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Network agency fears failure of hundreds of thousands of gas boilers: A regional gas shortage would be momentous. Meanwhile, Economics Minister Habeck calls the gas crisis a „quasi economic warfare“. In view of the gas crisis and rising energy prices, there is growing concern in the cities that municipal utilities could get into serious trouble – and that security of supply would thus be jeopardised. „The pressure on the municipal utilities is increasing every day,“ said the Chief Executive of the German Association of Cities, Helmut Dedy. If the municipal utilities were to pass on the rising prices, many households would be overwhelmed with the costs. If they did not pass them on, „then many municipal utilities could slide into insolvency, the supply of many households would no longer be secure“. ,


500,000 new heat pumps for the building sector: The installation of climate-friendly heat pumps is to be accelerated. Minister of Economics Habeck wants to put at least 500,000 new pumps into operation annually from 2024. In the view of the FDP, however, there is a lack of skilled workers. The federal government is planning an offensive to install heat pumps as a more climate-friendly alternative to oil and gas heating. In this way, it wants to promote a change in the heating of buildings by moving away from fossil fuels from Russia and at the same time promote climate protection. Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) and Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz (SPD) discussed the planned conversion of heating systems with industry representatives at a heat pump summit. However, there is a lack of skilled workers who can install this complicated technology. There are already waiting times of up to one year. ,

Pollution costs nine million people their lives – per year

Worldwide, more than nine million people die prematurely every year due to air contaminated with heavy metals such as lead or mercury. Lead alone kills more people worldwide than malaria. More than 90 percent of the deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In India, the situation is dramatic. Water pollution is high. In addition, people often have to cope with bad air due to heavy traffic, while indoor cooking is still partly done with charcoal.

Deforestation-free supply chain with gaps: At the EU Environment Ministers‘ Conference last week, not only was the end of the combustion engine on the agenda (see below), but a common position on a regulation for deforestation-free supply chains was also adopted. The new rules are intended to prevent wood, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, beef and soy, and products derived from them, from entering the EU internal market in future if their production has caused deforestation. But, as EU policy thrives on compromise, the proposal does not deliver on the promise of a deforestation-free supply chain – and large parts of tropical forests will not be protected. Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, forest expert at WWF, sees loopholes in the new regulation, because EU states are only supposed to control five percent of imported agricultural products from high-risk countries. Which countries are included is to be decided later.

US Supreme Court vs. climate protection: The issue was the extent to which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can force power plants to reduce their CO2 emissions. The majority opinion of the court, dominated by right-wing conservatives, was that limiting greenhouse gas emissions exceeded the EPA’s powers. The ruling comes at the worst possible time for President Joe Biden. For months, his administration has been trying to push forward the energy transition in the country. In the Senate, the Democrat lacks a majority in his own party due to the interventions of West Virginia Senator Joe Machin, who belongs to the Democrats. This state is largely based on coal production.  According to experts, the ruling will have dramatic consequences. ,

Robert Habeck is counting on a turnaround from above in energy policy: The renewable energies sector is now picking up speed, rejoices Robert Habeck at the presentation of the reformed Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). Grid expansion, enabling more offshore wind turbines and increasing the volume of tenders are the most important steps that are now pending. Dock’s critics complain that this primarily benefits the large energy companies and that the strengthening of decentralised structures is neglected.   It is true that there were some improvements for so-called citizen energy in the 600-page work. But the focus is on the large centralised plants. In this way, the Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection sets the direction: The energy transition from above. Whether the conversion to renewables succeeds depends on the fossil fuel economy.

Negotiations on a new biodiversity agreement end in disappointment: At least – negotiations continue. last weekend, negotiations on a global nature conservation agreement came to an end, while negotiations on the protection of the oceans are taking place in Lisbon. The Convention on Biological Diversity made no further progress. The negotiating text has a lot of parentheses writing what is still in dispute. In Lisbon, the issue is biodiversity on the high seas, which is to be finally negotiated in New York in August. In December, the governments are supposed to adopt the convention. States such as China, Russia, Iceland or Norway are concerned about protecting marine areas on paper, but continuing to fish or start deep-sea mining there. (Nairobi) , (Lisbon)


Garten Safari

On the trail of local nature. Tips for discovery all year round

Gardens are more than „just“ a collection of pretty plants. They provide a home for a variety of interesting animals. Some are rather secretive guests; others are shy but easy to observe – you just have to know where and when.  Whether bumblebees or butterflies, squirrels or robins: Animal roommates are active at any time of the year. With first-class colour photographs, Hannes Petrischak shows what there is to discover in a natural garden and when nature lovers and animal lovers should best go on safari. Supplemented by great close-up photos of butterflies, wild bees, birds & co., the book not only offers know-how, but also invites you to eventful discovery tours on your own doorstep.


Glass industry: Heavy dependence on gas.
Agreement of EU Environment Ministers: Cars emission-free from 2035.
Elbe: Low oxygen content could cause fish to die.
Water cut-off due to drought in Germany: Due to the lack of rain, water may no longer be drawn from rivers and lakes in many places.
USA: Biden government does not rule out offshore drilling.
Medical waste: COVID mass tests in China produce tens of thousands of tonnes of medical waste.


The G-7 want to become a global climate role model so that other countries will follow suit. But if they were to take their own resolutions seriously, they would have a lot of catching up to do themselves – as Elena Erdmann analyses and writes further: „Not a single one of the G-7 countries France, the USA, Japan, the UK, Italy, Canada and Germany has itself formulated sufficient targets and measures to meet the 1.5-degree target. This is despite the fact that these influential industrialised nations historically bear a significant share of the blame for climate change. So as long as they do not align their own goals with these targets, their policies remain hypocritical. (…) If Germany really wanted to keep its own promise in the agreement on this G-7 summit, the government would have to revise its own climate targets

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.


What three degrees of warming mean for the world

Climate physicist Stefan Rahmstorf says how climate systems would change, why that would not be a good future, and what tipping points he is betting on.

In just three years, the 1.5 degree mark for global warming could be broken, at least temporarily, the World Meteorological Organisation predicts. Currently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also sees the planet on a direct path to heating up by three degrees compared to the time before industrialisation. It’s a world we don’t want to live in. What it could look like is the subject of this Gradmesser episode with climate physicist Stefan Rahmstorf. But why does the temperature continue to rise when the countries of the world have agreed on a completely different goal in the Paris Climate Agreement? This question is answered, as well as why temperatures in Germany would rise by significantly more than three degrees in a world that is three degrees warmer, what climate tipping points have to do with coffee cups and whether global warming could actually get out of control.


Will e-mobility fail because of one raw material? From 2035, no new cars with petrol or diesel engines are to be registered in Europe. But with e-mobility as an alternative, a crucial raw material could become scarce, an authority warns – and suggests ways out.The transport turnaround is in full swing. The EU environment ministers have agreed that newly registered cars should be climate-neutral from 2035, i.e. emit no CO2. E-cars play an important role in this, after all they have no exhaust from which exhaust gases come. But one important raw material in the batteries of e-cars is in short supply – and is becoming increasingly scarce: lithium. Due to its properties, the light metal is indispensable in current lithium-ion batteries and thus one of the key raw materials for the transport revolution. Lithium is even needed for hydrogen cars, as batteries store the energy from the fuel cell.

9 Euro Ticket is a hit: For a month now, people have been able to use the 9-Euro-Ticket on local transport throughout Germany. The popularity is enormous – 21 million special tickets have been sold. Apparently, this also resulted in fewer traffic jams.

Rail travel and climate protection: Rail travel means protecting the climate. After all, the ICEs run on 100 per cent green electricity, as Deutsche Bahn advertises its long-distance services. But what do such figures mean? And can the railways do even more for climate protection, as some are demanding? According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), people who take the train save many times as much CO2 as they do by car or plane. Only long-distance buses and coaches can keep up with the low emissions per passenger kilometre. In local transport, on the other hand, only cyclists and pedestrians are more environmentally friendly. In view of the climate crisis, it is therefore a correct and important goal that as many people and goods as possible travel by rail. Nevertheless, rail transport also causes large amounts of greenhouse gases every year. According to the annual report, 18.5 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted last year by the Deutsche Bahn Group alone. That is around 2.4 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in Germany calculated by the UBA for the year 2021. Many diesel locomotives are still in use, thousands of kilometres of track have no electric overhead line. And even though the company advertises 100 per cent green electricity in long-distance transport, the overall electricity mix still includes gas and coal. So there is a need to catch up.

Study: New cars remain scarce and expensive.

Federal Association for E-Mobility criticises the federal government’s master plan for charging infrastructure: The Federal Association for E-Mobility (BEM) criticises the Federal Government’s Master Plan for Charging Infrastructure for being too focused on the automobile. It lacks concepts for light vehicles and last-mile logistics as well as for water and air transport.

UN states apparently want to halve the number of road deaths by 2030: Worldwide, around 1.3 million people die in road traffic every year. According to the WHO, UN members want to adopt a declaration to change this. „Road safety affects everyone,“ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced. „Yet our transport systems remain far too dangerous.“ No death on the roads should be tolerated.


Price discussion: As energy prices rise, so does the price of hydrogen. H2 fuel was previously sold in Germany at a fixed price. The Clean Energy Partnership set this H2 price per kilogramme many years ago – first at 8 euros, then at 9.50 euros. In response to a question from HZwei, Kurt-Christoph von Knobelsdorff, Managing Director of the National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW) GmbH, explained at the start of the Hanover Fair: „It may well be that this political price will have to rise first, because it is also in line with all the other fuel prices. And so it came to pass: just one day later, H2 Mobility raised the H2 price for the first time since the company was founded. Since 7 June, a kilogramme of hydrogen has cost a uniform 12.85 euros at all filling stations serviced by this industry consortium. According to the company, the cost of driving an H2 car per 100 km is nevertheless „still lower than for comparable journeys with conventional fuels or with a battery-electric car using a publicly accessible fast charging station“.

Innovation: Hydrogen from methanol powers ships. Together with partners, Fraunhofer researchers have developed the „HyMethShip“ propulsion concept, in which hydrogen is obtained from methanol. The technology does not require large hydrogen tanks on board and is therefore much safer. In the future, it could also be interesting for cruise ships.

New hydrogen alliances forged: Demand for „green“ hydrogen is booming due to the stricter EU climate targets. German and French companies are now joining forces. Demand for „green“ hydrogen is booming due to the stricter EU climate targets. In order to ramp up the production of this versatile ­energy carrier, which has ­so far only been produced in small quantities from­­ renewable sources, industrial groups are increasingly joining forces. ­For example, the German power engineering group Siemens Energy and the French industrial gas producer Air Liquide announced on Thursday that they would deepen their partnership to build electrolysers in a joint venture.

China starts catching up with green hydrogen – and could push Europe out of the market: Experts warn of cut-throat competition in hydrogen technology, as in the solar industry. European manufacturers are even participating in China’s upswing.

H2 trains in the Taunus: RMV wants to put 27 hydrogen-powered trains on the rails. This is to become the largest fleet of its kind in the world. The first trains will be used for the first time in winter in the Taunus region.

#Duisport and Port of Amsterdam join forces: Green hydrogen – Europe’s largest inland port, Duisport, and the Port of Amsterdam want to join forces in the development of a Europe-wide value chain for green hydrogen. Joint strategic initiatives in the areas of energy transition and expansion of the hinterland network are to be conceptualised and implemented. Against the background of the blackmail attempts by the Russian dictator V. Putin, green hydrogen and its distribution are of great strategic importance, especially for Germany, but also for Europe.


Measures against rising commodity prices in the construction industry: A global surge in demand due to economic recovery after the end of the pandemic lockdowns has put further strain on already strained supply chains. This was written by the federal government in an answer (20/2279) to a minor question (20/2135) by the AfD parliamentary group. The MPs had asked what the causes of the massive inflation of raw materials had been even before the war in Ukraine. In response to the question of whether the Federal Government had taken action against the inflation and shortage of raw materials in the construction industry, the answer states: „The Federal Government reacted quickly and immediately to the price increases for building materials, some of which were extreme, as a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine as early as the end of March.“ The Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Construction and the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport had given advice on how to act in terms of construction procurement and construction contract law. So-called material price escalator clauses are to be included in tenders for federal construction measures for the product groups particularly affected. „These clauses result in a participation of the federal government in rising material prices of the companies, oriented to relevant indices of the Federal Statistical Office.“ Meanwhile, for existing contracts, legal ways would be shown to what extent subsequent price adjustments would be permissible or even necessary despite the fact that the material procurement risk basically lies with the company.

Union criticises energy saving campaign: The Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag criticises the federal government’s energy saving campaign. In a small question (20/2444), the MPs complain that the campaign, against the background of a dramatic energy security situation, misses the central challenge, namely „to save energy now in order to be best prepared for the coming winter, even if gas supplies from Russia in particular are used as political leverage“. The CDU and CSU MPs therefore ask the federal government why it has avoided proposing concrete savings targets for individual sectors as measurable objectives of such a campaign; what energy savings targets it has set for the coming years and whether these have been updated in the light of energy price increases; and whether further relief is planned for lower income groups due to expected rising energy prices. In addition, the MPs want to know what non-bureaucratic incentives, for example energy saving vouchers, are planned and what efficiency obligations go hand in hand with this, what agreements or voluntary commitments to save energy have been agreed with industry, especially with electricity and gas suppliers, but also with the Länder and municipalities.

Support in rural areas: Since 2014, a total of around twelve billion euros (exact sum: 11,951,736,000) has been paid to the Länder by the federal government for rural development measures. This is the result of the Federal Government’s answer (20/2282) to a small question (20/2044) of the AfD parliamentary group. The MPs wanted to know, among other things, how much the federal government pays annually to the Länder for rural development measures. The answer stated that the federal government financially supports the Länder in measures for the development of rural areas through the joint task „Improvement of the agricultural structure and coastal protection“ (GAK). The GAK is the most important national instrument for co-financing measures of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and covers the scope of the EAFRD to a large extent.

Criticism of government plans to reduce gas consumption: The proposals of the coalition factions to reduce gas consumption in Germany have met with fierce criticism in parts from experts. This became clear at a public hearing of the Committee for Climate Protection and Energy on the draft law „on the provision of replacement power plants to reduce gas consumption in the electricity sector in the event of an imminent gas shortage through amendments to the Energy Industry Act and other energy industry regulations“ (EKWG) (20/2356) on Friday evening.


The taxation of excess profits does not seem to have a majority in the coalition, so we are now using anti-trust law. However, we have to reform this, because it has never been possible to skim off these excess profits, i.e. to provide proof. But that is not acceptable, it is already in the law – an idea of the legislator that cannot be applied, that is unsatisfactory. So my proposal now is that we change the cartel law, we make a cartel law with claws and teeth, we go back to the original idea of the social market economy, as it were – that is the tradition of my House: competition ensures favourable prices, favourable prices are good for consumers, they are good for Germany.

Robert Habeck, Federal Minister of Economics and Climate Change (Greens), it would only be possible if all coalition partners agreed. He did not know whether anything would happen, he could not take it off the table, he thought it was a good idea, and he would not take it off the table, but what he could do was to make a proposal that would have a similar effect. And that is what we are doing now, and that is why we are now trying to reform cartel law as quickly as possible.


„We need to remove trade barriers in food“. Northern Kenya and many regions of Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. According to the United Nations (UN), some 17 million people in the Horn of Africa have too little to eat. The number could rise to 20 million by September 2022. However, drought is not the only reason for the food crisis, says agricultural economist Timothy Njagi. He does research at the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. In an interview, he talks, among other things, about the role of the European Union and its „Green Deal“ and explains what the member states could do in the future to improve supply in Africa – not only in the current crisis, but in the long term.

Cobalt: The dirty metal behind green mobility: Cobalt ensures that laptops, smartphones and e-cars do not run out of power. But most of the metal comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo – and is mined under questionable conditions.

Ghana: „The new law would force many queer Ghanaians to flee“. Ghana is planning an anti-queer law. If it comes, there is the threat of imprisonment if you define yourself as not heterosexual. Activist Davis Mac-Iyalla is fighting against it.

Kenya – Election campaign in hot phase: Kenyan presidential candidate William Ruto on Thursday presented the main policies he would implement if elected president on 9 August. In a speech in Nairobi, Ruto promised to implement the plan of his Kenya-Kwanza coalition. Addressing a large number of supporters, the deputy president stressed that the measures contained in the manifesto were aimed at achieving „sustained growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability and empowering people at the bottom of the pyramid“. Last week, the 55-year-old former agriculture minister said that if elected, he would expel Chinese nationals who fill jobs that could also be performed by locals. „The Chinese who roast maize and sell mobile phones, we will deport all of them to their country,“ Ruto told an economic forum on 21 June as the election campaign prepares for the crucial vote.

Mali: UN Security Council extends Mali peacekeeping mission. The controversial mission in the African crisis state is to continue – that is what the UN Security Council wants. However, Mali’s government announced that it could not guarantee UN access to investigate human rights violations.

Namibia: Restitution of looted art – Twenty-three objects have already arrived: Namibia shows how restitution can succeed in practice – beyond all ideological excitement.

Biontech plant in Rwanda: A bit of charity, a bit of lobbying.With great press hype, Biontech laid the foundation stone of its first plant in Africa. But the vaccine is currently neither in demand nor needed – and according to critics there would even be better options on the continent.

Refugees in Melilla: Kenya says last week’s incident in Melilla on the border between Morocco and Spain, in which dozens of African migrants trying to reach Europe were crushed to death, is another sign of „inequality“ in the treatment of refugees from the continent. Addressing the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Kenya said the incident was the latest reminder that African refugees are still treated differently in Europe, despite countries having signed global refugee laws. „We have observed that the Security Council and its members show great concern about the fate of refugees from other conflicts. The most recent and dramatic example is the aftermath of the war in Ukraine. We believe that Africans fleeing wars and insecurity in their countries deserve the same attention,“ said Dr Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN. He briefed the media on Wednesday evening after Kenya requested a closed-door meeting to discuss the incident.


Remove hurdles, increase speed: Twelve measures for the expansion of photovoltaics and wind energy: Renewable energies are soon to take over a large part of Germany’s energy supply – photovoltaics and wind energy are becoming mainstays of the electricity supply. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has also shown that an accelerated expansion of renewable energies is also a question of energy supply security. Even though the pressure to act is greater than ever, concrete expansion projects are still being slowed down or even completely thwarted by various obstacles.

The number of storms is decreasing, but the intensity is increasing: Climate change is increasing weather extremes. For example, there are more droughts, but also more floods, whose intensity is also increasing. However, this rule does not apply to all extreme weather events. The number of hurricanes and other storms in the tropics has actually decreased, as an international research team has now shown in a study. However, the development is not entirely positive. The intensity of the storms has increased – and is likely to increase further. Tropical cyclones have become rarer since the beginning of industrialisation and thus the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This trend was found in most of the world’s oceans. One exception, however, is the North Atlantic, where the number of storms increased.

Bacteria can convert wood waste into bioplastics: Plastic is one of the major problem substances of our time. This is evidenced by huge plastic islands in the sea as well as almost omnipresent microplastics. In the fight against petroleum-based plastic, the EU-wide project Bionanopolys was launched. The aim of the project is to optimise different bacteria so that they produce bioplastics or at least the building blocks for them. To do this, the components of biomass – such as wood waste – are used in such a way that biopolymers can be built. The building blocks of biopolymers include lactic acid and polyhydroxybutyric acid (PHB). These can be used for clothing coatings and food packaging, but can also be used in the pharmaceutical or cosmetics industries. It is true that bioplastics are still about five times as expensive as petroleum-based plastics. But the cost of crude oil is skyrocketing and the demand for biopolymers is steadily increasing. 

Bio-cement: Researchers in Singapore have developed a bio-cement that is supposed to be significantly more sustainable and at the same time cheaper than previous products.
Trees: Cool hot cities, but they need urgent help.
20,000 deaths: High temperatures in the years from 2018 to 2020 have led to significant excess mortality.


A software developer fights for personality rights of a chatbot: Did the AI chatbot LaMDA accidentally develop its own consciousness in Google labs? A Google employee who claimed this was let go. During test dialogues with LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), software developer Blake Lemoine noticed numerous utterances by the chatbot in which it displayed self-awareness, philosophised and described complex feelings – up to and including its „fear of being shut down“. Lemoine has been working on search algorithms and artificial intelligence at Google for seven years, most recently in the Responsible AI team. He did not help develop LaMDA; his job was to test the AI and detect social biases in its answers.

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