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.
Africa’s contribution to the global share of the carbon pollution that is destabilising Earth’s climate is relatively small. A just transition for the continent needs, therefore, to lean towards adapting to an unstable climate, ahead of aggressive mitigation efforts. A case study from South Africa shows how a Green New Deal-approach could help restore damaged ecosystems, buffer communities against climate shocks, and boost job opportunities in a country with high unemployment. Leonie Joubert reports.
In addition to other profound impacts, the corona virus has offered global energy markets an unprecedented natural experiment. Collapsing demand for conventional energy fuels and inelastic supply responses have depressed oil prices that are now being incorporated into forward energy planning. This adverse investment accelerator effect is now expected to bring forward the so-called “peak oil” milestone, significantly shortening the profitable lifecycle of known oil reserves. Thus a global health crisis has given us only a foretaste of what we can expect over a longer time horizon, as climate risk continues a slower but more inexorable ascent. Simply put, the rising social cost of carbon will exert the same effect on conventional energy demand, compounded by the emergence of ever more affordable renewable substitutes. Furthermore, the international push for a ‘green recovery‘ in the aftermath of the pandemic is perceived to hasten the end of the oil era. Oyuna Baldakova and David Roland-Holst report
To face social and environmental problems generated by fossil energies, market-based solutions have emerged to tackle these challenges on a broader scale. These proposals are often also framed as a “green” approach to economic growth. They include e.g. regulatory disincentives for emitting CO2 through a form of carbon pricing or more specifically, emissions trading systems (ETS) and carbon taxes. Although their rationale sounds adequate, their design and implementation are flawed from different points of views and subsequently result in a minimal decrease of CO2 emissions. The following analysis will focus on the main causes of this (political) deficiency with a focus on Latin America. Maximiliano Proaño has the details.
On September 22 China’s President Xi has delivered the country’s new pledge to reach peak carbon emissions earlier than 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 to the UN General Assembly. If pursued, this pledge marks a fundamental shift in China’s global climate ambitions and will have profound long-term impact on the global economy and energy markets. How sustainable will this impact be for the globe? Well, it all depends. Maria Pastukhova has the details.
Global trade has been a notorious difficult sector to sign up for decarbonization. The crux of the problem is that its business is crossborder, and thus skirts the emissions reduction plans of individual national states. Much of it thus gets a free ride. Paul Hockenos reports
The so-called Green Deals on the table in Europe and the US present an enticing prospect to rejuvenate the greatly diminished transatlantic relationship — and help hit crucial climate targets before it is too late. The European Green Deal, proposed last year with much fanfare by EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen, overlaps significantly with the Green New Deal, an ecological spending program devised by congressional Democrats and endorsed by the party’s presidential candidate, Joe Biden. Paul Hockenos reports
To achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050, in early July the European Commission (EC) published their new Hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe. Though the promise of a future green hydrogen-based system is the main selling point, in reality the near-term hydrogen economy will be dependent on a nightmarish mix of fossil gas-derived “grey” hydrogen, later supplemented by “blue” hydrogen, itself dependent upon the proving out of non-functional carbon capture and sequestration technologies (CCS). Behind the scenes, the oil and gas industry and their allies are pushing for a “technology-neutral” hydrogen future, thus ensuring them a handsome stream of profits. Despite the green label, there is every reason to suspect that the coming hydrogen transition will be exponentially dirtier than expected. L. Michael Buchsbaum reminds us to be skeptical in Part II of a series on the promises and pitfalls of green hydrogen.
When the EU embarked upon its energy transition odyssey, regulators deemed the burning of biomass as climate neutral—which when done on a relatively small-scale and under controlled conditions, it can be. But taking advantage of the EU’s biomass baked-in carbon loophole, power generators soon began converting older, coal-fired plants to burning it instead. There’s only one catch: the climate science doesn’t add up. Biomass’ special carbon accounting loophole is creating a superficial impression of climate progress as forests disappear and emissions rise. Despite sunk capital and billions in government subsidies, the EU has vowed reform, but will regulators really change course? L. Michael Buchsbaum has the details.
Last year, Brazil made international headlines for the devastating forest fires in the Amazon and their impact on the world’s vital oxygen lungs. Many governments – especially from Europe – were quick to condemn the deforestation of the Amazon that had been increasing rapidly since far-right President Bolsonaro took office in January 2019. Rebecca Bertram takes a closer look.