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Energy and Innovation
48 minutes | 6 months ago
Exploring a Just Transition in the Jiu Valley of Romania
This episode is about what a 'just energy transition' looks like in Romania. The EU is now putting a lot of money into it’s new Green Deal and other initiatives to support a just energy transition. Today, we are going to learn what this all means by speaking with Roxana Bucata, a Romanian journalist and a student at Central European University. She has done research on this topic in the context of the Jiu Valley in Romania.The Jiu Valley, is the oldest coal region in Romania. It is one of the 18 coal regions in Europe that joined the EU’s Just Transition Platform that oversees alternative and sustainable projects for the communities. Over 750 million euros are expected to be invested in Jiu Valley over the next seven years through the Just Transition Mechanism, part of the EU’s Green Deal.We speak to two people active in the revitalization of the Jiu Valley. First, Alexandru Mustata of Bank Watch Romania. Bank Watch became the interface between local community and the EU. The European Commission was informed of the local initiatives and soon a direct communication and collaboration between Brussels and Jiu Valley started.The second speaker is Mihai Danciu, an architect and part of the Planeta Petrila Association. Danciu and artist Ion Barbu started the association with the aim of reclaiming the mining heritage for the community. The idea is that coal mining is part of the cultural identity of Jiu Valley. So their vision is to use the mining heritage – former buildings, railroads, miners neighborhoods, etc. – for new projects, in an effort to revitalize the area.This episode provides the context to begin to understand the long history of a region and how energy transititons are wrapped up in the deindustrialization of regions along with broader socio-economic changes. The answers seem to be from the bottom, within communities, rather than money funneled from the top-down to local politicians.
59 minutes | 8 months ago
Total Transition: Getting the human side of the energy transition
Sandeep Pai and Savannah Carr-Wilson set out to compare how people are dealing with the energy transition in India, Canada and Africa. They are co-authors of the book, 'Total Transition: The Human Side of the Renewable Energy Revolution'. The authors travel on three continents meeting people who are work in the fossil fuel industry and those benefiting from clean technology like solar power. Their travel writing style brings the experience of these people into a stark reality as they learn about the daily health impact of living in the Canadian tar sands and in Indian coal fields. People literally live on top of the deposits.Link to the book, Total Transition"As we went to look more closely at the fire, Kundan told us that people have jumped into the burning hot crater to commit suicide. As we moved back from the fire, Savannah asked Kundan what one thing he thinks could really help Jharia. He hesitated for a minute, and looked at the ground. “One thing,” he said, “is just give the people of Jharia basic human rights. To clean air, and water. To work. And to have good working hours.” We all fell silent, thinking about his simple request for the people of Jharia. So basic, yet seemingly so unattainable."
43 minutes | 2 years ago
Burning Up with Simon Pirani: Fossil fuels and the geopolitics of gas in Europe
In this episode of the energy and innovation podcast I speak with Simon Pirani, a senior visiting fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Simon is author of many studies and books on energy and history, notably a very good report on the Russia-Ukraine 2009 gas dispute that came out soon after the conflict was resolved.Our discussion today centers on two recent publications of Simon's. The first, is an update on the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2019, published by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. It has been 10 years, since the shut-down and Simon and I reflect on what has been done and what are the future threats. His latest report outlines the ongoing conflict and how any gas agreement between the two countries will be kept on a very short leash, posing potential shutdown threats for transit gas to Europe. We also discuss Simon's new book, Burning up: A global history of Fossil Fuel Consumption, published in 2018 by Pluto Press. Some of the key take-aways of this episode include:Russian gas comes with political conditions. The 2009 crisis stemmed from Soviet era gas policies and the deteriorating political conditions between Russia and Ukraine.How cheap gas enabled Soviet citizens to have a higher quality of life in the citiesThe Annexation of Crimea was a reaction to Ukrainian politics which Russia found working against its interests.The centrality of fossil fuels for our economies is under appreciated by those looking for using more renewable energy and the hypocrisy of leaders discussing how to reduce carbon emissions, while our use of fossil fuels continues to increase.The technological decedents of our transport system, the car and truck, are still fundamentally rooted in the industrial revolution. Inefficiency turned into a mass consumer product. And governments are not hard enough on companies to innovate and increase efficiency in transport.For more of Simon's publications visit his website.
23 minutes | 2 years ago
Building a Sustainable Bank: Why ING invests in clean energy
Building a Sustainable Bank: Why ING invests in clean energy (and not coal)In this episode we talk to Christopher Steane, former Deputy Head of Wholesale Banking of ING bank. He worked for ING from 2010 until his retirement in October, 2018. We speak to Christopher about his efforts to transform ING into a sustainable finance lender - after he was challenged to do so by a younger colleague. We cover his experience in finance and why being environmentally aware reduces risks for banks. We also discuss why coal is not a good product to finance, and why only state companies will finance these carbon intensive projects. I found the interview very interesting for how climate change and risk assessments of older energy technologies are transforming financing options for the energy projects.For this episode, I have to thank the organizers of the Budapest Energy Summit. This interview would not have been possible without their support. They made it possible for me to attend the event and to connect with Christopher, who was a panelist on finance in the energy sector.
37 minutes | 2 years ago
Funding Russian Separatists in Ukraine: Smuggling coal into the EU
How do you smuggle wagon loads of coal into the EU? In this episode of Energy and Innovation you'll learn how Anthracite, a form of hard coal, is funding the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Reporters, Karolina Baca-Pogorzelska and Michał Potocki explain how anthracite is transported out of the occupied regions of Ukraine and into the EU. In 2014, Russian backed separatists invaded the Eastern part of Ukraine and established the territories called the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic. In these territories are the anthracite mines, that the separatists took control of, and are now selling and shipping the coal through Russia to European and other international markets. Anthracite is a form of hard coal, often used in metallurgy, like steel making and in other chemical processes.In this episode you'll understand how the label 'conflict minerals', does not ONLY apply to diamonds or minerals we find in batteries. But also how conflict resources fund and fuel the Russian separatist in Eastern Ukraine. Despite sanctions on Russia and separatists, the trade in Ukrainian Anthracite still exists in a gray area which does not prohibit the buying of it in the EU. For more information, check out the show notes, where you'll find links to Michal and Karolina's work on this topic in English.And a final note in this introduction. My apologies for the quality of the interview audio. We recorded the interview in a café in Warsaw after I met Michal and Carolina while I was doing my own research on the Polish energy sector. As you may know these early episodes of my podcast are a process of learning. And there's a lot of technical issues for me to learn about - that's an understatement. Regardless of some audio issues - mainly my with my own voice, I think you'll find the conversation fascinating to understand how you can even begin to smuggle wagon loads of coal out of a country and into the EU to make money out of it.Anthracite FAQ. What’s the Deal with the Donbas Coal? autor: Michał Potocki, Karolina Baca-Pogorzelska
38 minutes | 2 years ago
Measuring Wellbeing: Building Sustainable Communities
In Episode 3 I'm speaking with Mark Anielski, who specializes in the economics of well-being. Mark and I discuss a range of topics: including, how and why businesses should become more sustainable, the balance between maximizing shareholder value and sustainability. We discuss why money makes us nervous and how we can develop a new relationship with it. We address the idea of a living wage, and even discuss Mark's bicycle trip down the Danube. Mark is the author of two books on the subject of well-being and happiness, with the latest, An Economy of Wellbeing published this year. Mark draws on his international experience with countries like China, Singapore and Bhutan to give insight in developing how we can contribute towards happier and fairer communities. Just a note, in this episode, we don't actually hit on the topic of energy but we do get to innovation in life and business. Mark has his own podcast, and I suggest you check it out at https://anchor.fm/mark-anielski. Mark Anielski is an economic strategist who specializes in the economics of well-being. He is schooled in economics, accounting and forestry. Mark believes that our measures of success should be focused on maximizing the well-being of people and the planet. He is the author of The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth (2007) and his forthcoming book An Economy of Well-being (2018), which provides a road map for this new economy of well- being. Mark has served as an economic advisor to China, Singapore, French Polynesia, Bhutan, The Netherlands, Austria, the US, Canada and the Netherlands on new systems for measuring progress and well-being. Mark is the president and chief well-being officer of Anielski Management Inc. an Edmonton-Canada-based economic advisory services group dedicated to building the new economy of well-being.
36 minutes | 2 years ago
European Energy Regulation: The role of ACER
The two term director of the Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators, Alberto Pototschnig discusses the development of the agency since its founding in 2011. At the end of his second mandate as director, Mr. Pototschnig discusses how the agency has evolved from it conception to its role today as a electricity and gas market monitor. Other topics discussed include long-term financing of the agency, the role of REMIT, the potential of coupling electricity and gas markets to assist the role of renewables. The role technology plays in altering regulations and how ACER has assisted national energy regulators.
31 minutes | 2 years ago
Today we are with Professor Stefan Bouzarovski from the University of Manchester. He has just published a book on energy poverty. Called, Energy Poverty: (Dis)Assembling Europe’s Infrastructural Divide, published by Palgrave Macmillan. He is also the Chair of the Steering Committee for The EU Energy Poverty Observatory. On today's episode we discuss the observatory and energy poverty in the EU, how research on the issue can inform policy choices. We talk about the role of academics, including the role of geographers and how we can produce research that makes a difference.Intro music credit: Andrew Codeman, Tired traveler on the way home
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