Page 14 - European Energy Innovation - Winter 2016 publication
P. 14

14  Winter 2016 European Energy Innovation


How much longer can we dream
of a White Christmas?

By Michael Edmund

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

–John Mason Neale

One year ago, COP21                            reached (or even exceeded) around the          yet to understand the full impact upon
                  Paris was being lauded       turn of the year, while the region has         Arctic fish stocks of the loss of the
                  for its commitment to        already experienced 0º C this winter,          ecosystem’s apex predator – this quite
                  limiting the rise in global  at a time when the mercury might be            apart from the unknown consequences
temperatures; COP 22 Marrakech has             expected to register minus 30º C. The          for the climate of the difference
now concluded and it too has been              news from the other pole has been no           between relatively dark-coloured
hailed for shifting the focus to one of        less alarming: it emerged in August that       seawater and relatively light-coloured
implementation: indeed, ratification of        a crack in the Larsen C ice shelf had          ice in their absorption and reflection of
the Paris Agreement has proceeded              grown 20% longer, threatening to calve         solar irradiation.
remarkably swiftly. And as part of that        a huge area of ice with unpredictable
process, and to much fanfare, the              effects on the stability of the shelf itself.  Almost everything about the
Commission unveiled its long-awaited           Of course, this occurred during the            Commission’s latest undertaking is big:
Winter Package on November 30th.               Antarctic Winter and it is important           even its name grew from “The Winter
This date surely represents only one           because of what has already happened           Package” to “New Rules for consumer
of many landmarks in the protracted            to the Larsen B ice shelf. Clearly, short-     centred clean energy transition”. The
struggle to decarbonise energy and             term temperature variations, such as           document itself extends to over 1,000
mitigate the impact of anthropogenic           those caused by El Niño, are implicated        pages and, as Vice-President Šefčovič
global warming; and the initiative             in these extraordinary events, but             observed at its launch, its proposals
should be put in some sort of context.         longer-term data from the NSIDC in             “touch upon all clean energy related
                                               Boulder, Colorado data present a clear         sectors: research and innovation, skills,
As the COP 21 delegates were no                warning: the extent of polar sea ice in        buildings, industry, transport, digital,
doubt congratulating themselves on             December this year is smaller than the         finance to name but a few. These
a successful meeting and boarding              1982-2010 average; smaller by an area          measures will equip all European
their homeward flights, news was               the size of India. A suggestion is being       citizens and businesses with the
reaching us of a heatwave across the           made that as much as a third of the            means to make the most of the clean
Arctic: in the depth of the Arctic Winter,     world’s polar bear population might            energy transition.” At the same time,
temperatures above minus 2º C were             disappear by 2060 because of melting           Commissioner Arias Cañete singled
being recorded. Freezing point was             Arctic sea ice. The point is that we have      out the binding 30% energy efficiency

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