FAIReconomics Newsletter KW 44
Agriculture ministers agree on common agricultural policy: Around 400 billion euros, that is the amount of the package on which the EU agriculture ministers agreed last week during their negotiations on a common agricultural policy on a compromise proposal of the German Council Presidency. The agriculture budget is still the largest item in the EU budget. Among other things, the states will be given more freedom in how they want to achieve a number of pre-defined objectives: these include preserving nature, protecting the climate and ensuring food quality. National plans are to be drawn up, which must be approved by the EU Commission. If farmers comply with certain organic rules, there will be additional money. Without aid payments from Brussels, the survival of many farms will no longer be possible. The criticism of the deal by environmental organisations is unanimous. „The EU Agriculture Council is continuing its destructive subsidy policy in favour of large agricultural companies“, said WWF board member Christoph Heinrich. spiegel.de , agrarheute.com
62 percent of Germans would rather agree with the statement that the EU should take measures to protect the environment, even if these would involve stricter regulations and higher costs for companies and the population. The average of all 13 EU countries surveyed was even 72 percent. oldenburger-Onlinezeitung.de
Criticising Germany’s nuclear phase-out- IAEA: without nuclear power, climate goals are unattainable, says Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Although the decision to phase out nuclear power in Germany in 2022 was politically legitimate, he said, it could not be scientifically justified in terms of the climate and the two-degree target, because nuclear power plants cause extremely low carbon dioxide emissions. Other states are taking different approaches to nuclear power, such as the USA. The Department of Energy (DoE) has now released the first $160 million for the construction of two new types of power plants, which are scheduled to go into operation at the end of 2027. The USA believes that the two new reactors are a good complement to ever more electricity from the sun and other renewable but erratic sources. zdf.de, heise.de
Expansion of solar energy must be doubled Germany wants to become climate-neutral by 2050, but so far there is no strategy on how the Federal Republic intends to implement this. „In three steps towards zero greenhouse gases by 2050 via an interim target of minus 65 percent in 2030 as part of the EU Green Deal“ is the title of the study that Agora Energiewende – und Verkehrswende and the Climate Neutrality Foundation have now presented. „The technologies are all there,“ explains Agora President Patrick Graichen. To achieve the goal of climate neutrality, solar energy would have to be expanded about twice as much as the German government is currently planning, and wind power about one and a half times as much. In order to achieve a turnaround in transport, the introduction of electric cars would have to be accelerated and the use of electric heat pumps in buildings would have to increase. And this is a point that will not please everyone: Climate neutrality will not be achieved without the controversial storage of CO2. taz.de , agora-energiewende.de (original document)
A bad report on the state of nature in Europe: The six-yearly report on the state of nature prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA) painted a bleak picture. For example, the number of bird species that have suffered a worrying decline has risen by seven percent. This means that 40 percent of all European bird species are threatened. Many species are threatened with extinction in Europe. The situation is even worse in their habitats. Only 15 percent of habitats are still in good condition and more than 80 percent of animal and plant habitats are severely damaged.. sueddeutsche.de, fair-economics.de
Corona drives plastic pandemic forward: Corona brings a new plastic flood to the world. As a result of the pandemic, the production of plastic face masks and disposable plastic gloves has increased dramatically. Every year, more than 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced worldwide. Between 1950 and 2015, a total of around 8.3 billion tonnes were produced. The mountain is now swelling with the billions of face shields, protective gowns, gloves and even mouth-nose masks, some of which are made of plastic. focus.de
BOOKTIP OF THE WEEK:
Zukunft für alle – Eine Vision für 2048: gerecht. ökologisch. machbar.
imagine it’s the year 2048. how do you move forward? What do you eat? How do you spend your time? How and what do you work? And beyond your own situation: what could this future look like? How can it be fair, ecological and feasible – for everyone? This book shows possible answers to these questions. In the face of a variety of crises – climate catastrophe, increasing inequality, economic crises – more and more people are looking for a completely different economic and social system. But what might this system look like? Based on the results of twelve future workshops with almost 200 thought leaders*, „Future for All“ presents a vision for the year 2048.
Vision 2048″ creates images of a positive future which can be imagined and implemented in concrete terms, which give courage and hope and which inspire a desire for the future. oekom.de
Greenpeace: criticism of bond purchases by the ECB. fair-economics.de
Nearly half a million babies: died in 2019 as a result of air pollution. stuttgarter-zeitung.de
Wind energy: Criticism of expansion plans in the Baltic Sea.. faz.net
Shell: Becomes green electricity supplier in Germany. handelsblatt.com
Point of no-return has been reached: renewable energies are cheaper to build than to continue operating coal-fired power plants. pv-magazine
Global water shortage: Water shortage is growing and with it the conflicts. tagesspiegel.de
The seventeeen goals magazine tells inspiring stories about how people move the world and shows how everyone can contribute to achieving sustainability goals. Next Thursday, the new magazine will be published as a supplement in the ZEIT, Handelsblatt and Tagesspiegel. 17goals.de
Car industry wants to accept stricter EU climate targets: According to unanimous media reports, manufacturers and suppliers want to agree to the stricter conditions of the EU climate targets at a board meeting of the German Association of the Automotive Industry next week. „It is better to help shape change now than to chase after a development“, said Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess, „We stand by the EU fleet targets and the Green Deal“. The transport sector is crucial for CO2 reduction. „We cannot maintain the status quo“. Many industry associations defended the status because they represented interests. „However, as those responsible, we must examine what happens in the environment in the next 20 or 30 years“ spiegel.de , handelsblatt.com
E-cars can again be subsidised twice: According to a spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Economics, the Federal Government will revoke the so-called cumulation ban in connection with the state electric bonus. The publication of the corresponding directive is scheduled for the coming weeks. As recently as the summer, the government had doubled its purchase premium for purely electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to a federal share of up to 6,000 euros and extended it until the end of 2021, but only on condition that buyers were no longer allowed to take advantage of additional public subsidy programmes. According to market reports, many customers had ordered cars only because they wanted to take the double subsidy with them. This obviously cost the market confidence. spiegel.de
Bavaria is fast driving: Bavaria is the state where most fast cars are registered. The Federal Motor Transport Authority has determined that more than 147,000 new cars were registered last year that can travel at least 231 kilometres per hour. The high proportion may be due to the fact that the two premium manufacturers Audi and BMW produce in the Free State and that this is the reason for many new registrations. The Daimler and Porscheland Baden-Württemberg has about 115,000 new cars that can go more than 231 km/h. faz.net
Austrian railways want to expand night train services throughout Europe: Nightjet is the name of ÖBB’s night trains. From mid-December, daily services will be offered from Vienna and Innsbruck to Amsterdam. The Nightjet from Vienna to Brussels will also run more than three times a week all year round. Moreover, an earlier arrival in Brussels is planned. The Austrians are considering further connections, which will make it possible to reach those in Europe with a medium-haul flight. „My goal remains clear: I want to see an expanded night train network in Europe again by 2028 – from Berlin to Paris, from Stockholm to Rome“, said ÖBB boss Matthäzeit.de
Environmental policy has made a good deal of miscalculation with its CO2 targets and the one-sided promotion of electric mobility: As long as electric cars run on coal-fired electricity, no improvement of the climate is to be expected. And sufficient „green electricity“ for electricians is far from being in sight. European and German climate policy has taken action. According to the EU target, transport should become climate-neutral. By 2030, CO2 emissions must be reduced by 38 percent to 59 grams/kilometre compared to 2005, otherwise car manufacturers face heavy fines. The consequences for the German car industry are serious because these limits cannot be reached by conventional combustion engines – even by the most economical diesel. The targets have thus sealed the end of the fossil combustion engine as the sole source of power. n-tv.de
Dialogue formats Future of the car industry: The Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group is interested in background information on the dialogue platforms dedicated to the future of the car industry. The MEPs ask about the balance in the selection of companies. They also inquire about the involvement of regional players in a small question (19/23339).
German government against 30 km/h in built-up areas as the standard speed: The German government considers the reversal of the rule-exception ratio to a standard speed of 30 km/h in built-up areas without the requirement of a concrete, significant risk situation to be „not necessary and also not sensible with regard to the traffic function of the road“. This is clear from the government’s reply (19/23223) to a minor question from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/22657). The current legal situation enables the competent authorities to define, by means of comprehensive traffic planning, an efficient network of priority roads which meets the needs of commercial and local public transport in particular and keeps motor vehicle traffic off residential roads, the German Government writes.
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
EEG amendment presented: The German government has presented a radical amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). The draft (19/23482) is intended to replace the EEG in 2017 and enter into force on 1 January 2021. In it, the German government sets the objective that all electricity in Germany should be greenhouse gas neutral before 2050, both in terms of the electricity generated and the electricity consumed. The EEG also aims to set the course for the 2030 climate protection programme; among other things, it defines the extent to which individual technologies are to contribute to the 65 percent target (share of renewable energies in electricity consumption by 2030). This involves tender quantities and more land for wind and solar energy generation.
Top position among donor countries: According to the German Government, the transparency of German development cooperation is high and has been rising steadily for years. A few months ago, this was also confirmed by the international organisation Publish What You Fund (PWYF), it writes in an answer (19/23440) to a minor question (19/22984) of the AfD faction. In this year’s international donor ranking by PWYF, Germany had also improved by 20 percentage points to 77.3 % for financial cooperation instruments and by 11.5 percentage points to 72.3 % for technical cooperation. This puts both evaluations in the „good“ category and puts Germany „in a top position among bilateral donors“. The publication „Successes of German Development Cooperation in the 19th Legislative Period“ illustrates the effects and results of German development policy by means of selected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the response continues. The German implementing organisations (DOs) were involved in the preparation of the report as part of their general advisory services.
Dangerousness of laser printers: According to the German government, laser printers do not pose a specific health hazard. In its answer (19/23457) to a minor question by the parliamentary group Die Linke (19/23058), the Federal Government refers to findings by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin) according to which the emissions from laser printers do not pose any relevant risks that would have to be taken into account in a risk assessment at the workplace.
Soya imports down: The amount of soya used for feeding in Germany is tending to decline. The total net import volume of soybeans and soy meal has declined in recent years. Whereas the average import volume of soybeans and soy meal was almost six million tonnes of soybean equivalent in the years 2005 to 2007, only around 4.4 million tonnes of soybean equivalent were imported on average in the years 2017 to 2019. This is shown by the figures in a reply (19/23345) by the Federal Government to a minor question (19/22377) by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group. It also states that in the same period the worldwide cultivation and trade in soya beans has increased sharply. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), global soya bean imports averaged over 69 million tonnes between 2005 and 2007, while the average for 2016 to 2018 was almost 145 million tonnes. Meat consumption has increased significantly with rising incomes, particularly in the emerging markets. China’s soybean imports alone had increased from 28.6 million tonnes to over 89 million tonnes between the periods mentioned above. According to the FAO, the share of German net imports of soybeans and soy meal in soybean equivalents can be estimated at four percent of global imports on average for the years 2005 to 2007. This share had fallen to two percent on average between 2016 and 2018.
GAK is proving its worth: The Joint Task „Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection“ (GAK) has proved its worth as a funding instrument for the distribution of aid to cope with forest damage. In contrast, a federal programme created specifically for this purpose would have had to be established first, says the Federal Government in an answer (19/23276) to a minor question (19/22839) from the AfD Group. Moreover, new structures would have had to be created for this purpose, which would have caused delays. It would also have been necessary to notify the aid at EU level in order to be able to call on the relevant aid. The government is satisfied with the outflow of funds, which as of 30 June 2020 had already reached 69 per cent of the available funds volume for 2020 on the basis of the applications submitted to the granting authorities of the Länder. The assistance was so well received that the Federal Government had initiated a reallocation of funds from the Länder, which were less affected by forest damage and thus had fewer applications, to those Länder which would have a very high number of applications due to higher forest damage.
Start-up support requested: Aid for start-ups and small businesses is the focus of a minor question (19/23374) from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen group. MEPs want to know how many start-ups have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of the Corona pandemic. They also ask about budgetary resources earmarked for corona-related support for these businesses.
Exposure to industrial chemicals: The Federal Government comments on the dangers of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS) in its reply (19/23274) to a minor question (19/22864) from the AfD Group. It states that short-chain PFAS are absorbed by plants and can thus enter the food chain. The evidence so far indicates that this is a serious environmental problem. In the case of long-chain PFAS, a particular problem is that some substances remain in human blood for a long time and may be passed from mother to child during pregnancy and lactation. According to the Federal Government, PFAS are used to create water-, dirt- and oil-repellent surfaces (e.g. in pans, pizza boxes and outdoor clothing). PFAS cannot be degraded under environmental conditions and accumulate in water, soil and sediments, the response says.
Measures against extinction of species: According to the German government, three main causes are responsible for the decline in the number of insects in near-natural habitats: quantitative habitat loss, qualitative deterioration of habitats and lack of habitat connectivity. This is clear from the reply (19/23242) to a minor question (19/22834) from the AfD Group, which addressed the issue of species extinction. The insects most affected by the decline include caddisflies, butterflies, ants, cicadas, wild bees and ground beetles. In its response, the German Government points out that in September 2019 it adopted the Insect Protection Action Programme, which aims to improve the living conditions for insects and biodiversity in Germany. This is to be achieved, inter alia, by reducing light pollution, restricting the use of biocides in certain protected areas and providing legal protection for orchard meadows.
„Well, first of all, the Agriculture Council’s decision shows one thing above all: it is now very important how this is implemented in Germany and whether we really manage to link agricultural support to environmental, nature conservation and animal welfare standards, which has not yet been included in the decision at European level. I believe that what the EU agriculture ministers have achieved is the lowest common denominator, given the huge problems we face. We have a loss of butterflies, of wild bees, we have a loss of birds. 80 percent of the EU’s natural area is in a poor state – the nature conservation report by the European Environment Agency has just confirmed this once again. Much more actually needs to be done, and I am now counting on us to do this with the Environment Ministers.
Svenja Schulze, Federal Environment Minister, believes that it is not at all easy at European level, but what has come out of this would not be what she had hoped for under the heading „European Green Deal“. So we are now focusing more on environmental and climate policy. She wanted to illustrate this with an example. She said that something like dense maize fields with animal pesticides and liquid manure could no longer be the model for the future. But if she now looks at the decisions on agricultural reform, it would seem that this has not yet been adopted throughout Europe. The fact is that whether you grow maize or whether you turn a boggy soil – in other words, something that stores CO2 – into agricultural land again, it is all climate protection now, because it is said in general terms that 40% of what is paid is a climate protection contribution. She does not see it that way. Agriculture is not climate or environmentally friendly per se deutschlandfunk.de
„To advertise a fairly produced product with a model who shortly afterwards turns up as a testimonial with fast fashion giants like Primark, KiK & Co.? That this is not very credible is something I have found out time and again in my work as a fashion photographer. Even abroad, I don’t know of any agency that pays attention to these connections. So I founded „Fair Models“. Our models have committed themselves to work exclusively with sustainable brands, to live a conscious lifestyle and to stand up 100 percent for the values of our clients“.
Anna Voelske, founder of FAIR MODELS, The entrepreneur only works for sustainable labels and only contracts models who are committed to the environment and society….Sustainability does not necessarily mean that everyone is vegan. Sustainability means working towards an increasingly sustainable lifestyle. It is really exciting to see what our models are involved in: one works for an urban gardening project, another for a social housing project. They have an ambassador for UNICEF, a social entrepreneur who works for refugees and a fashion blogger who helps fashion brands on the way to sustainability. enorm-magazin.de
How a climate model is created: Weather and climate are highly non-linear systems – small changes act quickly and possibly unpredictably on large scales. Nevertheless, simulations calculate climate properties for decades into the future. This only works with sophisticated models. Together with powerful supercomputers, more efficient algorithms are increasingly being used to map many physical processes on Earth with ever greater precision. spektrum.de
Chocolate and child labour: 70 percent of West African cocoa comes from the main cocoa-growing countries, the Ivory Coast and Ghana. And more than one and a half million children between the ages of five and 17 work here. They are forced into child labour. In this respect, consumers in Germany can expect to find child labour in their chocolate bars, at least in the plantation work. Night work, carrying heavy loads or the use of chemicals are everyday life for the children. Although many companies have declared that they would do something against the exploitation of the poorest and weakest, a study has shown that not much has happened. There are even signs of opposing movements. If cocoa production increases, the proportion of working children will rise. norg.org, taz.de
Mediterranean in the red zone: The Mediterranean is Europe’s most popular bathtub. According to a UN report, the region between Gibraltar and the Aegean is suffering dramatically from the consequences of climate change, pollution and mass tourism. Tourism plays a major role in this. Tourism has doubled in the last twenty years, and around 30% of all tourists worldwide spend their holidays in the sea. In addition, the Mediterranean Sea is warming faster than other seas. rnd.de
Deaths and injuries in Nigeria: In recent days, 51 civilians, 11 police officers and 7 soldiers have died in protests against police violence in Nigeria. This was declared by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday evening – thus admitting for the first time that the violent riots of the past two weeks have been fatal for many people. euronews.com
Tanzania: elections next week. It looks like another election victory for President John Magufuli. Experts doubt whether these elections will be fair. economist.com
Locusts – the pan-African plague? Huge swarms of locusts eat the fields of southern Africa bare. What are the lessons to be learned from the rampant plague in the east of the continent, which has been raging for months? Experts demand more cooperation. dw.com
Stronger EU-Africa cooperation: Corona strengthens the trend towards regional production. The EU and Africa should cooperate more closely to reduce their dependence on Asia. The Corona pandemic is accelerating many trends that leave no region or country in the world untouched. One such trend, which started before Corona and is now gaining momentum, is economic de-globalisation. In Europe, too, the discussion about relocating (reshoring) production, especially from China, has gained momentum. Many countries want to reduce the dependencies and bottlenecks highlighted by COVID-19. This will not only change the production structures of individual countries; the trade relations of entire regions will also be different in future. Now that the model of globalisation of supply chains is nearing its end, an honest debate is needed on how the necessary socio-ecological transformation could be implemented on the African continent. ipg-journal.de
Stable power grids for Africa: Researchers at the University of Paderborn develop modern systems for uninterruptible power supply in rural regions of Africa – Intelligent „microgrids“ integrate renewable energies and make an important contribution to regional development. idw-online.de
New regulations for homosexual marriage: In South Africa a new regulation concerning homosexual partnerships has come into force. President Ramaphosa signed a corresponding law yesterday. According to this law, registrars are no longer allowed to refuse marriages of same-sex couples. deutschlandfunk.de
Multi-marriage: South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma wants to dissolve most of his marriages – because he is allegedly almost broke. Many South Africans doubt that. tagesspiegel.de
Climate compensation: Indulgence trading for industry. taz.de
City centres: technical evaporation where trees do not grow. fair-economics.de
Forests: Robust forests are an important factor in the fight against global warming. . spiegel.de
Per capita energy consumption: Qatar leads the rankings of energy-intensive countries, the USA is in eleventh place, Germany in 38th place capital.de
Eternal life for the PET bottle: A start-up has developed a biotechnological method that makes the disadvantages of thermoplastic recycling in the PET sector irrelevant. In this method, an enzyme acts as a bacterial catalyst: it breaks down the giant plastic polymers into their components in a natural way. Corporate biologists have found the enzyme in landfills and have developed its performance further. By adding further microorganisms, they accelerated the protein over the years to such an extent that it can be broken down 90 per cent of a PET bottle within ten hours. derstandard.at
All pictures, if not stated otherwise: pixabay.com
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