Poland Needs EU Support to Meet Climate Goals

Turów Power Station in Bogatynia, Poland, December 3, 2009
Turów Power Station in Bogatynia, Poland, December 3, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)

Poland will not be able to meet the EU’s 2050 zero-emissions target without additional funds. In an interview with the Financial Times, the country’s chief energy advisor, Piotr Naimski, argues that the European Union needs to take its particular circumstances into account.

Poland’s extreme reliance on coal makes the goal to reduce net emissions to zero a tall order. Coal generates about 80 percent of Poland’s electricity. It also curbs its reliance on Russian energy, which is of geopolitical significance.

There is a political consideration as well. Mining unions are still strong in Poland. The industry has long provided well-paying jobs with a high degree of stability. Miners enjoy special retirement provisions. This makes them a powerful voting bloc. Read more “Poland Needs EU Support to Meet Climate Goals”

Arguments For and Against Macron’s Mercosur Threat

French president Emmanuel Macron answers a question from a reporter in Helsinki, Finland, August 30, 2018
French president Emmanuel Macron answers a question from a reporter in Helsinki, Finland, August 30, 2018 (Office of the President of the Republic of Finland/Juhani Kandell)

French president Emmanuel Macron has threatened to hold up ratification of an EU trade deal with Mercosur unless Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro does more to fight fires in the Amazon Rainforest.

Canada, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands have backed Macron up. Germany is less sure. Donald Trump is expected to side with Bolsonaro at the G7 summit this weekend.

Here are the arguments for and against the threat. Read more “Arguments For and Against Macron’s Mercosur Threat”

How Climate Change Will Be the Biggest Geopolitical Crisis of the Century

Russian Arctic tanker
A United States Coast Guard icebreaker escorts a Russian tanker through the Bering Strait, January 6, 2012 (Coast Guard)

America is out of the environmental protection businesses; so says the haughty God-Emperor Donald Trump, whose word is apparently law.

Too bad even god-emperors cannot change facts. Too bad, especially, for the billions who are almost certain to be disrupted, displaced and decimated by the looming geopolitical effects of climate change.

That basic truth is denied heartily by many who have incentive to play games for short-term gain. These are old-school industrial concerns, for whom environmental regulation hammers a bottom line; alt-right, alt-truthers, for whom simple science is a threat to their incoherent worldview; and shattered working classes, seeking a simple scapegoat for the complicated story of their economic dissolution and disenfranchisement. Read more “How Climate Change Will Be the Biggest Geopolitical Crisis of the Century”

Politics, Not Environment, Informed Keystone Decision

Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama talks with advisors at the White House in Washington DC, September, 18 (White House/Pete Souza

American president Barack Obama has decided not to approve the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, The Washington Post reports.

The $7 billion project would have linked up the oilfields of Alberta, Canada with refineries and ports on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and transferred the equivalent of 800,000 barrels of oil per day.

It took Obama, who is due to step down next year, virtually all his presidency to reject Keystone. Read more “Politics, Not Environment, Informed Keystone Decision”

Climate Talks Highlight That Money Still Talks in Peru

Last month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Peru brought new attention to a long-standing conflict between those seeking to develop the South American country’s economy and those trying to protect its environment.

Consecutive Peruvian governments have been accused of disregarding the effects of extractive activities on the environment and on its indigenous peoples. A general desire to cash in on Peru’s natural resources is seen as a threat in the north of the country while drug traffickers, illegal miners and loggers have helped contribute to the ransacking of the jungle areas of the east.

Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index ranks Peru 110 out of 178 countries worldwide. In the region, only El Salvador and Paraguay do worse. Read more “Climate Talks Highlight That Money Still Talks in Peru”

Fueled by Green Policy, Corn Production Hurts Environment

While federal ethanol subsidies expired last year, the Obama Administration’s strict clean fuel standards still give farmers across the United States an incentive to plant corn — to the detriment of the environment.

The Associated Press reports that “across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than one million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to cornfields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers.”

The physical expansion of the American Midwest, the world’s largest contiguous piece of farmland, is fueled by a green energy policy that requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline, keeping prices high. Read more “Fueled by Green Policy, Corn Production Hurts Environment”

Study: No Reason Not to Build Canada Oil Pipeline

A United States State Department study released late Friday afternoon found “no significant impacts to most resources” along the route of a proposed pipeline extension from Canada to Oklahoma, defying environmentalists’ warnings that building the pipeline will degrade underwater water supplies.

The report leaves President Barack Obama, who delayed approval of the pipeline’s construction more than a year ago, with little reason to further obstruct the project.

A previous State Department study, released in August 2011, similarly anticipated minimal environmental impact from building the pipeline.

The $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline is supposed to carry the equivalent of more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day from the tar fields of Alberta to refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico. Read more “Study: No Reason Not to Build Canada Oil Pipeline”

Coal Country Papers Chastise Obama’s Energy Policy

The editorial pages of local newspapers in coal mining states in the United States this week chastised the Obama Administration for what opposition Republicans have dubbed its “war on coal.”

The Journal points out that West Virginia is losing thousands of jobs in the coal industry, largely as a result of new environmental regulations that, the newspaper says, are “making it more difficult for surface mines to obtain permits.”

Obama’s defenders insist the war on coal is a myth. But production cuts, mine closings and thousands of layoffs are no myth. They may be gratifying to a White House determined to wreck the coal industry but they are new causes for concern among residents of West Virginia, Ohio and many other states where tens of millions of people rely on inexpensive electricity generated from coal.

The president never was very popular in the Mountain State. He lost West Virginia to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary election four years ago and to Republican John McCain in November 2008. Read more “Coal Country Papers Chastise Obama’s Energy Policy”