Fossil fuel is sliding off a slippery slope

In January, Germany’s two main political parties confirmed a previous agreement to establish a commission that will set a timeline to phase out coal from Germany’s energy mix. This coincides with the parties’ commitment to draw 65 percent of Germany’s energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Germany, once one of the world’s great coal producers and consumers, became a leading producer of solar energy in recent years.

Also in January, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the City of Portland’s right to forbid expansion of any fossil-fuel facility within the municipality, and limit the size of new carbon-burning plants.

The ban came after citizens’ groups battled several projects, ranging from gas pipelines to the city’s port, which harbors a Shell Oil drilling rig being refurbished before being sent to the Arctic. (A study found that 25 percent of Portland residents lived within the “blast zone” of railroads carrying natural gas and other volatile chemicals.)

The groups lobbied the City Council to pass the ban, under the city’s mandate to protect the health and safety of its citizens. They won. Since the controls were imposed, elected officials in California, Idaho and Washington state have pledged to pursue similar controls under their jurisdiction.

TRENDPOST: No combination of government subsidies, regulatory lapse or political rhetoric can sustain the fossil-fuel industry in the face of grassroots public pressure. The pace at which oil, gas and coal are retired isn’t predictable, but the certainty of it is.

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