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.

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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Natural Gas is a Bridge to Nowhere

Natural gas has long been touted as the climate-friendly, carbon-low interim fuel in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. And the recent fall in its price has made gas a go-to fuel for many countries, including Germany. But experts say this is no reason to build ever more pipelines or to see gas as anything more than another fossil fuel that must be phased out as quickly as possible. Paul Hockenos reports.

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Bavaria’s Hard Lesson Learned: Local tourism isn’t necessarily sustainable

The huge tourist crush this summer in the Alps shows that sustainable tourism has to mean more than just going local. There is a wealth of innovative ideas for making tourism softer on the environment and climate. Rather than just complain about the glut, localities have to insist upon these sometimes prohibitive measures – even if it means turning customers away. Paul Hockenos has the story.

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The EU’s Emissions Trading System is Finally Becoming a Success Story

 For years, the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the EU’s flagship policy to tackle global warming, was considered a flop. Brussels had distributed too many free emission allowances, which kept the price per ton of emissions low. But since 2018 permit prices have soared upward: and the result is forcing coal out of the energy market. Paul Hockenos reports.

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