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.
A year ago, production of Colombian “blood coal” was falling, the future of the massive El Cerrejon mine was uncertain, and a growing list of nations were banning it’s import. But following Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and a personal call by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the nation’s then president, Ivan Duque, today Colombia’s miners are expanding their operations, shipping increasing volumes to the European Union and enjoying record profits. But recently elected reform-minded President Gustavo Petro and Goldman Environmental Prize-winning vice-president Francia Marquez aim to address land redistribution, a shift to renewables and an end to fossil fuel production. Still reeling from decades of civil war, mired in energy poverty and international debt, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum begins a series reviewing Colombia’s energy conundrum.