In full transparency, 2Celsius is presenting below all the projects that the organisation has carried out during the two pandemic years. To each project we provide the funder, the period of implementation, the total amount, and a brief description that entails objectives and results. The report does not include some actions in strategic litigation that 2C was part of or voluntary initiatives.
1. From damage mitigation to a new consensus – placing EU Bioenergy within an ecologically sound climate and energy transition
Funder: Birdlife Europe
Financing period: May 2020 – March 2021 (extended until May 2021)
Amount: 15 000 EUR
Grant objective: to inform and raise awareness of policy and decision makers, civil society and media about the need to reshape bioenergy policies to ensure sustainability.
Following the specific focus of this call for tender, 2Celsius aimed at creating a system of payments for ecosystem services that would lead towards a large protected area for Carpathian forests in CEE. Particularly, the project, in terms of research and advocacy, entangles:
- Underline that forest biomass is one of the most sensitive issues that the Romanian and other Central and Eastern European (CEE) societies have entailed in 30 years of post-communist transition. Though it might sound too radical to any analytical mind and despite REDII provisions, forest biomass is not a green source of energy, but, contrarily, very carbon intensive.
- Strongly advocate to cement the view in the public sphere that large scale bioenergy deployment and lack of sustainability safeguards and strategic planning is not reducing emissions and will have a catastrophic impact on forests, biodiversity and communities by depriving the latter of sustainable development opportunities, access to basic services and ecosystem services.
In this sense 2C and partners shall advocate for PROFORESTATION, that is letting natural forests grow to their ecological capacity to store carbon and reach their biodiversity potential.
- Create an understanding and gain support within the Energy, Agriculture, Economy and Environment ministries (in Romania and CEE) that energy from biomass should play a limited role in reducing emissions from both the ETS and non-ETS activities.
- Create an understanding among decision makers and the public that large scale, centralized bioenergy deployment is not a sustainable alternative to reducing emissions and that focus should be on encouraging small-scale projects in the heating and electricity sectors using technology upgrades for efficiency and waste and residues for generation, within a transparent and traceable framework with correct carbon accounting rules and strong social and environmental sustainability criteria.
- Create an understanding among policy makers and the public about the need to gradually phase-out the use of land-based 1st generation biofuels in the transport sector and build up support for advanced biofuels from wastes and residues and biogas from landfills within a similar framework as mentioned above.
Forest biomass doesn’t play any role in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, there will be no investments in biomass plants, in keeping with the National Energy and Climate Plan, reflecting the national pressure on the issue built by 2Celsius and other NGOs. Even though the government is not investing in large scale biomass projects right now or subsidizing roundwood feedstocks, choosing gas instead as transition fuel, the problem remains regarding the amount and types of feedstocks that can be subsidized or be counted as renewable energy. Therefore, we have held and are planning further talks with the government to discuss forest sinks, exclusion criteria for protected areas, EU taxonomy, close to nature forest management, tackling energy poverty, the operationalization of a new tracking system for wood and definitions on residues and waste biomass.
The public understands and demands forest protection from the government. Many people identify forest protection as one of the main environmental issues in Romania, alongside clean air. A proof for this is the negotiations in the forming parliamentary and governmental coalition, where the Environment Ministry became one of the most disputed ministries for the first time in recent history, even if it is one of the most difficult portfolios to manage.
We have also expanded the reach and strengthened cooperation with civic groups, think tanks and experts, especially in Romania, but also internationally. We have done this through collaboration on common positions and analyses, continuous resource and information exchanges and collaboration on landmark policy propositions such as CLIMA Carpathia.
2. People’s Climate Case
Funder: Climate Action Network Europe
Financing Period: 2018-2021
Amount (2020-2021): EUR 35,000
People’s Climate Case is the litigation action initiated by 10 families from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji, and the Saami Youth Association Sáminuorra. Their homes, livelihoods, traditional family occupation and culture are affected by climate change and they are taking the EU institutions to court to protect their fundamental rights and to prevent dangerous climate change.
With support and guidance from CAN Europe, the litigation team, scientific think tank Climate Analytics and funding NGO Protect the Planet, 2Celsius, alongside other NGOs around Europe spearheaded comms, advocacy and support for the families involved in the case. Specifically, we liaised with CEE media on behalf of the Romanian plaintiff at key points in the litigation action, set up meetings and workshops between plaintiffs, high-level decision makers and civil society, advocated with national and EU policy makers for improved climate targets and produced several films and other media materials to tell the stories of the plaintiffs.
3. Member States Network
Funder: European Climate Foundation
Financing period: 2013-present
Amount (2020-2021): 23.000 EUR
For years, 2Celsius was and is part of the largest clean transport advocacy programme in Europe. Our duty was to cover via advocacy and research issues related primarily to green transports in Romania, given its EU context. Member States Network (MSN) – previously known as Winning Over the Member States (WOMS) – is renewed every year under the tutelage of Transport & Environment and financed by the European Climate Foundation.
Until 2015, the Winning Over the Member States (WOMS) campaign focused predominantly on the revision of cars and CO2 legislation, which resulted in successful agreement on the 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer (g/km) target in 2020, smarter truck design and truck fuel efficiency, road pricing, sustainable, low-carbon biofuels, fossil fuels, aviation, car testing (Dieselgate) and conversion of NEDC 95g/km target to WLTP. National grantees from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia were all aligned with T&E objectives, and delivered the key evidence and argumentation at their national levels.
After 2016, this grant allocation covered the following milestones per workstream:
Light-Duty Vehicles and 2030 framework (post-2020 CO2 standards):
- to ensure that the new European Commission brings forward progressive policies on the post 2020 regulatory framework for car and van CO2 emissions,
- to ensure that the new European Commission proposes policies to stimulate a sustainable shift to e-mobility like incentives to encourage the supply of ultra-low-carbon vehicles
- to ensure the Council doesn’t water down ambitions on CO2 standards in 2025 and 2030.
Enforcement of vehicle standards under the Type Approval Framework Regulation
Looking to uncover the VW scandal, this strand sought to ensure proper implementation of a new testing system for CO2 emissions (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedures, WLTP) and air pollution (real-world driving emissions test, RDE).
Heavy Duty Vehicles & 2030 framework (introducing CO2 standards)
While trucks make up less than 5 percent of all vehicles on the road, they are responsible for 25 percent of the fuel used and carbon emitted. Securing the introduction of CO2 standards for trucks was the main goal.
Limit 1st generation biofuels and promote targets for 2nd generation biofuels
Serious doubts have arisen about the role of biofuels in decarbonising transport. Once indirect impacts are taken into account, most assessments show the carbon-intensity of biodiesel to be similar to fossil diesel. We sought a way to ensure a credible pathway of phase out of 1G biofuels is understood and supported by Romania and key member states.
Promotion of e-mobility and air quality were added to the programme starting in 2019 have already become trademark campaigns at national level, including advocacy at city level, lobbying for improved air quality legislation, litigation and media actions.
Just Transition is also covered as a workstream starting in 2020, dealing with the effects of ICE phase-out in the automotive sector and the transition to electric mobility.
4. Making methane matter in energy and climate policy
Funder: Clean Air Task Force
Financing period: March 2021 – March 2022
Amount: 30 000 EUR
The issue of fugitive emissions from the upstream and midstream phases in oil and gas production is at most a marginal discussion in the public sphere in Romania. The potential size of the issue is likely to be quite significant if one considers all active installations such as storage tanks, pipelines and compressor stations, as well as production and processing sites. There is a strong need to investigate possible leaks and conduct and verify measurements as onshore conventional gas is responsible for the most methane emission in Romania, according to statistics. There is hardly any publicly available data or studies addressing methane emissions from such sources, apart from figures reported by the government in its GHG emissions inventories and projections reported to the UNFCCC or Eurostat.
Instead of addressing this issue, the narrative of a projected demand growth for fossil gas and the idea of natural gas as “bridge fuel” is being pushed strongly by industry and government. Moreover, due to the fossil industry’s lobby power, gas is still seen as a “clean” alternative to coal in the Romanian context, mostly without considering methane leakages from existing infrastructure. The Methane Strategy presented by the EU Commission creates an opportunity to discuss new regulation and to finally put methane on the legislative agenda in Romania. Indeed, the EU should make clear to producers both inside the EU and beyond that credibly demonstrating very low methane emissions will be a requirement for gas placed on the EU internal market, as Europe is reaching for more ambitious emissions reductions in the coming decade and toward the 2050 net-zero target.
Given the current lack of awareness around methane emissions in the gas industry, our objective is to build up and strengthen such awareness and to make visible the serious and far-reaching impacts methane leakages have on our climate. We want to show that methane emissions in this industry are a reality, to identify the size of the problem through visualization, to question industry assumptions and demand policy action. The project will lead with an investigation on leakages from sites around the country. This will serve to put pressure on both the Romanian government and industry to act to, inter alia, deal with emitters, regulate methane emissions, create transparency and verifiability, and to implement and regularly review reduction measures.
On the European level, we are putting pressure on the EU Commission and EU Parliament to come up with strong regulation.
5. Promoting fast action to reduce F-gas emissions
Grant objective: to preserve the existing ambition in the EU F-Gas Regulation through improving compliance and enforcement and blocking efforts to weaken it; and strengthen the EU F-Gas Regulation with new regulatory measures that will spearhead the wholesale transition to climate-friendly alternatives in the cooling sector and achieve the level of ambition required to meet the climate emergency.
Funder: Environmental Investigation Agency UK
Financing period: December 2020 – December 2021
Amount: 20 000 GBP
2Celsius advocated with decision makers in Romania to promote ambitious measures in the revised F-Gas Regulation and strong national positions, including meeting with relevant national ministry officials to discuss national implementation challenges and promote key improvements to the F-Gas Regulation. We did awareness-raising and promotion of ambitious measures in the revised F-Gas Regulation, such as engaging policymakers to inform about the climate impact of HFCs and SF6 and the need for additional measures to reduce emissions, engaged local and national media to promote coverage on national issues related to implementation and enforcement of the F-Gas Regulation and key improvements and raised awareness on the climate impact of HFC emissions and use through our website and social media pages. 2Celsius also monitored ongoing illegal HFC trade in Romania including outcomes of any prosecutions and gathered relevant enforcement contacts, identified challenges confronted by national authorities in combating it and compiled local and national media reports on illegal HFC trade in Romania.
6. Climate Architecture
Grant objective: to prevent repealing and help improve ESR national targets in Romania and to keep ESR sectors out of ETS
Funder: European Climate Foundation
Financing period: December 2020 – December 2021
Amount: 20 000 EUR
Following the worrisome proposals of the European Commision in the Inception Impact Assessment to phase-out the ESR or reduce its scope by including sectors like transport or agriculture in the ETS or LULUCF, there is a real danger that climate ambition and necessary policies at national level will be gravely impacted, ultimately undermining the 55% emissions reductions. Our aim is to advocate and create an understanding among policy makers, civil society and the general public for means towards stepping up ambition in the ESR and its subsequent targets (2030) and preventing ESR sectors to be integrated with flexibilities in ETS and LULUCF. Since integration and synergies with other relevant and related policies is key, we also aim to monitor the revision and reform of these policies, such as the RED, EED, EPBD, AFID, CO2 and Cars Regulation, the CAP etc.
The overarching objective is to keep the effort-sharing regulation and improve emission reduction targets for buildings, transport, agriculture, non-ETS industry and waste in line with the new 55% net emissions reduction target for 2030. In essence, we shall run a campaign opposing any attempt to revamp this regulation through a proposed transition of any of these sectors and their targets in the ETS, therefore decreasing national ambition and eliminating European standards for cars, buildings, waste and the like.
7. A pragmatic approach to environmental, economic, social and legislative challenges of the energy transition
Funder: EEA Grants / Active Citizens Fund
Financing period: March 2021 – March 2023
Amount: 244 000 EUR
The project “Pragmatic approach to environmental, economic, social and legislative challenges of energy transition” is developed by the Bankwatch Romania Association in partnership with the 2Celsius Association and involves addressing climate change in terms of energy transition. The aim of the project is the active involvement of civil society in the development of long-term public policies for the decarbonisation of the energy sector, thus contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the achievement of the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
The project is structured on three pillars:
- Public policies for the energy transition, in which we focus on encouraging measures that support the development of renewable energy by engaging in public consultations, watchdog activities and analysis of measures taken by the authorities.
- The fair transition in Gorj, in which we support the development of a coalition of civil society, authorities and the business community in Gorj County to be actively involved and propose projects for a fair transition for citizens and employees of fossil fuel-dependent sectors.
- Legal clinic for environmental law, designed to increase the number of specialists in environmental law to develop and bring to court cases of violations of environmental legislation by economic operators.
8. Beyond best-practices: implementing effective transport policies to decarbonize the passenger transport sector
Funder: German Federal Government – EUKI Programme
Financing period: October 2020 – October 2023
Amount: EUR 300,000
The project sought to investigate the opportunities for emissions reduction in the passenger transport sector in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Lithuania. The project aimed at empowering local, regional and national decision makers in these countries to reduce emissions from passenger transport to a level compatible with the Paris Agreement temperature limit. This empowerment resulted from investigating the main reasons for increasing emissions from the transport sector, assessing ways in which these emissions can be significantly reduced, providing concrete, regionally and locally feasible list of policy proposals.
For this purpose, the project looked into three kinds of passenger transport: urban, suburban, and intercity. For each of those levels the available options and their levels of utilization will be assessed. This constituted a basis for discussion of opportunities to improve the efficiency of the existing modes of transport and move to less carbon intensive alternatives. This assessment was conducted in cooperation with the local and regional stakeholders using an emissions disaggregation tool.
The project reunited partners form Germany, Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Lithuania.
9. EUROPEAN RAIL RENAISSANCE – Boosting international rail for reaching EU climate targets
Funder: German Federal Government – EUKI Programme
Financing period: August 2021 – January 2023
Amount: EUR 250,000
The European Union has set itself the target to become climate neutral by 2050. Rail could play a key role in the future transport system because it is clean, safe and reliable, and it could become a symbol for the European Green Deal. A strengthened European rail system could (1) better connect people and businesses in Europe, (2) reduce transport emissions by creating alternative options to road transport and aviation, and (3) give a green boost to the European economy post-Covid-19.
Yet the European rail system is currently not in the best shape to take a central role in transport systems. In almost all EU member states, the importance of rail has declined over the last decades due to a heavy focus on road and aviation, and international rail services in particular are not sufficiently developed.
In the European Year of Rail 2021, the EU and national governments need to seize the opportunity to boost European rail services by
- launching new direct international services, day and night, on existing infrastructure,
- making booking of international services attractive and convenient and
- investing in cross-border infrastructure connections and key corridors.
The project reunites partners form Romania, Poland, Spain, France, Germany
10. Strengthening Monitoring and Mitigation of Methane Emissions in Europe
Funder: EIA UK
Financing Period: June 2021 – June 2022
Amount: EUR 93,000
The project is carrying out research on current regulatory framework concerning environmental regulations for upstream and midstream indirect and fugitive methane emissions, including venting, flaring and leakages. 2C is making case studies and multimedia webpages on the current state of Romanian OIG infrastructure – a look at upstream and midstream fugitive emissions. Also a comms campaign on draft of EU Methane Regulation as well as advocacy in both Bucharest and Brussels.
2C is also launching a series of studies related to the geopolitics of gas as well as a comparative study of binding rules on monitoring, reporting, verification, leak detection and repair in the energy sector in different regions of the world – lessons from producer countries to Romania.