By the time you read this, the village of Lützerath may already be gone – part of the price paid for getting RWE, Germany’s largest energy producer, to stop mining and burning brown coal by 2030. Yet short term, RWE is ramping generation at their lignite-burning plants, among the most polluting in Europe, to make up for sanctioned Russian gas and help Germany get through the next two winters. But climate scientists warn, burning all the coal underneath the activist-occupied town could risk breaking the emissions limits set under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Worse, as lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum relates, the steep terms of the deal are splintering the Greens, potentially setting party leadership against its most ardent climate activists.
Recent events have thrown the debate as to whether fossil gas remains required to ensure the security of Europe’s energy supplies completely on its head. The threat that gas supplies can be either weaponised or placed under international sanctions at any point has never been clearer and has highlighted the urgent requirement for accelerated low carbon energy capacity deployment for Europe to reduce its reliance upon the fossil fuel. Jonathan Sims, Senior Analyst at the think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative, has the details.
With electricity prices sky-high, at the end of 2021 Romania’s government slapped huge new taxes directly on energy producers, with one huge carve out: the tax only applies to green energy producers – fossil fuels are exempt. Worse, Bucharest amended other laws that effectively cancel the nation’s Green Certificates scheme, the only renewable energy incentives in place. Just months after agreeing to phase out coal, green investors are being punished. In this edition of Romania’s Power Move, Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum explains this fresh challenge to renewables.
After committing to phase out coal by 2032, Romania has begun a sweeping energy transition. But it is off to a very rocky start. Though a key condition of their nearly €30 billion Recovery and Resilience Plan approved by the European Commission calls for the nation’s coal mines and coal burning power plants to shutter, what will replace them remains a cause of concern. During COP26 in Glasgow, Romania’s provisional government surprisingly inked a deal with the U.S. to construct a fleet of experimental nuclear units while partnering with a Norwegian company to convert an old coal plant to burn biomass instead – despite Romania already having a large problem with illegal timbering. But more than an economic issue, Romania’s energy transition requires a cultural shift as well as an influx of worker re-training programs. And now as energy costs rise, Bucharest is blaming several NGOs for higher prices. Read More
Currently generating over a fifth of the nation’s electricity, in September the Romanian government announced a coal phase-out by 2032. Though supported by various EU funds and intended to pave the way towards mid-century carbon neutrality, Romania’s energy transformation plan is far from emissions free. Despite vast renewable potential, Bucharest intends to replace most of their lignite plants with fossil gas and eventually “clean” hydrogen. In this blog, based on field research funded by a Fellowship from the International Journalists’ Program, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum takes us to both Romania’s coalfields and speaks with Romanian Ministry of Energy State Secretary, Dan Drăgan.
South Africa has just been given a purse of $8.5 billion to help accelerated its move away from coal. But as the international climate negotiations wrapped up in Glasgow, a few key developments at home suggest that the continent’s biggest polluter is not in a hurry to end its relationship with coal. Leonie Joubert takes a closer look.
Ukrainian municipalities in coal regions, which are still dependent on mining, are becoming increasingly aware of the sector’s terminal decline and are scouting for sustainable alternatives for the future. NGOs and active municipalities in the Lviv-Volyn coal basin in the west and Ukrainian-controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east, are joining up forces to create post-industrial green options. Oleh Savytskyi has the details.
In September 2019, at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, the newly-elected Prime minister Mitsotakis announced that Greece would phase out the use of lignite in its energy system by 2028, 10 years faster than Germany. Consequently, the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) drafted by the previous SYRIZA-led government was revised to reflect this and other commitments before the plan was sent to Brussels end of 2019 [see previous blog post]. Daniel Argyropoulos 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