EDITORIAL What is essential to you? What’s important to you, here at the Essen International Youth Forum? What is relevant, interesting and helpful for you? Hopefully, what we as a team write in “The Essential”, will answer each of these questions. Each issue we release should provide new insights, fresh perspectives and, ideally, inspiration and food for thought for each reader. When you read our articles there is one sole goal we should achieve, that is to make you think. Because in the end thinking for yourself is what separates your opinion from anyone else’s and having your own unique opinion can define you. We hope you don’t agree with everything in this issue- opinions are represented by each journalist, and chances are your opinion doesn’t coincide with each one. So please, tell us why we’re wrong, think of arguments to disprove statements made: we want to hear you and we want to be a megaphone for your voice as well as our own. Nothing would please us more than for you to tell us why you disagree. We hope you enjoy the first issue of “The Essential” and of course the beginning of a session that promises to be truly special. •
Berkok Yüksel and Theodor Hall - Editors João Gonçalves - Video Editor
CONTENT AFET I AFET II CLIM DEVE ENVI I ENVI II ITRE I ITRE II ITRE III LIBE
Head over Heart by Martha Saunders
Don’t Desert Dependency by Caley Routledge
Play with Fire by Britta Thiemt
Two Ropes Burning at Different Speeds p. 10-11 by David Teruel The Nuclear Notion by Lee Moran
A Letter to Fracking by Ella Glenz
What’s Wrong with the CCS? by Chris Nölte
The Essential Fuel of Life by Mara Bălaşa
Bigger is not Always Better by Megan Smith
Expropriation of Human Rights by Titus Verster
d a E H
over heart by
“Recent events have cast a harsh spotlight on Russia’s long-ignored human rights abuses, but media hype has a habit of overlooking the voices of the people it is trying to represent.”
Russia is currently the coolest country for any young Westerner to disapprove of – its human rights abuses are catalogued in fun and accessible online lists and there are pretty rainbow logos and catchy slogans to put on your Facebook and show your friends just how liberal and politically aware you are. A number of factors have contributed to Russia’s sudden explosive media popularity – the attention-grabbing Pussy Riot, the looming Winter Olympics in Sochi and most significantly the recent focus on LGBT (one of the most active communities on social media). Many people have decided they are qualified to demand action such as boycotting Sochi Olympics or certain brands of vodka or even that the EU stop its heavily dependent trade relationship with Russia until the situation is rectified. But while undoubtedly these people have their heart in the right place, we cannot allow media hype to become a pillar of European policy and decision-making. Western responses to human rights abuses tend to be emotional, illogical and dismissive of the reality of the situation or the wishes of the people involved. All the most prominent LGBT organisations in Russia have spoken out against a boycott of Sochi - GayRussia, Moscow Pride, Equality, and the Russian LGBT Network – yet we listen to a viral open letter by Stephen Fry- an English comedian and presenter, arrogantly assuming our own European commentators know what’s best for countries we deem as “less civilised.” The calls for a vodka boycott are even more beautifully ignorant; the vodka company suggested, Stolichnaya, is based in Luxembourg and produces in Latvia. What is it about boycotts that so captures the imagination of the Western public? They make us feel better about ourselves. When presented with images of people being beaten in the streets the knee jerk reaction is to find a solution that screams as loudly as possible “No!” While this gesture makes us feel morally superior, it fails to help the people living through the daily hell of the abuses we’re seeking to address. Boycotts have a history of miserable failure – in fact, the biggest Olympic boycott to date occurred at the 1980 Summer Olympics also in Russia, where 62 states abstained to protest the behaviour of the USSR. Even a boycott as colossal as
this had no impact. The Cold War raged on. The USSR stayed in Afghanistan. We have no reason to believe that similar action against post-Soviet Russia would be any more effective; Putin shows no real desire to ingratiate himself with the West, bullying ex-satellite states such as Ukraine out of closer links with the EU. A boycott of Sochi would only burn the fragile bridge between Russia and Europe and push them further away from productive dialogue or the possibility of effective diplomatic pressure, turning our backs on the people we should be stretching out our hand to. Russian activists know this and have spoken out against it. It is our duty to listen to their voices instead of our gut reactions. There’s another disturbing factor concerning Europe confronting Russia’s LGBT discrimination. The EU has been fully aware of the fact that Russia has been systematically abusing human rights for decades. 47 journalists have died under “suspicious circumstances” for criticism of the state since 1992, many of them under Putin. Torture is supposedly still widely used against prisoners and Russian orphanages remain full of abuse and neglect. Such violations are arguably worse than the LGBT bill, which may be an unacceptable infringement on freedom of expression and identity, however it’s not the only issue at hand. A quote from an anonymous blogger reminded me of the situation with Russia; “If we truly believe in human rights, we do not elevate the rights of certain people as totemic of liberalness.” There is a temptation to do this to the LGBT community. To an extent this is fair as LGBTs still bear the brunt of horrific discrimination all over the world, including in many EU states. However, in the case of Russia, the public criticisms of the bill by European leaders and any boycott, policy decision or statement which may exclusively use this as justification would be laced with hypocrisy and do a disservice to the thousands of other groups who have suffered at Putin’s hands under our previously unattentive eyes. Russia’s human rights abuses are distressing and unacceptable. This is without question. But in finding a solution, we must use our heads instead of our hearts. We have to look at Russia and her turbulent recent history as a whole and form open dialogue instead of judgment. We have to listen to the activists and citizens working and living within Russia and find out not what makes us feel good, but what makes a difference for them. Crucially, we have to accept that we do not always know best. •
Dependency by Caley Routledge
“There is an overwhelming fallacy, grounded in outdated self-protectionist thought, that inter-state dependency is a bad idea.” In our era of globalised economy, facing supranational challenges such as climate change, this is simply neither a logical nor a sustainable perception. Its continued existence as unchallenged parable within EU policy thought is distinctly ironic; being an organisation designed to transcend national borders. When it comes to DESERTEC, the intiative to source renewable energy from desert areas, we must bear these principles in mind. Take my hand, as we jump into the deep end of dependency, and examine why it might just be better for all. It is true that our current level and form of dependency is worrying. But examining ‘why?’ leads us to a conclusion different to that of simple and blasé repudiation of dependency in its entirety. Sourcing 80% of our energy needs from a surprisingly small number of states that lie outside the EU is worrying. Especially when those resources are non-renewable and the prices are often ridiculous. Especially when those states’ only loyalty to us lies in our ability to give them increasing amounts of money. Whilst it might sound counterintuitive, increasing dependency on DESERTEC helps address this issue. By spreading our dependency further, we are placing our eggs in a greater number of baskets. 20% of our energy coming from sun-rich countries means only 60% of our energy dependency lying in oil-rich states. Factor in our potential for using wind power, under DESERTEC and other projects, to generate 50% of our energy needs and we are left with a lowly 30% dependency. Only 10% of which remains with those we are currently dependent on. 10% is a lot less than 80%. This is good. This is risk management. But let us speak in more general terms, about dependency as a whole. Let me get a little utopian, let me get a little utilitarian. Bear with me. When you depend on another, it is in your interests to keep that other happy. If you want something from them, you have to give them something back. This requires dialogue, consideration of their issues and wants, and ultimately cooperation. Let us get specific again; apply this to schemes like DESERTEC. If the EU wants to gain from this project, we must first consider the regions that we are working with and give
them something back. The MENA regions (the Middle East and North Africa) and Spain do not have the disposable income to fund such projects; they need to spend money on arguably more crucial things, like social welfare. Despite times of austerity, the EU has the money, it just, unfortunately, rarely has the sun. Being dependent on this programme is far more attractive than being energy slaves to oil, gas and coal-rich nations. MENA nations have far more important things to gain from us, like the ability to provide for their people, or desalinate their water. This dependency is not simply one way, it’s bilateral, and hence in itself sustainable. This is the creation of international cooperation, links that will last into the future, as well as international development. Even if, at the end of the day, a solar farm is lost to a rebel group or a nationalist government, we have assisted a country‘s development. We have aided them to provide sustainable, cheap, energy to their people. We have allowed them to avoid the traps of non-renewable energy before they fall as far into them we have; in this we are tackling climate change on a global level. This dependency, despite its pitfalls, is essentially an aid project in disguise, as it also has the potential to provide a return for us. A solid framework is indeed required to see these returns. But we must not shy away from developing such framework, simply because we will be “dependent” on nations we’d rather not be dependent on. It would be nice if the EU was, on the whole, a sunny place, with lots of barren landscape we could litter with solar panels and wind turbines in order to be entirely self-sufficient. If we were, I would hope we would still show the same spirit of cooperation and export our excess energy to nations in need, like we’re hoping others will do for us. I want to avoid sounding communist, but to eradicate the spectres of dependency, we need to relinquish selfishness and fear of others. We need to accept that we can help others, and that they can help us. In time, this will breed stability, and tackle issues we are currently failing to tackle. You depend on your friends, your family, and your state. Let us make friends with other states and provide for all our families. •
PLAY WITH FIRE by Britta Thiemt
“To combat Climate Change, one has to be aware of its allies. How are lobbyists and large companies fuelling global warming, and what can be done to stop them?”
Consider your house were burning. You wouldn’t waste any time before you put it out, would you? Acute danger demands immediate action. Despite the recent findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which suggest that, figuratively speaking, our planet is in flames that have already caused irreversible damage, environmental protection seems to be more of a side issue to policy makers. But the fact is that our planet is heating up, and unless drastic measures are taken immediately, we are facing a frequent extreme weather, resource shortages and whole cities being put under water. While it is well-known that man-made Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, particularly CO2, are the dominant driver of climate change, “The Guardian” recently published a report according to which only 90 companies in total are responsible for two thirds of all GHG emissions, including e.g. ExxonMobil and BP. The business with energy-rich fossil fuels is a money machine – which is why big enterprises will not reduce their emissions until damaging our climate ceases to be profitable. Currently, companies are handled like children in need rather than being forced to adjust their behaviour: the European Investment Bank still supports the fossil fuel industry with funds while claiming to support energy efficiency; and German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose party is supported by luxury car manufacturers Daimler and BMW, pushed to give them more leeway in the EU’s recent regulation on car emissions. Lobbying, along with the fear of economic decline and job loss, prevents actions that are crucial to fighting climate change on a regular basis, and constitutes a major drawback to instruments such as the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The ETS aims to regulate CO2 emissions by assigning companies an allowance of carbon units (one tonne of CO2). These “EU allowances” (EUAs) are tradable goods, meaning that energy-efficient companies with low emissions can sell their spare permits to those whose pollution exceeds the cap. Hence, polluting becomes expensive, and environmentally friendly behaviour financially advantageous. At least, that’s the theory. However, the price for allowances fell dramatically, which is why the ETS so far failed to incentivise emissions’ reduction. The measures taken by the EU to tackle this problem have been viewed as insufficient by environmental experts and further actions will not be implemented for years to come. It turns out that legislators are quite reluctant to regulate the instrument they implemented to reduce companies’ CO2 emissions when it would mean that companies actually have to reduce their CO2 emissions. The EU needs to stop tiptoeing around companies as if our continent would collapse as soon as they have to contain their pollution. If BMW’s or Daimler’s engineers are not capable of building cars that are both pretentious and environmentally friendly, then they will leave a market niche that will certainly be filled by a producer who is. In Norway for instance, government incentives and tax benefits have successfully led to a significant increase in production and sale of electric vehicles – setting a perfect example of how innovation and change in consumers’ behaviour can be fostered by incentive schemes like the ETS. The central idea behind it is not flawed; the ETS simply needs to work effectively.
Limiting the number of certificates or introducing a price floor (as scheduled by the EU for 2021) will increase price level stability. But in order to achieve a reduction of GHG on a broader scale, the ETS has to be supplemented by further actions, such as a cap on methane emissions, the inclusion of other polluting sectors and additional subsidies or incentives to enable companies in all Member States to invest in research and innovation. Do not let all the technical terms fool you: this topic is not about EUAs, certain prices or amounts of CO2 emissions. Really, it is about the core dilemma of the fight against climate change: short-term prosperity versus long-term survival. Estimates vary, but it is indisputable that eventually, we will run out of fossil fuels; within the the following century at the latest. So a structural transformation of our energy sector is inevitable. Some would argue that we should make use of these energy sources and burn fossil fuels for as long as we still can to protect the economy and employment. But at some point, oil, gas and coal will become unaffordable, and jobs will be lost. At some point, we will have to make dramatic changes, so we might as well make them now while we can still turn the situation around and ensure that the fire we set does not swallow the planet that we need to live on. The EU calls the Emissions Trading Scheme its “cornerstone” and “key tool” to combat climate change. You, the delegates of the International Forum in Essen, have the unique chance to make it live up to that expectation. •”
TWO ROPES A T DIFFERENT “With a fixed objective set for 2030, initiatives such as the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) are working to increase a sustainable development in the world. How will these objectives be feasible to enhance the interdependence of developed and less developed countries?”
“Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible. Suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - Francis of Assisi
Have you ever imagined how your life will be in 2030? It might be pointless to attempt to predict but, in terms of numbers, it has already been forecasted. By that year, the world’s population is expected to have increased by 20%, reaching the high number of 8.400 millions of people. This means that in only 16 years, the amount of people living on the planet will grow by 1.2 billion, a number that coincides with the actual amount of people living without proper access to energy. The simply act to switch on a light or charge a mobile phone has become part of our daily routine while it is impossible to conceive for less developed countries. Bearing in mind there is a huge disparity between developed and less developed countries, what could be the bridge towards them? How can they connect? The answer might be the SE4All. Its effort to facilitate growth and transformation of the energy structure is constantly working to narrowing the gap between them.
To achieve that, 35 to 40 billion dollars need to be invested every year. In fact, only the private sector can tackle this amount of money. But if you ask me, the lack of private resources comes from not seeing a potential benefit. But why not taking the financial support by private investments as an inversion and take economic and social responsibility? With this idea in mind, investment would be more tempting and private companies would be aware of where their money is going. It is incoherent to be facing this lack of private inversion especially in less developed countries where it its most likely that the sustainable economy is going to grow exponentially. The trickiest debates, however, arise in the decision-making process concerning which kind of renewable energy is going to be implemented. Since environmental awareness began to spread in modern society, science has carried out large amounts of research in order to find the right renewable and sustainable energy to use. Yet, all known energies are still not perfect enough to take the leading role. Unfortunately, this has little effect in developed countries, mainly because non-renewable technologies complement energy production. In less developed countries, the potential of sustainable energy production gets lost by not implementing any new technologies. Therefore citizens are deprived of its possible benefits. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to, instead of only researching the most suitable renewable energy, start implementing them in less developed countries? Why not install solar panels and windmills in nearly deserted areas? In practise, it would serve as a more intensive research programme and would allow developing countries to exponentially improve their quality of life. Because when
BURNING SPEEDS by
one is exposed to nothing, even the smallest amount of something makes a big difference. It is also worth mentioning the necessity of investment in sustainable development which has mostly been related to climate change but has also other reasons that can be even more important such as health. Sustainable development would lead to better equipment for hospitals that would improve their services and, with it, the chances of the citizens of target countries to increase their quality of life. They would have tools with which to develop, for instance, clean cooking stoves to cut out the choking smoke from indoor fires. Because one should first do what is necessary and then what is possible. Another issue that stands out when comparing the energy issue between developed countries and less developed countries are the socio-economic disparities. One cannot underestimate the wide gap in terms of different proportions. For less developed countries, even a little amount of energy can create a big impact on their society and every individual. Developed countries and less developed ones can be imagined acting like burning ropes, both of them burning at different speed. The SE4All should bear in mind the differences between them when dealing with the sustainable energy development in order to potentiate their strengths. Therefore, the SE4All should aim to discover at which speed to work in order to equally distribute the resources and meet the goals proposed. •
billion people live without access to electricity
The SE4All aims to reduce energy use to a mínimum of
“Regarding the many conflicting views of nuclear power it is no wonder that its little intricacies are often misunderstood, as is the way with polarised views, the very loud clueless people get paid the most attention to on any contentious issue. My intention is not to belittle these people rather address some issues they don’t think to address.”
It’s often said that nuclear energy is dangerous, if that is so then we must consider why? Now the people who are against nuclear energy use the argument that Chernobyl happened and that Fukushima could have been another incident or 3 mile Island or potentially Sellafield in Cumbria (although that’s highly debatable). Fair enough, it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to tell you nuclear explosions are bad. Very bad. What the fluidity of the argument lacks is the fact that it happened once or twice and we’ve learned from that mistake and now regulations are in place to prevent another catastrophe from occurring (case and point the fact that Fukushima didn’t actually blow up). In fact, human error is the most dangerous thing when it comes to any nuclear disaster. The point is humans are at fault for any disasters caused, therefore banning humans from using nuclear power would be an obvious solution- or is it? What about nuclear technology, if you have eaten food recently chances are nuclear energy was used in “food irradiation” - that’s right your food. This common practice sprays plants with ionising radiation which kill off bacteria and insects in the food. This is viewed as beneficial and never really mentioned by the anti-nuclear side, which is why it isn’t acceptable for us to use nuclear energy to light our homes, but when we eat it daily there is no apparent issue- paradoxical, no? And it is every day, 500,000 metric tonnes of this treated food is served up in the western world every year, of course if you’re a student like me you’re especially well used to radioactive exposure from your food living off of microwavable goods. So naturally one would question why people who are against nuclear power and its hazards aren’t publicly crying out against food irradiation. Obviously nuclear technology has produced many beneficial items, arguably more than it has harmed. Smoke alarms, microwaves, x-rays, radio and of course best of all glow sticks. We see many benefits everyday for these items even for diseases such as cancer through radiotherapy. This begs the question why the
pro-nuclear types don’t mention these benefits rather than basing their whole argument on the low-carbon emissions and the French nuclear success story. Even if nuclear power has the potential to produce more energy than any other energy we have yet to master. No matter what you try to do the debate boils down to the proponents who think it’s a great renewable source of energy with low-carbon emissions (although I reluctantly add that as many proponents are Americans who don’t believe in global warming and so carbon emissions are probably the last concern they have) or the opponents, who believe the world will blow up at any minute if we use anything that radiates. The most recent arguments have got to do with the environment, as someone who is not a staunch environmentalist I can’t claim it’s my hot-button issue when it comes to nuclear power, although I do live in it so it’s become more prevalent to me. What will we do with our nuclear waste? After all we can’t just dump it into a lake and hope the only repercussions are sour tasting drinking water and three-eyed fish. If we want to take nuclear power seriously as a potential renewable energy source we have to think about how it affects where we live day to day. It’s highly unlikely another Chernobyl will happen in Europe but the more energy we produce does require some forethought as to where we will leave the leftovers. A nice idea would be to just shoot it all up into space where it has no adverse effect on its environment, because there isn’t one to damage, but again our old friend human error comes into play. We’re not very good with technology, we like to think we are but we’re not. If we launched tonnes of uranium into space, who’s to say it won’t just blow up mid-orbit or crash back down to earth, no launch is 100% guaranteed to reach space. Development of technology is key. The point is that as a spectator to these debates, I can’t help but yawn at any complex issue that is simplified to two major issues divided up into a for and against faction who in many cases have only taken a myopic view on a multi-faceted topic. •
A Letter to
FRACKING by Ella Glenz
“Dear frackers, in the last couple of years I have gotten the impression that something about living below ground has considerably changed.” Ella Glenz writes a letter to humanity, from a different perspective.
Especially in the U.S., noisy trucks passed by more often, heavy drilling equipment was carried around and steel pipes were recklessly rammed into the ground. Of course, we live in uncertain times. I understand that the human species is facing unknown challenges as its increasing demand for energy supplies does not allow any hesitations. Most of the conventional natural gas sources already have been exhausted and countries are simply running out of oil. Moreover, in order to keep up with the steadily rising prizes for gas and other fossil fuels and finally to cut energy bills, you had to dig deeper. However, your explanations for that are simple: Several hundreds of meters beneath my nice little mounds of soil lays what you are aiming for - the salvation of humanity aka shale gas. How to get there? You take sand, about 600 different chemicals and you mix it with the amount of water 65.000 people consume every day. And there you have it, fracking fluid! In short, hydraulic fracturing or fracking describes a modern technology to exploit the natural gas resources deep in the ground. So the fracking fluid gets pumped into the rock layers under high pressure. Little cracks emerge and stay open due to the sand. Finally, the extraction of shale gas – gift of the gods for you - may begin. So far so good. Now I would like to draw your attention to several reports on people living close to fracking wells. They claim severe environmental and health damages to be the side-effects of what has been performed in the U.S. since the middle of the last century. Toxins and radiation in the fracking fluid and methane gas pouring out of the cracks in the rocks could contaminate the groundwater. Additionally, more than a half of the waste fluid would not get pumped out but remain in the ground – and let some of us take a nice hot bath in non-biodegradable waste water. Finally the mysterious source of little earthquakes can be related to fracking as well. But don’t worry about me! Until evidence is proved I just get shaken up a bit. Fortunately, some of you know better. Not only the U.S. but also Europe realised the need to search for alternate energy resourc-
es apart from those that are about to vanish soon. Surprisingly fracking never came into the Europeans’ minds before the Americans covered two thirds of their domestic gas production by fracking and boosted their economy with it. Instead, Europe developed new technologies to produce and save energy sustainably with the help of what nature can offer such as sun, wind or biomass. Sustainability means helping future generations of any species around able to live under the same natural conditions we experience today. Sounds good? Is good. Unfortunately the U.S. fracking activities made an impression. Whereas Poland happily celebrates its growing independence from Russian gas imports, countries like France and Bulgaria imposed a ban on their national fracking projects. But going beyond the national level EU legislation will be negotiated soon and the European Parliament has already taken up a stance. Protection of the environment and human health is a serious issue, so even the exploration of fracking deposits shall face the same environmental regulations as full-scale oil drilling. Mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are the keys to put any fracking under strict regulation and supervision as well as to allow public hearings. That I call good news. But don’t get me wrong! Shale gas is said to cause 60 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, for example, and fracking creates jobs as well. Nevertheless, everyone hopefully agrees that it cannot be the final solution. Economical profit to and fro, but sooner or later the world will run out of shale gas, as well. But what you cannot afford to lose is your focus on developing eco-friendly methods for a clean and safe energy production for us and those who follow. Therefore fracking should perhaps not be used in the long run but could work as a temporary crossover technology under strict control concerning where, when and how much shale gas gets extracted. Until these expectations and conditions are met it is difficult to support the fracking concept in any way. So please, do what is necessary but proceed with a forward-looking point of view. •
with the CCS? by Chris Nölte
In the transition to a fully low-carbon economy, the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) enables the practice of trapping carbon dioxide, transporting it to a storage site and depositing it where it is prevented from entering the atmosphere; a process which generally takes place in an underground geological formation. Technology is considered one of the keys to enabling the rising demand for fossil fuels, parallel to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. CCS is vital for the meeting of emission reduction targets, which offers simultaneously a potential for a low-carbon re-industrialisation of Europe’s declining industries. However, this is dependent on the future of the CCS; the question whether or not it can be used as a large scale technology for commercially viable deployment of emissions. Current aims foresee a production of between 7% and 32% of power generation by use of CCS by 2050, depending on the scenarios that are considered. The EU has committed itself to support CCS, both financially and in terms of regulatory steps. However, the capturing, transport and storage of CO2 is not legal in most states belonging to the EU. Of the 27 members, 25 have missed the deadline to transform CCS into a national law. The question remains whether or not this technology can genuinely be the solution. A huge issue of CCS is the costs, which include the creation of capture plants, operating them, fuel consumption due to the reduced efficiency of power plants, the costs of transportation to deposits, the costs of storage, monitoring civil protection, and the costs of a defence against potential calamities. The exact amount of these costs at present is unknown. However the Global CCS Institute estimates that they will amount to around 68 Euros per ton of CO2. Additionally, the technique would significantly increase the cost of electricity from coal-fired power plants.
Furthermore, an intense consideration of safety measures is crucial. Since storage is irreversible, there will be a large environmental impact. CCS need testing to determine whether it is safe for use. These studies have not yet been completed. I do not deem the idea of CCS a good one, since it would effectively lead to a loss of efficiency at power plants operating at the current state of technology by about 10%. This corresponds to an increase of about 35% in the use of resources. These result in rises in costs and increases in consumption of scarce resources. Additionally it would cause landscape destruction and an increase in waste heat and emissions. The question is raised whether the energy balance of CCS power plants is at all positive. The techniques are not CO2 free, despite having low emissions. Only around 70% can effectively be avoided. The CCS is already in use, such as in the Sleipner gas field of the Norwegian sector in the Northern Sea, but not under control. Since 1996, approximately 1 million tons of CO2 has been separated there yearly. Uncannily, 24% of the compressed CO2 is now untraceable. The injection of CO2 had to be stopped due to a rising pressure, in danger of tearing. The technology has not yet matured and remains potentially extremely dangerous. These dangers include possible contamination of drinking water with salt water. Another possible issue is that CO2 could outgas and cause a significant quantity of toxic heavy metals to be released from the rocks to appear in drinking water, which could be harmful for the local’s health. Furthermore, there is a potential risk of earthquakes. Because even small-sized earthquakes threaten the seal integrity of CO2 repositories, in this context, large-scale CCS is a risky and likely unsuccessful, strategy for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
â€œCurrently, more than 80% of global energy use is fossil based. Estimates of our future energy consumption based on current policies and developments indicate a continuation of this dependence on fossil fuels. These trends are inconsistent with the necessity of mitigation of global warming.â€?
Even if all this problems could be solved, there is still challenge to find final disposal sites, since the storage capacity of CO2 is limited. In Germany, for instance, the capacity is just enough to store the emissions of all German power plants for about 30-60 years. So it is not a long term solution. The technology can never be construed as sustainable. Because of all these circumstances, I consider the large-scale implementation of CCS as a high risk and likely unsuccessful strategy for the process of reaching a greenhouse gas reduction. Since incur for capture, transport and injection of carbon dioxide substantial amounts of additional CO2 emissions, the carbon dioxide density in the air by CCS could even rise significantly within 100 years. In addition to that, it must be seen that the technique is not emission-free, but only have a low carbon production. Only about 70% of CO2 emissions are stopped. The potential dangers are too high for the unsatisfactory result. Other potential solutions for the issue are measures for saving energy and improving energy efficiency, the development of renewable energies, an increased use of nuclear energy, biological sequestration or recycling by methanation. I do not consider CCS a good solution for our global warming issue. â€˘
THE ESSENTIALFUEL O F
We are all human beings, with needs, feelings and opinions and all of these things that define us and make each of us unique. Unfortunately, as the economists enjoy emphasising, our needs are unlimited, but our resources are scarce. This leads us to one essential challenge in our life, the fact that we face tradeoffs day by day. Should we watch TV, or should we revise? Should we buy coloured recycle bins or should we spend the money on shoes instead? Should we plant a tree or should we play on the computer? All these decisions somehow affect the society as a whole, because everything we do has an effect in society as a whole. It is up to the national governments to decide whether they are willing to invest more in this area. Nevertheless, thinking retrospectively, due to available research I am now able to type this article using my laptop and wind turbines keep rotating with a purpose. We also have to thank R&D for things such as our microwave oven, cell phone or air conditioner and, moreover, for all the products that are meant to make our life easier. One might ask one’s self, which is the right way of expressing our gratitude for all the scientists’ efforts? And the answer is simple: by further increasing the funding, so that they will be able to keep up the good work and discover other innovative programmes. Even so, the focus should be on renewable energy, because protecting nature must be a crucial part of the whole process. People ought to be aware of the fact that without Earth’s resources life is impossible, so all of the other inventions would be pointless. Therefore, we should always keep in mind that resources are limited and try to do whatever lies within our power in order to start solving the existing problems. Among
“There is a lot of scepticism among people when it comes to green energy, since high opportunity costs may arise. In the end, it is all a matter of prioritisation. Some of the Member States are of the opinion that there are more important problems that need to be tackled, since investing in Research and Development (R&D) might be risky and does not have any short term effects.”
these issues there is European Union’s dependency on energy imports or the complicated procedures when it comes to accessing funds. How many other statistics do we need until we open our eyes? Renewable energy represents only 16% of EU’s domestic production and, by 2030, 70% of the oil and gas will be imported if the status quo is maintained. What do we want? Less fuel taken from non-EU countries, fewer emissions from fossil fuels and increased energy efficiency. Luckily, there are already targets in the form of Europe 2020, frameworks such as Horizon 2020 and programmes like the European Energy Programme for Recovery. All of them are meant to help us achieve the aforementioned goals. What are these goals? Solar panels on each house, wind farms where the wind blows and water wheels that spin without ceasing. Safeguarding all these types of energy does not mean trying to find others, but making use of the already existent ones. However, R&D is in need of people’s approval and cooperation, so the elimination of their scepticism is essential. Now that the effects of the economic crisis are wearing off, the national governments’ duty is to invest even more in this field in order to strive towards achieving EU’s energy targets. What is left for us to do is start thinking green, through supporting all the already existing initiatives and through bearing in mind that energy, the fuel of life, exists in numerous forms. Imagine that tomorrow’s oil, the bulk of EU’s total energy imports, could disappear. Additionally, there will be no more gas, or fossil fuels. Would this affect our lives? Yes. Would it change them? Of course. It is up to us whether we would be prepared to embrace this change and to move on, as if nothing had happened. While hoping for the best, we should prepare for the worst case scenario by increasing R&D’s funds, because, after all, better safe than sorry, right? •
BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER by Megan Smith
It’s time to go big or go home, and I think home may just be the way forward.
Should we be going global to supply for the individual or enable the individual to produce for themselves? Build a man a Super Grid, supply him with energy for most of the time with potentials for power wars or teach a man to produce himself and feed his hunger for energy now and the future. While innovation and funding in our energy structure is definitely needed, it’s time to focus on the individual and emphasise the need for energy to be decentralised and micro-generated. It’s time to get sensible with the energy we have and aim for a sustainable and self sufficient future. Bigger is by no means always better. It is time to irradiate ideas and not be pulled into a concept by buzz words and the belief that we can’t take care of ourselves. The Super Grid, which is proposed to tie in countries from northern Africa and the Middle East, sounds like a good way to source back up energy, but it is the exact opposite way to ensure a safe future for our energy. It is right to fear the plans for expansion of our energy grids. Developments and plans to create a super grid going beyond European boundaries are in motion but this can’t be our way to ensure sustainability and self sufficiency. Russia has reduced its supplies to Europe before and there’s a possibility that this could become a recurring problem. When Russia believed that Ukraine was siphoning gas they decided to significantly reduce any supply to Europe. Is going beyond our borders to supply ourselves with energy really a clever move? It’s a smarter move to perfect and obtain our own energy sources in order to ensure reliability. The UK have realised that they will be more than likely be experiencing several power cuts over the course of the winter period. Blackouts in the UK are a result of the EU regulations being enforced in order to dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels. We need to focus on a smaller scale. Micro generation could enable us to supply enough energy for our energy guzzling societies. Keeping things to a smaller scale could enable a more beneficial system that gives us the chance to monitor our energies on a
more manageable scale and thus, help to avoid blackout situations. By generating power at an individual, family or community level we could focus on the individual and meet the needs of our citizens more adequately. A large problem with renewable energies is the large variability and unreliability of power they supply. Renewable energies have proven to be unpredictable; at times providing huge sources of energy when at optimum conditions (sunny days for solar, windy days for wind etc) while at other times supplying hardly anything. How do we cope with this large variety in supply? An obvious response is that we should use the surplus to compensate for the deficit but this is more difficult than one would think. In order to facilitate this compensation we need to master energy storage. At the moment we don’t have the means to do so. In order to become more sustainable and self sufficient it is time that the EU focused on research and development in this area instead of spreading our funds beyond our borders. In the developing world innovations are being created to enable self sufficiency and sustainability. The perfect example of such efforts is the Solar Kiosk; a small shop with solar panels on the roof that supplies power to those who need it, in Africa. While innovations and decentralisation is on the increase in Africa we, in Europe, appear to have decided bigger is better. We are pumping money into developing our Super Grid when we should be focusing on decentralisation and micro generation. Production and monitoring of small areas would lead to a more reliable, focused system. It has become apparent that Europe has ambitious goals; growing in our pool of energy sources via Super Energy Grids, reducing our carbon emissions, becoming more sustainable- but are we really taking the right approach? It’s time to focus on what we have in front of us and end our dreaming about ideologies that could potentially lead to black outs and energy shortages. •
EXPROPRIATING HUMAN RIGHTS BY TITUS VERSTER
“Expropriation is the practice of taking away “private property for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest.” In this process, governments do not only take away their citizens’ land, but also one of their human rights: the right to private property”.
In 1689, British philosopher John Locke published Two Treatises of Government. In this book, Locke explains his vision on the formation of states by assuming a situation in which there would be no political community. Locke saw this “state of nature” as a rather peaceful and pleasant situation led by natural law, which obliged everyone not “to harm another in his life.” However, enjoyment of property was very unsafe. This explains why men would willingly submit themselves to a “social contract”, which entails giving up a part of their freedom to an authority in exchange for protection of their property. Therefore Locke thought the preservation of its citizen’s property to be a state’s main task. Even though Locke’s views were never conventional or generally accepted, his influence on private property rights can still be seen today. For example, article one of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) proclaims the right to protection of property, as does article seventeen of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). However, it seems that nowadays governments are doing the exact opposite of what is stated in both the ECHR and UDHR: taking away their citizens’ property. National governments are able to take private property for a purpose considered to be in the public interest in a process called expropriation. Governments make use of this ability for various reasons, such as the construction of highways and other large infrastructural projects. This begs the question of how we went from Locke’s view on private property to a society where national governments take their citizen’s possessions. Obviously, much has changed since the 17th century. The world is running out of its fossil resources, whereas the world-wide demand for energy is increasing. On top of that, disasters like Chernobyl and, more recently, Fukushima make it clear that sustainable energy infrastructure is not an unnecessary luxury. The problem is that, in order to provide everyone with sustain-
able energy, new power plants are often built close to or even on the private property of citizens, resulting in expropriation of those parcels of land. Though understandable, I do not agree with this practice. Expropriating land implies society values the public interest, which in this case is the accessibility of sustainable energy, more than private property rights. Does this mean that, if the government thinks it to be necessary, authorities can simply ignore our human rights? We tread on thin ice if we start prioritising certain human rights over others. The UDHR is there to set out and protect the basic human rights, and does and should not leave any room for interpretation.
“Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” -Article 8, ECHR
However, we cannot ignore facts: energy is necessary, and therefore new energy infrastructure is too. Unfortunately, this implies that citizens and their property will be affected. What has to be kept in mind as well is that all citizens are not only negatively affected by energy infrastructure projects; they are also the beneficiaries. Therefore, we need to find a way to continue projects aimed at building sustainable energy infrastructure while at the same time maintaining human rights. Two possible and effective solutions are public participation and co-ownership.
In public participation, not only information is exchanged between both parties, but members of both groups also allow their opinions to be changed. In this case that would mean that authorities and affected citizens would convene on an energy infrastructure project, with the possibility of adapting the plans to the wishes of both parties. In settings like this, everyone involved can come to a shared idea of problems and solutions, much like we do in EYP. This can eventually lead to better decisions, whilst maintaining human rights. Another concept that would decrease the necessity of expropriation is co-ownership. Co-ownership is a legal status that means property is owned by more than one person. Co-owners share a number of rights, including the right to of access to the property and the right to receive a share of the profits made from the property. All in all, it means that all co-owners are stakeholders, and have a say in what happens with the shared property. Thus, co-ownership is a step further than public participation, since they still own a part of the parcel of land. Though times and circumstances have changed, Lockeâ€™s view of states as defenders of private property is still valid in the 20th century. It is true that new, sustainable energy infrastructure is more than necessary, but one of the main tasks of a government remains the same: protecting the possessions of its citizens. Nowadays, there are many issues that have to be dealt with, and human rights that have to be secured by the state, and one cannot be worth more than another. Human rights are there to be kept, not to be picked between. â€˘
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