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71 percent is water

71 percent is water

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71% of the Earth is covered by water, in the human body the percentage is even higher. Water is life. This simple truth is explored in this theme.

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Supported by The European Commission

Deep Dive: The Hydrogen Economy: a radical Alternative

This deep dive is part of the Foresight towards the 2nd Strategic Plan of Horizon Europe project. Green Hydrogen offers a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, changing the world of energy supply completely – geopolitically (some countries depend on their own Renewable Energy sources for their energy supply and not on other countries) and in terms of market structure (no more dependence on a small number of all-powerful oil, carbon and gas companies). Despite today’s inefficiencies in converting energy from nature to Hydrogen and back to power, Hydrogen could be a versatile energy carrier and a central element for energy storage in more abundant but more volatile renewable energy systems. Hydrogen needs to be produced, stored, and transported. Scientific and political discourses range from “hydrogen technology will provide us with the abundance of energy” to “building up hydrogen infrastructure including the necessary renewable energy sources is inefficient and will not lead to any kind of abundance.” For sure is that a fundamental change toward hydrogen as an energy carrier will have deep consequences for consumption and production patterns, global trade, and the reconfiguration of infrastructures. About this topic Climate change and the limitations – physically and politically/economically - of fossil fuels foster the need to decarbonise and change to alternative energy production, storage, and carrier systems. Technology in renewable energy improves, and in general, energy efficiency is increasing, but currently, absolute demand for power is increasing. ​ The technology to form Hydrogen is improving, and more units are built. Also, catalyst technology is advancing. One must expect strong opposition from current stakeholders in fossil and nuclear technology. Although, there is also the option to use nuclear power to form Hydrogen, which many people see as critical. Investments in the infrastructure are high. While mixing Hydrogen with methane for heating is almost feasible today with minor adaptations to the gas pipelines, building up an entire parallel infrastructure for handling pure Hydrogen safely is a massive adaptation in infrastructure. It remains unclear how a transition can be managed and financed and if access to critical raw materials is given. Before hydrogen technology could enter the market in full force, the low efficiency in converting power to Hydrogen power needs to be improved or compensated. ​ Renewable energy production and catalyst technologies require rare earth metals, precious metals, and large amounts of copper, aluminium, and even sand for construction. Most of these raw materials cannot be found within the EU. How to secure access to these raw materials when there is a race for these resources? In addition, the EU has only limited potential for renewable energy production. Harvesting consequently, e.g., solar energy potentials, would transform the infrastructure significantly. One challenge might be that there could be a mismatch between the availability of solar or wind energy and water. Conflict regarding the use of water is likely in these areas. The electrolysis of water in massive quantities will also put pressure on the water system, which climate change impacts can worsen. In general, water might be scarce when there is more abundance of renewable resources. Any burning (also Hydrogen) under ambient air will lead to the formation of nitrogen oxide, which is a significant cause of air pollution (PM, acidification and eutrophication, precursor for ozone).
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Supported by The European Commission

Futures of using nature in rural and marine contexts in Europe

The project focuses geographically on Europe and looks toward 2050, on regimes of stewardship of land and sea and address the role of ownership, access and use rights in rural areas (cities excluded), multiple uses of spaces (both land and sea), biodiversity, food (both aquaculture, fisheries and agriculture), energy (use of renewables), raw materials (mining etc.), carbon removal and storage, adaptation to climate change. While the challenges are global, they are addressed especially from the European research and innovation policy perspective.   The immense social and technological evolution of the Anthropocene continues transforming the Earth’s surface and its dynamics through extensive (mis-)use of its resources, both on the land and in the sea. This policy brief develops scenarios on rural and marine areas in Europe in 2050 and subsequent implications to today’s R&I policy in Europe. Each scenario considers i) Economy and technology, ii) Demographics, lifestyles and values, iii) Governance and iv) Environment. In Scenario A, European Civic Ecovillages pursue self-sufficiency and contribute to establishing a cooperative, locally oriented, caring economy restoring the ecosystem carrying capacities in land and sea. In Scenario B on Sustainable High-tech Europe, European businesses enjoy global leadership in regenerative and multi-functional high-tech solutions for energy, aquaculture and agriculture. In Scenario C on the United States of Europe, centrally planned Europe is divided between intensive use of land and sea and large conservation areas. Scenario D on European Permacrisis portrays Europe in a post-growth and politically scattered context that leads to low rates of innovation and fragmented use of land and sea. None of the scenarios features a decisive solution to the global climate and biodiversity crises. Scenario A forcefully targets the resolution of the biodiversity crisis in Europe, by aligning human practices with nature, but provides little support to global climate and biodiversity crises. Scenario B proactively tackles the biodiversity crisis both in Europe and internationally but struggles with the fragmentation of efforts and with scaling up good practices and wider impact to curb the crisis. Scenarios C and D with intensive use of nature reduce biodiversity. Thanks to European-wide coordination Scenario C can protect vast areas with positive impacts to biodiversity, whereas Scenario D also struggles with the major fragmentation of conservation efforts and its detrimental impact on biodiversity. Such challenges illustrate the importance of balanced approaches in developing both local and global solutions to climate and biodiversity crises. All scenarios depict a future of rural and marine areas in the context of extreme weather events and ecological crises, all be it with different intensities. Social developments, instead, range from major social confrontations to more collaborative and inclusive practices. Their policy implications include, among others, the need to address major risks of patchy land use that hamper the sufficient size of ecosystems and diminish resilience. The scenarios also touch upon integrated spatial planning of urban, rural and marine areas, and how the effective use of spaces can benefit from the further extension of user rights. Future research could explore if and how land ownership models in some rural areas could be replaced or complemented with public ownership and user rights. Furthermore, policy implications include a need for balancing sustainability with food affordability and security in different modalities of agriculture and aquaculture. The challenges of climate and biodiversity crises addressed by the scenarios suggest that balanced approaches are needed in developing both local and global solutions. This brief is the result of one of eight Deep Dive Foresight Studies in the project ‘European R&I Foresight and Public Engagement for Horizon Europe’ conducted by the Foresight on Demand’ consortium for the European Commission. During the spring of 2023, an expert team identified factors of change and organised two scenario and one policy implications workshops also engaging experts from academia, business and public administration around Europe. The process was also supported by discussions in the Horizon Europe Foresight Network.
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Supported by The European Commission

Stories from 2050

The overall goal of this project is to support the further development of the vision of a Clean Planet 2050 and the implementation of the European Green Deal by creating and harvesting stories.‘Stories from 2050’ is an exploratory project with the primary goal to enable its readers and policy-makers to imagine futures beyond the usual thinking. Through a series of participatory futures workshops and an open engagement platform at www.storiesfrom2050.com, we aimed to collect what activist communities, stakeholders, and citizens think, feel and say about our shared futures, with a focus on sustainability opportunities and challenges associated with the European Green Deal. The project aims to develop challenging stories that depict drivers of change, future challenges, consequences of failure and low-likelihood, high-impact 'wild card' events and present them in a form that will ease their use in policy-making processes.The first set of stories was developed during a six-month process where we invited individuals and communities from all over the world to imagine alternative futures of 2050. Therefore, we made a jump into 2050, unfolding a narrative of a fictional Space Mission. We’ve told the participants that our Earth had become uninhabitable and sent them on a journey to explore new planets. We defined those planets with particular terrains based on the elements of nature such as ‘Earth’, ‘Fire’, ‘Air’, ‘Water’ and ‘Life’ (knowing that life is an extension of the term ‘elements’). With a guided process, we’ve let participants imagine the systems and worldviews existing on those planets.From this first input, the project team created the Enriched Planet Narratives (see below). They were the guiding stories for the second workshop series, which were split into two parts. The first one was an expert session focusing on the transitional state between today and 2050. For the second one, we took a community-based approach of imagining fictional characters that would live on the imagined planets, and participants had to describe how they interacted with each other. To complete the stories, the project team then selected professional and creative story-writers who used the storylines built by the community as a source of inspiration. However, each writer had the freedom to interpret them and create their own version. The results of this process are the stories in our booklet. Moreover, the detailed approach of the complete development process and outputs of all workshops can be viewed here.

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Is Hydrogen that good for the Climate?

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Albert Norström

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FROM OUR FUTURES LITERACY DATABASE

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Horizon Futures Watch Workshop 2: Future of Land and Sea Use

Laura Galante

This blog post summarizes the dissemination event held for the 'Futures of using nature in rural and marine Europe in 2050' project.

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Futures of using nature in rural and marine Europe in 2050: Policy implications

Totti Könnölä

The immense social and technological evolution of the Anthropocene continues transforming the Earth’s surface and its dynamics through extensive (mis-)use of its resources, both on the land and in the sea. These challenges were addressed in the Deep Dive on rural and marine areas in Europe in 2050. We present here policy implications drafted based on the four scenarios developed.

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Futures of using nature in rural and marine Europe in 2050: Scenarios

Totti Könnölä

The immense social and technological evolution of the Anthropocene continues transforming the Earth’s surface and its dynamics through extensive (mis-)use of its resources, both on the land and in the sea. These challenges were addressed in the Deep Dive on rural and marine areas in Europe in 2050. We present here the four scenarios developed.

RELATED EVENTS

Special Exhibition: Science Fiction(s): If there were a tomorrow
Special Exhibition: Science Fiction(s): If there were a tomorrow

Past Events

“Futures4Europe – a platform to connect Europe’s foresight community” - relaunch event

May 24, 2023 at 9:30:00 AM

HORIZON FUTURES WATCH WORKSHOP #3: Futures of science for policy in Europe: Scenarios and R&l policy implications

June 28, 2023 at 11:00:00 AM

Platform Kick-Off

January 12, 2022 at 4:30:00 PM

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