FAIReconomics Newsletter WEEK 38 

to the German version

Bringing climate protection and business together: Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier wants to forge a pact between business and climate protection. I am convinced that climate protection is the central and primary challenge of our generation and that we must act accordingly“, said the Federal Minister of Economics. In future, he said, climate protection must no longer take a back seat to other important issues, but must be put „before the bracket“. The aim was to achieve a „historic compromise between climate protection and business“. Altmaier would like to lay down the greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2050 in a charter to be adopted before the federal elections. At present, these are only defined until 2030. Altmaier aims to achieve climate neutrality for Germany by 2050. Criticism came not only from cabinet colleague Svenja Schulze of the environment department, but also from the CDU’s economic advisor. „It is a paradox: on the one hand, the economy is supported by billions of euros in state aid, and on the other hand, Brussels and Berlin are already thinking about new burdens due to government regulations, requirements and stricter climate policies. tagesschau.de  welt.de (Kritik), spiegel.detagesspiegel.de

Corona – no influence on global warming: Global warming could hardly be slowed down by the corona pandemic, according to a UN report. Compared to the pre-industrial age, average global warming has already risen by 1.1 degrees, and concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrogen dioxide will also rise in 2019 and 2020. The last five years (including this one) are already considered the five warmest since weather records. The report predicts a 25 percent probability that the temperature increase will exceed 1.5 degrees for the first time, at least temporarily, between 2021 and 2025. unenviroment.orgsueddeutsche.de

One in eight deaths is linked to environmental pollution: 13 percent of all deaths in the EU are linked to environmental pollution, according to a study. The main health risks are air pollution and exposure to chemicals.. eea.europe.eu

Draft law against chick shredding: Because male chicks will not lay eggs and do not prepare enough meat, 45 million male chicks are killed each year. Now the killing of day-old male chicks is to be banned from the end of 2021. Julia Klöckner (CDU), Federal Minister of Agriculture, has presented a draft amendment to the Animal Welfare Act which would allow sanctions to be imposed if the ban was breached. The Ministry was reacting to a decision by the Federal Administrative Court, which had decided to allow chick shredding only for a transitional period.  From January 2022 onwards, breeders will have to determine the sex before hatching and remove the eggs from the brood with male chicks. The draft law will be tightened up in 2024, when male embryos will have to be removed before the seventh day because chicks are known to be sensitive to pain from that date. bmel.detagesschau.de

Air pollution is Europe’s biggest threat: More than 400,000 people die every year in the European Union as a result of pollution.  Immediately after air pollution, Europeans suffer from noise pollution.  It causes about 12,000 deaths a year. The report also notes that the effects of climate change are leading to an increasing proportion of premature deaths, as well as polluted drinking water and increasing resistance to antibiotics due to the heavy use of antibiotics, for example in animal husbandry. In Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina has the highest number of premature deaths due to environmental pollution (27 percent), and the lowest in Iceland and Norway (nine percent).. eea.europa.eu (Original report), sueddeutsche.de

Future of agriculture: In future, a high-ranking panel of experts will work on a plan for the agriculture of the future as the Future Commission for Agriculture on behalf of the Federal Government. Representatives of farmers, the food industry, consumers, environmental protection and science are to develop a plan on how the sector can become more environmentally friendly and at the same time economically viable. The aim is to increase biodiversity, animal welfare, climate and environmental protection. A first interim report is to be available in autumn and a final report in summer 2021. A total of eight plenary sessions are planned, and views differ widely in various fields. agrarheute.com,  taz.de

Animal stocks on the decline: The WWF issues an urgent warning, because biological diversity on earth is in a bad way. It could not be worse – it has never been as bad as it is today. Compared to 1970, the populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have declined by an average of 68 percent worldwide. Among the 21,000 or so species of over 4,400 vertebrate species studied, freshwater species have seen the greatest decline, accounting for 84 percent. fair-economics.de


Vom Schweden, der den Zug nahm


In his new book, Swedish bestselling author Per J. Andersson discovers the adventurous world of train travel. He takes the train to the northernmost tip of Europe, rides the steam locomotive above the clouds, climbs aboard the legendary „Orient Express“ and spends whole days and nights in the compartment where he meets curious fellow travellers. His book awakens the senses and is a must for all people who like to experience something while travelling – and at the same time want to protect the climate.
The writer Per J. Andersson takes us on the most beautiful and adventurous train journeys in the world. He climbs aboard the icy Polar Express, discovers the mythical train routes of the 19th century, follows in the footsteps of Thomas Mann through the Swiss mountains, explores such different parts of the world as America, China and India with the slow train and express train, and stops at the world’s largest terminus station in Leipzig. While countless known and unknown places and wondrous dream landscapes pass by, he gets to know a number of illustrious figures who have incredible stories to tell. Andersson’s new book is a travelogue and manifesto for train travel in one. After reading it, the conclusion remains: It’s better to travel by train!

Streaming: Climate balance more favourable than originally assumed. tagesschau.de 
Oil drilling off Florida: Trump gives the environmentalist. taz.de
Summer 2020: Too warm again. sueddeutsche.de
Climate change: Sandflies now also in southern Germany. swr.de
Grüner Knopf: After one year 52 companies take part in the initiative handelsblatt.com
BlackRock: Does not keep its sustainability promise. fair-economics.de
German Development Minister Müller: Retires from active politics after this legislative period. tagesschau.de

The seventeeen goals magazine tells inspiring stories about how people move the world and shows how everyone can contribute to achieving sustainability goals.


Railway expansion in Germany: Rail transport is to become more punctual and reliable. To achieve this, Deutsche Bahn wants to massively expand the railway lines by 2040. The costs for the expansion will amount to about 74 billion euros. sueddeutsche.de

The Administrative Court in Berlin takes pop-up cycle paths: The Berlin Senate and districts have suffered a heavy defeat at the Berlin Administrative Court.  The court has upheld an urgent appeal against so-called pop-up cycle paths in the capital. The court had „serious doubts about the legality“ of the eight temporary cycle paths and ordered the traffic senate administration to remove the corresponding signposting. The conditions for the establishment of the cycle paths in the Corona pandemic had not been met. Two members of the AfD parliamentary group were accused. The Berlin administration intends to appeal. zeit.de, tagesspiegel.de 

Controversial calculation by a professor on speed limits: a general speed limit on motorways is considered an important element in achieving climate goals.  Ulrich Schmidt, an economist from Kiel, now presents an economic calculation that is not entirely uncontroversial.  Based on the data available from the Federal Environment Agency, he has calculated the average longer travel times on German motorways on the basis of a speed limit. He calculates the loss of time – also taking into account the fuel saved – at a speed of 130 km/h at 1.3 billion euros, and 7.3 billion euros at 100 km/h. spiegel.de , businessinsider.de

German government wants to help car industry: The car industry in Germany is regarded as ailing, and Corona has now exacerbated this trend. The Federal Government now wants to help with further measures. Aid is to be given above all to the needy suppliers from small and medium-sized businesses. Until the car summit in November, working groups are to examine these issues. There will be no bonus for buying a car, however sueddeutsche.de

Greens: Night train sprinter called for through Europe. zeit.de 
EU-Commission: Further tightening of CO2 targets in car transport planned. automobilwoche.de 


Costs for the plastic tax: The FDP faction would like to know how the Federal Government intends to finance the costs of the „plastic tax“ planned by the EU in a small question (19/22068). The government should indicate whether it wants to pay the „plastic tax“ from the federal budget or pass it on to companies. In addition, the question is asked about the burden on end consumers from the „plastics tax“, which, according to the FDP faction, could have an estimated revenue of around 1.4 billion euros in Germany. As the FDP faction writes in the preface to its small question, the focus of the proposal for a „plastics tax“ is not on avoiding plastic waste and a more efficient recycling economy, but on creating a further source of revenue for the EU budget.

Emission certificates and EEG levy: The sale of emission certificates is expected by the German government to generate about 7.4 billion euros in total revenue in 2021. For the following year, total revenues of about 8.9 billion euros are expected, explains the German government in its answer (19/22013) to a minor question (19/21715) from the FDP parliamentary group. The German government confirms that it is aiming to reduce the EEG levy from the revenues of the Fuel Emission Trading Act and from funds of the economic stimulus package, to 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2021 and 6.0 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2022. This year the levy will be 6.756 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Faster expansion of wind energy at sea: A draft law by the German government to speed up the construction of offshore wind power plants was the subject of a public hearing in the Committee on Economic and Energy chaired by Klaus Ernst (Die Linke) on Wednesday. By amending the offshore wind energy law and other regulations (19/20429), the government wants to increase the expansion target from 15 to 20 gigawatts by 2030. To this end, testing procedures are to be optimised and administrative procedures streamlined and accelerated. It also intends to change the procedure by which bidders are awarded contracts to build offshore wind farms. This will ensure competition while minimising the amount of subsidy that is ultimately reflected in the price of electricity. Another subject of the hearing was a motion by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen group to secure the expansion of offshore wind energy in a way that is environmentally sound and cost-effective (19/20588).(19/20588). bundestag.de

Conservation of seed diversity: The Federal Government is running several programmes to preserve the genetic diversity of crops. In its answer (19/21313) to a minor question by the parliamentary group Die Linke (19/21009), it mentions, among other things, the „Netzwerk Genetische Erhaltungsgebiete Deutschland“ (Network of Genetic Conservation Areas in Germany), which has served as a framework structure for existing and future projects for the in-situ conservation of wild species for food and agriculture since 2019. In the semi-professional sector there are several guidelines and demonstration projects to better inform conservation gardeners. However, as „seed production and necessary conservation breeding work can be very complex depending on the propagation biology of the plants“, the provision of seeds by breeders and seed companies for professional farming is the best solution. The unrestricted right to free reproduction, i.e. seed production by farmers themselves, is viewed critically by the German government. The usually medium-sized companies in the seed industry are dependent on the „breeder’s licence“ or the fee for reproduction included in the seed price in order to finance their long-term research. Without this income, there would be a competitive disadvantage and thus the danger that international corporations would take over the domestic market. The answer also includes information on the size of seed multiplication areas and on the ten most important seed varieties for the twelve most important species.

Different views on the lignite contract: The lignite companies RWE and LEAG are to receive a total of 4.35 billion euros in compensation for the reduction and termination of coal-fired power generation. This is the position in the draft public-law contract between the Federal Government and the operators (19/21120), which was the subject of controversial comments by the experts at a public hearing of the Committee on Economic and Energy chaired by Klaus Ernst (Die Linke) on Monday. The lawyer Bernd Dammert pointed out that the draft contract stipulates that the purpose of the compensation is to cover the follow-up costs of open-cast mining. The risk to public budgets of having to pay compensation for the costs of restoring open-cast mines was thus reduced to a very considerable extent. The draft contract thus goes well beyond what can be regulated by law in terms of compensation. bundestag.de


Melisa Erfurt: Foto: Vedran Pilipovic bei wikipedia.org CC BY-SA 4.0

„Most schools assume that there are parents at home who help. It doesn’t matter whether it’s homework, studying for tests or presentations. It is also taken for granted that you have certain things to learn at home, a desk, a computer, the Internet. But the actual normal situation is quite different. Especially children from poorer families with less educated parents often do not have all that – and fail.

Melisa Erkurt, book author and teacher, says that Corona has aggravated the educational injustice through homeschooling. An all-day school would help. It would have to be free of charge, it should not be a punishment for Ali, Melisa and Hülya, but everyone would have to go. Learning would also take place in the afternoon, and it would be unfair if parents with money paid their children to take private music or theatre lessons while the poorer ones hung around in the park and did silly things. It should be clear that the children no longer need anything at home, no support from their parents, no desk. For this, teacher training would be important, adapted to the children of today. Society has changed, the education has remained the same for many years. rnd.de

German cities have more green: During the Corona crisis, the green spaces of German cities attracted a particularly large number of people. They are currently benefiting from the fact that the share of green spaces in the settlement and transport area in most large cities has risen slightly over 22 years, both in absolute terms and per capita. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office for the year 2018, the 14 most populous cities in Germany with more than 500,000 inhabitants had an average of 25 square metres of green space per capita. In 1996 the figure was 18 square metres. In the same period, the share of green spaces in the settlement and transport area of these metropolises also increased from 7.7% to 10.9%. Green spaces include parks, green areas for residential use, botanical gardens, playgrounds, but also allotment gardens. destatis.de

Export hit Toxic pesticides: An investigation and research by the Swiss NGO Public Eye together with Unearthed has revealed that the European Union exports pesticides that are banned on its own soil. Agrochemical companies are not prohibited from supplying countries with weaker pesticide regulations on a large scale with substances that are already banned from use in EU agriculture because of their hazardousness. One of these export companies is based in Switzerland. sueddeutsche.de , publiceye.ch

More protected areas required:  Scientists are calling for more areas to be placed under protection. So far, around 15 percent of the land area has been protected, and they are demanding that it should be 50 percent. Otherwise, the scientists say, crises such as the loss of biodiversity, climate change and new types of virus pandemics cannot be brought under control. It is urgent to put 2.3 percent of the land masses under immediate protection in order to save the most threatened plants and creatures. deutschlandfunk.de

Indonesia: Oceans around 17,000 islands sink into plastic waste. fair-economics.de
NRW: Villages against lignite mining. dw.com 
Trees and forests: Grow faster and die faster.  deutschlandfunk.de


Stinking billy goat causes neighbourhood quarrel: It is well known that Germany is the land of wailing hansels, especially when it is among neighbours. A goat farmer in the Kulmbach district was threatened with an administrative fine of 250,000 euros because a billy goat stank too much. The plaintiff had not been able to sit in the garden or even dry her laundry outside. spiegel.de

All photos, unless otherwise stated. pixabay.com

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