Despite several significant shortcomings, the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) united the globe behind the commitment to limit the warming of global climate to 1.5C degrees. Consigning coal to history was one of the central mission statements ahead of and during the conference. Just as important, though less prominent, are the implications of COP26 for the role of other fossil fuels in the global transition to net-zero – most notably for gas. Maria Pastukhova and Lisa Fischer from E3G take a closer look at how this year’s COP will shape the future gas transition diplomacy and whether the new initiatives launched can act as a springboard for the global transition beyond fossil gas.
Over the summer, the US Senate passed a much smaller than promised infrastructure package. Despite most climate protection and clean energy aspects being stripped out, one of the big winners in the $1 trillion infrastructure plan is hydrogen (H2). In a provision originally introduced as a separate bill by fossil-rich West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, some $8 billion will go to fund dozens of “clean hydrogen” projects including the creation of four new regional integrated H2 hubs. Hailed by President Joe Biden as a key tool to tackling the growing climate crisis, almost all energy funding in the bill will go to advancing “grey” H2 production from fossil gas as well as “pink” H2 generated by increasingly marginalized nuclear plants – throwing a lifeline to both sectors while ensuring little overall emissions reduction. In the next part of a longer series, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews America’s murky steps into the increasingly over-hyped H2 solution.
The UK government finally launched its long-awaited hydrogen strategy in mid-August 2021. However, their new “twin-track” hydrogen (H2) plan will only fund small volumes of green H2 produced from wind and other renewables with the bulk coming from “blue” H2 generated from fossil gas and dependent on unproven carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies to reduce emissions. Released days after new studies showing that relying on blue H2 could be worse than burning coal, the plan was met with skepticism from the climate science community. In the next installment in a series on hydrogen’s hype, lead blogger and Energy Transition podcaster Michael Buchsbaum breaks down some of the details.
Promoted as a vital tool to slow climate change, hydrogen (H2) is set to decarbonize long-distance transportation, steel and other industries while utilities plan to blend it with fossil gas for electrical generation. Yet 96% of H2 is currently produced from fossil fuels – mostly gas – resulting in massive carbon pollution. Though industry counters with promises of capturing and storing that CO2 – so called “blue” H2, there’s been no peer-reviewed data available to refute their claims it’s clean. Until now. A new life cycle assessment published in the Journal Energy Science & Engineering by influential scientists Robert Howarth and Mark Z Jacobson finds that instead of being an improvement, blue H2 is at best a “distraction” away from genuinely green solutions. Lead blogger, podcaster and advisor to the Energy Transition, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the study and its implications in the first of a series piercing through some of the hydrogen hype.
Autumn 2020 has seen a dramatic net-zero shift among the world’s industrial giants, with China and South Korea aiming for carbon-neutrality by 2060 and 2050, respectively, and Japan – for climate neutrality by 2050. East-Asian economies, along with the EU, are leading the global climate efforts in terms of long-term ambitions, but a closer look at energy transition progress and the climate policies reveals another potential global leader – India. Maria Pastukhova investigates.
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 recent publication “Gender-Responsive Climate Policy – a Case Study of the Colombian Coal Sector” showed that climate policies must take gender into account not only to limit the destructiveness of the current climate crisis but also to achieve a just transformation of the Colombian coal sector. Kathrin Meyer explains the advantages of this approach and its international relevance.
We are all looking for some good news. Here’s some: coal is tanking globally, nowhere faster than in the EU including the UK. With over 8.3GW of generation capacity coming offline during the first half of the year, coal-fired energy has fallen by almost a third across Europe. Even better: at least another 6 GW of capacity is scheduled to shutter during the second half of 2020 as Spain and Portugal join Sweden and Austria in ending their coal ages. As part of a series on the global decline of coal in 2020, L. Michael Buchsbaum takes a look at Europe, where coal is increasingly unwelcome.
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
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.