Climate Change

Climate & Environment
Germany starts commercial operation of new coal-fired power plant
Datteln IV coal power plant
Datteln IV coal power plant Credit: Frank Vincentz (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The energy company Uniper has started operating the new Datteln 4 coal power plant despite ten different protests being registered with the police. The German government and the regional government of North Rhine-Westphalia have stated that the new power plant won't add more emissions to the air, because older coal power plants will go out of operation until 2025. The so-called "coal commission" that advises the German government on the exit from coal energy has previously recommended finding different solutions to compensate the energy company in order to prevent Dattel 4 from going into operation.

Climate & Environment
Taiwan's Green Island introduces project for waste reduction
Sign for a water refill station
Sign for a water refill station Credit: Thomas

Green Island, a small volcanic island and tourist attraction east of Taiwan, is introducing a plan to reduce plastic waste. To counteract the use of bottled water, the island will grant access to 33 potable water facilities in public locations where travellers can refill their own water bottles.

Climate & Environment
Scientists estimate 17 per cent decline in carbon emissions due to Covid-19

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change states that following the movement restrictions, closure of workplaces and factories as well as the closure of borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists estimate that the daily carbon dioxide emissions have declined an estimated 17 per cent.

Climate & Environment
Study shows Covid-19 impact on global air quality
Shanghai, China covered in smog
Shanghai, China covered in smog Credit: Link

Two studies recently published in the American Geophysical Union's journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the Covid-19 lockdown measures have a significant impact on global air quality. Particulate matter pollution has decreased in China and the levels of nitrogen dioxide – a gas produced from emissions from vehicles and industrial activities - decreased in China, Western Europe and America. Researchers also found that the average ground level ozone concentration has increased since March, a gas emitted by certain household and industrial products.

Climate & Environment
Scientists warn of potential tsunami in Alaska
Barry Glacier, Barry Arm, western Prince William Sound.
Barry Glacier, Barry Arm, western Prince William Sound. Credit: Don Becker, U.S. Geological Survey. (Public Domain)

In a public letter, scientists warn of a potential tsunami in Alaska, triggered by a landslide in prince William Sound. As warming temperatures have caused a retreat of Barry Glacier in Barry Arm, an unstable, mile-long slope sitting above the glacier could slide into the ocean below. The landslide can be triggered by heavy rain, heat waves or an earthquake. If the slope should hit the water, it could lead to a 30-feet (approx. 9,5m) wave.

Climate & Environment
Ozone hole three times the size of Greenland over Arctic has healed

The ozone hole had been three times as big as Greenland and been the biggest one since 2011. The UN World Meteorological Organization has now announced that the hole has healed and is closed now. According to the scientists, the lower air pollution due to the coronavirus had probably nothing to do with it.

Climate & Environment
Morgan Stanley won't finance "oil and gas exploration" in the Arctic anymore

Morgan Stanley has announced through their updated Environmental and Social Policy Statement that the investment bank won't finance "new oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic" anymore. Though this policy is only aimed at direct financing of these projects and does not prevent financing for companies that engage in these projects.

Climate & Environment
New inland ice buildup in Greenland and Antarctia, but massive ice losses along coastline
New inland ice buildup in Greenland and Antarctia, but massive ice losses along coastline
Credit: NASA Goddard

NASA's ICESat-2's satellite observation data shows the change of Greenland's and Antarctica's ice sheets between 2003 and 2019. The data reveals that the ice in both eastern Antarctica and central Greenland thickened slightly but showed a drastic thinning along the coastline and a severe thinning on Greenland's glaciers.

Climate & Environment
The economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic must be a "green recovery" - Germany, UK

Spokespeople from Germany and the United Kingdom said that instead of investing "in technologies of the past" the recovery should be a "green and resilient" one that "leaves no one behind". The German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Svenja Schulze, said that "Unlike in the fight against the coronavirus, we already know the vaccines for the climate crisis".

Climate & Environment
Sweden's last coal plant to be closed two years early
Image of Coal Plant
Image of Coal Plant Credit:

Sweden's last coal-fired power station, which was set to seize operation in 2022, has been closed prematurely. A statement on Stockholm Exergi's website read: “This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time, today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan." Sweden is the next European country to go coal-free, following Austria and Belgium.

Climate & Environment
Germany sets new record with 23% solar energy in week 15 of 2020

The head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems division for New Devices and Technologies, Dr. Bruno Burger, has announced that 23% of the German network capacity for electricity in week 15 of the year has been covered by solar energy. Germany has now used more solar than traditional energy for the fifth week in the row.

Climate & Environment
People in northern India report seeing the Himalayas for first time in "almost 30 years" as lockdown eases air pollution

As India has responded to the coronavirus by implementing a lockdown, the air pollution in the country has decreased. People from Jalandhar in northern India are now reporting that they can see the Himalayas for the first time "after 30 yrs" as the air quality has improved due to industries shutting downs, plans being grounded and cars staying off the road.

Climate & Environment
Germany reaches over 50% of renewable energy in first quarter of 2020 for the first time

The German ZSW and BDEW announced in a press release that their preliminary calculations have come to the conclusion that Germany has used renewable energy for around 52 percent of their gross inland electricity consumption. In the statement, this change was mainly attributed to the industrial slowdown due to the coronavirus and the priority for renewable energy over conventional energy in the electricity network.