FAIReconomics Newsletter week 07/21
Insect protection and phase-out of glyphosate decided: Last week, the Federal Cabinet passed a legislative package on insect protection that for the first time stipulates a phase-out of glyphosate. Its use is to be banned in private gardens and allotments. The Federal Council still has to approve the amended Plant Protection Application Ordinance. This is expected in the course of this summer. The ban also applies to public parks and sports facilities. But German farmers are up in arms against it, they see their existence threatened by the ban. faz.net, fair-economics.de
Agreement on supply chain law: It was a struggle between the ministries and there were memorable alliances between Development Minister Gerd Müller and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil – who went into battle together against the Federal Ministry of Economics. Negotiations within the coalition lasted for months, even Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened. Now the ministries have agreed on a compromise. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier wanted to push through a European solution on the Supply Chain Act, without considering that the Brussels plans are more far-reaching because they go as far as import bans. This could have far-reaching consequences for relations with China. handelsblatt.com , wiwo.de , dw.com
In a joint letter, more than 500 scientists appeal to the EU and the USA to stop burning wood for energy. The carbon released by burning wood can only be offset by reforestation – time the world does not have to stop climate change. The conservation organisation WWF supports the call. businessinsider.com
How Corona, species extinction and climate change are connected: If you want to defeat Corona, you have to preserve the rainforest – that’s what virologist Sandra Junglen says, who is searching for still unknown viruses in untouched tropical forests. In order to prevent new pandemics, she wants to understand how the pathogens spread, if possible before they even come into contact with humans. zeit.de
Study shows how bad fossil fuels are for health: Burning fossil fuels affects health. A new study examines the extent to which burning fossil fuels in particular contributes to air pollution and thus endangers people’s health. Until now, studies did not distinguish between individual sources of particulate matter. The results are a clear message to policymakers to create further incentives to switch to clean energy sources. „We cannot in good conscience continue to rely on fossil fuels when we know they have such serious health impacts and there are viable, cleaner alternatives,“ co-author Eloise Marais Marais. taz.de
Little chance of success for climate lawsuit: Last week, a Paris administrative court caused a stir: The judges recognised that the state was not sufficiently fulfilling its obligations to reduce greenhouse gases. Legal scholars doubt, however, that this could become a precedent for Europe. Climate lawsuits, they say, are predominantly within the national legal system. Nevertheless, the French case could have a „spillover effect“ – and lead to similar proceedings in other countries. derstandard.at
First exchange-listed hydrogen fund goes on the market: Hydrogen is seen by many stakeholders, be it industry or governments, as the climate-friendly energy carrier of the future. Now a first exchange-traded index fund (ETF) is being launched. While some see hydrogen as hype, others are rather sceptical. An analyst at Deutsche Bank concludes that hydrogen is theoretically an energy multi-talent, but „not least because of high costs, its contribution to the national and global energy transition is likely to be manageable over the next one to two decades.
BOOKTIP OF THE WEEK:
Aves – Vögel
„Never before have I looked into so many fascinating bird faces as in this book. We see talking faces, character heads: lawyers, mafiosi, housewives, charmers, cheats and naïves – just like in real (human) life – we see the punk and the stern scholar. And we grasp the individuality of each of these animals like that of each individual human being,“ writes Elke Heidenreich in this unusual photo book.
Indeed, this book is an absolute eye-catcher. Completely in black-and-white photography, birds are staged and become character heads. A total work of art is grouped around the sensitive bird portraits by photographer Tom Krausz: the humorously critical stories by Elke Heidenreich and Urs Heinz Aerni, an essay on the physiognomy of birds by literary scholar Dietmar Schmidt, as well as brief biological characteristics and silhouettes of all around 60 bird species. Whether Andean condor, harpy, sparrow or shoebill – the portraits in this illustrated book show bird faces of great dignity, sceptical, vulnerable, combative and strange in the best sense. They show exotic species that we can often only experience in zoos, but also seemingly familiar birds in never-before-experienced proximity. And suddenly we find ourselves at eye level again with these fragile creatures … Texts by: Elke Heidenreich, writer and journalist; Urs Heinz Aerni, Swiss journalist and ornithologist; Dietmar Schmidt, literary scholar. The photographer: Tom Krausz (born 1951), freelance photographer and filmmaker, lives in Hamburg. dugverlag.de
Making the financial system more ecological: Banks should pay indirectly for giving loans to environmentally harmful projects. sueddeutsche.de
Agreements for the common good: Entrepreneur Michael Otto argues that antitrust law should allow meaningful agreements to help the environment and agriculture. faz.net
Direct CO2 capture from the air: Hopes for climate protection rest on direct air capture (DAC) technology. A new study dampens the hopes. klimareporter.de
Severe earthquake off Fukushima: Nuclear power plants in the region shut down. erdbebennews.de
Green monetary policy: ECB should participate in climate protection, demands Executive Board member Elderson. faz.net
Government in court: For a year now, young people have been suing the German government at the Federal Constitutional Court. They demand a climate protection law that protects their basic rights. energiezukunft.eu
SPD: Ecological restructuring of the economy at the centre of the election campaign. zeit.de
Greens: Ban on single-family houses in the countryside. derstandard.at
German gas storage facilities: Emptier than they have been for a long time. handelsblatt.com
The seventeeen 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.
Promotion of cargo bicycles: The Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag is again calling for 250 million euros over four years to promote cargo bicycles in Germany. With this, they want to within four years. With this, they want to bring one million of the environmentally friendly means of transport onto German roads within four years. taz.de
Support for Tesla in Brandenburg: The car manufacturer Tesla has not yet received any financial support from federal funds for its site in Grünheide in Brandenburg. This is explained by the Federal Government in its answer (19/26423) to a small question (19/26031) of the Left Party. As far as the Federal Government is aware, there has also been no aid from Land funds or from the EU. An application for funding from the Joint Task „Improvement of the Regional Economic Structure“ (GRW-G) for the construction of the factory, which has been submitted to the Investment Bank of the State of Brandenburg, is currently being supplemented with documents. „The approval procedure is subject to notification by the EU Commission under state aid law and has not yet been completed,“ the answer continues.
Rapid expansion of the charging infrastructure: The Economic Affairs Committee has voted in favour of a bill to accelerate the expansion of the infrastructure for electromobility. With the votes of the governing coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD against the votes of the AfD and the abstention of the other opposition factions, the MPs voted on Wednesday in favour of the „Draft Law on the Development of a Building-Integrated Charging and Line Infrastructure for Electromobility (GEIG, 19/18962) in an amended version. This draft of the CDU/CSU and SPD parliamentary groups is identical in wording to one of the federal government, which the committee considered to be finished. The Bundestag is expected to decide on the bill this week.
Germany clears the way for autonomous driving: According to the Ministry of Transport, this makes Germany the first country to bring self-steering cars into regular operation. However, a driver must still be on board to intervene. faz.net
Expansion of private charging stations: Decisive factor for the success of electromobility. sonnenseite.com
Batteries of e-cars: Electromobility is a building block in the fight against the climate crisis. Problem: The recycling rate of electric car batteries is very poor – for now. A start-up has now found a solution for recycling. deutschlandfunknova.de
Does the CO2 price make driving less attractive? According to a study, the increase in petrol prices due to the CO2 tax reduces the number of kilometres driven by 0.25 per cent. rwi-essen.de
LAST WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
Rough concept for biodiversity centre presented: The Federal Government has presented a rough concept for the national biodiversity monitoring centre (19/26454). The concept defines the cornerstones for a nationwide biodiversity monitoring and outlines the structure of the planned centre. According to the concept, the centre’s headquarters should be located at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and financed from the budget of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. In addition, there will be an interministerial steering committee and a basic expert committee. Approximately two years are planned for the establishment phase of this structure. The establishment of such a centre is stipulated in the coalition agreement. According to this agreement, the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture are to be involved in the centre. According to the rough concept, the aim of the centre is to „advance the expansion of nationwide biodiversity monitoring, i.e. monitoring practice, on the basis of existing monitoring programmes and to secure it in the long term“. The aim is to create a data basis that will make it possible to identify opportunities for action to protect biodiversity.
Status report on the Nagoya Protocol: Between July 2019 and June 2020, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation carried out user inspections at 40 companies in accordance with Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No 511/2014. This is according to the Fourth Report of the Federal Government on the Status of Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (19/26455). For the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation has established nine posts, seven of which were filled as of August 2020. The Nagoya Protocol – officially the „Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization“ – is a binding international treaty that entered into force in 2014. Germany has been a party to the Nagoya Protocol since 2016.
More commitment to agroecology: According to Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth (CDU), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has greatly expanded its commitment in the field of agroecology in order to promote the „necessary transformation“ of global, national and regional agriculture. „We want to use the political momentum,“ she explained in the Development Committee on Wednesday. For this reason, she said, the BMZ had almost doubled the number of its projects as well as its funding in this area, partly as a result of a corresponding motion (19/11022) by the coalition parliamentary groups that was passed by the Bundestag in summer 2019. In parallel, Germany also advocated for agro-ecological approaches and strategies multilaterally. bundestag.de
Mineral oil hydrocarbons in food: The entry of mineral oil hydrocarbons into food is very complex. Accordingly, a multitude of possible sources of entry come into question, according to an answer (19/26348) of the Federal Government to a small question (19/25964) of the parliamentary group Die Linke. For example, packaging materials made of recycled paper, adhesives, batching oils in jute or sisal bags, lubricants from food production plants, exhaust gases from harvesting machines, lubricants or release agents from manufacturing and packaging processes as well as environmental inputs are known. With the draft of the Twenty-Second Ordinance Amending the Commodities Ordinance, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) intends in a first step to regulate the food commodities made of recycled paper, which have become known as the first significant source of input.
Revision of animal welfare rights planned at EU level: Germany has repeatedly raised and promoted the issue of animal welfare in animal transport during its EU Council Presidency. For example, Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) had most recently in October 2020 at the meeting of the newly established Animal Transport Inquiry Committee of the European Parliament (ANIT) strongly advocated for a clarification of the situation of supply points in third countries and, in connection with this, for a revision of the EU Transport Regulation, according to an answer (19/26417) of the Federal Government to a minor question (19/26007) of the AfD parliamentary group. The announcement of the European Commission in the Farm-to-Fork Strategy to revise existing animal welfare legislation, including the area of transport and slaughter of animals, on the basis of current scientific knowledge, is expressly welcomed by the Federal Government. In the Council Conclusions on the Strategy reached under the German Council Presidency, the European Commission was called upon to carry out this review as soon as possible in order to bring the existing animal welfare legislation, in particular with regard to animal transport, into line as soon as possible.
Plans to strengthen the German start-up landscape: In its answer (19/26422) to a minor question (19/26052) from the FDP parliamentary group, the Federal Government discusses individual components of financial support for start-ups. Specifically, it is about elements of the Future Fund. The KfW Capital programme is to be expanded and made available for growth financing of up to 400 million euros per year. The investment focus is to be expanded to include growth funds and mezzanine financing offers as well as the secondary market for fund shares, the statement continues. The federal government’s established venture capital funds, which invest directly in start-ups, are also to be expanded: The fund volume of coparion will be doubled to up to 550 million, and the High-Tech Gründerfonds will be expanded with a follow-on fund for the early phase, according to current plans, thereby adding about 350 million euros. There will also be increases in the European Investment Fund’s Growth Facility, as well as in the existing KfW VTGF programme. As new instruments, the Federal Government is examining a DeepTechFuture Fund, a KfW Capital Growth Fund, a managed account model of KfW Capital and a separate investment vehicle of High-Tech Gründerfonds, which will be used to accompany follow-up and growth financing in the portfolio and network of the fund.
“ The year 2021 will be too warm, probably even among the „top ten“ since observations began. Whether there will be a new record is hard to say. But it doesn’t look like it, because at the moment the climate phenomenon La Niña in the tropical Pacific is overriding global warming with its cooling influence.“
Mojib Latif, Professor of Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics at the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and at Kiel University, also President of the German Association of the Club of Rome and Chairman of the Board of the German Climate Consortium. He expects little from climate policy in the second Corona year. The pressure caused by the pandemic is so great that people all over the world are now thinking primarily in the short term. In Germany, we have a super election year and the Bundestag elections in autumn. No far-reaching measures are to be expected now. klimareporter.de
„Bitcoin itself is a very climate-damaging technology. It relies on a lot of computers all over the world working at maximum capacity to keep the Bitcoin blockchain running. Currently, according to estimates by the Centre for Alternative Finance at Cambridge University, they consume about 120 terawatt hours per year. That corresponds to a quarter of Germany’s electricity consumption or roughly the electricity consumption of Norway. If Elon Musk now drives up the price with his investment, then the energy consumption of the Bitcoin network also increases. This is because the higher the price goes, the more people want to switch on their computers and participate in the boom.“
Benedikt Fuest, a journalist for the daily newspaper Die Welt, said this was because the inventor of Bitcoin – known only under the pseudonym Satoshi – had thought of a way to avoid inflation. As technology continues to advance and the computers participating in the Bitcoin network calculate faster and faster, the mathematical task required to calculate the Bitcoins becomes more and more difficult. This means that the computers have to calculate longer and longer at the same time. As a result, the more these 21 million available Bitcoins are calculated, the more energy is consumed and the climate effect of Bitcoin increases accordingly. deutschlandfunk.de
Fear of a new Ebola outbreak in West Africa: In 2014, West Africa was hit by the worst Ebola outbreak to date. At that time, about 11,300 people died. The new outbreaks, especially in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are a cause for concern. dw.com
New perspectives for cooperation with African partners: The Max Planck Society, one of the most important German science institutions, has launched an Africa Initiative. It is intended to counteract the migration of Africa’s best minds abroad and strengthen local research institutions. At the same time, Max Planck would like to contribute to better exploiting scientific potential on both sides and to opening up new perspectives for Africa’s young scientists through cooperation on an equal footing. mpg.de
The miracle at the Horn of Africa: Somaliland has achieved what its neighbour Somalia has been failing at for years: peace, stability, an end to terror – and almost without international aid. spiegel.de
New gardens for the Sahara: An unusual project in northern Chad started in January: In the Tibesti Mountains, gardens are to be revived in the old tradition and optimised with today’s tools of sustainable agriculture. fair-economics.de
Air Namibia: Namibia’s national carrier Air Namibia has decided to suspend operations with immediate effect, cancelling all flights and imposing a grounding order. bbc.com.
How African countries want to make Google, Facebook & Co. pay: US corporations avoid paying taxes abroad. African user countries no longer want to miss out on the revenue and are discussing digital taxes. dw.com
Domestic cats that predate threaten songbirds: Actually, it should be a bandage that predatory domestic cats catch small songbirds. In fact, they are a threat to small wildlife and songbirds. A research team now presents simple strategies to prevent this. When domestic cats are fed a lot of meat protein, they hunt less. tagesspiegel.de
Solar roofs over the motorway: With solar roofs over the motorway, you could kill two birds with one stone. Driving a car and generating electricity ecologically at the same time. Several years ago, Swiss architects developed a model that could implement this idea. Currently, a German-Austrian research team is calculating to what extent these solar roofs over motorways are suitable as electricity suppliers. fr.de
Sustainable Singapore: The Southeast Asian city state of Singapore is no role model in terms of climate protection. Nevertheless, it is striving to become a smart city, even though its CO2 footprint is still among the highest in the world. Now the city government wants to go car-free in the city centre and become more sustainable with an automatic waste disposal system. derstandard.at
Brazil: Government uses pandemic to weaken environmental protection. taz.de
Stiftung Naturlandschaften Brandenburg: Four former military training areas become the wilderness of tomorrow. wwf.de
How changing weather slows down the economy: When the temperature varies greatly from day to day, the economy grows less. fair-economics.de
Pigs can understand simple computer games: Let someone say that pigs are stupid, domestic pigs can play simple computer games after sufficient training – this is what two US researchers found out in an experiment. All test animals had understood the connection between joystick and cursor, and the pigs that were regularly stroked were particularly good and fast. heise.de
All images, unless otherwise stated: pixabay.com
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