FAIReconomics Newsletter Week 06/20
Environmental activists occupy coal-fired power plant: Environmental activists have gained access to the site of the Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant. Climate activists have invaded the grounds of the new Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant in the Ruhr area and occupied parts of the plant. More than 100 people unrolled banners on two loading facilities on Sunday. According to police, the activists entered the area by force. A gate had been broken open. After hours of occupation, the demonstrators withdrew peacefully. Operator Uniper filed charges. n-tv.de, faz.net, welt.de,
Cabinet decides on coal phase-out: After weeks of delay, the coal phase-out law was passed by the federal cabinet last Wednesday. Science and environmental groups criticize the passed law as a breach of promise and a denunciation of the laboriously negotiated coal compromise. The crux of the matter is a passage that accommodates the eastern German coal-producing states. They do not want to shut down their lignite-fired power plants until the end of the decade. But this will not enable the climate targets to be achieved. We are talking about ten million tons of CO2. They want to „save this through innovative solutions“. But these „innovative“ solutions do not exist and are not described anywhere. Since the criticism of the plans for the foreign countries continues, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier will meet with the power plant operators on Wednesday. klimareporter.de , handelsblatt.com
In future, the city of Tübingen will collect 50 cents per cup and plate and 20 cents per cutlery set. Tübingen is the first German municipality to introduce a packaging tax. deutschlandfunk.de
Government invests in hydrogen: A paper for the national hydrogen strategy has been presented by the Federal Ministry of Economics. It is currently being coordinated with the ministries. The goal is to expand the pioneering role of German companies in hydrogen technologies. The government wants to invest about two billion euros in the technology and, above all, not repeat the mistakes made in the expansion of other technologies. The paper plans to make 1.4 billion available for funding programmes until 2026, and another 600 million until 2025 for funding laboratories. More hydrogen filling stations are also to be built. By 2030, three to five gigawatts of electrolysis capacity are to be made available. This should reduce the currently still high production costs. The industrial use of hydrogen is just as interesting as the use in transport technology. There are basically two types of production: blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas, green hydrogen from renewable energies. However, the production of blue hydrogen generates CO2, which must be stored. In the draft paper, the BMWi does not distinguish between blue and green hydrogen. faz.net , handelsblatt.com
Wind power decision only in March: without a clear result, a meeting between the heads of the state chancelleries and Helge Braun, the head of the Federal Chancellery, broke up. The two-hour result should bring clarity about the expansion path for wind energy. However, there is dissent not only between the federal and state governments, but also between the federal states. A discussion paper written in the run-up to the meeting listed, in last Wednesday’s version, fixed capacity levels for the individual renewable energy sources that are to be achieved in the expansion. For offshore wind plants, 20 gigawatts were planned there until 2030, onshore wind power is to supply 67 to 71 gigawatts, photovoltaic 98 gigawatts, biomass 8.4 gigawatts and hydroelectric power six gigawatts. The CDU wanted this section to be removed from the paper. rp-online.de
Tenants‘ Association and Umwelthilfe criticise Federal Government: The German Environmental Aid (DUH) and the German Tenants‘ Association (DMB) criticise the lack of an overall concept of the Federal Government for climate protection and social compatibility in housing. The rent increase options available under current law make energy-efficient refurbishment unaffordable for many households. At present, individual federal states are attempting to curb rising rents through instruments such as environmental protection or rent caps. Many such initiatives, however, clearly fall short of climate protection or even prevent it. mieterbund.de, welt.de
France is abolishing the receipt obligation: Anyone who wants to have proof that the so-called Franco-German locomotive no longer works in Europe can see this from a decision that has now been taken by the French National Assembly. It plans the partial abolition of the obligation to pay receipts. As of September, receipts for sums below ten euros will no longer be printed out, unless the customer expressly requests it. From 2021, receipts for sums up to 20 euros will no longer be required, and from 2022 the limit up to 30 euros will apply. However, this is only one part of the law that wants to combat waste. Already in two years, textiles and hygiene articles that cannot be sold will no longer be allowed to be destroyed. Food must be donated by the manufacturers, textiles must be recycled. zeit.de
BUCHTIPP DER WOCHE:
The devastating effects of overheating of the earth and extinction of species have become obvious. We all feel them. This book contains a hopeful message: As studies and examples show, the fullness of life on our planet can be restored! We humans can renew lost rainforests, green deserts and turn emaciated industrial fields into species-rich, fertile forest gardens. In 50 chapters, Jochen Schilk tells encouraging and amazing stories from all over the world: about people who – sometimes alone and with the simplest of means – have succeeded in replanting entire areas of land, as well as about organisations that carry out large-scale reforestation. The practice of these tree planters makes it clear: Each and everyone can actively contribute to the re-greening of the earth in their own living environment. drachenverlag.de
Uniper: Takes hard coal-fired power plants off the grid. zeit.de
Container: Air in the containers is polluted with high levels of pollutants. tagesschau.de
Consumer protectionists: Liability for smart meter technology demanded. bizz-energy.com
France: No chick killing from 2021. euronews.com
CSU: Signature campaigns against speed limits started. afp.com
Farmers: Billions in aid from the federal government. focus.de
Australia’s authorities: Investigating whether climate change is causing forest fires. spiegel.de
US authority EPA: Glyphosate is not carcinogenic. reuters.com
UPS buys 10,000 electric vehicles: UPS intends to use more electric vehicles for parcel delivery in the future and placed a large order with the British StartUp Arrival.. logistik-watchblog.de
Without subsidy uninteresting – electric cars: The dealers of electric cars have a sales problem. Although the German government has promised to increase the premium from 4,000 to 6,000 euros when purchasing an electric car, it is still completely unclear when this premium will actually be introduced. That is why there is a reluctance to buy. The announced increase of the premium is currently slowing down sales, which the government actually wanted to promote with the premium. deutschlandfunk.de
Reaction to climate package: Flixbus cuts routes in rural areas. n-tv.de
Recalls of diesel vehicles: The Bündnis 90/Die Grüne parliamentary group inquires about the current status of recalls and hardware upgrades of diesel vehicles in a small question (19/16651). Among other things, the MPs want to know from the Federal Government how many vehicles registered in Germany have been subject to mandatory recalls by the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) since September 2015 „due to illegal switch-off devices or other exhaust gas manipulations“. They are also asking which applications for approval of hardware retrofit systems for passenger cars based on the technical requirements established since the „Concept for clean air and the safeguarding of individual mobility in our cities“ was drawn up are currently before the KBA. Other inquiries relate to hardware retrofit systems for heavy municipal vehicles, heavy tradesmen’s and delivery vehicles and buses.
Car-free zone prohibited in Hamburg: Under the motto „Ottensen macht Platz“ (Ottensen makes room), the Hamburg district last year converted two streets into a meeting place and banned cars. The pilot test was intended to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists and to make the district more attractive overall. But 163 parking spaces were also lost. The Hamburg Administrative Court has now granted two rush applications by residents and declared the pilot project illegal. In the opinion of the administrative judges, „the trial establishment of the pedestrian zone is highly likely to be illegal“. The District Office now wants to establish the car-free zone on a permanent basis, as the court had only prohibited the trial use. spiegel.de
Standardisation of charging infrastructure: In the view of the German government, there are currently no fundamental obstacles to standardising the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Various players from industry and commerce have worked constructively on the development of appropriate standards for the charging infrastructure of commercial vehicles, according to the government’s answer (19/16678) to a small question from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group (19/16347). An essential prerequisite for the successful market ramp-up of electric mobility is „that charging and payment is safe, transparent and customer-friendly across all providers“, writes the Federal Government. The basis for this is the interoperability of authentication and payment systems. These requirements have been implemented in the charging station ordinance (LSV) by means of uniform requirements for so-called „selective charging“ at all publicly accessible charging stations. Since the first amendment to the Charging Pillar Ordinance, which came into force in June 2017, users have been able to obtain and pay for electricity at all newly established publicly accessible charging points with cash, a common web-based payment system or by EC or credit card without first concluding a long-term electricity supply contract, according to the response.
Federal Court of Auditors criticizes toll allocation: Representatives of the Federal Court of Auditors have reiterated their criticism of the Federal Ministry of Transport regarding the implementation of the infrastructure charge for passenger cars. During the public hearing of witnesses by the 2nd investigative committee („passenger car toll“) on Thursday, budgetary and public procurement law concerns were the focus of attention, which the Federal Court of Auditors had already expressed previously in a report. „The final offer should not have been subject to further negotiations“, said Werner Pelzer, Ministerial Councillor at the Federal Court of Auditors and head of the audit area for the car toll there, in the meeting chaired by committee chairman Udo Schiefner (SPD). With his statement he referred to the fact that after the submission of the final offer by the bidding consortium consisting of Kapsch TrafficCom and CTS Eventim, the Ministry of Transport held further talks with the bidders and invited them to submit a second final offer. „This is not permitted under public procurement law“, said Romy Moebus, Head of Department V of the Federal Audit Office responsible for traffic and infrastructure. The minimum requirements had been changed in these negotiations after the final offer had been submitted. Therefore, Moebus and Pelzer said in separate hearings, the ministry should have withdrawn the procedure and given the previously dropped bidders the opportunity to participate in the procedure again. Admittedly, there was the possibility to renegotiate for serious reasons. „Moebus said, „The ministry, however, has not presented any serious reasons.“ bundestag.de
LAT WEEK IN THE BUNDESTAG
Left-wing wanton raw materials policy: The left-wing parliamentary group pleads for a globally just and sustainable raw materials policy. In the view of the MEPs, the Federal Government should fundamentally revise its raw materials strategy and focus its raw materials policy on climate-friendly, ecological, development-friendly and human rights-friendly design. The interests of developing and newly industrialising countries exporting raw materials in building up their own value chains at home must be recognised, the motion (19/16865) goes on to say. So far the Federal Government has unilaterally pursued the interests of German industry in unimpeded access to natural resources, the members of parliament explain their proposal. In doing so, it was failing to recognise the urgently needed departure from its previous ruthless raw materials policy from the point of view of development policy, human rights and ecology.
Coal exit plans discussed: Members of the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety discussed on Wednesday afternoon with a representative of the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment and the Coal Phase-out Act adopted by the Federal Cabinet today, Wednesday. The core elements of the recommendations had been taken up by the Federal Government with the Coal Exit Act, the representative said. He considered it a milestone, also because there was no other industrialized country that had taken such a path. He told the committee that the first power plant would be taken off the grid as early as 2020, and a total of eight power plants, approximately 2.84 gigawatts, would be shut down by the end of 2022. The lignite phase-out had been negotiated in such a way that only nine gigawatts would be on the grid by 2030, which is the planned contribution to achieving the 2030 sector target for the energy sector.
In addition, the coal-producing countries have agreed that checkpoints will be introduced in 2026, 2029 and 2032, so that it will also be possible to bring forward the phase-out for those power plants that will be on the grid after 2030. With regard to the phase-out date 2038, there is the possibility of bringing this date forward to 2035. In their questions, the Green group wanted to know what an „increase“ in renewable energies might look like. A representative of the Union asked about the interactions in relation to the gypsum occurrence. A representative of the AfD criticised that the draft law did not sufficiently address security of supply and that there was a risk of large-scale power cuts. A representative of the FDP parliamentary group wanted to know why the project was carried out so quickly and without the detailed involvement of associations. A representative of the SPD asked for details on the future of the Hambach forest, and a representative of the Left Party was interested in possible additional CO2 emissions that could result from a cascade shutdown of power plants.
Planning acceleration waved through: The Transport Committee has paved the way for two bills proposed by the German government to speed up planning. In the meeting on Wednesday, all other parliamentary groups – with the left abstaining – approved the bill „for further acceleration of planning and approval procedures“ (19/15626) as amended at the request of the coalition parliamentary groups. In addition to the coalition factions, the AfD and FDP also voted in favour of the draft „Measures Law Preparation Act“ (19/15619), as amended at the request of the CDU/CSU and SPD factions. The Left and the Greens rejected the bill. The purpose of the proposed law on the preparation of measures is to obtain building rights by law for originally twelve – and as a result of the amendment 14 infrastructure projects in the rail and waterways sector – instead of by means of an administrative act, which is associated with a restriction of the possibilities for legal action. At the same time, early public participation „prior to the preparatory procedure“ is made mandatory. Further information: bundestag.de
Insect protection in agriculture: The Action Programme for Insect Protection does not aim at a comprehensive extensification of agricultural production in Germany. This is stated by the Federal Government in an answer (19/16618) to a minor question (19/15453) of the FDP parliamentary group on the effects of the so-called agricultural package on agricultural production. It is further stated that the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) are currently examining how a refuge or retreat approach, as agreed in the action programme for insect protection, could be designed to protect biodiversity from the effects of the use of plant protection products.
Animal welfare in slaughterhouses: Video surveillance in slaughterhouses can contribute to improving the welfare of animals for slaughter. However, it should first be examined whether the prosecution and prevention of animal welfare violations cannot be achieved just as effectively through effective official on-site inspections instead of video surveillance, according to a reply (19/16582) from the Federal Government to a minor question (19/16094) from the FDP parliamentary group. For if priority EU legal provisions do not contain any regulation, continuous video surveillance is likely to raise constitutional questions in view of the far-reaching encroachment on the fundamental, protected general personal rights of the persons monitored and on the freedom of ownership and occupation of the slaughterhouse operators. In addition, the data protection regulations, in particular the Basic Data Protection Regulation (Datenschutzgesetzgrundverordnung – DSGVO), must be observed.
„We know from scientific studies that the balance between expenditure and recognition is a very critical balance because the human brain reacts very sensitively when we have to expend expenditure but do not get any appreciation back. This means that the working atmosphere or the management style at the workplace plays a major role, and things are not as good as they should be in many workplaces in Germany.“
Professor Joachim Bauer, University of Freiburg, about half of the employees in Germany feel permanently rushed. Of course, this has to do with the digital end devices and the Internet, which make us constantly available, even when we are at home. This puts us under stress and also has consequences for our health. Whereas in the past the focus was on physical work and thus wear and tear, today the stress is mainly in the mental and psychological area. Professions in which people help other people are particularly at risk for burn-out and depression. Bauer mentioned nursing staff in clinics and retirement homes, teachers in schools. deutschlandfunk.de
„To declare in 2019 that Europe should become climate neutral by 2050 … honestly? We should have started earlier. The consumer has already moved on: teenagers no longer go to school on Fridays, people are asking questions, want transparency and change. Sustainability is no longer a freestyle. Sustainability is a duty. „
Mirjam Smend, founder of the Munich trade fair and conference Greenstyle, says that this has now also arrived in the (fashion) industry. In this respect the Green New Deal is only the official kick-off for an overdue cause. In January, Neonyt, the world’s leading trade fair for sustainable fashion, took place in Berlin. Big topic: #fairbylaw – a petition for a supply chain law, which Lisa Jaspers of Folkdays had initiated and found broad support. enorm-magazin.de
Geoengineering – Not a miracle weapon against climate change: Many geoengineering methods, i.e. technologies that are intended to help slow down climate change, are under discussion. Scientists are arguing about the effectiveness of these methods and whether they should be used at all. Much is still in the test stage. For example, large quantities of iron are being released into the oceans to stimulate the growth of phytoplankton. These plants provide food for fish and help rebuild fish stocks that bind carbon. More research is needed to further develop such ideas and investigate the ecological effects. dw.com
H2 from light and water: Hydrogen could be produced from light. Researchers Claudia Turro and her colleagues Whittemore, Xue, Huang and Gallucci from Ohio State University have presented a rhodium catalyst that achieves an unprecedentedly high degree of efficiency in the production of hydrogen from water and light. Most approaches to solar hydrogen production are based on a combination of molecules for splitting into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen side of this process generates excited electrons with a light absorbing photosensitizer (in plants this is chlorophyll). These electrons are combined with two protons in a hydrogen producing catalyst to form hydrogen gas. However, energy is lost during the charge transfer from the light absorber to the catalyst. heise.de
Refilling of Laundry Detergent Packaging: In Prague, a Rossmann branch is testing whether detergents and cosmetic products can be sold in reusable bottles. This is an interesting field test which the entire European industry is following with interest, because packaging in the detergent sector is a major problem. In Germany, around 175 million plastic bottles could be avoided annually. The direct competitor dm has also set up dispensing stations in the same city. However, the detergents should not become cheaper as a result.. zeit.de
Bacteria: Can recycle microplastics. derstandard.at
Antarctic Glacier Twaites: What its thawing means for sea level. thewashingtonpost.com
Australia’s scientists: Call on the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. sueddeutsche.de
Fridays for Future as a brand: Greta Thunberg wants „Fridays for Future“ protected as a brand. The application was received by the Office of the European Union for Intellectual Property in Alicante shortly before Christmas last year. At the same time, Janine O’Keeff, a supporter of Greta, also wants to secure trademark rights for certain products under the name „Fridays for Future“, including backpacks and caps. sueddeutsche.de