FAIReconomics Newsletter KW 28/2020 german Version
Bundestag decides coal phase-out: On Friday the Bundestag passed the coal phase-out law. But in the meantime, criticism has been voiced about the high payments, which will make the companies gold rather than silver the exit. 4.35 billion euros are to be transferred to RWE and Leag for the decommissioning of all power plants by 2038 at the latest. The Federal Ministry of Economics says little about the basis of calculation. A calculation by the Freiburg Öko-Institut on behalf of the environmental organization Klima-Allianz reveals: Up to two billion euros is too much. Developments on the electricity markets in recent years – especially the expansion of renewable energies and rising CO2 prices in emissions trading – have contributed to lignite coming under increasing pressure. As a result, power plant operators are no longer able to cover the full costs of electricity production from lignite, so the Leag would only be entitled to 0.77 billion euros instead of 1.75. RWE would be entitled to between 1.66 and 2.66 billion euros, depending on the „conversion costs of the opencast mines“. In the worst case, the government has promised the coal companies almost twice as much tax money as they are entitled to according to the current market situation. spiegel.de , oeko.de (Calculations)
Record level for renewables: With a 55.8 percent share of net electricity generation for public power generation – the electricity mix that comes out of the socket – renewables set a new record. In February, their share was as high as 61.8 percent. Solar and wind power plants together fed 102.9 terawatt hours (TWh) into the public grid, compared with 92.3 TWh in the first half of 2019. In contrast, electricity production from coal fell sharply: the share of lignite fell to 13.7 percent, while hard coal now accounts for only 6 percent. Wind energy was again the strongest source of energy with a share of 30.6 percent. fair-economics.de
2.8 kilos of greenhouse gases are emitted for the production of one kilo of soy-based meat substitute. For pork the emission is 4.1 kg, for poultry 4.3 kg and for beef even 30.5 kg. Vegetable meat substitutes perform best compared to conventionally produced meat. One of the reasons for this is that plants such as wheat and soya can be used directly for human nutrition. If plants are first used as animal feed, significantly more plant calories and also significantly more arable land, water and energy are needed until the calories reach humans. umweltbundesamt.de
Meat industry in focus: COVID-19 diseases in Tönnies – slaughterhouses, the former SPD – chairman, Foreign and Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel as a consultant in the meat company, who has now also confirmed his activities. However, this is also one of the developments this week. The German slaughterhouses implemented more before and at the beginning of the crisis than ever before. Before and at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis they had record turnovers. In the first four months of this year, revenues rose by 14.8 percent to 14.2 billion euros compared to 2019. With 3.9 billion euros, March was the strongest month in terms of sales since the surveys began. One reason for the sales growth was the high Chinese demand from China. The controversial meat manufacturer Tönnies has profited most from this. sueddeutsche.de (Gabriel) , tagesschau.de , destatis.de ((Figures Federal Statistical Office)
Electricity is more expensive in the country than in the city: the electricity bill depends on where you live. It is common knowledge that there is a difference between north and south or east and west, but there are also differences between town and country. Consumers in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in particular have to pay more. Calculations have shown that electricity in the countryside is two percent more expensive than in the city. 25 euros for an annual consumption of 4,250 kilowatt hours. This is mainly due to the grid usage fees, which are passed on to the few households in less populated areas. After all, they account for 25 percent of the electricity price. zeit.de
Inexplicable elephant deaths in Botswana: Hundreds of elephants have died in Botswana in an inexplicable way. The gamekeepers in the Okavango Delta have now discovered more than 275 carcasses. The animal welfare organisation Elephants Without Borders even estimates that 356 animals have died. Poaching is ruled out for the dead animals. The animal welfare organisation has also come across living elephants, which, however, appeared emaciated and lethargic. tagesspiegel.de
Misleading animal testing: The Dow Chemical/Corteva group, but also the regulatory authorities, are suspected that the results of an animal test on the insecticide chlorpyrifos were misleadingly presented in 1998, and that the authorities corrected it only last year. The chemist Axel Mie of the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institute claims that the company allegedly concealed the fact that the cerebellums of young rats were smaller when their mothers were exposed to Chlorpyrifos during pregnancy. Only very small amounts were sufficient. In 2005, the EU reinstated the insecticide based on these findings. It has been banned since the beginning of this year. The EU, the researchers said, must investigate manipulation. Even though the product is no longer allowed to be sprayed in Germany, traces of it were found in grapefruits, bananas and oranges just two years ago. taz.de
BOOKTIP OF THE WEEK:
This is what author Ralf Roschlau is doing, whose central questions are How do we feed the increasing number of people in the world? How do we get our consumption and mobility behaviour under control? How can we limit the worldwide sealing of land and the associated destruction of natural areas and biodiversity? How do we create a fairer world? And what do sustainable policies and climate-friendly reorientation of the economy look like?
In his book, Ralf Roschlau outlines guidelines for a social reorientation that will allow us all to continue to live on earth – after all, we only have this one. oekom.de
Electronic waste: Mountain grows unstoppable. pcgameshardware.de
Arbeitgeberpräsident: Right to a home office is pure nonsense. rnd.de
Patents on chimpanzees: European Patent Office revokes patents and sets precedent.tagesschau.de
Wind turbines: May continue to flash.. rbb.24.de
Spain: Half of the coal-fired power plants will be closed. handelsblatt.com
Not automatically environmentally friendly: synthetic fuels. klimareporter.de
The seventeen goals magazine tells inspiring stories about how people move the world and shows how everyone can contribute to achieving sustainability goals.
Sustainable urban development or: How we want to live tomorrow
All over the world, cities are growing inexorably: already today, every 2nd person lives in the city. Sustainable urban development is facing major challenges to find solutions – but what does sustainable urban development actually mean? 17goalsmagazin.de
Hofreiter urges car companies to switch to climate-neutral drives: The Green parliamentary party leader Anton Hofreiter warns German car companies that they would miss the timely switch to climate-neutral drives. „If the car manufacturers stick to old technology permanently, they will be bankrupt in ten years,“ said the Green parliamentary party leader in the Bundestag. Hofreiter pleads for emission-free drives. „If our plans are implemented, hopefully a significant number of jobs can be saved.“ Hofreiter was asked what he would say to a trainee in automotive mechatronics who was afraid for his career prospects: „I would be very honest with him and would tell him: Yes, a very, very fundamental change is coming to the automotive industry. But if our plans are not implemented, then in ten years‘ time no one will be working for BMW, Volkswagen or the many supplier companies. The Greens‘ parliamentary group leader believes that the automobile is generally on the retreat – at least in city centres: „Of course, the car will continue to play a major role, but not in every city centre“ watson.de
„Surging“ the purchase premium increases demand for electric cars: The interest in cars with an electric drive seems to be growing strongly, according to an evaluation among new car agents. Since the beginning of June the increased purchase premium for electric cars has been in effect. And vehicles of all drive systems could benefit from the cut in the VAT. The increased purchase premium for electric cars and plug-in hybrids at the beginning of June is providing a strong boost to interest in cars with these drive technologies. Although the impact on new registrations and applications for subsidies to the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control is still limited, demand is picking up, as evaluations by the two major online new car brokers Carwow and Meinauto show. rnd.de
BMW: „No compromises“ in sustainability, climate and environmental protection because of COVID-19. elektroauto-news.net
Maut Untersuchungsausschuss: It was only with great misgivings that the then President of the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) signed the consent agreement for the inclusion of Toll Collect in the collection of the passenger car toll. He had considered the subcontractor contract to be „not unobjectionable under public procurement law“, said Ekhard Zinke on Thursday as a witness in the 2nd committee of inquiry („passenger car toll“). Zinke was President of the Federal Motor Transport Authority until January of this year. Although he is not an expert in awarding contracts, the lawyer said during the meeting chaired by committee chairman Udo Schiefner (SPD). However, he had considered it problematic that a not insignificant point of service provision had been subsequently changed. The bidding consortium consisting of Kapsch TrafficCom and CTS Eventim subsequently engaged the federally owned Toll Collect GmbH as subcontractor in order to use its payment terminals to collect the car toll. This meant that the consortium had fallen short of what had been contractually agreed, without it being apparent whether the reduction in the scope of services had corresponded to a fee adjustment, said the former top official. Zinke expressed his concerns in May 2019 in a letter to the Federal Ministry of Transport. He said in it that he did not feel able to sign the consent agreement. In the reply letter, a representative of the ministry expressed the request to sign the agreement anyway. This, Zinke explained, had enabled him to „sign the agreement because I felt free from personal responsibility“. This had been a „genuine case of remonstration“. The duty to remonstrate refers to the duty of an official to immediately raise objections to the legality of official orders with his superiors. If these confirm the instruction, the official must carry out the instruction even against his personal conviction. „I had a very difficult time with this,“ said Zinke. „You don’t simply protest against your employer.“ At the end of 2018, Zinke already had to ignore his concerns when preparing the operating agreement. On November 19, he informed the Ministry of Transport that he did not feel able to carry out a thorough examination of the contract. Subsequently, however, he was assured „based on the legal expertise of my project team in particular“ that the contract was acceptable. „This“, said Zinke, „gave me the assurance that I could sign in good conscience.“ The contract was notarised on 30 December 2018. The witness was also asked about the fact that the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt was not involved in the contract negotiations with the bidders. He had not known who was to be awarded the contract until „at some point a rumour also wavered into a president’s room“, Zinke reported. But it had also not been the role of the Federal Motor Transport Authority to take part in the negotiations. He had seen it as the task of his authority to „feed our expertise into the process of the award decision, as it was desired“.
Transport companies activated pandemic plans in good time: the maintenance of the entire transport infrastructure and in this respect especially the critical infrastructure is, according to the Federal Government, a top priority and is guaranteed. Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) and Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) in particular activated their internal pandemic plans at a very early stage and thus took precautions and precautions for their system-relevant employees to ensure their ability to work and thus to ensure the operational business, according to the government’s answer (19/19894) to a minor question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/19620). The prerequisites for the application of the Transport Services Act, which regulates the provision of transport services in peacetime in the event of an incident, had been examined on an ongoing basis, „but were not given at any time“, the reply states. In addition, Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) is urging that a European pandemic emergency plan for freight transport be drawn up in order to be even better prepared for future crises, the government announced.
LAT WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG:
Recycling of road construction materials containing tar: The recycling of road construction materials containing tar and pitch from Germany is the subject of a question tabled by the FDP parliamentary group (19/20098). The MEPs point out that up to 2.5 million tonnes of tar-containing road construction materials are used in Germany every year. There is only one plant in Europe, in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which carries out thermal recycling and is working to capacity with the 2.5 million tonnes. The Liberals therefore suspect that the requirement to give preference to thermal recycling and the associated overloaded plant in Rotterdam „creates an acute disposal emergency for tar and pitch-containing road construction materials from Germany“. The Federal Government is now being asked whether there are plans to set up a thermal recycling plant for waste from public road construction materials on German territory. The FDP faction also wants to know whether incentives are being created for private investors to promote investment in such plants.
Greens want more time sovereignty: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group demands that employees be given more time sovereignty. In a motion (19/20585), it refers to a ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and demands that it be implemented. The ruling concludes that Member States must oblige employers to introduce a reliable, objective and accessible time recording system that allows every employee to record his or her daily working time, the group explains. It therefore calls on the Federal Government to finally implement the ECJ ruling of May 2019 consistently and to give employees more influence on the duration, location and place of their work. Among other things, the Greens are calling for the creation of flexible full-time work, in which employees can organise their working hours according to their needs within the scope of 30 to 40 hours per week. Mobile working should be clearly and legally regulated, the Greens write.
More animal welfare in the building code: The FDP faction demands changes in the building code in favour of animal welfare. The explicit privileging also for commercial animal husbandry facilities at a location should be stipulated, if thereby the change, establishment or extension of the structural facilities for animal husbandry only insignificantly changes the already kept number of animals at the location, it is said in a motion (19/20557). If a building project aims to improve animal welfare and exceeds legal minimum standards, the application states that the obligation to obtain a permit under the Federal Immission Control Act should be dropped. Similar demands are made by the members of parliament for obligations relating to environmental impact assessment.
SPD and CDU/CSU also have a heart for animals: the CDU/CSU and SPD parliamentary groups also want to improve the conditions under which animals are kept by amending the Building Code. According to the „Draft Law on the Improvement of Animal Welfare in Animal Housing Facilities“ (19/20597), it should be easier to make structural changes to outdoor animal housing facilities – if operators can prove that this improves animal welfare and does not increase the number of animals they keep. Actually, these privileges for the construction of commercial animal facilities in the outdoor area of settlements had been restricted. Since 2013, they have required a development plan or a project and development plan. Since then, local authorities have been able to exert greater influence on where such facilities are built. The draft law now targets facilities built before this change. They are protected. If these operators want to change their plants, they also need a development plan or a project and development plan. This could have the consequence that changes to animal husbandry facilities, which are intended to improve animal welfare, are not made, the members of parliament argue. „Improving the conditions under which farm animals are kept regularly requires an increased amount of space per animal as well as improved animal-friendly exercise facilities. Without a change of the structural facilities, this can regularly only be achieved by reducing the number of animals.
Expansion of offshore wind: The parliamentary group Bündnis 90/Die Grünen demands a structured plan for the expansion of offshore wind energy plants. The interim target should be 35 gigawatts by 2035, say MEPs in a motion (19/20588). To achieve this, a clear and graduated quantity target with continuous planning is needed. In the motion, the Greens take a clear position against the financing of electricity supply systems by means of private power-purchase agreements, i.e. special electricity supply contracts with longer terms.
Sustainability goals in times of corona: The implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations has come under severe pressure worldwide due to the corona pandemic. In many places the most necessary things are lacking. Nevertheless, it is precisely now that it is important to hold on to the goals agreed in 2015 as a compass for sustainable recovery and development and to use the crisis for structural changes, was the tenor of the discussion at a public expert meeting of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Sustainable Development on Wednesday evening on the topic „Global Context of the Corona Pandemic and Sustainable Development Goals“. Prof. Dr. h.c. Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, president of Brot für die Welt, Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung e.V., drew a drastic picture of the impact of the Corona pandemic on SDGs and development cooperation. „We are currently experiencing the most serious social and economic crisis in the global South that we have ever seen.“ Many of the SDGs have been massively affected. In many countries, where there had been structural bottlenecks before, basic health care was no longer available at all. Somalia, for example, has only one ventilator. The treatment of other diseases has been massively reduced. „Because the money simply isn’t enough.“ „The right to health cannot be served in this way.“ In a context of such shortcomings, of course, you can’t fight a pandemic. It’s almost impossible to keep away from slums. Dr. Adriana Neligan, Senior Economist, from the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln e.V. (Institute of the German Economy, Cologne), pleaded that economic reconstruction and sustainability should not be seen as opposites. Economic, ecological and social sustainability is now also understood by companies as a growth engine and seized as an opportunity. Climate protection is not only good for the environment, but also for creating new jobs. This will also benefit the developing and emerging countries.
Promoting rural life: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group wants to strengthen rural areas and thus reduce migration to the cities. Internal migration aggravates existing demographic problems, especially in eastern Germany, write MEPs in a motion (19/20576). They also say that the country offers good and healthy living space, which only needs to be made more attractive through projects. The MEPs therefore call for the establishment of a model project within the rural development programme. The „New Life in the Countryside“ project should promote the reactivation of existing housing. Also „test living“ in rural areas or consulting projects should be offered. The aim should be to include the model programme in the regular funding.
However, the growing consumer demand for climate-friendly products is affecting the entire industrial supply chain. Why shut down Europe’s coal-fired power stations when the finished products we buy or produce contain high-carbon, coal-fired aluminium from the other end of the world?
Lord Gregory Barker , Executive Chairman EN+, said that high quality, low carbon aluminium has grown up and is now available on a large scale. The answer is to abolish import duties on low-carbon primary aluminium to help Europe when it needs it most. This would send a clear signal that the EU is serious about moving towards a green future“. fair-economics.de
„The Corona pandemic is a terrible and tragic event – but it also shows how devastating a systemic global crisis can be for humanity. And the climate crisis also has this destructive potential“
Jean-Paul Agon, head of L’Oréal. The goal is to change L’Oréal completely. Every stone will be turned over and every process will be changed to adapt the ecological footprint to respect the planetary boundaries. In his eyes, there is no alternative to such action – for L’Oréal, but also for any other company. Because we have to respect the natural limits of the planet. No one could afford to remain inactive any longer. Otherwise we will not survive. welt.de
The fight about water: Egypt fears that Ethiopia is digging up the water of the Nile. And water issues have often been a „casus belli“. After ten years of construction, a 1,870 meter long and 145 meter high dam is now being completed, built by an Italian-Ethiopian consortium. The dam cost around five billion dollars and is expected to double Ethiopia’s electricity production. The Egyptians, on the other hand, have been dependent on the water of the Nile for thousands of years. Is this the beginning of a new conflict? sueddeutsche.de
Why wrecking houses should be recycled: Houses are considered important resources. The construction industry is also gradually realising this. „All these measures are still pilot projects for the time being, serving wholesalers, metal companies and an exotic rarity market for specialists“, says Robert Lechner, head of the Austrian Institute of Ecology. „In terms of the entire construction sector, this is not even a drop in the ocean. But it is a start, and Austria is at the forefront of research and development throughout Europe“. Clear building legislation, at least in Austria, and a definition of terms would help to make re-use and recycling more sustainable. derstandard.at
Rising water temperatures threaten the reproduction of many fish species: The water temperature in the spawning areas is decisive for the reproductive success of the species and thus makes fish particularly vulnerable to climate change – in the sea as well as in lakes, ponds and rivers. According to the analyses, unchecked climate change due to rising water temperatures endangers the reproductive success of up to 60 percent of all fish species. fair-economics.de
Amazon rainforest: worst fires in 13 years. tagesschau.de
EN+ : New Green Aluminium Vision presented. fair-economics.de
East Africa: New plague of locusts. dw.com
Koalas: Could be extinct in one part of Australia by 2050. rnd.de
Sustainable building: Increases competitiveness. boersen-zeitung.de
Forests: Can now fuel climate change. spiegel.de
Alternative slaughtering methods in the field: The so-called grazing shot, which kills animals on the pasture and not in the slaughterhouse, is an alternative slaughtering method where the animals die where they lived, namely on the meadow and in their herd. One should not believe that farmers would like to slaughter, no farmer would sleep well the night before slaughter if he knew that he would have to load the animal the next day and take it to the slaughterhouse. However, it is still expensive to get a permit for the grazing shot. n-tv.de
Photo credits: All pictures unless otherwise stated. www.pixabay.com