FAIReconomics Newsletter Week 2020                                   German version
Digital and green stimulus packages: Corona economic stimulus packages must be green and digital, Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze advocates this. At the re:publica 2020, which this year completely shifted the Internet, the minister spoke out against turning back the wheel on climate protection with the beginning „new normality“ in dealing with the corona virus. Digitalisation has already brought about changes in society. Suddenly it was possible to insert a video link instead of a meeting on site „in the morning in between“. Many people are currently experiencing this and will probably continue to ask themselves why they should „drive around for ten hours“ for a meeting. heise.de

Headwind against wreckage bonus: Monika Schnitzer, member of the German Council of Economic Experts, has spoken out against state purchase bonuses for all new cars. „This is pure lobbying, just like the demand to now cut back on environmental regulations,“ said the Wirtschaftsweise. „Incentives are being used to bring forward purchases that will not be made in subsequent years.“ In addition, the incentives would be used to buy foreign car brands. Schnitzer: „At least that was the case with the last scrapping program during the financial crisis.“ Especially the car industry, according to the economist, had long „missed important trends like e-mobility and hydrogen technology“. So the corona pandemic could not be an excuse to cement the old business model for many more years. The economist can, however, basically imagine help for the car industry. „A combination of purchase premiums, e.g. for electric cars, combined with investments in charging infrastructures could already make sense“, said Schnitzer. spiegel.defaz.de

Around 27,730 public charging points are currently accessible in Germany. Of these, 14 percent are quick chargers. At the end of last year there were still 23,840 charging points. This is an increase of over 16 percent within the first four months – despite the Corona crisis. bdew.de

Decrease in NO2 values during the corona crisis: In almost all federal states a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide values was measured due to reduced road traffic.  In Berlin, for example, the NO2 values during the corona shutdown fell by an average of almost 30 percent compared to the previous months. In no federal state did the values increase. This is in complete contrast to publications in recent weeks according to which the values remained the same or even increased despite the reduced traffic volume. A measuring station in Stuttgart’s Neckartor was repeatedly in the spotlight.  There, the average NO2 concentration in March and April had slightly increased compared to February values. Even if the traffic there decreased, this was due to a change in the weather. In February rain and wind had caused extraordinarily low values. tagesschau.defair-economics.de

Electricity prices in Germany: Only Denmark is still more expensive than Germany in terms of electricity prices. At the end of 2019, Germany had to pay 28.70 euros per 100 kilowatt hours. In Denmark, the price was still 50 cents higher, but on average in Europe consumers pay only 21.60 euros. with a price increase of 1.3 percent within one year. Incidentally, prices have fallen in Germany. The European statistics authority has determined a price reduction of 4.2 percent. Not to forget, the tax authorities have a 54 percent share in the bill, that’s how high taxes and duties are. In Denmark it is 64 percent wiwo.de
Household waste mountains are growing: In the corona crisis, the amount of waste is growing, the industry estimates that it is about 20 percent. The associations are worried that waste separation is no longer working. „There is increasing evidence that households are stopping sorting,“ the German Association for Waste Management, DGAW, is quoted as saying. The reason for this is that the tonnes are no longer sufficient for the increased volume of household waste. Illegal dumping has also increased. In some cases, waste is simply thrown into the countryside, especially in the vicinity of closed recycling yards and in the area of publicly erected collection containers. welt.de
Forest clearing for gravel extraction in Bavaria: The Bavarian construction industry uses around 120 million tons of gravel every year, which is needed for the production of concrete. Some of this gravel is taken from river valleys or from the so-called Munich gravel plain, remnants of the last ice age. However, more and more natural habitats are being destroyed and forests cleared for gravel extraction. But there have long been alternatives using construction waste. Experts assume that around 20 percent of natural gravel could be saved. br.de

No Car – Eine Streitschrift für die Mobilität der Zukunft
Autonomous, electric, networked – these are the keywords that are to describe the mobility of the future; they are not missing in any Sunday speech. But neither electric nor autonomous driving has a future. But networked driving will shape mobility: with long-distance trains, trams and perhaps man’s best invention, the bicycle. Cars have no place here, they are too inefficient and their ecological balance is too devastating. There are plenty of alternatives. Salomon Scharffenberg presents them. This book is a provocative contribution to the question of what sustainable and responsible mobility can look like. oekom.de

European Solar Research and Industry: Concerned about missing signals for the industry in the EU Green Deal. fair-economics.de
Allianz: The insurance company presents itself as climate-friendly, but a second glance disillusioned. wiwo.de
Corona crisis: puts the brakes on investments in climate protection.  manager-magazin.de
New study: How digitization can affect climate protection. zfk.de
Drought: Forests and fields are at their limits. klimareporter.de
Coalition dispute: CDU and SPD on confrontation course in climate and energy policy. handelsblatt.com
New registrations down: Due to the corona crisis, the number of new car registrations in April fell by 61.1 percent compared to the same month last year. A total of 120,840 new passenger cars were registered in April.  58 per cent were registered for companies and just under 42 per cent for private buyers. All German car manufacturers show double-digit declines. Only Tesla increased by ten percent. manager-magazin.de

Decrease in sales of bicycles: There were only a few federal states where bicycle shops were allowed to open in the first phase of the pandemic. For example in Berlin. Retailers complained about 20 and 30 percent less sales in the first weeks of April.  After the LockUp have. „…the customers … have literally overrun the shops (…) despite strict hygiene regulations, leaving us hardly a free minute more“, says one bicycle dealer. In the meantime, bicycles are above all everyday vehicles. But the picture is different. Everyday mobility, especially of the younger generations, is no longer so clearly dominated by the car; in the older generations, the car is very important.  83 percent of the approximately three million households in Hessen have a car, but only 77 percent have at least one bicycle.. sueddeutsche.de , faz.net
Brussels city centre unusually quiet: It is unusually quiet in Brussels city centre. This is to remain so after the loosening up during the pandemic, because cyclists, but also pedestrians, are to be given priority and more space in future. The reactions are mixed. tagesschau.de
Electric highway in Hesse is stuck: Due to corona restrictions, only two test vehicles can be on the track.  Actually there should be twice as many. On a five-kilometer section of the route, special hybrid trucks can refuel on an overhead line. elektroniknet.de

Plus bus instead of disconnected: They are to close gaps in the transport network and thus make public transport in rural areas more attractive: Plus buses are spreading from Saxony to Germany. zeit.de

No subsidy for night trains: According to its own statement, the German government is open to an expansion of the offer for night train services. The prerequisite is an economically viable design of the offer, according to the answer (19/18819) to a minor question by the parliamentary group Die Linke (19/17474). Night train services fell within the scope of long-distance passenger transport and were operated economically by railway undertakings (RUs), which would weigh up the expected demand and economic viability, the reply said. At the same time, the competitiveness of the rail mode of transport in terms of demand and economic efficiency was influenced by corresponding offers. In order to strengthen the competitiveness of long-distance passenger transport compared to air transport, the Federal Government had decided on measures within the framework of the Climate Protection Programme 2030. By reducing the VAT rate for long-distance rail travel from 19 to 7 percent, rail tickets would become cheaper – the tax on flight tickets, on the other hand, had been increased as of 1 April 2020.“

Expansion of the charging infrastructure: The factions of the governing coalition want to accelerate the expansion of charging infrastructure for electromobility in buildings. To this end, the CDU/CSU and SPD have presented a bill (19/18962). The Building Electromobility Infrastructure Act (Gebäude-Elektromobilitätsinfrastruktur-Gesetz – GEIG) implements a corresponding EU building directive into national law. In the draft, the MPs declare that residential and non-residential buildings with large parking spaces should be addressed. „This will create the conditions to improve the possibilities for charging electric vehicles at home, at work and when running everyday errands“. This will be made possible by a better infrastructure and more charging points. In concrete terms, all parking spaces in residential buildings that are to be built or when a residential building with more than ten parking spaces is undergoing major renovation will in future be equipped with the line infrastructure for electric mobility. For non-residential buildings, one in five parking spaces is reported to be equipped with such infrastructure. In addition, at least one charging point is to be set up. The law does not apply to non-residential buildings owned by small and medium-sized enterprises, which are largely used by themselves. There are also exceptions where the cost of the charging and wiring infrastructure in existing buildings exceeds seven percent of the total cost of a major renovation of the building. Public buildings that are already subject to comparable requirements are excluded from the rules. Those who violate the law should be liable to fines. The law also only applies to the charging infrastructure for passenger cars and delivery vehicles.
Extensive climate protection demanded: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group has submitted a motion (19/18961) calling on the federal government to present a climate plan for climate-friendly, ecological and animal-friendly agriculture and a forest protection plan for the conversion of the entire area into a climate-friendly, near-natural forest. The government should also submit plans for resilient and liveable cities, as well as for retaining water in the landscape and ensuring water supplies. For the year 2020, he said, there was a threat of „another prolonged dry period“. The decisive factor is that climate protection „should not be put off for a long time“, but that measures should be implemented quickly and effectively, the MEPs write in the motion. The cornerstones of the climate plan must be measures to increase carbon sequestration in the soil and humus formation. Agroforestry systems, mixed crops and other crop rotations with catch crops must also be promoted. A pesticide reduction programme to protect soil life must be included. Diversification programmes are needed for farms to help them grow and market drought-adapted crops. The Greens also call for a support programme to increase the share of organic farming to at least 30 percent of the cultivated area by 2030 and the expansion of regional processing and marketing structures.
Experts criticise high land losses: In order to achieve the goal originally planned for 2020 and now postponed to 2030 of limiting the growth of settlement and transport areas to 30 hectares per day, increased efforts are needed. This was made clear by the experts invited to a public expert discussion of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Sustainable Development on Wednesday evening on the topic of „Land use – sustainable land use“. A stronger focus on more compact forms of settlement or on the priority of internal over external development was necessary, said Professor Dirk Löhr of the University of Applied Sciences in Trier. Thomas Preuss of the German Institute of Urban Affairs called for the removal of economic disincentives. Stefan Petzold of the Nabu Federal Association emphasized that the goal must be to achieve net zero land consumption as quickly as possible. Petzold said that the loss of land is currently 60 hectares per day, which corresponds to the area of Frankfurt am Main, and called for better protection of land from development. He referred to the soil protection clause in paragraph 1a of the building code, „which must be lived“. This states: „Land and soil should be used sparingly and carefully; in order to reduce the additional use of land for construction purposes, the possibilities for community development should be used, in particular by making land usable again, redensification and other measures for internal development, and soil sealing should be limited to the necessary extent“. bundestag.de
Light plastic bags – ban controversial: The draft law to ban light plastic bags is controversial. This became clear during the public technical discussion of the Committee for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety held via video conference on Wednesday afternoon. „The question we are facing today is whether this first action to combat the plastic flood is the right way to go,“ said Chairwoman Sylvia Kotting-Uhl (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), describing the problem. The draft of a first law to amend the packaging law (19/16503) is about reducing light plastic carrier bags, i.e. those with a wall thickness of 15 to 50 micrometers. Currently, around 20 plastic carrier bags with the corresponding wall thickness are consumed in Germany per year and per head. This is generally „an inefficient use of resources,“ writes the government, because these bags are less frequently reused than plastic carrier bags made of stronger material. Certain very light plastic carrier bags, so-called shirt bags for fruit and vegetables, for example, are to be exempted from the ban bundestag.de

„The focus on this coronavirus and the crisis that accompanies it is not only a health system crisis, but what is happening right now is an economic collapse, with all the economic and social consequences. It is therefore not just a figure that has to do with the sick and the dead, but over 190 million jobs have been lost, the economy is shrinking, bankruptcies, unemployment, especially in developing countries, no social security systems, government systems are collapsing. In other words, what we have here is a crisis that has brought the world to an almost complete standstill within 12 or 16 weeks, and that of course has consequences such as we have never experienced before in this form, at least not in the last 75 years‘.
Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), he believes that communities would become more resistant, as can be seen in the very different results that countries are currently achieving in combating this virus. Whether one takes the Indian state of Kerala as an example, it is there that it has just become clear how worthwhile it is to invest not only in health systems, but also in public education and crisis management. That’s why Kerala has handled this crisis surprisingly well… This means that investments in health systems, social security systems, but also in a competent government that is capable of dealing with crises at this moment, is paying off very well. And of course, against the backdrop of the corona crisis, this is exactly what is now very much in jeopardy, because many countries would perhaps lose years, perhaps even decades of their development progress. deutschlandfunk.de
„A decisive lesson is: The climate crisis is not new. Human societies have brought it about, especially those that benefit financially from industrialisation. In most ruling systems, only one part of society is responsible for it, another part has to pay for it. And this part then has to cope with the fact that the environment is changing radically and that it has less and less opportunity to adapt. When the US forced Indians to relocate to remote areas, they had to adapt to new ecosystems in a very short period of time.“
Kyle Whyte, professor of indigenous climate justice, said indigenous communities have a long history of education and research. But colonialism has silenced them. We need to confidently revive and nurture our science. The Karuk people, for example, had now systematically recorded their knowledge of landscape conservation with the help of controlled fires. Since 1994, the Institute for Sustainable Development at the College of Menominee Nation has also been in existence. There, indigenous scientists have been studying how the menominees manage a forest in their reserve that is culturally and economically important to them. enorm-magazin.de

Employee participation in companies: A recently published study compiles for the first time which models of employee share ownership exist in Germany and in the member states of the European Union. Employee share ownership is an important instrument for attracting and retaining skilled workers for companies. Employees become shareholders and participate in the economic development of their company. The aim of the Federal Government is to increase employee share ownership, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups. bmwi.de

Germany has enough areas for wolves: In many areas of Germany the possibility exists that in the course of the propagation further wolf territories are created. With passing wolves must be counted on in whole Germany. It is therefore essential to promote and implement herd protection measures and thus protect grazing animals from wolf attacks. This is the only way to prevent attacks on livestock in the long term. In Germany, there are between 700 and 1,400 potential wolf areas available, from the Alps and the Alpine foothills to the current distribution areas in Saxony, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt and on to Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The authors of a study emphasize that wolves can live not only in forests but also in agriculturally used areas. „Wolves do not need wilderness untouched by humans“, said BfN President Beate Jessel, „undisturbed retreat areas are more than enough.“  taz.de
Still child labour on cocoa plantations: The major chocolate producers had committed themselves to reducing child labour on cocoa plantations. In the meantime, the opposite seems to be the case. Yet, in order to avoid legal regulations in the USA, 19 years ago the manufacturers conceded in the so-called Harkin-Engel-Protocol to reduce at least the most dangerous forms of child labour in the main cocoa growing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, by 70 percent. 2015 was set as the target, but even 2020 was not reached. spiegel.de
US drinking water: is contaminated in many places with industrial chemicals that can cause cancer. deutschlandfunk.de 
Famine in Africa: Minister Müller warns that 25 million people are threatened by famine in East Africa br.de
Land prices: Rising prices for arable land are becoming a problem for farmers dlf.de
Not only for white people: African countries are being neglected in the public perception of the climate movement. editionf.com
Fakenews make life difficult for doctors: doctors around the world are sounding the alarm because of false reports. Now they published an „open letter“ in which they complained about the fakash information. „As doctors, nurses and health experts from all over the world we must now sound the alarm. It is our duty to ensure the safety of people. However, at this moment we are not only dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic, but also with a worldwide „infodemia“, where misinformation, which is virally spread in the social media, endangers human lives all over the world. Reports claiming that cocaine is a cure or that COVID-19 was developed by China or the US as a biological weapon have spread faster than the virus itself. Technology companies are trying to respond by deleting certain content when it is reported and at the same time allowing the World Health Organization to run free ads.  But these efforts are far from enough. The tidal wave of false and misleading content about the corona virus is not an isolated outbreak of disinformation, but part of a global problem. On Facebook we’ve seen claims that chlorine dioxide helps people suffering from autism and cancer, that millions of Americans have been given a „cancer virus“ by the polio shot, or that ADHD was invented by the big pharmaceutical companies, and so on. More on. mehr auf  avaaz.org
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