FAIReconomics Newsletter week 17/ 2020                                         To the German version

Europe – the Green Deal and the double booster: The European Commission has revised its work programme for 2020 in response to the coronavirus crisis. Although climate policy is expected to remain broadly on track, individual Green Deal initiatives will be delayed as they are considered „less essential“. The pressure of the Corona crisis is also reaching the work programme of the European Commission. In order to „free up capacity“ the work programme for 2020 will be updated and published on 29th April. But also in Germany the Green Way is seen as a way out of the corona recession. Experts at the „Agora Energiewende“, for example, are proposing a €100 billion package to put energy supply, industry, transport, buildings and infrastructure on a green growth path. This would then pave the way for climate neutrality. The authors call their impulse paper a „double booster“.  „We have to invest in such a way that we keep climate neutrality in mind in 2050. This is the only way to avoid bad investments that could trigger the next economic crisis, says Patrick Graichen, head of Agora Energiewende. euractiv.de taz.de
Link between COVID-19 and environmental pollution: For the novel coronavirus (SARS CoV-2), scientists do not assume that transport via fine dusts is relevant for infectivity. Nevertheless, air quality also plays a role in connection with COVID-19, because air pollution increases the sensitivity of lung cells to infectious particles such as bacteria and viruses. It is noticeable that in areas heavily affected by severe COVID-19 infections, high levels of particulate matter and NO2 pollution were sometimes prevalent until the drastic restrictions on public life led to a very significant reduction in air pollution. umweltbundesamt.de
Coronavirus burdens poor countries: The World Bank fears that the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic will wipe out all progress made by poorer countries. Fast action is needed, World Bank head David Malpass said at the spring meeting via video conference. The World Bank wants to make 160 billion dollars (147 billion euros) available to poor countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America over the next 15 months to cushion the consequences of the pandemic. afp.com

By 9.3 million barrels per day, the demand for oil is expected to collapse this year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) explained that mobility has almost come to a standstill as a result of the corona measures taken by many countries around the world. The current April is likely to be particularly hard hit by the corona crisis. Experts assume that oil production will be an average of 29 million barrels per day lower than in April 2019, which is almost one third of global consumption. bizz-energy.com

Citizens stand by the energy revolution: Appearances are deceptive, even if certain citizens‘ initiatives demonstrate against all forms of renewable energies, criticise costs or sue against wind turbines, a survey by the Potsdam Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) shows that approval of renewables has grown compared to the previous year. „A clear majority of those surveyed see energy system transformation as a joint task to which everyone in society should make a contribution,“ the study states.  82 percent of those surveyed stand by this statement. The most important challenge is the financial participation of the communities in the sales of the turbines or the possibility of participating in wind projects themselves. The minimum distance between wind turbines and residential buildings is not a priority for the respondents. sueddeutsche.deiass-potsam.de , Originaldokument
Record levels of deforestation in Brazil: The Amazon rainforest suffered particularly badly in the first quarter of this year. According to figures from the Brazilian space research institute INPE, almost 800 square kilometres of rainforest were cleared. This is 52 percent more than in the same period last year. In addition, the coronavirus severely limits the prosecution of illegal logging, as the employees of the organizations responsible for prosecution belong to the risk group for Covid-19 due to their age. Furthermore, restrictions on air traffic make it impossible to control more remote areas at all. klimareporter.de
Call for sustainable recovery: Covid-19 will not make climate change and the destruction of nature disappear,“ says a newspaper ad that appeared in newspapers in France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Slovakia. Some 200 politicians, company bosses, trade union representatives and non-governmental organisations are calling for a „green recovery“ after the Corona crisis. They want to see the fight against climate change as a central point of the EU’s future economic strategy. The campaign was initiated by French MEP Pascal Canfin from the party of French President Emmanuel Macron. Meanwhile, 78 MEPs and members of government from 11 EU countries have joined, mostly from social democratic, liberal and green parties including SPD environment minister Svenja Schulze. But also heads of companies such as Unilever, E.ON, L’Oreal, Danone, Coca Cola, H&M, Volvo, Microsoft, Renault and Ikea have signed up. tagesschau.de,   dlf.de

Going Green – Warum man nicht perfekt sein muss, um das Klima zu schützen
Climate-friendly travel, waste-free shopping, organic food, saving energy – where should you start if you want to live sustainably?
This was the challenge facing RTL’s „Explosive“ presenter Janine Steeger when she began her journey into a green life in 2011. Authentic, honest and with a great deal of humor, she tells of obstacles and conflicts, but also of many a pleasant surprise that the leap into a new life brought with it. Her story shows that we do not have to be perfect to protect the climate – a first step is enough. Janine Steeger was the face of the RTL show „Explosiv – Das Magazin“ for a long time. In 2015 she quit her former dream job. Since then she has been working as a freelance presenter, speaker and media trainer with a focus on environmental protection and sustainability. In 2018, she launched the site futurewoman.de to introduce women who, with their work and knowledge, contribute to keeping our planet livable.  oekom.de

Milk prices: Broke in because of Corona.. sueddeutsche.de
Ice Melt: High pressure areas over Greenland try record ice loss. br.de
Corona crisis: Social enterprise on the brink of collapse.  tagesschau.de
Chernobyl forest: First fire-fighting successes.tagesspiegel.de
Waste volumes in Germany: Rise by 20 percent in the corona crisis. fair-economics.de 
France: Nuclear power plants may be shut down. stuttgarter-nachrichten.de
New opencast mine: A new lignite mine is to be developed in Poland. klimareporter.de
Lego bricks: Weathering process in the sea between 100 and 1,300 years. derstandard.at
Lack of chargepoints:  The number of electric cars will continue to rise and the EU’s climate targets will not be met. However, it is already foreseeable that the necessary charging points will then be lacking according to dena’s calculations. This applies in particular to cities and conurbations sueddeutsche.de
Corona – More space for bicycles: Berlin is rebuilding its streets during the Corona crisis. The aim: more space for cyclists and pedestrians to protect them. But not everyone in Germany, the country of motorists, is enthusiastic. The city’s infrastructure is still primarily geared towards the car. In many places the sidewalks are narrow and there is no cycle path, but the car is allowed two lanes and another parking lane. And often I find myself as a cyclist next to big 40 ton trucks and hope that I am not overlooked when turning off. dw.com

Collapse of the car markets: In March, a good 55 percent fewer new vehicles were sold throughout the EU, as the European Automobile Manufacturers Association ACEA announced on Friday. The slump was particularly drastic in Italy, with a good 85 percent. In Germany there were 38 percent fewer new registrations, as the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) announced in Berlin. At Volkswagen, Europe’s largest manufacturer, the decline was a good 46 percent according to ACEA. A total of 567,000 new vehicles were registered in the EU in March. Apart from Italy, France and Spain were particularly affected by the decline in sales: In France, sales slumped by a good 72 percent, in Spain by 69 percent. Due to the strict hygiene regulations, „the vast majority of dealerships across Europe were closed in the second half of March“, ACEA emphasised. afp.com

Diesel scandal: Daimler approaches plaintiffs in diesel scandal. handelsblatt.com
Air traffic: Frankfurt Airport is still very busy. faz.net
Gigafactory water consumption: Tesla changes design of the factory. automobilwoche.de
Mindset change: Positive echo when switching to e-bike: „Our car is now rusting“ zeit.de
End: Allianz discontinues used car marketplace Abracar. deutsche-startups.de
Heavy metals in vaccines: The Group of the European United Left has tabled a minor question (19/18404) on measures to be taken against heavy metal contamination of vaccines. In this question, it would like to find out from the Federal Government, among other things, what it knows about the fact that more heavy metals have been detected in some vaccines than in others and that many batches of vaccines have not been released by the responsible Paul Ehrlich Institute due to heavy metal contamination.
Green Citizen Energy Programme: According to the German government, the new Green Citizen Energy Programme is intended to promote a decentralised energy supply from renewable energies in numerous African countries. Some of the measures have already been started, others will be started successively, she reports in an answer (19/18325) to a minor question (19/17555) of the AfD faction. As of 10 March 2020, around 70 companies and ten energy partnerships were being supported. The establishment of citizens‘ energy cooperatives is now promoting the initiative in nine African states.
Climate compensation for organisations: In the view of the Federal Government, compensation of CO2 emissions resulting from grants under federal law to non-university research institutions is possible in principle. However, in its answer (19/18353) to a minor question by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/17348) on the issue of climate compensation for flights and other business trips at non-university research institutions, the Federal Government also emphasises that science and research organisations manage their budgets independently. With the Sustainability-in-Science Initiative (SISI), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research specifically promotes the implementation of sustainability in the science system, the Federal Government emphasises. To this end, non-university research institutions and universities are being funded, for example, for the development of guidelines for effective sustainability management and research and development projects for best practice and new actor-specific approaches.
Amendment of the Water Management Act: The washing-off of fertilizers from agricultural land with a slope into water bodies is to be prevented in future. This is provided for in the draft of the Federal Government’s First Act to Amend the Water Management Act (19/18469 ). In addition to amendments to the Fertilizers Ordinance of May 2017, a new paragraph 38a is now to be incorporated into the Water Resources Act. According to this, on areas bordering on water bodies and having an average slope inclination of at least five percent, a closed plant cover, planted with greenery all year round, is to be maintained or created along the edge of the water body. The background to this is a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of June 2018, in which the ECJ ruled that Germany had breached its obligation to fully implement the Directive on the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (Nitrates Directive), as „additional measures or intensified action“ had failed to materialise, although it was clear that the measures taken up to that point were insufficient. The draft law would result in an additional compliance burden for industry of 600,000 euros per year. Losses in earnings and revenue decreases will result in additional costs of 7.4 million euros per year for the economy, writes the Federal Government in the draft.
Titanium oxide as additive: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) continues to assess the food additive titanium dioxide (TiO2) as safe. This is the result of a reply (19/18279) from the German government to a minor question (19/17532) from the parliamentary group Die Linke, after concerns expressed by the French Agency for Food Safety, Environmental Protection and Occupational Safety (ANSES) led to an examination by the EFSA. It further states that the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which had been asked for examination by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), had also concluded that no robust scientific arguments were discernible which would justify calling into question the conclusions of the EFSA on the use of titanium dioxide as a food additive. Titanium dioxide is a chemical additive used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and foods to lighten products such as toothpaste, sweets or sunscreens.

Drought damage to spruce trees: Mainly spruce is currently affected by drought damage and subsequent bark beetle mass propagation. However, other tree species, including to a lesser extent deciduous tree species, have not been spared, according to an answer (19/18367) of the Federal Government to a minor question of the AfD (19/17830). From a forestry point of view, Douglas fir is considered an alternative to spruce in the afforestation of damaged areas. However, the forest managers would have to make this decision on their own. Compared to spruce, beech, oak, pine and fir have also proved less susceptible to drought and heat.

„Climate change doesn’t stop at Corona now. We have to move climate protection forward despite the current situation. This includes the coal phase-out, not least because we need planning security and reliability. We must not put things off again now. The worst thing would be if there were a political lockdown after the Corona lockdown. However, we still see a need for correction in the design of the coal exit strategy.“
Ingbert Liebing, VKU managing director, in many coal-fired power plants, the district heating supply to the cities also hangs. When coal is phased out, this cogeneration of heat and power is in danger of going under the wheels. Here the bill still needs to be significantly improved in order to advance the transformation of the heat supply. Numerous coal-fired power plants that co-produce district heating would have to be replaced by gas-fired power plants or renewable energies in order to secure the heat supply in the cities. This would cost a lot of money and would not be affordable without financial incentives. In contrast to lignite-fired power plants, there is hardly any compensation for the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants. While on the one hand the local authorities are denied compensation, on the other hand they demand investment in new technologies. That could not work. welt.de

Africa – hardly any pandemic preparations: The coronavirus pandemic reached the African continent later than Europe. And yet hardly any country is really well prepared. Many African states have shut down public life or are relying on compulsory masks. But they will need more help from outside in the crisis. Because their health systems are not designed for an epidemic on this scale. Because a large part of the population depends on daily income and is hardly secured. Because the economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which will disappear completely in the not yet foreseeable future. dw.com
Mindset on Corona: For months, the novel coronavirus has been causing the world to fear and worry. However, there are apparently signs of a trend reversal in Germany. This is the result of the „BfR Corona Monitor“, a regular survey by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). Whereas 40 percent of those surveyed in the previous week stated that they considered the consequential damage caused by an infection with the corona virus to be great, this figure has now dropped to 26 percent. „Young people in particular no longer consider the health effects to be so great,“ says BfR President Andreas Hensel. fair-economics.de
World War II munitions in the Baltic Sea: 8 May marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In the Baltic Sea The nature conservation association Nabu has called for an alliance to salvage old ammunition from the North and Baltic Seas. „Millions of tons of old ammunition in the North and Baltic Seas, as hazardous waste, not only pose a threat to shipping traffic,“ said Schleswig-Holstein’s Nabu state deputy Dagmar Struß. For a nature-compatible salvage of the contaminated sites, an alliance of the federal and state governments is necessary to provide the money and the organizational prerequisites. rnd.de
Plagues of locusts: East Africa is hit by a second wave. rnd.de
USA: Many Americans have no access to fresh fruit and vegetables. nzz.ch
Climate researchers: Want to learn from virologists.. berliner-zeitung.de
Swimming cows: In the Netherlands space is always limited, the country in Europe is especially populated. That’s why Europe’s first floating dairy farm was built here in a former harbour basin on the outskirts of Rotterdam. „We want to produce food as close to the consumer as possible. They live in the city. We have space for this on the water,“ says Minke van Wingerden, the initiator.  34 cows live on a pontoon measuring 27 by 27 metres, which floats rising and falling with the tide in a former harbour basin. The milk is processed directly on the plain below the cowshed – farming on the water thus saves transport and relieves the climate. deutschlandfunk.de 
To the German version
All pictures Source: pixabay.com