Soaring energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fears of a cold winter, energy shortages and a looming recession in Germany are causing much handwringing. Long dependent on cheap Russian gas, Germany’s crucial industrial sector is warning of blackouts and lasting economic damage if enough replacement fuel isn’t found. After months of partisan bickering between members of his coalition government, Chancellor Scholz decided to authorize the extended run time of the nation’s three remaining nuclear power plants until mid-April 2023, postponing their long planned, legally binding December 31st 2022 expiration date. In the first of two pieces, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum takes us through the debate.
Led by reformer Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s new leftist government, the first in its long history, aims to both reduce its dependence on fossil fuel exports and achieve 100% clean electricity by 2032 while creating peace and creating economic prosperity. But to ensure these aims can justly be reached, Petro’s administration will need assistance, particularly from Germany. Its fifth largest trading partner and biggest in the EU, new treaty obligations to protect indigenous rights and control supply chains may force Germany to re-evaluate its still extractivist behavior. In the final piece in the series, Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews several of the necessary changes required of the German companies still profiting off the mining and burning of Colombian blood coal.
It was unthinkable that a leftist government could ever take office in Colombia – and then this summer it happened. Historically power has been held by the nation’s upper classes who used state violence to terrorize unions, minorities, indigenous groups and social reformers. But running on a platform promising a government dedicated towards waging civil peace and ensuring social and environmental justice, in June the progressive former senator and Bogotá mayor, Gustavo Petro and his running mate, the Afro-Colombian environmentalist, Francia Márquez, prevailed. As lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum writes in this part of the Colombian Conundrum series, immediately topping Pedro’s agenda is re-writing regulations so the whole population can benefit from fossil fuel industry profits.
After a year serving in Germany’s Bundestag, the climate-champion and Green MEP Kathrin Henneberger now finds herself struggling to defend the progress made by her predecessors. In response to Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz personally calling Colombia’s then president, Iván Duque to increase coal exports, despite well-known human rights violations associated with mining there, Henneberger traveled to the Latin American nation to tour its fossil fuel producing regions. Once there she immediately began forging ties with Colombia’s incoming leftist government, the first in its history, with the intent on forming a new climate alliance aimed at jointly phasing out coal production and burning in both nations. But back home, she remains committed to reducing coal dependency and preventing the destruction of villages around the edges of Germany’s still expanding mines.
What follows is the second part of an edited interview between her and lead blogger, Michael Buchsbaum. Listeners can enjoy a longer version in a companion podcast.
This spring Germany’s three-party coalition government announced plans to introduce a discounted €9 nationwide public transportation travel pass for the summer months. Intended as a way to cushion the blows of rising inflation, high energy and living costs while reducing fossil fuels usage and emissions, at least 21 million tickets were sold between May, when the ticket became available, and July. Sales figures and passenger numbers surpassed industry expectations and data shows that highway traffic congestion nationwide is easing. But despite its obvious success, Berlin is poised to not extend the offer beyond August, prompting fears that rail travel costs will jump, highway traffic jams will lengthen as Germany squanders another opportunity to show real leadership. Lead blogger, podcaster and frequent rail passenger, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the situation.
In 2022, Germany set ambitious goals renewable energy, raising its share of gross electricity consumption up to 80 percent by 2030. In this context, the German government has adopted a policy to promote energy systems on agricultural land and focusing, in particular, on solar energy production. Many questions remain but agrovoltaic systems could serve as a useful tool to boost both the national and European energy transition. Leona Schmitt scans the detail.
Boosting renewable production is essential amid the bid to curtail Europe’s dependency on Russian energy sources. Wind energy in particular is a key plank of Germany’s Energiewende, and there remains untapped potential in onshore and offshore energy production. But how can we boost offshore expansion while preserving delicate marine environments? Leona Schmitt takes a closer look.
In an interview, one of Germany’s foremost energy conservation experts, Stefan M. Büttner, says that companies can save energy and production costs more easily than they think.
The war in Ukraine reveals the consequences of Germany’s fossil fuel dependency on Putin’s regime in a brutal way. The international voices to cut these fossil ties are growing by the day. Many oil and gas producing companies – such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil – have already pulled out of Russia. However, Germany’s largest oil and gas company, Wintershall Dea, is still reluctant to follow these examples. Andy Gheorghiu gives a brief overview about Wintershall’s history and explains how its deep-rooted ties with state-controlled Gazprom – including its Nord Stream projects partnerships and a swap-asset deal that hand-delivered Germany’s largest gas storage to Putin – have also deepened Germany’s dependence on Russia.
On April 4, 2022, the IPCC published he third part of the Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Referring to the findings and key results, UN General Secretary António Guterres said that “investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness” while also outlining that “such investments will soon become stranded assets”. In this blog post, Andy Gheorghiu explains why new LNG terminals in Germany are not an exception – even after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.