Despite President Trump pulling out all the stops to prevent America’s coal industry from dying, renewables are rapidly overtaking its share of the U.S. electricity generation mix—and even cutting into fossil gas’ expansion. Since it’s clearly not America’s relaxed federal regulations pushing the toxic-gas belchers into the dustbins of history, what’s driving the green train? The rapidly maturing economics of clean energy, L. Michael Buchsbaum explains in part 2 of his series on America’s energy transition.
Despite Trump proudly rolling back at least 85 environmental rules to prop it up, America is mining and burning less coal today than it has in over four decades. Since the 2016 election, 27% of the entire coal-fired power fleet has retired—with many more closures expected. As the King dies, two questions remain: what will take its place? And who will clean up the industry’s mess? L. Michael Buchsbaum explores these questions and more in the first of a series treating America’s Energy Transition.
It’s basically emissions free and a cornerstone of today’s global renewable energy supply. But many hydro-electric plants destroy rivers and the communities that live in and around them. Are hydropower’s intrusive dams the price we have to pay for carbon neutrality? Paul Hockenos reports
Uruguay lies between Argentina and Brazil on the Atlantic Ocean and is home to about 3.5 million people. But this small country has made it to the top 5 in wind and solar energy producers worldwide. Rebecca Bertram reports
Preliminary figures conclusively reveal that renewables produced over 40 percent of Germany’s electricity in 2019. Combined with offshore production, wind energy overtook both filthy lignite and hard coal, and has now become the nation’s largest energy source. But as fossil gas prices fall and the ruling government’s fragile coalition stumbles its way through the Energiewende it created, 2020 will likely prove a make or break year for the clean energy transition. Only the future will reveal if 2019 will actually be remembered as the year renewables really powered past coal in Germany. L. Michael Buchsbaum explains.
While ostensibly trying to craft policy that both transforms Germany’s energy sector to 65% renewables by 2035 and protects the security of Germany’s 20,000 coal workers, the Grand Coalition Government’s halting energy policies have just cost the jobs of over 30,000 workers through the wind sector. Facing the worst domestic slowdown in 20 years, manufacturers spent much of 2019 hemorrhaging jobs, going bankrupt or heading into reconstruction. As 2020 begins, L. Michael Buchsbaum brings us up to date.
Though in October, Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party narrowly won a second term in office, its power was weakened after it lost control of the upper house of Parliament and failed to increase its majority in the more powerful lower chamber. Now one wonders if Poland is finally about to get serious about addressing the climate crisis? Following Mateusz Morawiecki’s first speech to Parliament as prime minister and his initial decisions, is a breakthrough in the nation’s position on the environment coming? Our Polish correspondent, Michal Olszewski, takes a look.
In the run up to the Madrid-based COP25 international climate talks set to begin in early December, former Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Energy and Environment program, Rebecca Bertram, conducted a series of interviews with Latin American officials and activists. In Part 3 of the series, Bertram meets with Samuel Leiva, environmental policy consultant with the Terram and Heinrich Böll Foundation’s office in Chile.
Partially inspired by Germany’s version, the Czech Coal Commission met for the first time earlier this summer. Though it’s creation was largely driven by the mass student protests that have fundamentally transformed the Czech debate on climate policy, only two of its nineteen members are from environmental organizations. With its final report due in less than a year, it’s still unclear if the commission will decide upon a coal phase out date or a surge in renewables instead of new nuclear power. To learn more, Klára Schovánková, head of the ecology program at Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Prague office, interviewed Coal Commission member, Jiří Koželouh, who also heads the energy program at Hnutí Duha, Friends of the Earth Czech Republic.
Costa Rica enjoys widespread international fame for being one of the “greenest” countries on earth. The small Central American state has repeatedly been praised for its outstanding efforts in combating climate change, for its reforestation efforts and for generating almost all its electricity from renewable energy sources. Though the government has adopted an ambitious economic plan to make the country carbon neutral by the middle of the century, “green” policies are sometimes not as rosy as they seem. Rebecca Bertram reports from San José.