The European Environmental Agency sets pollution exposure standards in its EU’s air quality directives (2008/50/EC, 2004/107/EC). These standards should not be exceeded in a given period of time. If they are nevertheless exceeded, then European governments have to find ways to act and reduce the pollutants. What is very surprising is that the EU target values are much lower than the World Health Organization guidelines. What is going on?Read More
In my last post I discussed about the policy-academia gap. One additional issue is that the entry costs into the policy debate are extremely high for researchers and experts. Without exhaustive ground work, and without a continuous exposure to policy makers and the general public, most researchers do not have the option to get direct access to either politicians or to provide even official statements in wide-read newspapers about policies.Read More
The recent 2016 EU Air Quality Report nicely shows that air quality in Europe has been improving since 2000 across nearly all indicators. Whenever I can present a graph like the one on the right, I am happy. It makes me smile. I feel things are improving and my kids have a chance at a better future. With all the recent terrible events out there, the rise of right-wing attitudes and the many wars that are still being fought, these are finally good news.
BUT, like oh so many times, there is a catch. In fact, there are two catches.
There is a new EU public consultation on the development of a comprehensive, integrated Research, Innovation, and Competitiveness Strategy for the Energy Union, with policy fields research and innovation, Energy, Climate change, Transport, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Find out why it is required and why they need your answer and where to submit your opinions by reading on.
In the news / New articles / Conference and seminar annoucements / Open positions
- The Young Friends of the Earth Europe discuss why it is a myth that the EU is leading the way in terms of climate policy. They suggest this is because
a) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is based on the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. The EU is not living up to this.
b) contributions to the Green Climate Fund by European nations have been notoriously low, very far from what was agreed in Copenhagen in 2009
c) EU nations try to split developing country group at climate talks
d) The EIB still lends three quarters of its research funds (around 10 billion euros annually) to the automobile industry in spite of its Climate Action Programme
and much more you can find HERE
- A list with additional points on why 2015 seems to be a lost year for EU environmental protection can be found HERE.
- A discussion on the leaked draft ‘State of the EU #EnergyUnion’. Main takeaway point would be that even though the EU claims it wants to move away from fossil fuels, in reality nothing is mentioned in this draft of how this should be done. Thus, while there seems to be a willingness to move towards renewables, there is no clear strategy of how to do so.
- via Reuters: There are missing EU wide guidelines for the nuclear industry on provisions for decommissioning and long-term spent fuel management. E.g. gross provisions are 4.7 billion euros per reactor in Germany, compared to just 1.2 billion in France and 3.38 billion euros in Britain. Transparency is needed, a unified regulatory framework, so that companies and countries do not suddenly wake up with an overhelming bill for nuclear energy.
- Despite the Volkswagen scandal, EU governments voted to allow new cars to emit more than twice the nitrogen oxides permitted under EU law.
- Via Energytransition.de: Greenpace wants to buy German coal fields in order to make sure that at least a certain amount is left in the ground.
- Migration as Adaptation to Environmental and Climate Change, Friday 13th November 2015, 2-4pm, IOM, Taubenstr. 20-22, Berlin, Germany. For more information go here: http://environmentalmigration.iom.int/seminar-migration-adaptation-environmental-and-climate-change
So folks, this is it. Anyone who ever thought it was impossible, there isn’t enough space, it is too expensive, or whatever other unreasonable argument was ever forwarded: The #energiewende is there, it is not only happening in Germany but worldwide. Take a look at Figure 1 below. Nuclear energy production is stagnating, and that for more or less the past 30 years, while alternative sources of energy, wind and solar, are now nearly producing the same amount of electricity as nuclear is.
This should be a slap in the face for all doubters, for all naysayers and pessimists alike. We do not need nuclear energy, we have safe alternative sources of energy, they are able to produce the same amount of electricity as nuclear is, and if they keep growing just for a little while longer as they have been growing during the past couple of years, then we won’t need nuclear energy in our future energy mix at all. And we might even be able to significantly reduce non-renewable sources of electricity production.
Has anyone seen a significant drag on economic growth from this #energiewende? Has anyone noticed a significant increase in unemployment? Where are the promised recessions, where are the masses of job losses, productivity reductions and losses in international competitiveness that we were promised if we were ever moving to greener sources of electricity production? Anyone? Honestly, the only recessions, the only losses in employment, the only high costs that we know about come from the financial world, from rich people juggling around billions of dollars a day to take advantage of minimal spreads in the name of economic growth; from the banks that try to push up their return on assets and sell us mortgage-backed securities based on worthless mortgages and that do more shadow banking than actual banking; from companies that try to make us believe that we need to buy more and more in order to become happier, better people. Is that really how it should be? Are we really barking up the right tree if we are anti-green? Do we not lose sight of where the real costs are? After all, we should remember that our economic system is part of the natural environment, and not the other way around.
#energiewende here we come!