Climate opening balance presented: Robert Habeck has presented his opening balance sheet on climate protection and – this was to be expected – it turns out to be disastrous. „The climate protection measures taken so far are insufficient in all sectors.“ the paper reads. A first package of urgent laws and projects is to be adopted by the cabinet by April. Overall, an „immediate climate protection programme“ with all laws, ordinances and measures is to be completed by the end of 2022, so that all measures can take effect from 2023. Accordingly, the goal is to bring Germany onto the „climate target path“. The ministry is also planning more wind turbines. Habeck wants to overturn particularly strict distance regulations. In response to a question about the 10-H rule in Bavaria, the minister said: „Where distance rules are held up to prevent planning, they can no longer remain in place.“ fair-economics.de , rsw-beck.de , n-tv.de
Energy-intensive industries demand radical cut in electricity prices: Large energy consumers are fighting for electricity prices to be reduced to a competitive level. They know the Chancellor is on their side. Energy-intensive industry is fighting for lower electricity prices. „In order to reconcile climate neutrality and international competitiveness, we propose the introduction of a green industrial electricity price as a transformation turbo for the energy-intensive basic industry,“ said Christian Hartel, CEO of Wacker Chemie AG. handelsblatt.com
3.65 billion thin plastic bags were consumed in Germany in 2019
A plastic bag ban has been in effect in Germany since January. However, very light plastic carrier bags with a wall thickness of less than 15 micrometres are exempt from this. Their consumption in this country fell from 3.75 billion to 3.65 billion between 2018 and 2019, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) based on Eurostat data. This means that in 2019, each person in Germany consumed an average of 44 such bags, in which fruit and vegetables, for example, are weighed. In 2018, the figure was around 45. destatis.de
More expensive housing: The traffic light promise of affordable housing and the climate protection announcements of Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), contradict each other. This week, Habeck demanded that Germany increase its efforts in climate protection – also in the building sector. So far, CO₂ emissions caused by the construction and use of buildings account for around 30 percent of emissions. Climate-friendly construction usually means that prices go up. Better insulation saves energy, which tenants notice in their wallets in the long run. But first of all, it makes new houses and existing buildings more expensive when they are retrofitted. Landlords pass these costs on to the rent. The head of the tenants‘ association, Lukas Siebenkotten, warned against burdens: „For tenants, Habeck’s climate plans mean higher costs as long as they are not socially cushioned.“ businessinsider.de
Corona and climate: The Corona crisis has primarily exacerbated social problems around the world, threatening social cohesion, the livelihoods of poorer people and mental health. In the medium and longer term, however, concerns about climate dominate the list of the most serious risks to the planet. These are the findings of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual survey in the Global Risk Report 2022. faz.net
NPP safety problem in France: A possible safety problem has been admitted by the French nuclear regulator. „The deficiencies found in the last generation reactors have also been found in another reactor at Penly in northern France,“ said the deputy head of the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), Karine Herviou. In December, cracks had been discovered in a safety cooling system at the Civaux nuclear power plant in western France. The energy company EDF had then also shut down two reactors at the Chooz nuclear power plant near the Belgian border as a precautionary measure, as they had been built according to the same concept and could also be affected by safety deficiencies. spiegel.de
New Pesticide Atlas: Worldwide pesticide use is increasing year by year. Today, the amount of pesticides applied globally is around four million tonnes per year. There is growing scientific evidence that pesticides have a negative impact on human health, cause massive damage to insects and plants, and contaminate water. Traces of agricultural pesticides can now be found in honey, on fruit and vegetables, in the grass of playgrounds and even in urine. The EU is now demanding that its member states halve pesticide use by 2030. 3sat.de
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Die Psychologie der Nachhaltigkeit
From sustainability marketing to social-ecological transformation
How can the socio-ecological transformation of a consumer society be supported by an inner transformation of human beings? How can we learn to want less without missing anything? What forms of personality growth can mitigate the constant economic growth?
Answers to these questions, which are still given lower priority in the sustainability discourse, are provided by the approach of the „six psychological resources for sustainable lifestyles“: mindfulness, enjoyment skills, self-acceptance, self-efficacy, construction of meaning and solidarity can both promote individual well-being and increase motivation for sustainable behaviour. Based on reflection and self-awareness processes in different social settings such as schools, companies and residential neighbourhoods, they can support a socio-ecological transformation that cannot be implemented within the framework of pure marketing measures for sustainable development. oekom.de
EnBW boss Mastiaux: 40 new gas-fired power plants are necessary. fair-economics.de
Debate: Environmental pioneer James Lovelock welcomes „green label“ for nuclear power. heise.de
Gas pipelines: Russian permafrost is thawing due to climate change and could also damage natural gas pipelines. wiwo.de
Inflation: Rising prices due to green transformation. faz.net
Krischer: Optimistic about the expansion of wind energy. fair-economics.de
Bird flu: Threatens cranes. deutschlandfunk.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:
The apple and the climate
With 21 kilos per capita per year, the apple is the most eaten fruit among Germans. Autumn is apple season, but we want to find fresh apples on the supermarket shelves all year round. Apple pie also tastes good in spring and potato pancakes with apple sauce can actually be eaten at any time of year. To meet these consumer needs, the apples must either be shipped in or kept refrigerated for a long time.
The apple is the Germans‘ favourite fruit. To meet demand, large quantities of apples are imported and pesticides are used in production. This harms the environment. Orchards want to do something about this and make apple growing more climate-friendly again. detektor.fm
Empty flights dispute: Is the EU Commission harming the climate with its regulations? That is what Lufthansa claims. In order to keep take-off and landing rights, it has to operate empty flights. tagesschau.de
Majority of car drivers would switch to bicycle or public transport: Cycle, bus or train to work more often? Three quarters of car drivers can imagine doing so. However, certain conditions would have to be met. However, some general conditions would have to be changed first: All of them named better connections (63 per cent) followed by lower costs (49 per cent) and more comfort (19 per cent) as the most important prerequisites. zeit.de
E-mobility: Volker Wissing wants to focus on electric mobility for passenger cars The new Minister of Transport wants to take a different course than his predecessor. Wissing sees the future for passenger cars in electromobility – and not in e-fuels. zeit.de
Brussels lobbying: German company Bosch and other European automotive suppliers are obstructing the decarbonisation of the transport sector by lobbying against climate-friendly EU policies, according to a new analysis by think-tank InfluenceMap. According to the analysis, the organisations are said to have tried to weaken or delay EU policies to reduce vehicle emissions. In addition to Bosch, the European Automotive Suppliers Association (CLEPA) – a trade association representing car parts manufacturers in Europe – is also said to have blocked EU climate policy in this way. euractiv.de
Smart people ride bicycles: According to a scientist, it is above all the more highly educated who frequently use a bicycle. According to the study, city dwellers with a high school diploma cycled an average of 70 minutes per week in 2018, while city dwellers without a high school diploma cycled only 42 minutes. According to the data, the difference was not as great in rural areas, but even there, people with a higher level of education cycled more often.Sociologist Ansgar Hudde from the University of Cologne has published two studies on the topic in specialist journals. His evaluations are based on representative data from the German Mobility Panel for the years 1996 to 2018 and from the study „Mobility in Germany 2017“ by the Federal Ministry of Transport. The data sets list all journeys made by more than 55,000 respondents and the means of transport they used to do so. In total, we are talking about around 800,000 journeys. stern.de
Desire for people-friendly transport is growing in Europe: In many European cities, the desire for a more people-friendly, less car-centric transport policy is currently growing. In some places the change is progressing very fast, elsewhere there are very big problems. In Austria, for example, the switch from fossil to electric propulsion in private transport is a core part of the climate strategy, as transport causes about one third of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 95 per cent of these are caused by passenger and freight transport on the roads. Last summer, Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) presented the Mobility Master Plan 2030, which aims to make Austria climate-neutral by 2040. The planned cuts are drastic. taz.de
New interdependencies loom: According to an analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), green hydrogen could disrupt world trade and bilateral energy relations. Rapid growth of the global hydrogen economy could change the position of states as new hydrogen exporters and consumers emerge. This could lead to significant geoeconomic and geopolitical shifts. The study Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: The Hydrogen Factor sees hydrogen changing the geography of energy trade and regionalising energy relations, suggesting the emergence of new geopolitical centres of influence based on the production and use of hydrogen as traditional oil and gas trade declines. irena.org
Hydrogen storage: If green hydrogen is to play a role, large storage facilities are needed in which the gas can be safely stored. In the middle of Germany, the largest underground storage facility is currently being built, which will supply the neighbouring chemical industry, among others. What exactly it will look like, however, is not yet known. efahrer.chip.de
Sunfire: Sunfire has big plans. The takeover of a metal factory in North Rhine-Westphalia is intended to accelerate the production of hydrogen electrolysers. handelsblatt.com
Thyssen-Krupp: The company is pushing ahead with the IPO of its hydrogen subsidiary Nucera. Thyssenkrupp wants to take advantage of the hype surrounding green energy sources. To this end, the conglomerate is now pushing ahead with the IPO of its subsidiary Nucera. Today Thyssenkrupp presented the company to investors at a capital market day. If it goes public, the German industrial group expects proceeds of several hundred million euros. tagesschau.de
Survey on the price of green hydrogen – falling across the board: The evaluation of the responses showed that the prices for electrolysers, stacks and complete systems had fallen by up to 20 percent for two-thirds of the manufacturers in the past 24 months. For the next twelve months, half of the manufacturers expect the devices to become cheaper by another ten per cent. Five manufacturers even expect prices to drop by up to 20 per cent. This would be a similar development as in photovoltaics in the 2000s and 2010s. elektroauto-news.net
E-fuels production in practice: There is much discussion about e-fuels, i.e. fuels produced from green electricity. So far, they have hardly been produced in real life. golem.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
The CDU/CSU parliamentary group demands information from the Federal Government on the wolf population in Germany. In a small question (20/344), the parliamentary group wants to know, among other things, how many wolf packs, wolf pairs and sedentary individual wolves currently live in Germany and how the population has developed in the years 2010 to 2021 in the individual federal states as well as in the EU Member States during the same period. Further questions of the parliamentary group are aimed at the number of wolf kills and wolf removals in the years 2010 to 2021 in Germany as well as in other EU Member States. Furthermore, MEPs want to know how high the costs of wolf protection measures have been since 2010 and how many grazing livestock farmers have been forced to give up their activities or keep their animals mainly indoors due to wolf depredations until 2020.
Christoph Hoffmann takes over as vice-chairman: On Wednesday morning, the members of the Development Committee elected Christoph Hoffmann, an FDP MP, as vice-chairman of the Development Committee in a secret ballot. He received 18 of the 19 votes cast, with one abstention. Hoffmann, who holds a doctorate in forestry from Baden-Württemberg, has been a member of the Bundestag and the committee since 2017. On 15 December, the committee had already elected MP Thomas Rachel (CDU) as acting chair, as the MPs were unable to agree on a regular chair. Dietmar Friedhoff, the MP proposed by the AfD parliamentary group for the chairmanship, did not receive the required majority in a secret ballot.
The German government has announced a statement on the EU taxonomy proposal. In the taxonomy, investments in nuclear energy and certain investments in the use of natural gas are designated as sustainable and thus eligible for subsidies. A representative of the federal government told a meeting of the Finance Committee chaired by Alois Rainer (CSU) on Wednesday that the deadline for commenting had been extended to 21 January 2022. The federal government’s position on nuclear energy remained unchanged. Natural gas is an important bridging technology for the coal phase-out. In the debate of the committee, different positions of the parliamentary groups on the taxonomy became clear. The CDU/CSU parliamentary group stated that they wanted to do everything to achieve the climate goals. However, energy must also remain affordable. In the EU, each member state must be allowed to decide on its own energy mix. The CDU/CSU faction criticised that there are currently different positions on the taxonomy in the federal government.
Combining climate protection and housing: The Federal Government wants to build more social housing that is as climate-friendly as possible. The support for the federal states in the amount of one billion euros in federal funds is therefore to be continued and supplemented by another billion as part of the climate package for climate-friendly renovations. This plan was reiterated by Housing and Construction Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) during a discussion in the Committee for Housing, Urban Development, Construction and Municipalities. „We have to build more, protect the climate at the same time and reduce land consumption,“ Geywitz outlined her work programme at the committee’s meeting on Wednesday, which was chaired by Sandra Weeser (FDP). According to the minister, climate protection and the creation of affordable housing must be considered together. Her concern is therefore to „negotiate as quickly as possible with the federal states on which standards“ the additional funding can be combined with. After all, the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote social housing at the same time. In addition, Geywitz announced that she wanted to strengthen the area of „conceptual housing policy“. Questions such as the introduction of a new housing non-profit, the creation of a „long-term land policy“ and the promotion of cooperative housing would „keep her house very busy“ in the coming years, said the SPD politician.
Forest damage continues to increase: The Federal Government reports that forest damage has been increasing for years due to climate change. In an answer (20/372) to a small question (20/340) from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, it says that the proportion of trees with significant crown defoliation was still around 23 percent in 2010, but by 2020 it had risen to 35 percent. Spruce (40 percent of all trees) and beech (48 percent of all trees) were particularly affected. In the period from 2011 to 2021, the Federal Government, in cooperation with the Länder, made a significant contribution within the framework of the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection (Gemeinschaftsaufgabe Verbesserung der Agrarstruktur und des Küstenschutzes, GAK), „in order to cope with the acute damage in the forest, to reforest damaged forests and to strengthen the forests in Germany in their ability to adapt to climate change as a whole“, the answer continues. A total of around 547 million euros in federal funds had been spent on forest-related measures during the period. The data for 2021 is not yet available. Whether and which funds forest owners receive from the federal government for certain ecosystem services is currently being reviewed by the governing coalition.
There are different forms of growth. More services such as counselling, health care or even better management of scarce resources, do not consume nature and do not destroy the environment. Sustainable growth is the sensible goal that combines prosperity and climate protection. Incidentally, this idea dates back to 1713, when German forestry was designed to enable future generations to walk in the woods and to manage the timber industry. The idea was only somewhat forgotten in the post-war years, when survival and modest prosperity for all were at stake, and is now experiencing a renaissance worldwide. If environmental consumption costs something, as already implemented through the CO2 tax or environmental certificates, there are incentives for companies and consumers to save CO2 and develop new technologies. This also leads to growth, but growth that conserves resources.
Prof. Dr Dominik Enste , Head of Behavioural Economics and Business Ethics at the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW)In principle, people in industrialised countries could try to reduce their ecological footprint. But most people – around 85 percent of the world’s population live on less than 30 dollars a day – would like to be able to afford more and want more growth and prosperity. With innovations, this can be achieved more sustainably. By the way, flying is the most harmful to the climate. Everything else is significantly less harmful and doing without makes less sense. It was interesting to see which population group had flown most frequently before Corona: „Our study showed that it was precisely those who took to the streets for more climate protection who would most frequently take to the air. iw-koeln.de
SADC member states extend military mission in Mozambique: A two-day special summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) ended in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe on Wednesday with member states pledging to again extend the mandate of the regional troop deployment to fight Islamic State-linked insurgents in Mozambique.
Corona in Africa: What if Corona stays in Africa? The virus is on its way to becoming endemic.The times of the lockdown are coming to an end there: experts do not see this as a suitable remedy against the Corona pandemic. Vaccinations are not likely to do the trick in Africa either. Now it is time to learn to live with the virus. dw.com
Situation in Ethiopia: In view of a comparatively stable military situation in Ethiopia, the Federal Government hopes for the beginning of a new political process in the country. The Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) has not been able to penetrate the capital Addis Ababa as feared, said the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Niels Annen (SPD), in the Development Committee this morning. The Ethiopian government has already announced a dialogue and released several political prisoners, including members of the TPLF, as part of a Christmas amnesty. The north of Ethiopia has been the scene of an armed conflict between the central government in Addis Ababa and the TPLF since November 2020, with a focal point in the Tigray region.
Annen spoke of a „serious conflict“, as a result of which 9.4 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, 5.2 million of them in the Tigray region alone. 400,000 people are threatened by famine, and 2.4 million people are internally displaced throughout the country. Serious human rights violations have been documented on both sides. According to Annen and a representative of the Federal Foreign Office (AA), bilateral development cooperation and the reform partnership agreed with Ethiopia have been on hold since the beginning of the fighting, and local staff have had to be withdrawn. Since 3 January, however, aid workers have been able to maintain a voluntary presence in some areas, which has prompted many staff members of the AA and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to return. In addition, humanitarian aid had been significantly increased. In view of Ethiopia’s great importance for the entire region, both government representatives stressed the hope and the willingness to continue the previous projects and to expand both development cooperation and humanitarian aid if necessary. The Union parliamentary group also said that a break-up of the country would have immense consequences for the entire region.
A national dialogue and stronger support for the country were therefore necessary. A representative of the SPD parliamentary group added that Germany could, among other things, use its chairmanship of the G7 to support the political process. The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group warned against an aggravation of conflicts due to the climate crisis. This could again jeopardise possible political solutions. The FDP parliamentary group asked about the future of the various AA and BMZ projects in the country. A representative of the AfD parliamentary group said that the situation on the African continent was increasingly fragile, something that 60 years of development policy had not changed. The country suffers from severe environmental problems as well as a collapse of supply chains in the wake of the Corona pandemic. Referring to voices from the USA, the Left Group warned against military intervention in the conflict. This would increase the danger that the conflict could spread to the entire region.
Kenya: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to focus on improving governance structures and relations between Partner States during the remainder of his term as EAC Chair. On his EAC agenda for 2022, President Kenyatta also wants to ensure the smooth running of the Secretariat and organs by improving funding mechanisms, oversee the inclusion of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the regional bloc and respond to private sector demands for the removal of non-tariff barriers. theeastafrican.co.ke
Mali: The sanctions imposed on Mali by Ecowas are consistent. The way the international community deals with the junta is not. taz.de
Environmental start-up in Nigeria moves young people in Africa: A start-up from Lagos shows young people how they can avoid waste or make useful things out of it. dw.com
Sudan: Riots again. dw.com
Tunisia: Arrest of ex-minister and investigations against high-ranking politicians: The political crisis in Tunisia is coming to a head Critics of President Kais Saied are increasingly being targeted by the judiciary. The culmination of this power struggle for the time being is the arrest of a former minister and investigations against 19 top politicians. nzz.ch
East Africa: Disaster on the horizon. One drought after another plagues East Africa. A humanitarian drama of historic proportions is brewing here, experts warn. Tens of thousands of grazing animals are already dead. spiegel.de
Food from the bioreactor: the cow on the lush green mountain meadow, the clucking chickens in front of the rustic wooden shed or the cheerful coffee picker: informed consumers know that the pictures on packaging are almost always fibbing. But for dozens of foods there will soon be alternatives from the laboratory. What is being heralded here is nothing less than the greatest nutritional revolution since the Neolithic. The Boston Consulting Group, for example, expects that proteins from animal cell cultures will be just as good as those from real animals in terms of taste, texture and price in about ten years. By 2035, it predicts, there will be animal-free, tasty and affordable alternatives for 90 per cent of the world’s most popular dishes – from duck breast to steak, sushi and pizza to quesadillas and ramen. spektrum.de
Climate change threatens biodiversity in hedgerows: Hedges and hedgerows are important habitats for plants and insects. But the biodiversity in these areas is decreasing, a Europe-wide study shows. According to the study, hedgerows are particularly poorer in species during periods of drought or heat. For example, fewer forest species were found in hedges in warm areas, as the University of Bremen announced on Thursday. The great influence of extreme weather events is particularly revealing. In times of great drought or heat, hedgerows are demonstrably poorer in species. „Since such weather events will increase due to climate change, we fear that even more hedges could lose species in the future,“ explained Bremen ecologist Kathrin Litza. However, this effect can be influenced by the width of the hedges: „In wide hedges, the internal climate is demonstrably more stable than in narrow ones.“ Therefore, it is essential to consider this aspect as a key element for biodiversity. rnd.de
Invasive species: Globalisation brings alien animals to Antarctica. There is now also a lot of shipping traffic in Antarctica. This connects the southern continent to the rest of the world – with risks for ecosystems. Global shipping is considered one of the most important causes of animals being transported worldwide and introduced into ecosystems that are new to them – with sometimes catastrophic consequences if these species become invasive. The Antarctic is now also severely threatened by this, as a study by David Aldridge of the University of Cambridge and his team in „PNAS“ shows. Via fishing, research and tourist ships, Antarctica is now connected to at least 1581 ports from which the ships come or where they make a stopover. Animals can get „on board“ everywhere, for example via the ballast water taken on board in the port or when they settle on the ship’s hull. Especially common are various mussels, barnacles, crabs and algae, which can come from all parts of the world – even from regions such as the Arctic, whose climate is similar to that of Antarctica. spektrum.de
Zara: Fashion label wants to become more sustainable. wmn.de
Sustainable forms of enterprise: B Corp and Purpose companies are currently experiencing a real boom. Profit, the common good and sustainability – it’s a balancing act. utopia.de
Ibiza: End of the beaches? fazemag.de
Cat litter can bind methane: Methane (CH4) is one of the most harmful gases to the climate, far more harmful than CO2. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has now developed an inexpensive technique for curbing methane emissions and capturing methane already emitted from the atmosphere. Ordinary clay made from a volcanic mineral called zeolite, as used in cat litter and found abundantly on Earth, is supposed to be the solution. This is certainly cheaper and less risky than the variant favoured so far by many researchers with catalysts made of precious metals such as platinum or palladium, which require temperatures of at least 600 degrees Celsius and a separation of the methane and oxygen streams. spiegel.de
All images, unless otherwise stated: pixabay.com
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