FAIReconomics Newsletter Week 05/20
Ministerial dispute over stagnating wind expansion: Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze attacked Economics Minister Peter Altmaier directly because of the stagnating onshore wind expansion. The fact that he had discussed the matter for so long contributed to the uncertainty and cost a lot of time. This cannot go on like this.“ The background is that the construction of wind turbines has declined. Now the electricity company RWE has also intervened. For more green electricity, the provider is also demanding unpopular measures. For example, the RWE people are proposing a round table on wind energy to boost the construction of wind turbines on land. „The next big knot we have to cut is the almost stalled expansion of onshore wind farms,“ said the head of RWE’s green electricity division, Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath. „Perhaps we could take a similar approach to that taken with the coal and nuclear power phase-out: a round table that addresses the issue and makes concrete proposals for solutions. But it’s not only on land that expansion is currently lacking. The Offshore Wind Energy Foundation also sees a gap in expansion. In addition, they criticize the coal phase-out law. fair-economics.de (Schulze) tagesspiegel.de (RWE), bizz-energy.com (Offshore)
Global warming as a question of existence: Comeback of the climate chancellor? At least at the World Economic Forum in Davis, Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared the fight against global warming a question of existence. „The question of achieving the goals of the Paris Accord could be a question of survival for the entire continent.“ She said that with the current commitments of the states, the goal of limiting global warming will not be achieved as planned. The world must act together, but each country must also make its contribution. „Transformations of gigantic historical proportions“, the Chancellor called the upcoming tasks. The industrialized countries would have a „debt to pay“ here. Merkel advocated more dialogue between climate activists and climate deniers to overcome „speechlessness“. tagesschau.de , welt.de , focus.de
The number of farms in Germany where pigs are kept fell by 35 percent between 2010 and 2019. Smaller pig farmers in particular gave up. However, the total number of animals slaughtered is not falling across Europe. For example, herds grew in Poland, Spain and Belgium. Other income agricultural holdings are becoming increasingly important. destatis.de
Von der Leyen with a radical initiative: The new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened company bosses and politicians with additional costs for climate-damaging imports into the EU. She said it made no sense „to reduce greenhouse gas emissions only at home if we simultaneously increase the import of CO2 from abroad. In Davos, the Commission President presented the new European Green Deal, which among other things provides for the installation of a CO2 limit compensation system for selected sectors. rp-online.de , tagesschau.de
The German government has broken its word: The anger is great, because former members of the Coal Commission, such as its chairwoman Barbara Praetorius, but also Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, representatives of environmental associations or energy expert Felix Matthes feel betrayed, because the plan to phase out coal mining negotiated between the federal government and the coal-producing countries does not correspond to the outcome of the negotiations. They criticize that the government is „clearly and very one-sidedly leaving the compromise of the coal commission“. In addition, the experts criticise that a new coal-fired power plant is being commissioned and that too few coal-fired power plants will be shut down in the time horizon between 2023 and 2028. In addition, due to the coal phase-out, there appears to be a shortfall of around two billion euros to lower the announced electricity price. spiegel.de , faz.net (billion-euro gap)
Climate change as a reason for asylum: The right to asylum must not be denied to those who, because their lives are threatened, have to leave their country due to climate change. The UN Human Rights Committee has decided this. Basically, it says, climate issues can play a role in asylum procedures, the committee said. „This decision establishes new standards that may make it easier to succeed in cases of future asylum applications relating to the consequences of climate change,“ said one of the committee members. zeit.de
Record consumption of raw materials: When it comes to the mining and consumption of raw materials on Earth, there is a thought-provoking record to report. More than 100 billion tons were consumed in 2017. About 50 percent are minerals, a quarter is made up of grain, plants and trees. The recycling rate is below nine percent. theguardian.com
BOOKTIP OF THE WEEK:
Der Mensch in Schieflage
A new sustainability model: What happens when we cross ecological and social tipping points?
Although sustainability is rhetorically popular, it is often used in everyday life as a non-binding concept of well-being. Yet the term should actually be a fighting term, because it radically questions the existing social and economic system. But it is not only the use of the term that is often misleading. Most of the sustainability models that are currently being disseminated also fail to adequately reflect reality: they illustrate the three-dimensionality of sustainability, but lack the aspect of intra- and intergenerational sustainability. Tipping points, the overstepping of which makes sustainable development suddenly impossible, have not yet been illustrated in models. The tipping point model of sustainability, which is explained and presented in this paper, is an offer to remedy this shortcoming. In addition, the model is used to take a clear position on controversies within sustainability research – such as green growth vs. post-growth economics. oekom.de
German companies: Bad on climate protection. handelsblatt.com
EU Parliament: Calls for binding targets to protect biodiversity. europarl.europa.eu
Alon Musk: Reacts to criticism of the Brandenburg Tesla factory. n-tv.de
Synthetic turf: As artificial green can release micro-plastics, the EU is looking into restrictions. euractiv.de
Baden-Württemberg: Binding photovoltaic obligation for new buildings planned from 2022. pv-magazin.de
Revision: Künast achieves partial success in the fight against hate comments. tagesschau.de
Grid operators: Significantly more solar power sonnenseite.com
Vattenfall: Holds on to nuclear energy outside Germany. handelsblatt.com
Smart parking solutions: Working Group 1 (Climate Protection in Transport) of the National Platform Future of Mobility estimates the CO2 reduction potential of smart parking solutions with a complete equipment of municipal public parking spaces with appropriate sensor technology and a complete avoidance of traffic searching for a parking space by 2030 at 0.4 to 0.9 million tons per year compared to 2015, according to the answer of the Federal Government (19/16513) to a small question of the FDP parliamentary group (19/16179). A study commissioned by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) from 2015 comes to a similar conclusion, with CO2 savings of 0.5 million tonnes per year, the answer says.
No data on the bicycle infrastructure: In Germany there is no standardised and uniform nationwide procedure for recording and assessing the condition of cycle paths. This can be seen from the Federal Government’s answer (19/16438) to a minor question from the FDP parliamentary group (19/15800). According to the reply, the Federal Government does not have comprehensive data on the bicycle infrastructure in Germany due to the constitutional responsibilities of the municipalities and states and the resulting „different construction load carriers“. In response to the question of whether missing or inadequate cycle paths in Germany represent a road safety problem, the government writes: „Experience and studies have shown that there are no generalisable differences in the accident burden of the different types of guidance (cycle path, cycle lane, protective lane). Rather, individual constructional and operational features shaped the accident occurrence. Cycling accidents frequently occur at crossroads and junctions, in stationary traffic in connection with parked vehicles and when turning off. „The Federal Government is of the opinion that a comprehensive, separate, adequately dimensioned and safely managed cycle infrastructure, if possible, can contribute to reducing the number of cycle accidents,“ the response states. In any case, however, care must be taken to ensure safe design and at least compliance with the technical regulations.
Toll investigation committee: The chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the Toll Inquiry Committee, Christian Jung, is becoming one of the sharpest critics of the CSU-led Ministry of Transport and the star of the committee. The member of the Bundestag not only takes up the remarks of the Transport Minister in the ZDF television programme „Lanz“, but also statements by Peter Ramsauer (CSU) of former Transport Ministers, who relieves Scheuer, and blames former CSU leader Host Seehofer for part of the mess. „Following various public statements by former Federal Transport Minister Dr. Peter Ramsauer, MdB, the representatives of the FDP, the Left Party and the Green Party in the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the passenger car toll on 23 January 2020 applied for Ramsauer to be summoned as a witness in good time. The chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the Toll Inquiry Committee Christian Jung said on Friday in Stuttgart. facebook.com
Agora turnaround: Think tank sees alternatives to the ban on the combustion engine. agora-verkehrswende.de
Hyundai: Brussels Office now on Twitter with news on hydrogen mobility – „eu-hmg“ twitter.com
Geely: Chinese e-mobile supplier has opened a development centre in Raunheim. bizz-energy.com
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
Reduction of the EEG apportionment: The amendments to the law on the establishment of a special fund „Energy and Climate Fund“ came into force on 18 December 2019. This is what the Federal Government writes in its answer (19/16624) to a minor question from the AfD parliamentary group (19/16220). In it, the parliamentary group had asked when the EEG levy should be reduced and what further measures, such as a reduction in the electricity tax, the offshore grid levy and the concession levy, were planned. The measures to reduce electricity costs focused on lowering the EEG levy, the government stated in its response. A corresponding draft bill is currently being prepared by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy. The reduction in the electricity price decided in the course of the climate protection programme for 2030 will be the subject of the drafting procedure for the federal budget 2021, in which the economic plan of the Energy and Climate Fund will also be decided.
Wolves in Germany: For the monitoring year 2018/2019 105 wolf packs, 25 pairs and 13 territorial single animals were confirmed. Annual reports on prevention and damage to farm animals by wolves and wolf hybrids are available in digital form from the Federal Documentation and Advice Centre on Wolf (DBBW), the government continues in its answer (19/16626) to a small question from the FDP parliamentary group (19/16267). In this question, the members of parliament asked how many farm animals were torn by wolves and wolf hybrids in the monitoring years 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.
How sewage sludge is recycled: According to the Federal Statistical Office, 1.75 million tonnes of sewage sludge were produced in municipal wastewater treatment plants in 2018. Human faeces that are disposed of via the wastewater are not part of the waste balance, explains the Federal Government in its answer (19/16506) to a minor question (19/15847) of the FDP parliamentary group. In this question, the members of parliament had asked how the recycling of sewage sludge and faeces was defined and which end products are produced from them, which are considered as recyclates. Sewage sludge and the recyclates obtained from it are not included in the calculation of the recycling rate for municipal waste, the government writes in the reply. In 2017, 19,000 tonnes of sludge from domestic sewage treatment plants, so-called faecal sludge, will have been produced. This corresponds to a share of 0.04 percent of the municipal waste volume. At present, the government also states that around 0.4 million tonnes of sewage sludge is recycled as fertiliser or soil additive in agriculture or landscaping. Otherwise, sewage sludge is thermally recycled, the answer continues.
Subsidy for heating systems: Within the framework of the climate protection programme 2030, low-CO2 heating systems are to be given greater support. To this end, new funding guidelines are to be laid down in the near future, writes the German government in its answer (19/16415) to a minor question from the FDP parliamentary group (19/15677). Until then, the old regulations would remain in place, and no retroactive premium would be granted. The obligatory consultations of single and two-family house owners provided for in the draft of the building energy law are to be carried out by energy consultants from the consumer advice centre.
Monitoring invasive species: On behalf of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), a methodology has been developed that enables invasive species relevant to nature conservation to be assessed for the non-native species relevant in Germany. This is what the Federal Government writes in its answer (19/16448) to a small question from the FDP parliamentary group (19/16188). In this question, the members of parliament had inquired about the criteria used to assess whether a species is to be classified as invasive and by which European institutions species are included on the Union list. The procedure for the inclusion of species on the list of invasive species of EU-wide importance is based on Article 4 of EU Regulation 1143/2014, the German government writes in its reply. According to the regulation, reports on occurrences and measures are to be submitted every six years. For the first time, the report for Germany was prepared last year by the federal and state governments. An exact number of newly immigrated species could not be given. Of the 3,150 alien species known in Germany, 38 species of vascular plants, 20 species of vertebrates, seven species of algae, two species of fungi and 18 species of invertebrates are classified as invasive, according to the BfN. The Union list contains 66 invasive alien animal and plant species of EU-wide importance. At least 37 of them are found in the wild in Germany, the government writes. Data on how many native species are displaced by invasive species are not available.
Species protection portal: The establishment of a federal digital species protection portal requires a nationwide harmonisation of data. This could require technical or geometric changes to the data stocks held by the federal states, according to the Federal Government’s report „on the conceptual status and the schedule for the technical implementation of a species protection portal“, which is available as an information (19/16545). Due to the heterogeneity of the data, „a high additional effort on the federal side“ is to be expected, which requires a broad cooperation of the federal states, the government writes. According to the Bundestag, geo-referenced information is to be published in the species protection portal, which will include statements on the possible protection status of areas and occurring animal and plant species. To this end, the federal, state and local authorities are to be obliged to make available existing information on species protection to the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). According to the information, the background is the hope that the portal will accelerate the expansion of the electricity grid.
„Germany can become a net importer of electricity if the energy turnaround towards a full supply of renewable energies is advanced. As we see it, we are currently running into a green electricity gap that is endangering the security of supply and making us dependent on electricity supplies from abroad. We have to take countermeasures.“
Claudia Kemfert, energy expert at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), said the recommendations of the coal commission were not being implemented to a sufficient extent. The laboriously negotiated decision will be cancelled at the expense of climate protection and the taxpayer. She said that comparatively little climate protection could be achieved for a lot of money. The pace of expansion must be at least tripled. The distance regulations for wind energy must be completely abolished and at the same time financial participation models for regions and municipalities must be made possible. In addition, the expansion cap for solar energy must be abolished immediately and the general conditions for renewable energies, including flexibility, system optimisation and digitalisation, must be significantly improved. n-tv.de
„Try to look for „sustainable travel“ – there is almost nothing. Besides, sustainable travel is still insanely expensive. Booking a train trip to Sweden for four people and a dog costs a lot of money. Which family can afford that? And we must not forget: In such surveys many socially desirable answers are given. Who voluntarily says, „Environmental protection, fair salaries? What do I care?“
Claudia Brözel, Professor of Tourism Economics and Digital Transformation at the HNE Eberswalde, said that the industry needs to make standardized sustainability offers that could provide clear orientation for consumers. Uniform and transparent. Up to now, users have almost needed a degree to decipher how sustainable a travel package really is. One could develop a catalogue of criteria analogous to the European bio-label that reflects ecological, economic and social sustainability. Do the providers pay fair wages, do they use energy from renewable sources, are the accommodations built in a resource-friendly manner? One could put together packages at different levels, travel by train, by plane and so on. The customers should therefore put pressure on them – by persistently looking for a trip that meets the criteria of „sustainability“ or „CO2-neutral travel“. The providers would track every search and would react sooner or later. enorm-magazin.de
Is planting trees helpful as CO2 capture? US President Donald Trump announced during his speech in Davos that the USA wants to plant a trillion trees. The trees will find carbon dioxide as biomass through their leaves. It is undisputed that this will help to slow down climate change, but the extent of the effect is the subject of a dispute between researchers. sueddeutsche.de
Fact check on e-mobility: What is the environmental balance of electric cars? How will the range, economy and charging infrastructure develop in the long term? Will electric mobility lead to job losses? Central statement: Nothing stands in the way of a broad market diffusion of electric cars between 2020 and 2030+, but numerous challenges still need to be tackled. fair-economics.de
Education in Africa: E-learning could be one way of getting more people to study in Africa, as it is often not possible to attend a university. However, the relatively expensive access to the Internet and insufficient general conditions are slowing down this development. But e-learning programmes are not only relevant for studying, the World Wide Web can also be used in schools. dw.com
Malaysia: Sends plastic waste back. zeit.de
Zara: The Spanish company has a problem with its disposable fashion. dw.com
„Oby“ Katryn Ezekwesili: Transparency International co-founder calls for more democracy in Africa. fair-economics.de
Tree houses to the museum? The decision to preserve the Hambach Forest is clear. If it were up to the will of the Junge Union of the Rhein-Erft district, tree houses of the lignite opponents would also be preserved. However, not on site, but as a symbol for the fight against climate change, they are to be transported to the House of History in Bonn. But the Junge Union could not resist a side blow to the scene. André Hess, the district chairman of the Junge Union said: „The Hambach forest needs peace and quiet now and for this reason alone must not be allowed to degenerate permanently into a tourist pilgrimage site of autonomous people“.