Ten years have passed since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. In the aftermath, some countries have undergone profound energy-policy shifts to prevent such a disaster in the future. However, Japan’s closest neighbors, Taiwan and South Korea (Korea) are struggling to push through the nuclear phase-out agenda. Instead, support for nuclear is on the rise among the population in both countries. What has happened in those countries in the last decade? Yi hyun Kang & Milan Chen have the story.
In its so-called taxonomy, the EU seeks to define the economic activities that can be considered sustainable. Pro-nuclear lobby groups and countries are fighting tooth and nail for nuclear energy to be one of the lucky recipients of this label. Germany could block this plan, but the fact it wants fossil gas labelled as “sustainable” suggests that the entire issue could degenerate into horse-trading. Julian Bothe (.ausgestrahlt) surveys the fault lines of the debate.
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.
There’s a lot less coal smoke in the air, approaching mid 2021. Analyses from climate think tanks Ember and E3G illustrate a dramatic drop in the US and the European Union. But there are still a few holdouts as some continue digging in their heals. The US state of Wyoming, long the nation’s largest coal producer, is threatening to sue those who turn to cleaner energy sources. And Poland, Europe’s biggest coal dependent, has decided to ignore international law and cause a diplomatic crisis to keep mining. Aren’t these the antics of a dying King? Lead Blogger L. Michael Buchsbaum weighs in on the fray.
Chile is the new renewable energy champion of Latin America. It has overtaken Brazil and Mexico in attracting more foreign direct investment in the sector. Smart and stable energy policy lies behind this success as Rebecca Bertram reports.
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.
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.
Fossil gas has long been touted as being the cleanest of fossil fuels as well as a needed “bridge technology”. Plastics on the other hand have been hailed an integral part of modern society that might even deliver climate benefits due to their light weight. Andy Gheorghiu takes a closer look at the link between gas, climate and plastics and argues for an EU Methane Regulation that applies strict rules for both the fossil energy and the petrochemical sector.
The empirical evidence of our widening climate crisis is piling up faster than most of us can absorb the data. Bottom line: We have run out of time to negotiate a new middle ground or erect more “bridges” to an eventual green future. There can be no more delays. Sweeping action must be taken now. That is the shared view of the editorial board of the prestigious magazine, Scientific America, which recently joined the Covering Climate Now coalition and a growing list of other publications in jointly declaring that going forward, to emphasize the exigency of our situation, we will use the term “climate emergency” instead of “crisis,” because we damn well better start treating it like one if our society is to survive. Lead blogger Michael Buchsbaum reviews the situation.
Although the epicenter of the world’s petro- economy, countries in the Middle East understand the need to diversify away from fossil fuels. The need to transition is most strongly driven by broader regional priorities to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and grow the economy while also providing jobs for the increasing population of young people. At first glance, nuclear seems an apt tool to help the region meet these dual objectives. However, Middle Eastern countries would be better served by investing resources pegged to nuclear in the more promising solar and wind industries.