In the 2020 American elections, neither the Democrats nor the climate achieved the clear victory for which many of us wished. But across party lines, voters are demanding action to address the nation’s rapidly changing climate. In several cities and states, particularly out west—voters demanded energy progress. Given how divided Washington remains, these subnational decisions may enable regional carbon neutrality to progress faster while providing actionable models for the entire nation to follow. L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the election results.
Sometimes one can indeed be a prophet in one’s own land. When work began on building a third unit at the power plant in Ostrołęka, central Poland, in 2009, independent experts warned that it was a risky investment – unfortunately, in vain. Michał Olszewski has the story.
On September 22 China’s President Xi has delivered the country’s new pledge to reach peak carbon emissions earlier than 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 to the UN General Assembly. If pursued, this pledge marks a fundamental shift in China’s global climate ambitions and will have profound long-term impact on the global economy and energy markets. How sustainable will this impact be for the globe? Well, it all depends. Maria Pastukhova has the details.
During the last months, Latin America has become the main COVID-19 focus worldwide. In early September, the region concentrated more than 27% of the COVID-19 cases globally and 31% of its deaths. High rates of inequality and poverty, failures in the health system and political instability are the main reasons for this dramatic situation. And it seems to get worse in the upcoming years: according to the UN COVID-19 will result in the worst recession in the region in a century, causing a 9.1% contraction in regional GDP in 2020. Consequently, the number of poor could increase by 45 million (to 230 million in total) and the number of extremely poor by 28 million (to 96 million in total). As political and social instability has already characterized 2019, the risk of a period of human rights violations and a lack of democracy is real. Maximiliano Proaño reports
Germany’s state-owned railroad, Deutsche Bahn (DB), proudly boasts it’s the largest green electricity user in the nation. With uptake scheduled to grow to 80% by 2030, in tandem with the newly passed German coal-exit laws, DB aims to become 100% renewable by 2038. But by beginning the long-sought phase-out by simultaneously firing up of the new Uniper-owned Datteln IV coal plant, Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition government has thoroughly derailed the railroad’s green ambitions. In one of the worst missteps on Germany’s tortured road towards carbon neutrality, politics has turned Deutsche Bahn into the land’s largest publically-funded greenwasher. L. Michael Buchsbaum takes a look
In September 2019, during the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to phase out all coal-powered electricity production by 2028, making Greece a pioneer in the Balkans. This commitment is enshrined in the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) submitted by the Greek government to the European Commission end of 2019. The new government, in power since July 2019, revised the NECP and introduced more ambitious climate and energy targets (see blogpost on NECP). Daniel Argyropoulos has the details.
Heralded as the missing puzzle piece within a fully decarbonized economy, the European Commission has determined clean hydrogen is the 21st Century solution to arresting climate change. Published in July, their new Hydrogen Strategy is also a jobs plan and pathway towards unifying the EU around a holistic energy and economic policy. But despite being framed as a green energy program, there’s a growing realization that the transition will be dirtier than expected. For the short term at least, the plan rests heavily on using fossil gas as “a bridge fuel” once again. L. Michael Buchsbaum reports in the first of a series on the evolving hydrogen revolution.
Fresh EU directives have spurred new legislation across the EU to expand citizen-owned energy projects. But collective renewables still bump up against the powerful forces of traditional utilities, grid operators, and conventional energy interests. Paul Hockenos gives us the details.
Rainer Baake, 64-years old, is a veteran renewable energy politico with roots that stretch back deep into the earliest days of Germany’s renewables movement and the Greens. In March 2018, Baake left the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi), where he headed up the energy portfolio, with a resounding bang. Since then, he’s travelled around the world shooting a film about climate change. Not one to fade away, he’s got a new think tank up and running called Stiftung Klimaneutralität, or the Climate Neutrality Foundation. Paul Hockenos recently met Mr. Baake for lunch.
Presumptive Democratic party presidential candidate Joe Biden has released an ambitious $2 trillion energy and climate plan that will, if implemented, create not only millions of well-paying jobs, but place the nation on a mid-century carbon neutrality pathway. Calling for a massive investment in solar and wind capacity, Biden aims for a coal exit and elimination of carbon pollution by 2035. More than just an energy and climate platform, Biden’s plan reckons with ensuring a just transition for affected coal and gas producing regions, while directing support towards impacted poor and minority regions so often in the smokestack shadows. Far from perfect, Biden’s plan would at least begin to stop the world’s top polluter from taking us all over the climate cliff.