FAIReconomics Newsletter week 16/21
USA and China want to work together to combat global warming: Despite other political fault lines, at least on climate change the USA and China want to work together. In a statement, both countries have now announced their intention to push ahead with a joint climate policy. Both countries are committed to „cooperating with each other and with other countries to address the climate crisis“, it says. This task deserves „seriousness and urgency“. To this end, renewable energies are to be expanded and climate protection in buildings, transport and agriculture is to be advanced. Both states and economies aim for a climate-neutral economy and want to stabilise global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible. „It is a clear commitment by both states to cooperate on climate protection,“ writes Li Shuo, climate and energy expert at Greenpeace China. sueddeutsche.de , welt.de , sueddeutsche.de, state.gov (original document)
Climate violations should become justiciable as ecocide: A growing movement is calling for violations of the Paris Climate Agreement to be brought to justice. The biggest obstacle to the Paris Agreement is that it is voluntary; no state or company has yet been prosecuted for missing or failing to meet its plans. Activists now want to define „ecocide“ as the fifth crime against peace – to indict environmental destroyers in The Hague. spiegel.de.
Only three percent of the earth’s surface is ecologically intact.
In particular, parts of the Russian tundra, but also the Congo Basin and the Amazon or are included. These include parts of the Congo Basin, the Amazon, the Russian tundra or some deserts such as the Sahara. Only ten per cent of these areas are under nature conservation. spektrum.de
Agreement between agriculture and environment ministries on agricultural subsidies: An agreement on the controversial agricultural subsidies has been reached by Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) and Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD). Time was pressing, because without this agreement Germany would have been threatened with fines by the EU. Agriculture is one of the biggest climate polluters. Now farmers will be subject to more environmental regulations. The compromise between the two ministries provides that in future a significantly larger share of the six billion euros per year that flow to Germany will be tied to environmental services. The EU Commission still has to approve the German plan. deutschlandfunk.de , handelsblatt.com
Appeal to Biden: MEPs and business leaders have appealed to US President Joe Biden to halve the United States‘ greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2005. Last Tuesday, around 100 signatories launched this appeal against the backdrop of this week’s climate summit. Experts expect the summit convened by Biden on 22 and 23 April to announce a new climate target. t-online.de
Reallabor für klimaneutrale Energieversorgung: (Reallabor for climate-neutral energy supply) starts: The North German Reallabor for the transformation of the energy system receives 52 million euros in funding; the handover of the funding decision was the starting signal, so to speak. The federal states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, together with more than 50 partners from business, science and politics, now want to set the course for a climate-neutral energy supply for industry, heat and transport over the next five years. 300 million euros in investments are planned, in which green hydrogen in particular will play an important role. In addition, half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide CO2 are to be saved annually. zeit.de
Millions of tonnes of ammunition in Germany’s seas: Around 1.6 million tonnes of ammunition remnants from the world wars lie in the North and Baltic Seas. Researchers fear major environmental damage, but salvage would be possible, but it costs a lot of money and there is a confusion of competences. tagesspiegel.de
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Robert Kochs Affe
Der grandiose Irrtum des berühmten Seuchenarztes
Robert Koch invented his science of bacteria as an all-out war against the unclean. Everything that is foreign is unclean. And the unclean foreign is contagious. Contagion produces infected masses. The contaminated masses revolt. Thus pestilence and insurrection are of the same terrible flesh. Three episodes tell how such an attitude arises in clean Berlin at the beginning of the 20th century, and to what inhuman consequences it inevitably leads. The sick, rebellious Africa, for Koch the unclean par excellence, has to be cleaned up with human experiments in concentration camps. In New York, the fight against epidemics according to his principles proves to be a breeding instrument against all those who unconvincingly cling to the hope of a better life. Now Koch himself begins to have doubts
Japan: Earliest cherry blossom in 1200 years. taz.de.
Timber construction: Booming industry with consequences. zdf. de
Sustainable development: Living in a two-ton CO2 world. blog-bpoe.com
100 percent eco-energies are feasible: A global energy system with 100 percent eco-energies is feasible and even cheaper than our current energy system. fr.de
No right to cheap meat: Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner rejects upper limits in factory farming, saying that one figure is not enough. zeit.de
New Deputy Director-General: Mechthild Wörnsdorfer becomes Deputy Director-General of the EU Commission’s Energy Department (DG Ener). energate-messenger.de
The seventeeen goals Magazin reports inspiring stories about how people move the world and shows how everyone can make a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Federal funding for the expansion of charging infrastructure: The Federal Government wants to support the nationwide and demand-oriented development of publicly accessible infrastructure for the fast charging of pure battery electric vehicles by providing financial resources. The bill presented for this purpose “ on the provision of nationwide fast charging infrastructure for pure battery electric vehicles“ (Fast Charging Act) (19/28184) is on the agenda of the Bundestag on Thursday. In order to achieve a speedy, nationwide expansion of infrastructure, the instrument of tendering has proven to be the most reliable measure, writes the Federal Government. The tendering process, which is regulated in broad outline in this law, is intended to ensure the reliable development and operation of the fast-charging infrastructure at uniform, user-friendly conditions. The expansion of the fast-charging infrastructure represents a public task against the backdrop of the partly foresighted oversizing and area coverage, the execution of which is to be carried out by private operators.
EU Commission must finally deliver: VDA President Hildegard Müller calls on the EU Commission to show greater commitment to the development of a charging infrastructure for e-cars. welt.de
Digitalisation on the railways is stalling: The so-called „fast-track programme“, with which Deutsche Bahn wants to digitise conventional interlocking technology together with the federal government and industry, is not making any progress. Initially, only seven regional lines can be equipped with digital interlocking technology in 2021. As of November 2020, 13 relevant pilot projects were actually planned. heise.de
Criticism of Tesla for the environment: Tesla is building its latest factory in Brandenburg at breathtaking speed. Yet all this is only possible because of provisional approvals based on the Federal Immission Control Act. The law is actually supposed to protect the environment from harmful influences. Tesla boss Elon Musk is still going too slowly. tagesspiegel.de
Cargo bikes are becoming more popular: demand is growing and changing, and rental companies in particular are booming in big cities. But start-ups and municipalities are also ready to enter the market. . „Especially now with Corona, this boom is so big that this can become part of the provision of public services for many municipalities – in rural regions, but also in cities,“ says Anita Benassi from the „Transportrad Initiative Nachhaltiger Kommunen“ (TINK) enorm-magazin.de
Mobility in German cities: Will self-driving cars already be rolling by 2022? n-tv.de
Mobile phone data evaluated – This is how Corona affects our mobility: Only a few days ago, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) called for a massive restriction of our mobility to break the third Corona wave. But how much do we move here in the region at all? The mobile phone data of all cities and districts provide information. nordbayern.de
Promotion of cycling in Germany: According to the Federal Government, the financial assistance for the special programme „City and Country“, which provides financial support for investments in the federal states and municipalities for the further development of cycling on site, can be called up since 25 January 2021. As of 2 March 2021, a total of 131 measures related to the programme had been submitted by the Länder to the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG), which are also listed in the annex, according to the government’s answer (19/27744) to a minor question by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/27042). The answer also provides information on projects from other federal cycling funding programmes, such as the „Cycling Network Germany“ programme.
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
Greens want higher contribution of the German government to international climate financing: The Alliance 90/Greens parliamentary group wants the German government to significantly increase its contributions to the United Nations Climate Fund and to support international climate financing with a net amount of eight billion euros annually by 2025 at the latest. In a corresponding motion (19/28474), the parliamentary group also calls for the coalition to advocate the creation of a polluter-pays fund at the international level. It should enable a „fair distribution of the burden“ to compensate for damage and losses in the countries of the Global South. In addition to industrialised countries and countries with comparable responsibility for the climate crisis, fossil fuel companies should also pay into this fund in the medium term. Climate financing should not be provided at the expense of development financing for other needs in the poorer countries, the Greens write in the justification of the motion. „Global justice and international climate protection can be combined with a sound budgetary policy and must not be played off against each other“, they are convinced. In addition to the classic budgetary means, innovative financing instruments should also be examined.
Contaminated sites on land: The FDP parliamentary group wants to know how many contaminated sites and how many suspected contaminated sites there are in Germany in a small question (19/28291). In addition, it demands information from the federal government on the duration of legal disputes concerning suspected contaminated sites. Finally, the FDP parliamentary group asks how it is ensured „that citizens who have become owners of a contaminated site through no fault of their own and have built their house on it do not lose their property or their economic livelihood“.
Beaver protection questioned: Critical questions about the protection of beavers are raised by the FDP parliamentary group in a small question (19/28290) entitled „Contemporary beaver management“. Although about 40,000 beavers now live in Germany again, the rodent is still listed in Annex IV of the Flora-Fauna-Habitat Directive (FFH Directive), the Liberals state. This Annex lists animal and plant species that must be strictly protected. Among other things, the FDP parliamentary group would like to know from the federal government whether it sees a possibility to delete the beaver from Annex IV of the Habitats Directive and whether it plans to include the beaver in the Federal Hunting Act.
No findings on farm noise and odours: The Federal Government does not have any 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 small 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.
Regional marketing and production structure: Direct agricultural marketers are important for the further development of economically stable regional production, marketing and supply structures. The strengthening of regional marketing is linked to open and credible consumer information, according to an answer (19/28256) of the Federal Government to a small question (19/27468) of the FDP parliamentary group. It goes on to say that measures have been taken in this area with the information services of the Federal Centre for Nutrition and the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture. In order to identify the regional origin of a food product in a transparent and credible way, the regional window was developed on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The regional window could be used by regional producers, manufacturers and traders to credibly prove the regional origin of products for the customer and to improve their marketing.
Hydrogen regulations controversial: Numerous critical comments on planned legal requirements around the development of a hydrogen infrastructure shaped an expert hearing in the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy chaired by Klaus Ernst (Die Linke). The subject was the Federal Government’s draft law „on the implementation of EU legal requirements and the regulation of pure hydrogen networks in energy industry law“ (19/27453) as well as a motion by the FDP parliamentary group (19/27819) entitled: „For a coordinated energy transition – thinking hydrogen holistically“. bundestag.de
Experts call for higher reusable rates for packaging: A majority of experts in the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety have spoken out in favour of extending the mandatory deposit on beverage packaging and promoting the reusable system. In a public hearing on Wednesday, they welcomed by a majority the draft law on the implementation of requirements of the Single-Use Plastics Directive and the Waste Framework Directive in the Packaging Act and other laws (19/27634). In the hearing, which was chaired by Sylvia Kotting-Uhl (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), the chair of the committee, criticism of individual points was voiced. The draft law aims to implement the requirements of the EU Directive 2019/904 as closely as possible into national law and to develop the Packaging Act ecologically. In doing so, the volume of waste is to be reduced, especially in the case of disposable plastic packaging in the food sector. In addition, the operators of electronic marketplaces are to be held more accountable. bundestag.de
Health damage from pollutants in plastic: „Alongside the climate crisis and the massive loss of biodiversity, pollutants are the third major environmental crisis of our time,“ said Alexandra Caterbow of the health and environmental organisation HEJSupport on Wednesday evening during a public expert discussion of the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development on the topic of „Synthetic Substances in the Environment – Effects of Plastics and Chemicals on Humans and Ecosystems“. The production of chemicals and plastics will double in a very short time, the expert announced. The dangerous chemicals among them, which also exist in plastic, lead to massive health problems, such as various types of cancer, infertility, developmental disorders and allergies, as well as to massive environmental problems, such as the contamination of rivers, oceans, soils and animal populations. bundestag.de
„Every pub owner around the corner is responsible if he makes a bad investment. I would say that building a coal-fired power plant in 2015 or even later is a bad investment. The companies themselves are responsible for that and have to bear the risks. As I said, climate change has not just been an issue since yesterday. I find it unbelievable that the public sector has to compensate these corporations. „
Pia Eberhard, an expert on investment agreements at the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory, said that in Germany, too, the Energy Charter Treaty would have made the coal phase-out, which is supposed to be completed by 2038, more expensive. In the phase-out agreement between the federal government and the German coal-fired power plant operators, it had been agreed, for example, that LEAG, operator of the Lausitz coalfield, would receive 1.7 billion euros in compensation from the German state. That is about 50 times as much as was recommended as compensation in an expert report for the Federal Ministry of Economics. Why this high sum? For Pia Eberhardt, the answer can be read in the exit agreement: On a whole page, LEAG and other coal companies like RWE waived the fact that they will sue the German government for the coal phase-out in the future on the basis of the Energy Charter Treaty. deutschlandfunk.de
„The EU taxonomy is important because it generally directs capital flows towards sustainable investment objects. And of course the critics are right. The taxonomy lives on its credibility and it should definitely be prevented that dirty projects are allowed to adorn themselves with a green taxonomy label.“
Matthias Willenbacher, energy transition pioneer and entrepreneur with a passion, as he himself says, … the taxonomy should not be overrated either. Just because certain practices were wrongly declared sustainable in the taxonomy does not mean that the future belongs to them. Nuclear energy, CCS and large natural gas power plants are yesterday’s news because they fail both ecologically and economically. The future is decentralised, not only because decentralisation brings great social advantages – key words: participation, regional value creation – but also because a decentralised energy supply will simply be cheaper, and the energy turnaround can be implemented much faster decentrally. Investors would also recognise this, even if the big tankers always had a preference for large-scale projects. But here, too, we have long had the means to counteract this, for example through crowd investing. Then the formula would be: decentralised, participatory investments for a decentralised, participatory future. That would make sense. klimareporter.de
Climate change will be decided in Africa: In his book Rethinking 2020, Development Minister Müller presents a concept in which he combines saving the world’s climate with impulses for Africa’s economy. The hydrogen economy will play a decisive role in this. freitag.de
Species conservation in Africa: Cheetahs concentrate a good part of their activities in small areas where they exchange information. This can help defuse conflicts between predators and farmers. spektrum.de
Better through the crisis: The fact that the African continent has so far come through the Corona crisis better than expected has also surprised experts. The number of infections remained well below the forecasts. And the economic slump has also been limited so far.
The slump in gross domestic product (GDP) last year was a little more than two percent. In contrast, the decline in GDP in Europe was seven percent. fair-ecomomics.de
Benin: Benin’s president re-elected: Victory without glamour. Benin’s head of state Patrice Talon is confirmed in office with 86 percent. But only half of Benin’s eligible voters went to the polls. taz.de
Democratic Republic of Congo: New government, old violence. With his new government, Congo’s President Tshisekedi has scored a point victory in the power struggle with predecessor Kabila. He cited security in the east of the country, where new violence is flaring up, as a priority. dw.com
Somalia’s president extends own term: Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has signed a controversial law allowing him to stay in office for two years longer. The upper house was bypassed in the process. The USA is considering sanctions. dw.com
Sudan: The murder of a 13-year-old girl drives women in Sudan onto the streets. Two years after the fall of the dictator, Islamists continue to influence women’s daily lives. During protests against domestic violence, women demonstrators are now said to have been attacked. nzz.ch
Tanzania: The people hope for „Mama Samia“ Her predecessor denied Corona and probably died as a result. Now, Africa’s only female head of government is taking over in Tanzania: Samia Suluhu Hassan. She is making a dramatic political U-turn. spiegel.de
Tunisia: The Tunisian people are still waiting for the return of Ben Ali’s assets Entangled structures and political disputes in Tunisia are preventing the return of assets from the time of the dictatorship. Billions of euros from the entourage of Ben Ali, who was overthrown in 2011, are still abroad. nzz.ch
Central African Republic: How Russia is using mercenaries and weapons to gain influence in the CAR. In the Central African Republic, the government is also relying on Russian mercenaries in the fight against rebels. UN experts now accuse them of human rights violations – but Moscow does not want to know anything about it. dw.com
Chimeric embryo research – breaking a taboo? Two years ago, there was already a heated debate in the scientific world, but also in society, when the Spanish scientist Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte reported that he had grown human-ape embryos, some of which developed for more than two weeks in Petri dishes. Now, together with an international team of scientists, he has gone one step further. A total of 132 embryos were combined with human stem cells. In the process, the stem cells „integrated“ into different cell layers of the chimeras and thus contributed to essential developmental steps. The majority of these embryos developed for another nine days in the Petri dish. After ten days, 103 of the chimeric embryos were apparently still developing. After that, the survival rate dropped sharply. derstandard.at
How rain can lead to earthquakes: It sounds a bit unbelievable, but in some regions of the world earthquakes occur more frequently at certain times of the year. A recent study from Taiwan now suggests that this could be related to seasonal fluctuations in precipitation. The scientists analysed data from the years 2002 to 2018. The connection is particularly clear in western Taiwan. There, the shocks are more frequent in late winter and spring; they are less frequent in summer. The opposite is true for rainfall. Around 70 per cent of the annual rainfall occurs between May and September, mainly due to the monsoon and passing typhoons. tagesspiegel.de
Where the vultures circle lies lithium: For some time now, black vultures have been considered one of the endangered bird species. Around the Spanish town of Cáceres in the structurally weak Estremadura, nature conservation and industrial interest are now clashing strongly. A small chain of hills near the city has been placed under protection because of the importance of the nesting sites of various rare bird species. Of all places, Europe’s second largest lithium deposit is believed to be located here. A joint venture called Tecnologia Extremeña del Litio wants to mine the coveted metal in an open pit and process it on site into lithium hydroxide suitable for batteries. freitag.de
India: Controversial agricultural reform. taz.de
(Kurzarbeit) Short-time work: Too little used for further training. fair-economics.de
Success story: How the ibex was threatened with extinction. sueddeutsche.de
Climate-friendly condoms: Because young people are interested in both climate protection and sex, a Hamburg-based start-up has developed a business idea from this. Releaf GmbH sold its first condoms a year ago. For every condom sold, a tree is planted in developing countries, according to the founder’s business idea. It is the only company that plants trees by selling condoms that are also produced vegan and fairly. The rubber is grown by small farmers in Thailand and processed into latex there. The German company Richter Rubber Technology in Malaysia produces the condoms. However, according to founder Bennett Müllem, production in Germany is too high because of the cost structures. The condoms can be bought in Germany and in 13 European countries. faz.net