FAIReconomics Newsletter week 14/20                                            German version

Worldwide Earth Hour: Almost forgotten by the current crisis is Earth Hour, the worldwide action where the lights are switched off for one hour, on public and well-known buildings, but also in private homes. The action started in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia, in Germany the Brandenburg Gate, Cologne Cathedral and Munich Frauenkirche remained dark for one hour.  In addition, many people switched off the lights at home. zeit.deafp.com

Agriculture is threatened with supply bottlenecks due to fertiliser ordinances in the crisis: The lobby organisation „Land schafft Verbindung“ is currently showing how to get tough thumbscrews out of the crisis. In an open letter to the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the farmers are blatantly threatening to suspend the implementation of the amended German Fertiliser Ordinance (DüVO) and not to impose penalties.  „Land creates connection“ with supply bottlenecks „An additional burden on these farms as a result of the tightening of the DüVO would lead to a number of farm closures…This would put the degree of self-sufficiency for basic foodstuffs in Germany at considerable risk – fatal in crisis situations!“ spiegel.de

1.4 million premature deaths could be avoided by phasing out coal by 2050 at the latest Researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have developed a computer simulation of the consequences of a worldwide phase-out of coal combustion. According to the simulation, a phase-out would lead to a significant reduction in premature deaths from air pollution, especially in Asia. deutschlandfunk.de

Ozone layer over Antarctica seems to be recovering: In the 1980s, researchers pointed out the thinning of the ozone layer over Antarctica and the resulting shift of the so-called jet stream. As a result, the region warmed up. Scientists are now observing the gradual recovery of the ozone layer over the Antarctic, which has also stopped the southern displacement of the jet streams. However, a large ozone hole has now formed over the Arctic. standard.at (Arctics),  spiegel.de (Antarctic)

Russia presents climate strategy: The Russian Ministry of Economics presented a climate strategy for the next thirty years last week. The largest country in the world wants to reduce its CO2 emissions by a third by 2030 compared to 1990. Previously, a 25 percent reduction was planned. By 2050, the reduction is to be 36 percent and thus only slightly more. klimareporter.dekommersant.ru (original document)
Bundesrat approves fertiliser ordinance: In future, farmers will have to observe stricter rules when fertilising their fields. On Friday, the Federal Council approved an amendment to the long disputed fertiliser ordinance. This will avert high penalties for violations of EU regulations for the protection of groundwater. However, new rules for particularly polluted areas will not come into force until the beginning of next year. The aim of the regulation is to ensure that fertilizers are used more selectively in agriculture and that less nitrate enters water bodies. Many of the new requirements are now expected to come into force in a few weeks‘ time, when the amended Fertilizer Ordinance is published in the Federal Law Gazette. The new, stricter rules for particularly polluted so-called red areas, on the other hand, will only apply from 1 January 2021. afp.com

Street Fight
Why we need a new cycling policy
It’s time to get off and change! There’s something wrong with the roads: Car traffic is constantly increasing, the mood is getting more and more irritable, every year thousands of people die in accidents, hundreds of thousands are injured. Progress in reducing pollutant emissions? Nothing. Kerstin E. Finkelstein therefore demands: „We must finally rethink and take decisive action! She reveals the undesirable developments in transport policy and shows how these could be remedied: by putting an end to decades of preference for motorised private transport and making cycling more attractive. In doing so, she looks at the city and the countryside and describes concepts that help to get more people out of their cars and onto their bicycles. The importance of rental bikes, e-scooters, e-scooters and local public transport is also discussed. A lively plea for a more sustainable transport policy in Germany. ch-links-verlag.de

Shopper: More normality in the supermarkets. tagesschau.de
Expedition to the North Pole: Climate change is giving scientists a hard time. spiegel.de
Eon: Supposed to connect Gigafactory in Grünheidean’s power grid. golem.de
Corona crisis: Reflected in the economic reports of energy companies. euwid-energie.de
Forest fires: Energy company in California pleads guilty. derstandard.de
Discussion: Coal-fired power plants with new technology environmentally friendly retrofit? erneuerbareenergien.de
Oil beetle: Deadly insect becomes beetle of the year. mdr.de
Celebrities: Promoting „German Zero“ until 2035. klimareporter.de
Berlin: Wants to become a solar city. energyload.eu
2,000 signatures: Companies demonstrate for raising the solar cover. pv-magazine.de
Carsharing – Danger from smear infections?  Car-sharing providers suffer from corona infections. On the one hand, many users of the offers stay in their home office, on the other hand, leisure activities are also closed. In addition, scientists cannot rule out the possibility that a virus could be transmitted by so-called smear infections. The industry has reacted accordingly and carried out more frequent cleanings. welt.de
Buses and trains: Even though home work is ordered for many employees in the current crisis, there are still enough people who depend on buses and trains to get to work. The fact that bus drivers no longer sell tickets should have gotten around by now. In addition, all DB lounges of Deutsche Bahn have been closed since 18 March. The on-board bistros have also closed until further notice. Also, newspapers are no longer distributed in trains. If you still want to buy tickets in the travel centres of Deutsche Bahn, you can only do so at larger stations. As a precautionary measure, Plexiglas panels have been installed here to protect against possible infection. chip.de
Mobility in the cities: The Corona pandemic acts as an amplifier in many cities. In many cities there are more cyclists on the road. „Those who now take their bikes out of the cellar and use them regularly can also change their mobility behaviour in the long term. Always provided that they enjoy cycling, feel good and notice that the exercise makes them feel better. They will reach their destination in the city faster than by car anyway,“ says Professor Stephan Gößling, environmental researcher.  The important thing is to have already taken the decisive step after the crisis: to change your behaviour. The new behavior must then only become a habit.riffreporter.de
Traffic has been massively slumped: A data analysis of millions of vehicle movements by the navigation service TomTom shows that traffic in many of the world’s major cities has collapsed. After Chancellor Merkel’s television address on March 18, the morning and evening rush hour flattened out completely. Compared to other countries, however, the volume of traffic is still high. tagesspiegel.de

Shifting goods from ship to rail: The FDP parliamentary group would like to know what the Federal Government is doing to ensure that there is no shift of goods transport from inland waterways to rail. In a minor question (19/17823), MEPs point to the high level of investment and subsidies for the railways, while inland waterway transport, which emits less CO2 than all other modes of transport, is struggling with a dilapidated infrastructure, which further reduces competitiveness. „The billions of euros spent on CO2 reduction in rail freight transport would be useless or even harmful if the transport service is shifted from inland waterways to rail,“ write the Liberals. The government is now being asked what impact it believes the investments for the railways will have on the freight transport market. The MEPs also want to know whether the Federal Government is planning higher investments in the growing 2021 budget for inland waterway transport, „so that the mode of transport remains competitive in view of the billions invested in the railways“.
Hydrogen: Breakthrough in fuel cell technology. spiegel.de
Changed rules of procedure in the Bundestag: In view of the corona epidemic, the rules of procedure of the Bundestag have been temporarily changed. Until September 30, 2020, the parliament will have a quorum even if more than a quarter of its members are present in the session hall. Until now, more than half of the members of parliament must be present. On Wednesday, the plenary approved this recommendation for a resolution by the Rules Committee (19/18126) with the votes of the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, Left and Greens, with abstentions by individual AfD members. A similar rule applies to the committees. They are also quorate if more than a quarter of the members participate in the meeting or are connected via electronic means of communication. In the case of public committee deliberations and hearings, the public may be granted access exclusively via electronic means of transmission.The new regulation applies until 30 September 2020, before which time it may be revoked at any time by a resolution of the Bundestag.
Unmanaged fishing nets: The total amount of so-called ghost nets in German marine waters cannot be precisely determined. In principle, the fishing industry is legally obliged to report lost nets to the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food by means of logbook entries. However, the number of such reports has been very small in recent years, the Federal Government states in an answer (19/17761) to a small question (19/17381) from the FDP parliamentary group. It further states that nine percent of the total plastic waste collected from over 2,400 trawl nets caught internationally for fisheries research purposes on the seabed of the North and Baltic Seas between 2013 and 2017 came from fishing sources. Only a part of this plastic waste consisted of ghost nets. These were mainly net fragments, but the larger part consisted of lines, lines and polystyrene boxes.
Alternative fuels: The FDP parliamentary group is inquiring about alternative fuels for more sustainable mobility. In a short question (19/17999), MEPs ask the Federal Government for an assessment of the possibilities and role of biologically and synthetically produced fuels for passenger and freight transport by road, air and sea. The parliamentary group also wants to know whether the Federal Government plans to design the framework conditions for the use of hydrogen in such a way that it becomes competitive with competing fuels.
Climate consequences due to coal phase-out law: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group is interested in the effects of the planned coal phase-out law on the climate. In a short question (19/18000), MEPs ask for forecasts of carbon dioxide reductions. They would like to know how, for example, the commissioning of a new coal-fired power station will be reflected in these estimates.
Alliance for Development and Climate: According to the German government, a total volume of four million euros is available for the establishment of the Alliance for Development and Climate for the period from March 2019 to February 2021. This budget will be financed from the budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), she writes in her answer (19/17765) to a minor question (19/17312) from the AfD Group. After the end of the project, the Alliance is planned to be transformed into a foundation, she continues. Referring to the response to date from about 50 percent of the supporters in a survey, the German government states that the participants intend to compensate about 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 in developing and emerging countries in 2019. According to the BMZ, the Alliance for Development and Climate is a „multi-actor platform“ for promoting the voluntary offsetting of carbon dioxide. It aims to bring together supporters and providers of offset projects.
AfD calls for the suspension of climate protection measures: In a motion (19/18119), the AfD Group calls for the suspension of all climate protection measures and for a secure and cost-efficient energy supply. MEPs justify their motion by stating that the supply of water and energy to the population must be given top priority. In the current emergency situation, it is necessary to have recourse to „all energy sources suitable for energy supply, including nuclear energy“, writes the group. It further calls on the Federal Government to cancel all climate protection-related expenditure in the individual plan of the Federal Environment Ministry for the duration of the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus, at least until 30 September 2020, to suspend the Climate Protection Act and the promotion and priority feed-in under the Renewable Energy Sources Act, and to use any funds thus released for emergency aid measures. All plans to end the use of coal must also be terminated and the limits on residual electricity volumes and operating times for nuclear power plants must be suspended, the parliamentary group continues to write in the motion. In addition, the electricity tax must be suspended and the energy tax reduced by 25%. The energy supply and network stability must absolutely be ensured with regard to the necessary security of supply through „non-volatile sources“, the MEPs emphasise.
Plastics in sewage sludge: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group asks in a small question (19/17920) whether sewage sludge should be used as fertilizer. In this question, MEPs want to know, among other things, what quantities of sewage sludge are produced each year and what the development has been like over the past 20 years. The Group is also interested in the quantities of plastic (polyacrylates) used for dewatering and flocculation of sewage sludge and introduced into soils.
Post-corona economy: Short-term economic support includes, for example, the recently agreed short-time working allowance, facilitated lending and state guarantees, and direct contributions to affected groups. These emergency aid measures must now be implemented pragmatically and quickly, but: „The longer-term aid measures must set clear accents in the sense of a sustainable design of economy and society“, the Wuppertal Institute emphasises.  Above all, the so-called „long-term transformation“ also includes central measures for climate protection, for which government investment is essential. This applies, for example, to making energy-intensive industry fit for the future and supporting important measures on the way to greenhouse gas neutrality. Examples include the conversion of steel production to hydrogen-based (green) production processes and the successive but consistent closing of material cycles as part of a more circular economy. In the building sector, further investments in building refurbishment and the replacement of heating systems are planned, and in the transport sector, the acceleration of the switch to electromobility in the car sector, but also in the freight transport sector – for example, through the development of overhead line structures for freight transport along motorways. wupperinst.org

Indebtedness epidemic: Financial instability existed before Covid-19, but now emerging markets are facing a massive debt crisis. Another potential consequence of the pandemic is less well understood, but perhaps even more important: growing financial instability, with the potential for a debt crisis and even a wider financial collapse. Once Covid-19 is contained and measures are implemented to ease the situation, supply chains will be restored and people will return to work with the hope of making up at least some of their lost income. But this real economic recovery could be brought down by unresolved financial and debt crises. ipg-journal.de

Helpfulness and digital solutions: The retail sector, apart from grocery stores, is suffering from the crisis, and restaurants are also closed. Digital experts help the shops to survive. For example, through calls in the social media, or in the hackathon to which 43,000 people had registered. In this digital competition, people from different fields of work and interests have networked to work in teams from different disciplines on problem solutions. Today, on Monday, there will be results. welt.dedeutschlandfunk.de , bundesregierung.de
e-learning: How to learn in Africa despite crispy conditions. dw.com
Social initiatives: Many are facing the end of their lives due to the crisis. sueddeutsche.de
Creating living space: Social and ecological construction. boersen-zeitung.de
Ecological building: House is built with waste from the rice harvest. innovationorigins.com
Confusion: Zoom Technologies stock has risen 900 percent in the last few days. However, investors have obviously succumbed to a mix-up. Because the software Zoom, which organizes video conferences and is used by many companies during the Corona crisis, is offered by the provider Zoom Video, which has been listed on the stock exchange since last year: It has the ticker abbreviation „ZM“. Now the American stock exchange supervisory authority SEC has suspended trading of Zoom Technology shares. heise.de
All photos source – pixabay.com
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