New data reveals that for the first time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the world’s fleet of coal-fired power stations has grown smaller. With economies in Covid-19’s grip, more coal capacity was retired during the first half of 2020 than the amount that came online. Though terrible for the climate, make no mistake, King Coal’s reign isn’t ending just for environmental reasons. Coal has become bad for business and banks are starting to freeze investments. L. Michael Buchsbaum takes a deeper look in the first of his Playing Out of Coal series.
A total solar eclipse on December 14th left the Chilean south briefly in the dark. Between local indigenous groups and the solar industry, the event was affronted with respect and ingenuity. Vera Dickhoff takes a closer look.
In what may seem a last ditch effort, the European Union has turned to the slow churning wheels of the law to stimulate climate action in 27 Member States (MS) towards a single goal: a carbon neutral Europe by 2050. European Commission (EC) president Ursula von der Leyen puts on a warm smile to say the text of the proposed European Union Climate Law is “actually rather short and it is rather simple.” We leave simplicity to constitutional lawyers, who may find “simple” an amusing word to describe a law with massive implications for national constitutions and EU treaties. Michael Davies-Venn has the story.
As we approach the end of a tumultuous 2020, with the UK finally to leave the European Union on 31 December after its transition period expires, the EU – primarily the Commission – itself has continued to refine the parameters of its sustainable energy strategy, which has been constructed very much in the face of the pressures of the unprecedented global pandemic. David Lowry has the details.
In the 2020 American elections, neither the Democrats nor the climate achieved the clear victory for which many of us wished. But across party lines, voters are demanding action to address the nation’s rapidly changing climate. In several cities and states, particularly out west—voters demanded energy progress. Given how divided Washington remains, these subnational decisions may enable regional carbon neutrality to progress faster while providing actionable models for the entire nation to follow. L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the election results.
News media is a load-bearing wall in a healthy democracy. It informs the public discourse, shapes citizens’ active participation in day-to-day governance, and holds elected officials to account. The rise of social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter in the past decade shows what happens when this new media ecosystem replaces traditional news as a primary source of information — and misinformation. What does this mean for the stability of African democracies, and the continent’s ability to tackle the climate crisis? Leonie Joubert has the story.
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.
Chile is facing important debates for its future. The South American country is immersed in a process to establish a new constitution to manage a multifactorial crisis situation to which the social-environmental crisis contributes heavily. In parallel, the country is committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. Hence, the institutional framework, and the path to reach it, are key. Maximiliano Proaño reports
The initial sense of relief the world felt over Donald Trump’s defeat needs to become much more tempered—in particular through the lens of climate and energy ambitions. Given the near 50/50 split in the Senate, essentially mirroring a starkly polarized electorate, with each passing day that Trump and many of his loyal Republican allies refuses to concede, the chances of bold reforms happening within Biden’s term narrow further. Though more Americans voted for Biden than in any other election, the Democrats have essentially been defeated in both houses of Congress, in so far as they gained neither control of the powerful Senate nor managed to hold, let alone increase, their previous majority in the House of Representatives. Though there are many tools he can still use, by no means will Biden be able to freely wield his power, including whatever climate mandate we wish he had won. L. Michael Buchsbaum discusses what a weakened Biden can still accomplish.
Sometimes one can indeed be a prophet in one’s own land. When work began on building a third unit at the power plant in Ostrołęka, central Poland, in 2009, independent experts warned that it was a risky investment – unfortunately, in vain. Michał Olszewski has the story.