Fridays for Future’s gangbuster return, plus Germany’s high hopes for 100% green power by 2035. France angles to cut Russian gas reliance, and the EU looks to RePower in light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Fridays for Future’s Gangbuster Return, Germany’s High Hopes for 100% Green Power by 2035, France Angles to Cut Russian Gas Reliance, EU Looks to RePower in Light of Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine
FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE BACK WITH A VENGEANCE–CLASSIC GLOBAL PROTEST
Fridays for Future, the youth-led, global organization whose genesis came in August 2018 when then-15-year-old Greta Thunberg began a school strike for climate in Sweden, last October announced it was taking a pause from activity for a while.
Well, THEY’RE BAAAAACK!!! Last Friday, the group staged hundreds of simultaneous protests across every continent on the planet. The group started in New Zealand on Friday morning and heading west with the rising sun. In Manila, in the Philippines, protests coincided with election campaigning, with activists calling for an end to the government of Rodrigo Duterte, and better leadership on climate.
In one of several actions in Bangladesh, young activists in Cox’s Bazar stood with their heads shrouded with black hoods, and tabards calling for a halt to funding of a new coal-fired power station.
In Europe, many events were also linked to the invasion of Ukraine. Big events were expected in Brussels, where Ukrainian and other eastern European climate activists have been lobbying politicians for an embargo on Russian fossil fuels, and Berlin, where Ukrainian and Ugandan activists were to join the protests.
Twitter posts showed large crowds in Aachen, Germany, marching behind a banner saying: “Capitalism is not a law of nature.” In Scotland and other countries, protesters held banners demanding “Stop Shipping War” and “Make Renewables Not War”, and burned blue and yellow smoke flares, representing the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Why does the resurgence of Fridays for Future matter to us? The climate crisis is a threat multiplier that’s already worsening global poverty, undermining food systems, and exposing people to deadly extreme weather events.
Or, as statement on its website says, “The catastrophic climate scenario that we are living in is the result of centuries of exploitation and oppression through colonialism, extractivism and capitalism, an essentially flawed socio-economic model which urgently needs to be replaced.”
GERMANY ACCELERATES TO 100% GREEN POWER BY 2035 – HIGH HOPES FOR GERMANY’S NEXT RENEWABLES REFORM
Germany’s government has initiated the first steps of a wide-ranging renewables reform that should make the country’s power supply almost 100 percent renewable by 2035. In a draft paper seen by Clean Energy Wire, the economy and climate ministry proposes higher renewable capacity targets for 2030, aligning the German clean energy path with the 1.5°C warming limit. In a novelty move, the ministry will legally oblige power suppliers to reduce bills for consumers after the levy for renewables on the power price is scrapped in July 2022.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck described the accelerated capacity expansion for renewable energy as a key element in making the country less dependent on Russian fossil fuel supplies.
The Renewable Energy Act (EEG), which until now aimed for full renewable supply “before 2050,” will be amended to reach up to 110 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind capacity by 2030 (more than double the amount running at present), 30 GW of offshore wind (almost four times more than today) and 200 GW of solar PV capacity, also almost four times more than currently exists. The Renewable Energy Act was introduced in 2000, and has been Germany’s main legislative tool for the development of renewable power, guaranteeing all renewable power producers an above-market fixed price.
The ministry also follows up on an earlier government decision, of scrapping the renewables surcharge that consumers pay with their power bills as of July 2022, saving them around 6.6 billion euros per year (3.7 cents per kilowatt-hour). Why does the acceleration of Germany’s energy transition matter to us? Germany is willing to sacrifice some money in the short term to achieve the long-term goal of actual energy independence.
FRANCE ENDS GAS HEATERS SUBSIDIES, BOOSTS HEAT PUMPS TO CUT RELIANCE ON RUSSIAN FOSSIL FUELS
Yet another EU nation has chosen to jump feet first into the Energy Transition era in light of Putin using petrodollars to fuel his invasion of Ukraine. France announced the end of government subsidies for the installation of new residential gas heaters while boosting support for renewable energy heating. This in a bid to further reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuel exports.
As part of a government “resilience plan” aimed at helping households and companies cope with the economic fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, France wants to end its imports of Russian gas and oil by 2027. To reduce gas demand, France will reform its “MaPrimeRenov” subsidy scheme to accelerate the replacement of fossil fuel-fired heaters with renewable heating such as heat pumps and biomass heaters, including hybrid systems.
From April 15 until end 2022, it will increase by 1,000 euros ($1,102) the subsidy for “virtuous” residential heating and will scrap subsidies for new gas heater installations. Environment minister Barbara Pompili said, “In order to no longer encourage people to remain dependent on gas, support for new gas heater installations will be stopped.”
The European Heat Pump Association estimates that in 2021, heat pumps represented more than 25% of annual sales in a total heater market of 7 million units, with heat pumps fast becoming the standard solution for new buildings and increasingly being used for renovations.
The electrification of residential heating is a key plank of European Union policies to decarbonize Europe’s buildings.
Why does France’s move matter to us? Part of France’s efforts include government support measures such as energy certificates, households — especially low-income families — will benefit by replacing fossil fuel-fired heaters with renewable energy systems. A great concept of US to follow.
REPOWER EU IN LIGHT OF PUTIN’S INVASION OF UKRAINE
According to a report by the European Commission to the European Parliament, “Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the case for a rapid clean energy transition has never been stronger and clearer.” The EU imports 90% of its gas, with Russia providing more than 40% of the EU’s total gas consumption. Russia also accounts for 27% of oil imports and 46% of coal imports.
In light of these facts, and the Russian invasion, the EC has proposed REPowerEU, a joint European action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
REPowerEU outlines how the EU can achieve total independence from Russian oil and gas by the end of this decade. Commission vice president Frans Timmermans said: “We have been too dependent on Russia for our energy needs. It is not a free market if there is a state actor looking to manipulate it…“Renewables give us the freedom to choose an energy source that is clean, cheap, reliable and ours.”
EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said spending could be funded by windfall taxes on energy firms’ profits and by the revenues member states raise from selling pollution permits under the emissions trading system (ETS).
As part of the move, European citizens will be asked to turn their heating down. If every household and office turned its thermostat down by 1C, the bloc could save 350 billion cubic feet of gas a year. That’s the equivalent of 2.6 trillion gallons of water. That’s the equivalent of having a cube of water, 2.6 miles high, 2.6 miles wide, and 2.6 miles deep.
The Commission aims to speed up programs to place solar panels on rooftops and install heat pumps to replace gas heating systems. Timmermans described both these measures as “low-hanging fruit”. Why does the European Union’s move matter to us? More Short term pain for long term gain.
DEEPER DIVE: REPowerEU