The circular economy constitutes an energy-efficient economic model for a European economy of the 21st century. Paul Hockenos has the details.
In July the European Commission unveiled its Fit for 55 package aimed at pushing EU member states to reduce emissions by at least net 55% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030. One of the most widely anticipated parts of the package – at least among policy wonks – is the introduction of the world’s first carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). Intended to level the playing field between domestic and foreign producers of cement, steel, aluminum, fertilizers and electricity, CBAM’s real litmus test will be if it actually reduces overall emissions and incentivizes a greening economy both within and without the EU. But given how controversial and relatively weak the CBAM proposal is out of the gate, critics worry its presence will only distract from more effective climate strategies in the Fit for 55 plan. Worse, despite COP 26 in Glasgow, pushing CBAM could spark an international trade war. Lead blogger Michael Buchsbaum reviews the growing debate. Listen to our podcast on CBAM.
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 hydrogen transition – a crucial political, economic and climate initiative for the European Commission – got a massive boost from their newly released Fit for 55 strategy. But despite growing concerns about how dangerous the expanded carbon footprint of H2 produced from fossil gas will be, many policymakers like EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson remain firm on backing both “blue” and “grey” H2. Among many incentives in the new policy package is the shielding of this highly polluting sector from having to pay additional carbon taxes under the European Trading System (ETS). In a recent Politico Energy Visions web event sponsored by Shell, Simson batted away all criticisms, stating that during the H2 transition phase “we will need all low-carbon hydrogen solutions.” Lead blogger L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews some of the ways not-so-low H2 benefits under the bloc’s new theoretical pollution prevention plans.
In mid-July, the EU published sweeping cross-sector plans intended to cut emissions by 55% compared to 1990 by the end of the decade. Using rising carbon prices under the Emissions Trading System (ETS) to literally fuel the clean energy transition, the proposed legislation covers a lot of ground: it increases renewable energy targets, sets in place the phase-in of hydrogen, increases energy efficiency and helps encourage housing renovation while ensuring the path of progress is “just.” Beyond helping the bloc reaches its climate objectives, policymakers hope to set an example of global climate leadership in the face of COP26 in Glasgow. In the first of three pieces, lead blogger Michael Buchsbaum breaks down some of the policy’s complexity.
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.