FAIReconomics Newsletter Week 15/21
Bürgerrat for Climate begins: 160 randomly selected Germans will work out recommendations for a good climate policy from the end of April. The patron will be former German President Horst Köhler. The participants will be chosen by lot, with several quotas applying, for example for gender and level of education. The composition of the committee is thus similar to that of the population as a whole. After twelve meetings spread over two months, the council is to present its results. klimareporter.de, taz.de
Additional uptake of carbon dioxide by plants at the limit: If more CO2 is available, plants also take up more of it. But since the 1980s, the effect has been decreasing, as a study shows. This has implications for the fight against the climate crisis. As the carbon dioxide content of the air increases, plants also absorb more of the greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide (CO2) has a fertilising effect on plants, but this effect is decreasing, reports the University of Augsburg. Over the past four decades, an international team has observed a decline of about 30 per cent in this fertilising effect. golem.de
12 million tonnes of plastic waste
…is dumped into our oceans every year. Marine animals get caught in the litter or ingest small parts of it, causing them to get injured or perish. Plastic waste also adversely affects food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism and contributes to climate change.
Hydrogen strategy in Germany gets off to a bumpy start: Barely ten months have passed since the German government adopted the „National Hydrogen Strategy“. It was supposed to be the starting signal for the development of a complete value chain for climate-neutral hydrogen. But there are problems with the implementation of the strategy. Two points stand out in particular. There is no regulation for the reduction of electricity costs for hydrogen electrolysis. Furthermore, there is still no regulation for contracts for difference, which are supposed to secure the investments in new production plants. handelsblatt.com
New CO2 record: The highly dangerous curve pointing far into the future – and rising and rising. At the beginning of April 2021, climate researchers recorded a carbon dioxide content of over 420 ppm in the atmosphere for the first time. riffreporter.de
Climate Union founded: Heinrich Strößenreuther is well known in Berlin as an environmental and especially bicycle activist. Nevertheless, it was somewhat surprising that the entrepreneur wants to bind Green voters to the CDU through the newly founded association Klima-Union. Those people are „so concerned about the climate protection issue that they have migrated to a party with which they otherwise have little connection“. By this he means the Greens. He and his fellow campaigners want to bring these people back to a convincing and ambitious climate protection policy. He criticised that „the climate protection movement has tilted to the left“ and „offers no platform to concerned citizens“. oldenburger-onlinezeitung.de , spiegel.de, welt.de
US infrastructure package: US President Joe Biden wants to invest 2.25 trillion dollars in new infrastructure, jobs and more climate protection. To do so, however, the US president needs the approval of the Senate, where the Democrats have half the votes and the Republican opposition rejects the programme as too big and too expensive. One way out of the situation would be to integrate it into a budget bill, for which a simple majority would suffice. As US Vice President, Kamala Harris is also President of the Senate and can break a stalemate with her vote in favour of the Democrats. taz.de, arte.tv
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Die Kraft der Verantwortung – Über eine Haltung mit Zukunft
There is constant talk of responsibility. But what drives us to take responsibility, how does it work and where may it end? The philosopher Ina Schmidt dedicates a groundbreaking fundamental presentation to this attitude, which is as necessary as it is satisfying. Whether it’s about the climate, politics, work or relationships: responsible action is required in all our life contexts. This can be a burden, Schmidt analyses, but it is also an expression of self-efficacy and the basis of good coexistence: a source of strength for the individual and the community. Ina Schmidt sheds light on what constitutes responsibility, how it is motivated and how it relates to other values and goals. She defines the perception of closeness as the centre of responsible action. Responsibility thus proves to be a personal attitude and the basis of essential decisions, but at the same time also a global political force that bridges spatial and temporal distanc
By understanding the power of responsibility in the interplay of critical thinking, emotional intuition and courageous action, Ina Schmidt opens a path that frees us from discomfort and excessive demands. For she is convinced: if responsibility leads us to benevolent concern, the future can succeed. koerber-stiftung.de
Companies and associations: 40 organisations want to set a kick-off impulse for the discussion on energy and climate policy in the next legislative period. geb-info.de
Local species: Particularly threatened with extinction. sueddeutsche.de
Distribution battle ahead: The Greens call for an investing state. But where will the money come from? freitag.de
North Sea and Baltic Sea: Things are getting tight for offshore. welt.de
Swine fever: East German farmers demand support. tagesspiegel.de
Greenland: Left wins elections, mining projects for rare earths on the brink. sueddeutsche.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.
Court of Auditors harshly criticises federal government’s rail policy: A confidential report gives the federal government a poor report card. Regulation does not promote competition and hinders the transport turnaround. tagesspiegel.de
Commuter risk pedelec: Commuters are using bicycles for ever longer journeys: In the pandemic, they are avoiding buses and trains, and e-bikes are also making long-distance journeys easier. But the cities are ill-prepared for this. spiegel.de
Scheuer stands up for car industry in Brussels: Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer wants the EU Commission to show more consideration for the car industry. „One should be bold in the specifications, but keep in mind the principle of what is technically possible. We must not lose the car industry in Europe, because otherwise it will go elsewhere. “ It is obvious that the opposition in the Bundestag naturally sees this differently. It accused the Federal Minister of Transport of a false indulgence towards the car industry. The federal government, it said, must „give up its resistance to the perspective end of the internal combustion engine. „handelsblatt.com
Cycling is good for the environment – even compared to e-cars: apart from the health factor, where cycling is unbeatable, cycling saves up to ten times more CO2 Emissions compared to e-cars, scientists have now determined in a recently published study. Over a period of two years, Sue interviewed 4,000 people in London, Antwerp, Barcelona, Vienna, Örebro, Rome and Zurich about their daily transport behaviour and means of transport and calculated the emissions caused. The result: CO2 emissions from cycling are 30 times lower than those from a diesel or petrol-powered car and ten times lower than from an electric car – taking into account purchase costs, disposal costs and service life. sciencedirect.com
Tesla takes a stand on approval procedures: The German environmental aid organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe has filed a climate protection case against the German government regarding the construction of the electric vehicle factory in Grünheide. Tesla is demanding a change in the approval procedures for factories and plants that contribute to the reduction of CO2 Emissions. The company’s arguments: in achieving German climate protection goals, not only local environmental impacts should be considered, but also global and supra-regional ones. „Accelerating the global energy and transport transition is an extremely urgent challenge,“ Tesla said in the letter. rbb24.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG:
Illegal trade in fluorinated greenhouse gases: The Federal Government wants to combat the illegal trade in fluorinated greenhouse gases. To this end, it has submitted a draft of a Third Act to amend the Chemicals Act (19/28181), which the Bundestag is to refer to the Environment Committee for further discussion without debate on Thursday, 15 April 2021. Climate-damaging fluorinated greenhouse gases and products are illegally placed on the market to an extent that cannot be quantified in detail, but which is apparently considerable, it says in justification. This illegal trade poses the risk that the quota system of the EU F-Gas Regulation for partly fluorinated hydrocarbons (HFCs) is undermined and that more HFCs are emitted than foreseen in the Regulation. The amendment to the Chemicals Act is intended to prohibit, among other things, the further sale and purchase of products and equipment containing fluorinated greenhouse gases that have been placed on the market in violation of EU regulations.
Better insect protection: The protection of insects is the aim of the draft Third Act to amend the Federal Nature Conservation Act (19/28182) submitted by the Federal Government. The draft law is based on the Insect Protection Action Programme adopted by the Federal Cabinet in September 2019, with which the Federal Government has set itself the task of comprehensively combating insect mortality. Insects are an integral part of biological diversity and play an important role in ecosystems, writes the Federal Government in justification. However, both the total mass of insects and the diversity of species have declined sharply in recent decades. In order to improve the living conditions of insects, the rapid implementation of concrete measures is necessary. Among other things, the bill aims at curbing light pollution and expanding the list of legally protected biotopes. On Thursday, 15 April 2021, it is to be referred by the Bundestag without debate to the Environment Committee, which is the lead committee.
Environmental Statistics Act to be amended: In order to meet the changed requirements of the European Union for reporting on environmental issues, the Environmental Statistics Act is to be revised. The draft of a First Act to Amend the Environmental Statistics Act and Other Acts (19/28180) is on the agenda of the Bundestag plenary on 15 April and is then to be referred to the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety for further discussion without debate. The planned amendments relate to waste statistics, water management statistics and environmental-economic accounting. The amendments are necessary because since the last amendment of the Environmental Statistics Act in 2017, new legal bases of the EU have come into force, which require the Member States to change their data delivery to the EU.
Country noises and country smells: The Federal Government has no information on the number of complaints filed or decided by residents in rural areas against typical country noises and country smells, nor on legally stopped stable construction projects. This is stated in an answer (19/27612) of the Federal Government to a minor question (19/27366) of the AfD parliamentary group. It goes on to say that, in principle, a corresponding breakdown can only be given by the Land judicial administrations.
Carbon Leakage Avoidance – Ordinance presented: The Federal Government wants to prevent companies from relocating their production abroad in order to escape the CO2 pricing in the transport and heat sectors that has been in force in Germany since the beginning of 2021. To this end, the Federal Government has now sent the Ordinance on Measures to Avoid Carbon Leakage through National Fuel Emissions Trading (19/28163) to the Bundestag. The ordinance is based on the power to issue ordinances under section 11(3) of the Fuel Emissions Trading Act (BEHG). It implements a key issues paper of the Federal Government and also takes into account a resolution adopted by the Bundestag in October 2020. It provides for compensation measures for companies that are particularly affected by the CO2 price and are therefore at risk of relocating abroad, where this CO2 price is not levied. The basis for assessing the risks of relocation is the EU emissions trading sector list. In addition, the regulation contains the possibility to identify further sectors with a carbon leakage risk in a downstream assessment procedure.
Green Innovation Centre in Berlin: According to the Federal Government, the training courses offered by the Green Innovation Centre include a combination of technical and entrepreneurial content. Measures to teach good agricultural practice are geared towards the rice, soya and poultry value chains, it writes in an answer (19/27953) to a minor question (19/26992) from the AfD parliamentary group. They would be complemented by „agro-ecologically sensible measures“, such as the application of innovative fertilisers and nutrients, or the so-called „SMART Valley Approach“ for intensive rice cultivation. This agro-ecological and climate-smart method leads to a halving of the consumption of water, seeds, fertilisers and expensive pesticides and reduces the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. In addition, the farmers would acquire basic entrepreneurial skills to run their farms cost-efficiently. The German government emphasises that the Benin Green Innovation Centre contributes to a number of sustainable development goals.
„The Corona crisis is actually kindergarten when we consider what is coming from the climate crisis. That is, if we don’t stop this and do business as usual, temperatures will rise by three, four or even five degrees Celsius towards the end of the century. That’s the world average.“
Volker Quaschning, Professor of Renewable Energy Systems at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. … We in Germany would expect even higher increases over land. That means it could even reach six or eight degrees. As a result, sooner or later we could forget about agriculture in large areas of Germany. We would lose the forest, and sooner or later the coastal cities as well. And if we were to look at what is heading for us worldwide, in the end – as some scientific studies would show – the destruction of human civilisation is really realistic. If you simply look at this potential damage, then you can say that Corona is a crisis, yes, but we should learn from it. We see that we are getting through the Corona crisis very, very badly because we are simply not well prepared, we are always just driving by sight and not tackling the problems in the long term. The mistakes we made in the Corona crisis should not be repeated in the climate crisis. deutschlandfunk.de
Good for people and the environment: sponge farming on Zanzibar. swr.de
Energy crisis in South Africa: Energy is a precious commodity at the Cape of Good Hope. For years now, South Africa has been rationing with shutdown plans. Now there is an idea that giant generator ships could provide relief. One plan is to anchor three giant generator ships off ports near Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. They are to convert liquefied gas into electricity. The contract is to run for 20 years and cost South Africa 218 billion rand – a good twelve billion euros. Environmental groups are already up in arms. tagesschau.de
Botswana issues new licences for trophy hunting: Botswana’s government has issued a hundred new licences for the controversial trophy hunting of elephants. Kabelo Senyatso, the director of the National Parks Authority, confirmed that a total of 287 pachyderms had been licensed for the start of the hunting season. Botswana has an elephant population of 130,000. derstandard.at
France’s role in the Rwandan genocide: The whole truth is still not on the table. With the report and the opening of its archives on the genocide in Rwanda, France has made a start towards transparency and coming to terms with the past after two and a half decades of cover-up, comments Bettina Rühl. However, another step is necessary to achieve reconciliation with the African country. deutschlandfunk.de
Greentec in Africa: These founders are turning climate protection in Africa into a profitable business. Torsten and Aida Schreiber have a mission: they want to supply three million people in sub-Saharan Africa with solar power. To do so, they are taking some risks. handelsblatt.com
Cairo: celebrates procession of 22 pharaoh mummies with „golden parade“. derstandard.at
Benin: A self-made man as head of state. No more rubbish on the streets, no more opposition in parliament: President Patrice Talon has cleaned up Benin. Now he wants to continue governing. taz.de
Elections in Djibouti: President Ismaël Omar Guelleh rules Djibouti unrestricted and unchallenged. nzz.ch
Violence in Mozambique: The breeding ground of violence in Mozambique. Once the cradle of the revolution against the Portuguese, the now terrorism-ridden region is now the source of resistance against the government. derstandard.at
Nile Dam: For years it has been a source of dispute between the Nile riparians Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. An agreement on the large-scale project is finally to be reached in Kinshasa. dw.com
Tanzania: New President in Tanzania: New start with a clear edge. Fighting corruption and Corona: Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan cracks down on powerful men in her entourage. taz.de
Power Purchase Agreements: Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are still a young marketing instrument for renewable energies in Germany. These long-term electricity supply contracts are increasingly becoming an option for operators of renewable energy plants in Germany in the course of the upcoming post-EEG phase. PPAs can also be interesting for new plants and are therefore more than just a post-EEG option. euwid-energie.de
Research on Greenland: 500,000 years ago it was much warmer on Greenland than it is today. Research into the past is also important for answering questions about the future. Scientists use the knowledge gained to look back hundreds of thousands of years and find out more about the course of past climate warming. One question in particular concerns researchers: What can we expect when the phenomena of the warm period and man-made global warming coincide? derstandard.at
Wobbling particles: The wobbling of a particle called a muon proves: The standard model of physics does not constitute reality. Muons are created when other particles collide, they are heavier than electrons and could shake the standard model of physics. A measurement of these particles at Fermilab in Chicago has physicists worldwide in a tizzy. zeit.de
Sri Lanka: Stop palm oil production and import. spiegel.de
Cambodia: Land grabbing and no charges. klimareporter.de
Forester: Walks 6000 kilometres through the forest to draw attention to climate change. ard.de
Paris: Suffering from pandemic and littering. pnn.de
Cheap meat – who pays for the small prices?
Germans enjoy cheap meat – rarely have they spent less money on food . To understand the conditions under which beef is produced in South America, the „betrifft“ team travels to Brazil. The country, which has more cattle than people, is one of the biggest meat producers on the international market. The basis for its success is cheap grazing land. But while strict environmental standards apply to farmers in the EU, cheap meat is still produced in Brazil at the expense of people, animals and the environment – rainforests are burnt down and valuable wetlands destroyed. Now in the ARD-Mediathek
Clubhouse Talk: 1.3 million user-related data of the social media platform Clubhouse have been published on a hacker platform. Data protectionists had pointed out the platform’s data protection problems several times. The stolen data includes, among other things, user IDs, names, photo URLs, user profile names, number of followers and follows as well as the date of account creation and the profile names of the users from whom the invitation to Clubhouse came. Even though sensitive data such as email addresses, phone numbers or credit card information are not supposed to be affected, the attackers can fabricate targeted pishing emails or use them for identity theft. cybernews.com
All images, unless otherwise stated: pixabay.com
You are receiving this newsletter because you are interested in environmental and sustainable issues.