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The secret burning of trees: the often overlooked role of biomass

Biomass has gotten a bit hot of late. The subject of several high profile documentary films including Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs’ highly controversial Planet of the Humans as well as last year’s Burned, lawmakers within the European Union are finally starting to question its classification as a carbon-neutral and renewable fuel—especially as more scientific evidence emerges to the contrary. Despite advances in wind and solar, biomass still fuels 70% of global renewable energy. Michael Buchsbaum takes a look in the first of a multi-part series on biomass.

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Fracking in Germany: truly banned, allowed a little or even soon back in vogue?

Lots of people the world over believe that fracking is banned in Germany. This view is shared by climate and environmental activists and promoted as a positive example. But unfortunately it is not quite true. Although Germany likes to be seen by the international community as a model of green and climate-friendly behaviour, it does in fact explicitly permit fracking in some cases. Furthermore, there is a risk that the restrictions that do exist could be eased or even lifted completely as early as next year. Andy Gheorghiu, an independent campaigner and consultant for climate and environmental protection, explains.

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Germany’s losing renewable jobs

The goal of 500,000 people employed in the renewable energy sector moves further out of reach every year. The trend is now embedding in wider reports of “environmental jobs,” not reported separately. Craig Morris takes a look.

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A Layman’s Guide to “Thinking the World Anew”

The German political economist Maja Göpel’s new book is currently Germany’s No. 1 bestselling work of non-fiction. It reaches back to the beginnings of capitalism to understand how we’ve landed in our present overlapping crises of environmental degradation, economic disparity, and illiberal democracy. In order to confront them, we have to first change the way we think about the big-ticket issues of our day, she argues, all of them. Paul Hockenos reviews the book for us.

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EU recovery plan goes green and excludes nuclear

On 27 May the European Commission (EC) put forward its proposal for a major post-Covid-19 recovery plan. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament that what underpinned the programme was a determination “to hold governments more accountable for fighting climate change and saving our nature.” David Lowry explores what this means for the continent’s climate policy and the role of nuclear energy.

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Mexico’s strange corona response: putting a brake on energy transition

Mexico’s government has had a bad corona run. The pandemic hit the country when the economy was already shrinking. But instead of profiting from the resulting drop in electricity demand of 9 percent in order to speed up the expansion of renewables and the much needed modernization of his country’s energy sector, President Lopez Obrador – widely referred to as AMLO – is instead sticking to the country’s outdated and failing CO2-heavy energy system. Rebecca Bertram takes a look.

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SA’s coronavirus recovery plan should consider value of women’s ‘invisible’ work

The South African government still needs to drawing up a just transition plan that will support workers who are likely to lose their jobs as the country moves its economy away from dependence on carbon-emitting production, such as mining and downstream industries. But the coronavirus lockdown has shown the invisible contribution that women’s labour makes to the economy. Could the country’s coronavirus stimulus package be a chance to add women’s work into the country’s ledger books? Leonie Joubert takes a closer look.

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Who doesn’t like Polish wind power?

Despite the fact that the price of investment in onshore wind power is dropping massively as its efficiency surges, turbines are still unwanted in Poland. If it weren’t effectively blocked by unfavourable legal regulations, wind energy would create a chance to increase the importance of renewable energy sources. What is the reason for wind power’s bad image in Poland and who is suffering most as a result? Agata Skrzypczyk reports.

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