Author: L. Michael Buchsbaum


L. Michael Buchsbaum is an energy and mining journalist and industrial photographer based in Germany. Since the mid-1990s, he has covered the social, environmental, economic and political impacts of the transition from fossil fuels towards renewables for dozens of industry magazines, journals, institutions and corporate clients. Born in the U.S., he emigrated to Germany and Europe to better document the Energiewende. He is also the host of The Global Energy Transition Podcast.

Don’t Look Up: star-studded film is a disaster-parable on climate inaction

The apocalyptic film has polarized critics while furthering a global debate on our collective failure to act on the climate emergency. With Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, since it’s release on December 24, it’s become the second-most-watched Netflix original film in the streaming platform’s history. Its popularity demonstrates a widespread hunger for climate-themed media while offering a global warning about trusting U.S. politics. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum offers his take.

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Hunting Methane in the United State’s #1 oil and gas producing Permian Basin

Methane emissions from oil and fossil gas facilities are skyrocketing, potentially accelerating the severity of climate change. Nowhere is the problem worse than in the United State’s Permian Basin, the biggest oil and gas field in the now world-leading petro-carbon producing nation. Stretching from Texas into New Mexico, satellites are detecting worsening levels of methane pollution. This comes as no surprise to “Texas” Sharon, one of the world’s first methane hunters. Recording thousands of leaks with a specially designed camera, she shares her observations with lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum.

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Permian Climate Bomb: The US’ biggest oil and gas field is spewing dangerous amounts of methane

Methane pollution stemming from oil and gas production is accelerating climate change. New data from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that methane may be responsible for almost half of all global warming to date. As the United States becomes the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil and gas, monitoring suggests methane is simply billowing out from its biggest fields, particularly in Texas’ Permian Basin. In a new series on methane, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews the Permian’s growth and new efforts by Washington to get those rising emissions under control.

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Methane part 1 | The Global Energy Transition Podcast – Episode 6

While much of the international community’s climate action has focused on controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, in doing so, we’ve essentially given a pass on another very powerful greenhouse gas: methane.

With 86 times the warming impact of CO2 over a twenty-year period, new studies show that methane accounts for about 30-50 percent of today’s global warming.

Thankfully, after years of pressure from activists and climate scientists, in 2021 world leaders finally started paying attention to our growing methane problem. While US President Biden created something of a stir leading an international pledge to reduce methane emissions, the EU actually introduced some rules intended to control methane pollution both inside the 27-member bloc as well as outside of it.

In this first episode in a series focusing on methane, host Michael Buchsbaum interviews Tim Grabiel, Senior Lawyer with the Environmental Investigation Agency in Brussels about the EU’s newly proposed methane regulations.

Then heinterviews Otilia Nutu, an energy researcher at Romanian climate think tank, 2Celsius to talk about how the new rules may or may not apply to the EU’s second largest producer of fossil gas.

Finally, we hear an excerpt of an interview with methane hunter, James Turitto with the Clean Air Task Force about what he discovered in Romania as well.

You can play the episode below, and it’s also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Shownotes:

  • Click on this link to navigate to Environmental Investigation Agency and the EU’s new methane rules
  • Click here for more info on methane in Romania and 2Celsius’ Otilla Nutu.
  • Click here to read more about methane hunter, James Turitto and what he discovered in Romania.

Audio from the podcast was mixed and edited by audio expert Christian Kreymborg

Romanian Power Move: damming rivers, halting renewables, blaming NGOs

With electricity prices sky-high, at the end of 2021 Romania’s government slapped huge new taxes directly on energy producers, with one huge carve out: the tax only applies to green energy producers – fossil fuels are exempt. Worse, Bucharest amended other laws that effectively cancel the nation’s Green Certificates scheme, the only renewable energy incentives in place. Just months after agreeing to phase out coal, green investors are being punished. In this edition of Romania’s Power Move, Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum explains this fresh challenge to renewables.

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IRENA & Bonn | The Global Energy Transition Podcast – Episode 5

Bonn leads the way

We all know that climate change is a worsening problem, but which paths do we take to find solutions to this vexing challenge?

In this episode, we evaluate several technological solutions while also updating how cities around the world are taking an aspirational policy approach.

In this rather Bonn, Germany-centric episode, host and proud-Bonnerite, Michael Buchsbaum celebrates his city’s endorsement of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. The subject of our first podcast, Buchsbaum interviews Seble Samuel, Global Cities Campaign Lead for the treaty.

He then talks about emerging clean energy solutions with Dolf Gielen, Director of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)’s Innovation and Technology Center, now celebrating 10 years of being located in Bonn.

You can play the episode below, and it’s also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Shownotes:

  • Click on this link to navigate to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative
  • Click on this link to find Bonn’s endorsement
  • Click here for more on the Cities Campaign Resources
  • Click here to learn more about IRENA
  • For more information on IRENA’s 12th Assembly, click here

Audio from the podcast was mixed and edited by audio expert Christian Kreymborg.

Romanian Power Move: Artists, Civil Society and local governments strive for a Just Transition

With national offices in Bucharest, NGOs Bankwatch and Greenpeace have long been active in Romania’s coalfields. Today both NGO’s are working closely with local governments in Gorj County – the nation’s lignite center – to help guide its transition into a renewable energy powerhouse. In this edition of the Romanian Power Move, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews how NGOs are assisting leaders on the ground to access Brussels-based support to fuel a green tech transformation within the nation’s most polluting region.

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Romanian Power Move: Retraining for a Just Transition from coal

Following advice from the World Bank, most of Romania’s coal mines started shuttering in 1997. But this pivotal sector’s collapse left hundreds of thousands unemployed with few resources to help them transition to new careers. Only now, as the nation’s last underground mines prepare to close and Bucharest plots their lignite phase-out, are so-called “Just Transition” retraining programs and other projects finally being implemented. Next in the on-going Romanian Power Move series, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the nation’s rocky steps towards a “just” coal transition.

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Romanian Power Move: Decarbonization means burning wood instead of coal

Weeks after agreeing to phase out coal, Bucharest struck a deal to convert an aging state-owned coal-fired power plant to burn locally-sourced “sustainable” biomass instead. But Romania’s forest-covered mountains are already suffering from illegal timber harvesting and biodiversity loss. Yet until this twist in the nation’s “decarbonization” plan, little biomass was burnt for electricity. Activists fear accelerated deforestation. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews the development in his on-going Romanian Power Move series.

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Romania part 2 | The Global Energy Transition Podcast – Episode 4

After committing to phase out coal by 2032, Romania has begun a sweeping energy transition. But it is off to a very rocky start. Though a key condition of their nearly €30 billion Recovery and Resilience Plan approved by the European Commission calls for the nation’s coal mines and coal burning power plants to shutter, what will replace them remains a cause of concern. During COP26 in Glasgow, Romania’s provisional government surprisingly inked a deal with the U.S. to construct a fleet of experimental nuclear units while partnering with a Norwegian company to convert an old coal plant to burn biomass instead – despite Romania already having a large problem with illegal timbering. But more than an economic issue, Romania’s energy transition requires a cultural shift as well as an influx of worker re-training programs. And now as energy costs rise, Bucharest is blaming several NGOs for higher prices.

In this episode, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum takes a deeper look in Part Two of his Romanian Power Move series. Listen for interviews with campaigners from Beyond Coal Europe, researchers from NGO 2Celsius, and Bankwatch Romania’s National Director, Ioana Ciută who recounts her experience testifying before Parliament. Miner’s Hymn by Jurjak from the Planeta Petrila Original Soundtrack used by permission. The full video can be found here.

You can also read more from host Michael Buchsbaum about Romania’s energy transition in the ongoing Romanian Power Move series on the Global Energy Transition blog here, visit his website here or follow Buchsbaum on Twitter: @LMicalBuchsbaum.

You can play the episode below, and it’s also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Shownotes:

Report “Coal in Romania – A review of coal-based assets and how they affect the environment” by Bankwatch Romania

Europe Beyond Coal “Romania commits to exiting coal by 2032 at the latest

Energy Policy Group & Greenpeace România report “The sustainable transition of Gorj County

2Celsius – Romanian environmental NGO

Audio from the podcast was mixed and edited by audio expert Christian Kreymborg.