Living Planet: Where are we at with renewables? [Radio Interview]

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Mar 112016

The Fukushima disaster convinced the German government under Angela Merkel that nuclear power was not the way to go. The country decided to start phasing out nuclear energy and give financial support to the development of renewable energy technologies. This helped to boost alternative energy production around the globe. So how far have we got in the last five years?


Living Planet: Fukushima – 5 years on [Radio Interview]

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Mar 102016

DW.ImageFive years ago, the world was shocked by the news that a massive earthquake had triggered a devastating tsunami along the coast of Japan. Entire villages were destroyed and the nuclear plant at Fukushima went into meltdown. What does the region look like today and where are we at with the push for renewable energy?


Presenting on “After Paris: the climate’s changing, can the world?” at Rachel Carson Center Today

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Jan 262016

Communicating Sustainability: Perspektiven der Nachhaltigkeit in Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft

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Oct 172012

Herausgegeben von: Josef Mantl, Alexander Ochs und Marc R. Pacheco

Nachhaltigkeit muss aus verschiedenen Blickwinkeln betrachtet, diskutiert und umgesetzt werden: Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Diese klassische Triade bildet den Rahmen für viele Diskussionen und Vorträge, die jungen Menschen, PolitikerInnen, UnternehmerInnen, WissenschafterInnen u.v.m. dabei helfen sollen, sich an die komplexe Struktur globaler Probleme heranzuwagen, diese zu reflektieren, Meinungen auszutauschen und miteinander zu diskutieren.
Das Buch enthält Beiträge von ReferentInnen und UnterstützerInnen der Sustainable Future Campaign, einer Initiative der Hochschulliga für die Vereinten Nationen (Akademisches Forum für Außenpolitik). Das Ziel ist es, Nachhaltigkeit zu kommunizieren, die Bemühungen der letzten Jahre zusammenzufassen und zu weiteren Diskussionen anzuregen.

Link zum Versenden:

Energy Agency Looks to Natural Gas “Golden Age”

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May 302012

Wed, 30 May 2012 04:57 GMT, Source: Content Partner // Inter Press Service
By Carey L. Biron

WASHINGTON, May 30 (IPS) – If a series of “golden rules” can be followed, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests, global natural gas usage could grow by more than 50 percent by 2035.The report, released on Tuesday, came under sharp criticism from environmental groups for charting a route to a “golden age” in the extraction and use of natural gas.
“We have an opportunity for natural gas to address the intermittency problems of renewable energy sources – it could become an ally of renewables,” Alexander Ochs, the director of the climate and energy programme at the Worldwatch Institute here in Washington, told IPS. Ochs also reviewed a draft of the IEA report.

Ochs says that there are a number of actors within the gas sector that will welcome the new IEA recommendations as a way of cutting down on the potential of a future environmental catastrophe that could lead to industry-damaging policy restrictions.

“The problem isn’t with this report. The problem is that if you don’t have good regulations in place, there go your opportunities,” he says. “And if you don’t have smart technologies in place, you lose this ally.”

Ochs does warn that the report underplays the potential use of renewables in the upcoming decades, however, by suggesting that green technologies other than hydro will only make up five percent of total energy demand in the next quarter century.

“I think the IEA could well be wrong in the numbers it’s using. Technically and economically, more than half of our electricity could come from renewables as early as 2030,” he says.

“But if gas sees a golden age and becomes cheap globally, it could get in the way of renewables. Then, rather than being an enabler, it becomes a deal breaker.”


Big failures, small successes mark Obama’s environmental record

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Nov 032011

Deutsche Welle, 3 November 2011 [original source]

As presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a bold green agenda. He vowed to reverse the climate change policy of his predecessor and push for green jobs. But one year before the election the results are mixed at best.

Barack Obama in Copenhagen (…)

Alexander Ochs, director of the climate and energy program at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, isn’t all that surprised about Obama’s reactions to the Fukushima and Deepwater Horizon accidents. He notes that Obama upon becoming president considered nuclear energy a clean technology and it doesn’t seem Fukushima changed his stance.

What’s more, says Ochs, energy security for most key players in the US simply trumps environmental protection. By continuing or even expanding domestic drilling for oil, those players hope to decrease US dependency on imported oil, which in the long run is impossible because of decreasing reserves.

And yet, despite many shortcomings, it wouldn’t be fair to label Obama as an abject failure on the environment. While it wasn’t hard to beat the environmental record set by his predecessor, Obama does deserve credit for some important green initiatives, argue the experts.

As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Obama administration has made available investments in renewable energy projects totaling $90 billion (65 billion euros), explains Ochs. He adds that the so-called Cafe standard, i.e. the fuel standard for cars and light trucks, has been raised substantially. And the way in which federal agencies analyze environmental impact of green house gas emissions has also been improved.

While these efforts sound mundane compared to a sweeping international climate mandate they are important and do produce clear environmental change, says Ochs.


“Environmental protection could indeed play a role in the election to the extent that it can be cast by Republicans as a job killer,” says Ochs. “If Republicans are successful in framing it this way it can become quite a liability for Obama and Congress Democrats.”

Author: Michael Knigge, Editor: Rob Mudge

Green Deal or Great Disillusion? France Passes Climate-Friendly Legislation (Part 1 of 2)

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Aug 172010

with Camille SerreGrenelle

While the United States is unlikely to pass a climate bill in the near future, there may be greater hope from one of the country’s closest allies: France. A few months ago, France passed a major bill that will deeply transform the country’s environmental law, including its approach to climate change. But while the outcomes of the measure are promising, a variety of criticisms remain.

After an exhausting legislative process, the “Grenelle de l’Environnement” ended with the adoption of the “Grenelle 2” bill this May. Enacted on July 13, three years after the process was launched by then-newly elected president Nicolas Sarkozy, the new legislation covers environmental topics such as climate and energy, biodiversity protection, public health, sustainable agriculture, waste management, and the governance of sustainable development. In addition to being a comprehensive environmental bill, Grenelle 2 implicitly defines the French sustainable development strategy for years to come.

Grenelle de l’environnement was named after the so-called “negotiations of Grenelle” on wages that took place in 1968, when France was paralyzed by a general strike. Back then, the primary negotiators were the government, unions, and employers. The Grenelle de l’environnement, launched in 2007, extended the consultation to five main stakeholder groups—the State, employers, unions, environmental NGOs, and local governments—to bring it more in line with the participatory nature of sustainable development.

On the climate front, France is likely to meet its current emissions reduction goals. [Read the rest of this ReVolt Blog here]

Faster, Higher, Stronger: China Strives to Become a Climate Champion

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Sep 012008


When the Olympic fire was set alight during the Games’ opening ceremony, there was a giant wave of smog hanging over Beijing. Like any other day of the year, the air pollution was several times above what the World Health Organization considers safe. Many competitors were so concerned about their personal wellbeing that they restricted their visit to the Ancient City to the days on which they compete, thus missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to inhale the legendary Olympic spirit for the duration of the games. Overpopulation was not amongst the problems the athlete village faced. And however clean, colorful, and crystal-clear the opening ceremonies were – when the cameras conveyed the first images of spectators with masks over their mouths, the hosts’ delight soured rather suddenly. Most of us, however, were not surprised. After all, this is the China we imagine. A political apparatus so keen to receive world recognition and a population so eager to catch up with the wealthy elsewhere have unleashed such a thriving economy that there is no room for environmental concerns, least of all protective regulation.

It is this dusky image of China that has to a large extent shaped our diplomatic attitude towards this rapidly industrializing giant. Nowhere more so than in the United States, the continuous finger-pointing at China has been used as an excuse for not taking more vigorous action on global environmental problems at home. READ THIS EXCLUSIVE OP-ED FOR WWW.ALEXANDEROCHS.COM