Given the flood of media we all experienced in 2020, in particular as we were stuck inside our homes, one of the challenges is finding and holding onto some of the good and positive developments in the stream. For his first blog post in 2021, our leader writer, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews some of his energy transition highlights from 2020. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Once you’ve read through the end, please feel free to comment and share with us your own “good news” from 2020.
The major shale oil and shale gas deposit Vaca Muerta (in English also: Dead Cow) covers a 30,000 square kilometers area located in three Argentinian provinces Neuquén, Mendoza and Rio Negro. According to the US Energy Information Administration, Vaca Muerta has a total of recoverable gas resources of 308 tcf (8.7 billion m3) and a recoverable oil and condensate of 16 billion barrels (2.5 billion liters), making it the world’s second-largest shale gas and oil deposit. A project of great political-economic interest, but also counterparted by the social and environmental impact inherent to the extraction of non-conventional gas and oil by fracking. And even further than that: while the world is turning to decarbonisation, successive Argentine governments have been persisting on succeeding their fossil energy models. Maximiliano Proaño Ugalde reports
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.
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.
As inspiring as it is to see Fridays for Future on the streets again, its enforced downtime during the pandemic has wrought changes in the climate movement, in Germany and beyond. Can it bounce back to have the global presence it had in 2019? And if so, how does it intend to make its voice count in the new context? Paul Hockenos has the story.
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
During the last months, Latin America has become the main COVID-19 focus worldwide. In early September, the region concentrated more than 27% of the COVID-19 cases globally and 31% of its deaths. High rates of inequality and poverty, failures in the health system and political instability are the main reasons for this dramatic situation. And it seems to get worse in the upcoming years: according to the UN COVID-19 will result in the worst recession in the region in a century, causing a 9.1% contraction in regional GDP in 2020. Consequently, the number of poor could increase by 45 million (to 230 million in total) and the number of extremely poor by 28 million (to 96 million in total). As political and social instability has already characterized 2019, the risk of a period of human rights violations and a lack of democracy is real. Maximiliano Proaño reports
For a long time, the French have considered cycling a sport rather than a way of transport. This has changed in the past years with raising concerns about air quality, climate change and public health. 2020 can be a real turning point with long strikes in public transit as well as government support for a bike system in the aftermath of the Coronavirus crisis. Lisa Tostado takes a closer look.
As the South African government prepares to inject a stimulus package equivalent to 10 per cent of its GDP into the economy to aid recovery from the coronavirus recession, energy analysts say the time is right to fast-track renewable energy. More than state-funded investment, though, this will need political will and policy that builds private-sector confidence. Leonie Joubert reports.
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On 27 May the European Commission (EC) put forward its proposal for a major post-Covid-19 recovery plan. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament that what underpinned the programme was a determination “to hold governments more accountable for fighting climate change and saving our nature.” David Lowry explores what this means for the continent’s climate policy and the role of nuclear energy.