Climate Weekly: Hungary breaks ranks on coal

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Ostrołęka, Poland, where developers are considering a controversial new coal power plant (Pic: Wikimedia Commons/PanSG)

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Is eastern Europe’s pro-coal coalition starting to fracture?

Hungary is aiming to close its last coal plant by 2030 and replace it with cleaner alternatives, reports Sara Stefanini in a Climate Home News exclusive.

Ok, so it is not nearly as coal-reliant as some of its neighbours. But it is politically significant that a member of the Visegrád Group, traditionally a staunch defender of coal in the EU, is embracing change.

In Poland, the energy ministry released a statement with its usual pro-coal stance, explicitly opposing an increase in the EU 2030 emissions target.

The presidency for next month’s Cop24 climate summit in Katowice swiftly disowned it, saying it did not represent the Polish government’s position. Whether this reflects a substantive split or simply spin remains to be seen.

Vanuatu vs big oil

A constant dilemma for countries on the front line of climate change impacts is whether to work with the developed world on a shared agenda or hold polluters to account.

Both approaches were on display at the virtual climate summit launched by the Marshall Islands, as chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, on Thursday.

Vanuatu declared its intention to sue fossil fuel companies for damages, which would be a world first from a nation state. The Marshall Islands became the first to submit an updated national climate plan to the UN, urging others to follow.

Rebels with a cause

There is a new climate movement in town and it is determined to be disobedient.

DeSmog UK’s Chloé Farand profiles Extinction Rebellion, which has been blocking bridges and roads in central London to call for urgent climate action.

Organisers are coordinating across several countries and need to make the campaign inclusive beyond the white, middle-class usual suspects, activists said.

Climate conversations

Strong rules for Paris deal can spur global climate action – Elliot Diringer, C2ES

Nairobi floods

Dirty flood waters, impassable roads and submerged slums have become the norm every time it rains in Nairobi, reports Sophie Mbugua from Kenya’s capital.

The authorities have taken drastic action, bulldozing 2,000 buildings on the river banks they say were illegally constructed.

But communities are still at risk and experts say better waste management, urban planning and warning systems are needed to protect the growing population.

EU 2050 strategy

The European Commission is expected to publish a long term climate strategy next Wednesday, outlining eight options for the EU to align with the Paris Agreement.

Ten member states wrote to commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, urging him to include a “credible and detailed” pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.

The strategy paper will kick off wrangling between the different arms of Brussels governance over which vision to pursue.

Dutch appeal

The Netherlands was a signatory of the call for higher ambition, but at home the government is challenging a landmark climate ruling in the Supreme Court.

In a statement, the government said it was committed to the tougher court-ordered 2020 emissions target, but was appealing on principle to prevent judges interfering in policy decisions.

Urgenda, the campaign group behind the original lawsuit, said it was “not convinced” by that logic.

Read more on: Climate Politics