, even where it seems<br />

possible to build a wind park, nothing is<br />

decided until everything is decided. And,<br />

adding a Kafkaesque twist, some things<br />

cannot even be decided.<br />

Here are some examples.<br />

At my Kleinsee forest about two hours<br />

sou<strong>the</strong>ast of Berlin, I signed a contract to<br />

be part of a wind park in January 2021.<br />

First of all, an environmental impact<br />

report costing more than €100,000 was<br />

needed. Among its most significant findings<br />

was a nest used by a peregrine falcon<br />

(which is no longer endangered, as<br />

<strong>the</strong> population in Germany <strong>and</strong> Europe<br />

has risen since <strong>the</strong> 1970s). There are 600<br />

breeding pairs in Germany <strong>and</strong> up to<br />

15,000 pairs in Europe.<br />

Never<strong>the</strong>less, under present regulations,<br />

windmills cannot be built closer than<br />

1,000 metres (in a few cases, 500 metres)<br />

from <strong>the</strong> nest. For this wind park, <strong>the</strong><br />

nest means that three potential windmills<br />

have been axed.<br />

Multiply this across Germany <strong>and</strong> it<br />

means lots of windmills are never getting<br />

off <strong>the</strong> drawing board due to birds that<br />

are not really threatened.<br />

Habeck’s ministry says <strong>the</strong>y want to<br />

loosen <strong>the</strong>se regulations but <strong>Green</strong> opponents<br />

have plenty of pictures of decapitated<br />

birds for <strong>the</strong>ir PR campaign.<br />

Technology may have a partial answer<br />

because warning systems can shut<br />

down windmills when very large birds<br />

approach. Peregrines, however, are too<br />

small for <strong>the</strong> current systems.<br />

The project developer says that if all goes<br />

well — a big if — <strong>the</strong> first wind turbines<br />

may start producing electricity in 2027.<br />

That’s almost seven years after <strong>the</strong> contract<br />

was signed. And this is a small wind<br />

park with just 10 to 12 windmills.<br />

A second wind park that we have been<br />

working on for months in <strong>the</strong> west of <strong>the</strong><br />

city of Eisenhüttenstadt was suddenly<br />

cancelled because <strong>the</strong> local council said<br />

“nein.”<br />

And a third windmill which was supposed<br />

to be built near Kyritz in western<br />

Br<strong>and</strong>enburg met all <strong>the</strong> prerequisites<br />

<strong>and</strong> seemed set to go but since <strong>the</strong>re<br />

were already a dozen wind turbines<br />

in <strong>the</strong> area, one developer, seeing no<br />

chance <strong>the</strong> local government would approve<br />

building fur<strong>the</strong>r windmills pulled<br />

out. The o<strong>the</strong>r is slow-walking <strong>the</strong> project.<br />

There is now probably a 10 percent<br />

chance it will actually be built.<br />

German polls show big majorities love<br />

renewables. Just NIMBY (“Not In My<br />

Backyard, Please). And not in our sacred<br />

forests.<br />

Unless it changes tack, this one-third<br />

green German government, despite <strong>the</strong><br />

best of intentions, is not going to be<br />

able to deliver on its renewable energy<br />

targets. ◄<br />

About<br />

Leon Mangasarian<br />

Leon Mangasarian worked as<br />

a reporter <strong>and</strong> editor for<br />

Bloomberg News, dpa <strong>and</strong> UPI<br />

in Berlin, East Berlin, Bonn <strong>and</strong><br />

Brussels. He now lives on a farm<br />

in sou<strong>the</strong>ast Br<strong>and</strong>enburg <strong>and</strong> in<br />

Potsdam.<br />

15


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE EU<br />

Does <strong>the</strong> Ukraine war<br />

mean a renaissance<br />

for EU nuclear<br />

energy?<br />

Increasing nuclear energy capacity has re-emerged as<br />

an option to help Europe cut dependence on Russian<br />

fossil fuels. But <strong>the</strong> age-old debate on nuclear safety is<br />

still alive — <strong>and</strong> divisive.<br />

By ESZTER ZALAN<br />

As <strong>the</strong> EU ramps up efforts to reduce dependence on Russian<br />

oil <strong>and</strong> gas, <strong>the</strong> focus has shifted back towards nuclear energy<br />

— along with renewables — as an option.<br />

Boosting nuclear energy capacity would also fit with <strong>the</strong> EU’s<br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal, with proponents of nuclear seeing it as a vital tool<br />

to reach net-zero targets. At <strong>the</strong> start of this year, <strong>the</strong> EU executive<br />

also proposed to classify some nuclear investments as green<br />

— a highly-controversial move.<br />

Exp<strong>and</strong>ing reliance on nuclear energy is a deeply-divisive issue<br />

for many EU member states, however.<br />

The EU Commission has been accused of greenwashing nuclear<br />

<strong>and</strong> natural gas by critics. The plan has also split member states,<br />

with Austria <strong>and</strong> Luxembourg being <strong>the</strong> most outspoken in opposing<br />

<strong>the</strong> plans.<br />

Those countries in favour remain enthusiastic, however.<br />

“Nuclear energy should be considered as one of <strong>the</strong> solutions,<br />

because it has <strong>the</strong> lowest carbon-footprint [<strong>and</strong> is] already considered<br />

as a green solution by <strong>the</strong> European Commission,” Bulgarian<br />

socialist MEP Tsvetelina Penkova told <strong>the</strong> European<br />

Parliament’s energy committee in early March.<br />

Her assessment was echoed by Finnish MEP Henna Virkkunen.<br />

“It is clear that member states can no longer rely on Russian gas<br />

<strong>and</strong> oil for <strong>the</strong>ir energy needs. Doubling down <strong>and</strong> investing in<br />

low-carbon energy, including nuclear <strong>and</strong> renewables, is now<br />

imperative in order to achieve both carbon neutrality <strong>and</strong> energy<br />

independence,” she told <strong>the</strong> committee.<br />

In a 10-point plan in March, <strong>the</strong> International Energy Agency<br />

(IEA) also suggested that <strong>the</strong> EU reduce its imports of natural<br />

gas from Russia by more than one-third within a year — partly


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE EU<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

Small modular reactors (SMRs), nuclear-fission<br />

reactors that are smaller than<br />

conventional nuclear reactors, could also<br />

provide a quick bridge eventually, but <strong>the</strong><br />

technology is still under development,<br />

<strong>and</strong> needs to be examined by <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

Commission for security reasons.<br />

“This [war] could motivate countries to<br />

prolong <strong>the</strong> lifetime of existing plants,<br />

<strong>and</strong> spur new investments in nuclear energy<br />

generally,” Brutschin said, but added<br />

that decisions will vary widely, based on<br />

EU countries’ national <strong>and</strong> political contexts.<br />

Inside a nuclear reactor. Source: IAEA<br />

In 2020, 13 EU countries had operational<br />

nuclear reactors: Belgium, Bulgaria, <strong>the</strong><br />

Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France,<br />

Hungary, <strong>the</strong> Ne<strong>the</strong>rl<strong>and</strong>s, Romania,<br />

Slovenia, Slovakia, Finl<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> Sweden.<br />

In total, <strong>the</strong>re were 109 nuclear reactors<br />

in operation, according to <strong>the</strong> EU’s statistics<br />

office.<br />

Nuclear electricity production accounts<br />

for almost 25 percent of total EU electricity.<br />

But electricity generated by nuclear<br />

plants across <strong>the</strong> EU has decreased by<br />

25.2 percent since 2006.<br />

Military<br />

conflict<br />

<strong>and</strong> nuclear<br />

plants don’t<br />

mix well.”<br />

by maximising energy production from<br />

nuclear power.<br />

The IEA proposed that <strong>the</strong> EU temporarily<br />

delay <strong>the</strong> closure of nuclear reactors<br />

which were scheduled to shutdown over<br />

<strong>the</strong> next year, a move which could cut EU<br />

gas dem<strong>and</strong> by almost 1bn cubic metres<br />

per month.<br />

But such a massive shift requires equally<br />

massive investment.<br />

EU commissioner for <strong>the</strong> internal market<br />

Thierry Breton estimates <strong>the</strong> EU should<br />

invest around €500bn into nuclear energy<br />

by 2050 to achieve its goal of carbon<br />

neutrality.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>rs warn that building new nuclear<br />

power plants will not be a quick fix for<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU as it struggles to wean itself off<br />

Russian energy amid a war that is pushing<br />

up already-high energy prices.<br />

“Nuclear facilities [which are] already<br />

I don’t think <strong>the</strong>re will be a<br />

nuclear renaissance, I don’t<br />

count a possible extension of<br />

reactors as a 'renaissance'.”<br />

halted could be put back online, but that<br />

would only mean a minimum [of] gas<br />

savings. If you want to reduce <strong>the</strong> role<br />

of gas in <strong>the</strong> electricity sector, you must<br />

slow down <strong>the</strong> phasing-out of coal,”<br />

András György Deák, senior research<br />

fellow at <strong>the</strong> Budapest-based Institute of<br />

World Economic, told EUobserver.<br />

Martin Hojsík<br />

“I can imagine that a nuclear renaissance<br />

unfolds because of <strong>the</strong> war — at least, in<br />

terms of policy discussions. But what we<br />

start building today, will not be operational<br />

until 2035. So what is <strong>the</strong> point?,”<br />

Deák said, adding that companies investing<br />

in building plants think long-term<br />

<strong>and</strong> are unlikely to react solely to <strong>the</strong><br />

Ukraine war.<br />

Deák is also sceptical that Europe can<br />

decrease its reliance on gas more quickly<br />

than already planned. Accelerating savings<br />

could come from speeding up <strong>the</strong> renovation<br />

of buildings, in order that some gas<br />

used for heating can be channeled into<br />

producing electricity, he suggests.<br />

France is <strong>the</strong> EU state which is most reliant<br />

on nuclear electricity: nuclear energy<br />

represented 67 percent of all electricity<br />

produced in <strong>the</strong> country in 2020. In Slovakia,<br />

nuclear represents 54 percent of<br />

all electricity generation, in Hungary 46<br />

percent, <strong>and</strong> in Bulgaria 41 percent.<br />

In Germany, where Angela Merkel made<br />

a commitment to phase-out nuclear<br />

power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster<br />

in 2011, <strong>the</strong> final three reactors are expected<br />

to stop production this year.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r end of <strong>the</strong> spectrum, Finl<strong>and</strong>’s<br />

new unit, built by a French-led<br />

consortium, came online in mid-March<br />

— but only after a 12-year delay, <strong>and</strong> billions<br />

of euros in extra costs.<br />

Elina Brutschin, research scholar with<br />

<strong>the</strong> climate programme of <strong>the</strong> Vienna-based<br />

International Institute for Applied<br />

Systems Analysis (IIASA) said <strong>the</strong><br />

massive policy shift in Germany: shutting<br />

down <strong>the</strong> Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline<br />

from Russia, <strong>and</strong> increasing defence<br />

spending, showed that “anything is possible<br />

at <strong>the</strong> moment.”<br />

Vincent Zabielski, a nuclear engineer-turned-lawyer<br />

at international law<br />

firm Pillsbury, thinks <strong>the</strong>re can be a nuclear<br />

renaissance, citing a U-turn in Germany<br />

thinking in <strong>the</strong> last few weeks.<br />

“Germany has some of <strong>the</strong> best nuclear<br />

plants in <strong>the</strong> world, as well as <strong>the</strong> best<br />

nuclear operators, <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>y are throwing<br />

it away,” he warned, adding that any<br />

decision to revive nuclear power in Europe’s<br />

energy mix will ultimately be a political<br />

choice.<br />

And some politicians are far from<br />

convinced. “No, I don’t think <strong>the</strong>re will<br />

be a nuclear renaissance, I don’t count<br />

a possible extension of reactors as a ‘renaissance’,”<br />

Slovak MEP Martin Hojsík,<br />

one of <strong>the</strong> European lawmakers in charge<br />

of taxonomy, told EUobserver.<br />

“It is just too costly, <strong>and</strong> takes too long<br />

compared to renewable energy,” he said,<br />

pointing out that reactors in central Europe<br />

are also dependent on Russian fuel.<br />

“Military conflict <strong>and</strong> nuclear plants<br />

don’t mix well.” ◄<br />

About<br />

Eszter Zalan<br />

Eszter is from Budapest, Hungary.<br />

She joined EUobserver in 2015.<br />

She reported on conflict <strong>and</strong> war<br />

zones for Nepszabadsag, <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

Hungarian daily, for several<br />

years, <strong>and</strong> has also covered Hungary<br />

for Agence France-Presse.<br />

At EUobserver, she covers issues<br />

around European democracy, rule<br />

of law, <strong>and</strong> populism. She is <strong>the</strong><br />

co-founder of EUrologus, a Hungarian<br />

blog focusing on EU affairs.<br />

19


HOW OTHERS SEE THE EU<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

‘Global Gateway’:<br />

In Africa,<br />

scepticism about<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU’s green<br />

connectivity plan<br />

The EU’s much-publicised Global Gateway connectivity initiative is<br />

not universally welcomed in Africa. Here’s why.<br />

By WESTER VAN GAAL<br />

Dakar’s Youssou N’Dour was in <strong>the</strong> EU capital, Brussels, in February, for <strong>the</strong> launch of <strong>the</strong> Global Gateway<br />

With great fanfare, a Youssou N’Dour<br />

concert in Brussels, <strong>and</strong> talk of a “partnership<br />

of equals” Europe tried to<br />

rekindle relations with African leaders<br />

at <strong>the</strong> sixth European Union-<br />

African Union summit in February.<br />

The EU’s big offer at <strong>the</strong> two-day<br />

summit was Global Gateway<br />

Africa — a €150bn connectivity initiative<br />

that, among o<strong>the</strong>r goals, aims to connect<br />

Africa’s mineral wealth to <strong>the</strong> global market,<br />

<strong>and</strong> invest in <strong>the</strong> continent’s electrification,<br />

preferably using clean energy.<br />

Africa needs roughly €150bn a year for<br />

infrastructure investment, so if <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

can deliver on its financial promises, <strong>the</strong><br />

European scheme could end up becoming<br />

a real rival to China’s Belt-<strong>and</strong>-Road<br />

Africa investment plan — launched in<br />

2013, with major financial promises, but<br />

recently revised down to €40bn.<br />

Many African nations are sceptical,<br />

however, of Europe’s push to promote<br />

green energy. Nigeria, Mozambique <strong>and</strong><br />

Senegal (which hold huge natural gas<br />

reserves) have lobbied hard for a continuation<br />

of European financial support for<br />

new gas projects in Africa.<br />

Nigerian vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo,<br />

has gone on record to lambast wealthy<br />

nations from <strong>the</strong> Global North for banning<br />

or restricting public investment in<br />

fossil fuels, after “decades of profiting<br />

from oil <strong>and</strong> gas” <strong>the</strong>mselves.<br />

Europeans are not ready to say yes to<br />

such support, <strong>and</strong> no commitments were<br />

made at <strong>the</strong> summit. However, it will be<br />

difficult to deny African countries access<br />

to funding, <strong>and</strong> potential oil <strong>and</strong> gas revenues.<br />

European leaders cannot hope to achieve<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir clean energy goals without African<br />

goodwill <strong>and</strong> African resources. After<br />

all, Africa has <strong>the</strong> richest solar resources<br />

of any continent, <strong>and</strong> countries such as<br />

Kenya <strong>and</strong> Morocco are already significant<br />

generators of cleaner energy.<br />

Africa also has 85-95 percent of global<br />

chromium <strong>and</strong> platinum metal reserves;<br />

more than 50 percent of cobalt reserves<br />

<strong>and</strong> a third of world bauxite reserves.<br />

These metals are essential for <strong>the</strong> production<br />

of solar panels <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> batteries<br />

needed to store wind energy.<br />

African nations st<strong>and</strong> to gain from new<br />

investments in green energy but some<br />

also fear that this will lead to more exploitation<br />

of Africans.<br />

“If you look at <strong>the</strong> history of infrastructure<br />

investment in Africa, it has not led<br />

to improvements in <strong>the</strong> situation on <strong>the</strong><br />

continent,” says architect, environmentalist<br />

<strong>and</strong> poet Nnimmo Bassey.<br />

Bassey, as head of <strong>the</strong> Health Of Mo<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Earth Foundation, has fought against<br />

injustice <strong>and</strong> ecological destruction as a<br />

result of mining <strong>and</strong> fossil-fuel extraction<br />

for decades. And he has three words<br />

21


HOW OTHERS SEE THE EU<br />

to describe foreign investment in Africa:<br />

“exploitation, domination, colonialism.”<br />

He warns: “A transition to renewables<br />

does not automatically mean a just transition.”<br />

Mines <strong>and</strong> harbours<br />

Western <strong>and</strong> Chinese-built roads <strong>and</strong><br />

train tracks largely connect mines with<br />

harbours — <strong>the</strong>y are not meant to help<br />

people, but to speed up <strong>the</strong> export of<br />

mineral wealth. Investment schemes<br />

such as <strong>the</strong> EU’s Global Gateway will<br />

fail to address exploitation because local<br />

people remain excluded from decision-making,<br />

he warns. “There is a real<br />

drive to scrape <strong>the</strong> bottom of <strong>the</strong> barrel<br />

from all sides.”<br />

There is a<br />

real drive to<br />

scrape <strong>the</strong><br />

bottom of <strong>the</strong><br />

barrel from<br />

all sides.”<br />

Nnimmo Bassey<br />

And it is not just Europeans <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> Chinese<br />

who are at fault. National African<br />

leaders like Senegalese president Macky<br />

Sall <strong>and</strong> Nigeria’s Osinbajo, wittingly or<br />

unwittingly, are allowing exploitation to<br />

continue by promoting new fossil-fuel<br />

projects.<br />

“They hope fossil fuels will give <strong>the</strong>m<br />

<strong>the</strong> revenues <strong>the</strong>y need to transform <strong>the</strong><br />

country,” Bassey said. “But if you look<br />

back at 60 years of oil <strong>and</strong> gas investments,<br />

none of <strong>the</strong> goals that were set out<br />

have been achieved. Instead, all we have<br />

to show for it is ecocide, extreme destruction<br />

<strong>and</strong> exploitation of local peoples.”<br />

The UN has estimated that African<br />

countries lose €80bn a year in illicit cash<br />

transfers to <strong>the</strong> Global North, with at<br />

least half of that related to <strong>the</strong> export of<br />

Nnimmo Bassey, architect, environmentalist <strong>and</strong> poet<br />

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If you look at <strong>the</strong> history of<br />

infrastructure investment<br />

in Africa, it has not led<br />

to improvements in <strong>the</strong><br />

situation on <strong>the</strong> continent”<br />

extractive commodities. The EU insists<br />

on good governance <strong>and</strong> has presented<br />

Global Gateway as a watershed moment<br />

that will change all this. But <strong>the</strong>re are<br />

many o<strong>the</strong>r ways wealth continues to<br />

flow out of Africa.<br />

New borrowing, fresh debt?<br />

The EU Global Gateway states that Africa<br />

will receive €150bn worth of grants<br />

Nnimmo Bassey<br />

<strong>and</strong> loans to spur fur<strong>the</strong>r private investment.<br />

And while this may increase access<br />

to much-needed funding for <strong>the</strong> energy<br />

transition in Africa, new borrowing also<br />

means more debt.<br />

Private investors often charge high-interest<br />

rates because <strong>the</strong>y perceive African<br />

countries as risky investments, resulting<br />

in many African countries having<br />

to pay a large amount of <strong>the</strong>ir budget to<br />

debt-servicing — a problem now made<br />

worse by <strong>the</strong> Covid-19 p<strong>and</strong>emic.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> end of 2021, more than 20 low-income<br />

African countries were in debt<br />

distress, according to <strong>the</strong> International<br />

Monetary Fund. In <strong>the</strong> first five months<br />

of 2021, 98 percent of <strong>the</strong> Nigerian budget<br />

was spent on debt-servicing. Between<br />

2011 <strong>and</strong> 2020, Ghana used 74-percent<br />

of its petroleum revenue to pay off debt.<br />

“Nigeria can’t transition away from fossil<br />

fuels because it depends on oil <strong>and</strong><br />

gas revenues to pay back investors,” says<br />

David McNair, who heads <strong>the</strong> One Campaign,<br />

a non-profit organisation against<br />

extreme poverty.<br />

The new funding projected by Global<br />

Gateway is undoubtedly substantial. But<br />

its emphasis on private investors that<br />

charge high-interest rates may deepen<br />

Africa’s debt problems, leading to more<br />

loss of wealth, which in turn could tempt<br />

African governments to invest in new<br />

fossil-fuel projects. ◄


HOW OTHERS SEE THE EU<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

Forget <strong>the</strong><br />

Similar conclusions were made in <strong>the</strong><br />

most recent report from <strong>the</strong> Intergovernmental<br />

Panel on Climate Change<br />

(IPCC) published in February.<br />

link between environmental stresses<br />

<strong>and</strong> migration, <strong>and</strong> studies which show<br />

that migration may even decrease during<br />

droughts,” he says.<br />

scaremongers:<br />

climate change will<br />

not lead to mass<br />

migration to Europe<br />

Reality or alarmist?: EUobserver talks to two leading experts who<br />

question <strong>the</strong> conventional assumption that climate change will<br />

drive millions of people to migrate to Europe.<br />

Aside from <strong>the</strong> extremely sobering<br />

warnings, <strong>the</strong> report said fundamental<br />

changes are needed throughout society<br />

to mitigate <strong>the</strong> damage <strong>and</strong> give humanity<br />

a fighting chance. Already, <strong>the</strong> rise in<br />

wea<strong>the</strong>r <strong>and</strong> climate extremes has led to<br />

some irreversible impacts, as natural <strong>and</strong><br />

human systems are pushed beyond <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

ability to adapt, it said. And up to 3.6 billion<br />

people currently live in contexts that<br />

are highly vulnerable to climate change.<br />

It also gives a perspective of a future with<br />

a window of opportunity that is “brief<br />

<strong>and</strong> rapidly closing.” But will it force people<br />

to move?<br />

If nothing is done, <strong>the</strong> World Bank estimates<br />

anywhere between 40 million to<br />

216 million people by 2050 could migrate<br />

internally within <strong>the</strong>ir regions.<br />

The people<br />

who are most<br />

at risk are<br />

those people<br />

who are<br />

immobile.”<br />

Andrew Harper<br />

De Haas also warns against drawing<br />

conclusions that more poverty would<br />

automatically lead to migration. Instead,<br />

he points out that as countries develop,<br />

more people move from rural to urban<br />

areas. Like <strong>the</strong> UNHCR’s Harper, he says<br />

climate <strong>and</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r are not <strong>the</strong> only factors<br />

that determine peoples’ decision to<br />

migrate.<br />

The Dutch academic also insists that<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is no direct link between climate<br />

change mobility, especially of people who<br />

move long distances. “The poorest countries<br />

<strong>and</strong> also <strong>the</strong> poorest sections within<br />

populations have lower migration rates<br />

than <strong>the</strong> slightly better off <strong>and</strong> it even accounts<br />

for internal migration,” he says. ◄<br />

By NIKOLAJ NIELSEN<br />

Predictions that thous<strong>and</strong>s, even millions,<br />

of people will flee to Europe from<br />

Africa or elsewhere due to climate<br />

change are not substantiated by studies.<br />

In fact, <strong>the</strong> people most affected by<br />

climate change are often <strong>the</strong> most-impoverished,<br />

<strong>and</strong> as such are <strong>the</strong> least likely<br />

to migrate.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>rs who are better off will leave, but<br />

usually <strong>the</strong>y will head to somewhere else<br />

within <strong>the</strong>ir own country or region.<br />

The many Doomsday forecasts which<br />

say <strong>the</strong> opposite are at best intellectually<br />

dishonest <strong>and</strong> at worst, <strong>the</strong>y are mere<br />

fear-mongering. They can also feed xenophobia,<br />

says Andrew Harper, a special<br />

advisor on climate action at <strong>the</strong> UN refugee<br />

agency (UNHCR).<br />

“When we talk about climate, refugees,<br />

or, ‘migration’, it sort of takes <strong>the</strong> eyes off<br />

<strong>the</strong> people who are most at risk,” he said.<br />

“The people who are most at risk are<br />

those people who are immobile,” he said.<br />

True, some 90 percent of <strong>the</strong> world’s refugees<br />

originate from countries that are<br />

already impacted by climate change.<br />

But Harper says a whole host of o<strong>the</strong>r issues<br />

— ranging from poor governance, to<br />

lack of education, <strong>and</strong> corruption — also<br />

need to be taken into account.<br />

“If we just focus on climate change, it almost<br />

provides a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’<br />

for <strong>the</strong> incompetence <strong>and</strong> corruption<br />

that goes on in many of <strong>the</strong>se states,”<br />

says Harper.<br />

He cites <strong>the</strong> drought in Syria during<br />

2006-2010, which turned most of <strong>the</strong><br />

country into a desert, <strong>and</strong> forced hundreds<br />

of thous<strong>and</strong>s of farmers to move to<br />

<strong>the</strong> cities. But Harper says <strong>the</strong>re are many<br />

questions on whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> Syrian government<br />

provided a sufficient response at<br />

<strong>the</strong> time. “So was it climate change? Or<br />

was it poor governance?” he asks.<br />

‘Look forwards, plan backwards’<br />

Climate change should instead be used<br />

to trigger a rethink of how humanity <strong>and</strong><br />

society work with <strong>the</strong> environment, according<br />

to Harper. That means looking<br />

ahead <strong>and</strong> planning backwards to mitigate<br />

<strong>the</strong> harm.<br />

The bank’s two reports, published in<br />

September 2021 <strong>and</strong> based on models<br />

looking at <strong>the</strong> Middle East <strong>and</strong> North<br />

Africa, East Asia <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> Pacific, <strong>and</strong><br />

Eastern Europe <strong>and</strong> Central Asia, said<br />

<strong>the</strong> worst affected would be sub-Saharan<br />

Africa, while <strong>the</strong> least impacted would be<br />

in Eastern Europe <strong>and</strong> Central Asia.<br />

Both reports focus on climate impacts<br />

such as water stress, drops in crop productivity,<br />

<strong>and</strong> rising sea-levels, compounded<br />

by storm surges. They also<br />

focus on internal migration, meaning<br />

migration within a country’s borders,<br />

not cross-border migration. And <strong>the</strong>y<br />

conclude by saying that “immediate <strong>and</strong><br />

concerted action” would reduce <strong>the</strong> scale<br />

of climate migration by as much as 80<br />

percent.<br />

“The bottom-line message is that early<br />

action is key <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> window of opportunity<br />

is narrowing,” according to a World<br />

Bank spokesperson. However, while <strong>the</strong><br />

report itself offers a much-more nuanced<br />

view, <strong>the</strong> bank’s press release highlighted<br />

<strong>the</strong> more alarmist figure of 216 million<br />

potential migrants.<br />

“I think it is refreshing to see that this<br />

report primarily focused on internal<br />

mobility,” says Hein de Haas, a Dutch<br />

sociologist, environmental geographer,<br />

<strong>and</strong> professor at <strong>the</strong> University of Amsterdam.<br />

He is also one of <strong>the</strong> founding<br />

members of <strong>the</strong> International Migration<br />

Institute at <strong>the</strong> University of Oxford.<br />

De Haas warns that <strong>the</strong> World Bank report<br />

is not transparent about <strong>the</strong> methodological<br />

grounds for <strong>the</strong>se estimates,<br />

<strong>and</strong> also questions <strong>the</strong> apparent underlying<br />

assumption that less water availability<br />

would necessarily imply more people<br />

would go on <strong>the</strong> move.<br />

“There is extensive evidence from empirical<br />

studies questioning <strong>the</strong>se assumptions,<br />

which failed to find a clear<br />

About<br />

Nikolaj Nielsen<br />

Nikolaj was born in Denmark<br />

but spent a better part of his life<br />

in Belgium, France <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> United<br />

States. He joined EUobserver<br />

in 2012, where he primarily covers<br />

migration, human rights <strong>and</strong><br />

transparency issues. His reporting<br />

for EUobserver has taken him to<br />

Algeria, Belarus, Egypt, Lebanon,<br />

Moldova, Russia, Transnistria, Turkey,<br />

Ug<strong>and</strong>a, Ukraine <strong>and</strong> off <strong>the</strong><br />

Libyan coast.<br />

25


WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

Path to a just<br />

transition in<br />

Africa is via green<br />

industrialisation<br />

On natural gas especially, African leaders <strong>and</strong> Europeans<br />

do not see eye-to-eye. Simply put, <strong>the</strong> words “transition fuel”<br />

have a different meaning in Brussels <strong>and</strong> Addis Ababa.<br />

By ALFONSO MEDINILLA<br />

The credibility of Europe’s approach to<br />

a green economic transition abroad will<br />

depend on its ability to help create <strong>and</strong><br />

sustain green industrialisation in African<br />

countries, making African countries<br />

not just targets of European policy, but<br />

key actors of a new <strong>and</strong> interconnected<br />

green economy.<br />

Africa-Europe discussions on climate<br />

<strong>and</strong> energy are overshadowed by <strong>the</strong> inherent<br />

injustice of global climate action<br />

<strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> risks that an accelerated European<br />

transition can entail for African<br />

countries.<br />

The historical<br />

climate<br />

injustice is<br />

not a debate<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU<br />

can win.<br />

This is not at all surprising. Africa has<br />

barely contributed to global CO2 emissions,<br />

is disproportionately affected by<br />

climate risk, <strong>and</strong> is now under pressure<br />

to forego fossil-fuel powered growth.<br />

The historical climate injustice is not a<br />

debate <strong>the</strong> EU can win.<br />

The EU’s response has been a gradual,<br />

if hesitant, expansion of its just-transition<br />

narrative beyond Europe. The idea<br />

of prioritising <strong>and</strong> concentrating investments<br />

in those countries that will<br />

be most affected by phasing-out fossil<br />

27


HOW OTHERS SEE THE EU<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

fuels was initially reserved for addressing<br />

Europe’s own coal-dependent regions <strong>and</strong><br />

its direct neighbourhood. The Just Energy<br />

Transition Partnership with South<br />

Africa at <strong>the</strong> Glasgow COP26 conference<br />

extended this to Africa’s biggest coal-dependent<br />

economy. The AU-EU summit in<br />

February took this concept even fur<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

announcing plans for green partnerships<br />

modelled on <strong>the</strong> South African one across<br />

<strong>the</strong> continent, including in countries with<br />

very different energy mixes like Egypt,<br />

Côte d’Ivoire <strong>and</strong> Senegal.<br />

While <strong>the</strong>se are important steps (at least<br />

on paper), <strong>the</strong>re are still significant divergences.<br />

The challenge of any just transition<br />

in Africa is less a matter of phasing<br />

out dirty coal, <strong>and</strong> much more a matter<br />

of ensuring that African economies can<br />

benefit from an accelerated transition in<br />

order to industrialise.<br />

The The ReFuelEU proposal puts puts <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

overall overall<br />

The ReFuelEU<br />

EU EU transport proposal<br />

decarbonisation<br />

effort effort <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> European<br />

puts <strong>the</strong><br />

sation European<br />

dem<strong>and</strong> for<br />

critical raw<br />

materials like<br />

lithium <strong>and</strong><br />

cobalt is set<br />

to multiply<br />

by 2050.<br />

Waste Waste biodiesel<br />

for for<br />

Waste<br />

our our trucks<br />

biodiesel<br />

trucks<br />

This is also <strong>the</strong> tone of <strong>the</strong> AU’s draft climate<br />

change <strong>and</strong> resilient development<br />

strategy, which calls for seizing opportunities<br />

in low-emissions development<br />

<strong>and</strong> green industrialisation <strong>and</strong> to position<br />

<strong>the</strong> continent to benefit from a<br />

global green economy, as a key actor, not<br />

just a target of exogenously-determined<br />

policies.<br />

For <strong>the</strong> EU, this also means backing its<br />

optimistic green narrative with more<br />

than just a scattering of green energy<br />

projects across <strong>the</strong> continent. It means<br />

adopting a much more forward-looking<br />

<strong>and</strong> long-term approach to just transition,<br />

one that is firmly rooted in <strong>the</strong> development<br />

<strong>and</strong> industrialisation ambitions<br />

of African countries <strong>and</strong> societies.<br />

Brussels vs Addis Ababa<br />

On natural gas especially, African leaders<br />

<strong>and</strong> Europeans do not see eye-to-eye.<br />

overall EU transport decarbonisation<br />

Waste-based for our <strong>and</strong> trucks <strong>and</strong> advanced advanced biodiesel biodiesel<br />

SMEs SMEs at risk<br />

reduces gas (GHG) emissions<br />

at risk<br />

reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions<br />

effort <strong>and</strong> European by up by Waste-based to up 90% to 90% compared <strong>and</strong> compared advanced with with fossil-based biodiesel<br />

Waste-based SMEs at <strong>and</strong> risk <strong>and</strong> advanced advanced biodiesel biodiesel for for<br />

diesel. diesel. reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions<br />

road road <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> maritime maritime use (FAME use (FAME ) is a * ) more is a more by up to 90% compared with fossil-based<br />

efficient efficient Waste-based process process (sGU <strong>and</strong> (sGU advanced study) study) than biodiesel than lipid- lipid- for Full-scale Full-scale diesel. electrification for <strong>the</strong> for road <strong>the</strong> road sector sector<br />

based based road Sustainable <strong>and</strong> maritime Aviation Aviation use Fuel (FAME Fuel - SAF<br />

* ) is - SAF a more (especially (especially heavy-duty) will take will take decades decades<br />

(HEFA (HEFA efficient ) for ** ) aviation. for process aviation. Given (sGU Given study) that that <strong>the</strong>re than <strong>the</strong>re is lipid- a is a to take to Full-scale take place place <strong>and</strong> electrification <strong>and</strong> waste-derived for <strong>the</strong> biodiesel road biodiesel sector<br />

limited based limited source Sustainable source of waste of waste Aviation lipids lipids - diversion Fuel - diversion - SAF is <strong>the</strong> is (especially best <strong>the</strong> best solution solution heavy-duty) to decarbonize to will take <strong>the</strong> decades <strong>the</strong><br />

from (HEFA from road/ road/ maritime ) for maritime aviation. to aviation Given to aviation that leads <strong>the</strong>re leads to is to a existing existing to take fleet. place fleet. <strong>and</strong> waste-derived biodiesel<br />

higher higher limited GHG GHG source emissions. emissions. of waste lipids - diversion is <strong>the</strong> best solution to decarbonize <strong>the</strong><br />

from road/ maritime to aviation leads to existing fleet.<br />

higher GHG emissions.<br />

A 2% A SAF 2% SAF m<strong>and</strong>ate m<strong>and</strong>ate in 2025 in 2025 will will consume consume more more than than 80% 80% of of<br />

all UCO all UCO used used by EWABA by EWABA members <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> cause cause min. min. 1 million 1 million tons tons Waste Waste biodiesel<br />

of<br />

A 2%<br />

additional of<br />

SAF m<strong>and</strong>ate<br />

emissions in 2025<br />

in <strong>the</strong><br />

will<br />

in <strong>the</strong> atmosphere<br />

consume more<br />

per per<br />

than<br />

year. year.<br />

80% of into into<br />

Waste<br />

shipping<br />

all UCO used by EWABA members <strong>and</strong> cause min. 1 million tons<br />

biodiesel<br />

Waste-biodiesel into shipping can easily can easily be be<br />

of additional emissions in <strong>the</strong> atmosphere per year.<br />

blended blended in existing in existing fuel fuel oil ships oil ships<br />

Process Process option option<br />

Process Process option option<br />

without without Waste-biodiesel any modifications any can easily to <strong>the</strong> to be <strong>the</strong><br />

HEFA HEFA **<br />

FAME FAME *<br />

Process option<br />

Process option<br />

engine engine blended or existing or in existing infrastructure.<br />

fuel oil ships<br />

Yield HEFA Yield Yield Yield<br />

without any modifications to <strong>the</strong><br />

1.000 1.000 kg kg<br />

FAME *<br />

610 610 kg UCO-HEFA kg (SAF) (SAF)<br />

1.004 1.004 kg UCO-Biodiesel<br />

kg Waste-based engine or<br />

biodiesel<br />

existing<br />

biodiesel<br />

infrastructure.<br />

can be can be<br />

Yield<br />

used used<br />

Yield<br />

deployed <strong>and</strong> is<br />

610 kg Usage UCO-HEFA options 1.000<br />

(SAF) cooking kg<br />

deployed immediately <strong>and</strong> is<br />

Usage options<br />

cooking oil oil 1.004 Usage kg Usage options UCO-Biodiesel<br />

options<br />

favored Waste-based by ship biodiesel operators can due be to<br />

Aircraft<br />

(UCO) used<br />

favored by ship operators due to<br />

Aircraft<br />

(UCO)<br />

Car, Car, Truck, Truck, Vessel Vessel<br />

The Wastebased<br />

map<br />

Aircraft emissions<br />

favored by ship operators due to<br />

Usage options<br />

Usage options<br />

its deployed very high immediately energy density, <strong>and</strong> is<br />

The European Wastebased<br />

cooking oil<br />

its very high energy density, a a<br />

<strong>Green</strong>house <strong>Green</strong>house gas gas emissions<br />

<strong>Green</strong>house gas emissions<br />

sufficient parameter for long<br />

(UCO) <strong>Green</strong>house Car, Truck, gas emissions Vessel sufficient parameter for long<br />

The<br />

biodiesel<br />

European<br />

map<br />

Wastebased<br />

from from its biodiesel decarbonisation<br />

its map<br />

opportunity sufficient to parameter refuel to refuel along for along <strong>the</strong> long <strong>the</strong><br />

24 g 24 COg CO 2<br />

eq/MJ<br />

10 g CO 2<br />

eq/MJ<br />

its very high energy voyages density, with a no<br />

<strong>Green</strong>house 2<br />

eq/MJ<br />

10 g CO<br />

gas emissions<br />

<strong>Green</strong>house 2<br />

eq/MJ<br />

intercontinental voyages with no<br />

gas emissions<br />

Apart Apart<br />

efficiency, efficiency, <strong>the</strong> waste-based <strong>the</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

24 g CO 2<br />

eq/MJ<br />

10 g CO 2<br />

eq/MJ<br />

way. way. intercontinental voyages with no<br />

advanced advanced Apart biodiesel from biodiesel its decarbonisation<br />

industry industry<br />

opportunity to refuel along <strong>the</strong><br />

supports efficiency, over <strong>the</strong> waste-based 25,000 jobs across <strong>and</strong><br />

Environmental Protection<br />

supports over 25,000 jobs across<br />

way.<br />

55+ production 55+ advanced biodiesel facilities facilities industry scattered scattered<br />

The collection The Environmental collection of used of used cooking Protection<br />

cooking oils oils<br />

across across supports 19 EU 19 member over EU member 25,000 states. jobs states. across<br />

prevents prevents <strong>the</strong>ir <strong>the</strong>ir improper improper disposal disposal in sinks,<br />

sinks,<br />

55+ production facilities scattered<br />

which which The leads collection leads to <strong>the</strong> to of blockage <strong>the</strong> used blockage cooking of sewer of oils sewer<br />

Diverting Diverting across waste 19 waste EU oils member to oils aviation to states. aviation will will<br />

systems systems prevents <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> to <strong>the</strong>ir <strong>the</strong> to improper formation <strong>the</strong> formation disposal of so-called of so-called in sinks,<br />

significantly hurt hurt climate climate mitigation mitigation<br />

‘fatbergs’. which leads to <strong>the</strong> blockage of sewer<br />

efforts efforts Diverting but also but waste also damage damage oils to an aviation EU an EU will<br />

‘fatbergs’.<br />

systems <strong>and</strong> to <strong>the</strong> formation of so-called<br />

industry industry significantly largely largely based hurt based climate on SMEs, on mitigation SMEs,<br />

These These ‘fatbergs’. mountains of waste of waste are very are very difficult difficult<br />

often often efforts located located but in also remote in damage remote <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> rural<br />

EU rural<br />

to clean to clean <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> extremely extremely costly costly for cities for cities <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

regions. regions. industry largely based on SMEs,<br />

water water These companies. mountains Also, of Also, animal waste animal fats are very fats <strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> difficult<br />

often located in remote <strong>and</strong> rural<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r o<strong>the</strong>r to residues clean residues <strong>and</strong> (advanced extremely (advanced feedstocks) costly for cities are are <strong>and</strong><br />

* *<br />

FAME regions. FAME - Fatty - Fatty Acid Methyl Acid Methyl Ester Ester<br />

often often water left to left companies. l<strong>and</strong>fill to l<strong>and</strong>fill where Also, where <strong>the</strong>y animal <strong>the</strong>y produce fats produce <strong>and</strong><br />

** **<br />

HEFA HEFA - Hydroprocessed - esters esters<br />

<strong>and</strong><br />

*<br />

fatty FAME <strong>and</strong> fatty acids - Fatty acids Acid Methyl Ester<br />

additional additional o<strong>the</strong>r residues emissions. emissions. (advanced And And most feedstocks) most importantly,<br />

often very a very useful left useful to ‘wasted’ l<strong>and</strong>fill ‘wasted’ where resource resource <strong>the</strong>y is produce lost! is lost!<br />

are<br />

ly, a<br />

**<br />

HEFA - Hydroprocessed esters<br />

additional emissions. And most importantly,<br />

<strong>and</strong> fatty acids<br />

a very useful ‘wasted’ resource is<br />

lost!<br />

Simply put, <strong>the</strong> words “transition fuel”<br />

have a different meaning in Brussels <strong>and</strong><br />

Addis Ababa.<br />

The EU sees it as a last resort, a way to<br />

avoid dirtier coal or ageing nuclear infrastructure.<br />

African countries, especially<br />

those sitting on significant recently-discovered<br />

resources like Mozambique <strong>and</strong><br />

Senegal, want to leverage <strong>the</strong> continent’s<br />

natural gas reserves <strong>and</strong> see natural gas<br />

as a way to accelerate <strong>the</strong>ir economic development<br />

<strong>and</strong> industrialisation.<br />

“On energy we have diverging views<br />

[...] We cannot ask <strong>the</strong> continent to renounce<br />

fossil fuels” Senegal’s president<br />

Macky Sall said bluntly in February.<br />

Meanwhile, <strong>the</strong> war in Ukraine has<br />

sparked a stronger EU effort to wean<br />

itself off Russian gas <strong>and</strong> diversify European<br />

supply.<br />

EU member states are looking towards<br />

existing African suppliers like Algeria,<br />

Egypt, <strong>and</strong> Nigeria. Newer entrants like<br />

Tanzania are also expressing interest in<br />

supplying LNG to Europe.<br />

Yet infrastructure constraints mean that<br />

African gas may not be a quick <strong>and</strong> easy<br />

fix for Europe’s problems. The EU is<br />

also unlikely to move back into financing<br />

long-term fossil-fuel development<br />

abroad.<br />

The real challenge is supporting viable<br />

alternatives in <strong>the</strong> short term. The focus<br />

should be on showcasing opportunities<br />

in green industrialisation which leverages<br />

Africa’s clean energy potential for a<br />

higher value addition in manufacturing,<br />

agricultural processing <strong>and</strong> service industries<br />

while generating employment,<br />

revenues <strong>and</strong> new exports at scale. This<br />

includes exploring <strong>the</strong> many opportunities<br />

for <strong>the</strong> production of green energy<br />

solutions for local markets or exports,<br />

or EV manufacturing. It also includes<br />

greening existing industries like building<br />

materials, construction, agro-food processing,<br />

as well as a host of circular economy<br />

applications.<br />

When it comes to green energy, <strong>the</strong><br />

focus should be less on competing with<br />

China for opportunities to install imported<br />

technology, but on establishing<br />

new sustainable industries <strong>and</strong> productive<br />

capacities <strong>and</strong> developing a renewables-based<br />

industrial ecosystem that can<br />

catalyse energy systems reform <strong>and</strong> multiply<br />

installed capacity.<br />

Avoiding green ‘extractivism’<br />

An African just transition also requires a<br />

different outlook on Africa’s role in <strong>the</strong><br />

global green transition. The prospects for<br />

African green hydrogen to power Europe’s<br />

industrial <strong>and</strong> transport transition, for example,<br />

are creating much excitement on<br />

both sides, with new potential exporters<br />

like DRCongo <strong>and</strong> Namibia, joining north<br />

African countries like Morocco.<br />

The EU should resist <strong>the</strong> urge to substitute<br />

one extractive relationship with<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r, <strong>and</strong> ensure that hydrogen investments<br />

are also used to power local<br />

low-carbon (heavy) industries, <strong>and</strong> include<br />

African countries <strong>and</strong> companies<br />

in <strong>the</strong> development of new applications<br />

from <strong>the</strong> start.<br />

Similarly, European dem<strong>and</strong> for critical<br />

raw materials like lithium <strong>and</strong> cobalt is<br />

set to multiply by 2050.<br />

While African countries like <strong>the</strong> DRC <strong>and</strong><br />

South Africa may be able to fur<strong>the</strong>r boost<br />

income from royalties, processing currently<br />

largely takes place in China. This<br />

also risks confining African countries to<br />

<strong>the</strong> extraction stage of green technology<br />

value chains. Investments <strong>the</strong>refore need<br />

to address not just Europe’s own supply,<br />

but also Africa’s processing deficit <strong>and</strong> industrial<br />

development.<br />

29<br />

All this is of course easier said than done.<br />

The EU is under pressure to back its projected<br />

€150bn African investment package<br />

with credible plans, yet <strong>the</strong> challenges<br />

go beyond unlocking unseen levels of<br />

public <strong>and</strong> private finance.<br />

Sustainable industrialisation requires<br />

innovation, both technical <strong>and</strong> in terms<br />

of <strong>the</strong> business models, production <strong>and</strong><br />

consumption patterns. African <strong>and</strong> European<br />

actors will <strong>the</strong>refore need to<br />

develop a clear a common vision for an<br />

interconnected green economy, <strong>and</strong> rethink<br />

supply chains to maximise mutual<br />

benefits. ◄<br />

This is no<br />

time for<br />

business-asusual.<br />

About<br />

Alfonso Medinilla<br />

Alfonso Medinilla Is Head of<br />

climate <strong>and</strong> green transition -<br />

geopolitics <strong>and</strong> energy, European<br />

Centre for Development Policy<br />

Management (ECDPM)


WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

African economies<br />

risk suffocation by EU<br />

‘shock’ carbon tax<br />

What some Africans now are bracing for is a carbon “shock,” where<br />

EU tariffs would end up “suffocating some African economies,” a senior<br />

advisor at <strong>the</strong> African Climate Foundation warns. The ability of African<br />

countries like Egypt, Nigeria <strong>and</strong> Algeria to continue <strong>the</strong>ir industrialisation<br />

could be severely impacted.<br />

By JAMES KANTER<br />

The climate is surely one area where<br />

<strong>the</strong> European Union <strong>and</strong> African Union<br />

should be in step with one ano<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Curbing global warming <strong>and</strong> agreeing<br />

how to produce clean power would help<br />

keep more of <strong>the</strong> world habitable <strong>and</strong><br />

prosperous.<br />

Worryingly, however, policy differences<br />

between Europe <strong>and</strong> Africa have been<br />

widening. Africans increasingly see Europeans<br />

as indifferent to <strong>the</strong>ir need to<br />

develop <strong>the</strong>ir economies <strong>and</strong> shake off<br />

<strong>the</strong> poverty that leads many Africans to<br />

embark on difficult migration journeys,<br />

both within Africa <strong>and</strong> to Europe.<br />

The EU agreement on <strong>the</strong> Carbon Border<br />

Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)<br />

reached on 15 March has been described<br />

a “victory for European climate policy” by<br />

Bruno Le Maire, French finance minister,<br />

representing <strong>the</strong> French EU presidency.<br />

The carbon tax will give <strong>the</strong> EU a tool to<br />

speed up <strong>the</strong> decarbonisation of European<br />

industry, while protecting it from<br />

countries with less ambitious climate<br />

goals <strong>and</strong> “also incentivise o<strong>the</strong>r countries<br />

to become more sustainable <strong>and</strong><br />

emit less,” said Le Maire.<br />

But Faten Aggad is sceptical. The senior<br />

advisor at <strong>the</strong> African Climate Foundation,<br />

an organisation that channels<br />

philanthropy into efforts to protect <strong>the</strong><br />

climate, she says that under <strong>the</strong> CBAM,<br />

African exporters that do not meet EUset<br />

st<strong>and</strong>ards would have to pay extra for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir goods to reach <strong>the</strong> European market.<br />

What some Africans now are bracing<br />

for is a carbon “shock,” where EU tariffs<br />

would end up “suffocating some African<br />

economies,” she warns. The ability of<br />

African countries like Egypt, Nigeria <strong>and</strong><br />

Algeria to continue <strong>the</strong>ir industrialisation<br />

could be severely impacted.<br />

Aggad is also adamant that Africans see<br />

hypocrisy <strong>and</strong> double st<strong>and</strong>ards in Europeans’<br />

repeated refusal to make a rapid<br />

There is a<br />

question as<br />

to whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Europe is<br />

actually<br />

using Africa<br />

as a guinea<br />

pig.”<br />

break with coal, oil <strong>and</strong> natural gas while<br />

charging ahead with gr<strong>and</strong> plans to push<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r parts of <strong>the</strong> world like Africa towards<br />

carbon-reduction.<br />

Guinea pig?<br />

Faten Aggad<br />

“There is a question as to whe<strong>the</strong>r Europe<br />

is actually using Africa as a guinea<br />

pig, even while its own power consumption<br />

patterns, <strong>and</strong> in general, its consumption<br />

pattern aren’t seriously put<br />

into question,” says Aggad.<br />

She cites <strong>the</strong> example of The Ne<strong>the</strong>rl<strong>and</strong>s,<br />

which generates around 12-percent<br />

of its energy from clean energy<br />

despite its capabilities of generating far<br />

more than that from wind resources.<br />

Kenya, which is also a major agricultural<br />

producer, already generates <strong>the</strong> majority<br />

of its energy needs from renewables,<br />

mostly hydropower.<br />

Europe should do more to craft policies<br />

that support African countries that already<br />

have renewables, so that <strong>the</strong>y can<br />

build more of <strong>the</strong>m, as well as allow o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

African countries to decarbonise in<br />

ways that consider <strong>the</strong>ir levels of indebtedness<br />

<strong>and</strong> high costs of borrowing that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y face — not to mention <strong>the</strong>ir historical<br />

circumstances, she says.<br />

But Europe may already be reneging on<br />

a gr<strong>and</strong> bargain reached among wealthier,<br />

industrialised countries <strong>and</strong> poorer,<br />

developing countries under <strong>the</strong> Paris<br />

Agreement on climate change seven<br />

years ago. The idea in Paris, says Aggad,<br />

was to ensure that requirements on<br />

countries to address <strong>the</strong> climate should<br />

be carefully calibrated, so as not to deepen<br />

inequality among countries internationally.<br />

“Now what we see, at least that’s <strong>the</strong> perception,<br />

is an attempt by Europe to backtrack<br />

on this principle by putting heavy<br />

requirements on African countries to<br />

push <strong>the</strong>m to move to a European model<br />

of decarbonisation,” said Aggad. “This is<br />

actually growing into a major issue between<br />

<strong>the</strong> two continents.” ◄<br />

About<br />

James Kanter<br />

James Kanter is editor of <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

Scream politics podcast <strong>and</strong> a former<br />

correspondent for <strong>the</strong> International<br />

Herald Tribune <strong>and</strong> The New<br />

York Times.<br />

31


WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

China <strong>and</strong> EU can –<br />

must – cooperate on<br />

green goals, despite<br />

differences<br />

The sombre moment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine requires that China <strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> EU put aside <strong>the</strong>ir differences <strong>and</strong> streng<strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong>ir cooperation on <strong>the</strong><br />

green transition – even if doing so is difficult.<br />

By FU JING<br />

Global warming <strong>and</strong> extreme wea<strong>the</strong>r are common global challenges<br />

that concern all of us. It is heartening to see that <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

has taken <strong>the</strong> lead at <strong>the</strong> UN Climate change talks in Copenhagen,<br />

Paris <strong>and</strong> Glasgow, <strong>the</strong>reby given a new lease of life to<br />

multilateral efforts to fight climate change.<br />

What’s more, <strong>the</strong> EU is leading <strong>the</strong> way in pushing <strong>the</strong><br />

climate goals even higher through its development policies,<br />

investment programmes <strong>and</strong> by providing financial incentives<br />

for <strong>the</strong> green transition. Importantly, <strong>the</strong> Covid-19 p<strong>and</strong>emic<br />

<strong>and</strong> its social-economic consequences have fur<strong>the</strong>r boosted <strong>the</strong><br />

bloc’s green ambitions.<br />

However, many of us are watching to see to whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>se<br />

commitments will be impacted by Russia’s war against Ukraine<br />

<strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> worsening geopolitical l<strong>and</strong>scape.<br />

In fact, this sombre moment requires that China <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

put aside <strong>the</strong>ir differences <strong>and</strong> streng<strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong>ir cooperation on<br />

<strong>the</strong> green transition – even if doing so is difficult.<br />

Beijing <strong>and</strong> Washington have set an example for such cooperation<br />

by signing three official climate-related communiques during<br />

president Barack Obama’s second term — <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> Biden<br />

administration has also been in discussion with China on issues<br />

related to <strong>the</strong> Paris Agreement.<br />

This illustrates both sides willingness to work toge<strong>the</strong>r on tackling<br />

climate change despite <strong>the</strong>ir many o<strong>the</strong>r areas of discord.<br />

These US-China conversations should be a reference for policy-makers<br />

in Brussels, who may be looking for assurances of<br />

Beijing’s determination in moving ahead to implement <strong>the</strong> Paris<br />

Agreement <strong>and</strong> proof of China’s commitment to international<br />

climate politics.<br />

Brussels <strong>and</strong> Beijing must work h<strong>and</strong>-in-h<strong>and</strong> to ensure that<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is no backtracking in collective efforts to reduce carbon<br />

emissions <strong>and</strong> achieve carbon neutrality in <strong>the</strong> years ahead.<br />

Importantly, both Beijing <strong>and</strong> Brussels are turning <strong>the</strong>ir international<br />

climate pledges into domestic policies.<br />

33


HOW OTHERS SEE THE EU<br />

Just as <strong>the</strong> EU is trying to do through its<br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal, China’s international pledges<br />

of reaching a carbon-emissions peak<br />

before 2030, plus achieving carbon-neutrality<br />

around 2060 (which were made<br />

at <strong>the</strong> UN General Assembly in September<br />

2020), are being integrated into <strong>the</strong><br />

country’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025)<br />

for National Economic <strong>and</strong> Social Development<br />

.<br />

By 2030, <strong>the</strong> share of non-fossil energy<br />

in primary energy use will account for<br />

around 25 percent in China while EU has<br />

set a binding target of 32 percent for renewable<br />

energy in <strong>the</strong> bloc’s energy mix<br />

by 2030. According to <strong>the</strong> document, <strong>the</strong><br />

central government in China supports<br />

<strong>the</strong> provinces, municipalities <strong>and</strong> autonomous<br />

regions if <strong>the</strong>y have <strong>the</strong> right<br />

conditions to meet <strong>the</strong>se goals ahead of<br />

schedule.<br />

EU cutting-edge, but China<br />

catching up fast<br />

China has also announced a mega-plan<br />

for building 450 gigawatts (GW) of solar<br />

<strong>and</strong> wind power-generation capacity in<br />

its western regions, while trying to bring<br />

<strong>the</strong> country’s total wind <strong>and</strong> solar capacity<br />

to at least 1,200 GW <strong>and</strong> to cap its carbon<br />

emission to a peak by 2030.<br />

Provincial governments in China are<br />

competing with each o<strong>the</strong>r in trying<br />

to take <strong>the</strong> lead in meeting <strong>the</strong>se goals,<br />

scientists <strong>and</strong> researchers are actively<br />

exploring low-carbon technological<br />

breakthroughs, financial institutions are<br />

offering ample incentives <strong>and</strong> businesses<br />

are seeking new investment opportunities.<br />

Many are keen on cooperating with<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir European partners on an array of<br />

green development initiatives.<br />

The EU hosts many renowned research-based<br />

universities, excellent<br />

scientists, <strong>and</strong> many cutting-edge companies,<br />

which give <strong>the</strong> bloc a strong<br />

competitive edge on achieving <strong>the</strong> green<br />

transition. The EU should <strong>the</strong>refore take<br />

a closer look at green investment opportunities<br />

in China.<br />

In fact, China is catching up fast. For example,<br />

several Chinese automakers are<br />

planning to sell electric passenger vehicles<br />

in <strong>the</strong> EU. Hopefully, just as China<br />

kept its market open for Europe’s auto industry,<br />

<strong>the</strong> EU will ensure a market-open<br />

policy <strong>and</strong> welcome those low-emission<br />

or green vehicles from China, which will<br />

help realise <strong>the</strong> EU’s climate transition.<br />

Such cooperation will be mutually-beneficial,<br />

helping to create jobs <strong>and</strong> exp<strong>and</strong><br />

green research <strong>and</strong> development.<br />

A ‘fake’ ski slope, built for <strong>the</strong> 2022 China winter Olympics. Source: Wikimedia<br />

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Responding to dem<strong>and</strong>s from European<br />

<strong>and</strong> Chinese businesses, China <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

EU should deepen <strong>the</strong>ir green partnership<br />

<strong>and</strong> set an example to o<strong>the</strong>r countries<br />

by promoting fair competition in<br />

opening each o<strong>the</strong>r’s market, sharing<br />

new technologies, financing green investment<br />

<strong>and</strong> facilitating exchanges<br />

among businesses <strong>and</strong> scientists.<br />

This will not be easy given <strong>the</strong> current<br />

geopolitical environment <strong>and</strong> fears in<br />

<strong>the</strong> US <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> EU at China’s rise. The<br />

EU, for example, may turn away from<br />

such cooperation as part of its drive for<br />

more strategic autonomy <strong>and</strong> amid calls<br />

for protection of its so-called core technologies.<br />

For example, <strong>the</strong> carbon border tax, included<br />

in <strong>the</strong> EU’s <strong>Green</strong> Deal, may cause<br />

unfair <strong>and</strong> increased tax burden for Chinese<br />

<strong>and</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r exporters. In addition,<br />

Too many<br />

regulatory<br />

barriers<br />

will also be<br />

harmful.<br />

many have also questioned whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong><br />

complicated procedure of imposing <strong>the</strong><br />

carbon border tax is in line with <strong>the</strong> rules<br />

set by <strong>the</strong> World Trade Organization.<br />

It is a very challenging world, made even<br />

more complicated <strong>and</strong> dangerous by <strong>the</strong><br />

Russia-Ukraine war. By working toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

on <strong>the</strong> green transition, China <strong>and</strong><br />

Europe can play <strong>the</strong>ir part in building a<br />

better world <strong>and</strong> realizing a global green<br />

dream. ◄<br />

About<br />

Fu Jing<br />

Fu Jing is executive vice president<br />

of Xiamen Torch Academy in<br />

China’s coastal city of Xiamen. He<br />

previously worked as a journalist<br />

in Brussels <strong>and</strong> authored Twin<br />

Engines of Global Development<br />

(2017) <strong>and</strong> Testing Time (2019) -<br />

both reviewing Sino-EU relations.<br />

print magazine<br />

website<br />

daily newsletter<br />

social media<br />

35


PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - MAGIC MAGID<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

INTERVIEW<br />

Magic Magid:<br />

The paradox<br />

at <strong>the</strong> heart<br />

of EU’s <strong>Green</strong><br />

Deal<br />

Former <strong>Green</strong> MEP Magic Magid talks about organising<br />

more evidence-based research to help tackle <strong>the</strong><br />

devastating impacts of <strong>the</strong> climate crisis on European<br />

communities of colour.<br />

By SHADA ISLAM<br />

Magid Magid describes himself as a<br />

“compassionate disrupter”. That’s how<br />

he made his mark in Brussels (<strong>and</strong> beyond)<br />

during his short but very visible<br />

pre-Brexit stint at <strong>the</strong> European Parliament<br />

representing Yorkshire <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Humber.<br />

And it is through compassion, empathy<br />

<strong>and</strong> disruptive ideas that he is now drawing<br />

attention to <strong>the</strong> Union of Justice, <strong>the</strong><br />

organisation he founded in March 2020<br />

to press for climate justice for marginalised<br />

Europeans of colour.<br />

There is an unspoken paradox at <strong>the</strong><br />

heart of <strong>the</strong> European <strong>Green</strong> Deal, according<br />

to Magid.<br />

European black <strong>and</strong> brown citizens are<br />

usually <strong>the</strong> most acutely-impacted by environmental<br />

degradation, toxic chemicals<br />

<strong>and</strong> pollution. Yet <strong>the</strong>ir predicament goes<br />

unnoticed, <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir voice is never heard.<br />

“Ei<strong>the</strong>r European policymakers really<br />

don’t care about what is happening to<br />

marginalised communities — which<br />

are massively overexposed to pollutants<br />

which impact health <strong>and</strong> wellbeing — or<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are not willing to actually do something<br />

about <strong>the</strong>se injustices,” Magid tells<br />

me during a chat on Zoom.<br />

Having first gained celebrity as Sheffield’s<br />

youngest mayor, followed by his interventions<br />

in <strong>the</strong> European Parliament as<br />

a member of <strong>the</strong> <strong>Green</strong> group, “Magic<br />

Magid” is now using his fame to turn <strong>the</strong><br />

spotlight on <strong>the</strong> different ways in which<br />

Europeans of colour can become part of<br />

an inclusive climate conversation.<br />

As well as being at <strong>the</strong> forefront of growing<br />

calls for recognition in Europe of <strong>the</strong><br />

intimate link between <strong>the</strong> climate crisis,<br />

inequality <strong>and</strong> race, Magid, who came to<br />

<strong>the</strong> UK with his mo<strong>the</strong>r, a Somali refugee,<br />

when he was five, is also engaged in<br />

<strong>the</strong> wider problem of climate justice for<br />

<strong>the</strong> Global South.<br />

Racism, inequality <strong>and</strong> climate are interconnected,<br />

says Magid. Impacts of <strong>the</strong><br />

climate crisis exacerbate existing social<br />

<strong>and</strong> related racial inequities — <strong>and</strong> climate<br />

policies, unless crafted with an eye<br />

on such issues, can make things worse.<br />

As it progresses in crafting <strong>Green</strong> Deal<br />

policies, <strong>the</strong> EU must make a conscious<br />

effort to acknowledge <strong>the</strong> interconnectedness<br />

of racial <strong>and</strong> climate injustice,<br />

<strong>and</strong> explicit efforts to address this, he<br />

says.<br />

Low-income communities across Europe<br />

are on <strong>the</strong> frontline of climate impacts,<br />

yet receive <strong>the</strong> least support for prevention,<br />

mitigation adaptation, building resilience,<br />

or reparations for ongoing losses<br />

<strong>and</strong> damages.<br />

Magid’s Union of Justice is about changing<br />

that paradigm. With a small team of<br />

volunteers, <strong>the</strong> organisation is working<br />

to train people with <strong>the</strong> campaigning<br />

<strong>and</strong> public speaking skills <strong>the</strong>y need to<br />

get <strong>the</strong>ir message across to <strong>the</strong> wider<br />

public <strong>and</strong> to lobby <strong>the</strong>ir elected representatives.<br />

It is not just about writing reports, but<br />

about <strong>the</strong> need for actual research which<br />

charts <strong>the</strong> cumulative environmental impacts<br />

of <strong>the</strong> climate crisis on communities<br />

of colour in Europe.<br />

There have been active efforts by researchers<br />

to assess environmental hazards<br />

<strong>and</strong> whom it impacts in different<br />

regions of Europe. However, data gaps<br />

persist, Magid warns. As a result, communities<br />

of colour continue to be overlooked<br />

<strong>and</strong> denied reparative justice for<br />

<strong>the</strong> environmental hazards <strong>the</strong>y are exposed<br />

to.<br />

New two-year project<br />

With this in mind, Magid has embarked<br />

on a two-year research project funded by<br />

<strong>the</strong> Open Society Foundation which he<br />

says will enable deeper underst<strong>and</strong>ing of<br />

<strong>the</strong> climate crisis <strong>and</strong> how it intersects<br />

with racial inequality.<br />

The project will begin by studying <strong>the</strong><br />

impact of <strong>the</strong> climate crisis <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> EU<br />

<strong>Green</strong> Deal on communities of colour<br />

in Irel<strong>and</strong>, UK, France, Belgium, Ne<strong>the</strong>rl<strong>and</strong>s,<br />

Germany, Austria, Switzerl<strong>and</strong>,<br />

Italy, Spain <strong>and</strong> Portugal.<br />

The impact of extractive exploitation<br />

each country has inflicted onto <strong>the</strong> global<br />

south due to colonial <strong>and</strong> post-colonial<br />

relations will also be studied.<br />

Magid’s plan is to come up with policy<br />

recommendations on a regional, national<br />

<strong>and</strong> EU level which can <strong>the</strong>n be disseminated<br />

by scholars, experts, civil society<br />

actors as well as community members on<br />

<strong>the</strong> front line.<br />

“We will also be creating <strong>and</strong> delivering<br />

an engaging creative communication<br />

<strong>and</strong> public engagement action plan,” he<br />

says. “It will be like a lifetime’s work.”<br />

I’m very aware that ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

black person who didn’t<br />

have my background would<br />

find it very difficult to do<br />

what I am doing.”<br />

“I’m very aware that ano<strong>the</strong>r black person<br />

who didn’t have my background would<br />

find it very difficult to do what I am doing.<br />

It’s easy for me to get meetings with<br />

people, to get <strong>the</strong>m to listen to me, basically<br />

give me <strong>the</strong>ir time,” he continues.<br />

One door that remains open is to <strong>the</strong><br />

office of European Commission vice<br />

president Frans Timmermans <strong>and</strong> his<br />

team. Former colleagues at <strong>the</strong> European<br />

Parliament are also in contact <strong>and</strong> he<br />

Magic Magid<br />

is in touch with <strong>Green</strong> networks across<br />

Europe.<br />

“We’ve just been pushing <strong>the</strong> calls, speaking<br />

to people, making presentations to<br />

universities <strong>and</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r institutions,” he<br />

says. “We work with anyone that’s interested<br />

in <strong>the</strong> work that we do <strong>and</strong> in our<br />

advancing our cause. ◄<br />

37


WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

INTERVIEW<br />

The ‘carbon tax’<br />

MEP with one eye<br />

on Mozambique<br />

Dutch MEP Mohammed Chahim is rapporteur for<strong>the</strong> proposed<br />

carbon tax on imported goods which is planned to come into force in<br />

2026. It is one of <strong>the</strong> biggest <strong>and</strong> most complex legislative proposals<br />

Europe has ever drawn up.<br />

By WESTER VAN GAAL<br />

Sitting behind his desk on <strong>the</strong> 15th floor<br />

of <strong>the</strong> European Parliament building,<br />

36-year-old Dutch Socialist & Democrats<br />

(S&D) MEP Mohammed Chahim<br />

reflects on his already extended career in<br />

politics.<br />

“I had two passions growing up: maths<br />

<strong>and</strong> politics,” he said. “It is easy to make<br />

it sound romantic when it all works out,<br />

but you can’t plan your political career.”<br />

Following 14 years of municipal politics<br />

in Helmond, a town in <strong>the</strong> Dutch province<br />

of Brabant, he was asked by <strong>the</strong><br />

Dutch Labour party to be <strong>the</strong>ir point<br />

man on climate <strong>and</strong> energy in <strong>the</strong> European<br />

Parliament.<br />

A ma<strong>the</strong>matician by occupation - before<br />

his time in Brussels, he designed models<br />

that calculate <strong>the</strong> environmental impact<br />

of economic policy decisions - he seemed<br />

like <strong>the</strong> right man for <strong>the</strong> job.<br />

As vice president of <strong>the</strong> S&D, he is now<br />

responsible for all climate <strong>and</strong> energy-related<br />

issues. And his quick ma<strong>the</strong>matical<br />

mind gives him an edge in h<strong>and</strong>ling complex<br />

dossiers.<br />

Last year, he was made rapporteur for<br />

<strong>the</strong> Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism<br />

(CBAM), <strong>the</strong> proposed carbon tax<br />

on imported goods which is planned to<br />

come into force in 2026.<br />

It is one of <strong>the</strong> biggest <strong>and</strong> most complex<br />

legislative proposals Europe has ever<br />

drawn up. “At <strong>the</strong> time, nobody else was<br />

interested in it, but I immediately knew<br />

I wanted to be <strong>the</strong> one h<strong>and</strong>ling this. It<br />

is of central importance to <strong>the</strong> European<br />

climate effort,” he said.<br />

It will not<br />

help <strong>the</strong><br />

world<br />

if only Europe<br />

reduces its<br />

own<br />

emissions to<br />

zero. ”<br />

Mohammed Chahim<br />

It mirrors <strong>the</strong> EU’s l<strong>and</strong>mark “cap-<strong>and</strong>trade<br />

scheme” for carbon emissions (ETS)<br />

which helps steer European producers<br />

towards cleaner modes of production.<br />

But in <strong>the</strong> absence of a global carbon<br />

price, companies face competition from<br />

exporters elsewhere who can produce at<br />

a lower cost.<br />

He points out <strong>the</strong> obvious elephantin-<strong>the</strong>-room:<br />

Europe has already outsourced<br />

much of its production — <strong>and</strong><br />

pollution — to China.<br />

“It would not help <strong>the</strong> world if Europe<br />

only reduces its own emissions to zero.<br />

We have to set <strong>the</strong> st<strong>and</strong>ard <strong>and</strong> help<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r countries adopt European production<br />

methods,” Chahim said.<br />

CBAM is central to this effort.<br />

But Chahim points out CBAM is already<br />

making an impact. “Turkey has already<br />

adopted new environmental rules <strong>and</strong><br />

ratified <strong>the</strong> Paris Climate accords last<br />

year because of CBAM,” he said.<br />

But <strong>the</strong>re are negative effects he worries<br />

about too <strong>and</strong> some low-income African<br />

countries will be especially affected.<br />

Mozambique<br />

Mozambique, for example, depends<br />

hugely on its aluminium exports to Europe.<br />

CBAM has <strong>the</strong> potential to rob <strong>the</strong><br />

country of one of its most important<br />

streams of revenue.<br />

This is why Chahim has advocated in<br />

parliament to use a large chunk of <strong>the</strong><br />

proceeds to help low-income countries<br />

to build renewable energy systems <strong>and</strong><br />

clean up <strong>the</strong>ir industries. “We have <strong>the</strong><br />

opportunity responsibility to help least<br />

developed nations like Mozambique<br />

build a clean energy system.”<br />

“Coming from a wealthy country, it is<br />

hard for me to tell someone in India <strong>the</strong>y<br />

shouldn’t drive a car,” Chahim said. “But<br />

I would just love for is <strong>the</strong>m to skip this<br />

stage <strong>and</strong> go straight to Lightyears (solar<br />

panel driven cars).” And he wants <strong>the</strong><br />

Global North to make good on its €100bn<br />

pledge to help least-developed countries<br />

build up clean energy systems.<br />

Chahim, of Moroccan heritage, speaks<br />

excitedly about <strong>the</strong> Noor-Ouarzazate<br />

complex, <strong>the</strong> world’s largest solar power<br />

plant in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan desert. An enormous<br />

array of curved mirrors spread over<br />

30km2 that “make you feel humbled.”<br />

CBAM is meant to prevent EU companies<br />

from moving <strong>the</strong>ir polluting industries<br />

to regions with laxer environmental<br />

rules. It would impose a levy linked to<br />

carbon prices on an array of products<br />

such as imported steel, aluminium, fertiliser<br />

<strong>and</strong> cement.<br />

Brussels expects to raise nearly €10bn<br />

a year from a carbon tax on imports. It<br />

immediately triggered a strong response<br />

led by Russia, even before <strong>the</strong> Ukraine<br />

war, which is Europe’s biggest supplier of<br />

carbon-intensive products <strong>and</strong> st<strong>and</strong>s to<br />

lose billions.<br />

“We have to be at <strong>the</strong> forefront of this.<br />

We can invest a lot of public money because<br />

we are incredibly rich,” Chahim<br />

said. “And we have <strong>the</strong> opportunity <strong>and</strong><br />

responsibility to help least developed nations<br />

like Mozambique build a clean energy<br />

system.” ◄<br />

39


PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - HILDA FLAVIA NAKABUYE<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

PROFILE<br />

‘The<br />

government is<br />

hearing us,<br />

but not<br />

listening to us’<br />

Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, founder of Ug<strong>and</strong>a’s Fridays for Future movement<br />

Ug<strong>and</strong>an<br />

activist warns<br />

Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, one of Africa’s leading climate activists <strong>and</strong><br />

lead of Ug<strong>and</strong>a’s Fridays for Future movement, describes young<br />

Africa’s green hopes.<br />

By ELENA SÁNCHEZ NICOLÁS<br />

When Hilda Flavia Nakabuye was a<br />

little girl, her family <strong>and</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r farming<br />

communities earned <strong>the</strong>ir living through<br />

agriculture in Masaka, sou<strong>the</strong>rn Ug<strong>and</strong>a.<br />

Eventually, <strong>the</strong> rainy seasons became<br />

unpredictable, <strong>and</strong> heatwaves became<br />

more extreme <strong>and</strong> frequent, destroying<br />

crop fields <strong>and</strong> drying up streams <strong>and</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r water resources. The poor harvests<br />

at her family’s farml<strong>and</strong> made it very<br />

difficult for her parents to earn enough<br />

money to pay her tuition fees.<br />

After climate change forced her to miss<br />

school entirely for several months, her<br />

family decided to sell <strong>the</strong> farm <strong>and</strong> move<br />

to <strong>the</strong> capital, Kampala, where Nakabuye<br />

founded Ug<strong>and</strong>a’s Fridays for Future<br />

movement early in 2019.<br />

Role of<br />

history <strong>and</strong><br />

colonialism<br />

in <strong>the</strong> climate<br />

crisis are at<br />

<strong>the</strong> heart of<br />

<strong>the</strong> debate.<br />

She was motivated by images of Greta<br />

Thunberg, protesting outside <strong>the</strong> Swedish<br />

parliament in 2018, into organising<br />

her own solo Ug<strong>and</strong>a school strikes to<br />

raise awareness over climate change.<br />

But <strong>the</strong> 24-year old activist says her dem<strong>and</strong>s<br />

were only met with inaction.<br />

“The government is hearing us, but it is<br />

not listening to us,” she told EUobserver<br />

in an interview. She was referring to how<br />

school strikes attracted attention — <strong>and</strong><br />

repression by <strong>the</strong> police — but fell short<br />

of driving meaningful changes.<br />

In 2019, Ug<strong>and</strong>a’s Fridays for Future,<br />

which now has over 53,000 young members,<br />

submitted a list of dem<strong>and</strong>s to <strong>the</strong><br />

government, calling on leaders to act fast<br />

to seek unprecedented global action towards<br />

<strong>the</strong> climate breakdown.<br />

“Nothing is being done,” she said, referring<br />

to how her organisation’s dem<strong>and</strong>s <strong>and</strong><br />

criticisms have just been ignored so far.<br />

41


PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - HILDA FLAVIA NAKABUYE<br />

WAR, PEACE AND THE GREEN ECONOMY<br />

However, <strong>the</strong> last few years have marked<br />

<strong>the</strong> rise of climate change activism in<br />

Africa, gaining momentum across <strong>the</strong><br />

continent.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> increasing participation <strong>and</strong><br />

engagement of young people in protests,<br />

Ug<strong>and</strong>a’s Fridays for Future movement<br />

inspired similar movements in o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

countries, including Kenya, Tanzania,<br />

Nigeria, Sierra Leone <strong>and</strong> Angola, Nakabuye<br />

says.<br />

Her main aim is to raise awareness about<br />

climate change among local communities.<br />

But she is also dem<strong>and</strong>ing climate<br />

action from leaders <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> international<br />

community.<br />

Developed<br />

countries<br />

continue<br />

to burn<br />

fossil fuels<br />

while Africa<br />

suffers <strong>the</strong><br />

worst effects<br />

of climate<br />

change.”<br />

Hilda Flavia Nakabuye<br />

Colonial history<br />

Climate change is rooted in <strong>the</strong> exploitation<br />

of <strong>the</strong> planet’s resources. But <strong>the</strong><br />

role of history <strong>and</strong> colonialism in <strong>the</strong> climate<br />

crisis is currently at <strong>the</strong> heart of <strong>the</strong><br />

debate because it has triggered a double<br />

injustice: exacerbating social inequalities<br />

— while disproportionately harming<br />

those communities that contribute least<br />

to climate change.<br />

Developed countries, says Nakabuye,<br />

continue to burn fossil fuels while Africa<br />

suffers <strong>the</strong> worst effects of climate<br />

change.<br />

The G20, which includes Australia, Germany,<br />

Brazil, China, India <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> United<br />

States, accounts for 80 percent of<br />

global greenhouse gas emissions, while<br />

Activists from Fridays for Future Ug<strong>and</strong>a strike to dem<strong>and</strong> climate justice <strong>and</strong> to protect <strong>the</strong> Bugoma Forest (Source: 350 .org via Flickr)<br />

<strong>the</strong> African continent is responsible for<br />

less than three percent of <strong>the</strong> world’s<br />

emissions. The unfairness is self-evident.<br />

Yet many in developing countries continue<br />

to believe that economic growth<br />

goes h<strong>and</strong>-in-h<strong>and</strong> with fossil-fuel consumption.<br />

And, as a result, local authorities<br />

in Africa continue to allow fossil-fuel<br />

companies to exploit <strong>the</strong> continent’s natural<br />

resources, threatening ecosystems<br />

<strong>and</strong> water sources for millions of people,<br />

says Nakabuye.<br />

But she is adamant that new oil <strong>and</strong> gas<br />

projects are simply a “ticket to hell” <strong>and</strong><br />

a “death penalty” for African countries.<br />

“We cannot ‘develop’ on a dead planet,’<br />

she points out, starkly.<br />

Instead, to ensure a sustainable future,<br />

investments should go into renewables<br />

<strong>and</strong> sustainable agriculture. Nakabuye<br />

also wants fossil-fuel companies to stop<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir polluting extraction <strong>and</strong> production<br />

activities in Africa.<br />

The Ug<strong>and</strong>an activist, who has attended<br />

several UN climate talks herself, says action<br />

taken so far by politicians are a huge<br />

disappointment <strong>and</strong> she is not optimistic<br />

about outcomes at <strong>the</strong> upcoming United<br />

Nations Climate Change Conference in<br />

Egypt (COP27) in November.<br />

These annual meetings, where global<br />

leaders make pledges about <strong>the</strong>ir efforts<br />

to slow down climate change, are full of<br />

lobbyists <strong>and</strong> business interests <strong>and</strong> are<br />

just a “meet <strong>and</strong> greet” exercise, she says.<br />

This has become painfully clear for African<br />

nations because <strong>the</strong>y have seen<br />

nothing but broken promises following<br />

previous UN climate talks.<br />

Until now, rich nations have failed to<br />

fulfil <strong>the</strong> long-st<strong>and</strong>ing pledge to provide<br />

$100bn per year to emerging economies<br />

to address climate change impact <strong>and</strong><br />

mitigation.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> build-up to COP27, developing<br />

countries are expected to push rich governments<br />

to scale up <strong>the</strong>ir financial support<br />

from 2025 in a bid to limit global<br />

temperatures to 1.5 degrees — <strong>the</strong> 2015<br />

Paris Agreement target. But Africa has<br />

already warmed by more than one degree<br />

Celsius since 1900, according to <strong>the</strong><br />

United Nations. ◄<br />

Agriculture is <strong>the</strong> backbone of Africa’s<br />

economy, employing 60 percent of its<br />

population, <strong>and</strong> high temperatures could<br />

have devastating effects on crop production<br />

<strong>and</strong> food security.<br />

Additionally, <strong>the</strong> adverse effects of climate<br />

change are also hitting harder on<br />

women <strong>and</strong> girls, who bear <strong>the</strong> biggest<br />

burden, especially in situations of poverty,<br />

says Nakabuye.<br />

About<br />

The Elena much-needed Sánchez change Nicolás towards a sustainable<br />

relationship with nature will not<br />

come from politicians but from ordinary<br />

people, Elena she joined says, EUobserver because “I in know 2019. <strong>the</strong><br />

power She of covers <strong>the</strong> people climate can bring change <strong>the</strong> <strong>and</strong> difference<br />

tech that policy. is needed.” Before joining EUobserver,<br />

she worked on European<br />

affairs at <strong>the</strong> Brussels-based think<br />

tank VoteWatch Europe <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Spanish news agency EFE. Elena<br />

is a graduate of Vrije Universiteit<br />

Brussel (VUB), where she completed<br />

a master in New Media<br />

<strong>and</strong> Society in Europe. She previously<br />

studied journalism in Spain,<br />

<strong>and</strong> was part of an exchange programme<br />

with <strong>the</strong> Thomas More<br />

Hogeschool, where she focussed<br />

on cross-media production.<br />

Residents of Masaka<br />

dig holes to plant<br />

trees.<br />

(Source: Paul Kagame<br />

via Flickr)<br />

43


EUROPE’S GREEN PUSH<br />

GREEN ECONOMY<br />

Europe’s<br />

Fit for 55 & Extra Efforts<br />

<strong>Green</strong> Push<br />

Increase carbon removals to<br />

-310 million of tonnes CO 2<br />

equivalent by 2030<br />

L<strong>and</strong> Use, L<strong>and</strong><br />

Use Change,<br />

Forestry<br />

Regulation<br />

Climate<br />

Social<br />

Fund<br />

Energy<br />

Efficiency<br />

Directive<br />

Public sector obliged to renovate<br />

3% of its buildings<br />

* Renovation of 35 million buildings<br />

by 2030<br />

Ban on <strong>the</strong> sale of new<br />

petrol <strong>and</strong> diesel cars<br />

from 2035*<br />

New CO 2<br />

emissions<br />

st<strong>and</strong>ards<br />

for cars, vans<br />

Emissions trading<br />

for buildings <strong>and</strong><br />

transport<br />

EU ETS<br />

(power, industry,<br />

maritime,<br />

aviation)<br />

Renewable<br />

Energy<br />

Directive<br />

At least 40% of EU’s overall<br />

energy mix coming from<br />

renewables by 2030<br />

More than 130 countries have now set, or are<br />

considering, a target of reducing emissions to net zero<br />

by 2050. But only a dozen have passed legislation on<br />

net-zero targets.<br />

By ELENA SÁNCHEZ NICOLÁS<br />

Three billion trees planted<br />

across Europe by 2030<br />

ReFuelEU<br />

Maritime<br />

Initiative<br />

EU<br />

Forest<br />

Strategy<br />

Alternative<br />

Fuels<br />

Regulation<br />

Effort<br />

Sharing<br />

Regulation<br />

ReFuelEU<br />

Aviation<br />

Initiative<br />

Energy<br />

Taxation<br />

Directive<br />

Carbon Border<br />

Adjustment<br />

Mechanism<br />

* Zero pollution by 2050<br />

* Ending fossil-fuel subsidies<br />

by 2025<br />

* Reduce by 50 percent<br />

<strong>the</strong> use <strong>and</strong> risk of<br />

chemical pesticides by<br />

2030<br />

* Free emission allowances<br />

for aviation gradual<br />

phase-out from 2026-<br />

2036 (TBC)<br />

* Additional one million<br />

jobs by 2030<br />

Historical responsibility<br />

Historic emissions of top polluters<br />

The EU is responsible for about 10-percent of emissions,<br />

but it has a greater degree of responsibility for <strong>the</strong> climate<br />

breakdown. As of 2015, <strong>the</strong> Global North was responsible<br />

for 92-percent of emissions, although China <strong>and</strong> India<br />

have caught up rapidly. This issue has become central to<br />

<strong>the</strong> equality <strong>and</strong> climate justice debate. Today, China is <strong>the</strong><br />

world’s largest contributor to CO2 emissions.<br />

By reducing carbon emissions to a minimum, <strong>and</strong> offsetting<br />

<strong>the</strong> remaining emissions, with <strong>the</strong> help of natural or<br />

artificial carbon sinks (such as carbon removals <strong>and</strong> storage<br />

technologies), <strong>the</strong> EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050.<br />

For this, it is key to build a new economic model that reduces<br />

emissions, addresses energy poverty, <strong>and</strong> reduces energy<br />

dependencies to improve people’s wellbeing.<br />

But EU climate action st<strong>and</strong>s at <strong>the</strong> crossroads between<br />

domestic ambition <strong>and</strong> international cooperation, especially<br />

among G20 countries, which are responsible for about 80<br />

percent of all global emissions. ◄<br />

40%<br />

2018<br />

30%<br />

20%<br />

10%<br />

0%<br />

China United India EU Russia Indonesia Brazil Japan Iran South O<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

States<br />

Korea<br />

30%<br />

20%<br />

10%<br />

0%<br />

United<br />

States<br />

1990<br />

EU Russia China Brazil Indonesia Japan India South Iran<br />

Korea<br />

Source: Climate Watch<br />

Paris<br />

Agreement<br />

<strong>Green</strong><br />

Deal<br />

New 2030<br />

Target<br />

Fit For 55<br />

Carbon<br />

Border Tax<br />

Towards<br />

Climate<br />

Neutrality<br />

2015<br />

Global leaders pledge to keep global<br />

temperature rise to well below<br />

2 degrees Celsius, with <strong>the</strong> aim to<br />

limit <strong>the</strong> increase to 1.5 degrees,<br />

compared to pre-industrial levals.<br />

2019 2020<br />

The <strong>Green</strong> Deal aims to achieve<br />

climate-neutrality in <strong>the</strong> EU by 2050.<br />

The plan is to mobilise at least €1<br />

trillion in sustainable investments<br />

over <strong>the</strong> next decade.<br />

The EU increases <strong>the</strong> 2030 emissionreduction<br />

target to 55 percent<br />

(compared to 1990 levels) —<br />

including carbon sinks as provided by<br />

soils <strong>and</strong> trees.<br />

2021 2026<br />

2030<br />

The commission unveils proposals<br />

to deliver <strong>the</strong> new 2030 target. The<br />

package adapts 8 existing climate<br />

laws <strong>and</strong> presents five br<strong>and</strong> new<br />

proposals. EU’s climate law agreed.<br />

A new levy on iron, steel, cement,<br />

fertiliser, aluminium, <strong>and</strong> electricity<br />

imports, designed to prevent firms<br />

from transferring production to third<br />

countries with less strict climate rules.<br />

Coal phase-out?<br />

In <strong>the</strong> path towards climate neutrality,<br />

<strong>the</strong> world economy in 2030 would be<br />

some 40 percent larger than today but<br />

using seven percent less energy.<br />

45


An A-Z<br />

glossary<br />

of climate<br />

change<br />

terms<br />

Confused by <strong>the</strong> jargon of<br />

climate change, not least<br />

<strong>the</strong> plethora of acronyms<br />

— ETC, CCS, CBAM —<br />

that surround it? Look no<br />

fur<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

By ELENA SANCHEZ NICOLAS<br />

CARBON FOOTPRINT: Amount<br />

of greenhouse gas emissions that an<br />

individual, group, product or event<br />

emits, ei<strong>the</strong>r directly or indirectly, to <strong>the</strong><br />

environment.<br />

CARBON BORDER ADJUSTMENT<br />

MECHANISM (CBAM): The EU carbon<br />

border tax will set a new levy on imports<br />

of iron, steel, cement, fertiliser, aluminium,<br />

<strong>and</strong> electricity, aiming at protecting<br />

EU businesses from carbon leakage.<br />

CARBON LEAKAGE: The situation that<br />

may occur if businesses seek to transfer<br />

production to non-EU third countries<br />

with less-strict climate rules.<br />

CIRCULAR ECONOMY: A system<br />

designed to eliminate waste by reusing,<br />

sharing, repairing, <strong>and</strong> recycling<br />

resources.<br />

CARBON SINK: A natural or artificial<br />

reservoir that absorbs more carbon from<br />

<strong>the</strong> atmosphere than it releases. For<br />

example, forests, <strong>the</strong> ocean <strong>and</strong> soil.<br />

CARBON SEQUESTRATION: The<br />

natural or artificial process of capturing<br />

<strong>and</strong> storing carbon dioxide.<br />

CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE<br />

(CCS): Technologies that can prevent<br />

large quantities of CO2 from being<br />

released into <strong>the</strong> atmosphere. Energy<br />

giant ExxonMobil, for example, is<br />

participating in four CCS hub projects<br />

in Belgium, <strong>the</strong> Ne<strong>the</strong>rl<strong>and</strong>s, France <strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> UK.<br />

CLIMATE-FRIENDLY: This adjective is<br />

often used to describe a product, policy<br />

or process that has a reduced carbon<br />

footprint when compared to o<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

EMISSION TRADING SYSTEM (ETS):<br />

The EU’s cap-<strong>and</strong>-trade system limits<br />

emissions in <strong>the</strong> power sector, manufacturing<br />

industry, <strong>and</strong> airlines operating<br />

in Europe. Within this limit, companies<br />

can sell <strong>and</strong> buy emissions allowances<br />

for every emitted tonne of CO2.<br />

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: It refers to <strong>the</strong><br />

process of using less energy to get <strong>the</strong><br />

same job done. For example, energy-efficient<br />

LED light bulbs can produce <strong>the</strong><br />

same amount of light as inc<strong>and</strong>escent<br />

light bulbs but using less electricity.<br />

ENERGY POVERTY: There is no official<br />

definition for <strong>the</strong> term in EU policy, but<br />

it is commonly used to describe <strong>the</strong> “inability<br />

to keep homes adequately warm”.<br />

EU TAXONOMY: It is a classification<br />

system that establishes a list of environmentally<br />

sustainable economic activities<br />

— including highly-controversial<br />

“transitional activities”.<br />

FOSSIL FUELS: Fuels (such as coal, oil,<br />

or natural gas) formed in <strong>the</strong> earth from<br />

plant or animal remains. They produce<br />

large quantities of carbon dioxide when<br />

burned.<br />

GLOBAL GATEWAY: The EU’s €300bn<br />

plan to compete with China’s Belt <strong>and</strong><br />

Road Initiative, supporting infrastructure<br />

investment around <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

GREEN BONDS: <strong>Green</strong> bonds are like<br />

regular bonds, but <strong>the</strong> money raised<br />

from investors is used exclusively to<br />

finance climate <strong>and</strong> environmental<br />

projects.<br />

GREEN ECONOMY: A green economy<br />

is generally defined as low-carbon, energy-efficient<br />

<strong>and</strong> socially-inclusive.<br />

GREENHOUSE GASES (GHG): These<br />

gases trap heat in <strong>the</strong> atmosphere<br />

<strong>and</strong> warm <strong>the</strong> planet. The main gases<br />

responsible for <strong>the</strong> greenhouse effect<br />

include carbon dioxide, methane, <strong>and</strong><br />

nitrous oxide.<br />

GREENWASHING: A marketing <strong>and</strong><br />

communication tactic that portrays <strong>the</strong><br />

organization or institution as environmentally-friendly,<br />

when in reality<br />

its practices do not align with that<br />

portrayal.<br />

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Renewables,<br />

also known as clean energy, come from<br />

natural sources that are not depleted<br />

when used, such as wind, tidal, or solar<br />

power.<br />

GREEN HYDROGEN: <strong>Green</strong> hydrogen<br />

is generated entirely by renewable energy<br />

such as wind, solar or hydropower.<br />

BLUE HYDROGEN: Blue hydrogen<br />

is produced mainly from natural gas,<br />

using a process called steam methane<br />

reforming. As a result, carbon <strong>and</strong><br />

capture (CCS) technologies are needed<br />

to prevent <strong>the</strong> creation of greenhouse<br />

gases.<br />

GREY HYDROGEN: Grey Hydrogen<br />

is hydrogen produced using fossil fuels<br />

such as natural gas.


Concrete roads contribute<br />

to a greener <strong>and</strong> more<br />

resilient future for Europe<br />

Climate change calls for a move to green <strong>and</strong> resilient road infrastructure for <strong>the</strong><br />

European Transport <strong>and</strong> Mobility Strategy. The <strong>Green</strong> Deal targets at least 30 million<br />

zero-emission vehicles by 2030, requiring high quality, safe <strong>and</strong> robust roads.<br />

Four significant reasons to choose concrete<br />

High albedo<br />

Light coloured concrete surfaces have a high light<br />

reflection, which counteracts global warming,<br />

equivalent to a reduction of 25 kg CO 2 /m². In addition,<br />

it reduces <strong>the</strong> Urban Heat Isl<strong>and</strong> Effect.<br />

100% circular<br />

Concrete roads are made<br />

with local raw materials, have<br />

a long life, hence a lower<br />

cost <strong>and</strong> are 100% recyclable.<br />

Less fuel comsumption<br />

Heavy vehicles consume less fuel when riding upon<br />

smooth <strong>and</strong> non-deformable surfaces. Changing<br />

from flexible asphalt to rigid concrete creates over<br />

time an average saving of 78 kg CO 2 /m 2 , far<br />

beyond <strong>the</strong> embodied CO 2 amount.<br />

Higher resilience<br />

Concrete roads resist<br />

floods, withst<strong>and</strong> extreme<br />

temperatures <strong>and</strong> retain<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir structural performance<br />

over time.<br />

For more information, visit www.eupave.eu<br />

Vorstlaan - Boulevard du Souverain 68 B13 • 1170 Brussels<br />

E-mail: info@eupave.eu • Telephone: +32 (0)2 645 52 24

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