By the end of 2022, Romania had met only 33 of the 55 milestones established in its multi-billion euro National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). Most problematically, major provisions around lignite-fired power plant closures remain blocked. Days before the first coal units were set to shutter, citing the ongoing war in Ukraine, lawmakers in Bucharest decided to delay closure until October 2023. While also moving forward with the construction of both new EU-funded fossil gas plants as well as U.S. subsidized nuclear reactors, NGOs and activists worry Bucharest is simply trying to cash in on the recovery monies while playing the European Union. Now regulators in Brussels have taken notice by delaying disbursement of billions in much needed green energy funding. Continuing the Romanian Power Move series, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews the unfolding situation.
After 2 years and 15 negotiation rounds, on June 24, 2022, the Contracting Parties of the Energy Charter Treaty (“ECT”) finaly reached an agreement in principle on a reform of the Treaty. The deal, the detailed text of which remains confidential, contains a package of amendments and changes meant to modernise the Treaty’s investment provisions and bring it in line with the Paris Agreement (the “new ECT”). Crucially, this new ECT will grant existing fossil fuel investments in the European Union and the United Kingdom an additional 10 years of investment protection and even maintain, for now, indefinite protection in other Contracting Parties. It is therefore clearly not aligned with the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels that science shows is required to avoid climate catastrophe, or consistent with the International Energy Agency’s (“IEA”) widely recognised scenario to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Amandine Van den Berghe, Lukas Schaugg and Helionor de Anzizu have the details. This blog was originally published on Jus Mundi.
The original Bauhaus sought to create the building of the future that would unite every discipline from architecture to sculpture and painting. 100 years later, European Commission president, Ursula Von der Leyen has revitalised the movement to create homes and public buildings that help cities become greener and that reconnect us with nature, based on the 3 principles of sustainability, aesthetics and inclusion. This New European Bauhaus (NEB) gives a platform for architects, artists, students, engineers and designers to work together. The Commission has created NEB prizes showcasing projects that help steer the movement towards its goals. Ciarán Cuffe, who is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Greens/EFA group, gives us some insights.
Until now, non-EU Eastern Europe has been largely left out of the Green Deal. But advocates in Ukraine and elsewhere want that to change – in the very near future. Civil society should take the initiative, they argue. Paul Hockenos has the story.
The pandemic may well change our transport habits for the better – at least in cities. Public transport and eventually even cars will be increasingly shunned in favour of bicycles. Michał Olszewski reports from Warsaw, Poland.
After years of resistance, this September Romania promised to exit coal by 2032 ahead of receiving a €29 billion chunk of NextGenerationEU redevelopment money, some 40% earmarked for green and sustainable projects. But then Bucharest’s coalition fell and a caretaker government has since announced plans for a fleet of new fossil gas and biomass plants to power the country past coal. And during COP26 they signed a partnership with the United States to construct Europe’s largest new nuclear fleet. In this series, based on field research funded by a Fellowship from the International Journalists’ Program, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum, trains a spotlight on Romania’s controversial energy transition.
With energy prices soaring across Europe, more gas and coal plants are firing up. Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, emissions – along with bills – were skyrocketing. Though fossil energy dependent countries like Poland and other allies of dirty fuels are using the crisis to push back on Brussels, putting more scrutiny on the bloc’s overall decarbonization strategies, leadership is standing firm. As imported fossil gas prices are ever more manipulated on complex commodities markets, European Commission leadership says the crisis is another reminder that the best long-term solution is to accelerate the expansion of renewable generation. And thankfully that’s a key aim of the EU’s newly unveiled “Fit for 55” strategy. Lead blogger L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the situation.
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.
Fossil gas has long been touted as being the cleanest of fossil fuels as well as a needed “bridge technology”. Plastics on the other hand have been hailed an integral part of modern society that might even deliver climate benefits due to their light weight. Andy Gheorghiu takes a closer look at the link between gas, climate and plastics and argues for an EU Methane Regulation that applies strict rules for both the fossil energy and the petrochemical sector.
Small-scale energy collectives want to play a prominent role in transitioning Europe’s energy supply to renewables. But the epic size of this challenge requires large companies with deep pockets and technology that can balance the grid. But do we really have to choose?