FAIReconomics Newsletter week 19              german edition
Merkel for more climate protection in the EU: Chancellor Angela Merkel is in favour of a significant increase in the EU’s climate protection target for the year 2030 and welcomes proposals by the EU Commission to aim for a reduction in greenhouse gases of 50 to 55 percent compared with 1990, the Chancellor said at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. A target of 40 percent is currently in force. Climate protection must have a firm place in economic reconstruction after the Corona pandemic, said the German head of government.  Merkel believes there will now be a difficult discussion on distribution. This makes it all the more important „to always keep a close eye on climate protection and to make it clear that we are not making savings on climate protection, but that we are investing in sustainable technologies“. euractiv.demorgenpost.de
Sustainability through pandemic? Yesterday was the German Earth Congestion Day. The German Earth Congestion Day marks the day in the year on which the annual budget of sustainably usable resources and ecologically absorbable emissions would be used up worldwide if the entire world population were to live as the people in Germany do. Almost 30 percent of Germans see the current pandemic crisis as an opportunity. More than a quarter of citizens think that the corona pandemic will trigger a rethink towards a more sustainable and climate-friendly economic system.. idw-online.de

At 10.5 degrees Celsius in April 2020, the average temperature in Germany was 3.1 degrees above the value for the international reference period 1961 – 1990. Compared with the warmer period 1981 – 2010, the upward deviation was 2.2 degrees. This means it is probably the seventh warmest April since measurements began in 1881. sonnenseite.com

Demand for electricity declines: Due to the coronavirus crisis there was a 14 percent drop in electricity demand in Europe last month. In combination with record solar energy production, this led to a 39 percent drop in CO2 emissions. euractiv.de

Greens call for billion-euro programmes to cushion the effects of corona: More clarity about the tough protective measures and billion-dollar programmes to deal with the social consequences – these are the demands of the Greens in the corona crisis. At the Digital Länder Council on Saturday, the party almost unanimously approved a motion by the federal executive for a 100 billion euro economic stimulus programme and an EU programme of one trillion euros financed by joint bonds. Investments are also to serve climate protection. The small party conference was the first party conference in Germany to be held completely digitally on the Internet. afp.com

Müller calls for more commitment: German Development Minister Gerd Müller calls for the EU to play a global pioneering role both in the fight against the corona pandemic and against climate change. „In addition to the protective umbrella, the EU should also extend its Green Deal for climate protection to the European neighbourhood and African countries,“ said CSU Mann. What is needed is an ambitious investment and innovation package for the expansion of renewable energy in Africa – „away from coal“. Müller said that the future of the climate would be decided in Africa. Germany could support with its technological competence and help to establish an environmentally friendly energy supply. reuters.de
Germany wants development policy repositioning: Development Minister Gerd Müller plans the largest structural reform of his ministry. Among other things, this means the withdrawal of German experts from many partner countries. Cooperation is to be terminated in more than a third of the countries. „We are thus moving away from the watering can and are stepping up our bilateral cooperation where our commitment makes a difference and partners implement reforms,“ said Müller. German development policy wants to say goodbye to the partner countries Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Liberia in Africa as well as Cuba, Haiti and Guatemala. spiegel.de

All you need is less  – Eine Kultur des Genug aus ökonomischer und buddhistischer Sicht
All you need is less – A Culture of Enough from an Economic and Buddhist Perspective
Mindfulness and sustainability have become fashionable terms. But they are also central pillars of the current sufficiency movement and the millennia-old teachings of Buddha.
With Niko Paech and Manfred Folkers, two experts are sounding out the potential that both schools of thought have for abandoning our destructive path of growth. They develop a „culture of enough“ through a provocative reckoning with the growth drivers of capitalist economic activity and by reflecting on the virtues of a consumption-free life. For only a „satisfied frugality“ will solve the great crises of our time. oekom.de

COVID-19: The number of autocracies is increasing. tagesschau.de
Nabu: Stricter laws for species protection demanded. sueddeutsche.de
Rhine: Low water at this time unusual. faz.net
Nuclear power: significance in Europe is declining. taz.de
Environment Ministers: Eleven ministers from the German states call for more committed agricultural and environmental policies from von der Leyen. topagrar.com
Rich and poor: the gap remains. sueddeutsche.de

VDA president Müller calls for a quick decision on car purchase premiums: The President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), Hildegard Müller, has called for a quick decision by politicians on possible purchase premiums before the car summit on Tuesday. „A political decision must be taken promptly so that there is clarity in the market,“ Müller told „Welt am Sonntag“. „I would prefer May or early June to September or October for that.“ In view of the demands for new car purchase premiums due to the Corona crisis, Green Party leader Robert Habeck has formulated conditions for this. Habeck told Deutschlandfunk radio on Saturday that the state should at best promote ecologically exemplary vehicles. In addition, bonuses and dividends of the companies concerned would have to be withheld in the event of state support. afp.comafp.com (Habeck)

Environmental and mobility associations call for a mobility bonus: Instead of a car scrapping bonus, environmental associations are calling for a mobility bonus that can also be used to buy e-bikes and rail season tickets, for example. ADFC Federal Director Burkhard Stork says: „The Federal Government must not make the same mistakes as before the crisis. Mobility is more than just car, car, car! Even the purchase of an electric bike or a public transport subscription fails for many people because of money. We don’t want the government to dictate the choice of transport to the citizens, but to give them all options“ adfc.de
Future of the automotive industry: According to the German government, the importance of the automotive industry in Germany depends on how the industry manages the transition to climate-neutral and low-emission drive technologies. The Federal Government explains this in its answer (19/18518) to a minor question (19/18027) from the FDP parliamentary group and refers to its supporting measures ranging from expenditure on research and development to the eco-rebate. In addition, it is supporting investments of more than one billion euros in battery cell production. „As early as the mid-2020s there could be several thousand employees in Germany alone producing battery cells and intermediate products“. All in all, the German government sees the automotive industry facing a longer-term structural change. Despite all the challenges, it sees opportunities for actively shaping companies in the developments.

Federal government: Missed targets for electric cars. handelsblatt.com
Lufthansa: Breakthrough in negotiations on state support? spiegel.de
Bosch: Wants to become the leader in electromobility. elektroauto-news.net
Exhaust gas fraud: EU report classifies diesel shutdown software as prohibited. . heise.de


Climate compensation for business trips by the Federal Government: The compensation of the Federal Government’s business trip emissions is not offset against the Federal Republic’s reduction obligations under European law. This is what the Federal Government writes in an answer (19/18609) to a minor question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/18081). In it, the MPs had asked whether the compensations would be credited against the German climate protection targets and to what extent a „maximum of climate protection“ could be achieved. According to the government, the business trip compensation is a „voluntary measure which should set an example to the private sector and other public institutions“. This is embedded in the Sustainability Action Programme, which has the goal of avoiding and reducing emissions in federal institutions. Unavoidable emissions from these trips would be compensated, the government writes. Emissions from flights not subject to European emissions trading will be fully compensated. Air travel within Europe, including domestic flights, is subject to European emissions trading.
Land consumption: The average daily increase in land consumption has fallen continuously between 2013 and 2017. In 2013, it was 73 hectares per day, and in 2017 58 hectares. This is what the Federal Government writes in its answer (19/18608) to a minor question by the AfD parliamentary group (19/18190). Since the conversion of the survey basis to the official real estate cadastre information system (ALKIS) in 2016, the area of settlement and transport has grown to 565 square kilometres. This corresponds to an increase of 1.1 percent compared to the previous year. The forest areas have grown by 376 square kilometres, the agricultural areas decreased by 1,012 square kilometres, the answer continues. The Federal Government continues to write that it is sticking to the objectives of the German sustainability strategy. According to this strategy, the increase in land consumption is to be slightly reduced to a maximum of 30 hectares per day by 2020 and to less than 30 hectares per day by 2030.

Alternative fuels: The use of alternative fuels is particularly suitable where, even in the long term, parts of the transport system cannot be directly electrified, or cannot be fully electrified, technically. This is what the Federal Government writes in an answer (19/18648) to a minor question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/17999). In it, the parliamentary group had asked for an assessment of the possibilities and the role of biologically and synthetically produced fuels for passenger and freight transport by road, air and sea. Discussions within the Federal Government on a suitable utilisation path had not been concluded, it said. Ecological and economic considerations had to be taken into account and the climate balance „had to be considered across sectors“, it continued. The Federal Government will become involved „early and actively“ at the European level, the government writes in response to the question of whether Germany will use its EU Council Presidency to adopt corresponding legal acts.
Waste incineration and recycling management: In 2018, the share of waste energy sources in the cement industry in fuel energy use was 67.5 percent. This share has increased over the past 20 years. In 1996 it was still 13 percent, the federal government announced in its answer (19/18606) to a minor question (19/18236) from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group. In 2018, the largest shares were accounted for by various industrial and commercial waste such as paper, cardboard, cellulose, plastics, packaging and textiles, as well as sewage sludge, processed municipal waste and used tyres, the government writes. In 2019, 53 cement plants were in operation in Germany. With the exception of one cement plant, waste is co-incinerated in all German plants. The waste balance sheet of the Federal Statistical Office shows a total waste volume of around 412 million tonnes for the reporting year 2017, the government writes. Of this amount, 333 million tonnes were recycled, 285 million tonnes of it materially and 48 million tonnes energetically.
Promotion of battery production: The Ministry of Economics and Energy is providing a total of 1.55 billion euros to promote battery cell production in Germany. This is what the Federal Government writes in its answer (19/18297) to a small question by the parliamentary group Die Linke (19/17648). Two consortia are currently seeking funding. Grant notices have not yet been sent out, but are currently being prepared for Opel/PSA. The federal government is therefore not yet able to provide information on the amount of the subsidies and the requirements for the companies. The German government expects the EU Commission to notify Tesla of its application for funding in mid-2020; only then can specific grants be determined. Part of the notifications will include a recourse clause so that subsidies can be reclaimed in the case of commercially successful projects.
Bundesrat criticises coal phase-out law: The Bundesrat has criticised the planned coal phase-out law (19/17342), calling for more attention to be paid to the expansion of renewable energies and adjustments to the regulations for hard coal regions. This is the result of a statement submitted by the Federal Government as information (19/18472). The regulations on compensation for the decommissioning of hard coal-fired power plants led to a disproportionately more disadvantageous treatment of hard coal-fired power plants and in several respects did not correspond to the recommendations of the Coal Commission, the Federal Council explained. The committee is asking the federal government to compensate for the „systematic unequal treatment“. The Bundesrat also calls for improvements in the regulations on combined heat and power generation, tenant electricity and the promotion of solar energy. In the draft, the opportunity to accelerate the expansion of renewable energies as a whole is missed, the Bundesrat further criticizes. „This includes in particular the lifting of the PV cap and the raising of the offshore cap“. The corresponding changes to the Renewable Energy Law would have to be implemented in the Coal Exit Law. The federal government largely rejects the Bundesrat’s proposed changes.

„We pretend that after the corona crisis we can simply return to the old neoliberal system. That won’t work, people won’t go along with it, it was already a problem after the financial crisis.“
Christian Neuhäuser, Professor of Philosophy and Managing Director of the Institute of Philosophy and Political Science at the TU Dortmund University, said that the great chance of the Corona crisis was to re-establish something like a republic. This means that the economy is in private hands, but not in the hands of very few capitalists who are only interested in their profits – but that the capital is widely distributed among the population. deutschlandfunk.de
„It is clear that everything must be done to at least mitigate this crisis. After all, it’s also about helping people who can’t work at the moment. There will be high unemployment rates, much higher than after the global financial crisis. Small companies in particular will have a very hard time. Restaurants, cafés, small shops. All the things that make European cities so attractive. Politicians have to counteract that.
Professor Harold James, British economic historian at Princeton, USA, said it was irresponsible to promise people that everything would go back to the way it was before. It is very unlikely that hotels, tourism and aviation will be able to simply carry on as before. So many jobs would be lost. A government would be stupid to guarantee people jobs in empty hotels. It would be like the government subsidies to the coal and steel industry after World War II. An efficient use of government resources would be different. Anyway, he thinks governments should be careful about making long-term promises. n-tv.de

Winners of the Corona crisis: Hedge funds and investment managers are currently enjoying large profits. The British Guardian reports that, for example, Jonathan Ruffer, founder of Ruffer Investments, tells his clients that he earned GBP 2.4 billion from the Corona stock market crash. His investment colleagueCrispin Odey, a strong supporter of brexite, has already earned millions by betting against the pound in the wake of the EU referendum. Brexiter and government member Jacob Rees-Moog, co-founder and 15% shareholder in Somerset Capital Management, speaks of a „very healthy profit in the corona crisis“ – when politicians are betting on „all power to financial capital“ and making laws accordingly, this behaviour is perfectly legal. Morally reprehensible, certainly, but it shows how little democratic politics today is focused on the whole of society, but a friend of strong lobby groups. A big weakness. fair-economics.de
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Tourism in times of Corona: What does tourism in times of Corona look like?  How could mobility be organised? Sustainability will play an important role in the future and above all regular tests of all participants.  fair-economics.de
More and more internal migration: Never before has the International Observatory for Internally Displaced Persons (IDMC) counted more people fleeing conflicts and disasters at home than in 2019. According to its latest report, last year there were 33.4 million – the highest number since 2012. This brings the total number worldwide to 45.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) from violence and war; 5.1 million were fleeing disasters. In total, the IDMC counted almost 51 million such refugees. The fate of these people, who, although displaced from their homes, did not flee across borders, is not given enough international attention, said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, to which the Monitoring Centre belongs. sueddeutsche.de , spiegel.de
Vienna: Duty to install solar plants on new buildings. focus.de
Amazon city: Ask Greta Thunberg for help. afp.com  
Giant hornets: Threatening bee colonies in the USA. welt.de
Philanthropists: A Georgian donates huge sums of money to fight COVID-19. fair-economics.de
Brazil: Bad forest fires in the Pantanal. pnn.de
Adder: In Germany highly endangered. wetter.de
Coastal waters: More young grey seals sighted. sueddeutsche.de
Corona crisis: Stop foreign bank transfers to developing countries. dw.com

Corona crisis collapses French fries consumption: Germany is no longer a French fries country, which makes the doctors happy, the potato farmers happy. Since there is no more consumption outside the home, the french fries business has collapsed. „The de facto cessation of out-of-home consumption is bringing sales in the whole of Europe practically to a standstill,“ the industry says. „Market experts currently believe in an overproduction of Pommes – potatoes at a value of two million tons in northwest Europe, that is about twenty per cent of the German total potato harvest.   rnd.de
German version
All photos: pixabay.com