The modern world depends on the smooth provision of vital services such as energy, transportation, telecommunications, food, water and healthcare. But the systems underpinning these sectors are increasingly complex and interdependent, interacting at a global scale – which makes them susceptible to potentially catastrophic failures when they come under stress. David Flynn and Valentin Robu report
About five years ago, decentralized community energy, though etched in history books for having sparked Europe’s clean-energy revolution in the 1990s, was deemed outdated in the age of the ever-more dramatic climate crisis. Paul Hockenos explains the development.
Recent months have brought a series of signs of change on the horizon of Polish climate politics – some clearer than others. It is negligible how much such change is being forced by external circumstances and how much stems from genuine reflection. The climate crisis and its consequences are now so clear that the most hardened climate sceptics have been silenced. It is too soon to speak of an environmental breakthrough in Poland, but one can no longer definitively say that the right-wing remains completely indifferent to the ubiquitous signs of crisis. Michał Olszewski summarises the development.
Even though unit costs for renewable energy have fallen sharply, there’s clearly more finance needed for mitigation and adaptation. The least developed countries still don’t have the technologies they need. Can the private sector deliver, or should governments and the UN intervene, asks Silvia Weko
As “we only have 12 years left” morphs into “11 years” because emissions keep rising, the question of whether benevolent dictators wouldn’t be better than sluggish, ineffective democracies is being posed more often. Will someone please tell people why democracy still matters? Craig Morris is searching for answers
After twenty years of negotiations, the European Union is in the process of advancing one of the world’s largest free trade agreements with four states of Mercosur. The planned agreement suggests a political path that veers towards a worsening of the international climate crisis. Kathrin Meyer discusses the questionable contents of the political act, which will solidify inequality amongst the trade partners and enable the expansion of environmentally harmful methods.
Several countries’ national determined contributions (NDCs) highlight climate finance as a precondition for the ambitious action needed to achieve development paths compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C in 2100. Many hopes have been pinned on new market mechanisms in this context, but the trade-offs demanded by carbon trading schemes continued to be hotly debated at the UNFCCC last week, not least due to their political and economic implications. Laima Eicke reports