Environment – Spain exceeds 50 percent renewable electricity in 2023
For the first time, Spain has exceeded the use of 50 percent renewable electricity in 2023. On January 4, Red Eléctrica de España (REE), the power grid operator, declared Energy production from sources such as solar and wind power reached almost 135,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh), or 50.4 percent of the national electricity production mix. The government of socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has committed to bringing the share of renewables in electricity production up to 74 percent between now and 2030. If his ambitions can become reality, it is largely down to a favorable climate and geography, which are conducive to the development of sustainable energies. Indeed, while Spain does not possess abundant oil, gas, or gold deposits, it does benefit from many hours of sunshine, one of Europe’s largest lithium deposits, and optimal conditions for harnessing wind and hydropower. Favored by massive investments, the number of mega projects for solar and wind farms multiplied substantially in 2023. Those new installations are generally located in sparsely populated areas of northern and central Spain.
Economy – German farmers on strike after announcement of new budget measures
More than two weeks after the announcement of cuts to the federal budget, discontent has been growing in Germany, with massive strikes having erupted across the country. Around a hundred farmers, equipped with tractors, blocked the port of Schlüttsiel on January 4. Returning from the Halligen Islands in the North Sea, the German Vice-Chancellor and Minister of the Economy was unable to disembark from the ferry he had boarded. Although no injuries were reported, the situation between the police and the demonstrators escalated considerably. According to the Bild newspaper, angry demonstrators even tried to board the ferry after it had docked. The boat had to turn back, before finally re-entering at 1:50 a.m. Previously, Government announcements on the discontinuation of certain agricultural subsidies had already prompted thousands of farmers to protest in Berlin in December 2023. The coalition of Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals backtracked in part, preserving a tax advantage linked to the ownership of agricultural vehicles. However, some farmers feel ignored by the executive powers that are seeking, above all, to resolve their budgetary difficulties. At the heart of their discontent is the discontinuation of another tax break on fuel purchases, to be phased in between now and 2026.
War – Hezbollah Fires Rockets at Israel
In response to the recent events from the Israel-Hamas war, more parties have been reported to become involved in the conflict. On January 6, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah fired a series of rockets toward a small military base in northern Israel. The attack was in response to the assassination of a senior Hamas commander, Saleh al-Arouri, in Lebanon on January 1. In a recent statement, Hezbollah claimed that the strikes had caused casualties, though the Israeli military claimed that no one was hurt. Roughly 40 rockets had been fired from Lebanon towards Mount Meron, an area roughly five miles south of the Israeli-Lebanese border. Many believe that the strike was not intended to be a significant escalation to the war, but more, a symbolic response to the killing.
Politics – Justices decide whether Donald Trump is eligible for Colorado Ballot
On January 5, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether former President Donald Trump is eligible for Colorado’s Republican primary ballot — a monumental decision that could alter the course of the coming presidential election. “The New York Times” reported that the court’s ruling may not only resolve whether Trump will be able to appear on the Colorado ballot, but also might determine his eligibility to run in the 2024 Presidential Election and to hold office at all. Previously, Trump asked the Supreme Court to intervene after Colorado’s top court decided to disqualify him from the ballot last month, based on the insurrection clause of the Constitution and Trump’s alleged affiliation with the January 6 Capital riot. That decision is on hold and under consideration while the justices deliberate and rule on the case. Meanwhile, according to the “New York Times,” the voters’ brief argued that “because Trump is not qualified to hold the office of president, he is not a ‘qualified candidate’ under the Colorado Election Code.”