Among the Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FMEs), CICEP has a distinct and important mission in helping determine which of the policy options that meet basic requirements of environmental sustainability and economic efficiency can be adopted and successfully implemented, and in exploring likely consequences of these policies for Norwegian industries, companies and other stakeholders. Midway into its third year CICEP faces both demanding challenges and rewarding opportunities.
Among the Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FMEs), CICEP has a distinct and important mission in helping determine which of the policy options that meet basic requirements of environmental sustainability and economic efficiency can be adopted and successfully implemented, and in exploring likely consequences of these policies for Norwegian industries, companies and other stakeholders.
Reviewing the work done in 2013, CICEP can record three books published for the international market. Two of these books build on research funded mainly through earlier grants for other projects: Skjærseth and Eikeland (eds.), Corporate Responses to EU Emission Trading, and Boasson and Wettestad, EU Climate Policy: Industry, Policy Interaction and External Environment. Hot off the press is a volume edited by Cherry, Hovi and McEvoy, Towards a New Climate Agreement: Conflict Resolution and Governance. Also a fourth book – Kanie, Andresen and Haas (eds.), Improving Global Environmental Governance – Best Practices for Architecture and Agency – includes significant contributions by CICEP team members. A number of research articles, some written by our international partners, have been published in a wide range of journals. CICEP researchers have contributed also to various outreach activities, including direct reports from the UNFCCC conference in Warsaw in November 2013 (COP19) as well as articles, interviews and presentations.
CICEP interacts synergistically with research activities funded through other external grants or by the founding partner institutions themselves. Therefore we benefit from two substantial Research Council grants awarded in 2013. One, under the ENERGIX program, enables FNI researchers to further expand their portfolio of EU research by a new project which seeks to analyze the Europeanization of energy-technology systems and the challenges generated by this development for Norway. Another grant, under the INDGLOB program, provides opportunities for CICERO researchers to study in greater depth India’s energy and climate policies and practices. Also small and short-term grants for reports on topics central to CICEP’s mission acquire strategic importance beyond their budgetary significance. One case in point is a DKK 350,000 grant from the Nordic Working Group for global climate negotiations to study equity and the spectrum of commitments in the 2015 agreement. Moreover, CICEP benefits from projects or programs funded mainly by the research partners themselves. UiO Energy stands out as a particularly important initiative in this regard, providing new opportunities for CICEP researchers to collaborate with others in interdisciplinary energy systems analysis.
Last but not least, CICEP is fortunate to have user partners who provide very constructive feedback and in some instances also contribute expertise and funding support for new research proposals.
Midways into its third year, CICEP also faces demanding challenges. First, more follow-up is needed to better meet legitimate user partner expectations and our own outreach ambitions. Second, CICEP is designed to enhance synergistic interaction with related research activities funded through other grants. This is an appropriate strategy but it also makes CICEP vulnerable to cuts in related activities as ongoing projects come to an end. We will know more about the funding of new projects in the first week of March 2014. Several pending applications involve CICEP researchers and will, if successful, provide important opportunities for raising our levels of ambition. Success cannot however be taken for granted; even proposals earning top grades from international reviewers and involving collaboration with leading user partners sometimes end up unfunded.
Third, the FMEs are established to help build a knowledge base for transforming carbon-intensive energy systems into environmentally sustainable systems. Each centre focuses on specific pieces of that transformation challenge. Such differentiation is a sensible strategy; cutting edge research requires high specialization and concentration of efforts. Yet, energy systems are complex and dynamic and inextricably linked to a very wide range of human activities. As illustrated by the German Energiewende, transforming energy systems requires a good understanding of how their different components interact. As the technological centres enter their second phase and the social science centres come up for mid-term evaluation, time may be ripe for exploring what all the centres might be able to do together. CICEP initiated a brief discussion on this question at the Annual FME meeting in 2013, and the Research Council has now invited a follow-up. We welcome this opportunity to develop further collaboration across the technology-social science divide.
Arild Underdal, Director of CICEP