The Frontlines of Environmental Politics in Europe

An introduction to our special feature, The Frontlines of Environmental Politics in Europe.


This special feature of EuropeNow offers a flavor of what the current European engagement with a Green transition is—its prides and less virtuous instances. Our existing economic model is still run by predatory practices and nature-extractive mechanisms. Thus, in many instances, local communities, even in the heart of Europe, are devastated and disposed of their sense of belonging and enjoyment of their most immediate natural resources, water basins, or simply pieces of land. The under-regulated situation in countries like Bosnia demonstrates the urgent need to demolish predatory practices of resource management. It reveals the inadequacy of our global intervention based on political pacts despite the growing consistent consensus around environmental concerns worldwide. On top of that, the unfortunate and terrible Russian invasion of Ukraine renews European plans for an urgent green transition to get rid of the Russian oil and gas dependencies. Europe’s geopolitical weakness is immediately evident despite its leadership position in environmental protection, climate change policies, and energy transition plans with the world’s major world engagement in terms of citizens, cities, and governmental regulation. Certain European countries are still striving to find a balance between energy independence, safety, supply security, storage needs, and green transition. Moreover, denuclearization, despite of the challenging times and recent past disasters is not prompt to be dismissed.

In her essay, Larisa Kurtović discusses the reckless destruction of Bosnian riverine landscapes since the end of the 1992-95 war and the work of river defenders who are organizing to limit environmental harms. Pauline Münch and Jörg Niewöhner analyze contemporary European hydropolitics too, particularly the challenges and potentials of building sustainable water futures in the Berlin-Brandeburg region. Meanwhile, Elana Resnick spotlights a different, yet equally salient, frontline of European energy and environmental politics in nuclear power, probing the connection between energy and institutional racism in Bulgaria.

Xira Ruiz-Campillo’s piece analyzes the crucial role cities play to build a climate and sustainable action. European cities have been at the forefront of climate action since the start of the global awareness for cooperative reaction. They are presented as the most effective actors prompting quick and collaborative reactions as opposed to the bureaucratized and slow international mechanisms of intervention.

Lastly, the article by Maria Dolores Sanchez Galera introduces the complex matrix of the last decades of European Energy regulation that opens up a new era towards an economic transition. European Environmental and Energy policy are at the basis of the Green Deal ambitious plans and should foster the industrial transition Europe needs for a radical transformation that faces multiple challenges.





Maria Dolores Sanchez Galera is a research fellow member of the “Pascual Madoz” Institute of Land Urbanism and Environmental Law of Carlos III University (Madrid), specializing in Energy Law and the Social aspects of sustainable development, and is part of the Scientific Committee of the Economy of Francesco. She is a Member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) (Spain), engaged with energy poverty and cooperation issues, and cultural and educational issues for the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She has extensively taught in European Energy Law, Environmental Law, cultural heritage, and sustainability, and she has recently published a monograph focusing on educational and cultural challenges of the EU Sustainability Model. She has published extensively in International journals on different environmental and energy law topics. 


Dominic Boyer is an anthropologist and environmental researcher who teaches at Rice University where he also served as Founding Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (2013-2019). His most recent books are Energopolitics (Duke UP, 2019), which analyzes the politics of wind power development in Southern Mexico and Hyposubjects (Open Humanities Press, 2021), an experimental collaboration with Timothy Morton concerning politics in the Anthropocene. With Cymene Howe, he made a documentary film about Iceland’s first major glacier (Okjökull) lost to climate change, Not Ok: a little movie about a small glacier at the end of the world (2018). 


Published on May 18, 2022.


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