California sues world’s biggest oil companies over climate change: The US state of California is taking action against „big polluters“ ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhilips, Chevron and the industry association American Petroleum Institute. The lawsuit is 135 pages long. The state accuses them of „actively spreading misinformation“ about the risks associated with fossil fuel use. „For more than 50 years, oil giants have lied to us and obscured the fact that they have long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are to our planet,“ California Governor Gavin Newsom said. California wants to „now hold the big polluters accountable“. spiegel.de , zeit.de
Island states at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea: Small island states in the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean or in the Pacific, such as the Bahamas, Tuvalu or the South Pacific Vanuatu, are particularly affected by the consequences of climate change. These countries themselves contribute relatively little to global warming, but their territories are threatened by rising sea levels or an increase in strong hurricanes. These destroy marine ecosystems. That is why a community of states has asked the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg for an expert opinion. The jurists around Judge Albert Hoffmann are to give their opinion on the climate protection obligations arising from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for its contracting states. Even though the opinion is not legally binding, the recommendations could have a great impact. ndr.de, spiegel.de
Six of nine stress limits of the earth exceeded
An international research team analyses the state of the Earth on the basis of various sub-areas. „The Earth is a patient that is not doing well“, is the conclusion. The exploitation of planet Earth by humans is generating ever greater risks. According to one study, six out of nine so-called planetary stress limits have already been exceeded, in some cases significantly. These include global warming, the destruction of habitats and the pollution of the environment with new types of substances such as pesticides, microplastics and nuclear waste.
Associations take Scholz to task on climate protection law: Next week, the Bundestag will discuss the reform of the climate protection law for the first time. According to the government’s plans, the binding annual sectoral targets for CO2 reduction are to be abolished. Climate Alliance Germany presented a study by the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM) in Berlin on Thursday, according to which the existing expert council for climate issues would have to be strengthened in its control function and complaints procedures before the Federal Constitutional Court would have to be facilitated. Scholz should take a stronger leadership role as „climate chancellor“. There is a risk of „a divergence between legally binding climate protection targets and their compliance in practice“, it continues. aerzteblatt.de, ikem.de (short study)
CO2 price increases costs for industry: The discontinuation of the allocation of emission rights causes further cost burdens. The significant increase in the price of greenhouse gases in European emissions trading leads to noticeable additional costs for industry. The abolition of the previously free allocation of emission rights also threatens to result in further cost burdens in the billions. iwkoeln.de
Solar module prices fall – industry warns of bankruptcies: European photovoltaic manufacturers accuse Chinese groups of waging a price war. Among other things, they are demanding an emergency purchase of their stocks. The warning is drastic: „If nothing happens now, there is a great risk that European solar producers will face massive problems in the next few months, and some may even go bankrupt,“ reads a letter from European solar companies to the presidents of the European Parliament and the European Commission. handelsblatt.com, stock3.com
Habeck welcomes signals from Lindner for an extension of the reduced electricity tax: In the dispute over a subsidised electricity price for energy-intensive industrial companies, a rapprochement is emerging. But Economics Minister Habeck wants more. spiegel.de
BOOK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Natural and cultural history of a volatile substance
Invisible and volatile: For almost 200 years, ozone has fascinated us humans. Ozone is a special Janus-faced gas. Depending on whether it is found in the stratosphere or near the ground, it has very different effects: above it protects us from dangerous radiation, below it is classified as a pollutant and can lead to illness. Since time immemorial, ozone has occupied a wide variety of disciplines and given the public cause for speculation and controversial discussions – even leading to mass media panic.
The new volume of the material histories describes remarkable progress in ozone research and spans an arc from popular assumptions to explosive environmental policy debates.
Heat pumps: twice as efficient as oil and gas heating in cold weather. spiegel.de
Baerbock in Texas: The US state relies on green fuel. n-tv.de
Climate crisis: TV meteorologists who explain the connections between weather and the climate crisis are increasingly being attacked. tagesschau.de
Offshore wind calls for help: The industry is under pressure, the expansion could falter. Politicians should help. handelsblatt.com
Call on industrialised countries: G77 countries want more support and fairer distribution. dlf.de
Sea ice in climate change: New negative record at the South Pole. telepolis.de
Justice: Almost 3000 proceedings after climate protests in Berlin. rheinpfalz.de
Poland: Warsaw plans 79 small nuclear power plants by 2038. handelsblatt.com
The seventeen goals magazine tells inspiring stories about how people move the world and shows how everyone can make a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
PODCAST OF THE WEEK:
Which protest helps the climate?
Once again, we have a „Friday for the Future“ ahead of us. And this time, the climate protection organisation „Fridays for Future“ has called for a climate strike all over the world. It is their 13th global climate strike, and this unlucky number reflects many a problem: that in the fight against climate change it is probably five past rather than five to 12. That climate protection is repeatedly pushed into the background by other political challenges. That radical actions of the „Last Generation“ movement have discredited climate protection among many people and distorted the political discussion about it. And that too few people in politics, business and the population have the „climate conscience“ that is needed. Reasons enough that climate protests in general could become a few degrees more heated. For global warming will not be stopped with lukewarm measures. But a heated global climate cannot be changed if the political climate is just as heated. So how can we give climate protection more momentum, put pressure on those politically responsible and get as many people as possible on board?
COMMENT OF THE WEEK:
by Wolfgang Wick
„… If Edward John Smith had been able to see further ahead, a slight turn of the steering wheel would have been enough. But the captain of the Titanic saw the iceberg too late to be able to change the course of his ship. The lesson from the sinking of the largest passenger ship in the world at the time reads like a truism: If you want to avoid dangers, you have to recognise them early and react in time….Politicians and the science system in Germany have to equip themselves better for crises. At the same time, science itself must deal with drastic changes: For the first time in a long time, the budget of the Federal Ministry of Research is falling. Even if investments in research and development continue to be important to the Federal Government and are not only channelled through the budget of the Research Ministry, the times of steady increases could be over in the foreseeable future in view of rising costs in the fight against the consequences of climate change and higher security expenditures…. Therefore, regardless of the promised percentage budget increases, science and politics must look for ways to use the available funds intelligently and efficiently to meet the challenges described. …
We must invest in quality and creativity as well as in those fields of the future in which Germany and Europe must not be left behind, but should be leaders. For only a strong and internationally competitive science system can fulfil its role of helping to overcome crises or, better still, preventing them. faz.net
How the urban transport turnaround is gaining momentum: The goal of an urban transport revolution is clearly defined: more space for urban life, less noise and climate-damaging emissions, and cleaner air. However, the question always arises as to how sustainable mobility can be made more attractive. Dr.-Ing. Alina Wetzchewald from the Wuppertal Institute is certain that this can only be achieved with exnovation – i.e. restrictive and reducing approaches – for car traffic. To this end, in the current Future Impulse „Less is Added Value“ she looks at German and European projects that have been implemented so far, identifies obstacles and opportunities that have arisen and derives corresponding recommendations for strategy and action. wupperinst.org
Only an „adequate“ for transport policy: Halfway through its term in office, the federal government is still largely behind in meeting the transport policy goals it has set itself. This is the conclusion reached by the Pro-Rail Alliance, the German Cyclists‘ Federation (ADFC) and the Auto Club Europa (ACE). Looking ahead to the second half of the legislative period, the associations demand that the outstanding projects be tackled more quickly. They also call for a more systematic approach to the transport turnaround, in which road, rail and cycling are thought together for the transport of tomorrow. busundbahn.de
Fossil freighters: When will container ships be climate neutral? Almost all global trade takes place via shipping. The climate crisis is already affecting the industry to the tune of billions. When will the days of heavy oil and diesel be over? tagesspiegel.de
Von der Leyen wants to take action against Chinese e-cars: In her „State of the Union“ speech, EU Commission President von der Leyen warns of an increasing number of Chinese electric cars that would distort the European market due to dumping prices and announced countermeasures. In her annual State of the Union address last Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen defended the „Green Deal“, her ambitious course in climate and environmental policy, which has recently been subject to criticism. euractiv.de
IRU calls for better CO₂ regulations to promote sustainable mobility and logistics: Earlier this year, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal on CO₂ standards for heavy-duty vehicles (HGVs). It aims to support decarbonisation efforts by setting specific CO₂ reduction targets for heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers.
The proposal is expected to affect the composition of vehicles available to hauliers at three milestones in 2030, 2035 and 2040, with the proportion of zero-emission vehicles increasing at each stage. In a letter to EU lawmakers, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and CLEPA, the European Automotive Suppliers Association, call for the preservation of essential technology options under the new CO₂ standards proposal. An open technology approach is needed to decarbonise road transport while meeting the needs of EU citizens, businesses and economies, they say in a joint letter. verkehrsrundschau.de
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra angry with Deutsche Bahn: The musicians wanted to travel to Berlin by train – and were severely disappointed. Now the orchestra is settling the score. morgenpost.de
Doubts about hydrogen networks: Hydrogen will also play a role in the heating market. However, some industry representatives have doubts that large-scale hydrogen distribution networks will emerge to supply individual heating systems. This became clear at a panel discussion of the East German Energy Forum on the future of the heating market. While numerous gas distribution network operators recently presented their plans to convert to hydrogen, Rutger Kretschmer, who is responsible for the heating business at Sachsenenergie, is rather sceptical. Hydrogen will indeed find its place in the future heat supply, but rather in the power plant sector than in the grids, he explained. energate-messenger.de
Viessmann and OGE test hydrogen condensing boiler: The test phase for a newly developed 480 KW condensing boiler based on H2 has started in Krummhörn, Lower Saxony. The practical test is intended to show whether operation with 100 per cent hydrogen is possible. ingenieur.de
Hydrogen by ship costs up to five euros per kilogram: Agora Energiewende, together with the Technical University of Hamburg, investigated different methods of transporting hydrogen by ship. Whether as elemental hydrogen, as a derivative or trapped in a carrier medium, transport remains more expensive than pipeline hydrogen in any case and still needs some technological development. The demand for green hydrogen cannot be met by pipeline transport alone. According to the national hydrogen strategy, imports of at least 45 TWh of hydrogen per year will be needed from 2030. However, alternative transport options by ship of elemental hydrogen, derivatives and hydrogen carriers come with significant challenges. This is shown in the analysis „Hydrogen import options for Germany“ by Agora Energiewende. pv-magazine.de
Total needs hundreds of thousands of tonnes of hydrogen: The French energy company announces a mega tender to supply its European refinery park. This also includes a German site. faz.net
In Denmark, the only operator closes its hydrogen filling stations: Fiasco for fuel cell technology in Denmark: The filling station network that has been closed since the summer will not reopen. In future, anyone driving a hydrogen car in the country will have to travel abroad to refuel. spiegel.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG:
Union asks about hydrogen filling stations: The CDU/CSU parliamentary group has raised the issue of the refuelling infrastructure for heavy-duty hydrogen vehicles and hydrogen buses in a minor question (20/8285). Among other things, the MPs want to know from the Federal Government how many hydrogen filling stations for heavy-duty commercial vehicles and hydrogen buses are in operation or in planning and construction in Germany. At the same time, they inquire about corresponding funding programmes. They also want to know how high the share of hydrogen coaches is in the total number of coaches.
Federal Government sees no misconduct on the part of the head of department: According to the State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV), Stefan Schnorr, there are no indications of misconduct or a violation of official duties on the part of the BMDV head of department for policy matters. This is stated in the answer of the federal government (20/8226) to a small question of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group (20/8078). According to the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, the department head Prof. Dr. B., who was responsible for granting subsidies from the „National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme“, is accused of „mixing private and official matters“. According to media reports, the CDU/CSU parliamentary group writes in the small question, the ministry employee maintains private friendships both with the chairman of the board of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (DWV) and with an entrepreneur funded by the programme who intends to build a hydrogen centre with the funding.
Federal government wants to improve the Climate Protection Act: With the draft of a second law to amend the Federal Climate Protection Act (KSG) (20/8290), the federal government wants to improve the control mechanisms of the Act. According to the explanatory memorandum to the draft, since the Act came into force on 12 December 2019, difficulties had been encountered in practice in applying the post-control mechanism of section 8 in particular. In addition, the KSG does not currently contain a requirement to take corrective action in the event of already foreseeable target failures, although this would be possible „in many cases with less drastic measures“. As the German government writes, the draft is in the context of the endangered, timely achievement of the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To this end, annual emission totals for all sectors are to be introduced on an aggregated basis in future. An overall assessment of the total annual emissions for the years 2021 up to and including 2030 across all sectors and years is to enable any necessary readjustments to be made. In this way, the German government wants to ensure that measures are taken to comply with the total annual emissions in the event that a forecast indicates that the total annual emissions will be exceeded in two consecutive years. The bill is to be debated in plenary for the first time in the coming session week on Friday, 22 September.
There has always been a close connection between state action and private-sector involvement. Perhaps most strongly at the time when Germany had its very great industrial boom, at the end of the 19th century. And now we have to set the course for the future so that things happen that are important for all of us. Take the hydrogen grid, for example: our goal is for the gas grid operators here to invest billions in this new, climate-neutral hydrogen grid. So that the switch can be made, i.e. the changeover from natural gas to hydrogen. This must be planned intelligently so that hydrogen can be used without those who still need natural gas no longer getting any.
Olaf Scholz, Federal Chancellor in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag, said that these gigantic private-sector investments would only be made if we agreed with the companies where this network should be stretched and how it should be regulated. As was the case with the construction of the natural gas pipelines, this would now be the case with hydrogen. This is not state intervention, but smart infrastructure policy. He remains concrete: „We have decided to make a private-sector solution possible, especially for the hydrogen network. We would not build any state-owned steelworks, we would not build any state-owned aluminium plants, we would not build any state-owned chemical factories, and the pharmaceutical industry would not further expand its international competitiveness by being taken over by the state. These are all successful private-sector companies and will remain so.
Selling out the hinterland: Profits for the West: Instead of negotiating social and technical innovations, the African climate summit is focusing on carbon markets. Last week, delegations from African countries gathered in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for the African Climate Summit, as well as leaders from around the world. Thousands of people from many African countries gathered on site. The aim of the summit was to discuss climate protection measures and negotiation priorities for the continent in detail. But neither the adopted Nairobi Declaration nor the delegations‘ fixation on carbon markets help the African people. Nairobi Declaration , ipg-journal.de
Silicon Savanna my ass: messages glorifying violence, repulsive sexual practices in pictures and texts, nasty abuse: Digital workers in Kenya are confronted with the darkest sides of the internet day after day. They are supposed to train artificial intelligence or sort out forbidden content on behalf of Meta and Co. They are employed by subcontractors, often for starvation wages. spiegel.de
African Union at the G20: The G20 is now G21. What does that mean in concrete terms? Africa as a whole must finally be heard more – simply because of its low emissions. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been preparing it since June: His plan to declare the African Union (AU) with its 55 states a „full member“ of the G20 alongside the EU. There were no dissenting votes when this was announced in the final declaration. Immediately after the announcement, the current AU Chair Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros, assumed the new G21 position. So from now on the G20 is G21 – but what does it mean in concrete terms? On the one hand, the recognition of the African states is overdue, because this not only means the representation of 1.4 billion more people, but it also makes Africa’s representation in world politics more concrete, something that has not been achieved so far in the most important UN bodies, such as the Security Council. taz.de
Difficult first year for Kenya’s Ruto: Kenya’s President William Ruto was sworn in as the country’s fifth president exactly one year ago on Wednesday, and experts say it has been a difficult year. He came to power promising to revive the flagging economy and put more money in the wallets of small traders, informal workers and others living hand-to-mouth. Instead, he introduced new taxes and the cost of everything from petrol to electricity to food has gone up, disappointing many who voted for him. … Ruto inherited an economy burdened by debt, inflation and a weakening currency. His government’s tax hikes and cuts in fuel and food subsidies were welcomed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which then extended loans. But things have not gone quite as planned. „Reflecting on Ruto’s one-year tenure, I would describe it as an extremely difficult period for two reasons,“ said Ken Gichinga, chief economist at analysis firm Mentoria Economics. „First, the global environment is not easy. Second, the measures that have been put in place have not been effective, and some have even had to be reversed. africannews.com
Libya – Many dead after severe storm: At least 150 people have died in the east of the North African country due to flooding in Libya caused by storm „Daniel“. The authorities declared a state of emergency. Desperation remains high one week after the storm and dam burst disaster. Tens of thousands of people continue to wait for news of their missing loved ones and for help in their time of need. According to a BBC reporter, the pervasive smell of decomposing bodies hangs over the badly damaged port city of Darna. Casualty figures remain unclear a week after the disaster, but the news on this is staggering. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Saturday evening that around 11,300 people were missing in Darna and another 10,100 missing. In addition, 170 deaths had been reported from other regions in the east of the country. OCHA referred to the Red Crescent, as Red Cross societies are often called in Muslim countries, but al-Shukri was sceptical. He did not know the source for the figures, he told dpa. Official figures come only from the authorities. sueddeutsche.de
Morocco: German earthquake aid for Morocco „impossible“ for the time being. The German Red Cross has to cancel a planned flight at short notice. The reason is „new regulations“. So far, Morocco only allows teams from a few countries to enter – although there are many more offers of help. dw.com
Coffee farmers are left with only the dregs: Coffee is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. But climate change threatens to halve yields – and many coffee farmers live below the poverty line. The Coffee Barometer shows that the big roasting companies are not living up to their responsibility. „Because the coffee market is quite complex and opaque, most consumers have no idea at all where their coffee comes from, who produced it or whether the producer received a fair price,“ says the report, published on Thursday, which is based on research by the organisations Solidaridad, Ethos Agriculture and Conservation International and summarises recent developments in the industry. Equally opaque to consumers are the environmental consequences of the caffeinated beverage. Every year, an estimated 130,000 hectares of forest fall victim to the expansion of coffee cultivation. Climate change continues to drive this development. klimareporter.de
More water for Brandenburg: Even the summer of rain brought little relief. Brandenburg has to practice living with persistent drought. Now a pipeline from the Baltic Sea is supposed to bring salvation, and one for water at that. From the coast to inland Germany. To the place where people suffer most from the continuing drought: Brandenburg. The governments in Berlin and Brandenburg are currently commissioning an expert opinion: could Baltic Sea water be piped into the region? How expensive would desalination be, how much energy would be needed? And is it worth it? Brandenburg’s environment minister Axel Vogel of the Green Party says: „It’s possible that in the end we’ll have to decide in favour of it.“ Brandenburg is notoriously dry: the soils in the region hardly store any water. Either they are sandy – in which case any moisture evaporates very quickly. Or they are clayey – in which case it takes forever for anything to seep into the groundwater. In short, the rain that comes from the sky quickly leaves the area. zeit.de
Trees could have a stronger influence on the climate than thought: due to growing stress, plants release more hydrocarbons that contribute to cloud formation. The new findings help to improve climate models. While the concentration of sulphur dioxide in the air has decreased significantly in recent years due to stricter environmental legislation and will continue to decrease, the concentration of terpenes is increasing because plants release more of them under stress, for example due to rising temperatures and increasing weather extremes such as droughts. More accurate climate forecasts therefore depend in particular on finding out which of these factors predominates and whether cloud formation will increase or decrease as a result. The role played by so-called sesquiterpenes in this process has been largely unclear until now. New findings presented by researchers in the journal „Science Advances“ now help to improve climate models. derstandard.at
IKEA: Plans mattress recycling. euwid-recycling.de
Overtourism: Venice to charge admission for day visitors. wiwo.de
Sustainable business travel: Nine out of ten companies rely on „appropriate incentives for business travellers“ to promote sustainable behaviour among the workforce. touristik-aktuell.de
Next Wednesday, the Environment Committee will hold a public hearing on the federal government’s plans to simplify immission control licensing procedures. The basis is a corresponding bill (20/7502). In the bill, the federal government advocates speeding up approval procedures under immission control law so that wind turbines, for example, can be built more quickly.
The public hearing will start at 11 a.m. in room E 700 of the Paul-Löbe-Haus and will be broadcast live on parliamentary television and on www.bundestag.de.
More information bundestag.de
Flat-nosed wood weevil sighted near Berlin
Hardly anyone knows it because it hardly exists in Germany any more: The flat-nosed wood weevil has been surprisingly sighted in the Döberitzer Heide near Berlin. Now biologist Jörg Müller made the unusual find under old oak trees near Krampnitz. The beetle with the striking appearance belongs to the weevil family and is on the list of endangered animal and plant species. The flat-nosed wood weevil is up to twelve millimetres long, its carapace is grey, brown and white spotted – and it has wings. The flattened proboscis is particularly striking. It also likes to stay in bright places. According to the discoverer, the weevil was spotted in an oak grove in glaring sunlight. His find is surprising, as the insect only occurs in very old oak forests and especially in warmer regions of Germany, writes the Heinz Sielmann Foundation in a statement, on whose terrain the beetle was found. The beetle belongs to the primeval forest relict species.
to the German edition
All images, unless otherwise stated: pixabay.com
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