Today is Day of the Trees: This day is now being celebrated for the 70th time in Germany. The day has not lost its significance, because trees suffer from the consequences of climate change on the one hand, but on the other hand they play a crucial role in the fight against it. And the German forest is severely damaged. Reforestation in the forests affected by drought and storms is expected to take years. In 2022, about 55,000 hectares are due for reforestation in the 16 federal states. This means that young trees will only be sown or planted on some of the bare areas this year. In addition, the climate balance of the trees must be recalculated: If wood is taken from the forest and used for the production of wood products, building materials or paper, a CO2 footprint is created by the fact that less carbon is stored in the forest than if the trees had not been felled. This means that correspondingly less CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. In the overall calculation of a greenhouse gas balance, this CO2 footprint must be included in order to actually take into account all the effects of wood use on the climate. faz.net sonntagsblatt.de , co2-speichersaldo.de
Climate activist calls for import ban on energy from Russia: Climate activist Luisa Neubauer is pushing for a complete ban on fossil fuel imports from Russia. „The political power that comes with an embargo is unparalleled,“ said the co-founder of the Fridays for Future movement . After „weeks of humanitarian catastrophes and war crimes“ in Ukraine, she said, the government must acknowledge the reality: „We send tens of millions of euros to Putin every day as a federal republic. How many more people have to die, what horror scenarios still have to become reality, before anyone feels addressed to oppose it with all their might and strength?“ In addition to the already decided embargo on coal, the purchase of oil and gas from Russia must therefore also be stopped.Meanwhile, in the discussion about a complete energy embargo against Russia in Germany, the warning voices are becoming louder and louder. Because of the foreseeable consequences for the people in the Federal Republic, the President of the German Social Association, Adolf Bauer, also rejects an embargo. „We should not take the risk of dramatic consequences for our labour market. We can only withdraw from Russia’s energy supply when we can rule out that it will lead to major upheavals here,“ said Bauer. rnd.de , noz.de
For around half of consumers, money, or the lack of it, is the biggest obstacle to the transition to more sustainable purchasing practices in the face of rising inflation.
Last Friday was the official Earth Day. On this occasion, the research technology company Quantilope surveyed 600 consumers in Germany in its new study to better understand the development of attitudes towards sustainability. In particular, it investigated how this influences food choices and whether there are barriers to more environmentally friendly shopping behaviour. absatzwirtschaft.de
Antarctic ice shrinks: This year, the extent of sea ice in the Antarctic has fallen to its lowest level since records began in the late 1970s. Unlike in the Arctic, where the ice continues to melt due to global warming, the ice at the South Pole has always increased slightly. Now, however, the opposite is happening. The record of 25 February 2022 is already the second strong decline of the ice surface in only five years, report Chinese researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. They have been investigating ocean currents and weather phenomena behind the melt, but still face mysteries. In their effort to understand the complicated changes, the scientists analysed the behaviour of sea ice between 1979 and 2022. n-tv.de
Climate protection and football: FC Bayern is champion, but what about climate protection among the league clubs? he majority of Bundesliga clubs have not yet set a climate protection target. over 60 per cent of the clubs from the 2021/2022 Bundesliga season have not yet set a climate neutrality target with a concrete annual reference. In contrast, the respective cities of the clubs based there show that this can also be done differently. For climate critics, football is a strange industry, a platform for the most dubious sponsors, car companies, airlines, oil and gas giants or chemical companies like Bayer; a parallel world in which players jet to the next state to play and a minority amasses extreme wealth, which they in turn invest in fast cars, private jets or roomfuls of sneakers. At the same time, football is often seen as the last social campfire with good contact even to those who have nothing to do with climate protection. Football could take on a pioneering role taz.de, fair-economics.de (climate targets)
Chernobyl still deadly: Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be the 36th anniversary of the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. The reactor block is still highly radioactive – and entering it would be fatal. An area of around 2,200 square kilometres around the nuclear ruins is also still a restricted zone today. Although the shorter-lived radionuclides from the fallout have already largely decayed there, longer-lived isotopes such as caesium-137, uranium or plutonium have not. Shortly before the start of the war in Ukraine, German-Ukrainian measurement teams remeasured the radioactive contamination around Chernobyl. The maps show in high resolution where the „hotspots“ of gamma radiation and exposure to radioactive caesium are located in the exclusion zone. This can now be used to identify changes caused by the acts of war and to protect workers from radiation during clean-up operations. scinexx.de
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Simply Green – Von Achtsamkeit bis Zero Waste: Nachhaltige Lebensstile im Faktencheck
Slow fashion, minimalism, tiny houses – sustainable lifestyles are all the rage. But what is behind each of them – and are they really sustainable?
„Simply Green“ provides orientation and presents 16 sustainability trends relating to housing and mobility, consumption and nutrition, travel and spirituality. The book sheds light on the background, critically examines the movements and gives tips on how to implement them. Cultic or exaggerated, suitable for everyday use or unrealistic, effective or time-consuming: with this orientation guide, you will know everything about every trend. oekom.de
Protest action: Dressed as construction workers, climate activists tore up the street floor in front of the BMWK. berliner-zeitung.de
Svenja Schulze: Announces global alliance against hunger. fair-economics.de
Mexico: Nationalises lithium production. handelsblatt.com
Alexander Samwer: The Rocket Internet founder is building a renewable energy company. handelsblatt.com
Living in the countryside: Damaging nature. wetter.de
Temperature rise in Europe: While the entire earth’s surface warmed by almost 1.2 degrees Celsius last year, Europe recorded an average rise of more than two degrees. euractiv.de
Tesla: Around three weeks after the opening of the new Tesla e-car factory in Grünheide, liquid leaked in the paint shop. Criticism from environmentalists is high. tagesspiegel.de
The seventeen 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.
PODCAST OF THE WEEK:
Large fashion chains like H&M or GAP have long been criticised for producing fast fashion – throwaway fashion of low quality. Unsold pieces are thrown away. According to studies, more than one hundred billion garments are produced every year. According to estimates, this number could double by 2030. This has disastrous consequences for the environment and climate: after the food and construction industries, the global textile industry is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Toxic chemicals needed for production pollute the environment. Because this no longer fits the times, some fashion companies want to give themselves a green makeover and now also offer clothes that are supposedly produced sustainably and with recycled materials. The problem is that it is technically almost impossible to produce new clothes from old materials in the sense of a circular economy. Only about one per cent of clothing is recycled into new garments. How can this be changed? spiegel.de
All-wheel drive in German cities: One might argue about the usefulness of all-wheel drive, because drivers in large cities only very rarely need it. Nevertheless, some of Germany’s largest cities are well above the national average in terms of the proportion of all-wheel drive vehicles in their fleets, as recent figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority show. The highest values are found in Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main and Düsseldorf. zeit.de
Rural areas left behind: According to a study by the state-owned KfW Bank, public charging points for electric cars will be built primarily in urban areas. In rural regions, on the other hand, an expansion of the charging infrastructure would lead to offers that do not cover costs. The expansion of charging stations in Germany tends to be evenly distributed. In conurbations, however, higher usage rates are to be expected with a further increase in electric vehicles. This is the conclusion of a study by KfW Bank. In rural areas, more car owners would have the option of charging their e-car at a private parking space at a so-called wallbox. Whether this will actually be implemented remains to be seen. kfw.de
Transport turnaround in Europe: German cities as pioneers of the transport turnaround? Once upon a time. Today, it is others who are gradually phasing out the car. If you are looking for more recent examples of successful traffic turnaround measures, you are more likely to find them abroad. In Copenhagen, two thirds of all journeys are made by bicycle. The Austrian capital Vienna also has a good network of cycle paths, in addition to good local transport. With its 365-euro annual ticket, it is a model for many municipalities. In Austria, a 1,095-euro flat rate for the entire country has even been in effect since October 2021. klimareporter.de
Railway employees: Fear overloads due to 9-euro ticket. faz.net
Raw materials and future mobility: Michael Wurmser, one of the founders of the Norwegian mining company Norge Mining, which recently caused a stir by discovering many raw materials essential for e-cars in Norway. „A green turn cannot take place without being able to store the electricity“. And you can’t make batteries without raw materials. He sometimes had the feeling that many people had good thoughts and wanted the green turnaround, but that no thought was given to where all the raw materials needed for it would actually come from. And above all, „How do I secure these raw materials?“ In the end, companies might be sitting there building thousands of cars and then suddenly be confronted with the fact that they have no raw materials for the batteries. He even appealed to the carmakers: „You have to think more vertically. You have to connect with companies that have the raw materials.“ And in the best case, do it locally. „We have to do onshoring, look for raw materials that are close to the production plant that needs them.“ marktundmittelstand.de
Boom in bicycles: Around 4.7 million bicycles were sold in Germany last year, of which 2.0 million had an electric drive. E-bikes and pedelecs continued to grow slightly compared to the previous year. The sale of classic bicycles, on the other hand, was down significantly (2.7 million compared to 3.09 million). With the rapidly growing share of e-bikes, the average prices (1395 euros per bike) increased to 6.56 billion euros, as did the total turnover. This year, the boom could continue, manufacturers are working at full speed and expect to exceed their record sales of 2021 despite ongoing difficulties in the supply chain. However, not every customer will get his or her dream bike; a certain willingness to compromise, for example on colour or individual equipment components, will be necessary. rheinpfalz.de
Green hydrogen: Milestone achieved for climate-neutral flying: Carbon dioxide, which cement plants all over the world emit in gigantic quantities and thus accelerate climate change, will in future be captured at the Cemex Germany production site in Rüdersdorf, east of Berlin, and converted into synthetic paraffin. Aircraft at the Berlin-Brandenburg airport a few kilometres away can be fuelled with it. They emit just as much greenhouse gas as when burning fossil fuel. But overall, the emissions are halved. ingenieur.de
Consequence of the Ukraine crisis: Green hydrogen cheaper than grey hydrogen from natural gas- The sharp rise in the price of natural gas as a result of the Russian conflict could significantly accelerate the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy: Regionally, green hydrogen is already cheaper than grey hydrogen produced from natural gas. chemietechnik.de
H2 Helicopter: Germany builds first hydrogen helicopter. efahrer.chip.de
Thyssen-Krupp: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is considering buying a stake in Thyssenkrupp’s hydrogen division, according to informed sources. The investment would fit in with the Saudis‘ efforts to shift to more environmentally friendly forms of energy production. institutional-money.com
Dutch consortium presents mobile agri-photovoltaic system: Two prototypes are currently being tested by a farmer and a research institute in the Netherlands. It should also be possible to combine the mobile solar system with an electrolyser to produce hydrogen. pv-magazine.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
Union asks about consequences of war for the energy sector: The Union parliamentary group is concerned about Germany’s security of supply. In a small question (20/1404), the CDU and CSU MPs state that the war in Ukraine has once again significantly exacerbated price increases in the energy sector. However, it is not only the energy prices that are rising, but also the energy supply itself that is beginning to falter. Against this background, the parliamentary group asks how long the German government expects gas supplies to remain secure after a Russian supply cut-off; what effects a supply cut-off would have on the German agricultural and food industry – and which sectors in production agriculture, in the food trade, in food production and in the industries necessary for agricultural production would be affected. In addition, MEPs would like information on the questions of what effects the application of the emergency gas plan would have on the degree of self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetables within Germany, what the degree of self-sufficiency in fertilisers is in Germany and in the states of the EU, and what the effects of a halt in fertiliser production would be on agricultural production in Germany.
Return of artworks to Benin: The AfD parliamentary group asks the federal government in a small question (201389) to clarify whether it continues to adhere to an unconditional return of the Benin bronzes and what its position is on the museum buildings in Benin City that have not yet been tackled. Specifically, the AfD MPs ask for reasons why the intended signing of the contract for the transfer of ownership between Nigeria and Germany from the historical Kingdom of Benin in German museum collections continues to be delayed. And whether she is aware of media reports in Nigeria that talk about the „irreconcilable differences“ between the governor of Edo State, the Nigerian government and the Oba of Berlin suggesting that the artefacts might „actually be safer“ in European museums, also because according to reports, the construction of the Edo Museum of West African Art, which is to house the artefacts, is so far „not in sight“. In addition, the AfD parliamentary group wants to know whether it shares the fear that the artefacts restituted from Germany could disappear in private hands in Nigeria and what precautions it is taking against this.
Logistics centre at the Konrad repository: A logistics centre for the Konrad repository (LoK) is to be put into operation in 2027. At the LoK, transport containers suitable for final disposal are to be collected from all over Germany and transported to the repository. A large part of the transports to and almost all transports from the LoK to the Konrad repository would be handled by rail. Lorry transport plays a rather subordinate role. This was stated by the Federal Government in its answer (20/1395) to a minor question (20/1103) of the Left Party. The Left Party MPs see new dangers in the affected region in the transports of nuclear waste, demand precautionary measures for the protection of the population and ask about means and frequency of transports and the risks of accidents. The government’s answer states that the Gesellschaft für Zwischenlagerung (BGZ) assumes a maximum of five train transports per working day (Monday to Friday) to and from the LoK. If empty runs were included, this would result in a maximum of ten train movements to and from the LoK. The same applies to the maximum of 20 lorry transports. Which specific route is ultimately used for a particular transport is to be determined in each case shortly before the transport. In principle, all railway lines suitable for freight transport and all roads on the positive list for the transport of hazardous goods would be suitable for the transport of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. Every year, about 500,000 transports of radioactive materials take place on roads and railways in Germany. „The transports from/to the LoK will not differ from the other numerous transports of low and intermediate level radioactive waste,“ the response from the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) states.
Government provides information on Nutri-Scores: The Federal Government considers an EU-wide standardised extended nutrition labelling, as also envisaged by the EU Commission, to be necessary. In the view of the Federal Government, the Nutri-Score is in principle also very well suited for EU-wide use. Together with other countries participating in the Nutri-Score, such as Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain, the Federal Government is committed to a uniform application and an expedient further development of the Nutri-Score. This is stated in the government’s answer (20/1427) to a minor question (20/1258) of the AfD parliamentary group. The AfD MPs had criticised weak points such as the fact that positive ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins, but also negative ingredients like additives were not taken into account at all in the calculation. As a result, there was a danger that highly processed food would be rated better than natural products.
The federal government explained that part of the cross-national cooperation is a scientific committee in which independent experts examine whether and, if so, how the Nutri-Score should be further developed. The Max Rubner Institute (MRI) – Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food – is also represented in this committee. The MRI assesses the Nutri-Score in its current form as suitable to make it easier for consumers in Germany to choose nutritionally more favourable products. Only on a few questions, such as the evaluation of the dietary fibre content, is there a need for clarification or further development of the Nutri-Score. The Federal Government shares the MRI’s assessment that the Nutri-Score with the current calculation components already provides accurate results for a meaningful product comparison.
„For the energy transition to succeed, we should definitely keep an eye on the raw materials side. Because in order to get clean energy, we have to invest more and in some cases completely different mineral and metallic raw materials than in fossil energy systems“.
Jens Gutzmer, Institute Director for Resource Technology at the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf, …the fact that technologies require more and also different raw materials does not, of course, argue against an energy transition. But it does mean that we would have to deal with how to provide these raw materials as sustainably and environmentally friendly as possible as soon as possible.“ helmholtz.de
Kenya: Fridays For Future fights against „green plague“ in Kenya, as a worldwide movement the organisation is also represented in Kenya. Here, the young people are particularly concerned about the fate of Lake Victoria. Africa’s largest freshwater lake suffers from the growth of a special plant. n-tv.de
Kenya 2: Google announces research centre in Nairobi: Internet company Google last week announced the opening of its first product development centre in Africa. In Kenya’s capital Nairobi, transformative products for the African and global market are to be developed in the future. techcrunch.com
Mali: Many unanswered questions after massacre in Mali. At the end of March, more than 200 men were shot dead in the small town of Moura – „terrorists“ according to the government. There is also speculation about the use of Russian mercenaries. derstandard.at
Nigeria: Explosion at illegal refinery. faz.net
Niger: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Mali and Niger: She listens to women.How much are security interests, hunger and climate crisis connected? On her trip to Africa, Annalena Baerbock was able to find out on the spot. taz.de , faz.net
Rwanda: The „Switzerland of Africa“? With the planned admission of asylum seekers from the UK, Rwanda is cultivating its image as a model country. The Rwandan government has shaped its country into a brand that stands for stability and progress. In doing so, it covers up its darker sides. nzz.ch
South Africa: severe weather and flooding. Over 450 people die from rain and flooding in and around Durban. The South African coastal city is already reeling from Covid. Meanwhile, South Africa’s president has declared a state of disaster after the storms. taz.de , sueddeutsche.de
Hunger crisis: UN fears worsening of hunger crisis in West Africa. The war in Ukraine is also likely to have devastating consequences for people in West Africa: Due to supply difficulties, the region is threatened with the worst hunger crisis in ten years. Foreign Minister Baerbock wants to help. spiegel.de
Africa’s indigenous peoples are fighting against capitalism: Which weighs more heavily: the protection of historical places revered as sacred – or the possibility of new jobs? A major project in Cape Town, South Africa, has raised this question again. It is sacred land, spiritual home to the Khoi and San people groups, who are among the earliest inhabitants of southern Africa. And it lies in the middle of one of South Africa’s most important metropolitan regions. Here, at the confluence of the Liesbeek and Black Rivers in Cape Town, the retail giant Amazon wants to open its Africa headquarters. But now the cranes are at a standstill, the High Court has forbidden the continuation of the work until the Khoisan have been meaningfully involved. For they are protesting – and demanding the final stop of the 260-million-euro project. dw.com
Coral reefs can recover quickly after mass mortality: New research shows that coral reefs in remote or protected areas can recover quickly even after a severe coral bleaching event. For the study, researchers examined coral reefs and their functions in the Indian Ocean. The study shows that coral reefs and the important functions they perform can recover relatively quickly in remote and protected areas without local influences such as fishing, sewage or changes to the coastline, even after large-scale disturbances. fair-economics.co.uk
Death trap glass panes: Every year, it is estimated that one billion birds die because they fly into glass panes. This is the second most common cause of death for migratory birds after habitat loss. Simple solutions have long been available without having to replace the glass. With the help of a special film, the reflection can be reduced. This also saves energy. Markings on the panes also help birds to recognise the building. The city of New York passed new legislation in January and now requires that lights in public buildings be turned off at night during the bird migration season. Architects must also use bird-friendly materials in all new buildings. These measures help enormously, says biologist Kaitlyn Parkins. After a bird-friendly renovation of the Javits Convention Centre, for example, about 90 percent fewer dead birds were found around the building. dw.com
Intensive agriculture has an impact on insect decline: It is still unclear how great the regional differences in the worldwide decline of insects are and which groups are most affected by the decline. The data on this can be described as patchy at best. But where data do exist, they usually show that the insect kingdom is shrinking. It is also largely certain that notch insects are suffering from many pressures at the same time: Habitat loss, pesticides, pollution, climate change. But what role does each of these factors play, and what are the interactions? In a recent study in the scientific journal Nature, researchers led by Charlotte Outhwaite of University College London try to find the answer from a large amount of data. With the result: Where intensive agriculture is practised and global warming begins to exceed the range of natural fluctuations, the biomass of insects is reduced by almost half on average and species diversity by around a quarter compared to near-natural landscapes without warming. sueddeutsche.de
Honduras: Saying goodbye to mining. taz.de
Kombodscha: Tree boom destroys environment around the Mekong. spiegel.de
Sustainable hotels: When people think of sustainable hotels, they still think of clunky wooden furniture, cold water and scratchy toilet paper. There have long been accommodations that combine an environmentally conscious concept with lifestyle and enjoyment. welt.de
Power guzzler and climate killer – EU continues to knit Bitcoin ban: Swedish authorities in particular are lobbying the EU Commission for a „disappearance“ of the power-hungry Bitcoin. The German government is involved. The stumbling block is the energy-hungry consensus and protection procedure „Proof of Work“ (PoW), in which very complex computing tasks have to be solved. In the case of Bitcoin (BTC), for example, the aim is to ensure that all participants have a uniform data status in the blockchain. Environmentalists recently warned that the BTC developers should switch to the alternative „Proof of Stake“ (PoS) consensus procedure. This is what the cryptocurrency platform Ethereum wants to switch to. The negotiations suggest that a possible ban on mining or even trading Bitcoin is on the table. heise.de
All images, unless otherwise stated: pixabay.com
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