“Green, blue and circular” v. “black” economic system for the Mediterranean?

“Heading towards a Greener Mediterranean” is the promotional slogan of the kick-off assembly for the launch of the INTERREG EURO-MED 2021-2027 program, to be held in Lisbon, on the twond of December 2021. https://interreg-med.eu/index.php?id=13352&L=0

“Green, blue and circular” are the primary pillars of the Economic Strategy of the EU for the present decade, taking part in a significant function within the implementation of the European Green Deal.

Blue Economy refers to marine-based or marine-related actions, both in established sectors, resembling marine living sources, marine non-living sources (fossil fuels) and so forth., or in rising and modern sectors, resembling new sorts of marine renewable power (i.e. ocean power), blue bio-economy and biotechnology, marine minerals, desalination and so forth.

In its new approach, the European Commission abandons the “Blue Growth” goal, utilized throughout the earlier monetary interval (2014-2020), in favor of the “sustainable blue economy” idea. Economy and surroundings needs to be thought of as a complete, whereas all financial actions within the sea ought to cut back their environmental impacts.


The EURO-MED program will finance, with a finances of 281M € in whole (pending remaining approval), actions related to the rising and modern sectors. These actions maintain certainly a big potential for the long run growth of coastal and insular communities.

All different EU monetary devices for the brand new monetary interval regarding the identical space, resembling ADRION (EUSAIR macro regional technique), Next-MED (European Neighborhood Policy) and INTERREG bilateral packages (Italy-France, Greece-Italy, Greece-Albania and so forth.), will in all probability comply with this identical orientation.

The Plan Bleu report (2020), describes with crystal clear phrases the alarming scenario on the State of the Environment and Development within the Mediterranean. The report states amongst different that weak sources are underneath strain, that the basin is a hotspot of local weather change, and that its coastal zone concentrates and accumulates pressures and suffers from environmental degradation. https://planbleu.org/en/soed-2020-state-of-environment-and-development-in-mediterranean/

When talking of a semi-closed sea, all coastal States ought to share frequent values and apply the identical insurance policies so as to achieve frequent goals. It appears this isn’t the case within the Mediterranean, the place financial pursuits and political rivalries, together with armed conflicts territorial disputes and financial weaknesses, restrict alternatives for cooperation and customary actions.

The predominant query is subsequently to look at if the long run European excessive investments, particularly from the EURO-MED program, will likely be enough to reverse and even affect the precise financial mannequin and realities within the Mediterranean basin.

Our evaluation will give attention to Energy manufacturing, an important however conflictual sector of blue economic system, the place the wrestle between typical and renewable power sources is predicted to be robust.

In its communication on Blue economic system, the European Commission acknowledged that offshore Oil and gasoline sector has been in decline for some years, due, in precept, to the Italian moratorium on offshore oil and gasoline permits.  But is that this assumption legitimate for the Mediterranean offshore oil and gasoline exploitation usually? What about nuclear power, which isn’t thought of as a marine power useful resource however can have environmental impacts on used water and will deteriorate an increasing number of the ocean basin?

According to knowledge offered by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Levant area of the Eastern Mediterranean — which incorporates Syrian coasts — holds a reserve of 1.7 billion barrels of oil and three.5 trillion cubic meters of pure gasoline.

While Egypt pioneered the invention of offshore gasoline with the Abu Qir subject in 1969, it was the beginning of drilling in deep waters in 2000 that opened a brand new horizon within the Eastern Mediterranean. To date, greater than two thousand billion cubic meters (bcm) of pure gasoline have been found within the Egyptian sector of the Mediterranean Sea. And but, the Eastern Mediterranean stays under- or unexplored and has good prospects for added reserves.

Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Libya and Israel within the Eastern Mediterranean are pursuing energetic insurance policies on this energy-rich area whereas the U.S., Russia, the U.Ok., France and Italy search to keep up their affect within the area as nicely.

Actually, after two critical financial and well being crises, the chance of provide safety and the rising oil and gasoline costs, it might be relatively uncertain for Governments to disclaim to take advantage of the lately found “black gold”, favoring it over different “noble” and environmental-friendly sources. Country producers want the cash, giant petroleum corporations the revenue and Northern European international locations power safety, independence from Russian gasoline and steady costs.

The potential function of the Eastern Mediterranean in diversifying Europe’s power sources turns into, subsequently, important. The East-Med pipeline challenge would be the imply to switch Mediterranean gasoline to Europe by way of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

In these circumstances, it isn’t in any respect stunning that Turkish President Erdogan claims at any time the “Blue homeland”, as the primary ingredient of the Turkish overseas coverage.

Quite a lot of specialists sound the alarm that the deliberate extraction of hydrocarbon deposits within the Eastern Mediterranean current a dramatic danger of irreversible ecological and socio-economic catastrophe on the sea, the productive land areas the place mining is deliberate, but additionally the viability of the international locations themselves. Other specialists contemplate that hydrocarbons, and particularly gasoline, are a part of the answer in direction of the power transition and demand on the truth that efforts for analysis and discovery of recent deposits in addition to their exploitation have to be intensified.

International expertise has proven that in an space the place hydrocarbons are mined, accidents and basic degradation are inevitable, regardless of strict environmental circumstances and prevention measures. It is then apparent that mining actions can’t coexist with the so-called blue and inexperienced actions.

Two current typical examples illustrate the unfavorable results of onshore and offshore mining: Basilicata (Italy) and the Gulf of Mexico.

After almost thirty years of mining, Basilicata is now dealing with a dramatic environmental disaster, rising most cancers charges, a devastated agriculture and degraded tourism. As a end result, the Italian Government has determined to droop any new utility for manufacturing concession by the top of 2021.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the explosion at BP’s oil rig in 2010 spilled 5 million barrels of crude oil into the ocean. It took three months to shut the mining nicely at a depth of 1,500 meters and cease the leak. The oil lined 180,000 km2 of sea and coast, from Texas to Alabama, whereas greater than 5,500 tons of poisonous chemical dispersants have been used.

Apart the doubts and worries for the exploitation of oil and gasoline, a collection of considerations are expressed for the perform or the development of recent nuclear energy vegetation in numerous international locations across the Mediterranean. There are at the moment nuclear energy vegetation in Bulgaria, Romania, France, Spain and Slovenia, whereas such models are being deliberate in Turkey, Albania and Northern Macedonia.

Turkey envisages to assemble 4 nuclear reactors with a capability of 1.200MW, the primary in Akuyu, to be constructed by Rosatom, a Russian State-owned Atomic Energy Company.

Rosatom has additionally acquired a allow from the Egyptian Government to assemble a plant within the Dabaa space of ​​MarsaMatrouh, financed by Russia with a mortgage of 25 billion US greenback.

France owns fifty-eight nuclear reactors and about 80% of its power manufacturing is predicated on nuclear power. This share is the very best on this planet. France has one of many lowest electrical energy costs within the European Union and the bottom carbon dioxide emissions within the EU.

Nuclear power is subsequently coming again once more as a way of transition to an economic system with zero carbon footprint, and regardless of dangerous experiences and accidents, many international locations, as for instance the UK and Japan, are additionally adopting this answer.

Ten Member States, (the Netherlands, Romania, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary) led by France contemplate that pure gasoline and nuclear power can be utilized within the battle in opposition to local weather change and requested to be acknowledged as such, within the so-called “taxonomy”.  On the opposite aspect, Germany – which is locking its nuclear vegetation -, Austria, Luxembourg and different international locations are strongly resisting to that coverage. Some different international locations contemplate that gasoline needs to be solely a short lived answer, a bridge in direction of the transition to inexperienced power, as it’s much less polluting than oil and though it nonetheless is a fossil gasoline.

According to present forecasts, in lower than a decade the planet can have decisively shifted from fossil fuels to RES and delicate useful resource administration, with the primary drastic anticipated change is the expertise of automobiles that at the moment eat greater than half the world’s gasoline. In truth, a consequent discount within the worth of oil is predicted.

It stays to see if this forecast will likely be legitimate for the Mediterranean basin as nicely, provided that power will likely be produced in parallel by typical sources (fossil gasoline and nuclear) and by rising power renewables.

At the top of the last decade, we’ll know if the European cash was used to save lots of the ocean or was misplaced within the sea.


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