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Klaus Esterluß | COP18

Climate Travel Guide to Qatar, COP18 in mind

Qatar is the first Middle East country to host a major UN climate change conference. Traditionally, host countries have a big responsibility – their diplomatic skills can make a conference outcome a fail or a success.

This year, the Qatari government has a lot on the plate: A new trading scheme for CO2 emissions has to be found. The old one, agreed in Kyoto in 1996, ends in just a few weeks with the beginning of the new year.

To get a better idea of the oil rich host country of this years Climate Summit, we put togethter some facts and figures for you:

Capital: Doha
Number of inhabtiants: 1.9 Million
Ethnicty: Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%
Religion: Muslim 77.5%, Christian 8.5%, other 14%
Energy mix: 100% electricity from fossil fuels
CO2 emissions per capita: 40 tons per capita. That is the largest in the world.
Food and water resources: produces fruits, vegetables; poultry, dairy products, beef; fish, before Qatar became a big player in oil and gas it was a poor pearl fisher country
Industries: liquefied natural gas, oil production and refining, ammonia, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement and others
Civil Society: mixed legal system of civil law and Islamic law

Qatar is probably not the first place you have in mind for a climate conference. We also thought about it and came up with this little information film about the sense or non-sense of climate conferences like COP18:


November 27, 2012



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claudij | Ideas

Fracking Worldwide: An Overview (Part 2)

The fracking market worldwide can be divided into two main segments: the United States on one side and the rest of the world on the other.

So anyone interested in the future global expansion of hydraulic fracturing should take a closer look at the United States.

Größere Kartenansicht |  Fracking Gebiet | Wyoming USA 2012

Indeed, after the re-election of the Obama administration, it’s likely that safety regulations on fracking will become more strict.

At the same time, Obama announced that he favors a robust exploration of natural gas, in part because it is “plentiful and cheap and in part because it produces only about half the greenhouse gas emissions that coal does.”

Thanks to fracking, the United States do in fact face the bright prospect of becoming the world’s largest gas producer within a few years.

According to Edward Morse, Global Head of Commodities Research at Citigroup, the US is the fastest growing gas facilitating nation on the globe:

“America is on its way to challenge the Middle East as leading energy nation in 2020.”

If we take a closer look at the rise of gas fracking globally, we get a rather heterogenous image: It looks like Europe is struggling with itself. The European countries’ policies on fracking diverge.

Germany wants to allow fracking only under strict safety regulations – several large scale enterprises have already backed up their rights of extensive test drillings. France  banned fracking last year temporarily due to safety concerns. Poland has a large reserve of shale gas and intends to cut its reliance on gas imports, especially from Russia. Ireland is waiting for further research results. Meanwhile, the UK is discussing a probable expansion of fracking within the country.

The largest shale gas reserves are found in China but the technical expertise is not yet on par with that of the US.  Experts disagree on whether China will catch up with the USA around 2020. It seems to be a serious option.

In South America, Argentina has provided evidence that it will jump on the fracking bandwagon soon.

Australia seems to be going in the other direction: Just recently, it stopped any further fracking through a moratorium. Governments always have the option to put projects under moratorium when they are strongly discussed or are too complicated. But moratoriums are always temporary. In most cases, governments simply postpone such decisions as is the case in South Africa: a 14-month fracking ban was lifted recently.

On the whole, fracking is on the rise around the world. Development is still spotty, but the international future of fracking still looks promising. Canadian investigative journalist Joyce Nelson interprets the whole process a little differently:

“[But] shale gas has become extremely controversial in Canada and the US where it was first developed. The industry is planning to go global quickly before the controversy spreads.“

Is that really the case?

In our third part “Fracking – The Controversy” find out  what the fracking controversy is all about and what exactly are the pros and cons.



November 13, 2012



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claudij | Ideas

Fracking: A story of success? (Part 1)

FRACKING or HYDRAULIC FRACTURING – a sought-after gas development method appears to be on the brink to capture the globe.

With a multiple blog series Global Ideas wants to bring a complex issue into focus: How did it come to this development, will fracking play an important and necessary key role in the future of the global energy supply and can it be taken seriously in an ecological context?

But first of all: why is natural gas “fracked” and what exactly does that mean?

Natural gas is one of the main energy resources worldwide. It had barely a one-quarter share in the global energy supply mix after oil and coal in 2011. The fossil fuel energy source provides primarily heating and electricity.

Natural Gas Flare

Natural Gas Flare (Photo credit: CC BY 2.0: Ecopolitologist/


Conventional natural gas – consisting primarily of methane – occurs under the earth in coal beds and is stranded and extracted in natural gas fields. It is mostly transported through huge pipelines or via tankers and trucks from the delivering country to the importing country which is buying and consuming it. Natural gas is on the one hand often considered to be the cleanest burning fossil fuel energy, producing less carbon dioxide then either coal or oil. But critics like Tom Wigley, researcher at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research are saying it’s the opposite, if you consider the methane leaks of natural gas production amongst other aspects.

Noneetheless, it is important to make a difference between conventional gas, which can be produced more easily as it naturally occurs in gas or oil fields, and unconventional gas (“shale gas”), which is trapped underground by impermeable shale rocks and needs to be isolated from the shale. The production methods are different and so are the effects on climate. We will examine more in detail later on to which degree and extend.

Fracking describes the whole process of delivering and bringing the unconventional gas to the earth’s surface: artificial flaws are busted into the deep-lying layers so the gas can escape and different chemicals are used to keep the korridors open.

Have a look here how it works: 


This method isn’t new anymore but thanks to an advanced technique higher profiled then ever before.

Due to the new technology shale gas and a part of some oil deposits can be accessed. Therefore fracking is often described as promising solution to overcome global energy crisis:

As a job procurement source, an alleged carbon dioxide reducer and a guarantee for a larger energy self-sufficiency fracking could become the redemption for several countries with significant shale gas occurrence.

There are different motivations, needs and ambitions associated with hydraulic fracturing depending on a country’s geopolitical position, as well as diverse attitudes on resolving energy crisis. A concise and vigorous statement about the benefits of natural gas and fracking comes from Aubrey McClendonin, chief executive officer of the gas and oil compnany Chesapeake Energy, the second biggest producer of gas in the USA:

“We’re going to be able to say in the next 10 years, ‘To hell with OPEC‘ “

Blatant high hopes for fracking as it appears –

Get an overview in the upcoming 2nd part of our Blog Series: Fracking Worldwide: Which countries are fracking, which are about to frack and why is hydraulic fracturing banned temporarely in others?

Author: Julian Claudi
Editor: Klaus Esterluß




November 5, 2012



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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

Biomass briquettes in India

India produces millions of tons of agricultural waste each year but this material contains much more than just rubbish. The biomass can be used to generate low-carbon energy. That’s what one state in northern India has now begun doing. It’s producing briquettes of fuel from the biomass and selling it to local brick kilns. How the process is working you can see in our gallery.


July 21, 2011



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Klaus Esterluß | Reporter's Log

Vegan fast food for a better climate


Vegan soy burger with cheese, rocket salad and eggless mayonnaise. Picture: Kerstin Schnatz

The Melt! festival in Germany close to the city of Dessau is trying to become more environmentally friendly. Only recently solar panels have been installed. They produce enough electricity to power two festivals the size of Melt! each year. But the organizer’s commitment doesn’t stop there. Vegan and vegeterian food is strongly encouraged. We have asked at one of the stalls, why vegan food is more climate friendly than a meaty diet.


July 17, 2011



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