FAIReconomics Newsletter week 09/20

The subsidy cap for photovoltaics should fall „as quickly as possible“: Next month the Bundestag is to deal with the coal phase-out law. Since the Coal Exit Act is a draft that needs to be presented urgently, the Bundestag will deal with the first reading of the law as early as next month. „The date of entry into force of the law depends on the further course of the parliamentary procedure“, said the Federal Government in its response to a minor question. Although the government left open whether the 52-gigawatt cap will become part of this coal phase-out law, it did not say. It also made only a vague statement on the timetable for its abolition: „The abolition of the 52-gigawatt cap for photovoltaic systems in the Renewable Energy Sources Act was decided in the Climate Protection Programme 2030. It is to be implemented as quickly as possible.“ The expansion paths for renewable energies to achieve the 65 percent target are to be determined within the framework of the upcoming amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act, the German government further announced. The solar lid is currently causing uncertainty in the industry. For example, companies are hesitating with the construction of a photovoltaic plant and hope that the 52 gigawatt cap will be removed, as a recent survey commissioned by Eon shows. pv-magazine.de , bundestag.de (Original document)
Germany is increasingly relying on natural gas: although the International Energy Agency praises Germany’s climate protection, it also questions the country’s security of supply following the planned coal phase-out. Those responsible in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology want to rely more on gas. But this leads to a new problem. In future, security of supply in the electricity sector will depend more on the supply of natural gas. However, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) does not see any danger to the security of electricity supply because of the imminent shutdown of numerous nuclear and coal-fired power plants. The loss of generation capacity will be compensated for temporarily by greater utilization of existing gas-fired power plants, the Minister said at the presentation of the „Germany 2020“ country report of the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the Federal Ministry of Economics: „We will see a renaissance of natural gas.“ welt.de

The number of insects in East Africa could multiply by a factor of 400 to 500 if no countermeasures are taken. These states are much better able to deal with droughts – because they are more likely to be expected. Uganda, for example, last had to deal with such an outbreak of insect plagues in the 1970s. Kenya has not had such a situation for 70 years. The governments lack experience in dealing with locust plagues. tagesspiegel.de

Alarming UN report: A UN report on child well-being confirms climate change as a major risk to the well-being of all children worldwide. Children and young people are particularly threatened by environmental degradation and poor nutrition. Dozens of health experts in the report also criticized that no country in the world protects its children comprehensively. n-tv.dethelancet.com (original presentation of the report)
Social impact increasingly in demand: Impact Hub refers to a global network whose goal is to support start-ups that are geared towards sustainability. To this end, members are offered workspaces in more than 100 co-working spaces worldwide, as well as networking events, and they have the opportunity to establish links with already established companies. The idea was born in London in 2005. welt.de
Controversial fertilizer directive: The tightening of fertilizer regulations for farmers to protect groundwater continues to create a need for discussion with the EU. However, only „last details“ need to be clarified, said a spokeswoman for Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) on Wednesday in Berlin. It is planned that the Bundesrat will deal with the topic on April 3, so that the new regulation can come into effect in April. This is necessary to avoid high penalties from Brussels. This is because Germany is violating EU regulations on groundwater protection; in many places nitrate levels are too high – caused mainly by agriculture. afp.com

Researchers design gigantic dam for the North Sea: The rise in sea level also affects the North Sea. Sea level has risen by 20 centimetres in the last 140 years and is rising ever faster. By the end of this century, it could rise by one or two metres in the worst case and even by ten metres in the next 500 years. Researchers now want to separate the North Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. This would require a huge dam between France and England and a dam between Scotland and Norway.. spiegel.de

Naturerkundungen mit Skizzenheft und Staffelei – Exploration of nature with sketchbook and easel
23 exciting portraits of famous explorers and new artists to be discovered. Sketches, drawings and paintings from four centuries from the archives of the Natural History Museum, London.
Merian, Humboldt, Audubon, Fountaine and others. This book follows 23 people who sailed around the world and passionately explored the essence of nature – with notebook, sketchbook and easel. From explorers like Charles Darwin, Johann Forster and Alexander von Humboldt to collectors like Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin and artists like Maria Sibylla Merian, Ferdinand Bauer, John James Audubon and Conrad Martens – they were all united by the desire not only to see new worlds, but also to understand them and record them for others to see. The essays are richly illustrated from the wealth of their works: with excerpts from sketchbooks, magnificent illustrations of plants and animals, depictions of landscapes, and photographs of collectibles and herbarium documents. A book for people interested in history and natural history who enjoy browsing. . haupt.ch
Tesla: Permission to continue deforestation. berliner-zeitung.de
Veganz: Vegan provider issues corporate bond. 4investors.de
Rotten eggs: Impurities in egg processing company. sueddeutsche.de 
Memorandum of Understanding: For more environmental protection in the film industry. bundesregierung.de
Producers of pesticides: High sales of hazardous substances. tagesschau.de
Food waste: With a B2B platform for animal and plant by-products, Byprotex wants to reduce food waste. Founder Wieser receives a lot of support for this. handelsblatt.com
Green bonds: Europe is a hub. faz.net
Car sharing offers are increasing: Car sharing services in Germany was increasing in 2019. 25,400 vehicles were available to users – that is 5,200 more than in the previous year. 2.29 million customers are registered with the providers. Car sharing is not only growing in the big cities, but is also becoming more widespread across the country. Vehicles are available at 840 German locations. 238 locations are located in cities with 20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants. This is a share of 46.8 percent. zeit.de
VW in lead before Toyota: …are the largest car manufacturers in the world. But the automotive industry is facing radical change. Most manufacturers will feel the headwind as early as 2019. For the Germans, sales increased. . handelsblatt.com

E-scooters safer than bicycles: Using an e-scooter is no more dangerous than riding a bicycle. This is the result of a study by the International Transport Forum, ITF for short. The ITF is an intergovernmental organisation in which 65 states are members. According to the ITF, fears about the safety of e-scooters were exaggerated.  t3n.de , itf.oecd.org
Autonomous driving in Germany: According to the Federal Government, no vehicle models have been approved in Germany to date that meet the requirements for highly or fully automated driving functions as defined in Section 1a of the German Road Traffic Act (StVG). This can be seen from the Federal Government’s answer (19/17204) to a minor question from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/16420). After regulations for highly and partially fully automated driving had already been created in Germany in 2017 through the amendment of the Road Traffic Act, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is currently working on a legal framework for autonomous driving in suitable cases of application in accordance with the mandate from the coalition agreement, the answer goes on to say. In particular, this should enable the use of driverless shuttles beyond mere testing. „This should create new mobility solutions and strengthen passenger and freight transport in urban and rural areas,“ writes the government. Due to the large number of necessary clarifications of the facts within a technically and regulatory demanding project, a bill in spring 2019 was – contrary to what had been announced – not possible, it continues. It is now intended to present the draft bill in spring 2020.
The federal government does not want to promote night trains: According to its own statement, the federal government is open to an expansion of the offer for night train services. The prerequisite for this would be an economically viable design of the offer, according to the government’s answer (19/16579) to a minor question from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/15761). In reply to the question about federal funding for night train services, the reply said: The Federal Government welcomed the expansion of night train services by Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) and other railway undertakings (RUs) on the basis of fast connections, in particular in order to bring more traffic onto the environmentally friendly railways. Since night trains, in contrast to local rail passenger transport, are not part of public service transport, „the rail transport companies do, however, decide on their services, including night train services, for which they are responsible on their own account“.
Sharing services: Sharing services offer mobility at every street corner, each on its own App. wz.de
Mobility in large cities: Bicycle instead of car. A study notes the rapid change in urban mobility. t3n.de
Not only green power for the railways: Even if the German railways (Deutsche Bahn) only want to travel with green power, they are forced to buy from the coal-fired power station Datteln 4. zeit.de
Funding guidelines for charging infrastructure: According to the government, the approval rate for funding applications in accordance with the „Funding guidelines for charging infrastructure for electric vehicles“ of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) was 67 percent in the first call for funding, 54 percent in the second call for funding and 55 percent in the third call for funding, with eleven applications still being processed in this area. This is shown in the Federal Government’s answer (19/17109) to a small question from the parliamentary group Die Linke (19/16691). The majority of the rejected applications had been rejected because the quota had been exceeded, it continues. According to the answer, the funds from the first three calls for funds were used to set up around 7,400 loading points. With about 12,600 approved loading points, the construction is still pending (as of December 2019), it is said. The Federal Government cites bottlenecks in the supply of the charging infrastructure, long waiting times for the construction of the grid connection and „depending on the location, more extensive approval procedures with the responsible local authorities“ as the most frequent reasons for delays in the construction of the charging infrastructure.
Flight alternatives: The „potential for switching from flights to other means of transport“ is the subject of a minor question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/17089). The members of parliament are asking the Federal Government about domestic flight movements in the past winter and summer timetables 2018/2019, and about flights from Germany to other EU states in the same period. The Liberals are also interested to know whether the Federal Government has any information on „which of these flight movements could be replaced by alternative means of transport without passengers having to accept sacrifices in terms of time, quality and price“.
Federal government has no figures: The Federal Government does not have any figures on the number of new wood combustion plants built each year. As the government states in an answer (19/17187) to a small question of the parliamentary group Die Linke (19/16901), combustion plants for solid fuels up to one megawatt thermal output do not require a permit in the sense of the Federal Immission Control Act. In the parliamentary question, the MPs had asked, among other things, how many combustion plants were subsidised by grants from the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) and by reduced-interest loans from the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). The government lists these after subsidies through the Market Incentive Programme for the Promotion of the Use of Renewable Energies in the Heat Sector (MAP) and the CO2 Building Rehabilitation Programme. With regard to possible health hazards caused by wood smoke, the government refers to a report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2019, which states that particulate matter is a „health risk factor“ and has a greater negative impact on public health than nitrogen dioxide.
Soils too dry in Germany: While the topsoil (up to 30 centimetres deep) reacts comparatively quickly to short-term precipitation events and has recovered quickly from the summer drought in 2019, particularly thanks to the above-average wet October, this does not apply to the layers below, according to the Federal Government. On the representations published by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the UFZ Drought Monitor, the water supply in the total soil (down to depths of about 1.8 metres) is still clearly too low in large parts of the country, according to the government’s answer (19/17006) to a small question from the FDP parliamentary group (19/16610). As the government explains when asked, traffic areas whose pavement allows rainwater to seep away while at the same time being used by traffic are considered to be infiltration-able traffic areas. They should only be used where there is an expected low level of dirt and pollutant input, since the construction methods discussed here lack the animated soil zone as a biologically active filter. Construction methods using paving, asphalt or concrete were available, the report continues. These are used almost exclusively in the municipal area. „The primary goal of these construction methods is to reduce the changes in the water balance caused by sealing and drainage of surface runoff in the sewerage system, i.e. to increase evaporation and infiltration,“ writes the federal government. Open-pore asphalt, which is used as a low-noise surface layer, is not capable of infiltration „because of the sealing in the base“, according to the information. On the one hand, the waterproofing serves to protect the structure from water infiltration, which could cause stability problems and destruction of the pavement due to softening and frost-induced expansion, and on the other hand, it protects the soil and subsoil from the infiltration of pollutants. Accidents involving the escape of hazardous substances could therefore not lead to the penetration of pollutants into soil layers below the structure. Federal highways, the government writes, are not covered with water-permeable asphalt.

„I find the optimism in the import of hydrogen to be downright naive. Who will build the plants in North or West Africa, for example? If you really want to ensure that it ends up in Germany and not on the world market, these would have to be state-owned plants. That seems to me quite unlikely.“
Steffen Bukold, founder and head of the Energycomment consultancy office in Hamburg, on the other hand, says that if one only wants to support private companies, then one has no right of access to the hydrogen produced there. It could be consumed on site or – as always with oil and gas projects – be given to the company that offers the most. bizz-energy.com
„Frankly speaking, the climate debate will not have the slightest effect on travel behaviour in 2020. Sustainability is an everyday issue, not a holiday topic. In concrete terms, this is how it looks: „At home, we separate our garbage and then we get on the plane again.“
Jürgen Schmude, Professor for Tourism, Sustainability and CSR at the LMU in Munich, said that awareness (of climate change, editor) was there, but that there was no change in behaviour. He also sees this among his students: They all travel on as before. But they wouldn’t know any different, they had grown up with open borders and many opportunities. Of course, no one has to be ashamed of travelling. On the contrary: travelling is something beautiful. But one should do it with brains and think about whether it is really necessary to fly three times a year. For example, asking yourself whether the bachelor party in Las Vegas, the shopping trip to Milan and the wellness holiday in Norway are really necessary or whether a train trip, which takes a little longer, is not enough. reisereporter.de

Power from humidity: Sustainable power generation is crucial for climate change. Now a team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has succeeded in generating electricity from air humidity. The researchers constructed a device called „Air-Gen“, which literally generates electricity from the spirit of the air, as the electrical engineer and co-author of the study, Jun Yao, reports. The new technology is said to be environmentally friendly, renewable and cost-effective. It could generate electricity even in areas with extremely low humidity, such as in the Sahara. And in contrast to energy sources such as sun or wind, the „Air-Gen“ even works indoors. nature.com , spiegel.de
New sustainable working models support medium-sized businesses: A soccer table or daily fresh fruit in the office are not the things that support corporate culture in the digital change. Even home office days alone do not make a company digital. If you want to continue to find good employees, you have to get involved in the lifeworld of the applicants. This is where generations come together who do not understand each other, partly because they have different access to security. The employer is a companion for the journey, with whom one no longer stays from apprenticeship to retirement. „Young people find security instead in their family and private lives.“ Employers must be prepared for this. At the same time, bosses have to learn that work doesn’t always look the same – and that you can also be productive when drinking latte macchiato. „70 percent of managers in Germany still work on an activity-based basis,“ says Franz Kühmayer from the Zukunftsinstitut. „So it’s not about what you do, but how you work.“ Bosses must learn to trust their employees and let them do things their way. welt.de
Sustainable development with the help of energy: That energy is a key to development policy is a truism. But decentralized energy plants are especially important. They can bring stability to a crisis-ridden region, such as northern Cameroon, by providing access to electricity and regular income. „One hundred percent renewable energies create many more jobs than, for example, our current energy system in Europe,“ says Energy Watch Group President Hans-Josef Fell, who is considered one of the most important drivers of the energy turnaround in Germany. „Renewable energies are an essential pillar in the fight against poverty, with opportunities to earn money for hundreds of millions of people in decentralised plants instead of monopoly profits in the hands of a few energy companies,“ says Fell. klimareporter.de
Organised crime: Beehives in great demand. theguardian.com
Greenland: Wants to sell meltwater. tagesspiegel.de
Amazon founder: Will donate ten billion to fight climate change. dw.com

Candy’s got to stay: Due to the storm, carnival was canceled last Sunday. But on Rose Monday, camels are thrown again with „Alaf“. During the big Rose Monday procession about 300 tons of sweets are thrown into the crowd. This is not sustainable, because by far not everything is collected. Small clubs and also the Cologne festival committee are now experimenting with more sustainable camels. The carnival society Grüne Rheinfunken is right at the forefront of this: it relies on fair trade chocolate and fruit and vegetable snacks in upcycling bags. deutschlandfunk.de
Here is the german version
all pictures by pixabay.com