“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 principle pillars of the Economic Strategy of the EU for the present decade, enjoying a serious position within the implementation of the European Green Deal.

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

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

https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/0b0c5bfd-c737-11eb-a925-01aa75ed71a1

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

All different EU monetary devices for the brand new monetary interval in regards to the identical space, akin to ADRION (EUSAIR macro regional technique), Next-MED (European Neighborhood Policy) and INTERREG bilateral applications (Italy-France, Greece-Italy, Greece-Albania and so on.), will most likely observe 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 susceptible sources are beneath stress, 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 aims. 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 fundamental query is subsequently to look at if the longer term European excessive investments, particularly from the EURO-MED program, might be enough to reverse and even affect the precise financial mannequin and realities within the Mediterranean basin.

Our evaluation will concentrate on Energy manufacturing, an important however conflictual sector of blue economic system, the place the battle between standard and renewable power sources is predicted to be powerful.

In its communication on Blue economic system, the European Commission acknowledged that offshore Oil and fuel sector has been in decline for some years, due, in precept, to the Italian moratorium on offshore oil and fuel permits.  But is that this assumption legitimate for the Mediterranean offshore oil and fuel exploitation basically? What about nuclear power, which isn’t thought-about 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 supplied 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 fuel.

While Egypt pioneered the invention of offshore fuel 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 fuel 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 extra 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.Okay., France and Italy search to keep up their affect within the area as nicely.

Actually, after two severe financial and well being crises, the chance of provide safety and the rising oil and fuel costs, it will be quite uncertain for Governments to disclaim to use the just 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 fuel and steady costs.

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

In these circumstances, it’s not in any respect stunning that Turkish President Erdogan claims at any time the “Blue homeland”, as the principle ingredient of the Turkish international coverage.

Plenty 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 in addition the viability of the international locations themselves. Other specialists think about that hydrocarbons, and particularly fuel, 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 should be intensified.

International expertise has proven that in an space the place hydrocarbons are mined, accidents and normal 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 latest typical examples illustrate the destructive 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 outcome, 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 coated 180,000 km2 of sea and coast, from Texas to Alabama, whereas greater than 5,500 tons of poisonous chemical dispersants had been used.

Apart the doubts and worries for the exploitation of oil and fuel, a collection of issues are expressed for the operate or the development of recent nuclear energy crops in numerous international locations across the Mediterranean. There are presently nuclear energy crops in Bulgaria, Romania, France, Spain and Slovenia, whereas such items 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 best on the earth. 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 method of transition to an economic system with zero carbon footprint, and regardless of unhealthy 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 think about that pure fuel and nuclear power can be utilized within the struggle in opposition to local weather change and requested to be acknowledged as such, within the so-called “taxonomy”.  On the opposite facet, Germany – which is locking its nuclear crops -, Austria, Luxembourg and different international locations are strongly resisting to that coverage. Some different international locations think about that fuel 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 could have decisively shifted from fossil fuels to RES and mild useful resource administration, with the primary drastic anticipated change is the know-how of automobiles that presently devour greater than half the world’s gasoline. In reality, a consequent discount within the worth of oil is anticipated.

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

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

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