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In today’s Morning Brief, to start the week off right, we bring you a brand new alliance between the EU and India to develop a deeper cooperation on solar, green and hydrogen, news on how military capabilities and ecological engineering can work together, a new climate tech investment deal between the EU and Bill Gates, and more!    

Any comments or suggestions, hit me up with an email on teresa.carvalho@inesc.pt.

In today's Morning Brief:

In today’s Morning Brief:

EU and India develop deeper cooperation on solar, green and hydrogen

Delhi and Brussels have reaffirmed their commitment to expand collaboration on climate change, with the possible launch of a “green hydrogen alliance” on the agenda of bilateral talks next year.

With New Delhi targeting net-zero emissions by 2070, the prospect of India’s transformation into a global powerhouse for renewables could present opportunities for EU-India climate cooperation.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week used the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow to announce 2070 as the country’s target to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

Modi’s was a surprise announcement as he spent months pushing back against the international pressure to make further climate commitments. But now, India raised its 2030 target for low-emission energy capacity and set an ambitious target to draw half the country’s energy from renewables by 2030, up from around 38% in 2020.

If you want to read more about these great news click here!


Military capabilities and ecological engineering could be the next big thing in defense R&D

A greening European security and defence? According to Crisis Group calculations, half of the most climate-fragile countries in the world also face conflict and crisis today.

“Climate change is a crisis multiplier and is making the world a more dangerous place. It increases competition over scarce resources like water and land and forces people to flee,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, a former UN special envoy for climate change, said in Glasgow this week.

At their summit earlier this year, NATO leaders had agreed on climate security guidelines. For the first time, they spelt out that the military alliance aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its armed forces, adapt to extreme weather conditions, and produce an annual assessment on the link between climate change and security.

In recent years, there has been a shift in military thinking about operating in more remote and climate-impacted areas. The EU has also made similar attempts to address climate in its security domain over the past year, as member states committed to connecting climate policy and conflict resolution.

The EU aims to climate-proof its military and civilian defence missions, and it is seeking to include green innovation more prominently in defence investments and R&D. As, despite the bloc having committed to becoming climate neutral by 2050, an emission reduction target for European militaries, for example, is so far not being considered.

If you want to read more about this fascinating crossroads click here.


EU teams up with Bill Gates in €820M climate tech investment deal

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are joining the Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy initiative, in a €820 million deal intended to put some impetus behind the scale-up of critical climate technologies developed in the EU and create markets for them.

This partnership will enable the Commission, EIB, and Breakthrough Energy to mobilise up to €820 million between 2022-2026 to accelerate the deployment and rapidly commercialise technologies that help the EU reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030.

Not all the money will come from the EU budget, EIB and Breakthrough Energy, as the three partners expect private investors and philanthropists to join the cause.

New green technologies that could cut EU emissions are ready for translation, but could take too long to reach the market without additional investments. New climate technologies are often expensive to produce and their markets are too small, posing particular problems for undercapitalised EU-based start-ups.

The EIB will receive an EU budget guarantee from the Commission and, together with Breakthrough Energy, will provide equivalent amounts of investment in projects selected on a competitive basis.

If you want to read more about this fascinating new deal click here!


Nuclear as the Elephant in the room of COP26

Can nuclear energy be one of the answers to achieve net-zero? Bruno Soares Gonçalves, President of the Portuguese Plasma and Nuclear Fusion Institute was interviewed, stating that nuclear energy has become an elephant in the room, despite some arguing it is indispensable for a green future.

As green energy has become an increasingly important topic in the green transition, Gonçalves believes nuclear power plants can have a central role in that green transition. But that doesn’t mean its consensual.

In the midst of the European Union there are different feelings about this energy source. Countries like France believe nuclear is a green energy source, as it causes minimal greenhouse gas emissions, but countries like Germany see it as a security threat, due to the production of tons of nuclear residue, some that will become radioactive for millions of years.

In Europe, defining nuclear power as green will have an impact on the industry’s access to billions of euros in European funds throughout the years.

Meanwhile, the United States have embraced nuclear power as a solution for developing nations. The nation announced this week that they will spend 25 million dollars financing reactors in Brazil, Kenya and Indonesia. And China is also pushing towards nuclear energy, planning to construct at least 150 reactors over the next 15 years.

A first step for this embrace by the US, is John Kerry’s statement that Romania will be the first country to build a next-generation nuclear power station using US-designed small modular reactor (SMR) technology. The SMR technology is as yet unproven, and the plan is being promoted as a test of its contribution to climate mitigation. The White House said Romania will be taking a ‘huge technological leap’ in the race to secure non-fossil energy supplies in Eastern Europe, with the new nuclear reactor helping decarbonise country’s electricity supply, which is currently dependent on seven coal fired power stations. If you want to read more about the US, China’s involvement in nuclear energy and SMRs, make sure to read this piece.

More and more scientists recognise that a portion of nuclear energy, in the midst of renewable energy, can be the support of the energetic system as it is there when others fail. Gonçalves claims there is a fear and stigma created around nuclear energy as people have become familiar with this source of power through the atomic bomb which increased the fear.

Today, the nuclear industry promises the creation of reactors that are more secure, assuring a lessening risk of a meltdown, the catastrophic scenario most people think. To read Bruno Gonçalves’ interview in full make sure to click here!


EUA and partners call for the EC to finalise UK association to Horizon Europe

On November 4, the EUA and two dozen other networks and associations published a letter to the European Commission voicing the united wish of the European knowledge sector for the UK to associate to the Horizon Europe programme. This follows an October statement from EUA and its collective members, regarding association of the UK to Horizon Europe.

This letter highlights that Horizon Europe must not become a political bargaining chip in the disagreements between the EU and UK as the latter’s association to Horizon Europe is an asset to all Europe and researchers.

In the letter, bodies representing over 1,000 universities, 38 research institutes, and funding agencies, 33 rectors’ conferences, and 120 regional organisations, say the lack of a clear timeline for finalising UK association is increasingly damaging research ties.

The post-Brexit trade agreement the EU and UK signed in December 2020 included provisions for the UK to be associated in Horizon Europe and the Commission assured researchers UK partners need not wait for the formal approval of the association agreement and could go ahead and apply for the first calls.

“(…) The absence of a clear timeline for finalising UK association is now causing increasing concern and uncertainty which risks endangering current and future plans for collaboration” states the letter.

Researchers involved in projects funded through the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) have not been paid because of the association delay, and as things stand, researchers who applied for Horizon Europe grants in June will be faced with the same problem in the first half of 2022.

Check out the letter and the 24 partners that have worked on it here.


Agriculture research gets COP26 boost from joint US/UAE initiative

Basic and applied agriculture research should receive a boost from a new innovation push launched at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate was jointly launched by the United States and United Arab Emirates on the 3rd of November, and is aiming to raise one billion dollars for ‘climate-smart’ agriculture and food systems innovation over the next five years.

One of the objectives is to boost agricultural innovation, through funding basic science, public and private applied research, and the development of new products. Aside from the US and UAE, 31 more countries around the world are partnered in this project.


Leaked Paper on gas and nuclear’s inclusion in EU Green Finance

A proposal to bring both nuclear power and natural gas into the bloc’s green finance taxonomy is circulating in Brussels. The paper has been branded as a ‘scientific disgrace’ by campaigners who warned it would damage the EU’s credibility on green finance.

This paper lays out detailed technical criteria for gas to qualify as a transitional activity under the EU’s sustainable finance rules. This comes in the wake of declarations by von der Leyen, who said the EU executive would soon table proposals on gas and nuclear as part of the bloc’s green finance rulebook.

Campaigners denounced the agreed criteria in the paper as ‘radically weaker’ than previous plans drafted by the European Commission. Henry Eviston, spokesman on sustainable finance at WWF European Policy Office stated that “it would severely damage the EU’s sustainable finance agenda and the EU Green Deal. It must be firmly rejected by the Commission and opposed by all member states.

Diplomats who spoke to EURACTIV at an EU summit noted France has been working behind the scenes to forge a compromise on the taxonomy that would satisfy supporters of gas and nuclear power. To read more about this make sure to click here.

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