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Dear Colleagues and Friends,

A new year is here and with 2020 begins a new decade as well. Undoubtedly, it will be a decade in which major transformations must occur… in society, economics and politics. We will need more activism, bolder environmental politics, technological improvements and responsible economic behavior. The beginnings of certain trends have already become visible in the first days of this year and we will take a closer look at some of them in our January Newsletter.

We will observe, for instance, 1) the growing threat of climate-related natural disasters, as we had to witness in Australia this month, 2) the continued decline of king coal, which cannot be brought back even with the support of backwards-looking politicians like Donald Trump, 3) the struggle of fossil fuel companies that try to portray themselves as green innovators, and 4) the trend of financial investors and creditors that wake up to the financial and climatic risk of fossil fuels and global warming.

While things keep changing in the world of energy, others remain the same. We, the EWG, are still here, fighting for the cause of 100% renewable energy until 2030. Nothing has changed about our message – or our conviction that we need to decarbonize the energy sector and produce negative emissions in the near future. We will continue to spread the word and have done so already this month. For instance, we visited the General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi and engaged in promising dialogue with worldwide renewable energy leaders.

But one thing is new about the EWG as well: Our newsletter has gotten a fresh new design and now shines in glorious yellow. We hope you will enjoy this brand-new January Newsletter and wish you a great start to 2020!

Your EWG Team

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – December 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
2019 is close to being over, so this is our last newsletter of the year. For us, this has been a challenging but very exciting year. We started in January with more (wo-)manpower than we ever had (scroll all the way down here) to intensify our efforts on energy policy. Which we did, here are just two highlights of our manifold year-round activities:
  1. In April, we published our flagship study together with LUT University: A global scenario outlining the way towards 100% renewable energy. After 4 and a half years of intense work and with 15 scientists involved, we finally published the first-of-its-kind study to outline a 1.5°C scenario with a cost-effective, cross-sectoral, global 100% renewable energy system. And while we were invited to present our roadmap to the European Commission, the recently presented European Green Deal doesn’t really reflect our findings and recommendations. Read more about the contents of the deal in this newsletter!
  2. Later this year, in September, our President Hans-Josef Fell and EWG’s Chief Research Officer Dr. Thure Traber warned in a co-authored study that “natural gas makes no contribution to climate protection” because of its alarming high methane emissions. Natural – meaning fossil – gas is the fossil industry’s new go-to fuel since it’s falsely considered a bridge-fuel that is needed for the energy transition. But we could show that there is no bridge at all and that fossil gas needs to be phased out as soon as possible (as all other fossils!) if we want to implement real climate protection.

And no, unfortunately, COP25 (also covered in this newsletter) showed us that the global community is not quite ready yet to come together to legally enshrine limiting global warming to 1.5°C and implement 100% renewable energy strategies worldwide. But all utopian hopes aside, a lot has happened this year despite governmental inactiveness & constant pressure from the fossil industry to water down any ambitious renewable energy or climate policy. It seems like big parts of society have woken up, shaken up by an increasingly rampant climate crisis and bold protesters & activists who will not stop demanding real action. We will be back in January, full of energy and enthusiasm to show the world that a global transition to 100% renewable energy should be at the core of any serious climate strategy.

Until then, enjoy reading our December newsletter and have joyful holidays,

Your EWG Team

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – November 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

This month, 11,000 scientists from all around the world warned in a joint statement that we are facing an “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless we don’t radically change the way we live. The crisis is huge; therefore, we need change that is fast, effective and profound.

We need solutions that do justice to the scale of the problems we are facing. No more tiny changes that hardly improve anything (if at all!) but above all waste our time and energy. This month we feature, inter alia, stories on the European Investment Bank and a number of climate litigation cases to prove that it doesn’t take so much to make a great impact. We are also talking about the biggest disappointment this month – the release of the new World Energy Outlook – and what we can do about it.Grüne Wiese

Be part of the change we need, spread positive stories – our November Newsletter will help you with that – and don’t forget to join the next global climate strike on November 29 to increase awareness and pressure – it seems we cannot get enough of it!

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – October 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

At the beginning of this October, Extinction Rebellion took over streets, squares and junctions in about 60 cities around the globe. The month was, once again, marked by protests for more ambitious climate policies.

Lately, we saw several reasons for climate protests to continue: The EU Environment Ministers did not decide on whether to update the EU 2030 emission reduction targets, leaving a back door open for an “update” that does not even include increased mitigation efforts. In Germany, the government adopted its Climate Action Strategy and while it is being sold as a great step forward, it should rather be considered as a backdrop. But it is not only Germany or the EU that lag behind, actually more than half of the signees of the Paris Agreement are not planning to update their currently insufficient mitigation efforts, as new UNDP & UNFCCC research shows.

As long as governments and politicians are not eager to implement policies that are ambitious enough, news of protests will – hopefully – continue to be our faithful companion. And as long as we have not reached 100% renewable energy worldwide, the Energy Watch Group will continue to speak up and provide research and insights on how to best get there in time.

It is more important than ever to stay active, stay involved and stay informed – our October Newsletter will help you with that!

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – September 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The EWG’s newsletter is back from summer break, reenergized and fueled with the most interesting news around the global energy transition, latest scientific findings and our own work. While politicians, business representatives and scientists still discuss about adequate measures against the climate crisis, the world experienced it second hottest summer ever measured. And it won’t be the last, according to researchers from Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute (IPSL) and France’s National Meteorological Research Centre 1.5 °C could already be out of reach and temperatures could even rise up to 6 or 7 °C by 2100, while the IPCC’s worst-case scenario expects ‘only’ 5 °C of global warming.  Not to mention the devastating wildfires in the Amazon and the Borneo rainforests.

These horrifying news and developments could easily lead to the conclusion that all is lost and nothing can be done anymore. But that’s far from the truth. We are convinced that the transition from a fossil to a renewable energy system is possible and the key measure in order to bring emissions down to zero, since it makes up 55% of all greenhouse gases. Is this just a randomly picked number? No, it’s the result of one out of two analyses the EWG has published in the last months. Our recent Natural Gas Study concludes that the climate effect of betting on fossil gas will be 40% stronger compared to coal and oil. Our research suggests that the current debate over natural gas as a bridging fuel is not only wrong but also dangerous. Speaking of dangerous, and no, not referring to global warming this time but rather the opposite: the fossil industry seems to be increasingly under pressure due to increasing divestment rates. 11$ trillion have already been divested and more and more investors follow that trail to prevent their assets from stranding.

And last, September 20th was the start of Climate Action Week and over 4 million people demonstrated for more ambitious climate policies while heads of state gathered in New York for the UN Climate Change Summit. Vocally sympathizing with the protestors, the urgency of climate action was still not reflected by the words and pledges of Merkel, Macron & Co. This means that global climate protests are far from over, as is our newsletter – find all the stories and more right here.

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – July 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Discussions about global warming and its manifold devastating impacts have been dominating the international media landscape all along this summer – also this month, is on track to become earth’s hottest month on record. Despite all this and the associated transfer of political attention toward the climate crisis, the amount of action taken by governments over the last month has been woefully lacking. The EU’s newly inaugurated President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented the idea of a European Green Deal. While this sounds ambitious, concrete proposals and measures are missing. And while having introduced the idea of becoming climate-neutral by 2050, the EU bodies have not managed to commit to this goal either. Frustrated with such two-faced statements and actions of national governments all over the world, cities & communities are taking matters into their own hands: declaring „Climate Emergency“ and taking action for themselves. Another possibility to make your national government care about global warming: Sue them. A recently published survey found that climate litigation cases have drastically increased through the last years, with a resounding amount of success. Individuals, organizations, businesses and cities demanding and taking legal action for more climate action is one of the most remarkable accomplishments of our time. Yet, we have to emphasize: Aiming for net-zero by 2050 is not enough. In order to get even close to 1.5°C, we need to reach zero emissions way before. And how will such a zero-emission economy look like? We don’t know yet, what we do know is that it will be fueled by a 100% renewable energy system, as solar & wind are already picking up the torch from dying king coal. If you ask us, this cannot happen fast enough. And while it happens, read our newsletter right here to provide you with all the information and analysis you need on the way.

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – June 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It seems like the world as we know it might come to an end much sooner than we expected: if we continue to ignore global heating human civilization could be history by 2050. But not all hope is lost. Leonardo DiCaprio and Damon Grameau present solutions to fight climate change in their documentaries and Fridays For Future is more successful than ever: after nearly half a year, students all over the world continue to protest for better climate policies and the movement keeps growing. It certainly seems that their efforts are being acknowledged considering that the EU elections last month saw a surge in green party support all over Europe. This was particularly the case in Germany. Here the Greens now stand even higher in the polls than the Christian Democrats, who are the  majority in parliament. The UK, despite ongoing Brexit troubles, still managed to commit to a net zero target by 2050. Finland managed to top this commendable effort by announcing carbon neutrality by 2035. A wave of so called progress reports in the energy field washed over us, unfortunately there was little progress to be seen. The European Coal Exit has equally little progress to show, reports the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. Dr. Traber, the EWG’s Chief Research Officer talked about an energy system of 100% renewable energy at EVS32 in Lyon, France and President of the EWG, Hans-Josef Fell, was asked to consult the Ukranian Government on a Renewable Energy Law.

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – May 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The month of May was marked by hardly surprising yet very alarming revelations about the current state of our Earth and our (non-)actions to finally get it into a better shape. 1 million of the planet’s species are at risk of extinction due to human activities such as fishing, agriculture and of course, climate change, a damning UN report warns. The highest CO2 concentration in the atmosphere in human history was recorded this month at the world’s oldest measuring station in Hawaii. 29 states have already experienced their national Earth Overshoot Days, indicating the day on which they have used their share of resources for the whole year. Every year of the last decade, more people fled from natural disasters than from violence and conflict, a new UN report calculated. The oil industry continues to push its agenda and plans to drill fossils worth $5 trillion.
We agree that these news sound absolutely devastating, but with the global climate movement and the triggered public debates on climate action becoming louder, we also see the first positive indications that the voices of the younger generation are heard. The most recent example that makes us more optimistic: Chancellor Merkel just announced that Germany needs to discuss how to “achieve the target of becoming climate neutral by 2050”, which would be a great step forward as opposed to the initially targeted 80-95%. We need more commitments and with them, more action. Thankfully, the Europeans among us have the opportunity to voice our opinion on climate action in the EU parliament elections this week. Let’s inform ourselves and others. Enjoy reading our May Newsletter!

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – April 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

On April 12, together with LUT University, we presented our new study showcasing that: A global transition to 100% renewable energy will not only reduce energy related GHG emissions to zero but is technically feasible and economically competitive with the current fossil and nuclear based system. The scientific modelling study simulates a total global energy transition to renewables in the electricity, heat, transport and desalination sectors by 2050 or earlier, given a strong political will.
More political ambition and action is urgently needed as 2018 has seen the highest emission growth in over 5 years. Not only politics but also big businesses have failed to reduce emissions and become more sustainable. While oil multinational Shell is still one of the world’s worst polluters, Ryanair might just be on its way there, the airline landed in the top-10 of Europe’s worst carbon emitters, together with 9 coal plants. Europe, or rather the EU, could nevertheless reach nearly 60% of emission reduction by 2030. In Germany, the fight for climate action continues, while business representatives want to lower emission reduction goals, Fridays for Future Germany have published a paper with an official set of climate action demands to the German government, including the call for 100% renewables by 2035 and a complete coal phase-out until 2030. Scientific work on 100% renewables is increasingly taking off, as shown in a new study by a Scandinavian research team. Read about these and more exciting news in our April Newsletter.

Energy Watch Group Newsletter – March 2019

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Over 1.5 million students and climate activists took the streets on March 15 to urge world leaders to take rapid climate action. Meanwhile, Germany and the EU struggling to find a clear and determined pathway towards a timely and full decarbonisation. In the EU, there is talk of higher emission reduction targets and five states even agreed to aim for 100% renewables by 2050, while other member states have still not stepped up their ambitions. Germany fights over a new proposal for a climate protection law, which has been criticized for being insufficient and too ambitious at the same time. Under the current government, increased climate protection efforts seem nearly impossible. Moreover, we want to highlight three pieces of insightful investigative research and journalism covering the dark habits of the fossil industry “behind the scenes”. The focus of our science update is on Europe’s transition towards a 100% renewable energy system. EWG scientific board members Claudia Kemfert and Christian Breyer have published a new study on how to pave the way towards 100% renewables in the European power sector and another study funded by the European Climate Foundation outlines six scenarios for fossil-free energy by 2050. Read about these and more news in our March newsletter.