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.
Elected to Germany’s Bundestag a year ago, Kathrin Henneberger entered Parliament on a clear mandate from Green Party voters to accelerate coal’s domestic phase out and speed up the energy transition. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the narrative. When word leaked that, despite well-known human rights violations in Colombia, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz had personally called then-president, Iván Duque, to ask if the Latin American country could increase coal exports to Europe and replace sanctioned Russian supplies, Henneberger was outraged. This summer she traveled to Colombia’s coal and oil producing regions, visited front line communities and met with impacted residents. She also took this opportunity to meet members of Colombia’s incoming leftist government, the first in its history, with the goal of forging a new climate alliance. What follows is part one of an edited excerpt of an interview she gave with lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum.
Note: listeners can enjoy a longer version in an upcoming podcast.
Battered by decades of bloody civil war, energy and resource development remain major flash points. But record fossil fuel market prices present a difficult choice for Colombia’s new environmental and social-justice oriented president, Gustavo Petro. Increasing production risks the nation’s fragile peace. But not taking advantage of the revenue, they risk economic collapse. Enjoying excellent wind and solar potential, new internationally funded projects are under construction nationwide. But often sited within the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples, development is happening in ways far too similar to how coal companies have long exploited these same regions. In the third part of a series focusing on Colombia, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the dilemma facing Petro’s government as they take office.
When I arrived in Berlin in August 2018, it was impossible to guess how different the world we are living in today would look compared to the summer four years ago. I had just started to work as a research assistant at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs – Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in a project called the “Geopolitics of the Global Energy Transformation”. Building on two scenario workshops and deep-dive discussions with experts from all over the world, the key motivation back then was to better understand where the moving target of the global energy transformation is getting us and what geopolitics have to do with it. This resulted in four different scenarios published in a seminal Nature article in May 2019 with starkly contrasting realities. The point was not to exercise sophisticated crystal ball gazing, but rather to reflect on a deeper, more structural level, and paint the energy world of the future (2030) on a decidedly geopolitical canvas.
On the eve of the Paris Agreement’s anniversary, the United Nations FCCC city and former German Capital of Bonn calls for international cooperation to phase-out oil, fossil gas and coal. A bold new initiative, the global Fossil Fuels Non-Proliferation treaty is modeled after the UN’s treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons. Last year Climate Breakthrough Award winner, Tzeporah Berman joined with other climate and energy activists to create this new tactic to organize local, state and regional governments to publically call for adoption. Endorsed by tens of thousands of individuals, hundreds of NGOs and a growing list of cities, Bonn citizen, lead blogger and Global Energy Transition podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum shares this good news.
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.