Debate about CO2 limits of the EU: So that Sindelfingen does not become the German Detroit – economy

The MEP Michael Bloss (Greens) argues with Eckart von Klaeden, the former CDU politician and current head of politics and external relations at Daimler AG, about the consequences of EU climate policy for the car industry.

Stuttgart – The EU wants to sharply tighten the climate targets for 2030. MEP Michael Bloss (Greens) and Daimler manager Eckart von Klaeden are discussing the consequences for automobile construction, one of the key industries in the southwest.

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BMW creates CO₂ targets, VW and Daimler face fines – Auto & Mobil

Electric vehicles are expected to triple their market share this year. Every tenth new car is now delivered as a purely battery-powered car or as a plug-in hybrid. This will help automakers meet their EU emissions targets. BMW, PSA, Volvo and FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) already met the fleet limits for 2020 in the first half of the year. Renault, Nissan, the Toyota-Mazda fleet and Ford only have to make up a small gap of two grams of CO₂ per km. The European umbrella environmental association Transport & Environment (T&E) expects in its study that the Volkswagen Group will miss its target by five grams, at Daimler it could be nine grams by the end of the year. Despite the tailwind for electric cars, the two German manufacturers face billions in fines.

For every gram too much, a fine of 95 euros per vehicle sold is due. Accordingly, Volkswagen would have to pay more than a billion euros, at Daimler it could be half a billion euros. Both groups benefit from the fact that in 2020 the vehicles with the highest CO₂ emissions will not yet be taken into account: The large, high-margin SUVs in particular are among the top, most powerful five percent of the fleet and will not be rated this year. According to T&E, the proportion of climate-damaging SUVs rose to 39 percent in the first half of 2020. Audi, BMW and Mercedes can also use a weight bonus and instead of 95 g / km in the fleet average only have to comply with around 100 g / km CO2.

Diesel sales have been falling since 2016

But even this goal seemed unattainable for a long time. In 2011, the fleet value across all brands was 146.01 g / km. Then things went downhill by around three percent annually due to the ongoing diesel boom. Sales of oil burners have been falling since 2016 – and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing: last year, at more than 130 g / km at Audi and Mercedes, they exceeded the target by around a third. Delivery bottlenecks for new battery cars such as the Audi e-tron and the Mercedes EQC ensured that the average emission values ​​remained high. The delayed start-up of the VW ID.3 and insufficient capacities in small electric vehicles like the E-Up also slowed down rapid CO₂ advances.

Nevertheless, hardly any expert assumes that the German manufacturers actually allow themselves to be pilloried. Volkswagen has announced that it will merge its fleet emissions with Ford. The EU allows this so-called pooling of manufacturers. Fiat, for example, is paying Tesla 1.8 billion euros to benefit from the Californian electric pioneer’s zero emissions. For its part, Daimler will sell as many plug-in hybrids as possible so as not to miss the limit values. From July to September alone, the Stuttgart-based company sold more than 10,000 (part-time) electric vehicles for the first time in its history. Because the plug-in hybrids benefit from the statutory test cycle, these high-performance models in the A-Class, C-Class, E-Class and GLC-Class emit less than 50 g / km CO₂ on paper.

“The automakers are on track to achieve their 2020 targets and avoid fines,” says Stef Cornelis, Director of Germany at T&E: “The emissions standards are bringing more electric cars to ever better prices for German drivers.” In fact, it is more the environmental bonus, the innovation bonus and subsidies from the manufacturers that fuel interest, as do advantages in terms of vehicle and company car tax. In many European countries there are now massive incentives to buy electric cars or even fines for the purchase of a conventional combustion engine in order to encourage customers to switch. The example of Norway shows how fast the EV market can grow: from a sales share of six percent in 2013 to almost 50 percent in 2018.

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Green technologies defy the corona crisis

Düsseldorf While the corona crisis has a firm grip on many traditional industries, the demand for green technologies is robust despite the negative economic situation. A look at the automotive sector, mechanical and plant engineering or the chemical industry shows that even in times of falling sales, companies and consumers keep investing in climate-friendly future technologies. Companies that serve corresponding growth markets with their products benefit from this.

For example, according to data from Bloomberg, global investments in offshore wind power tripled to 35 billion US dollars in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year. The Baywa conglomerate, for example, is benefiting from this and is forecasting a significant leap in earnings in the project business with plants for generating renewable energies in 2020.

“I am very satisfied with the development of our business in the field of renewable energies,” said Baywa CEO Klaus Josef Lutz to the Handelsblatt. “We see ongoing investments here, the division has proven to be very crisis-proof.”

The environmental technology segment is also defying the crisis: According to a survey by Roland Berger, almost 85 percent of the companies surveyed in the industry rate their business situation as satisfactory or good despite Corona. 74 percent expect the business situation to remain the same or better in 2021. A driver for this are the large industrial companies, which for their part are driving the transformation to a climate-neutral economy with high investments – including acquisitions.

In the middle of the crisis, for example, the chemical manufacturer Covestro announced that it would take over the coating resins business from its Dutch competitor DSM for 1.6 billion euros – and thus enter into the production of oil-free paints that are required, for example, for the production of sustainable solar cells.

Covestro

The plastics manufacturer is moving into the production of oil-free paints that are required, for example, for the production of sustainable solar cells.

(Photo: dpa)

“Corona has forced the world to pause. However, global challenges such as climate change or scarcity of resources cannot simply be paused, ”said Thomas Toepfer, CFO of Covestro. “In order to remain fit for the future, we must not lose sight of long-term goals. Covestro therefore continuously invests in sustainable solutions and technologies. “

Experts such as Manfred Fischedick, Vice President of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, see the trend as being primarily due to ever stricter regulation. “Politicians have built up a lot of pressure. As a result, we are quite a bit further on climate protection than we were five or six years ago, ”said the researcher.

The corona crisis even acts as an accelerator for many topics, such as the change in mobility. “The EU’s Green Deal also acts as a catalyst here, as does corresponding economic stimulus programs in the context of the corona crisis, with which the EU also wants to achieve sustainability goals.”

EU keeps up the pressure

When EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) addressed European companies in a video message at the end of April, she chose clear words. “Now that we are planning to invest billions of euros to stimulate our economy and work again, we should not fall into old, environmentally harmful habits,” warned the politician to the company leaders.

With the Green Deal, Brussels wants to finance the ecological restructuring of the European economy. The goals are fewer emissions and more resource efficiency. In the meantime, more and more companies have committed themselves to this decoupling of resource consumption and value creation – and are sticking to it even in the corona crisis.

In many industries, such as the automotive, steel and chemical industries, decarbonization requires investments worth billions. And that at a time when the earnings situation of companies is extremely strained. For example, in connection with the corona crisis, mechanical engineering is expecting a drop in sales of a good 22 percent, according to the results of the latest mechanical engineering barometer from the consulting company PwC.

Despite the sharp drop in sales, a majority of machine-builders want to keep investments stable or increase them – and invest in sustainability in particular. 43 percent of the companies surveyed are keeping their investments stable, and one in eight even wants to increase investments. The machine-builders are planning to build up additional staff, especially in the areas of digitization, sales and sustainability.

The market is promising

A good example of this is the machine tool manufacturer DMG Mori from Bielefeld. Its CEO Christian Thönes gave his employees the order at the beginning of the crisis to look for new business areas outside of the classic industrial sectors such as automotive and aviation in order to compensate for the loss of sales caused by Corona.

“We look at everything: the production of fuel cells, electric motors in the bicycle environment, medical technology and the semiconductor industry,” said the manager. Thönes does not want to cut investments in future fields such as digitization or sustainability – even if the group had to cope with a drop in profits of minus 85 percent in the second quarter.

If you believe Daniel Kronenwett, partner for industrial goods at Oliver Wyman, DMG Mori is in good company with this strategy. “We see that many industrial companies are currently investing heavily in green technology,” is the consultant’s assessment. The machine-builders are currently taking a close look at their current product portfolio and upgrading if necessary.

Because the market is very promising, says Kronenwett. “The regulatory pressure on companies remains high, and the EU also wants to link its economic stimulus programs with sustainability aspects.” This means that investments in green tech will continue despite the acute crisis.

This even applies to companies that traditionally earn their money with climate-damaging products. For example the big oil companies: Since the oil prices collapsed together with the demand for the black raw material at the beginning of the corona crisis, the European industry giants have been announcing new projects and goals in the field of renewables almost every week.

DMG Mori

Already at the beginning of the crisis, CEO Christian Thönes gave his employees the task of looking for new business areas apart from the classic industrial sectors such as automotive and aviation in order to compensate for the loss of sales caused by Corona.

(Photo: obs)

The Bavarian agricultural group Baywa, for example, is profiting from the boom in renewables. In addition to trading in agricultural goods, it also operates a project division for wind and solar parks. “We can find investors very quickly for the projects that we are placing on the global market,” says Baywa boss Lutz. There is enough liquidity and the alternatives are scarce because of the low interest rates. “The bottom line is that wind and solar systems are a very attractive investment.”

The large chemical companies are also pushing the conversion towards sustainable applications and green tech largely unabated in the crisis. The latest example of this is the plastics manufacturer Covestro, which plans to take over the coating resins business from its Dutch competitor DSM.

The highlight: The paints are water-based and do not need any crude oil for production – Covestro is now world leader in this business after the takeover. The group wants to replace the fossil raw material in more and more products and has completely switched its strategy to circular economy. In the future, plastics are to be increasingly obtained from biomass or carbon dioxide.

The chemical industry has so far been quite stable through the corona crisis, and business has been picking up again since July. This is why companies are again daring takeovers that are primarily aimed at green tech and sustainability.

Windrad

The demand for systems for generating renewable energies remains high even during the crisis.

(Photo: ZB)

In addition to Covestro, Evonik has also recently taken action: the Essen-based specialty chemicals company announced at the end of August that it was buying the American Porocel Group for 210 million euros. The US company lured with a special recycling technology: It has developed a process with which catalysts can be reprocessed. Catalysts are substances that accelerate certain chemical reactions. Instead of buying this material new, it is processed, which cuts CO2 emissions for the user by half.

Chemical industry drives green tech development

Evonik continued to press ahead with important green tech development projects during the corona crisis. In mid-September, the group and project partner Siemens Energy put a test facility into operation in the Ruhr area that uses carbon dioxide and water to produce chemicals. The energy required is provided by electricity from renewable sources

The chemical company Lanxess is proceeding in a similar way. Despite the uncertainty after the lockdown, the Cologne-based company has not backed away on important future projects. Lanxess is working on the commercial production of lithium, a central component for the lithium-ion batteries required in e-mobility. Battery-compatible lithium is obtained from brine that is a waste product of a Lanxess mine. The pilot plant at the US site in El Dorado was recently put into operation.

Lanxess has significantly reduced its dependence on the auto industry through acquisitions and sales in recent years. But automobile manufacturers and suppliers remain an important customer group as high-tech companies, as Lanxess boss Matthias Zachert emphasizes. However, electromobility, which also uses lightweight plastics, is increasingly coming to the fore

Experts like Manfred Fischedick from the Wuppertal Institute see this as a natural development. “The implementation of the necessary transformation processes will not happen overnight,” says the researcher. Even traditional, emission-intensive technologies such as internal combustion engines would not disappear from the market immediately. However, Fischedick points out: “Depending on the dynamics, they will quickly lose market share.” Companies that manufacture the relevant products or supplier parts should therefore now consider how long they will benefit from today’s traditional business fields – and how they can use their skills in be able to use foreseeable future fields.

More: “Corona could help accelerate change”

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How DB wants to save four billion euros

Düsseldorf Rail boss Richard Lutz can still feel the “tailwind” that the climate policy brings to the railways. The railway should get eleven billion euros from the climate package. On top of that, at least 5.5 billion euros come from the federal government to absorb the damage from the corona crisis.

But the headwind is also growing. On the one hand, Lutz has not yet been able to really justify what he actually wants to use the federal government billions for. On the other hand, the railway has to make its own savings contribution of 4.1 billion euros – and it is still unclear how this will work. On the contrary: A dispute is emerging with the train drivers’ union, the GDL, which has been tried and tested on strikes.

Lutz has already agreed on an austerity pact with the railway workers’ union EVG, which, according to the designated EVG chairman Klaus-Dieter Hommel, should save the state-owned company 1.1 billion euros in expenditure over the next few years. According to information from the Handelsblatt, Lutz wants, among other things, to cut board bonuses, cut jobs in the headquarters and lower purchase prices at suppliers.

The problem: The no less powerful train drivers’ union GDL under the leadership of its belligerent chairman Claus Weselsky takes a stand. Weselsky has so far refused, with reference to collective bargaining autonomy, to start negotiations now.

In the spring, for example, the GDL could go into the collective bargaining battle with far higher salaries for the approximately 16,000 railroad drivers and at least partially destroy the management board’s efforts to cut costs. The rail board therefore asked Weselsky to negotiate arbitration on Wednesday.

The board is running out of time. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has not yet released a cent of the billions in aid agreed with the German government. The equity aid of eleven billion euros is outstanding from the climate package, payable annually at one billion euros by 2030. The federal government’s corona aid, which could increase to 6.7 billion euros, is also open.

Time is running out. The liquidity of the largest German state company is melting away. In the first half of the year alone, according to calculations by the Handelsblatt, the cash flow turned negative by 2.2 billion euros. In addition, the foreign subsidiary Arriva is currently not for sale and the planned sales proceeds of 1.4 billion euros are therefore not available.

Bahn can go into debt with a further eight billion euros

Therefore, CFO Levin Holle is in demand. The former employee of the Federal Minister of Finance has to organize billions for interim financing. This year, Holle placed EUR 4.4 billion in bonds on the market. And according to information from the Handelsblatt, the Group’s supervisory board released another two billion euros at its most recent meeting. The outstanding funding framework is now eight billion euros. More than ever.

The debt of the railway has already climbed to 28 billion euros. It is uncertain whether the increase in the debt limit to 30 billion approved by the Bundestag budget committee in June will be enough. “If the federal government doesn’t get the money, we’ll definitely break the bar,” the company says.

In early summer, Deutsche Bahn boss Lutz and the federal government agreed on a corona relief plan: the state wants to offset half of the expected eleven billion euros in revenue shortfalls with capital injections. The group is supposed to finance the other half itself. According to the agreement, 1.3 billion euros may come in on higher debt, 4.2 billion euros must be saved. Half in each case through personnel and material costs.

In the worst-case scenario, for example in the event of a renewed lockdown, the Deutsche Bahn management board even expects a loss of 13.3 billion euros. Then both federal aid and the Group’s own contributions would have to increase. Lutz would have to squeeze 5.1 billion euros out of the costs.

Richard Lutz

The railway has to make its own savings contribution of 4.1 billion euros.

(Photo: dpa)

At the moment this is not to be expected, can be heard in the area around the railway. On the contrary: because the lockdown in early summer was shorter than expected, the capacity utilization of the trains quickly rose again from sometimes only ten percent to 40 to 50 percent. But more money in the cash register does not mean fewer worries: The Bahn Management Board no longer expects to be able to seamlessly build on the 2019 growth plan at the end of the corona crisis. “We are continuing as before the crisis, that is no longer possible,” they say.

First of all, savings must be made. The agreement with the railway union EVG does not mean a reduction in real costs. The moderate collective bargaining agreement only saves the management board personnel expenses that were previously included in the medium-term planning. Even the parting of working time accounts, which should result in a “high double-digit million amount”, is not a real cost reduction.

In fact, bonuses and performance bonuses for managers are saved. For example, the Group Management Board will not receive any variable remuneration (bonus) for 2020. That is only 2.5 million euros. Real money is only raised through the canceled profit sharing of hundreds of executives. The railway currently only speaks of an amount in the “three-digit million range”. The company does not want to be any more precise upon request. In May, the board of directors had put the expected savings at 150 million to 180 million euros.

The railway headquarters must also save

Things are also going on in the Bahn headquarters. According to information from the Handelsblatt, jobs are deleted here. According to corporate circles, the cost savings are 175 million euros. With its collective bargaining agreement, the EVG has ruled out any redundancies. So it will probably result in the vacancy not being filled. The railway does not want to comment on this.

The bottom line is that, according to the commitments made to the federal government, 1.85 billion euros in personnel costs must be saved for the period from 2020 to 2024. The board wants to cut material costs by the same amount. Purchasing is a big part of this. With a purchasing volume of 22 billion euros, Deutsche Bahn is one of the largest procurers of materials and services in Germany.

Regional train in Berlin

The Bahn Management Board no longer expects to be able to continue seamlessly with the 2019 growth plan at the end of the corona crisis

(Foto: Bloomberg)

Negotiations have now started, they say. “Not always to the delight of the suppliers”. Half a billion euros should come together in this way, it is said. Whereby the state-owned company attaches importance not to tighten the thumbscrews, as is often accused of the auto industry.

However, it remains to be seen whether the corona-stricken suppliers are ready to make too big concessions. In the procurement of new ICEs, locomotives or wagons, for which the railway has budgeted 18 billion euros, little savings potential is expected anyway. The contracts were often signed years ago.

The problem child of Deutsche Bahn, the foreign subsidiary Arriva, should also become a real problem this year. The company is currently not for sale and needs to be restructured first. That will cost the railway a lot of money. A loss of 153 million in the first half of the year is the slightest concern. Further depreciation is likely to be due and burden the results of Deutsche Bahn.

Corona aid packages from other countries will not alleviate the problem. According to the federal government, Arriva has received 368 million euros in support, mainly from Great Britain and Sweden, in response to a request from railway politician Matthias Gastel (Greens).

And in circles of the railway company it is said that support from foreign governments has already been priced into the federal government’s billions. Then the remaining risk should lie fully with the state-owned Deutsche Bahn. “It takes revenge that Arriva was not sold in time when a reasonable price could still be achieved,” says Gastel.

More: Future EVG boss: “We will save the railways 1.1 billion euros”

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Climate Commissioner on EU law: “Nobody can hide anymore”

The European Parliament votes on the Commission’s “Climate Law”. Its deputy boss Frans Timmermans also sees the current crisis as an opportunity.

Sunflowers, coal-fired power plants and wind turbines in Lower Saxony: the EU should become climate neutral Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

taz: Mr. Timmermans, the EU states have committed themselves to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. How many of the heads of government actually know what a gigantic task they have embarked on?

Frans Timmermans: The nice thing about our climate law and the impact assessment is that everyone can understand what needs to happen now. It will be a challenge for industry, but the challenge for citizens and mobility is even greater. The heads of government may not know all the details, but they do know the general direction and I am pleasantly surprised that all governments – including the Polish one – agree to the goal: the EU must be climate neutral by 2050.

For real? The Polish government has stated that it does not want to participate.

No, Poland said, “we are signing the overall target for the EU”, the minister emphasized again last week, “but whether we as Poland can do it, we don’t believe that”.

Can Poland then have access to the 17.5 billion euros from the Just Transition Fund if they do not want to support this transformation in their own country?

This fund is a vital tool to ensure that we don’t leave anyone behind. We know that this transition will not be easy, that it will be difficult for some and that we must help one another. I have always said this transformation will be fair or there will be no transformation. But we also have to make sure that we are all on the same path, which is why the European Heads of State or Government decided in July that half of the payments will be withheld if a member country has not yet committed itself to climate neutrality.

Frans Timmermans, 59, is Deputy Head of the European Commission and responsible for climate protection. The Dutchman was the top candidate of the Social Democrats for the 2019 EU election.

If you look at your impact assessment, it becomes clear how tough the EU’s path to climate neutrality will be: With the measures taken so far, we will only end up with 60 instead of 100 percent fewer emissions in 2050, three quarters of all buildings have to be renovated, politics has so far not the right concepts. How do you intend to go this way?

It’s difficult, but possible. Doing nothing would also be possible, but it is even more expensive than doing something. With the wave of renovations for buildings that we will present on October 14th, we will show that we can make rapid progress, we create jobs and growth. If we combine the recovery after the corona crisis and our “Next Generation EU” program with the climate goals, we can mobilize a lot of money and a lot of activity.

When you promote your “Green Deal” to governments, what is your best argument?

All analyzes say – and this is not disputed: the longer we wait, the more expensive and difficult it becomes. If we start quickly, we will be the first continent to benefit from it. We have to rebuild our economy anyway, also because of the digital industrial revolution, not just because of the crisis. And the EU countries have decided to mobilize a lot of money to fight the crisis, but that has to be done quickly. There are only a few years where we can use this money.

What is the main difficulty?

Most governments are very positive, but the skeptical ask: What does this mean for us specifically? How do we take our citizens with us? There is fear of higher prices and energy costs. We need answers to that.

Some of them are already in the impact assessment: In energy-intensive industries, you expect losses of up to 500,000 jobs, in coal it is half of all jobs. Households in particular are hit by higher energy prices. Not good prospects in the middle of the corona crisis.

On October 6th, the EU Parliament will vote on the climate law presented by the Commission. In it, the authority formulates the framework for measures to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. In mid-September, the agency of Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans published the “Impact Assessment” on the effects of this policy. More efforts are therefore required in terms of energy efficiency, less energy consumption, faster expansion of renewables and social cushioning from higher energy costs. Without countermeasures, the commission warns of job loss and energy poverty, but above all emphasizes the opportunities of change.

Corona doesn’t make it easier, but it doesn’t make it more difficult either. Because we are in a hurry because of the crisis. As before Corona, we no longer have the choice of either acting now or waiting. And if we have to invest massively now anyway, then we can do it well. This makes it a little easier. Second, that surprised me: although health and the workplace are big issues for most Europeans, the climate crisis is still an issue that moves people very much. We still have massive support for this policy.

But the regulations on emissions trading or burden sharing among EU countries have long been fiercely contested. It’s hard to imagine that you can make big leaps in less than a year.

I understand the skepticism. But you have to see it globally. China has announced CO by 20602-To want to be neutral, they need their emissions trading system. South Africa wants to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, which would have been unthinkable two years ago. And let’s see how the US looks after the election. If there is a change there, too, there will be a global dynamic that will also give tailwind to EU emissions trading. And what the 2030 target will mean for the efforts of the individual member states will be worked out over the next few months.

How helpful is Germany here?

Very helpful. I am very happy that the German EU Council Presidency is behind the target of minus 55 percent. The Chancellor has just spoken in plain language about this.

Germany does not always have the best reputation: the government was happy to announce new climate targets, but protected the auto industry against them.

You can no longer say one thing across the board and do the other specifically. It does not work anymore. In addition, the auto industry is no longer German or French, but rather pan-European and urgently needs restructuring everywhere.

But the real decisions are not made in Brussels, but in Berlin, Paris or Warsaw. How helpless is the Commission on these issues?

It helps us that the necessary change can no longer be ignored. All member states have to join in; the economy is now too networked in Europe for that, regardless of whether it is for cars, cement, steel or chemicals. There are European questions about how we network renewable energies, how to create a network for electromobility, how to produce green hydrogen. It is our job as the Commission to review national plans and, if in doubt, to address them if there are contradictions or if they are going in the wrong direction. But the countries have committed themselves to these goals. We can coordinate and not force, even if that would be easier. We have to convince with facts and good analysis and hope that everyone is marching in the same direction.

It can take forever.

But it can also happen very quickly. Take the subject of hydrogen. When we started formulating our strategy less than a year ago, many said: This is a long way off. Today this is one of the hottest topics, everyone has understood that we need planning at European level if we want to have 6 gigawatts of capacity for green hydrogen in Europe in four years and 40 gigawatts by 2030. This is also a huge opportunity for European industry in a competitive future market.

How great is the pressure from the industry for protective tariffs against eco-dumping if the EU becomes climate neutral?

The industry sees it clearly, for example with steel: We cannot continue like this, then we will lose in the competition with other locations. We need green steel to differentiate ourselves, for that we need green hydrogen. And we have to support our industry in this process. We are working on a “Carbon Border Adjustment” for industries such as steel and cement. They should embark on the path of climate neutrality, but that must then also be protected against competition from places where this development is not made. This rule has to be very precise so that it corresponds to the rules of the WTO trade organization and only affects very specific sectors. We will come up with this proposal next year.

It almost seems that the economy can do more with climate neutrality than politics.

In the meantime, politics has become more and more short-term and industry has become more and more long-term in its planning. The big companies make plans for the next 30, 40 or 50 years. Politicians think about tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, maybe next year.

But politics first forced the economy to adopt this long-term approach – by setting the goal of climate neutrality in 2050.

Yes, the climate crisis, the corona crisis and the digital industrial revolution have meant that everyone now has to quickly make plans and implement them: How do we get to climate neutrality? We as the Commission are making these plans and it is not being said that all the Member States should applaud and say that we will do it. But something is different than it used to be: Nobody can hide anymore and nobody can say: Everything stays the same.

Then we’ll talk about the boys again. The activists of Fridays for Future say: climate neutrality in 2050 is too late. What the EU is doing is not enough to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees, for that we would not have to be at minus 55, but at minus 80 percent in 2030.

I think we can still surprise these young people. They would be right if we as Europe do it alone and the rest of the world does not. But the whole world has woken up, in the coming years we will see progress in other parts of the world as well. With our example, we can take the world with us and still manage 1.5 degrees. It’s difficult, but doable.

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The climate crisis is getting really expensive (neue-deutschland.de)

The longer you wait with climate protection, the higher the costs.

The longer you wait with climate protection, the higher the costs.

Photo: dpa / Christoph Schmidt

London. According to a current forecast, the costs of climate change could run into the trillions in the coming decades. In the year 2070 they could already amount to 5.4 trillion US dollars (the equivalent of around 4.6 trillion euros) worldwide, according to researchers at University College London and the non-governmental organization Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) calculated.

By the end of the next century, in the year 2200, they could even reach the threshold of more than 30 trillion US dollars (more than 26 trillion euros), because natural disasters, for example, are likely to lead to increasingly devastating damage. This calculation is based on a “business as usual” scenario with a similar emission of greenhouse gases that would lead to global warming of 4.4 degrees by the end of this century.

The international climate agreement of Paris states that global warming should be kept well below two degrees. This is the alternative scenario for which the researchers in London calculated the costs: if global warming were two degrees by the end of the century, the costs would be 1.8 trillion US dollars in 2070 and would continue to increase thereafter move on a similar level. The “business as usual” scenario would therefore already produce around three times as high costs in 2070 – in 2200 they would be around 17 times higher.

“Legislators, companies and the financial sector should proactively invest in combating climate change in order to avoid these high costs of impending damage,” appeals Carole Ferguson from the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Unlike many other studies, the study from London does not focus on the threat of environmental damage, but only on the costs that can be expected from it – for example for the reconstruction of cities that have been hit by natural disasters. This provides an important argument for political decision-makers, write the researchers – as they also have to keep an eye on the economies of their countries. dpa / nd

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Activist on Gorleben decision: “Healing for the Wendland”

Kerstin Rudek has been taking to the streets for the climate and against nuclear waste storage for decades. Their protest does not end with the decision against Gorleben.

In 43 years the population in Wendland was able to come up with many symbols of resistance Photo: anemel / imago

Ms. Rudek, you were born in Dannenberg in Wendland and have been an anti-nuclear activist for years. How did you respond to the decision by the Federal Agency for Final Storage that Gorleben is now out of the search for a site as a repository for highly radioactive waste?

At first I received a message on Sunday evening: “Congratulations – you and you and all of us” from a friend of the Bundestag member. I couldn’t even classify that. Then many friends quickly gave me the link to Spiegel-Article sent that Gorleben was kicked out of the search process. At first it was unreal.

born 1968, is a political scientist and was chairwoman of BI Lüchow-Dannenberg from 2007 to April 2012. She lives in a neighboring town of Gorleben. Today she is internationally active against nuclear power, gives lectures and works in interdisciplinary think tanks to avert the climate catastrophe.

It was a Spiegel-Article, so it couldn’t be a duck. I just wondered why this had leaked the night before. Because the report should not be presented until the next morning. It took a couple of hours for me to really get that. But now I’m very excited about the decision. It’s not just that there is now no repository in Gorleben. Rather, after 43 years in which mainly economic interests were represented, science-based arguments finally count and the historical correction of a politically motivated wrong decision was possible.

For us in the Wendland there is also something healing about it. What did we have to endure? Insults that we are an unsavory pack, that we do not take democratic decisions seriously. Nevertheless, we stuck to our position: No, Gorleben is not suitable as a repository. And if you don’t see that, there will be more arguments.

What reactions were there from Wendland and the anti-atom movement?

The full range. There is great disbelief among many people who cannot believe it. We get dozens of congratulatory messages from all over the world, and people are happy with us that we managed to do that with our protests. Of course there are also skeptical people in Wendland who don’t see any reason to celebrate yet. But even with them you saw the twinkle in their eyes. They are happy like Bolle.

Gorleben has been ruled out as a repository due to geological criteria. What does the protest in Wendland have to do with the decision?

Our resistance made a major contribution to the fact that science is finally being listened to and that the geological criteria come into play. I am firmly convinced that in 1977, when Gorleben was to be declared a nuclear waste disposal center, the then state government would have carried out the full program had it not been for this protest. Without the protest, Gorleben would not have been kicked out of the search process and there would be a reprocessing plant here. Without the protest, it would not be 113 highly radioactive castor containers in our “interim potato barn” in Gorleben that would radiate in front of you, but 420 castor containers.

During the protests it was said again and again: Gorleben should live. How long have you been with this demand?

I’m 52 years old now and I’ve been on the streets since I was 14. Since 1986, the Chernobyl reactor disaster, I have been organizing demos, writing leaflets and am internationally networked in the anti-nuclear movement. For me, the decision on Monday is very moving personally. But the decision doesn’t mean I sit back now. We should use the momentum of the anti-nuclear movement.

For what?

Nuclear waste is still being produced, we need an immediate shutdown of all nuclear power plants, not just nuclear power plants. I am thinking of the fuel element factory in Lingen or the uranium enrichment plant in Gronau. The raw material for operating nuclear power plants continues to be produced there. That is unacceptable. If the federal government gets out of nuclear power, it has to do it consistently.

There are uranium waste shipments to Russia. The things are produced here, so they have to be stored here too. This saves Urenco, a uranium enrichment company, costs. The Russian people cannot defend themselves against it. The activists we work with there have to endure dark repression. The chairwoman of the organization ecodefense has now applied for political asylum in Germany after persecution by Russian authorities.

The last Castor rolled into the Gorleben interim storage facility in November 2011.

For me it was always about all Castor transports, not just those to Gorleben. In the first week of October there will again be transports from the British reprocessing plant in Sellafield to Biblis in southern Hesse. I will take part in the protests and I hope so will many others. Maybe also with this feeling of happiness: We can make a difference if we stick together and bring our convictions to the streets. From the Wendland we can set the tone: ‘Not in my backyard’ did not play a major role. It’s about the big picture. We have these 113 very strongly radiating castor containers in our forest. We also do not demand that they be removed. Where also? Then they would stand somewhere else and radiate people there. There is no concept of where this highly radioactive waste should go. This means that the first thing that has to happen now is not to produce any more waste.

In 1982 you demonstrated against the Gorleben interim storage facility for the first time. With what memory?

That was a concert under the title “Dance on the Volcano” in response to the start of construction on the intermediate storage halls in Gorleben. I found that very impressive, it was my introduction to the subject of anti-atoms, which has kept me captive to this day.

Is the subject holding you?

I have six children, our everyday life was very much shaped by my fight against the nuclear mafia. Sometimes my children would stand in front of me and ask: You want to go to a demo again this weekend? Mom, how many weekends are there in a month? Four. How many have you been to demos this month? Three. And the fourth you want to go to a demo now and we should come back with you? This made my children politicized and grappled with the subject of democracy. You would certainly be different people today if Gorleben had not existed.

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Actions by Ende Ende in the Rhineland: At dawn to the blockade

Despite Corona, Endegebiet is again blocking the lignite mine in the Rhineland this weekend. RWE employees act aggressively.

Activists of the orange finger from Ende Terrain at the action in Garzweiler on September 26th Photo: David Young / dpa

GARZWEILER taz | “That doesn’t help,” the policeman says to his colleague, “retreat!” There are only two of them, he gets back into the police car, slams the door and they drive away. The 200 people in the white painters’ suits can continue their way undisturbed on the small country road in the dark. Your destination: Garzweiler, the largest open-cast coal mine in Europe, a good 30 kilometers southwest of Düsseldorf.

From the camps, which this year are small and decentralized in the Rhenish lignite mining area due to the corona hygiene measures, several demonstration trains set off on Saturday morning, September 26, well before sunrise. As in every autumn or late summer since 2015, the climate activists from Endegebiet have again called for actions of massive civil disobedience in the Rhineland this year.

Around 3,000 activists are there – half as many as last year, but still many in view of the corona pandemic and the cold rainy weather. About half of them use the darkness in the early morning hours and leave between four and six in the morning. As has already been tried and tested in the end of the terrain campaigns, the activists have divided themselves into “demo fingers” of 200 people named after colors.

With sunrise and the closer the demo trains get to the coal mine and power plants, the balance of power between police officers and activists changes. The blue-purple finger, which had come unnoticed by train from the camp to the Frimmersdorf train station, is accompanied on the Landstrasse from seven o’clock by a helmeted hundred. A few minutes later, however, the breakthrough came at a fork in the road: Around a hundred activists ran past the officers into a field, scrambled through a ditch, ran across wet grass and bushes towards the coal mine. The officers fail to stop them. A good hundred people slide down the steep embankment into the coal mine.

At the bottom they are stopped by a police chain and around 30 security employees from the coal company RWE. RWE employees in the orange safety vests also attack press representatives aggressively. They pull a journalist to the ground and put him in a headlock. They try to take away the cell phone from others, press them, run after them and try to kick them between the legs.

“We have house rights here and you turn off the camera immediately,” one of them shouts. In some places the police intervened. RWE spokesman Matthias Beigel says: “Nobody has the right to penetrate here, not even the press.” It’s about security.

Successful blockades, but also police violence

The activists from the blue-purple finger of Ende Terrain are finally surrounded by the police and cannot get any closer to the lignite excavators, but they have achieved one goal: The excavators are at a standstill.

At ten o’clock in the morning the alliance at the end of the terrain reports various other successes. Another finger has reached the Weisweiler coal-fired power station, another at the Lausward gas-fired power station. The fact that the activists are also targeting gas infrastructure is new: natural gas is presented far too often in public discourse as a climate-friendly alternative to coal – a “dirty lie”, says the alliance’s spokeswoman Kim Solievna. “It’s insane to invest billions in natural gas, pipelines and fracking ports instead of renewable energies. We’re here to expose natural gas as a climate killer. ”During the extraction, storage and transport of fossil fuels, a lot of climate-hostile methane is released into the atmosphere.

In addition to reports of success, activists also report police violence. In Cologne-Ehrenfeld, helmeted police officers with batons got on a train and hit the activists.

Another demonstration, the golden finger, tries to break out of Camp Keyenberg around noon on Saturday. Most of the activists, however, are quickly pushed back into the camp by the police, including mounted officers. There is an arrest and the finger cannot start for the time being. The village of Keyenberg is one of the six villages that are about to fall victim to the expanding open pit.

A total of 14 fingers should be on the move in the Rhenish lignite mining area at this end of the terrain campaign weekend. Many of the activists are equipped with sleeping bags, sleeping mats and tins. You are preparing to spend the night on rails or in open-cast mines.

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Leaders for Climate Action: 500 start-ups join forces against the climate crisis

In the music industry one would speak of the “comeback of the year” – of a band that in the past few months has concentrated on finally landing another big hit. And on Friday the time has come: the first global climate strike in the corona pandemic is to take place on September 25.

This is what the activists from Fridays for Future announced – worldwide. In Germany alone, the alliance has listed over 430 demonstrations and wants to take to the streets “for strong EU climate targets, a coal phase-out by 2030 and a socio-ecological turnaround”.

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With the demo comeback, the initiative, which was founded by the young Swede Greta Thunberg, wants to free itself from the pandemic. Because due to the Corona, without demonstrations on the street, the popularity of the alliance had collapsed. According to a representative Postbank survey from August, only six percent of 16 to 18-year-old Germans took part in an online strike by environmental activists.

But now economic and environmental experts are predicting that the pandemic could become a decisive driving force for more sustainability and greater environmental awareness. And the German and European economy has apparently also noticed this. Because while the Corona crisis continues, more and more companies are switching to “Thunberg mode” – above all a large number of the most important start-ups and venture capitalists in Germany and Europe.

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Under the motto “Leaders for Climate Action” (LFCA), the digital avant-garde has come together and promises climate clauses and compensation in the millions to reduce the CO2– Shrink their business footprint. More than 500 tech companies are involved – including the tour operator GetYourGuide, the mobility company Flixbus and the price comparison portal Idealo, which, like WELT, belongs to the media company Axel Springer.

Ferry Heilemann, himself a serial founder, brought the Climate Alliance into being. “If you don’t recognize the climate crisis as the biggest problem of the 21st century, you won’t be able to position your company for the future either,” he says to WELT. He is convinced that “the digital economy should take on a pioneering role for other industries in the fight for the climate”.

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The common goal: to make the companies climate-neutral and to enforce sustainable industry standards. To this end, the companies add around 100,000 employees and a billion active users to the scales.

Initiated a year ago by a small founding group in Berlin, the members have so far invested almost four million euros in climate protection projects and more than 250,000 tons of CO2 saved up. The average members of the alliance try to measure their ecological footprint within their first year in the initiative by 20 percent.

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Because that is part of the compulsory program, says Boris Wasmuth, Managing Director of GameDuell: “The only possibility for every founder or CEO to join us is to fulfill our ‘green promise’.

That means that they have their personal CO2– Have to measure, reduce and offset the balance sheet and commit to doing the same with their companies ”- year after year. “As an entrepreneur, you enjoy many privileges, but you also have a special responsibility towards society and future generations, which is particularly important in the fight against the climate crisis,” adds co-founder Heilemann.

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A program helps with the necessary steps, such as heating the office space, eating in the canteen or the CO2– Queries output from servers on which companies store their data. A large part of the CO is generated, especially in digital companies2Emissions. And in response to this, 65 percent of the members are already using servers that run on renewable energies.

In addition, the leading venture capitalists have committed themselves in the initiative to include a standard clause in their investment contracts that automatically obliges newly financed companies to do more climate protection.

That has a much greater effect than if only the donors were actually climate-neutral, says Fabian Heilemann from Earlybird Venture Capital and brother of LFCA founder Ferry Heilemann. “We are also accelerating the establishment of sustainable start-ups by paying more attention to the climate-friendliness of business models.”

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Idealo boss Albrecht von Sonntag explains exactly how this mentality works in companies. A “Green Team” formed in his company as early as 2014 – a working group in which employees volunteer for more sustainability during working hours.

The result: Idealo is becoming “a little greener every day,” says von Sonntag. “For example through the introduction of water dispensers instead of glass bottles, waste separation, information on efficient heating and ventilation in the rooms or negotiated discounts with electricity providers for the workforce in order to motivate employees to switch to green electricity.”

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And he is also observing such a rethinking among users of the price comparison: For short-haul flights, the company has been showing the option of climate-friendly travel by train without being asked for more than a decade.

“Around 16 percent of customers then choose the rail alternative for routes within Germany,” reports von Sonntag. “In times of climate change, the cheapest price or the greatest comfort can no longer be the only decision criteria.”

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Climate crisis and inequality: rich polluters (neue-deutschland.de)

Luxury toys and climate sin

Luxury toys and climate sin

Photo: dpa / Victoria Jones

New York. According to a study, the richest percent of the world’s population blows more than twice as many climate-damaging carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere as the poorer half of humanity. This emerges from a report that the development organization Oxfam published before the general debate of the 75th UN General Assembly in New York that began on Tuesday. Oxfam called for the wealthy to reduce their CO2 consumption, to invest more in public infrastructure and to rebuild the economy in a climate-friendly manner.

The report focuses on the years from 1990 to 2015, which are important for climate policy, and in which emissions doubled worldwide. The richest ten percent (630 million) were responsible for over half (52 percent) of the CO2 emissions during this time, reported Oxfam. The richest percent (63 million) alone consumed 15 percent, while the poorer half of the world’s population was only responsible for seven percent.

The catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis are already being felt in many places. “Responsible for this is a policy that focuses on consumption incentives, promises continuous growth and economically divides the world into winners and losers,” said Ellen Ehmke, an expert on social inequality at Oxfam Germany. “The poorest pay the price for the consumer frenzy of a rich minority.”

In Germany, according to Oxfam, the richest ten percent or 8.3 million people are responsible for 26 percent of German CO2 emissions in the period examined. With 41.5 million people, the poorer half of the German population, five times larger, only consumed a little more at 29 percent. One lever in the fight against climate change is traffic, especially air traffic. Oxfam is particularly critical of city SUVs, which were the second largest emission driver between 2010 and 2018.

“We have to solve the climate and inequality crises together,” said Ehmke. The excessive CO2 emissions of the richest are at the expense of everyone and must be restricted. “Taxes for climate-damaging SUVs and frequent flying would be a first step.” dpa / nd

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