Author: Paul Hockenos


Paul Hockenos is a Berlin-based journalist and author of Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall and the Birth of the New Berlin.

Bad Laws and Poor Regulation Stunt Germany’s Clean Energy Drive

The planning and approval processes of energy transition projects are obstructing the massive rollout of renewables. Germany’s ungainly bureaucracy has the reputation of being an Olympic sport – and in the case of renewable energy development this rap is, unfortunately, right on the mark. For years now, investment capital for clean tech in Germany has been itching to enter the market. The path there, however, is so thick with legal impediments and other hurdles that many interested parties—start-ups, small businesses, prosumers, and established manufacturers alike—simply judge it not worth the risk and hassle. One task of Germany’s incoming government, regardless which party heads it, has to be to gut the blizzard of red tape. Paul Hockenos explains.

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Waste-to-Energy’s Days are Numbered. Applaud!

Circumventing landfills by turning garbage into energy sounds like a win-win proposition. But the incineration of garbage has high carbon emissions and produces other dangerous toxins. Waste-to-energy (WtE) plants may be necessary for the very last of unrecyclable waste, but we do not need more of them to accomplish this. Already recycling has cut into their feed supply – and should, hopefully, put them out of business.

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Poland’s Białowieża forest: an endangered carbon sink and biodiversity reserve

Poles tend to see the ancient forest of Białowieża as home to extraordinary wildlife. For the climate conscious, the old-growth wilderness that straddles the Polish-Belarus border is a vast carbon sink. Both camps are incensed that the Polish government wants, again, to log the UNESCO World Heritage site. Forests elsewhere in Europe are under threat, too. Paul Hockenos conducted interviews with locals from Białowieża Forest in Poland.

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Germany’s high-risk clean-energy balancing act

As coal-fired and nuclear power plants go dark, Germany needs to find ways to balance the grid when weather-dependent renewables cannot get the job done. German and European experts are considering three options. The most promising is the rapid rollout of renewables combined with demand management, diversified storage, and regional smart grids.

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World’s Smart Cities Show How They Do it Themselves

Toronto’s former mayor shines light on best practices in cities from San Francisco to Tokyo in his new book “Solved: How the World’s Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis”. He argues that innovative transitions to low-emission cities are not just possible, or planned, but are already success stories.

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