2021 is the European Year of Rail in recognition of the key role trains play in efforts to strike climate neutrality by 2050. As well as reducing short-distance flights, regulators across the continent are also promoting night trains as a more sustainable form of travel. This summer, rail operators are re-launching services that had been halted and are investing in new routes and equipment across the continent. As part of its , the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung has launched a to underscore the benefits of night trains as a climate solution and urge more action from Brussels and other capitals. Lead Blogger Michael Buchsbaum reviews recent European Night Train developments and interviews one of the two Atlas’ Chief Executive Editors and rail expert, Philipp Cerny.
Ten years after implementing EU rules to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent, improve energy efficiency equally so and consume renewable energy by that same number, the European Commission will now look at the results from Member States (MS) implementing its 2009 Renewable Energy Directive (RED). The RED was supposed to establish “a common framework” to promote and use renewable energy. Crucially, the results will show whether the EU now has its fingers on the elusive solution: how best to coordinate and harmonize MS energy policies towards the EU’s climate goals. Michael Davies-Venn reports
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.
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.
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
The biggest nuclear site in Europe containing the world’s biggest stockpile of nuclear explosives is at risk of blowing up. What does this short-term decay tell us about the very long-term sustainability of a technology whose toxic waste last at least 24,000 years? Dr David Lowry takes a closer look.
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.
In much of Europe, this April is proving one of the driest in history. In Germany, wildfires are blazing, forests and farmlands are bone dry, and river depth in some areas is a half of what it should be. According to climate scientists, this could be the new normal as global warming enhances the frequency of severe droughts. Farmers though could do more to secure stable harvests: by growing more diverse crops. Paul Hockenos takes a closer look.
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.