Editor's note

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Tuesday, 21.05.2019, 19:59

New research directions for the Baltics

Eugene Eteris, European Studies Faculty, RSU, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 18.04.2019.Print version

European and global challenges, e.g. global climate change and sustainability require new approaches to national research policies. Individual efforts shall be combined with common Baltic States’ strategies in science.

Under the constant pressures from the global and European institutions, the states around the Baltic Sea area are adopting strategies, which are changing almost completely traditional governance management goals and science policies’ directions. Nowadays modern governance is about the states’ efforts towards reducing negative impacts on climate, promoting clean energy, delivering on circular economy and sustainability issues. Such efforts are not easy to make into practical political economy’s decision-making: some of these issues have never been even heard about before; for example, clime change targets entered the political agenda at the end of 2015 and sustainable development goals, SDGs in 2016, to name a few.

Delivering on “green growth”

All the new and necessary changes in the Baltic States’ traditional political economy are summed-up presently under the “green growth” strategies. Each country has its own way of implementing such strategies, though some common approaches are evident too. For example, increasing the share of renewables in the national energy mix and reducing imported oil and gas shall be among common solutions. Over half of the needed fossil fuels are imported in the EU-28; much of the energy mix in the Baltic States is still covered by imported gas, coal and oil.

In this regard, climate and environmental goals coincide with a positive effect on circular economy. Already by 2030, all new cars in the EU shall be electro-cars, hybrid-vehicles or combination of both. Most of the “transition” shall be financed from the EU budget. 

If the EU states shall follow the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, the European region shall be “climate-neutral” (i.e. without carbon dioxide emissions, CO2) by 2050. None of the Baltic States have had such an ambitious aim! Even Northern European states have different strategies, though closer to the desired aim: Denmark plans to reduce CO2 gradually by 2030 with a complete eradication by 2050; Germany has an intermediate goal by 2038.

In fact, the EU states can be fined for not implementing the “2020 goals”.

New directions in science and research

Hence, a new and fruitful domain for science and research in the energy sector: for example, in transport – developing “clean fuels” with a zero-emission-effect, including hydrogen, synthetic liquids and synthetic methane. In home heating appliances – a huge problem in the Baltic States capitals, e.g. in Riga - some urgent measures shall be taken to either a centralized or an electrified heating; the latter option is not that expensive as it used to be…

Due to sharply plummeting costs of solar and wind power appliances during the last decade, a low-cost shift to a new clean energy sources in the Baltics is a real solution. Thus, the total costs of renewable energy systems (incl. transition and storage) are presently on par with fossil fuels. Generally, adequate technologies are already available in the world: it’s just a question of political will and national priorities. Thus, the lack of planning for renewable national alternatives in the Baltics and monopolistic interests still allow for continued subsidies to oil, gas and coal sectors.   

Turning to green growth is the common Baltic States’ strategic endeavor: the governments can reach the desired goals only working together: individual efforts are not any more enough. And the first step shall be creating some new directions for science and research activities in these countries, for example in the form of a Baltic “unified research strategy”. Besides, some economic incentives shall be used too: e.g. all sorts of polluting activities, both by public companies, households and private entities emitting unlawful particles into air, water, soil, etc. shall be not only forbidden but just expensive! Polluter-pays-principle shall be enforced everywhere!   

Thus, the general perspective is clear enough – changing the existing mindsets; however, specifically the paths are the following: a) to start educating civil servants and government officials; b) for financial and corporate communities –urgently examining technically available approaches (might be different in various states) to safe energy, sustainability and perspective energy-food transformations.  Individual efforts in the Baltic States shall be combined with a common Baltic strategy towards new science and research directions. 




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