What is the Green Deal?
The Green Deal is one of the most ambitious calls that EU has launched and will allow to tackle, in the coming years, the environmental challenge. The Green Deal is set within a “global strategy” that will affect many aspects and that involves different actors, among which there are, the European Commission, the Parliament and the European Council, with the aim to build a sustainable future. The climate change and the consumption of natural resources are worrying phenomena that could have a negative impact on the European economy and society. Therefore, the protection of the environment can no longer be postponed and it is precisely with the aim to ensure the “climate neutrality” by 2050 that the von der Leyen Commission, in the context of the European Green Deal Strategy, has initiated the Green Deal Call.
The characteristics of the Green Deal Call
The Green Deal Call, almost similar to an Horizon 2020 subprogram given its size and structure, aims to promote climate neutrality and energy transition.
In order to achieve the ambitious objectives of the EU’s new green strategy, interventions at all levels of European society and economic systems need to be implemented, both related to technology and science and to citizens behaviour and lifestyle. The idea behind the whole call is that technological innovations alone are not enough to implement the profound societal change required, but that it is also necessary the awareness and the active participation of each European citizen.
Compared to other calls that are part of the Horizon 2020 program, the Green Deal also has a particularly “pragmatic” approach that aims for “clear and visible results in the short and medium term”, however grafted from a long-term perspective. Achieving these results must be achieved through targeted interventions with visible actions and with immediate application, scalability and dissemination.
Thematic areas of the call
The great complexity of the call, subdivided into 10 major thematic areas, each of which is divided into specific topics, is justified by the many challenges it intends to address.
To get a complete picture of the call we will analyze all the issues it addresses.
Area 1: Cross-sector challenges
This area includes the challenges brought by the adaptation to change across multiple economic sectors; in particular, the call aims to fund projects that intervene in the prevention and fight of fires through innovative methods, in socially innovative and climate-neutral cities and in the development of tools for those European regions particularly endangered by climate change.
Area 2: Clean, secure and affordable energy
The decarbonization of the European Union is one of the pillars on which the entire European Green Deal is based. Energy use and production alone accounts for 75% of continental greenhouse gas emissions.
However, the emphasis is on the economic sustainability of decarbonization, which must not go to favor the phenomenon of ‘energy poverty’. Within this area, projects covering different sectors will be financed, such as:
Area 3: Industry for a circular and clean economy
Europe’s energy-rich industries (steel, cement and chemicals) play a very important role for the European economy, but they are also among the most polluting. Decarbonizing these sectors is therefore a priority. In particular, recycling raw materials allows to reduce its environmental impact as well as to increase European independence in these strategic areas. The areas that will be financed are related to decarbonization projects, development and demonstration of circular economy solutions.
Area 4: Energy efficiency of the construction sector
The construction and renovation sector requires a great energy and mineral resources consumption. There is vast room for efficiency improvement, which is why the projects that will be financed are those that provide for sustainable construction and refurbishment methods and that are able to lead to greater energy efficiency of the buildings themselves.
Area 5: Sustainable and smart mobility
In order to achieve the Green Deal goals, it is essential for the transport sector to become drastically less polluting. All types of transport must contribute in this sense. In particular, the main intention of this area is to finance special projects that aim to use ports and airports as “sustainable hubs” from which to start a kind of green revolution in the areas of air and sea transport.
Area 6: Sustainable food
The aim of this area is to make European Union the global benchmark for the sustainability of the food industry. At the moment, however, this goal is distant, because this is one of the sectors that brings unsustainable food waste due to high levels of air, water and soil pollution and biodiversity loss. As a result, the EU will fund projects that aim to testing and demonstrate sustainable systemic innovations in the food industry.
Area 7: Biodiversity and ecosystems
Projects related to the restoration of biodiversity and natural ecosystems will be funded. A well-functioning ecosystem ensures protection from natural disasters, including diseases, as well as providing clean air and water and air and more fertile soils.
Area 8: Pollution and toxic waste-free environment
Waste from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as plastics, are among the main threats to the well-being of natural, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Under this area, funds will be guaranteed for projects that bring innovative solutions that can protect against these threats and suggest policies with strong scientific foundations to combat these forms of pollution.
Area 9: Strengthening the knowledge to support the Green Deal
The ambitious objectives of the European Green Deal will be unattainable if there is no adequate support from scientific research. Projects that allow to strengthen research infrastructure and that provide new resources and ideas will be financed for the following areas:
Area 10: Empowering citizens to allow the transition towards a sustainable Europe
As already said, the contribution of all citizens is required so that we can overcome the great environmental challenge that Europe, and the whole world, have to face. This is why the project that will be funded are those that allow to:
Who can participate?
The sectors of the 10 areas differ in type of financed activity and in the percentage of the costs of the project covered by the funding itself. In any case, the funding is significant, with a minimum of 2-3 million euros to a maximum of more than 50 million euros depending on the sector.
Given the European nature of the challenge, the majority of available funds require participation in partnerships consisting of at least 3 legal entities from as many eligible countries (EU members or associated with Horizon 2020), however, individual legal entities are allowed to participate in some cases. Individuals are not allowed to participate.
It is already possible to submit projects and there will be time to do so until 26 January 2021.
Even if the call is not open to everyone, everyone is still indirectly required to participate. In order to achieve the goal of a more sustainable Europe, in fact, we all need to do our part to improve both our living conditions and those of the planet.