EU taxonomy causes high political waves: The discussion on the EU taxonomy was at the centre of last week’s debates. Shortly before the end of the year, the EU Commission presented its ideas. These provide for investments in new gas-fired power plants to be classified as climate-friendly for a transitional period, especially at Germany’s request. In addition, investments in new nuclear power plants – planned in France, among other countries – should be able to be classified as „green“ under certain conditions. Critics fear that this will damage the EU’s so-called climate taxonomy. The new German government in particular could face its first major test on the issue. Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck strongly criticised the Brussels decisions, but the financial sector is also irritated: The EU’s classification of nuclear and gas power plants as „sustainable“ is unsettling fund companies. DWS and Deka warn of misallocation and loss of credibility. vdi-nachrichten.de, dlf.de, fair-economics.de , bmwi.de (Habeck Statement), boerse-online.de
Robert Habeck turns the Ministry of Economics upside down: The new Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, Robert Habeck (Greens), is not allowing himself a breather or a hundred days. The Minister for Climate and Economic Affairs will present his first major plans and reports in the next few weeks. The ministry’s new annual economic report already describes the „limits to growth“. Whether climate targets, growth report and, even more so, green electricity expansion, Habeck is breaking with tradition – and will reap resistance. rnd.de, spiegel.de, oldenburger-onlinezeitung.de
12 billion euros – record revenues in 2021 in emissions trading
The European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) generated auction revenues of €5.3 billion for the federal government in 2021. The revenue is thus twice as high as in 2020. In addition, around €7.2 billion was generated through the sale of certificates in the new national emissions trading system (nEHS), which has covered the heat and transport sectors since 2021. The total revenue from both systems thus amounts to around 12.5 billion euros for 2021 and flows into the Energy and Climate Fund (EKF). They thus open up new scope for government support of climate protection measures and are also used to proportionately stabilise electricity costs in Germany. umweltbundesamt.de
Municipalities need more than loans for climate protection: With the help of municipal loans alone, Germany’s cities and municipalities are not in a position to handle the high investments for the energy transition and climate adaptation. According to a study, municipal loans will continue to play an important role in securing investments in the future. However, it is not the sole means of securing high public investments for the municipal level as a whole. in addition, the German Association of Towns and Municipalities has spoken out in favour of a Climate Protection Acceleration Act. This is because planning and approval procedures would have to be significantly shortened in order to be able to build gas-fired power plants as a bridging technology, for example. ernereurbareenergien.de , dvz.de (Klimaschutzbeschleunigung)
Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Climate Warns of Billions in Construction Ruins: In view of rising energy prices, the chairman of the Committee on Climate Protection and Energy in the Bundestag is urging rapid certification of the controversial Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline. „In view of the empty natural gas storage facilities, Nord Stream 2 is definitely a way to increase supply and quickly fill up the natural gas storage facilities,“ said Klaus Ernst (Left Party). This could counteract the painfully high energy prices, which hit small and medium incomes particularly hard.“ wiwo.de
Expert fears green inflation: The high inflation rate is also related to climate protection. Investments in the energy turnaround and the rising CO2 tax are contributing to the upward pressure on prices.The renowned British economist Charles Goodhart already predicted in February 2021 that permanently higher inflation would come very soon. Not only the decreasing globalisation and the ageing population are to blame, but also the expensive fight against climate change. The 84-year-old economist warned that higher CO2 prices could create a kind of „green inflation“. tagesschau.de
Bayer lawsuit over Monsanto takes on ever greater dimensions: Shareholders are planning further lawsuits against the Bayer group. The reason is the controversial takeover of the US agricultural giant Monsanto. The Cologne law firm Tipp, which specialises in investor test cases, announced that lawsuits for about 320 plaintiffs had been filed with the Cologne Regional Court by the end of the limitation period on 31 December 2021. The claims amount to around 2.2 billion euros. taz.de
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Die Ökonomisierung der Zeit – Why We Must Prevent the Expansion of the Benefit-Oriented Use of Time
The economisation of time has been particularly evident in the world of work since the industrial revolution. Increased efficiency and the required avoidance of „wasting time“ are the central characteristics of economic development.
But time is also becoming increasingly scarce in non-economic areas. Ludwig Heuwinkel blames neoliberal economic and social policies for the fact that time is now also considered a valuable resource in schools and health care, for example, which must increasingly submit to efficiency-oriented structures. This hinders the pursuit of the actual goals, and the economisation of time also disregards ecological rhythms and proper times, thus intensifying the environmental crisis.
We must therefore rethink our one-sided efficiency-oriented approach to time and live more time-consciously. The motto „time is money“ should be replaced by the slogan „time is life“. oekom.de
Thilo Bode: Sceptical attitude towards the Greens on climate protection. ausgburger-allgemeine.de
France: Wants to ramp up coal-fired power plants. stuttgarter-zeitung.de
Climate protection: Will climate protection become supreme international law. telepolis.de
Energy prices: ECB – could require steps against inflation. handelsblatt.com
Less particulate matter: Ban on firecrackers reduces environmental pollution. zeit.de
Weather extremes: More and more US citizens are affected. rnd.de
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection: New coordinators appointed. bmwi.de
The seventeeen goals magazine tells inspiring stories about how people move the world and shows how everyone can make a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
PODCAST OF THE WEEK:
Not colourfast – greenwashing and other cheating
The older ones still remember how the Krombacher company wanted to save the rainforest with beer crates. The campaign began in 2002, and the accusation that it was „greenwashing“ – an attempt to give oneself a green image without much benefit for the environment or the climate – is just as old. In the meantime, many companies present themselves and their products as „sustainable“, as diverse, healthy and socially progressive. And doubts have grown just as strongly: isn’t this just for show? Greenwashing, or pinkwashing, where diversity in the company is feigned, or leanwashing, where well-known fatteners are sold as healthy? Or is it perhaps a morally ambiguous, but overall beneficial process for all concerned? Some earn money and others have a clear conscience. hr2.de
Because of EU regulation: Environmental activists and airlines fight together against empty planes. The skies over Europe are currently full of empty or half-empty planes. Despite the lack of passengers, airlines have to maintain their operations to a large extent – otherwise they would lose contested take-off and landing rights. Criticism of this is growing. rnd.de
German shipowners against going it alone in climate-neutral fleet conversion: International shipping is to become climate-neutral. However, it is unclear which propulsion systems are needed to achieve this – and not everyone is on board. heise.de
VW’s hopefuls: Many of Volkswagen’s hopes are pinned on the VW ID Buzz. Now VW boss Herbert Diess has announced when the e-bulli will be officially presented: on 9 March. businessinsider.de
When the pandemic subsides, mobility will become more expensive: Fuel could become significantly more expensive when the pandemic subsides after an omicron surge. This makes the transport sector’s dependence on fossil fuels abundantly clear. rnd.de
Change to e-mobility: supplier industry becomes a two-tier society: Bosch, ZF and Conti secure orders worth billions. Smaller suppliers are struggling – the emergency plan to sell the combustion engine business is not working. handelsblatt.com
France: How the railway comes to the citizen – In France, rural areas are hardly accessible. A cooperative project aims to change that. tagesspiegel.de
Why the EU is not saying goodbye to hydrogen cars: The renaming of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) to the Clean Hydrogen Partnership does not change the direction of the undertaking, writes Jorgo Chatzimarkakis. Fuel cells remain an essential component and will be promoted no less in the future. And this also reflects the reality and current role: for hydrogen has morphed at EU level from a „niche existence“ for years to the second pillar of the turnaround in energy, industry and mobility. euractiv.de
Schaeffler scales up electrolysis technology for green hydrogen from seawater: With a new start-up and a consortium in the Netherlands, the automotive industry supplier wants to significantly reduce the cost of green hydrogen. While hydrogen production from offshore wind turbines is an obvious option, seawater cannot easily be fed into an electrolyser. This drives up costs and that is where Schaeffler comes in. pv-magazine.de
GET H2 TransHyDE joint project launched: With the help of a test pipeline in Lingen, important aspects of hydrogen transport are to be analysed under real conditions. In 2024, one of the first publicly accessible hydrogen pipelines is to start from there. zfk.de
Helgoland is planning the hydrogen revolution: in the North Sea off Helgoland’s coast, one million tonnes of green hydrogen are to be produced annually from 2035 onwards, according to the vision of Helgoland’s mayor. Companies like RWE, WindMW and Siemens support the project. However, not everyone on the island is that enthusiastic. dw.com
Daimler truck boss – battery & hydrogen „not an either-or, but a both-as well“: Daum does not see the battery and the hydrogen-based fuel cell as competing technologies for trucks – this is „not an either-or, but a both-as well“. When electromobility takes off, both are needed. Once 80 per cent of all passenger cars are electric and half of all long-distance trucks are electric, we will be happy about any truck that can run on hydrogen. Otherwise, 100 trucks with 700 kilowatts of power each would have to charge in parallel at every major service station. This would require 70 megawatts of electrical power. Bringing this amount of energy to the service stations is anything but trivial. ecomento.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
33 modification approvals since 2017: The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Disposal (BASE), as the nuclear supervisory authority for the Konrad mine, has granted approval for „insignificant modifications“ in a total of 33 cases since 11 August 2017. This is revealed in a response by the Federal Government (20/352) to a minor question by the parliamentary group Die Linke (20/307). In addition to the approval of modifications, the parliamentary group also asked about the costs and the timetable for the nuclear waste repository currently under construction. Permits for changes were granted, for example, for a change in the alarm system or the separation of drinking and fire-fighting water. According to the Federal Government, the last permit was granted on 2 December 2021 for modifications to the mine water transfer station and the earthing and lightning protection system. Other approvals by the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection in September and December 2021 concerned modifications to the pumping station at the fan building on Konrad 2 and to the shaft hall on Konrad 1. Commissioning of the former iron ore mine near Salzgitter as a repository for radioactive waste is still planned for 2027, the Federal Government’s response states. The costs from 1 January 2022 until then would amount to around 1.97 billion euros, according to the economic plan approved by the Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE).
Causes of Flight Report: The Federal Government welcomes the report of the Commission on the Causes of Flight presented on 18 May 2021 and the recommendations contained therein for the commitment to reduce the causes of flight and irregular migration. It sees the report as a confirmation of its actions, but also as an impulse for the further development of the Federal Government’s commitment, it writes in a statement submitted to the Bundestag as information (20/187). The independent commission, chaired by Gerda Hasselfeldt, President of the German Red Cross, and Bärbel Dieckmann, former President of Welthungerhilfe, consisted of 24 experts. Their appointment goes back to the coalition agreement of the CDU, CSU and SPD of 12 March 2018.
Many obstacles to digitisation are regional, so all political levels must play their part. What needs to be solved at the federal level, however, is that digitisation must be allowed into highly regulated areas such as the health sector. Too many bans and regulations are still holding back digital companies. The more the government creates good legal and regulatory conditions, the sooner digital start-ups will spread across all sectors.
Klaus-Heiner Röhl, Senior Economist for Companies at the IW in Cologne,If you take a comprehensive look at the start-up scene, you find a whole bouquet of inhibiting factors in Germany. This already starts in teaching: Half of the student spin-offs at the top American universities are software-based. Computer science studies at German universities, on the other hand, are not geared towards software development, but towards theory. iwd.de
„Germany is committed to more majority decisions in the EU. But that then also means that if the worst comes to the worst, we have to acknowledge that we don’t have a majority for our position on some decisions.“
Michael Roth, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag, in the taxonomy debate he does not see how this can still be averted. n-tv.de
Sudan: The political crisis is coming to a head. Last Sunday, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced his resignation in a televised speech. Hamdok had returned to office only six weeks earlier, after the military junta had deposed him on 25 October 2021. While the controversial deal to reinstate Hamdok was initially welcomed by the international community, nationally it was immediately strongly criticised by the democracy movement. Hamdok’s resignation therefore comes as little surprise. The specific reason is said to have been that the military did not grant him the independence he had been promised in selecting the members of the transitional government. africa-live.de
Pandemics Africa: Omikron wave –Corona infections in Africa approach the 10 million mark- In Africa, only ten percent of people have been vaccinated twice, now Omikron is spreading rapidly on the continent. The African Union recommends that countries take South Africa as a model. spiegel.de
Kenya: Richard Leakey – fossil scientist who helped prove human evolution in Africa dies at 77. allafrica.com
Mali: Government wants to postpone democratic elections for up to five years. In the crisis-ridden country of Mali, the transitional government wants to delay the return to democracy. The Federal Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl, questions the Bundeswehr mission there. zeit.de
South Africa: Fire in Parliament: Was the blaze an attack? South Africa is puzzled by the fire in the parliament building in Cape Town. The suspected arsonist remains in custody for the time being. taz.de
South Africa: On the death of Desmond Tutu – inspiration for a divided country. His infectious laugh was his trademark. Despite his diminutive stature, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a larger-than-life personality – also in culture. dw.com
Free trade in Africa: One year of free trade shows little effect. After one year, the AfCFTA free trade area shows little success. The pandemic is disrupting supply chains, while the digital push is improving business cooperation. One major shortcoming: the data gap in African trade. dw.com
Sustainability of AI examined: From speech recognition, personalised news feeds and chat bots to machine-optimised industrial processes, so-called artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are ubiquitous in everyday life. With their spread, questions are increasing – regarding the transparency of decision-making processes, inclusion and discrimination or increasing energy consumption in AI model development. How can such social, ecological and economic effects of AI systems be analysed systematically and comparably? For the first time, a research team from AlgorithmWatch, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Technical University of Berlin, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, has comprehensively investigated this question and has now developed a set of criteria and indicators for sustainable AI. fair-economics.de
Heating, digitalisation and climate protection: A new study has used five case studies to assess how smart solutions in buildings and households affect energy and climate protection targets and what environmental impacts they have. The researchers from the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and co2online show that such digital applications usefully complement important climate protection measures such as the energy refurbishment of buildings or the expansion of renewable energies, but cannot replace them due to limited savings potential. uba.de
Games industry focuses on sustainability: Most toys are made of plastic. Many of them break quickly and end up in the rubbish. But that is supposed to change in the future. Sustainability is the big trend. But most manufacturers can’t and don’t want to do without plastic altogether. That is why many are increasingly researching material innovations. „The demand for toys could easily be covered by plastics made from renewable raw materials,“ says chemist Harald Käb, who advises the industry on the conversion to renewable resources and recycling management. „A lot has been set in motion there. But of course these are processes that don’t happen overnight.“ absatzwirtschaft.de
Methane: The greenhouse gas is much more harmful than CO2. And yet it could be used to „buy“ valuable time. zdf.de
Green shares: Investments for climate protection. enorm-magazin.de
Environmentally friendly packaging material: A team of researchers has developed an „intelligent“ packaging material for food that is sustainable and biodegradable. watson.de
Invitation to the expert discussion „Future of Mobility in Science and Research. New challenges – new strategies – new federal government“.
The event is free of charge and will take place on 13 January 2022 (10.30 a.m. to 12 p.m.) via Zoom.What is the situation regarding the international orientation and mobility of academics? Who benefits from exchange across borders and how? Are the existing instruments for promoting internationalisation sufficient or do more or new incentives need to be created? Questions like these are the focus of an open expert exchange and discussion on 13 January 2022.
The event will be moderated by Markus Lemmens, Editor Science Management. Professor em. Dr. Hans-Dieter Daniel(Chair of Empirical Higher Education Research at the University of Zurich), Dr. Georg Schütte (Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation), Dr. Enno Aufderheide (Secretary General of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, AvH) and Dr. Kai Sicks (Secretary General of the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD) will each provide 15-minute impulses. volkswagenstiftung.de
World ocean instead of bathtub — How lost squeaky ducks served researchers: Thousands of plastic bath animals ended up in the ocean in an accident 30 years ago. But there was a bright side to this ocean pollution.Perhaps one of the most exciting findings is that the bath animals drifted from the Pacific to the North Atlantic.This was predicted by appropriate models, but the animals proved: ‚This can really happen‘.“ Indeed, specimens were found in the early 2000s on the east coast of the US, as well as in Scotland and England. They had drifted northwards through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean to Greenland in the North Atlantic – whether frozen in the pack ice or sitting on top of the ice floes is an open question. This route was an interesting confirmation that there is a surface current there that travels such a distance. heise.de
All images, unless otherwise stated: pixabay.com
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