New EU climate plan: CO2 emissions are to be reduced by 55 percent by 2030, the negotiating delegations of the European Parliament and the EU states agreed last Wednesday evening – just in time for the international virtual climate summit. The positive effects of forests may now be counted towards the climate. Previously, the EU had pledged a 40 percent reduction. Twenty years later, in 2050, the EU wants to be climate neutral, i.e. not emit more CO2 than can be removed from the atmosphere by natural or technical means. faz.net, dlf.de
Virtual US climate summit: The USA has returned to the world stage of climate policy with a virtual summit. At the beginning of the conference, US President Joe Biden announced his country’s intention to halve its emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 by 2030 compared to 2005. „This is the crucial decade if we are to avoid the greatest damage from climate change,“ said the US President. The US wants to be climate neutral by 2050 at the latest. In the meantime, economists and politicians have recognised that the energy transition, the expansion of electric mobility and infrastructure could create millions of new jobs. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was pleased with the US announcement. This national goal is a clear commitment in the fight against global warming and an important signal to the global community, said the Chancellor at the virtual climate summit. In order to be able to achieve the global goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases, the world is dependent on the contribution of the United States, the Chancellor said. It was also an important signal that the USA was back at the negotiating table to tackle the climate issue. handelsblatt.com, sueddeutsche.de
Immigration of biological species costs around 20 billion dollars,
because it is considered a cause of species extinction worldwide. This is especially true when they displace other commercially exploited species or cause diseases in humans. Overall, the costs are even higher. Scientists estimate that they amount to 345 billion US dollars over the last 50 years. Example: Invasive mussels can clog the intake pipes of factories, power plants or water treatment plants, for example. Or alien parasites could cause catastrophic declines in commercial fisheries. geo.de
Wind turbines can continue to run: There was a last-minute agreement at the end of last year, because the concern was that after 20 years of operation, the first wind turbines would fall out of support via the EEG, they would also be taken off the grid. At short notice, it was agreed that for this year the old mills could continue to be operated for a small surcharge on the electricity price. Next year, they were to be able to apply for new subsidies in a tender. In fact, less than 30 per cent of the operators of the old windmills are taking advantage of the follow-up subsidies that are possible this year. Around 70 per cent have switched to direct marketing, where they sell their electricity to companies or electricity providers who can then market it as green electricity. taz.de
Supply Chain Act in the Bundestag: Last Thursday, the Bundestag debated for the first time the Supply Chain Act introduced by the government. Experts expect it to be passed before the summer break. German companies will have to protect the human rights of the workers of their main suppliers around the world from 2024 at the latest. If they fail to do so, they will face fines and claims for damages in local courts. Human rights organisations say the law does not go far enough, business associations feel gagged. hrw.org , fragdenstaat.de , rsw.beck.de , bundestag.de (Gesetzentwurf)
Hydrogen as a building block for climate neutrality: With green hydrogen as a building block, Germany is to become climate neutral by 2050. This is the goal of the German government. The gas is to be used as a fuel wherever direct electrification is not possible or economically viable – for example in the steel industry or for ships, aircraft, buses and trucks. Green hydrogen is usually produced in electrolysis plants. In this process, water is split into oxygen and hydrogen with the help of green electricity. Up to now, hydrogen has been produced mainly from natural gas. This means it is not climate-friendly and therefore „grey“. zdf.de
Oceans – more and more death zones: According to the UN, there are more and more so-called death zones in the world’s oceans. These are oxygen-poor underwater areas where hardly any life is possible. Since 2008, the number of zones has risen to around 700. This figure can be found in the UN’s second „World Ocean Assessment“ on the state of the oceans. „It is estimated that man-made nitrogen inputs to the coasts will double in the first half of the 21st century,“ the report says. In addition, rising water temperatures would also have a negative impact due to climate change. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the report’s findings alarming. tagesschau.de , un.org
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK :
Herrschaft – Die Entstehung des Westens
It is always important to know where we come from and where our values come from. Much is rooted in the past. With aplomb and captivation, Tom Holland describes the historical forces and events that shaped and revolutionised the Western world and our values right up to the present day. A grandiose and elegantly narrated historical panorama that shows how we became what we are. How did the West become what it is today? What heritage is reflected in its world of thought and imagination? With incomparable narrative skill, Tom Holland describes the history of the West starting from its ancient and Christian heritage. In doing so, he shows that genuinely Christian traditions and horizons of imagination are omnipresent in our modern society and its supposedly universal value systems – even where they are negated: for example, in secularism, atheism or the natural sciences. Holland draws a wide narrative arc from the Persian Wars, the revolutionary beginnings of Christianity in antiquity, through its spread in the European Middle Ages to its transformation in the modern age. In gripping scenes, the author depicts world-historical events and portrays in vivid portraits the central actors or even the antagonists of Christianity (including Jesus, Paul, Abaelard and Saint Elizabeth, Spinoza, Darwin, Nietzsche and the Beatles). Holland identifies links and parallels across great temporal distances and in this way shows the brainchild of Western culture.
Annalena Baerbock: The Greens‘ candidate for chancellor. businessinsider.de
2020: According to the UN, the second warmest year. spektrum.de
Czech Republic: Russia barred from building nuclear power plant. spiegel.de
Forest condition: The word forest dieback is celebrating its 40th anniversary. But the forest is in a bad way today for other reasons. zeit.de
Chernobyl: Today is the anniversary of the reactor disaster. What is the situation there today? n-tv.de
Gas network operators want to make consumers pay: The network operators want gas users to finance the construction of hydrogen networks. handelsblatt.com
EU: The 55 percent savings target means massive need for expansion of renewables in Germany. euwid-energie.de
Taxonomy: The EU continues to struggle over new criteria for sustainable investments. The classification of gas and nuclear power was postponed again. energiezukunft.de
The seventeeen goals Magazin tells inspiring stories about how people move the world and shows how everyone can make a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Study – E-mobility not a job killer: While the EU Commission is working on tightening the CO2 limits for the car industry, the car industry fears massive job losses in Europe as a result. Now Professor Ferdinand Dudenhöffer of the Duisburg-based research institute „Center Automotive Research“ has presented a study that at least gives the all clear. According to Dudenhöffer, the switch from combustion engines to electric cars is not a job killer. He predicts that the plans will have only minor negative consequences for jobs in the car industry. On the contrary: positive effects on employment could be expected across all sectors of the economy. handelsblatt.com
Scheuer becomes a bicycle lover: In the last session, the Federal Cabinet adopted a National Cycling Plan with which the government wants to create better conditions for cyclists in Germany. It contains recommendations for action and strategies to promote cycling in rural and urban areas by 2030. „With our new National Cycling Plan, we are making Germany a cycling country,“ said Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU). By the end of the 2020s, more cycling express links are to be created, more consideration is to be given to cargo bikes and an expansion of bicycle parking spaces is to be undertaken. In addition, routes for bicycles and cars are to be planned as separately as possible rnd.de
The city – innovation driver for sustainable and needs-oriented mobility: Cities are the living space of the future. But how can they become more liveable in the long term in the face of high levels of stress from ever more people, traffic and emissions? What do cities need so that people can work, live and move around well in them? How can urban spaces and urban mobility be made sustainable and fit for the future? These urgent questions for the future are addressed by both polisMOBILITY and the study „The City of Tomorrow“, which was conducted by the Institute of Transport Research of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on behalf of Koelnmesse and with the support of the City of Cologne. dlr.de
Back in the car: The Corona pandemic turned all habits upside down in March 2020. Schools and other facilities remained closed overnight. The result was empty roads, also in central Germany. Mobility data from navigation devices now show that car traffic never completely declined. On the contrary, those who were already travelling by car before the pandemic apparently quickly reverted to old habits. mdr.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
Import of protected animals by zoos: The Federal Government provides extensive figures on the import and export of protected animals by zoos and animal parks in its answer (19/28309) to a minor question (19/27722) by the Left Party. However, the Federal Government does not know how many animals bred in German zoos and animal parks have been successfully released into the wild since 2005. In Germany, there are legally binding regulations that ensure that animals are kept in zoological institutions in a manner that respects animal welfare, the Federal Government writes further. On the other hand, the licensing requirement under species protection law for the export of protected animal species does not provide for an examination of whether the animals are housed in accordance with local animal welfare standards in the country of destination.
Greens call for strategic foreign climate policy: In a motion (19/28785), which is on the agenda of the Bundestag plenum on Thursday, the parliamentary group Bündnis 90/Die Grünen calls for climate partnerships as the core of a strategic foreign climate policy. In the motion, the Greens call on the federal government to „finally develop an ambitious, coherent foreign climate policy strategy in the sense of promoting a global socio-ecological transformation and to adopt it in the federal cabinet“. Specifically, the petitioners demand that the federal government make a concrete commitment, at the latest at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in May, to increase the German national climate target for 2030 to 70 per cent greenhouse gas reduction compared to 1990 and to bring forward the phase-out of coal in Germany to 2030. On the international stage, the German government is to work with partners to promote a global energy and transport transition, a complete nuclear phase-out and a coal phase-out. In addition, together with the EU, it should establish a climate partnership with the USA that establishes a transatlantic network. With regard to China, the German government should advocate a coal phase-out and a more ambitious formulation of the announced Chinese climate target.
Consumer protection for food supplements: In a motion (19/28783) entitled „Improving health consumer protection for food supplements and fortified foods“, the coalition parliamentary groups of CDU/CSU and SPD demand that the federal government work hard at the EU level to ensure a high level of health protection for consumers. In addition, among other things, research in the area of nutrient supply and food supplements is to be intensified, focusing in particular on risk groups such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and senior citizens in order to collect data and close gaps in knowledge.
Services for the forest are to be compensated: The coalition parliamentary groups want to further promote the conversion of forests into near-natural, structurally rich and thus climate-stable forest ecosystems. In a motion (19/28789), the CDU/CSU and SPD parliamentary groups call on the federal government to present the ecosystem services provided by the forest, such as climate protection, biodiversity, soil protection and wood provision, on a scientific basis and, on this basis, to establish a system that rewards the diverse ecosystem services provided by the forest. This remuneration should open up long-term perspectives for sustainable forest management and care. Forest owners who prove to the responsible authorities that they fulfil predefined requirements are to be entitled to the remuneration. The proposal names the improvement of ecosystem services of the forest and the adaptation of forest ecosystems to climate change as standards to be met.
Greens want to promote reusable packaging: The parliamentary group Bündnis 90/Die Grünen wants to fight the ever increasing amount of packaging waste. In a motion entitled „Into a future without waste – promoting reusable packaging and innovative deposit systems“ (19/28782), the Greens call on the federal government to halve the amount of packaging waste to 110 kilograms per capita and year by 2030. To achieve this goal, reusable packaging for food, beverages and mail order should be made the legal standard if it is ecologically preferable to single-use packaging. In addition, all food chains and beverage markets are to be obliged to take back every deposit bottle. In order to reduce the consumption of to-go food packaging, the applicants propose, among other things, to ensure in the Packaging Act that reusable alternatives must always be offered at a lower price than one-way packaging.
Own-use electricity regulations in the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG): The answer (19/28416) to a small question (19/27533) from the Left Party is about regulations on own-use electricity in different versions of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). In it, the Federal Government comments, for example, on disc leasing models – a model that uses legal loopholes to benefit from own-generated electricity privileges. The EEG 2017 contained a legal regulation on this for the first time, explains the Federal Government. „In the absence of explicit statutory provisions, the admissibility of disc lease models in previous versions of the EEG therefore had to be determined on the basis of the usual methods of statutory interpretation.“ In response to the question of whether the Federal Government has ever assessed slice lease models as an abusive use of the own-generated electricity model, the answer states: „From the Federal Government’s point of view, whether certain business models constitute a permissible use of statutory privileges or an abusive circumvention must be determined in each specific individual case on the basis of the contract design.“
Space debris: Satellites should burn up from low Earth orbit naturally or through active action in the Earth’s atmosphere within 25 years at the latest. This annual value has been proven in studies to be sufficient to avoid further uncontrolled growth of space debris, explains the federal government in its answer (19/28368) to a minor question (19/27721) of the FDP parliamentary group. Objects in geostationary Earth orbit, i.e. about 36,000 kilometres above the equator, should be moved to a graveyard orbit above this orbit immediately before they are switched off. At both altitudes, satellites should be shut down at the end of their mission in such a way as to reduce the risks of possible disintegration through energy stored on board. On the one hand, space debris limits the operation of active satellites, on the other hand, there is the danger that debris parts collide with each other and „this could lead to a cascading increase in space debris“, explains the German government. It recognised the problem of space debris at an early stage; the Space Agency at the German Aerospace Centre has been funding research projects on this for years.
Financing of the International Natural Heritage Fund: The private non-profit foundation „International Natural Heritage Fund – Legacy Landscapes Fund“ (LLF), established in December 2020 by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), is aiming for a capital stock of approximately one billion US dollars in order to achieve the long-term financing goal of 30 protected areas by 2030. The foundation’s purpose can already be achieved for a limited number of protected areas with the funds pledged by the BMZ, emphasises the German government in an answer (19/28316) to a minor question (19/27241) by the FDP parliamentary group. In addition, contributions from other public and private donors should be raised in order to achieve the LLF’s long-term financing goal by further increasing the foundation’s capital. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation already supports the LLF with a financial contribution of five million US dollars. Other philanthropic foundations have promised co-financing for individual protected areas. In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron publicly announced France’s participation in the LLF at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity on 11 January 2021. „Nature reserves play a crucial role in ensuring the preservation of biodiversity in the long term,“ writes the German government. In order to fulfil this purpose, they must be managed effectively and in turn require reliable and crisis-proof funding.
Ambitious greenhouse gas reduction quota: According to estimates by the Federal Government, raising the greenhouse gas reduction quota in the transport sector will achieve emission savings of around 29 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents by 2030. This is stated in the federal government’s answer (19/28333) to a minor question (19/27726) of the FDP parliamentary group. The increase in the quota promotes sustainable options for transport, which are necessary to achieve the climate protection goals, the Federal Government further writes. The small question is aimed at the Federal Government’s draft law on the further development of the greenhouse gas reduction quota (19/27435). This serves to transpose the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) into German law. With the increase of the greenhouse gas reduction quota to 22 per cent in 2030, the share of renewable energies in the final energy consumption of the transport sector will be significantly increased beyond the EU minimum requirements of RED II, the Federal Government states in its response. The 22 per cent quota is „very ambitious“ and takes into account „what is justifiable in terms of nature conservation and technically feasible“.
„We only consume so much meat because we pay less for it in the supermarket than it actually costs. There are now more and more scientific studies on this. And even individual supermarkets have started to indicate this on their price tags.“
Tatjana Mischke, journalist and filmmaker, if the environmental damage caused by the production of meat were also taken into account, meat would be significantly more expensive. In our understanding of economics, we used to assume that it was always good for society if as much of a product as possible could be offered as cheaply as possible. But we are slowly realising that this is not the whole story. Because this kind of production causes environmental damage for which society pays double and triple. fair-economics.de
„The purchase premium for electric cars is not efficient, but in view of today’s regulation there is no alternative. In the transport sector, CO2 emissions in Germany must be reduced by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels – and this target will be tightened noticeably in the course of the Green Deal.“
Thomas Puls, Senior Economist for Transport and Infrastructure at the Institute of the German Economy in Cologne,… added: The European Union has the goal of being climate neutral by 2050. To even come close to that, we would have to pull out all the stops. We would only be able to achieve this if we first electrified passenger transport and later also freight transport. There are also separate targets for other sectors such as industry and energy production. This division is understandable, but inevitably brings inefficiencies with it. zeit.de
Climate change has a political impact in Mali: Mali is a torn country. For nine years, a conflict has been raging that first began in the north and has since spread to the entire country. Thousands have died. In the meantime, researchers have determined that climate change plays a role in the conflict that should not be underestimated. Both extremism and conflict and violence in northern Mali are a result of – or exacerbated by – climate change. „Without the integration of climate change, the peace consolidations are hardly possible,“ said Florian Krampe, co-author of the report. spiegel.de
With FIFA’s support: the idea of the Super League is alive and well in Africa. The idea of a continental Super League is not a purely European one. In Africa, the establishment of such a league has been discussed for quite some time. In this case, the world governing body FIFA is behind it. The exact form, however, remains nebulous. deutschlandfunk.de
The Miracle of Somaliland: Hardly anyone knows Somaliland. Yet the world could learn a lot from this young country in East Africa. In just three decades it has become one of the safest and most peaceful states on the continent – and without development aid. sueddeutsche.de
Terror in Egypt: IS warns Christians with an execution The terrorist militia Islamic State executed a 62-year-old Christian in Sinai. The jeweller had built the only church in his town. However, the Muslim majority is also suffering from the war between the jihadists and the Egyptian regime. nzz.ch
Sudan/Aethiopia: Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have fled to Sudan in recent months. In sweltering heat, they wait for help and for the end of the conflict in their homeland of Tigray. But stable peace has not existed in this region for decades. nzz.ch
South Africa: Bushfire destroys valuable documents in Cape Town. A major fire in Cape Town has destroyed parts of the university and unique archival treasures at the Jagger Library. The damage is not yet foreseeable. dw.com
Chad: After the death of long-term ruler Idriss Déby, a transitional military council has issued a government charter. It secures power for Déby’s son Mahamat – for now. dw.com
Making forests more resilient: Drought and pests are taking their toll on the German forest. Forest scientists are therefore rethinking the German forest. In their models, for example, the Lebanon cedar stands next to beech and spruce. Pierre Ibisch, Professor of Nature Conservation at the University for Sustainable Development in Eberswalde, thinks it is right to support the ecosystems in the forest so that they can withstand change for as long as possible. It is now our task, he says, to ensure that our landscape remains as cool as possible. enorm-magazin.de
Cities renounce fossil fuels: More and more cities around the world want to renounce fossil fuels, reports the Renewable Energy Initiative REN21. Executive Director Rana Adib explains: „Cities have extreme innovation potential“ They are close to the citizens and often more ambitious than national governments. Adib also finds it important that cities exhaust their options for banning fossil fuels and involve citizens economically for the acceptance of renewable energies. deutschlandfunk.de
Building more sparingly with resources: Construction and buildings are the world’s largest CO2 emitters. In order to stop climate change, a rethink is necessary. „Architects for Future is an organisation whose members are working together to find new ways to build more energy-efficient and resource-saving buildings. Meanwhile, the Building Committee of the Bundestag has rejected opposition proposals for more sustainability in construction. Neither a motion of the FDP parliamentary group (19/26178), which aims at technology openness, nor motions of the Greens (19/23152, 19/26183) with proposals on resource conservation and cost distribution in energy modernisation found a majority in the committee session on Wednesday. In each case, the proposers voted for the motions against the votes of the remaining parliamentary groups. Only in the case of the Green motions did the Left abstain. jetzt.de
Old material put to new use: The building material hunters. ndr.de
Hydrogen demand: Sevenfold increase by 2070. handelsblatt.com
International comparison: Climate investments at record high. tagesschau.de
Father and son: Biblical writings have now been examined for authorship by an artificial intelligence. One of the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls was not written by one scribe, but by two different people. Researchers have suspected this many times before, but it has now been confirmed by AI. Artifical Intelligence has provided new evidence that the authors would also have worked together on scrolls. heise.de