The good news is that Poland is no longer denying or ignoring the climate crisis. The bad news is that it believes the solution to eradicating its 80 percent dependency on fossil fuels – the highest in the EU – is an expansive nuclear energy program. Even the three democratic parties likely to form a new, liberal-minded coalition government, the outcome of the October 15 general election, believe that their country is going nuclear – big time and very soon – by building in total six full-size conventional reactors and as many as one hundred small modular reactors (SMR) in coming years. Paul Hockenos reports. Read More
Facing embargoes on Russian fossil fuels and high energy prices, Europe survived last winter largely because of renewable energies, and the hard-nosed scrimping and saving of both Europe’s private sector and citizenry – not because of nuclear power. The continent’s populations hunkered down to conserve energy as never before: turning down heating, switching off non-essential lighting, taking shorter showers, donning heavier sweaters and woollen socks, vacationing closer to home, and insulating windows and doors, among other energy efficiency measures. However, as we will see, it was European industry that really saved the day, writes Paul Hockenos. Read More
In so many ways, Alpine skiing is an assault on the natural world. This will only become more pronounced as our highlands see less and less snow as a result of the climate crisis. In the short run, a dying industry is trying to save itself by means that exacerbate its toll on the environment. Paul Hockenos reports.
Horsepower-flush automobiles and the 7,200-mile highway system that accommodates those vehicles, called the autobahn, belong to Germany’s national mythology. For decades, German drivers have relished the ostensible perk of its long stretches of asphalt without a speed limit. But the climate crisis has called this cherished tradition into question, prompting Germans to rethink their relationship to internal combustion engines – and to the autobahn itself, writes Paul Hockenos.
When looking at clean energy expansion and the drive toward a sustainable future, it makes sense to start with the big picture. After all, one can easily get lost in the myriad of bit pieces. But the micro is important, too, and there’s a universe of innovation happening in the private sector: small start-ups that are filling niches in the sustainable economy (like Tesla once did.) An annual competition organized by the German Energy Agency’s Start-Up Energy Transition reflects the private sector’s advances on the countless parts of the larger Energiewende.
Defying the grimmest projections, Europe made it through the temperate winter of 2023 with remarkably little collateral damage – and even a few big wins. The energy crisis may have displaced Europe’s climate aspirations by a fraction, but thanks to a record rollout of renewables and conservation measures, the continent’s emissions footprint inched downward and positioned Europe to remain within reach of its goal to slash emissions by 55 percent in seven years’ time. And it’s on track to comfortably outpace its pledge to generate 45% of its total energy from clean sources by 2030.
At the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Berlin, several international experts including two from Ukraine, underscored the precarious events unfolding at Ukraine’s nuclear power stations, among them the Zaporizhzhia complex, the largest nuclear power facility in Europe.
The US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) counts on massive direct subsidies to its private sector to stimulate a green transformation of the economy. The EU has opted largely for carbon pricing and other taxes to make the same transition. The two approaches are in no way mutually exclusive – and both have benefits. Paul Hockenos looks at the European answer to the IRA in the second installment of the two part series. Read part one here.
The US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a moonshot moment in global climate protection, underscoring that the public sector will spend hundreds of billions in subsidies to drive decarbonization and a green economic transition. The EU’s bet on carbon pricing doesn’t rule out state aid, too. It now has to match the US plan. Paul Hockenos explains the details in the first installment of a two part series.
In 2022, negative prices occurred during 69 of the total of 8,760 hourly prices in German day-ahead trading. Last year, there were 139 cases of hours when utilities had to pay to give away electricity. This adds to the high price of electricity in Germany, but it doesn’t explain it. Paul Hockenos has the details.