Alice Hancock

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An Iberian wolf in the Sierra de la Culebra near the village of Puebla de Sanabria, north-west Spain © Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

One afternoon in early April a mist descended across the Picos de Europa mountains in northern Spain, where Guadalupe Vada was out with her sheep.At this time of year they graze in the lower peaks close to the village, before moving into mountains for the summer. As evening drew in, she left the flock of 800 for the night, guarded by eight Mastiff dogs, and returned home.

At sunrise the sky had cleared. Three vultures flew in circles high above the area where Vada knew the sheep were. “I thought, that’s it. Something’s happened”, she recounts. Heading to where the flock had been she saw that around seven sheep had been attacked.…  Seguir leyendo »

Belgian farmers protest in Brussels © Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

The highway from the Belgian city of Namur to Brussels suffered a traffic jam like none other last week. Around 700 tractors and 1,500 farmers blocked the road, many staying for 36 hours.It was not an isolated event. Farmers who have been protesting across the EU for several months have dramatically escalated their actions over the past few weeks, obstructing major arteries and city streets in France, Romania, Germany, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Latvia among other EU states.

They have barricaded supermarkets, dumped manure, set hay bales alight, ransacked food distribution lorries and pelted police with eggs.

In France, farmers threatened to “lay siege” to Paris, while in Belgium they blocked the port of Zeebrugge.…  Seguir leyendo »

A convoy of tractors in Arnhem, Netherlands, protests against the Dutch government’s nitrogen reduction policy to meet EU targets. The sign reads ‘Come on child, we are no longer welcome in this country’ © FT montage: Jeroen Meuwsen/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

The barns and milking sheds of Takis Kazanas’s farm are dwarfed by the majestic mountains that overlook the Thessalian Plain.

Cattle have been raised on this green expanse of land in northern Greece for millennia, but now regulators in Brussels are discussing rules that will lead to farms like his being treated as industrial plants, akin to steel mills or chemical works.

Should that change come into force, the farm on which the 66-year-old and his four sons manage 300 cattle and 230 acres of land will be legally obliged to cut greenhouse gas emissions and pollution levels. With ambitious climate targets to hit by 2030, Brussels is finally forcing farming to go green.…  Seguir leyendo »

A factory worker in Taizhou, east China, prepares overseas orders. Since 2011, Beijing has invested 10 times more than Europe in new solar panel manufacturing capacity © CFOTO/Sipa USA/Reuters

At the annual gathering of Europe’s solar power lobby in Brussels this month, industry executives celebrated the rapid rollout of panels across the region after the retreat from Russian gas.

Standing behind a DJ deck, Walburga Hemetsberger, SolarPower Europe’s chief executive, said that the night should be “the best party ever”, adding that the European industry had broken records on solar installations last year. But EU officials speaking at the same event had their minds on an even bigger challenge.

“Switching from fossil fuels to renewables should not mean replacing one dependency with another”, announced energy commissioner Kadri Simson, who has spent the past year marshalling the bloc’s efforts to wean itself off Russian gas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Companies developing greener cars and batteries, better aviation fuel, and solar and wind power have been boosted by Joe Biden’s initiative © FT montage: Getty Images/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Donal O’Riain has been struck by the welcome his company received in the US — and it isn’t just the Christmas card sent by the Department of Energy official who is helping it secure federally supported loans.

The prospect of abundant government funding thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act is prompting Ecocem, an Irish low-carbon cement producer, to double a planned $120mn investment in California as it reorients spending towards the US instead of Europe, he says.

“They are rolling out the carpet for green investment — we were surprised at how personal the contact was”, says O’Riain, Ecocem’s founder and managing director.…  Seguir leyendo »

Osterby, a village in Germany, allows residents to text a number to switch on street lights if they need to go out © dpa

There is a festive tradition in Finland that everyone decamps to the sauna on Christmas Eve to sit and sweat in candlelight before the feasting begins. Some even believe that a fairytale sauna elf, the saunattontu, guards the peaceful atmosphere and punishes those who misbehave.

But this year, few Finns got to enjoy their pre-Christmas detox. Even though many saunas are no longer heated with gas, “electricity is so much more expensive now”, says Anni Sinnemäki, Helsinki’s deputy mayor. “Some people might have [a sauna] on Christmas Eve but they won’t have used it on the Saturday before and the Saturday before that”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europe’s new dirty energy: the ‘unavoidable evil’ of wartime fossil fuels

In July last year, EU commissioners set out a range of green policies to put the continent on a path to becoming climate neutral by 2050. “The fossil fuel economy has reached its limits”, said Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president.

Little more than a year later, those commissioners are now overseeing tens of billions of euros of spending on fossil fuel infrastructure and supplies, amid severe cuts to gas supplies from Russia and record high prices.

Data analysed by the energy think-tank Ember Climate for the Financial Times suggest that European governments will spend at least €50bn this winter on new and expanded fossil fuel infrastructure and supplies, including gas shipped in from overseas and coal to fuel previously mothballed power plants.…  Seguir leyendo »