Exploring the Northern Dimension

Cutting black carbon emissions is an acute challenge for all in the European Arctic

The Northern Dimension Institute (NDI) organized the Northern Dimension Future Forum on Environment: Black carbon and climate change in the European Arctic on 19 November 2018 in Brussels. The event gathered researchers, top experts, decision-makers and NGOs to discuss the future challenges as well as solutions available to avert the black carbon impacts of future climate change. The event featured two knowledge arenas consisting of brief researcher presentations followed by comments and a moderated discussion. Ms. Cathy Smith from Speak-Easy moderated the event.

Professor Riitta Kosonen, Director of the Center for Markets in Transition, Aalto University, and the Lead Coordinator of the NDI gave an overview of the role of NDI in the Northern Dimension policy and supporting the work of the four Northern Dimension Partnerships. In November 2018, NDI organized four Northern Dimension Future Forums in close collaboration with the ND Partnerships focusing on the jointly selected topics. The work is planned to continue through a three-year-project on a Northern Dimension Think Tank.

ND Future Forum on Environment Riitta Kosonen 2 web 2
Riitta Kosonen, NDI Lead Coordinator, opening the event

Ms. Ewa Manik, Associate Manager from EBRD, Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) described the NDEP as a successful cooperation model to tackle global climate challenges through real concrete cooperation actions. The partnership is extended to 2021 with over 342 MEUR already contributed to the NDEP Support Fund and over 353 MEUR (Russia 60 MEUR, EU 84 MEUR) pledged.

ND Future Forum on Environment Ewa Manik 2 web
Ewa Manik, EBRD, NDEP

In her keynote speech, Ms. Yvon Slingenberg, Director of the DG Climate Action of the European Commission, underlined multilateral rules-based collaboration and diplomacy as key approaches to engage all the stakeholders in achieving the Paris Agreement long-term goals. EU fights climate change through both domestic actions and international cooperation aiming at ambitious goals on energy efficiency, transforming the industry, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner and more sustainable transport, cities and communities. EU envisages environmental cooperation with Russia in the G20 framework, through concrete climate action projects and people-to-people cooperation such as the Northern Dimension initiatives.

ND Future Forum on Environment Yvon Slingenberg 2 web
Yvon Slingenberg, DG Clima

In the Knowledge Arena 1, researchers focused on highlighting the policy arenas for reducing black carbon. Professor Mikael Hildén, Director of the Climate Change Research Programme in the Finnish Environment Institute and Program Director of the Strategic Research Program on a Climate-Neutral and Resource-Scarce Finland, Academy of Finland, introduced the Arctic Council actions in reducing black carbon emission. In case the good experiences and innovations are replicated efficiently, the recommended collective goal of 25 - 33 % reduction by 2025 is achievable. Ms. Seita Romppanen from UEF Law School University of Eastern Finland featured the legal dimensions of reducing black carbon emissions. National Emissions Ceiling Directive is so far the only EU legal instrument addressing directly black carbon emissions. In order to ensure proper legal regulation on black carbon, better policy coordination, synergies and specific measures are needed at both EU and global level. In his presentation, Mr. Russel Shearer, representing Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council, highlighted the EU Action on black carbon in the Arctic. In his presentation Mr. Shardul Agrawala, Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division, OECD, focused on economic consequences of outdoor air pollution. Based on the OECD estimations, health impacts and costs of inaction to reduce the black carbon are significant in the Arctic with premature deaths as the most dangerous consequences.

In the moderated discussion, the commentators Ms. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs of the EU and Ms. Susanne Lindahl from DG Environment underlined that the challenge is to bridge the available knowledge and implementation of the needed actions. There is still need for better coordination of the legal regulation addressing black carbon, adopting new technologies into use, applying measurements, monitoring and concrete actions.

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Knowledge Arena 1: Shardul Agrawala, Russel Shearer, Mikael Hildén, Seita Romppanen, Marie-Anne Coninsx and Susanne Lindahl

In the Knowledge Arena 2, speakers focused on actions in practice. In his presentation, Associate Professor, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen from the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki and Strategic Research Program on Security, Academy of Finland, indicated that reducing gas flaring of the Russian oil and gas industry has critical role in curbing black carbon emission in the Arctic. He underlined e.g. environmental certificates and more reliance on soft means to influence environmental investments and international cooperation in the renewable energy. Ms. Patti Bruns, from the Arctic Council, Executive Secretary for the Working Groups of Arctic Contaminant Action Program (ACAP) and Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) gave on overview of practical actions and lessons learnt in reducing environmental risks and prevent pollution of the Arctic environment. These include for example an Arctic Black Carbon Case Studies Platform and concrete actions on community based black carbon and public health assessments. Cases studies are a «one stop shop» for best practices and lessons learned from black carbon demonstration projects from across the Arctic region. Ms. Soffia Gudmundsdottir, from the Arctic Council, the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment working group (PAME), introduced the key achievements and projects underway including the first comprehensive Arctic shipping activity database. Mr. Jaakko Henttonen, Special Adviser on the Arctic Environment for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, underlined the NDEP as a successful platform bringing together the key stakeholders to discuss and find concrete solutions in environmental projects in North-West Russia.

The Knowledge Arena 2 ended with a moderated discussion with the commentators. Ms. Stine Svarva, Counsellor for Environment, Mission of Norway to EU pointed out that reducing black carbon emissions are high in the agenda in Norway. Mr. Jari Vilen, Senior Advisor for Arctic Policy, European Commission, emphasized need for urgent measures globally and ensuring that the Arctic is included in the EU mainstream policy. Mr. Dennis Moskalenko from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Russia commented that the challenges and interests are common for all the countries and the Northern Dimension framework provides a good platform for sharing new ideas and finding joint solutions in reducing black carbon also in the future.

ND Future Forum on Environment second knowledge arena web
Knowledge Arena 2: Cathy Smith, Soffia Gudmundsdottir, Patti Bruns, Jaakko Henttonen, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Jari Vilen and Stine Svarva.

Mr. Alistair Clark, Managing Director, Environment & Sustainability, EBRD, NDEP, underlined that the joint projects under the NDEP consist of true partnerships between financial partners, donors, countries and local stakeholders, and are easily scalable for other partnerships.

ND Future Forum on Environment Alistair Clark
Alistair Clark, EBRD, NDEP

According to the concluding remarks by Ms. Sannamaaria Vanamo (Deputy Director General, Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland) the forum proved that collaboration, direct discussions and people-to-people communication between decision-makers, civil servants and researchers are important and particularly in the politically challenging situation today. ND partnerships provide an excellent opportunity for the equal footing partners EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland to make a difference and clean the air together.

ND Future Forum on Environment Sannamaaria Vanamo web
Sannamaaria Vanamo, MFA, Finland

The event was organized by the Northern Dimension Institute together with the Northern Dimension Partnership on Environment and financed by the European Commission/DG NEAR and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The Northern Dimension Institute is a an open university network, which is coordinated by the Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, as the Lead Coordinator in cooperation with the Northern (Arctic) Federal University and the St Petersburg State University of Economics in Russia.

Programme of the event can be found here (pdf).

Webcasts from the ND Future Forum on Environment and the ND Future Forum on Transport are available below:

The webcast is available until 20 May 2019.

Presentations made in the forum are available below (pdfs).

Knowledge Arena 1: Developing Policy Arenas for Action
Arctic Council actions in reducing black carbon. Mr. Mikael Hildén, Professor, Director, Climate Change Program, Finnish Environment Institute; Program Director, Strategic Research Program on A Climate-Neutral and Resource-Scarce Finland, Academy of Finland
The Legal dimension of reducing black carbon emissions, Ms. Seita Romppanen, Senior Lecturer in International Environmental Law CCEEL, UEF Law School University of Eastern Finland
The EU Black carbon initiative, Mr. Russel Shearer, Project Manager, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Arctic Council
The Economics of air pollution control, Mr. Shardul Agrawala, Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division, OECD

Knowledge Arena 2: Actions in Practice
How to reduce black carbon emissions in Russia's oil and gas industry? Mr. Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki; Strategic Research Program on Security, Academy of Finland
Practical actions throughout the Arctic, Ms. Patti Bruns, Executive Secretary for the Working Groups of Arctic Contaminant Action Program (ACAP ) and Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR), Arctic Council
Emission reductions in shipping, Ms. Soffia Gudmundsdottir, Executive Secretary, PAME, Arctic Council
Promotion of biomass to replace coal and oil at local heating plants for cutting BC emissions in North-West Russia, Mr. Jaakko Henttonen, Special Adviser on the Arctic Environment for the MFA of Finland

Tags: Environment

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