U.S. retreats from pledge to end gas investments

Dozens of countries rallied around phasing out fossil fuel financing during global climate negotiations seven months ago. Yesterday, those efforts were weakened by the world’s most powerful economies. The shift illustrates how the fear of losing access to energy imports — due to Russia’s war against Ukraine — is testing the commitment of countries that have been among the most vocal advocates of curbing climate change.

Sweltering India turns to superheating coal for cooling

India has experienced a series of unusually early and prolonged heat waves this year. To cool off, the country has leaned on the fuel most responsible for the blazing temperatures. Coal generation is surging to meet the demands of cooling systems like fans and some air conditioning, prompting a scramble by the Indian government to reopen mines and secure tons of coal imports. But the carbon-intense fuel also contributes to the initial problem.

Europe's clean energy plan has a mining problem

Europe’s plan to slash Russian fossil fuel imports and accelerate renewable energy production will test its ability to find the minerals, metals and other components that are needed for a dramatic shift to clean power. The plan, outlined by the European Commission yesterday, would speed the continent toward a historic transition to wind and solar energy, while diversifying its sources of natural gas and expanding energy efficiency. But it could come at a high cost. The rapid switch to renewab

Germany to demolish village for coal, despite phaseout plans

The pastoral village of Lützerath in western Germany will be bulldozed to make way for a coal mine, even as the country accelerates its plans to quit the world’s dirtiest source of energy. The impending demolition is raising questions about an anachronistic German law that prioritizes extractive industries over climate change mitigation, exposing the challenge a country built on coal will face as it transitions away from fossil fuels. “We still have an outdated mining law that says that lignit

Coal's on a comeback in energy-desperate Europe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has offered coal a European lifeline. Such a prospect would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago. Before war broke out, European nations were rolling out increasingly ambitious plans to phase out the carbon-intensive fuel even as gas prices rose, power plants were going offline and some countries were exiting coal completely. But Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine has upended European energy markets, exposing the continent’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and prompting a scramble for alternatives. Coal is one of the few short-term options available to parts of Europe, including its biggest economy, Germany.

A pledge inked in Glasgow is already in doubt

One decision that came out of last year’s climate negotiations gained more attention than others for the pressure it puts on nations to cut planet-warming pollution faster. Rather than wait until 2025 to submit new plans for reducing emissions, each country would need to update their targets this year, according to the final pact sealed in Glasgow, Scotland. But even before the ink was dry on the Glasgow pact, questions about how many nations would actually honor their pledges were already circulating.

Biden wants climate action abroad but can't find it at home

President Biden came to office 12 months ago promising an antidote to years of American climate denial and absenteeism. The U.S. would again lead the world “by the power of our example,” he said at his inauguration. But political gridlock at home has undermined his credibility abroad. And delays in corralling the money that poorer countries need for their own energy transitions and to repair climate damage have sown anger and disappointment.

Germany is quitting coal. Why the U.S. might not follow

ESSEN, Germany — In a coal heartland of Germany stands a monument to the source of its economic might: a giant mine more than a half-mile deep that once produced the largest amount of coal in the world. Built at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the Zollverein mine cemented Germany’s place as a coal behemoth. And its legendary Shaft XII was hailed as a feat of technology due to its high level of automation. Now Zollverein stands as a sprawling museum complex for coal’s history and is a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage site. The transformation of this region remains a work in progress. But it is often held up as an example of how a country that has built its fortunes on the world’s most polluting fossil fuel can untangle its addiction.

German villages in path of coal mine turn into ghost towns

KEYENBERG, Germany — This pastoral village in the west of Europe’s economic powerhouse has been preparing for a death caused by coal. Tidy brick homes and old farmhouses stand vacant and shuttered. A long glass case in the deserted butcher shop is empty. The only business that remains is the local bakery, which has decorated its window for Christmas despite being open just half the week. Deep beneath the soil that has sustained generations of carrot and potato farmers lies a prize that has brought down homes, historic landmarks and entire highways: lignite, one of the world’s dirtiest sources of energy.

How one word on coal threatened to topple COP 26

GLASGOW, Scotland — The biggest climate conference of the year appeared all but finished Saturday night as delegates here who had hardly slept for days goaded one another to accept the final agreement, warts and all. Then India’s top negotiator, Bhupender Yadav, suggested a one-word change. And two weeks of work at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference nearly fell apart. Rather than aim to phase “out” coal power, the proposal sought to phase “down” the carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

U.S. agrees to end fossil fuel financing abroad

The United States committed today with other countries to stop financing fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of next year, in a seismic shift that could stem the construction of natural gas and oil facilities in lower-income nations. The pledge, announced at the global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, could take billions of dollars away from future fossil fuel production and redistribute it to low-carbon energy projects such as wind and solar.

Missteps or strategy? Biden officials mix climate signals

The global climate conference beginning Sunday is the “last, best hope” for the planet, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said last week. It’s also “just a beginning.” It’s "not essential" to pass legislation to achieve U.S. emissions targets, Kerry said this month. But one day earlier, he said it would be tantamount to withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement if Congress failed to pass the same bill. White House officials are offering mixed messages as they race to manage expectations at home and abroad about the likelihood of passing historic climate legislation just days before President Biden travels to Glasgow, Scotland, to reassure the world that the U.S. is serious about tackling global warming.
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