Renewable energies are energies of freedom: The war in Ukraine also affects energy policy in Germany. In the debate on Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government declaration, Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner is focusing on renewable energies as „energies of freedom“. He is supported by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. „Renewable energies not only contribute to energy security and supply,“ he said at a special session of the Bundestag on Sunday. „Renewable energies free us from dependencies. Renewable energies are therefore energies of freedom.“ Above all, it is necessary to free ourselves from the blackmail of other states. rnd.de , fr.de
What does the war in Ukraine mean for climate protection: The escalation in Ukraine and the attack by Russian troops also affect climate policy. Apart from the immediate consequences for the people on the ground – the conflict does not bode well for international climate protection: for conflicts and armed conflicts always stand in the way of trusting international cooperation. US political advisor John Podesta warned that a war over Ukraine would have „devastating effects on international climate protection“. Russia, together with allied states, could block all negotiations on climate protection in the United Nations and other international institutions. Thus, the world climate report to be published today will fade into the background. What seemed important and worthwhile yesterday suddenly seems trivial and beside the point. But when frontline reports now drown out the warnings of science, a new danger becomes palpable: the human task of climate protection could become collateral damage of Putin’s war. There is a threat of damage, the full extent of which will only be comprehensible after a delay. watson.de, sueddeutsche.de
4.6 billion euros
The state has paid out a total of 4.6 billion euros for the promotion of electric cars since 2016. Of this, around 798 million euros went to almost 160,000 Volkswagen e-cars alone, according to the Ministry of Economics. Almost 441 million euros were paid out for the purchase or leasing of around 90,000 electrically powered Renaults, 406 million euros for just under 104,000 cars from Mercedes and 339 million euros for a good 90,000 BMWs. A good 304 million euros flowed for around 59,000 cars from the US manufacturer Tesla, and a further 296 million euros for just under 59,000 Hyundai cars. In total, state premiums have been paid out on around 965,000 applications since 2016. stern.de
Wind energy expansion is making slow progress: From the industry’s point of view, wind energy expansion is making far too slow progress throughout Europe. It is „always frightening to read in black and white where we are and where we want to go – where we have to go in order to achieve the common European climate goals“, said the Managing Director of the German Offshore Wind Farm Operators Association (BWO), Stefan Thimm on Thursday. „Supply risks can also be significantly reduced through renewable energies. We should not forget that against the background of the current political situation.“ In view of the great importance of Russian gas supplies, the escalating Ukraine crisis has triggered a debate about supply security in the energy sector. faz.net
World not sufficiently prepared for forest fires: Devastating forest fires will increase, according to a UN report. The world is not sufficiently prepared for them. „Even with the most ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will experience a dramatic increase in the frequency of conditions conducive to extreme fires,“ says the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report. Extreme fires are not a direct consequence of global warming – but the increasingly frequent and intense periods of drought and dryness due to climate change create particularly favourable conditions for the fires. zeit.de , unep.org (original report)
Offshore wind farms change currents in the North Sea: In the North Sea, offshore wind farms actually have a measurable physical influence on the surrounding sea. Nils Christiansen from the Helmholtz Centre Hereon in Geesthacht and his team have found this out. Wind turbines also change the current and stratification of the sea surface through their wake vortices. This in turn influences the temperature and salinity of the water. Although these effects have so far been smaller than the natural annual fluctuations, they could nevertheless have ecological effects. scinexx.de
Half-hearted fight against climate change: The Catholic development aid organisation Misereor has warned in dramatic words of the consequences of only half-heartedly fighting climate change. „We are in the middle of an era of damage and loss due to global warming. Delayed climate protection and lack of investment in adaptation measures are driving the spirals of crisis around the world. katholisch.de
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Biologische Intelligenz Intelligence – On Evolution, Species Protection and Genetic Engineering
The New Genetic Engineering, tools such as the gene scissors CRISPR/Cas and the artificial synthesis of genes open up the possibility for radical changes in genetic material and deep interventions in biological diversity. Parallel to the emergence of new technologies, we also need to rethink our relationship with nature. A key concept for defining a new relationship between humans and nature can become the term „Biological Intelligence“ (BI), which is discussed here in more detail for the first time in the context of evolution, species conservation and genetic engineering.
Christoph Then informs about the facts and backgrounds and encourages a critical and informed debate on genetic engineering and biotechnology. He pleads for much higher standards of protection in dealing with the foundations of life. In this context, he proposes a new nature treaty that would set clear limits to genetic engineering interventions in biological diversity. oekom.de
LNG terminal: In view of the Ukraine war, the Greens discuss LNG terminal in Brunsbüttel. taz.de , ndr.de
Umweltstiftung M-V: The foundation MV, which has as a secondary purpose to support the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, no longer wants to support the project. welt.de
Australia: Australia’s government is criticised worldwide for its climate policy. A multi-billionaire now wants to force it to change course with money. faz.net
Uprising of the last generation: Federal Agriculture Minister Özdemir has condemned the protest actions of activists of the so-called Uprising of the last generation. dlf.de
Plastics: UN seeks agreement. fnp.de
Cryptomining: Crypto mining consumes enormous amounts of electricity. In the USA, old coal-fired power plants are now being revived to allow computer networks to „mine“ day and night. energiezukunft.de
EU Commission: Wants to control supply chains more strictly. spiegel.de
Government statement: Scholz announces construction of liquefied natural gas terminals in Germany. tagesschau.de
Karl Lauterbach: Massive reduction of meat consumption demanded . Criticism of conservationists. welt.de
„Civil disobedience is characterised by two elements in particular: Unlike legal forms of protest, it has a deliberately unlawful character. And it is not merely symbolic, but intervenes in a disruptive way in the daily order. It is meant to generate attention and underline the urgency of the issue. It is not purely criminal acts or unmotivated rioting, but a principle-based protest. The actors invoke recognised moral, political, partly legal principles and want to achieve certain changes. In contrast to a militant uprising, the forms of action here, even if they seem radical to many, are quite moderate and refrain from organised violence.“
Robin Celikates, philosopher and social scientist, professor of practical philosophy with a focus on social philosophy and anthropology at the Institute of Philosophy at the Free University of Berlin, the word „civil“ is sometimes interpreted to mean that civil disobedience must be non-violent or peaceful. In Germany, however, a sit-in blockade – actually a paradigmatic example of non-violent disobedience – can appear as a violent coercion from the perspective of criminal law. Moral heroes like Martin Luther King or Gandhi, who today stand for peaceful disobedience, were defamed as violent terrorists in their time. Today we see similar dynamics. For him, a blockade on the motorway is first and foremost a peaceful form of protest. Just because people’s freedom of movement is restricted in a way that is, of course, very unpleasant, does not mean that it is violent per se. It is therefore necessary to examine exactly what is meant by „peaceful“ and „civil“. taz.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:
Putin shatters the dream of the German energy turnaround
Nord Stream 2 is politically dead, gas prices are out of control – and the whole strategy of German transformation is suddenly in doubt. Economist Lars Feld warns: foreign and economic policy will be inseparable for a long time. There is no longer an energy transition. At least not one that could be understood and pursued solely as a major climate and industrial policy project. The transformation of the German economy, probably the country’s most ambitious economic policy challenge even before yesterday’s war caesura, has finally been drawn into the full rigours and turmoil of world politics. wiwo.de
End for the combustion car – Federal government confuses EU states: In the dispute over the end for internal combustion cars, the traffic light parties still seem to disagree. Transport Minister Wissing makes the case for synthetic fuels. handelsblatt.com
Volvo sister company: Polestar cooperates with suppliers in development of climate-neutral car. ecomento.de
Gap in e-mobility: 15 million e-cars are supposed to be on German roads by 2030 to meet climate targets. However, a study shows that there should be 20 million. wiwo.de
Car toll considered: The think tank Agora Verkehrswende has called for a tax and financial reform of road transport and linked it to the introduction of a car toll. In a discussion paper presented, it states that a mileage-based toll system could provide incentives to reduce CO2 emissions. It could also ensure that infrastructure is financed in a way that is fair to those who cause it. Agora Verkehrswende also proposes a reform of the motor vehicle tax as well as relief for consumers via a climate and mobility fee. handelsblatt.com
E-mobility law should be adapted: The E-Mobility Act helps the e-car, but after six years it needs to adapt to new circumstances. And some extensions are also necessary according to experts. business-panorama.de
Volker Wissing: Investments in the transport sector are investments in the future. If we cut them, we cut our future. We should not do that. We must continue to invest in infrastructure, and we can see the problems with our bridges, for example. If a motorway bridge has to be closed because it no longer meets safety requirements, this quickly has a massive impact on people’s everyday lives. welt.de
Transport system too slow in transformation process: The German transport system is developing „much too slowly towards sustainability“, according to the automobile club ADAC. Slight progress has been compensated by regress in other areas, the ADAC announced in Munich on Monday. With a view to sustainable mobility, more efforts and more speed are therefore necessary, the automobile club demanded. spiegel.de
Increased commuter flat rate- Reorganisation of the costs of mobility: In view of the high energy prices, the leaders of the traffic light coalition have agreed on several measures to relieve the burden on consumers. For example, the commuter allowance is to be increased from 35 to 38 cents per kilometre from the 21st kilometre onwards, as announced by the SPD, the Greens and the FDP. welt.de
Helgoland and hydrogen: Europe’s largest hydrogen project is to be built off Helgoland. It is being planned and developed by an association called Aquaventus, which has companies such as E.ON, Vattenfall and RWE among its almost 90 members. Aquaventus wants to erect wind turbines in the North Sea and then install so-called electrolysers on platforms at their base. These break down desalinated seawater into hydrogen and oxygen. A pipeline could then transport the hydrogen to the southern harbour. „The green energy revolution begins in the North Sea“ is how Aquaventus describes the project. But not everyone on Helgoland is convinced of this future – and that it will also benefit themselves. freitag.de
Reaction of gallium and aluminium: Researchers at the University of California in Santa Cruz have discovered a method to produce hydrogen. For years, they have been looking for a way to produce clean hydrogen cheaply. Professor Scott Oliver and his colleagues now claim to have made the breakthrough by finding the right ratio between aluminium and gallium. efahrer.chip.de
Hydrogen ramp-up – National Hydrogen Council criticises EU gas market package as insufficient: A rapid ramp-up of the hydrogen market is of great importance for the EU’s climate goals. However, in the view of the National Hydrogen Council, the gas market package presented by the EU Commission does not allow for a fast and cost-effective development of a hydrogen network in Germany. In December, the European Union published the „Legislative Package on Hydrogen and Gas Market Decarbonisation“ as the second part of the „Fit for 55“ package. The gas market package is intended to adapt the European legal framework for the gas market to the goals of the Green Deal and to lay the foundations for the hydrogen market. The National Hydrogen Council (NWR) criticises the package as insufficient for a fast market ramp-up. iwr.de
Cars of the future: Almost a third would like to drive with hydrogen. autobild.de
Airbus: The aircraft manufacturer Airbus wants to develop engines with partners that burn hydrogen directly. This should make climate-neutral aviation possible. However, the project is mainly helping the company to gain time and the goodwill of politicians. rnd.de
Green hydrogen: Everyone is talking about it, but where is it? Germany wants to be climate-neutral by 2045. The energy transition offers the chance to get away from Russian gas imports. Hydrogen plays a major role in this. The expectations are high, but so are the hurdles. dw.com
Thyssenkrupp share: IPO of hydrogen subsidiary could happen soon. boerse-online.de
Salzgitter AG: The hydrogen for the planned production of low-CO2 steel at Salzgitter AG is to come from the energy group Uniper – probably from Wilhelmshaven. This was announced by both companies last week. zeit.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
Federal government wants to legalise the distribution of cannabis: The coalition agreement foresees the introduction of a controlled distribution of cannabis to adults in licensed shops by 2025, but at the moment no statement can be made on the concrete form of the draft law. This is stated in an answer (20/653) of the federal government to a small question (20/551) of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. According to the answer, the quality should be controlled, the passing on of contaminated substances should be prevented and the protection of minors should be guaranteed. An evaluation of the law’s social impact is to take place after four years. The primary goal and guiding principle of the proposed legislation is to ensure the best possible health protection for consumers and to guarantee the protection of children and young people. The legislative project concerns extensive interdepartmental issues, from the legal design of cultivation, production, trade, sales, consumer, youth and non-smoker protection to tax, road traffic, criminal and administrative offence law as well as international and European law. The drafting of a corresponding bill by the Federal Government will therefore take place in close cooperation with the respective responsible ministries.
Ensuring and strengthening health and consumer protection – as well as ensuring and strengthening the quality of products – would be essential guidelines for the Federal Government when drafting a bill on the controlled supply of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes.
In addition, enquiries to the federal government and the public debate showed that the German agricultural industry was open to the legislative proposal of a controlled supply of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes and also saw new income opportunities in it.
Subsidies for e-cars only with positive climate effect: According to the Federal Government, the subsidies for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are to be degressive and reformed in such a way „that from 1 January 2023 they are only paid out for passenger cars that have a demonstrable positive climate protection effect“. This is stated in the government’s answer (20/649) to a minor question by the CDU/CSU parliamentary group (20/550). The Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection is working on a new funding design, which will then be coordinated. In response to the question whether the Federal Government is unilaterally focusing on electric mobility in passenger car transport in order to achieve the climate targets, or whether technology-open approaches are being pursued, the answer states: „The Federal Government’s programmes and measures are oriented towards the climate and environmental potentials of the available technologies in the respective modes of transport“. In order to achieve the climate targets by 2030, the Federal Government will strengthen the measures in the transport sector and present an emergency climate protection programme.
Legal steps against food waste are possible: It is important to the federal government to effectively counter food waste as soon as possible. The primary goal is to avoid food waste in the first place, according to an answer (20/777) of the federal government to a minor question (20/509) of the AfD parliamentary group. The sector-specific dialogue forums formed within the framework of the „National Strategy to Reduce Food Waste“ had already drawn up agreements on the reduction of food waste with concrete measures for their respective sectors. For example, in the dialogue forum „Out-of-home catering“, a target agreement for the sector was developed and signed by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and sector-specific associations in April 2021.
In the target agreement, the BMEL committed itself to supporting a neutral structure across associations. This competence centre began its work on 1 January 2022 and was set up by United Against Waste e. V. and the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute. The tasks of the Competence Centre included continuing the dialogue and monitoring the implementation of the target agreement as well as evaluating the measures with the help of waste data. In the retail sector, according to the Federal Government, the reduction potential of individual measures could be determined and evaluated in model projects. The data collection has led to a greater awareness of the companies with regard to the reduction potential, which is now being used by the companies. Target agreements with concrete reduction measures are also expected to be concluded in the course of this year for the above-mentioned dialogue forums for primary production, processing and trade. „In order to establish the binding nature of the reduction of food waste agreed in the coalition agreement, the necessity of legal changes will also have to be weighed up,“ the answer states.
Vegetable gardens in Ghana: Even before Corona times, the supply of food in Ghana was difficult for many people. Farmers in Ghana cannot supply their population; their farms are too small and European subsidies ensure the import of cheap food to Africa. With the pandemic, the food situation deteriorated drastically; in the local markets, food prices doubled. With their initiative „1 household, 1 garden“, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa and her team are therefore teaching women all over the country how to start their own vegetable gardens. Within just a few weeks of the programme’s launch, hundreds signed up for the trainings. A total of around 26,000 women have taken part in the trainings over the past five years. dw.com
Russia-Ukraine war: fears about supplies to Africa: Russia and Ukraine, the two largest wheat producers, are at war. A conflict that could threaten supplies to some African countries and even the stability of some nations on the continent. While Russia launched the attack on Ukraine, Sudanese government officials landed in Moscow to sign new trade deals. The Sudanese visit to the world’s largest wheat exporter is explained by Khartoum’s desire to avoid the scenario of 2019, when former President Omar al-Bashir was forced to resign by an angry population over bread that had tripled in price. africa-live.de
Steinmeier: Africa needs its own vaccine production. sueddeutsche.de
Ethiopia: Opens controversial Nile dam. Africa’s largest dam is to make Ethiopia an electricity exporter. The project is causing trouble among the Nile riparians Egypt and Sudan. derstandard.at
Kenya: Ongoing drought shows why Kenya needs to invest in expanding agricultural innovation. allafrica.com
Mali: Withdrawal solves nothing. Western forces in Mali have not failed. The problem is the absence of the state – only the Malian government can solve that. taz..de
Danger in Mozambique: Terrorist attacks and organised crime. Islamist militias in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province are shifting their fighting and networking in the region, and organised crime is growing. A study examines the effects of the conflict. dw.com
Circular economy in Africa: Recycling as a job engine: Until now, the poorest people on the African continent have lived off rubbish. Rwanda is now leading an alliance to turn it into a business. taz.de
Senegal: Federal President Steinmeier praises Senegal as an anchor of stability With his visit, he wanted to „give a new impetus to the long-standing close partnership between Germany and Senegal“, emphasised Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a meeting with Senegal’s President Macky Sall in Dakar. After the meeting, the German President called on Europe and Africa to intensify their cooperation. „With all the differences that exist: We must find the way to a closer, fruitful partnership. dw.com
What does the capture of Chernobyl mean for us? Russian troops have captured the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Ukrainian presidential advisor Mychailo Podolyak said the accident reactor could therefore no longer be considered safe; it was „one of the most serious threats to Europe“. The Ukrainian side expressed fears that the Russian side could use the nuclear power plant as a weapon. Journalist Thomas Wiegold does not think so. Chernobyl itself has no strategic significance. It is simply the shortest route from Belarus to Kiev. SWR3.de
How trees can help us with microplastic pollution: A study by the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ) have uncovered a new perspective on plastic pollution in our environment: birch trees could help reduce the microplastic problem. The tree species has long been used to clean up contaminated areas – it absorbs industrial pollutants in its tissue and stores them there. Microbial communities then colonise the growing tree and break down the pollutants and heavy metals. „Our pilot study suggests that birch has real potential for long-term soil remediation solutions – including reducing the amount of microplastics in soil and possibly water,“ says lead author Kat Austen. nationalgeographic.co.uk
Ukraine and bread prices: Ukraine is one of the most important export countries for food. In case of shortfalls due to a widening conflict with Russia, food prices would rise even further. This could result in political unrest in some countries. klimareporter.de
Australia: A young Australian company now wants to plant millions of trees in 2024 with drones from the air. zeit.de
Sustainable energy: The cooler coal.Vegetable carbon has great potential as a climate saviour. The technology is simple, scalable and can be used immediately. taz.de
What does the ISS space station have to do with the Ukraine conflict? The head of Russia’s space agency has reacted to the announcement of further harsh US sanctions against his country with vicious threats. On Twitter, Dmitry Rogozin asked whether the US wanted to end cooperation in the operation of the International Space Station (ISS). Perhaps the US president does not know that Russian engines are needed for major orbital corrections, he wrote, asking who is supposed to prevent a crash if the worst comes to the worst. The ISS does not fly over Russia, but it could crash into the United States – or Europe. The 500-tonne structure could also hit India or China, he says. So the USA should be careful that the sanctions don’t fall on its head – and not only in a figurative sense. Biden had said shortly before that the sanctions would also „affect“ Russia’s space programme. Whoever planned them should be examined for Alzheimer’s, Rogosin thinks. They should be withdrawn. heise.de
All images, unless otherwise stated: pixabay.com
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