The European Green Deal maps the road to a future in which people prosper without harming the environment. It wants to call a halt to climate change before its consequences become unmanageable, and rely on clean energy sources that do not only reduce emission levels but also improve public health. The EEA and Norway Grants’ ongoing work in 13 EU member states is highly relevant for the targets laid out in the European Green Deal. In the budget period 2014-2021, the Grants are contributing more than €450 million in funding to pertinent projects.
The supported initiatives cover areas that are of long-term importance to the Grants and of particular interest to the European Green Deal. This includes projects in the fields of:
- environment and ecosystems,
- renewable energy, energy efficiency, and security, as well as
- climate change mitigation and adaptation.
In addition, the EEA and Norway Grants also fund projects under the Green Industry Innovation and Business Development, Innovation and SMEs programme areas that help achieve the EU Green Deal objectives.
The funded projects tie in with the EU’s ambitions. They contribute to the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050; they foster the efficient use of resources and help restore biodiversity.
Knowing what you breathe
One project that taps right into the goal of cutting CO2 emissions is the “Monit-air” initiative in Poland. This country has long struggled with bad air quality, particularly in winter, since one of its main energy sources for heating is coal. Monit-air further developed and strengthened the system to measure and assess emission levels – based on Norwegian experience.
The Norwegian Institute of Air Research shared its knowledge with the Polish Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection on modelling of air pollution concentration to improve the collection of environmental information to better assess its impact, status and trends in Poland and beyond. To this end, Norwegian and Polish experts collaborated to develop a concept to optimise and modernise the local measurement network and collect high-quality data. Polish municipalities also adopted air quality assessment methods that meet the European Union’s latest requirements and received specialised training courses.
An important part of the project was to visualise the improved results. A new Air Quality web Portal and a mobile application were developed based on air quality data produced by the Polish authorities. This visualisation not only allows the expert community to get a better understanding of the air quality levels but also raises public awareness for environmental monitoring.
Have a look at this video covering the projects 'Monit-Air' and 'Info-Air':
Damage control for the packaging industry
In recent years, plastic packaging and its impact on the environment have received a lot of attention, from viral social media posts of marine pollution to high-level political action. The European Parliament voted for a ban on single-use plastics. The continuing environmental challenges of packaging reflect many targets of the European Green Deal. The production process is often resource- and energy-intensive and, once discarded, plastic packaging often has a somewhat troubling afterlife on landfills or in incinerators.
An ongoing project funded by the EEA and Norway Grants through the SMEs Growth Romania programme is aiming to change exactly that. The Romanian company Greiner is developing new environmentally friendly packaging products. They are alsoimproving existing packaging by using new greener technology with the help of the Norwegian research company SINTEF AS. Greiner will not only reduce its environmental impact by adopting more sustainable products and processes but will also increase its economic competitiveness through a more circular profile.
Reduced energy consumption and material use will lower the company’s footprint on the environment. Greiner will add two more environmentally friendly solutions to its product line, a cardboard-plastic combination called K3H and an opaque foil container. Together with International Development Norway, the Romanian packaging company will conduct a lifecycle assessment to evaluate the impact of its products from the raw material extraction to the finished result. Once fully implemented, the project will reduce the company’s annual energy consumption by 270 megawatt-hours and decrease its material consumption by 140 tonnes per year.
Paving the way with old roads
While pollution caused by the packaging or the aviation industry are widely publicised, the ecological footprint of the construction sector less often makes headlines. The cement industry, for example, is the third-largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide due to its energy-intensive manufacturing processes. Outside the cement business as well, the construction sector is one of Europe’s biggest waste generators, as many construction companies use many raw materials. High rates of energy consumption for their operations cause significant CO2 emissions. This is why a more circular, less energy- and resource-intensive, construction sector can make a big contribution to cutting emissions and making Europe climate-neutral within the next 30 years.
One way to do exactly this is by replacing raw materials with alternative and recycled products. This is what the “CirMAT – Circular aggregates for sustainable road and building materials” project is promoting. Under the initiative which is part of Portugal’s environment program and co-funded by the EEA and Norway Grants, waste from the construction and steel industry will fuel the production and development of new, greener and circular building materials. In short, old buildings will become the foundation of new ones and old roads will lead to new paths.
To this end, four different new construction materials will be developed using construction and demolition waste as well as industrial by-products. These products will be used in pilot constructions and processes for an industrial-scale production will be engineered. This will help enable the construction sector to trigger a much-needed paradigm shift from a resource- and energy-intensive industry towards a circular and sustainable sector.
Strengthening the air quality assessment system in Poland based on Norwegian experience
- Final project cost: €1,321,492 (€ 1,110,430 by the EEA Grants)
- Beneficiary State: Poland
- Programme: Improving Environmental Monitoring and Inspection
- Donor partner: Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU)
- Financial mechanism: EEA Grants 2009 - 2014
Development and improvement of environmentally friendly packaging products through new greener technology
- Initial project cost: € 608,938.28 (EEA Grants)
- Beneficiary State: Romania
- Programme: (SME Growth Romania)
- Donor Partner: SINTEF AS
- Financial mechanism: EEA Grants 2014 – 2021
CirMat - CIRcular aggregates for sustainable road and building MATerials
- Final project cost: € 588,196.08 (€ 499,966.67 by the EEA Grants)
- Beneficiary State: Portugal
- Programme: Environment, Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy
- Financial mechanism: EEA Grants 2014 – 2021
Fund your own project
The Grants fund projects that work towards a green, competitive and inclusive Europe in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Consult the website for an overview of open funding calls.