In September 2019, during the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to phase out all coal-powered electricity production by 2028, making Greece a pioneer in the Balkans. This commitment is enshrined in the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) submitted by the Greek government to the European Commission end of 2019. The new government, in power since July 2019, revised the NECP and introduced more ambitious climate and energy targets (see blogpost on NECP). Daniel Argyropoulos has the details.
Away from coal! The need to get out of coal is now clear for everyone. But do we need instead more piped gas and LNG – liquified natural gas? Andy Gheorghiu 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
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.
Presumptive Democratic party presidential candidate Joe Biden has released an ambitious $2 trillion energy and climate plan that will, if implemented, create not only millions of well-paying jobs, but place the nation on a mid-century carbon neutrality pathway. Calling for a massive investment in solar and wind capacity, Biden aims for a coal exit and elimination of carbon pollution by 2035. More than just an energy and climate platform, Biden’s plan reckons with ensuring a just transition for affected coal and gas producing regions, while directing support towards impacted poor and minority regions so often in the smokestack shadows. Far from perfect, Biden’s plan would at least begin to stop the world’s top polluter from taking us all over the climate cliff.
But there’s fight-back from the old guard – in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own party – as well as from Europe’s so-called ‘frugal four’: Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. Nevertheless, Merkel is going further than ever before in backing the European Green Deal, higher EU climate targets, and renewable energy across Europe. Paul Hockenos has the story.
In May, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Environmental Action Germany (DUH), and Food and Water Europe organized online conferences entitled “Fracking, Plastics, Methane Emissions and the Gas Lobby” to better explain the connection between them and climate crisis. The first of the two drew upon startling new satellite data explained by globally renowned methane and fracking expert, Prof. Robert Howarth from Cornell University. In his presentation, he detailed how the ongoing fuel switch from coal to gas has likely worsened the overall climate. Other speakers, including two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), several environmental attorneys, and other fracking activists discussed continuing gas lobbying efforts to “greenwash” uninformed MEPs and the general public. Now available for streaming, the first webinar-debate provided a welcome space for an informed discussion around fossil gas policies, many of which ignore established science in favor of economic and political expediency—our L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews.
Despite all their rhetoric, Angela Merkel’s Grand Coalition government is clearly not all that interested in really powering past coal. The latest evidence is its decision to allow the Uniper-owned 1,200 MW hard coal-fired power plant, Datteln 4, to come online in 2020 — against the recommendations of the Coal Commission. As the government embarks on a bizarre sales campaign peddling the idea that Datteln’s advanced technology will somehow help improve the climate, activists are organizing a protest wave that will dwarf previous actions around the embattled Hambach Forest. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the situation.
Though in October, Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party narrowly won a second term in office, its power was weakened after it lost control of the upper house of Parliament and failed to increase its majority in the more powerful lower chamber. Now one wonders if Poland is finally about to get serious about addressing the climate crisis? Following Mateusz Morawiecki’s first speech to Parliament as prime minister and his initial decisions, is a breakthrough in the nation’s position on the environment coming? Our Polish correspondent, Michal Olszewski, takes a look.