Although Germany has been a global leader in moving to decarbonize its massive economy, the country’s ambitious clean-energy transformation is faltering. Now, a broad spectrum of energy experts are working to revitalize the effort to make Germany nearly carbon-free by mid-century.
The Trump administration has halted bans on toxic chemicals that are known to cause serious health threats. These moves, led by an ex-industry group executive now at the EPA, have allowed the continued use of products found to cause cancer, birth defects, and other ailments.
By far the largest mining endeavor globally is digging up sand, mainly for the concrete that goes into buildings. But this little-noticed and largely unregulated activity has serious costs — damaging rivers, wreaking havoc on coastal ecosystems, and even wiping away entire islands.
A small environmental organization has taken on Germany’s powerful auto industry in court and has begun winning limited bans on heavily polluting diesel vehicles. Some analysts say this may be the beginning of the end for diesel automobiles in Germany and the European Union.
In increasingly arid regions such as the western U.S., water managers are learning that careful management and restoration of watershed ecosystems, including thinning trees and conducting prescribed burns, are important tools in coping with a hotter, drier climate.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a colossal infrastructure plan that could transform the economies of nations around the world. But with its focus on coal-fired power plants, the effort could obliterate any chance of reducing emissions and tip the world into catastrophic climate change.
Light, reflective surfaces can have a dramatic impact in cooling the surrounding air – in cities, but in the countryside too. Whitewashed walls, arrays of photovoltaic cells, and stubble-filled fields can all provide local relief during the sweltering decades ahead. But policymakers beware. It doesn’t always work like that. There can be unintended consequences, both on temperature and other aspects of climate, like rainfall. Even local geoengineering needs to be handled with care.
California has the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, which raises billions of dollars for the state. An innovative project is directing some of that revenue to bringing renewable power and energy efficiency to some of the state’s most disadvantaged communities.
The main vehicle so far has been the $38 million Low-Income Weatherization Program, (LIWP), which the state estimates has reduced energy use by an average of 44 percent for those participating since the initiative began in 2016.
Read the full article at Yale Environment 360