Home to the EU’s decision making institutions, Brussels has become the centre of gravity for developing leading environmental and economic polices in Europe. As Norway declined EU membership, a Bellona presence in Brussels became essential in order to continue its work on key environmental issues such as climate change, waste and industrial policies. Since 1994, Bellona Europa has existed as an NGO registered under Belgian law.
Along with Russia and the United States, the EU is one of the most important arenas to work toward policies and legislation that can ensure a better world for coming generations. Examples like EU legislation on pollution control, with its principle on the use of “best available technology,” as well as the anchoring of the “polluter pays” principle in waste legislation, constitute bold initiatives that breed investment in new technology.
Many industry and NGO figures are in Brussels to keep themselves abreast of information on developments in their fields in the EU. Some are also present to influence concrete bills worked out by the European Commission (EC). Bellona’s approach is to create a forum for dialogue between representatives from industry, EU institutions, politicians and NGOs.
The EU as a Political Arena
Bellona also uses the European Parliament (EP) to focus on the complexity of issues and to spread information and knowledge. Through cooperation with a number of Members of European Parliament (MEP), Bellona Europa routinely organises open hearings in the EP. Participants in these hearings traditionally include MEPs, representatives of the Commission, authorities from EU member states and industry and NGO representatives. Bellona has thus developed close ties with various MEPS and other influential partners.
Russia Work in Brussels
Bellona’s long experience with nuclear issues in Northwest Russia has made it possible for Bellona Europa to contribute important information to European decision makers. In co-operation with our Russian offices, Bellona Europa delivers first hand information about important environmental challenges and on problems and risks associated with nuclear power plants, the nuclear submarine fleet and the storage of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in Russia. Bellona Europa works to spread knowledge in this area and to create international pressure on Russian authorities and industry
Since 1996, Bellona USA has primarily worked with challenges related to decommissioned submarines and the storage of radioactive waste in Russia. Keeping the USA involved in our work in Russia has strengthened non-proliferation efforts and the concern for civil society in Russia. Bellona USA’s work has been met with significant interest and praise from American politicians.
Global Warming–Waking the United States to the Challenge
In autumn 2005, the US office was revitalised by hiring a representative in Washington, D.C, Svend Soeyland. He brings to Bellona USA a wealth of experience as a government bureaucrat, a United Nations researcher and university lecturer, all in the sphere of the environment. Bellona USA’s Board of Directors consists of leading experts within the fields of hydrogen technology, nuclear safety and climate issues. Bellona USA closely monitors US Federal and State policies, and liaises with like-minded organisations, think tanks and corporations. Bellona USA’s work in the United States consists of identifying areas where Bellona’s global expertise can be translated into specific initiatives and efforts there.
Bringing the United States and Europe Together
In addition to issues of nuclear safety, Bellona USA will work with climate challenges, gas and coal usage without greenhouse gas emissions and the potential for hydrogen as an energy carrier. Bellona USA also provides Bellona Web with articles and analysis on American environmental policies.
Of special importance to Bellona USA is assuring that the European public is acquainted with the detailed and involved discussions in the United States about what will happen after the first Kyoto Protocol period ends. Though the United States did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, there are many signs that businesses, regional politicians and researchers are now taking emissions problems seriously. Voluntary greenhouse emissions reductions programme are catching on in several States, cities and among major emitting industries. Bellona USA is at the forefront pushing for innovate energy solutions like zero emission coal power plants, renewable energy and for the introduction of mandatory programmes such as carbon taxes and cap and trade regimes.