FAIReconomics Newsletter week 41: EU with self-commitment to species protection, 90 areas can be nuclear waste repositories, heating mushrooms, Nutriscore, news from the Bundestag and scolding parrots

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EU initiates voluntary commitment to species protection: Last week the UN biodiversity summit took place. However, there was no joint final declaration because the corona pandemic had upset the roadmap for the conference.   Meanwhile, 64 countries have submitted their own declaration of intent for more biodiversity. In the „Leaders‘ Pledge for Nature“, the states signed a voluntary commitment in which ten points for more action to combat the loss of biological diversity are listed. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the summit: „Humanity is waging war against nature. We must rebuild our relationship with nature. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: „Environmental destruction and climate change, and thus also the loss of biological diversity, are accelerating at a rate never before seen in human history. This threatens quality of life, economic systems and social cohesion“ taz.de tagesschau.de, euractiv.de (reform proposals) leaderspledgefornature.org

90 areas suitable for a final nuclear waste repository in Germany: After the end of the nuclear waste repository in Gorleben, the interim report of the Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung showed that 90 areas in Germany are suitable as potential sites for a nuclear waste repository. The north and southeast of the republic, i.e. Lower Saxony, Saxony, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, are particularly suitable for final disposal. Finland is further along than Germany. The search there began in the mid-1980s, and in the meantime the Finns have begun construction of the repository named „Onkalo“, which is scheduled for completion in three years. n-tv.de , spiegel.de ndr.de (Finland)

There are 3.8 million jobs in the photovoltaic industry worldwide. About 11.5 million people work in the renewable energy sector. pv-magazin.de

Heating mushrooms are tolerable: The Federal Environmental Agency has no objections to the use of heating mushrooms used by outdoor restaurants during the cold season, at least during a transitional period. Thus the president of the Federal Environment Agency, Dirk Messner, said: „For a transitional period – for example until there is a corona vaccine for the broad population – the use of heating mushrooms is acceptable. In principle, however, the Federal Environment Agency is critical of such heating devices, saying that a standard heating device produces the same amount of CO2 in eight hours of operation as a gasoline car over a distance of 145 kilometers. Therefore one should in principle say goodbye to this technology“. taz.de

No interruption to Nord Stream 2 construction: The discussion about the completion of the North Stream 2 pipeline does not stop. It seems adventurous: The German government no longer wants to know whether the pipeline will be completed – and is dealing with questionable figures on gas demand. Apparently the calculations of the German gas demand in Germany and Europe are based on figures that were largely supplied by NorthStream 2 AG itself. tagesspiegel.de

Negative price for water suppliers: „Berg“ is the name of the mineral water that now brought a negative price to a Canadian manufacturer. „The water from melted Greenlandic glacier ice is transported over 9,600 kilometers and seems particularly cynical in view of melting polar caps,“ says a spokesperson for the Alpine Initiative, which awards this prize. A spokeswoman for the distribution company stated that the company had already decided in the spring to remove the mineral water from its range: „We take the feedback from the public and customers very seriously“. luzernerzeitung.ch

Nutri-Score is to provide a better overview: If the Bundesrat agrees next Friday, then the new Nutri-Score will be launched on a broad front in Germany from November onwards. The new food logo is intended to help consumers to make healthy food purchases. Customers should then be able to recognize healthier foods more easily when shopping. Federal Nutrition Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) said that the label offers consumers easily understandable and comparable information and thus „the best orientation on the supermarket shelf“. rnd.de


Make. World. Wonder. – Für die Welt, die wir uns wünschen

Species extinction, climate crisis, poverty, mass migration and right-wing populism – we face countless global challenges. So it is only natural to lapse into a state of shock. But despite these many crippling developments, a wide range of initiatives have been launched to demand solutions to these problems or even to develop prototypes for them. The „Fridays for Future“ movement represents only the tip of the iceberg. A master plan to solve our multiple crises has also been in place for years: These are the global sustainability goals of the United Nations.  „MAKE. WORLD. WONDER.“ tells stories of yesterday, today and tomorrow. About what we can do better. Stories of new beginnings. Stories that could multiply. If we have the courage to write these story(s). Because we are the ones we have always been waiting for. oekom.de

Glass: A Bavarian company produces a carbon-neutral wine bottle. . br.de
Steag: Cuts jobs because of the coal exit. wiwo.de
On account of brexite: Future of the climate research institute in Great Britain uncertain. spiegel.de
Blackstone: Ambitious climate targets. handelsblatt.com
USA: Invasive jumping worms from Asia. spiegel.de
Housing in Germany: How a cooperative is causing a furore in Berlin. sueddeutsche.de
The nutrition industry: Too little adapted to climate change. fair-economics.de

Video of the week:

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


Aggression in road traffic: In recent years, aggression in road traffic has increased slightly. Overall, the figures on aggressive behaviour have not changed significantly compared to previous studies, but are „still a cause for concern“: almost half of motorists stated that they had to react immediately when they became angry. Apparently, this is often done by stepping on the gas, as 47 % of those surveyed say that they drive much faster than allowed when they are annoyed. In view of the dangerous nature of this behaviour, it is not reassuring either if only one in four „occasionally step on the gas“ when being overtaken. tagesschau.de

Consumption labelling controversial in the federal government:  A dispute has broken out within the governing parties over the fuel consumption labelling of cars. When should the cars be „green“? Behind this is the question whether cars are already labelled when they are just a little bit better than average. Or will cars only receive the green label if they are particularly fuel-efficient and clean. ? Now Environment State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth accuses the Ministry of Economics of „explicitly“ wanting to „promote as many combustion-engine volume models as possible“ with a CO₂ label. This is incompatible neither with the climate targets nor with „serious“ customer education. sueddeutsche.de

Emissions for plug-in hybrids: The results of a study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) indicate that emissions are higher than assumed: „On average, the real fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of plug-in hybrids in private owners in Germany are more than twice as high as in the official test cycle,“ explains Patrick Plötz, head of the Energy Industry Business Unit at the Fraunhofer-ISI. The deviation is even higher for company cars, where it is three to four times the test values.. spiegel.de

More electric bicycles: In Germany there are around 4.3 million households that own at least one e-bike. Only five years ago there were only 1.5 million households. Households whose main income earner was between 65 and 69 years of age led the way in terms of e-bike ownership with 16 percent. tagesschau.de

Cycle path promotion: Ffederal states do not take up funds 75 million euros in subsidies are available to municipalities and federal states for the expansion of cycle paths. However, most of the federal states have not yet touched the federal money pot, with the Greens blaming the Federal Ministry of Transport.rnd.de

As of 1 January 2020, a total of 385 electric buses were registered in Germany. This is shown in the Federal Government’s answer (19/22057) to a minor question by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/21768). According to this, the cities of Solingen (56), Hamburg (47) and Berlin (35) recorded the highest number of electric bus registrations.

Volvo XC 40: Volvo’s first car that is purely electric. handelsblatt.com

Criticism of Scheuer: In the 2nd committee of enquiry („passenger car toll“), the heads of the bidding consortium made accusations against the Federal Ministry of Transport. „The procedure was far from being fair among business partners,“ said Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, chairman of the board of CTS Eventim, on Thursday in the meeting chaired by committee chairman Udo Schiefner (SPD). Schulenberg confirmed the presentation previously given by Volker Schneble, Managing Director of Autoticket GmbH: on 29 November 2018, he had proposed to Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer to wait until the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had ruled on the contract for the collection of the car toll. Scheuer rejected this proposal, referring to several legal opinions according to which the car toll is clearly in conformity with European law. Furthermore, a start of the toll in the election year 2021 was out of the question. The bidding consortium was „surprised“ by the termination of the contract on 18 June 2019, continued Schulenberg. They had been on schedule until then. This was also shown by the fact that a meeting with Scheuer and the Minister of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, had been held in the Chancellery on 23 May 2019 to discuss whether part of the Autoticket company could be located in Lusatia. Even after the ECJ ruling, „we could have found a solution together with the Federal Ministry of Transport,“ continued Schulenberg. Instead, the ministry had cited the „alleged reason for the poor performance“. At a meeting in Minister Scheuer’s office at noon on 19 June 2019, he, Schulenberg, had made it clear „that a reason for termination of detailed planning documentation is unacceptable“. bundestag.de

Climate protection in the building sector: Greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector have fallen by around 21 percent since 2010. This is what the German government writes in an answer (19/22670) to a minor question by the FDP parliamentary group (19/21967). According to this, the market introduction programme and the CO2 building refurbishment programme have been able to support investment sums of well over 40 billion euros in recent years. The outflow of funds had been between almost €0.9 billion and €2.2 billion. The primary objective of the measures was to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. With the additional measures adopted this year in the building sector, the Federal Government has implemented key measures to achieve the CO2 savings target in the building sector for 2030. In addition to new subsidy systems and a replacement premium for oil heating systems, the national emissions trading scheme was also adopted. The latter is important for the prevention of so-called „rebound“ effects, and the information and advisory services for homeowners and tenants will be further expanded. The current energy efficiency requirements for new buildings and renovation are to be reviewed and, if necessary, amended in 2023, while the affordability of construction and housing remains a key point to be considered.

Collection of old electrical appliances: In order to increase the amount of WEEE collected, the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act is to be amended during this legislative period. This is announced by the Federal Government in its answer (19/22762) to a minor question from the FDP parliamentary group (19/22201). In the view of the German government, there are many reasons why the collection rate for WEEE in Germany will not be reached in 2018. It could not be ruled out that some of the WEEE was disposed of contrary to the legal requirements or exported abroad, the answer states. However, the method of calculation must also be taken into account: the collection rate puts the quantity of WEEE collected in relation to the quantity of electrical and electronic equipment put on the market in the last three years. However, large appliances in particular, such as refrigerators and washing machines, are usually in use for much longer than three years, so that „there is a disproportion between the input and collection volumes“.

Promotion of energy-efficient building refurbishment: In 2019, a total of 1.7 billion euros in loan funding was paid out under the federal government’s support programmes for energy-efficient building refurbishment. The volume for new commitments was just under 1.1 billion euros, as can be seen from the answer (19/22804) to a minor question (19/21922) from the FDP parliamentary group. According to the information provided, the amount of grant support (actual) was 538 million euro, with new commitments amounting to 749 million euro. The German Government justifies the comparatively low figures by the fact that applicants would have held back in 2019 after new incentives from 2020 onwards had been announced.

FDP inquires about reform partnership with Cote d’Ivoire: In a parliamentary question (19/22732), the FDP faction wants to know in which areas Côte d’Ivoire is „particularly reform oriented“ in the opinion of the federal government. Other questions relate to governance in the environmental sector and the fight against corruption and the protection of forest areas.

German government stresses importance of energy partnership: In the German government’s view, public-private partnerships can offer added value in the field of renewable energies in terms of development, energy and economic policy. They would contribute to a better and more secure energy supply and to the implementation of internationally agreed climate targets, as well as offering export opportunities for German companies, she writes in an answer (19/22763) to a minor question (19/20381) from the AfD Group. In a table attached, the German government lists current projects or projects promised in the past five years by the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) in the field of renewable energies in India, Brazil, China and Turkey. It also refers to two other projects in India with a combined capacity of around one hundred megawatts in the wind and hydro energy sector without state participation. However, these two projects could only be mentioned in anonymous form, as DEG did not have the consent of its customers to publish them.

Debt of developing countries: The national debt of developing and emerging countries in the face of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is the subject of a small question by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen group (19/22682). After investors withdrew capital from developing and emerging countries, supply chains were interrupted and sales of raw materials collapsed, many developing and emerging countries ran into acute payment difficulties. The German government should indicate which countries have taken advantage of the G20’s offer to defer debt servicing and the total amount of the deferrals. The question is also asked which countries Germany has deferred debts to and what sums are involved.
Greens against the export of plastic waste: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group wants to know what measures the Federal Government is taking to combat the illegal export and uncontrolled disposal of plastic waste. In a small question (19/22729) the group asks, among other things, how many suspected cases of illegal waste shipments have been reported by the competent authorities in the last ten years. It also asks to what extent the German government is working within the framework of its EU Council Presidency to bring forward a ban on exports of plastic waste from the EU to developing countries.
Costs of non-recycled plastic packaging: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group asks in a short question (19/22730) about the implementation of the plastic contribution decided by the EU. It refers to a decision taken by EU heads of state and government in July 2020, according to which a national contribution of 80 cents per kilogram of non-recycled plastic packaging is to be levied as a new source of own resources for the EU from 2021. The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group now wants to know, among other things, what amount the Federal Government estimates the total contribution that Germany will have to transfer to the EU.


„In 2019, we have established that the demand for heating energy in residential buildings has fallen for the first time since 2015 and has reached the level of 2010. Around three percent less heating was used than in the previous year. However, heating expenditure has increased due to higher energy prices, and energy prices have risen by around 5.6 percent on average. This is also the reason why overall heating expenditure rose slightly.

Franziska Schütze, author of the DIW heating cost monitor, said that the price of heating oil, which rose again last year, was the main factor contributing to the rise in costs. The price of natural gas had remained relatively stable. It had been found that CO2 emissions had fallen by 20 percent over the last ten years. However, it had to be noted that this was largely due to warmer winters and less to energetic renovation and behavioural changes. The promotion of energy efficiency improvements had definitely made a difference, but more had to be done. The rate of refurbishment had hardly increased. Expenditure on energy efficiency improvements, in particular, had risen slightly, but not as much as it would have had to rise in order to really achieve the climate targets.deutschlandfunk.de


Pesticides also in the air: In Germany, an average of more than 30,000 tonnes of pesticide active substances are applied annually. And although there are repeated indications that arable toxins that are harmful to the environment and human health are spread over long distances from their original place of use, there have been no comprehensive government studies on this issue to date. Therefore, in 2019, together with the Alliance for a Grandfathered Agriculture, we commissioned the independent Office for Integrated Environmental Monitoring TIEM to investigate the air for pesticides at 116 locations throughout Germany. Passive collectors, air filter mats from passive houses, tree bark, and bee bread from beehives were used for this purpose. The study also included the results of bark monitoring carried out by TIEM between 2014 and 2018, which also tested tree bark for pesticide residues. This resulted in a total number of 163 sites. zeit.de

Global warming and mass mortality of birds: The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea came into focus four years ago because of a mass extinction of birds. Thousands of yellow-crested puffins and crested hawks seemed to have died of starvation. Starvation. Scientists discovered a link with global warming. Since most birds were in the plumage change at the time of death, their nutritional requirements were particularly high during this phase. But just before the death series, water temperatures had risen. This was accompanied by changes in plankton and fish distribution in the Eastern Bering Sea. The livelihood of birds. It is possible that the shift in the food supply was fatal for the birds. derstandard.at

The bark beetles in the National Park: In normally managed forests, trees infested by bark beetles or even damaged trees are removed. This is not necessarily the case in national parks, where the forest is left to its own devices.  Researchers at the University of Würzburg have now found out that 90 percent of the animal and plant species found in these forests are then also preserved. br.de

Oceans: Becoming more stable and allowing less circulation. sueddeutsche.de
Digitisation: Does little to support energy saving and climate protection.. fair-economics.de
Legal rights: … on home office will come.  dlf.de


Parrots shout too much: Billy, Elsie, Eric, Jade and Tysons are grey parrots,. They moved to 200 of their kind in August this year in the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park in England. Curious: The parrots curse. On arrival, the five parrots were quarantined together and learned from each other and from the keepers. Now the animals were separated from each other.  „Many children come at the weekend and we cannot be responsible for that (the cussing)“, says zoo manager Steve Nichols. faz.net

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