In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement of 2015, the European Commission has set the long-term goal that EU Member States should be climate neutral by 2050. The energy sector must be transformed to keep the temperature rise well below 2°C. Renewable energy supply, combined with energy efficiency and the electrification of heat and transport, is seen as the key to reducing energy-related CO2 emissions by over 90 per cent compared to 1990. Part of the strategy implemented by the German Federal Government for tackling climate change is to further decentralize the electricity distribution system by 2050. This is reshaping the role of Distribution System Operators (DSOs). Philip Emmerich reports how smart grid technologies are disrupting the energy sector and challenging the business of DSOs in Germany.
The change of power in Washington has opened up a new window for transatlantic climate cooperation, a stated priority for the Biden administration and the European Commission. The first piece in this series examined the political obstacles on the US side. What is the outlook on the EU side?
Autumn 2020 has seen a dramatic net-zero shift among the world’s industrial giants, with China and South Korea aiming for carbon-neutrality by 2060 and 2050, respectively, and Japan – for climate neutrality by 2050. East-Asian economies, along with the EU, are leading the global climate efforts in terms of long-term ambitions, but a closer look at energy transition progress and the climate policies reveals another potential global leader – India. Maria Pastukhova investigates.
The window of opportunity to keep the average global temperature from breaking through the ceiling of 2°C — or preferably 1.5°C — as set out in the UN’s Paris Agreement is closing fast. But for parts of the Kalahari, a vast semi-desert in southern Africa, the battle to stabilise the regional temperature is already lost. Botswana is expected to reach an average warming of 2°C in less than five years. At a time when the science warns that countries need to keep their fossil fuels in the ground, conservationists here have expressed alarm at the news that oil and gas prospecting licenses have been issued for large parts of Botswana and Namibia, including in the ecologically and water-sensitive Okavango Delta and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Leonie Joubert reports
As many nations develop net-zero carbon plans both to honor the Paris Climate Agreement and address the climate crisis, many are leaning heavily upon unproven and misunderstood Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technologies. Despite billions of dollars spent in research and development, it’s unclear how much environmental progress is actually achieved by CCS. Not only is there little accurate data around how much carbon has really been buried, but there’s reason to believe CCS will actually increase overall greenhouse gas emissions. In the third part of his “Seduced by CCS” series, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews CCS’ math and how utilizing it to produce more oil only makes things worse.
To face social and environmental problems generated by fossil energies, market-based solutions have emerged to tackle these challenges on a broader scale. These proposals are often also framed as a “green” approach to economic growth. They include e.g. regulatory disincentives for emitting CO2 through a form of carbon pricing or more specifically, emissions trading systems (ETS) and carbon taxes. Although their rationale sounds adequate, their design and implementation are flawed from different points of views and subsequently result in a minimal decrease of CO2 emissions. The following analysis will focus on the main causes of this (political) deficiency with a focus on Latin America. Maximiliano Proaño has the details.
Global trade has been a notorious difficult sector to sign up for decarbonization. The crux of the problem is that its business is crossborder, and thus skirts the emissions reduction plans of individual national states. Much of it thus gets a free ride. Paul Hockenos reports
The so-called Green Deals on the table in Europe and the US present an enticing prospect to rejuvenate the greatly diminished transatlantic relationship — and help hit crucial climate targets before it is too late. The European Green Deal, proposed last year with much fanfare by EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen, overlaps significantly with the Green New Deal, an ecological spending program devised by congressional Democrats and endorsed by the party’s presidential candidate, Joe Biden. Paul Hockenos reports
A year after Germany’s 28-member “Coal Commission” presented a fragile compromise brown coal phase-out, in mid-January Merkel’s Grand Coalition government formally released their own plan. Breaking with the Commission’s recommendations by slowing down the pace of the phase-out, immediately greenlighting the new Datteln 4 hard coal plant and showering RWE and other coal operators with billions of Euros, it also calls for more gas plants and additional wind turbine construction limitations. Neither ensuring Germany can adhere to the Paris Agreement nor its own clean energy targets, environmental groups are outraged as investors celebrate. L. Michael Buchsbaum takes us into the dirty deal.
Four years after world leaders came together on the Paris Climate Agreement – and an increase of 4 percent in global carbon emissions later –, the COP25 in Madrid failed to reach what it was set out to do: reach an agreement on international carbon markets, a mechanism intended to make it easier for many countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The COP25 shows yet again how divided the world remains on climate change. Meanwhile global temperatures keep rising, the scientific prognosis is as unequivocal as ever, and a growing number of people are urging their governments to act. Rebecca Bertram reports