Climate Governance in the Arctic: 50 (Environment & Policy)

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The Directive establishes new national emission reduction commitments NERCs , applicable from and , for the main air pollutants including PM2.


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Under these commitments, the EU is set to reduce its PM2. By ensuring that Member States must explicitly target black carbon emissions when setting the controls to meet their obligations in the context of PM emissions, the NEC Directive therefore maximizes the opportunities to reduce black carbon emissions. The Directive also requires the drawing up, adoption and implementation of national air pollution control programmes NAPCPs , and the monitoring and reporting of emissions of the pollutants covered by the Directive.

Thus, the Member States must report their annual black carbon emissions, but only if such inventories are available. While this amendment has not yet entered into force, the revisions made, including those on black carbon, apply within the EU regardless of the international legal status of the amendment.

In this sense, the EU is one step ahead of the wider international community in acknowledging black carbon as a dangerous air pollutant. It lays down an assessment regime and criteria covering PM2. Compliance with the AAQ Directive would lead to substantial reductions in black carbon levels. However, the effectiveness of EU law on air quality is significantly impaired by poor implementation and poor compliance with the current regulatory framework. Although air quality has improved across Europe over the past decades, compliance gaps for some key pollutants, such as PM, persist.

Most Member States would reach acceptable PM2. Therefore, further efforts to reduce emissions of air pollutants are necessary to ensure full compliance with the applicable EU legislation. Climate change and air protection policies are interlinked through SLCPs. PM, black carbon included, is probably the atmospheric component that best exemplifies the climate change and air nexus.

Therefore, reducing the concentrations of SLCP pollutants, such as black carbon, is beneficial both in terms of achieving climate change mitigation and in terms of improving air quality. From the perspective of the global cooling effect on the climate, achieving the EU's air pollution and air quality objectives for the — period would have a fairly small impact. However, large combustion and industrial sources are a minor source of black carbon in the EU because PM emissions from large plants have very low fractions of black carbon.

Although these instruments decrease the emissions of PM, they do not have a direct impact on black carbon emissions. The regulations set increasingly stringent minimum requirements e. MACEB n 7 For example, between and , PM2. The regulations controlling transport emissions do not directly address black carbon, but PM emissions.

Emissions standards that require particulate filters are the most effective option for controlling black carbon in diesel fuels.

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One distinct challenge that presents itself in relation to emission standards for road vehicles is that they only apply to new vehicles as the requirements are directed at car manufacturers. From an Arctic perspective, the regulatory measures to tackle black carbon emissions from the transport sector in the EU are relevant in a positive sense. However, although the EU has already managed to reduce PM2. However, the lack of regulatory attention to integrate linkages between climate change and air protection policies is also viewed as weakening the effectiveness of the regulatory framework.

Black carbon emissions and emissions of other pollutants from road vehicles continue to decrease due to efforts made to protect human health from air pollution. On the other hand, the transport sector is also a significant emitter of aerosols and gases that can have local and regional cooling impacts. For example, associated emissions of sulfur compounds, typically released at the same time as black carbon, have a cooling effect. Regulating particular emissions for the sole purpose of protecting human health may have the unintended consequence of increasing warming rapidly.

The mitigation of sulfur emissions is an area where both climate and air quality would benefit from greater policy integration. Therefore, the implementation of these controls could be further enhanced to take into account the need to mitigate climate change and incorporate measures by which to achieve this.

On the other hand, however, balancing climate objectives should not result in health objectives being compromised. In the Arctic context, residential wood combustion and biomass burning is a potential area for the development of measures that benefit both climate change mitigation and air quality. In the Arctic context, residential wood combustion principally refers to space heating using wood fuels, biofuels or light fuel oil. While residential wood combustion is a major source of black carbon emissions, it is also clearly the source that has most reduction potential.

At the same time, however, emissions of PM2. Furthermore, user behaviour in terms of stove operation has a clear impact on residential wood combustion emissions. The Ecodesign Directive is a framework directive. More than 20 such implementing regulations have been issued since the adoption of the Ecodesign Directive. It is thought that when fully implemented, the regulatory framework provided for in the Ecodesign Directive could lead to significant reductions of regional PM emissions from residential wood combustion.

However, the requirements for solid fuel boilers will apply only from onwards, and the requirements for solid fuel local space heaters from onwards. Furthermore, the ecodesign requirements will only affect new appliances. As the average lifespan of the appliances targeted by the regulations is quite long, it will take a long time before consumers are actually using new and modern appliances that comply with the emission limits set for PM.

In addition, the rules do not apply to sauna stoves, which are a major emitter of black carbon in Finland for example. In the context of black carbon, the regulations have also been criticized for not being strict enough. The new rules tackling residential wood combustion are definitely relevant to future emission levels of PM and black carbon. Measures that reduce black carbon will also reduce PM2.

Although the same policy approaches may be used to achieve black carbon reductions, black carbon should be specifically addressed to ensure a concrete and positive impact in terms of actual black carbon emission reductions in the Arctic region. This interface makes residential wood combustion particularly interesting from the point of view of unlocking synergies between climate and air policies. The EU is a major source of black carbon deposits in the Arctic. The measures to control black carbon emissions either directly i.

However, the interlinkages between the regulatory frameworks analysed here and Arctic warming through SLCPs are not explicitly brought forward within the EU's policies relating to the Arctic. Could the existing regulatory framework on black carbon offer a platform for the EU to boost its Arctic relevance? There are substantial interactions between EU climate change and air protection policies that are not fully taken into account within the regulatory frameworks, either in general terms or specifically in relation to Arctic climate challenges.

In practical terms, however, taking the synergies into account should entail tangible changes to the EU's approach on black carbon and Arctic warming, together with reflection as to how the EU may best enhance its role as an Arctic actor. Therefore, what avenues exist for further EU Arctic engagement in the context of black carbon and Arctic warming? Despite positive regulatory developments, for example in the context of the NEC Directive, EU legislation does not yet adequately reflect the significance of black carbon in its dual role as both an air pollutant and a climate forcer.

The reasons for this include the focus on CO 2 as the key climate forcer as well as the uncertainties associated with black carbon's impacts on the climate. Therefore, perhaps one of the most promising avenues through which the EU can clarify its Arctic policy objectives might be the introduction of measures that focus on black carbon not only as an air pollutant but also as a climate forcer.

The interlinkages and potential for positive synergies between climate change and air protection policies are particularly clear in the context of black carbon. The revised NEC Directive highlights black carbon emissions by enabling the enactment of new legislation to prioritize measures on black carbon. This requirement seeks to prompt Member States to target black carbon emissions explicitly when setting the controls e.

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It has been estimated that wider use of best available technologies could reduce the warming effect of black carbon in Arctic regions by 0. Targeting the diesel transport and residential combustion sectors is a crucial element of the prioritization of black carbon reductions and, in practice, this should be done by introducing modern technologies. For the transport sector, the controls to eliminate the most polluting vehicles are already in place. In the coming years, black carbon levels are expected to decrease markedly due to the implementation of the Euro standards. Additional action, including for instance retrofitting old vehicles with modern emission control technology, would help tackle the problem, but might be difficult to enforce.

The regulatory framework laid down in the Ecodesign Directive shows more potential for putting the NEC Directive's regulatory optimization to use.

This framework is sorely needed, because much of the potential to reduce the amount of black carbon produced by residential wood combustion will remain untapped if new measures to tackle these emissions are not introduced promptly at the Member State level. While the regulations controlling residential wood combustion are in place, they will enter into force in at the earliest, apply only to new appliances and not cover all relevant appliances that emit black carbon.

The regulatory framework laid down in the Ecodesign Directive will play a key role in the development of better stoves and boilers over the next decade. However, to achieve maximum benefit from such reductions, the Ecodesign Directive should also explicitly cover black carbon. Therefore, additional legislation to support and complement the EU framework on black carbon from residential wood combustion would be beneficial for the Arctic region. Within this very central role played by the EU, its institutions could focus their Arctic policymaking on processes that streamline Arctic concerns into their general decision making.

This should also include assessment of the impacts the EU policies and regulatory frameworks have on the Arctic. These processes should take place within those policy areas in which the EU has established priorities and competence to promote and pursue external objectives. Although the EU has not been granted an explicit Arctic mandate by its Member States, EU treaty law provides solid justifications for action in relation to the Arctic.

The state of climate change adaptation in the Arctic

In particular, the TFEU states that one of the objectives of EU environmental policy is to promote measures at the international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change. The TEU provides that the EU shall contribute to the sustainable development of the earth in its relations with the wider world as well as work for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations to help develop international measures to preserve and improve the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources.

But what is missing is a clear link between the EU's air protection policy and its relevance in the Arctic climate context of a kind that would connect the EU's current regulatory efforts in relation to black carbon to global and regional efforts to tackle Arctic warming. This missing link needs to be made. However, integrating air quality and climate goals does not automatically lead to better environmental outcomes. However, it remains necessary to evaluate what can be gained from integration and how it can lead to more effective policies.

A coordinated policy strategy could help to avoid further unintended consequences — the abatement of one environmental problem should not worsen another environmental problem. Increased utilization of biomass for residential heating could be effective in reducing the carbon footprint. However, it might also contribute to local emissions of PM and thus have adverse health effects in residential areas. There is a need for more research into the emissions produced by biomass burning appliances to assess the potential impact of the likely increase in biomass burning in urban areas in Europe, and to assess whether the emission limits set out in the Ecodesign Directive's implementing regulations offer adequate protection for human health.

It would be possible to develop legislation that addresses black carbon and PM2. Finally, but of course critically given that this article focuses on the Arctic, it follows from the above reasoning that the measures to harness the synergies between climate and air policies should also be communicated within the EU's Arctic policy.

The state of climate change adaptation in the Arctic - IOPscience

This article set out to discover whether the EU could enhance its Arctic involvement through its regulatory action While the focus of this article has been on the EU's regulatory contribution, EU action on black carbon could also take a form of, or be complemented through, projects or assessment initiatives. The EU's interest in becoming a more powerful Arctic actor finds clear expression in its Arctic policy as well as elsewhere, but to date its approach has been perceived as clumsy and lacking in coordination and coherence. To address past misunderstandings and to build a more consistent Arctic approach, scholars have suggested that the EU should focus on what it knows best and use this competence to complement existing initiatives and develop cooperation and participation.

This article has sought to show that the EU's regulatory framework on black carbon and Arctic climate warming could offer a tangible framework for further Arctic engagement. However, bringing this project to fruition would require further attention and informed regulatory efforts in the relevant policy context, and perhaps new legislation at EU or Member State level. The discussion above focused on tapping the synergies between the EU's climate and air policies.


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This leads to the thought that the EU could indeed improve its Arctic environmental footprint and thus also its Arctic relevance by turning the existing overlaps — which have given rise to regulatory challenges — into positive synergies. Furthermore, these measures would lead to less European black carbon being deposited on the Arctic snow and ice surfaces.

To acquire Arctic relevance by means of such internal EU action, the EU would need to communicate its climate contribution in the Arctic context. The arguments set forth in this article build on the view that EU Arctic policymaking should be steered towards an exclusive framework of activity in which the EU has competence to provide a concrete input that has clear and complementary benefits for the region. The challenge is that of dovetailing actions taken by the EU with those taken internationally as well as specifically within the Arctic region.

In this context, which perhaps reaches a little beyond the scope of this article, regional cooperation should be highlighted as providing a potential way forward. The EU's mandate for external action highlights cooperation. Furthermore, it is not in the EU's interests to pursue a unilateral approach towards the Arctic. Through its contribution, the EU complements efforts taken at an international or regional level as an active participant in Arctic climate governance.

Taking account of the Arctic concerns identified here in EU policymaking in the context of black carbon would also support the EU's participation in international negotiations such as those pursued through the International Maritime Organization and cooperation through international forums such as the CCAC in relation to black carbon.

This cautious approach is unprecedented in global fisheries management. Although the white paper covers protection of the polar environment, it is not time to celebrate yet. There are still concerns about development and climate risks, and respecting the wishes of native peoples.

Although China speaks of raising development standards, the Arctic has its own specific risks and therefore requires extra caution. In November , a Russian state-owned tanker became trapped in sea ice on the Northern Sea Route and had to be rescued by the Yamal , a nuclear-powered icebreaker. Such risks will increase as Arctic shipping opens up and oil and gas resources are exploited. The methane contained in the Arctic permafrost is a climate time bomb. There are 50 billion tonnes of methane, in the form of hydrates, on the Siberian Arctic continental shelf.

When the sea bed warms, either gradually or suddenly, within the next 50 years, that methane is likely to be released. More methane in the atmosphere means faster global warming, which will further accelerate warming in the Arctic, increasing the rate of sea ice loss, reducing reflection of solar energy and leading to faster melting of the Greenland ice cap. Glaciers distant from the Arctic will also melt. This vicious circle is irreversible. So far, there is little to no discussion about how to mitigate the effects on the Arctic.

Policy stances in China’s Arctic policy white paper

The Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Resource Development Principles in Inuit Nunaat gives the Inuit people the right to be informed and heard when decisions on resource development are being made and requires their agreement before development takes place. In , the European Union EU bowed to pressure from animal protection groups and banned the trade in seal fur. Canadian Inuit groups, fearing this would damage their traditional seal hunting practices, sued the EU. This case shows how the rights of native peoples are not always aligned with those of environmental protection.

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