All posts tagged: Europe


Visegrad Fit for 55? Making the European Green Deal a Deal for everyone

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties − COP26 – is happening at the moment, with countries to be asked to cut emissions by 2030 in keeping with the goal of striking net zero by the middle of the century. The European Union (EU) aims to be climate neutral by 2050, as climate change and environmental degradation loom large over its economies and societies, including the Visegrad countries (V4). The summer heat wave in Europe, with its increased risk of wildfires and impact on food prices coincided with flash floods cause chaos in many countries while Poland and Czech Republic suffered devastating tornadoes. These extremes flag risks for the future. Diana Süsser and her colleagues from the V4SDG Lab organised an online workshop on climate action in the Visegrad countries and summarised the debates in this blog post.

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Exploring innovative ways to bring down methane emissions in the energy sector

After long years of neglecting the science about the negative climate impact of fossil gas (i.e. methane) the EU Commission finally came up with a Methane Strategy, with a concrete legislative proposal on the energy sector expected later this year. There is large consensus on the need to reduce methane emissions due to its high warming potential to limit global heating, but will the EU Commission propose sufficient measures and what other innovative policy options exist? Andy Gheorghiu summarizes the key highlights of an online event around a new study exploring this question.

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Rolling Hotels: Climate friendly Night Trains return to European rail networks

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 European Mobility Atlas 2021, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung has launched a series of webinars and forums 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.

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Europe to hit decarbonation target but has its energy rules changed much in Member States

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

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Coal collapse in Western Europe: Nations accelerate closure plans

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.

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Playing Out: Covid-19 helps stop coal’s endless global expansion

 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.

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Why nuclear power is always going to be unsustainable

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.

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Fracked up: The Link between Plastic, Fossil Gas and Methane Pollution. Pt.I

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.

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