This spring Germany’s three-party coalition government announced plans to introduce a discounted €9 nationwide public transportation travel pass for the summer months. Intended as a way to cushion the blows of rising inflation, high energy and living costs while reducing fossil fuels usage and emissions, at least 21 million tickets were sold between May, when the ticket became available, and July. Sales figures and passenger numbers surpassed industry expectations and data shows that highway traffic congestion nationwide is easing. But despite its obvious success, Berlin is poised to not extend the offer beyond August, prompting fears that rail travel costs will jump, highway traffic jams will lengthen as Germany squanders another opportunity to show real leadership. Lead blogger, podcaster and frequent rail passenger, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the situation.
In the years since the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany was permitted, evidence continues to mount that fossil gas does not provide a clean bridge to renewables. Projected to emit over 100 million metric tons of CO2 per year – plus fugitive methane, German regulators refuse to investigate the climate impacts of Europe’s largest fossil fuel project. Nor have they agreed to hold hearings on this emerging data ahead of September’s federal elections. But the EU’s adoption of emissions reduction targets of 55% by 2030 on the way to mid-century carbon neutrality means NS2 will clearly breach these limits. In the third installment in an on-going series, Lead Blogger L. Michael Buchsbaum interviews one of the world’s leading authorities on methane, Dr. Robert Howarth, whose data suggests the pipeline’s impacts could be worse than the coal it’s replacing.
2021 is the European Year of Rail in recognition of the key role trains play in efforts to strike climate neutrality by 2050. As well as reducing short-distance flights, regulators across the continent are also promoting night trains as a more sustainable form of travel. This summer, rail operators are re-launching services that had been halted and are investing in new routes and equipment across the continent. As part of its , the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung has launched a to underscore the benefits of night trains as a climate solution and urge more action from Brussels and other capitals. Lead Blogger Michael Buchsbaum reviews recent European Night Train developments and interviews one of the two Atlas’ Chief Executive Editors and rail expert, Philipp Cerny.
Small-scale energy collectives want to play a prominent role in transitioning Europe’s energy supply to renewables. But the epic size of this challenge requires large companies with deep pockets and technology that can balance the grid. But do we really have to choose?
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
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.
Accepting the truth about the climate and ecological emergency—and acting upon it—is the core message of Extinction Rebellion. Since April, through non-violent acts of civil disobedience, they have globally staged protests and street blockades. During October’s wave of action, Buchsbaum joined them in Berlin.
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
On July 12, a group of economists called on the German government to take quick climate action. This new proposal packs because the messenger officially advises the government – and doesn’t come from the climate camp. Craig Morris reports