Covering an area the size of Belgium, Argentina’s Vaca Muerta oil and gas field comprises the second-largest known reserve of shale gas and the fourth-largest reserve of shale oil in the world. During the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, the international environmental NGO 350.org issued a warning that exploiting the field’s full reserve could unleash a veritable “carbon bomb,” accelerating already quickly rising global temperatures while putting agreements to hold to a 1.5 degree rise out of reach. Now, in the wake of the world’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, drillers are accelerating fracking activities as producers rush to backfill missing energy supplies. Supported by international investment banks and their partners, new pipelines and liquid natural gas terminals are enabling Argentina’s toxic hydrocarbons to capture long-term global supply contracts. 350.org’s Latin American Managing Director, Ilan Zugman and 350.org’s Senior Latin America Campaigner M. Victoria Emanuelli along with lead blogger Michael Buchsbaum review the situation.
Fundamental to Germany’s Energiewende is its long-planned nuclear energy phase-out. For over a decade the nation has gradually reduced its reliance on atomic power with a planned end date of December 31st 2022. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the subsequent boycotting and weaponization of Russian fossil fuels, plus fears of a cold winter have upended the nuclear exit-strategy. With three plants still online in October, Chancellor Scholz decided to extend their runs until the following April. But delegates at the Green Party’s recent congress in Bonn overwhelmingly voted against backing any measures allowing the purchase of new fuel rods to further extend their runs. And as lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reminds in this second piece on Germany’s fractious nuclear exit debate, despite the ongoing war, it’s still possible that uranium for any new rods would be imported from Russia.
Soaring energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fears of a cold winter, energy shortages and a looming recession in Germany are causing much handwringing. Long dependent on cheap Russian gas, Germany’s crucial industrial sector is warning of blackouts and lasting economic damage if enough replacement fuel isn’t found. After months of partisan bickering between members of his coalition government, Chancellor Scholz decided to authorize the extended run time of the nation’s three remaining nuclear power plants until mid-April 2023, postponing their long planned, legally binding December 31st 2022 expiration date. In the first of two pieces, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum takes us through the debate.
Led by reformer Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s new leftist government, the first in its long history, aims to both reduce its dependence on fossil fuel exports and achieve 100% clean electricity by 2032 while creating peace and creating economic prosperity. But to ensure these aims can justly be reached, Petro’s administration will need assistance, particularly from Germany. Its fifth largest trading partner and biggest in the EU, new treaty obligations to protect indigenous rights and control supply chains may force Germany to re-evaluate its still extractivist behavior. In the final piece in the series, Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews several of the necessary changes required of the German companies still profiting off the mining and burning of Colombian blood coal.
It was unthinkable that a leftist government could ever take office in Colombia – and then this summer it happened. Historically power has been held by the nation’s upper classes who used state violence to terrorize unions, minorities, indigenous groups and social reformers. But running on a platform promising a government dedicated towards waging civil peace and ensuring social and environmental justice, in June the progressive former senator and Bogotá mayor, Gustavo Petro and his running mate, the Afro-Colombian environmentalist, Francia Márquez, prevailed. As lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum writes in this part of the Colombian Conundrum series, immediately topping Pedro’s agenda is re-writing regulations so the whole population can benefit from fossil fuel industry profits.
After a year serving in Germany’s Bundestag, the climate-champion and Green MEP Kathrin Henneberger now finds herself struggling to defend the progress made by her predecessors. In response to Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz personally calling Colombia’s then president, Iván Duque to increase coal exports, despite well-known human rights violations associated with mining there, Henneberger traveled to the Latin American nation to tour its fossil fuel producing regions. Once there she immediately began forging ties with Colombia’s incoming leftist government, the first in its history, with the intent on forming a new climate alliance aimed at jointly phasing out coal production and burning in both nations. But back home, she remains committed to reducing coal dependency and preventing the destruction of villages around the edges of Germany’s still expanding mines.
What follows is the second part of an edited interview between her and lead blogger, Michael Buchsbaum. Listeners can enjoy a longer version in a companion podcast.
Elected to Germany’s Bundestag a year ago, Kathrin Henneberger entered Parliament on a clear mandate from Green Party voters to accelerate coal’s domestic phase out and speed up the energy transition. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the narrative. When word leaked that, despite well-known human rights violations in Colombia, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz had personally called then-president, Iván Duque, to ask if the Latin American country could increase coal exports to Europe and replace sanctioned Russian supplies, Henneberger was outraged. This summer she traveled to Colombia’s coal and oil producing regions, visited front line communities and met with impacted residents. She also took this opportunity to meet members of Colombia’s incoming leftist government, the first in its history, with the goal of forging a new climate alliance. What follows is part one of an edited excerpt of an interview she gave with lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum.
Note: listeners can enjoy a longer version in an upcoming podcast.
Battered by decades of bloody civil war, energy and resource development remain major flash points. But record fossil fuel market prices present a difficult choice for Colombia’s new environmental and social-justice oriented president, Gustavo Petro. Increasing production risks the nation’s fragile peace. But not taking advantage of the revenue, they risk economic collapse. Enjoying excellent wind and solar potential, new internationally funded projects are under construction nationwide. But often sited within the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples, development is happening in ways far too similar to how coal companies have long exploited these same regions. In the third part of a series focusing on Colombia, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the dilemma facing Petro’s government as they take office.
Responding to sanctions leveled on Russia following its February invasion of Ukraine, Moscow throttled deliveries of its fossil gas to the European Union. Desperate to keep the lights on, regulators and power producers returned to coal. But with Russia mining almost 70% of EU imports, burners needed other suppliers. Despite widely acknowledged human rights abuses there, in early April, German Chancellor Scholz personally called president Iván Duque to request that Colombian miners ramp up production and exports to Europe. However in elections this summer Colombians voters swept in the nation’s first ever leftist government. The second in a series on this Latin American nation, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum briefly reviews its struggles with coal and the situation Gustavo Petro’s environmentally focused administration faces.
A year ago, production of Colombian “blood coal” was falling, the future of the massive El Cerrejon mine was uncertain, and a growing list of nations were banning it’s import. But following Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and a personal call by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the nation’s then president, Ivan Duque, today Colombia’s miners are expanding their operations, shipping increasing volumes to the European Union and enjoying record profits. But recently elected reform-minded President Gustavo Petro and Goldman Environmental Prize-winning vice-president Francia Marquez aim to address land redistribution, a shift to renewables and an end to fossil fuel production. Still reeling from decades of civil war, mired in energy poverty and international debt, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum begins a series reviewing Colombia’s energy conundrum.