Geothermal Power Station, Iceland Credit: iStock / DieterMeyrl Green energy shift in the Arctic 10 May 2021Arctic PeoplesClimateRecommendationsArctic Contaminants Action ProgramPathways Act short-term, gain long-term By Kristín Linda Árnadóttir and Inger Johanne Wiese Around 80 percent of remote Arctic communities depend on diesel as their primary energy source today. How feasible does this make a swift transition to more renewable energy sources? The Chairs of the Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) and the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane (EGBCM) share their thoughts and insights. In short: A transition is challenging – but with the right policy framework and support the investments in cleaner, more sustainable energy systems will pay off financially, environmentally and health-wise. Which trends are you observing in the energy sector – both globally and in the Arctic? Inger Johanne Wiese, ACAP Chair: On the global level, the situation is improving, with a stronger interest in switching to more environmentally friendly energy systems based on a mix of zero or low carbon energy sources such as hydro, solar, wind, hydrogen and hybrid solutions. There’s an increasing market interest in greening the energy sector and strengthened policy measures by the European Union and financial institutions to focus on climate risks and the need for a transition. Kristín Linda Árnadóttir, EGBCM Chair: We can see a trend in commitments, policies and funds in the Arctic targeted towards greening the Arctic energy systems. Introducing new energy sources is of course more difficult and expensive in remote Arctic communities but the long-term gain is undeniable. Feasibility studies show that an energy shift is possible, however there’s a need to support communities in this transition. It’s also important to think about the energy security aspect. Transporting diesel to remote areas is risky, while using natural source like wind, hydro- or solar power are durable in the long-term. What will the transition process look like? Inger Johanne Wiese: Several pilot projects have been carried through in the Arctic. There are great numbers of success stories. There’s already a shift going on in several Arctic States. In 2020, the largest share of the EU’s electricity production was based on renewable energy for the first time. The climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, the related EU climate and energy regulations and the EU Taxonomy regulations for the financial market will contribute to this – as well as policy measures in other sectors. Kristín Linda Árnadóttir: We see an increase in specialized policies for change in the Arctic. If we take Canada for example, the country has put funds in place specially designed to enhance the energy shift in remote areas. This is something we are seeing in the United States, Greenland and other Arctic States as well. We know that the technology is there, we know that this is a high investment, but it comes with long-term gains. The question is what speed we’re moving at. Which timeframe are we looking at for a transition? Inger Johanne Wiese: Norway fully shares the vision laid out in the Green Deal whereby the EU aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 and welcomes the strengthened commitments for 2030. Norway will work closely with EU on these matters. Such commitments are important to business communities, long-term investments and research and technology developments. Kristín Linda Árnadóttir: We’re of course following the general climate commitments that states have made, but we need to look into more radical shifts. Even though we’re thinking long-term, we need to act short-term. On a local scale, a hydro plant is very expensive to set up and may not lead to a short-term return of investments but for a long-term climate neutral future, the plant is a clear win. We need to act in the short-term with eyes on the long-term gain.