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Green

Green

Good COP, Bad COP? How Sharm El-Sheik Failed On The Planet's Big Question

The week-long climate summit in Egypt managed to a backsliding that looked possible at some point, it still failed to deliver on significant change to reverse the effects of global warming.

For 30 years, developing nations have fought to establish an international fund to pay for the “loss and damage” they suffer as a result of climate change. As the COP27 climate summit in Egypt wrapped up over the weekend, they finally succeeded.

While it’s a historic moment, the agreement of loss and damage financing left many details yet to be sorted out. What’s more, many critics have lamented the overall outcome of COP27, saying it falls well short of a sufficient response to the climate crisis. As Alok Sharma, president of COP26 in Glasgow, noted:

"Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 °C was weak. Unfortunately it remains on life support."

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Mezcal, The Trendy Spirit Has An Ugly Secret

As demand soars for the traditional spirit, so does the mountain of waste created in producing it. Producers see creative, sustainable solutions.

PUEBLA — Mezcal, Mexico’s traditional agave spirit, has enraptured palates across the country and abroad. But as demand soars, a more bitter note emerges: the amount of waste its production generates and the risks that poses for the very environment that sustains it.

Like tequila, mezcal is a distilled beverage produced from agave, a plant native to the arid and semiarid zones of the Americas. Both mezcal and tequila are produced by cooking and fermenting the piña, the heart of the agave, and distilling its juice. The byproducts of these processes are highly polluting, resistant to decomposition, and potentially toxic for aquatic life if dumped in rivers without treatment.

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Why Poland Still Doesn't Have Nuclear Power

Poland has announced plans to build its first nuclear power plant with the help of a U.S. firm. But it's not the first time the country has tried to build such a plant. So, will it actually happen this time?

-Analysis-

WARSAWPoland is surrounded by numerous nuclear power plants in the neighborhood: in Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, Belarus, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden. But we don't have our own. There are more than 500 reactors in operation worldwide, and another 55 are under construction. Most are slugging along, and their prices have risen well above the original construction costs.

The best example is Britain's Hinkley Point C power plant. The UK owns the most expensive nuclear power plant in the world. But the work is still going on, as the construction has been delayed.

The construction of a Polish nuclear power plant seemed to be underway in the 1980s, when the country was to join the ranks of nuclear-powered countries. We were to have not one but two power plants — one in Pomerania in Żarnowiec in the north of the country and another in the village of Klempicz, near the city of Poznań in the west. But the government abandoned these plans in 1990. The reasons were a lack of money, the collapsing USSR, and a lack of enthusiasm following the Chernobyl disaster.

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Meet The Brazilian Waste Pickers Working In Dumps That “Don’t Exist”

Despite being forbidden since 2010, rubbish dumps are still a common feature on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. It's time to know the lives of those who scrape out a living there.

Brazil's Gramacho dump is the largest wasteland in Latin America. And yet, though millions of Brazilians know its name, for local and national government agencies, neither this nor any other dumps exist.

Many others are also large enough to have names — Itacoa, Morro do Céu, Niterói, Maré, and Praça do Lixão — and the waste pickers who work there and the poverty they hold is as real as the trash.

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Green
Mohamed Ezz and Nada Arafat

Sharm El-Sheikh, What's Lurking Behind COP27 Shine

The Egyptian coastal resort has been reinvented (again) to host world leaders for the COP27, as it aims to cast a climate-financing-hungry Egypt in a favorable light. But the cosmetic changes hide years of harm to the region's ecosystem.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH — Amgad* arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh about 40 years ago, driven by curiosity like many other Egyptian youths at the time to explore this corner of Sinai, newly returned to Egypt in the wake of the 1973 war after a 15 years of Israeli occupation.

What Amgad found was a small Bedouin village sheltered within an immaculate landscape: to the east, the Gulf of Aqaba, teeming with marine creatures and jeweled with coral reefs; to the south, two Egyptian islands — now transferred to Saudi Arabia — that separated Sinai from Saudi Arabia; to the west, valleys and mountains, part of the Great Rift Valley, traversed by the Bedouin tribes who have settled in the area for centuries.

The coastline is home to 200 unique species of coral, 500 species of marine vegetation and various species of fish and marine animals, part of the Egyptian barrier reefs that marine ecology professor Mahmoud Hassan Hanafy tells Mada Masr are among the last sanctuaries for this type of marine life in the world, having demonstrated unique resilience to climate change. Onshore ecosystems also serve to protect marine life, he notes.

If, however, you’re among the thousands converging on the city this month to attend COP27, four decades separate you from the site of natural beauty that Amgad first laid eyes on.

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Green
Daniel Wetzel

COP Out! How Germany Went From Energy Policy Ideal To Moral Failure

Germany was once a leading light in the green energy transition, but no longer. The country arrives at the COP27 climate conference empty-handed and lacking in moral authority.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — The international climate change conference (COP27) that begins in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday will see Germany unveiling a new joint climate and foreign policy. For the first time ever, it will not be Germany’s environment ministry leading the negotiations around protecting the planet but its foreign office.

The move to send experienced diplomats to the conference is designed to increase Germany’s influence over global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, but it will likely have the opposite effect.

Head negotiator Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock and her State Secretary for International Climate Action Jennifer Morgan will not only arrive at the Egyptian seaside resort empty-handed but also lacking in moral authority. Germany has lost its reputation as a leading light in the move towards renewable energy. No coal-dependent developing country will be put to shame by Germany's energy and environmental policy now.

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Green
Habiba Fouad

Clean Hydrogen Production In Egypt: A Big Green Step Or More Hot Air?

As the Mediterranean region awakens to the potential of green hydrogen as a clean alternative, Egypt is still hesitant to invest heavily in the sector. For good reason?

CAIRO — When it opened in Aswan in 1963, the KIMA fertilizer plant was a clean energy producer ahead of its time. Running entirely off the surge of cheap, hydroelectric power spilling over from the Aswan Dam, it produced green hydrogen, used to make green ammonia and ultimately fertilizers, all part of a national politics of the time that was oriented toward self-sufficiency.

That the KIMA plant boasted state-of-the-art green credentials was almost a “coincidence” of the project, says Osama Fawzy, hydrogen consultant and manager of Hydrogen Intelligence platform, who attributes the decision to use renewable power at the fertilizer factory to its proximity to the dam and the relatively low cost of hydroelectric power for Egypt at the time. Yet as the natural gas and oil sectors boomed in the 1970s, KIMA’s specialized hydroelectric equipment deteriorated and was never replaced, and the plant was converted to run on cheaper natural gas in 2019.

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Green
Shaun Lavelle

Why The Netherlands' Exit From An Obscure Energy Treaty Is Such Big News For The Climate

The little-known Energy Charter Treaty protects oil and gas firms from regulation that harms their interests. The Dutch government has pulled out, and now the rest of Europe may follow.

AMSTERDAM — For many, the big climate story of the week was the two young activists who tossed tomato soup on a Van Gogh painting in London. But the real story with lasting impact was unfolding in the Netherlands, which announced on Tuesday that it intends to withdraw from the “Energy Charter Treaty” (ECT).

Environment policy experts say the Dutch exit — with Spain and Poland poised to leave — could set in motion the complete collapse of this little-known pact.

Climate activists were jubilant. Dutch politician Christine Teunissen of the Party of the Animals described it as a “huge win”. Just last week, Greta Thunberg announced that five young victims of the climate crisis were taking action against the ECT at Europe’s top human rights court.

But outside climate circles, few had even heard of a treaty that brought risks of leaving governments open to billion-dollar lawsuits by fossil fuel companies.

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Society
Irene Caselli

Switching Off Street Lights? Not The Brightest Solution To Our Energy Crisis

Keeping the lights out at night may be a good measure both for the environment and in the context of an energy crisis – but it may have repercussions on people's sense of security, in particular for women.

As the leaves fall and an energy crisis looms, countries across Europe are preparing for a winter that will be dark, figuratively and literally.

After deciding to switch to cold showers in public buildings, Germany is now turning off street lights at night. Since Sept. 1, the Energy Saving Ordinance has officially prohibited the illumination of public buildings, including landmarks, from the outside.

Others are following suit: In Paris, the Eiffel Tower will see its lights dimmed an hour earlier than usual starting this week, while some 12,000 towns around the country have fully or partially switched off public lighting at night. Spain requires shops and monuments to dim the lights and shut down at 10 p.m. sharp.

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Ideas
William Ospina

On Our Planet's Future, And The "Art Of The Necessary"

States and technology have failed to stop the destruction of the natural world, but a deceptively simple rethinking of our habits could turn the tide.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — From Hurricane Ian to Pakistan's catastrophic floods, we have new reminders all the time that the risk of irreparably changing living conditions on the planet is real — and more alarming in scope than we had envisaged.

Yet the solutions so far have been ineffective because it is living beings, not things, which are destroying the world.

We could blame methane from cows, or plastic or the carbon dioxide of fossil fuels, but the culprits are our diets, our use of plastic or our high-tech traveling. Industry may be responsible, but we individuals are the ones who sustain it.

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Geopolitics
Juan Gabriel Tokatlian

How South American Oceans Can Sway The U.S.-China Showdown

As global rivalries and over-fishing impact the seas around South America, countries there must find a common strategy to protect their maritime backyards.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — As the U.S.-China rivalry gathers pace, oceans matter more than ever. This is evident just looking at the declarations and initiatives enacted concerning the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Yet there is very little debate in South America on the Sino-American confrontation and its impact on seas around South America, specifically the South-Eastern Pacific (SEP) and South-Western Atlantic (SWA). These have long ceased to be empty spaces — and their importance to the world's superpowers can only grow.

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Green
Uranchimeg Tsogkhuu*

As More Land Turns to Desert, Fights Over Water Erupt In Mongolia

There are too many animals for the available water supply in the Gobi desert region. The situation worsens each year.

DALANZADGAD — The scorching sun glares at them from directly above, and everything under their feet is parched, dusty and barren. The sheep and goats squeal and squeak, their nostrils sunken, their eyes glazed. Batbaatar Tsedevsuren, a herder with more than two decades of experience, knows this is how his animals behave when extremely thirsty.

He has walked with his 700 animals for several days in Mongolia’s Gobi desert in search of water and green pastures, when suddenly Batbaatar sees a well, and a fellow herder sitting on its edge. He comes closer with a smile, he later recalls, but the herder doesn’t reciprocate. “There is no water in the well,” the other herder quickly says. Batbaatar knows that isn’t true, and that the herder is just acting stingy. But he can’t afford a fight.

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