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.
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.
For the last two weeks of March, while Poland was experiencing the difficulties created by Covid-19, electricity demand dropped by as much as 8.5 percent. This drop has effectively increased the share of renewable energy sources within the national energy mix. How will the crisis provoked by the new virus affect Poland’s energy and climate policy? Will changes in the energy market make it possible to meet the EU’s 2020 renewable energy targets on the home straight? Agata Skrzypczyk takes a look behind the scenes.
In the coming months EU member states have to agree on major legislative proposals as part of the European Green Deal and how to support them through the EU’s budget for 2021 – 2027. At its core is the recently drafted European Climate Law, preparing the path for reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. But while the Council and the European Parliament deliberate on the specifics of the pioneering climate law, some countries in Central and Eastern Europe prepare for a nuclear renaissance as part of their climate mitigation strategies.
Well over half of the way into the first 100 days of the freshly installed European Commission (EC), led by President Ursula von der Leyen, the design and scope of the EU’s much hyped European Green Deal (EGD) is still quite vague. Serious questions loom about the plan’s ability to help Europe hit UN climate targets. Paul Hockenos explains why.
Ukraine and energy issues are often too narrowly associated with geopolitics and gas infrastructure in debates in the United States and Western Europe. Often very little is known about climate policies and the ongoing energy transition within the country. Iryna Holovko, Center for Environmental Initiatives “Ecoaction”, board member talks with Robert Sperfeld, Senior Programme Officer East and South East Europe Division at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, about the issue of climate protection within the Ukrainian society. For further information, have a look at the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s recently published Fact Sheet on decarbonisation as a matter for EU-Ukraine partnership.
It has not been a good year for Polish environmental policy; but, fortunately, it has also not been a total waste. Marked by the inertia and stubbornness of a government that, flying in the face of expert opinion, is imposing punishing and economically unsound ideas, it does seem as though some energy progress is being made, both as the government changes direction and as more citizens take matters into their own hands. Our Polish correspondent, Michał Olszewski, takes a look.
Throughout 2019 one poll after another has underscored that EU citizens are taking climate change very seriously and want to see action on climate protection on both the national and EU level. This should be a signal to Europe’s political class that they must prioritize all of the climate-related issues: from renewables to sustainable agriculture. The problem is that too many in the halls of power see climate as a “green” issue. A new generation of climate focused politicians is needed. Paul Hockenos analyses the data and comments upon the conclusions.
The long discussed plan, though a seminal milestone, risks becoming too watered down as it is stretched to become everything to everybody. The new version now raises as many questions as it answers. Paul Hockenos takes a look.