Winning Over The Member States

 

Project in a nutshell:

Winning Over The Member States is a project that entangles advocacy and research at EU, regional (Central and Eastern Europe) and national (Romanian) level in the areas of sustainable transport, light and heavy duty vehicles, biofuels, fuel quality, and (until Summer 2015) aviation.

Period: 2014 – present (ongoing)

Sponsor: European Climate Foundation

Partnership and affiliation: Transport & Environment (Brussels)

Finance: EUR 13.500

CountryRanking_Romana

Political Context

For the first semester of the project it was noteworthy to have such an intro as the Presidential election campaign that started in September 2014 and ended with the elections and the consecutive change in the Government had quite an influence on transport policies and politicians’ behavior. Our activities involving any form of government were either delayed or utterly ignored during that period. The second half of the project period gave way to increased access to government representatives. Hence, a significant increase and an accentuated focus fell on working with the government.

 

Transport (General bullet points of progress)

Lobbying. 2Celsius has so far engaged 3 progressive Romanian MEPs, generally in favor of T&E’s proposals. Renate Weber (ALDE), Daciana Sarbu (S&D), and Monica Macovei (EPP). We have also managed to identify and engage key councilors and experts working within ministries on transport files. The list is growing.

Meeting with the Minister of the Environment, Attila Korodi (unfortunately, the Hungarian Union, that the ministry is representing has left the governmental coalition) – greener transport policies at least from the perspective of green pubic procurement (GPP) that 2C is advocating for 3 years now. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Environment remains open to our input.

In February, the Romanian Coalition for Environment met the new minister, Grațiela Gavrilescu, and discussed several issues, including biofuels and governmental programs regarding emissions from cars.

Meeting of environmental NGOs energy group (2Celsius, Greenpeace, Bankwatch) ahead of Brussels trialogues with the Minister of Energy, Andrei Gerea, and his councilors in the Energy and Environment Department to discuss biofuels and push for a more progressive Romanian position.

New Product. We invested into and launched a new communication platform of 2C that is able to serve all national and local media with all issues that we cover most especially in WOMS. It is in Romanian and dedicated primarily to journalist, but also to industrial associations, institutions/authorities or businesses. It is named EcoTransport. Practically all our communication is supported by information concentrated on this website, which also translates on the Romanian public sphere all newsworthy information conveyed by T&E.

 

Clean Fuels

Biofuels

National level

Earlier last year, we were in contact with experts from the Ministry of Energy arguing for a favorable position in the Council concerning biofuels targets and ILUC. We shared with them the Wasted: Europe’s Untapped Resource study on the potential of advanced biofuels from wastes and residues. At that time, the position the Min. of Energy held was that Romania would find it impossible reaching its renewable energy in transport target if land-based biofuels would contribute less than 7% to it.

At the end of July 2014, Raul wrote an opinion piece in Adevărul (national daily) on EUs biofuels policies and the threats they pose to food security and EUs climate targets. The piece was well received (1235 hits).

Beginning of February, we finished adapting a Romanian version of the The little book of biofuels and disseminated it to to government representatives in the Ministry of Energy, Agriculture and Environment, together with a call for a more favorable position in the Council.

When the new Wasted 1.5 national case-studies came out we issued a press release and tried to get as much coverage as we could. These were the results:

http://2celsius.net/rubbish-creates-jobs-and-energy-in-central-and-eastern-europe/

http://www.euractiv.ro/uniunea-europeana/articles%7CdisplayArticle/articleID_27127/Combustibilii-din-deseuri-pot-crea-20.000-de-locuri-de-munca-in-Romania.html (+2 news sources redirecting to the Euractiv website)

http://www.green-report.ro/combustibilii-din-deseuri-pot-crea-20-000-de-locuri-de-munca-in-romania/

http://adevarul.ro/economie/business-international/o-tara-plina-gunoaie-oportunitati-1_54e9c27d448e03c0fdde4357/index.html – Raul’s blog in Adevărul

http://legalmagazin.ro/combustibilii-din-deseuri-pot-crea-locuri-de-munca/

http://asculta.rfi.ro/emisiunile-rfi-ro-56143-cum-sa-transformi-deseurile-biocarburanti-avansati – a half hour live show, where Mihai Stoica discussed EU biofuels policy reforms, issues with first generation and the promise of advanced biofuels from waste and residues for Romania, if sustainable. 

We established a partnership with the University of Agronomy in Bucharest and we are going to have a constant collaboration from Drd. Petre Stelian Matei, specialist and top notch researcher in the area of biofuels and their environmental impact in Romania. At the moment he is gathering data for the biofuels study 2C is elaborating.

We also partnered with Bankwatch and Greenpeace into an informal group on NGOs working on energy and transport issues.

Our first action together was to ask for and obtain a meeting with the minister of Energy, which none of these NGOs managed to get separately. 2C discussed about Romania’s position in the Council and how it could be improved. We proposed several paths, including supporting an advanced biofuels mandatory sub-target of 1.25% or supporting two amendments that allowed Romania to derogate from the transport target if it over-complied with the whole emissions reductions target by other means, therefore allowing it a more progressive stance on other issues surrounding the transport target. On a slightly more personal note, one noticed the lack of knowledge among the councilors or the minister regarding the issues surrounding biofuels. Also, in asking for information, we were met with a barrage of silence.

At the end of the meeting, 2Celsius handed a position letter to the minister and together with Bankwatch and Greenpeace issued a press release based on a declaration that the minister made during the meeting – that he is concerned by the food vs. fuel issue. This is the coverage it received:

http://www.euractiv.ro/energie/Ministrul-Energiei-este-preocupat-de-problema-producerii-de-biocarburanti-in-detrimentul-hranei-251

http://www.green-report.ro/romania-preocupata-de-efectele-negative-ale-biocombustibililor/

Following the meeting we sent several studies (WRI, ICCT) to the minister and councilors at the Energy and Environment Department within the ministry. Among those was the new Wasted 1.5 study and written recommendations for an improved Romanian position in the Council. The answer was that they will consider it. The outcome showed they didn’t.

2C also sent the Wasted 1.5 study to experts in the ministry of Agriculture. They thanked us. We will insist with the Ministry of Agriculture for the a good transposition of the revised legislation, since we will argue for a mandatory sub-target for advanced biofuels, most of which should be viable with agricultural residues.

Following the votes in ENVI and the final vote in the EP, we sent out press releases, the latter being supported by our informal partners, Bankwatch and Greenpeace.

http://www.euractiv.ro/mediu/Noua-politica-UE-pentru-biocarburanti-anuleaza-emisii-de-320-de-milioane-de-tone-de-CO2-526

http://www.ecomagazin.ro/noua-politica-ue-pentru-biocarburanti-anuleaza-emisii-de-320-de-milioane-de-tone-de-co2/

http://www.green-report.ro/ue-elimina-biocombustibilii-din-plante/

http://www.curierulnational.ro/Economie/2015-04-30/Parlamentul+European+sprijina+trecerea+la+biocarburanti+avansati

http://www.stiriagricole.ro/biocarburantii-vor-reprezenta-maximum-7-din-consumul-pentru-transport-pana-in-2020-23597.html

 

*We also feed press releases about biofuels to Radio Romania Cultural (national radio) and they normally pick them up either through Corina Negrea or Dan Stoica. Unfortunately, there are no online recordings.

The research that we undertook regarding conventional biofuels in Romania is proving almost untenable, especially regarding hard data other than what Romania reports to Eurostat. We tried to get the data from fuel producers, biofuel producers, traders or big agribusiness. Our inquiries were left unanswered and apart from some qualitative estimates derived from online research and some data stemming from the imports and exports of raw feedstock, we don’t have much yet. We hired a researcher to look into the matter and hopefully we will have something of essence by the end of June, in order to manage to put together if not a short study, at least an analysis.

 

EU level

Since new MEPs started their mandate last year, we considered it opportune to e-mail and inform old and new MEPs on the biofuels debate, to ask for their support on the file and for meetings in early 2015. We also sent them some supporting materials on ILUC and links to some materials developed by TE, including The little book of biofuels and a link to the website created by T&E – biofuelsreform.org. Renate Weber (ALDE) responded our call and asked to set up a meeting in February 2015. Also, Daciana Sârbu’s (S&D, Vice-chair in ENVI) office reiterated its support and further coordination on the file.

2Celsius was in Brussels to attend the Big Bioenergy meeting organized by Brussels NGOs. We took this opportunity not also to liaise to our colleagues across and beyond Europe, but also to lobby some MEPs before an upcoming biofuels vote in the ENVI committee. Eventually, we met with all but one Romanian ENVI MEPs and a few more others (6 MEPs in total), including the Romanian Perm. Rep. in Brussels, an ALDE adviser and the man who introduced the low-ILUC amendments.