FAIReconomics Newsletter Week 03/20 NEWS

More sustainability in the textile sector called for: Prior to the start of the Berlin Fashion Week, which starts today, Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) and Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) have called on the industry to make a greater commitment to climate protection and fair working conditions. Manufacturers and retailers should focus more strongly on sustainability. Schulze criticized that for years there have been „developments in the global textile sector that are not sustainable: more and more, cheaper and cheaper, faster and faster“. „The costs of global pollution and waste of resources are unfortunately not on the price tag on the product.“  Today, 40 percent of the clothes bought in Germany are never or only rarely worn, this is „bad from the point of view of environmental and resource protection“. To change this, two major changes would have to be initiated. „On the one hand, it is necessary to create incentives for manufacturers and retailers to orient themselves more towards sustainability. If necessary also with legal regulations“, said the Minister. afp.com , morgenpost.de
Natural gas bonuses planned: In the bill of the coal exit law, which is to be discussed in the Federal Cabinet on Wednesday, one finds millions of subsidies, with whose assistance so far coal-fired combined heat and power (CHP) is to be converted primarily to natural gas. Operators who switch to waste, waste heat, biomass or gaseous or liquid fuels are to receive a one-off payment of 180 euros per kilowatt of output, the so-called coal replacement bonus. This regulation is intended to make the energy turnaround palatable to the two German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. They are afraid that the nuclear phase-out and their weak expansion of renewable energies will make them dependent on the northern states for energy. In this respect, the North Stream 2 gas pipeline is particularly important for Germany. klimareporter.de

Every day the German railway has a delay of about 8,767 hours.  The punctuality balance, especially on highly frequented connections, looks far worse than the average values published by the railways. Last November, for example, almost every second train on the Hanover-Berlin line was delayed, and between Frankfurt and Stuttgart less than 60 percent of long-distance trains ran according to plan. handelsblatt.com

CO2 emissions down: At the beginning of last year, a major debate broke out in Germany about how to achieve the climate targets, and many people were sceptical that these targets would be achieved in this country. An evaluation now shows that German greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 fell by more than 50 million tonnes. This is about 35 percent below the 1990 level – only five percentage points away from the 2020 target. The German government has not tried to do this, but has rather fallen into its lap, says Agora director Patrick Graichen: „The only decisive factor was the CO2 price in the European emissions trading system. There, CO2 certificates are currently traded for around 25 euros – a comparatively high price, so that electricity production from lignite and hard coal has dropped significantly. While emissions in the energy sector have fallen, they are rising in the transport sector. zdf.de , agora-energiewende
Warning about redeployment of funds: The creation of a fair transition fund to help poorer EU regions convert to a climate-neutral economy should not be at the expense of the bloc’s cohesion policy, the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy demands. European regional politicians fear that the „Just Transition Fund“ will further reduce the funds allocated to cohesion policy, which have already been cut by seven percent in the EU’s long-term budget proposal for 2021-2027. In the current budget, cohesion policy amounted to 351.8 billion euros, the second largest area of expenditure after agriculture. euractiv.de

Australia – hottest year in history: Meteorologists from the Bureau of Meteorology report that 2019 will be the hottest and driest calendar year on the continent since systematic weather recording began. The average temperature in Australia last year was 1.52 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. In the most populous state of New South Wales it was even 1.95 degrees. Throughout Australia, precipitation averaged 277 millimeters, the lowest since measurements began. The drought was a major factor in the bush fires, said authority head Karl Braganza.  sueddeutsche.de, dlf.de
Less damage from natural disasters: The world got off relatively lightly despite two major typhoons over Japan last year. All in all, cyclones, floods, earthquakes and forest fires caused losses of 150 (2018: 186) billion dollars worldwide. Adjusted for inflation, they were thus only slightly above the 30-year average (US$ 145bn). But Munich Re’s experts also recognise the consequences of global warming in an overall average natural catastrophe year. „In 2019, there were two phenomena that we can very probably attribute to climate change and which we have been observing more frequently in recent years.“ manager-magazin.de munichre.com
„How To Break Up With Fast Fashion“ The fashion industry is often referred to as the world’s second biggest polluter, and global garment production has roughly doubled in the last 15 years. People everywhere want to change the way we shop. This book will show you how that could be done. How To Break Up With Fast Fashion“ will help you change the way you think, fall in love with your wardrobe again, and find more sustainable ways to shop – from swapping clothes to running a charity shop. Lauren Bravo is a freelance journalist who writes about fashion, pop culture, food, travel and feminism for magazines such as Grazia, Cosmopolitan, The Telegraph and The Guardian. She was also the columnist for Pool’s Wardrobe Stories.  thebooksellers.com
Energy policy: construction of wind farms on land collapsed. dlf.de
Climate protection: Sociologist is concerned about more radical climate protectors fair-economics.de
Electricity production: German offshore wind power plants supplied around 24 terawatt hours of electricity in 2019 – an increase of 21 percent. handelsblatt.com
Lindemann vs. Schulze: Union faction leader accuses Minister of environmental pollution. spiegel.de
Balance of natural disasters: Fewer deaths from storms. taz.de
Insect atlas: Species extinction takes on threatening proportions tagesschau.de
France: For the time being, the country is refraining from building new nuclear reactors. A decision will be made at the end of 2022 at the earliest. dw.com
Siemens CEO Joe Käser: Offers Fridays For Future a position on the supervisory board. She proposes and suggests scientists. faz.net
Siemens II:Despite protests, Siemens continues to supply coal mines in Australia. n-tv.de
Klöckner: Federal Minister of Agriculture demands higher food prices. berliner-zeitung.de
People commuting to work: On average, those who drive to work by car still reach their destination significantly faster than those who use public transport. At least this is true for the vast majority of commuters who live less than 25 kilometres from their place of work. According to the statisticians, 89 percent of commuters need less than half an hour’s travel time by private car for such short distances. By contrast, only 56 percent of commuters manage to stay below the 30-minute travel time mark by public transport. faz.net
Demand for e-mobility in Europe: If Europe wants to achieve its climate targets, it must multiply the number of public charging points for e-cars. The 185,000 charging points at the end of 2019 would have to grow to three million by 2030. This is the conclusion reached by Transport & Environment (T & E), an umbrella organisation of European environmental associations. The new EU Commission under President von der Leyen wants the EU states to reduce their CO2 emissions by 50 to 55 percent by 2030. According to calculations by T & E, this would require at least 33 million electric cars in 2030. Climate neutrality would even require 44 million e-vehicles. The new charging stations alone would cost 80 billion euros over the next ten years – that is almost the entire 100 billion euro budget that the EU puts into the transport infrastructure every year tagesspiegel.de

(Foto: ParkNow)

Smart Parking Apps: „Use of Smart Parking to reduce CO2“ is the title of a small question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/16179). In it, the MEPs write that the use of digital and smart solutions in the field of parking offers great potential for reducing emissions and achieving climate protection agreements, but that it is currently „not yet able to develop across the board“. Among other things, they ask what measures the Federal Government is currently implementing and planning for the future to promote the use of smart parking technologies and applications.
Charging stations: The planned expansion of charging stations for electric vehicles is the subject of a minor question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/16157). The MPs refer to the decision of the Federal Government of 5 November 2019 at the car summit that one million public charging points should be created by 2030. Currently there are 21,000 publicly accessible charging stations, which means that 979,000 charging stations still have to be built, the bill states. Among other things, the federal government is now being asked how much it expects to spend on subsidies for the purchase and installation of public charging stations. In addition, the Liberals want to know to what extent the federal government plans to support the states and municipalities with financial expenditures for the planned expansion of charging stations.
Eco-fuel: Lufthansa and Swiss fly with agricultural waste fats. spiegel.de
Germany: SUV rate increases. taz.de 
A minor role: At CES, German car manufacturers play a minor role at most.. welt.de
Electric cars: The ten new ones this year. energyload.de
Promotion of e-Fuels: The FDP parliamentary group wants to know by means of a short question (19/16007) what measures the Federal Government is planning to improve the expansion of renewable energies and green economy structures in the newly industrializing and developing countries, especially with regard to so-called e-Fuels. In this question, MEPs also want to know what investment incentives the German government intends to provide for climate protection projects and what the current level of investment costs for the production of synthetic fuels in the partner countries of German development cooperation is. E-fuels are synthetic fuels that are produced from water and carbon dioxide (CO2) using electricity generated from renewable sources. According to the questioners, they could be used in the transport sector worldwide.
Fund participation of the BMZ: By means of a small question (19/16095), the parliamentary group Die Linke would like to know in which funds the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the implementing organisations of the German governmental development cooperation with and without budgetary means have been involved since 2014. In it, MEPs also ask about the structure and functioning of individual funds, the review of their development policy benefits and the participation of private investors.
Greenhouse gas neutrality – overarching objective: Compliance with European law obligations and national climate targets is guaranteed by the climate protection law. This is what the Federal Government writes in its answer (19/16166) to a minor question by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/15012) on formulations of the Climate Protection Act passed in November 2019. The CO2 budget figures of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are only of limited use as guidelines for climate protection targets due to the uncertainties. For this reason, the IPCC’s emission paths are also used, the report continues. With the Climate Protection Plan 2050, Germany was one of the first signatory states to present a long-term climate strategy under the Paris Convention. Within the framework of the EU climate protection regulation, Germany’s contribution to the EU climate target is „well above average“, writes the German government. The formulation of pursuing greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 as a long-term goal is „enshrined as the purpose of the law – and thus as an overarching goal“, it continues.

Beaver population is increasing: Beaver populations are increasing in all three biogeographical regions of Germany. This is what the German government writes in its answer (19/16112) to a minor question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/15643) on damage caused by the largest rodent living in Germany. Rough population estimates for the national report under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive showed that there are currently about 50 to 100 reproductive adults in the Alpine region, between 1,000 and 5,000 adults in the Atlantic region and 5,000 to 50,000 in the Continental region. For the Alpine Region and the Continental Region, the conservation status of the beaver is assessed as „favourable“ with an improving overall trend according to the FFH Report 2019. In the Atlantic Region, the status is assessed as „unfavourable-inadequate“, the answer continues.
Fire hazard of electric vehicles: „Fires and hazards of damaged electric vehicles“ is the title of a small question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/16187). In it, MEPs write that lithium-ion batteries pose a particular fire hazard „because defective or damaged batteries carry the risk of spontaneous combustion“. Against this background, the German government is asked, among other things, whether it plans to adapt the law on hazardous goods with regard to the removal of electric vehicles.
Wind turbines in the forest: Of the approximately 29,000 wind turbines in Germany, just under 2,000 are located in forest areas. This is what the federal government writes in an answer (19/15404) to a small question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/14675). For turbines in the forest, an average of 3,500 square metres must be cleared before the start of the construction phase in order to create crane spaces and access roads. Areas no longer required after construction are afforested or left to natural succession. Changes to the microclimate in the forest can occur „on a small scale and locally“, especially in old tree stands, the answer continues. The foundations of the plants require an average of 380 square meters, the base of the tower occupies about 30 square meters. According to §35 paragraph 5 sentence 2 of the building code, the German government also considers wind turbines to be subject to a deconstruction obligation. Accordingly, the soil sealing caused by the foundations must also be reversed, but the enforcement of construction planning law is the responsibility of the states and municipalities.
Aid for international forest protection: The efficiency of international forest aid is the subject of a minor question (19/16268) by the FDP parliamentary group. Among other things, the MEPs want to know from the Federal Government which international projects or initiatives for the conservation, protection and afforestation of forests it has supported and to what extent in the years 2014 to 2019. Other questions deal with the fact that different federal ministries are involved in the same area of development cooperation, whereby „overlaps in objectives and resources cannot be ruled out“, as the questioners emphasise.
Glyphosate approval until the end of 2020: The German government does not assume that there is a majority at EU level in favour of extending glyphosate approval beyond 15 December 2022. This is stated in an answer (19/15899) to a minor question by the AfD Group (19/15091).
Airline tickets with dumping prices: In the key points for the climate protection programme 2030, the German government has, according to its own statement, declared itself in favour of „preventing dumping prices for airline tickets by not selling them at a price below the applicable taxes, surcharges, fees and charges“. Discussions on this matter have not yet been concluded, according to the government’s answer (19/15969) to a small question by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/15576).

„Every form of industrial activity is necessarily associated with emissions. But the German steel industry can by no means be described as dirty for this reason; this is particularly evident in a comparison with other countries. All processes have been continuously improved and optimized over the decades, so that today there is a highly sophisticated energy network in the German steelworks. The blast furnace as the main unit of integrated steel production now has an energy efficiency of 95 percent. Unfortunately, this almost perfect energy network has a decisive disadvantage: it has always been based on carbon.“
Heinz Jörg Fuhrmann, CEO of the industry giant Salzgitter AG, is clear: „The energy turnaround and climate protection cannot be achieved for free. This is one of the truths that politicians must finally expect the population to accept. Especially as the public has known this for a long time, but not from the official side. In his view, this is, incidentally, an important merit of Greta: she has unmasked and individualized the whole issue. It used to be perceived as an abstract thing that only electricity companies and perhaps a few industrial enterprises would be concerned with. For Salzgitter AG alone, the complete conversion to hydrogen-based direct reduction would cost about three billion euros. Our plant, he said, represents around one-seventh of Germany’s integrated steel production. Anyone could now scale this up to a high level themselves. welt.de
„People say: I actually want to travel sustainably. But this vacation should be by the sea, in a very specific place, because it looks so pretty in pictures. There should be Wlan in the holiday apartment, I can’t find a bus to the destinations and so I need a rental car after all. The desire for sustainability is one of the many that you have at a holiday destination – and in the end it often has little meaning.“
Wolfgang Günther, Head of Sustainability in Tourism at the Institute for Tourism and Spa Research in Northern Europe, says that it is always about costs and benefits. Sustainability must become cheaper in comparison to normal travel, for example through CO₂ pricing. But not only politicians, the industry could also do a lot. If people are constantly reminded that sustainable travel is a great thing, that it’s fun, then that gives people a boost. It must be easy to travel more sustainably. It makes a difference whether it’s in a brochure somewhere in the small print or becomes an offensive topic. It is also a question of corporate strategies, he said, what decision-making environment is created for customers. And especially with the many people who would like to travel in an ecologically and socially compatible way, i.e. the majority of the population, there are starting points.

Digitalisation could obstruct climate change: On the one hand there are huge opportunities in digitization, on the other hand we are streaming to death. Digitisation is not environmentally friendly and it could even become the biggest climate killer. The IT sector is the industry in which electricity demand is growing the fastest. While energy intensity in relation to economic output has recently fallen worldwide by almost two percent a year, i.e. the use of energy has become more and more efficient from an economic point of view, it grew by four percent in the IT sector. One study estimates that the digital economy already accounts for 3.7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Its energy consumption is increasing by nine percent every year. If this trend continues and the volume of data on the Internet continues to increase by almost 30 percent every twelve months, the industry will be responsible for eight percent of all emissions in five years – as much as the automotive transport sector is currently responsible for. rp-online.de
Ban on plastic bags: The ban on plastic bags is the subject of controversy – is it really useful? Or are plastics only involved in the pollution of nature and ultimately help protect the environment?  The prohibition of plastic bags represents only a meaningless lever of individual climate protection, in my opinion. It would reduce annual CO2 emissions by only three kilograms. In comparison: a flight from Germany to a Mediterranean island like Mallorca produces around 700 kilograms of CO2 per capita. One would have to do without plastic bags for more than two hundred years to save this amount, the initiator of the study calculates in an interview. Air travel is therefore much more relevant to climate protection than plastic bags. The same applies to modern heating and thermal insulation: according to the calculations of the management consultancy, this would also help to avoid 770 kilograms of greenhouse gases per person per year. faz.net

Climate neutral food: A commission wanted to find out how we can all eat healthily without ruining the environment The commission is made up of experts in health, sustainability, economics, politics and agriculture and was founded to create the scientific basis for a transformation of the global food system. In a self-experiment, it quickly became clear – all beginnings are difficult. But when large items in our daily diet – such as beef, pork, butter and cheese – are eaten less or not at all, then the most important steps have already been taken. deutschlandfunkkultur.de
Australia: How certain media play down the fires in Australia. tagesspiegel.de
Norway: Huge oil field opened. sueddeutsche.de
Travel analysis: Three out of four holidaymakers fly with a bad conscience. . reisevorneun.de
Robots instead of glyphosate: A robot for weeding has now been introduced at CES. In light of the discussion about the harmfulness of the weedkiller glyphosate, its development could be of great importance.  The robot, the Odd.Bot Weed Whacker, is designed to automate monotonous manual work, and can be used not only for weeding, but also to collect weeds from beaches for space and cigarette butts. projectbb.org