On April 29, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled in favor of nine young climate activists in their challenge against Germany’s 2019 Federal Climate Change Act. The law aims to meet the country’s carbon emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement and calls for the German government to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels.
Portugal, Germany, and Australia have taken measures this past week to achieve ambitious emissions reduction goals. On January 28, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that a hydroelectric project under construction in northern Portugal will replace all power lost from the closing of the country’s final coal plants. The project, called the Tamega complex, will generate enough energy to supply 2 million homes.
On September 20, the German government agreed on a $60 billion package of measures to combat climate change. Germany aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The new measures include a national emissions trading system that will set prices for carbon dioxide emissions. Other plans include raising the climate charge on airline fares and reducing the tax on train tickets. The new plan arrives amidst a surge of public support for addressing climate change.
Germany will phase out the use of the controversial weed killer glyphosate by the end of 2023 due to its negative impacts on insect pollinator populations. Biologists are concerned about plummeting populations of insects vital for ecosystem health and pollinating crops. Some experts suspect glyphosate may also cause cancer in humans. Bayer, the company that sells glyphosate, opposed the ban, stating that the weed killer can be used safely. Farm groups and the German Chemical Industry Association have also lobbied for the continued use of glyphosate.
Norway and Germany have suspended their funding to the Amazon Fund, criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. Ola Elvestuen, Norway´s environment minister, stated that Brazil broke an agreement with Norway and Germany by eliminating the board and the technical committee of the Fund with no plans for replacement. Created in 2008, the Amazon Fund finances projects to protect the Amazon rain forest. Norway is the largest contributor to the Fund, donating $1.2 billion to date, followed by Germany at $68 million.
On July 31, German prosecutors announced they had filed charges against former Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler, who is being investigated over his role in Volkswagen's emissions test cheating scandal. According to the public prosecutor's office in Munich, Stadler and three other defendants are being charged with fraud, false certification, and criminal advertising practices. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-audi-emissions-probe/german-prosecuto….
On April 5, the German government announced plans to approve an aid package for mining regions affected by its plans to phase out coal by 2038. The package would distribute 14 billion euros to the four German states affected by the phaseout and 26 billion euros in direct federal investments. The Bundestag lower house of parliament will vote on the package after the cabinet has given it the green light. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-germany-energy-coal/germany-to-approv….
Julia Kloecker, Germany's Agriculture Minister, has proposed to loosen hunting restrictions on wolves to reduce their threat to grazing animals. According to the ministry, wolves killed more than 1,000 farm animals in 2016. Kloecker wrote last month to Svenja Schulze, Germany's Environment Minister, to lobby for a change in the rule to allow more wolves to be shot as part of a moderate regulation of the species' population, but it was unclear who would be licensed to carry out the shooting.
On November 7, Germany's Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze, announced she would soon present a draft climate protection law that would assign all sectors specific targets for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. Under the new law, fossil fuel use would become more expensive for transport or buildings while electricity would become cheaper. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-germany-environment/germany-to-give-a….
On October 5, a German administrative court issued a temporary halt to the clearing of Hambach Forest by an energy company wishing to expanding its adjacent lignite strip mine. An environmental group argued that the forest deserved protected status because of the bats that reside there. The court found that the legal questions raised over the forest's status were too complex to rule on the issue in accelerated proceedings, and thus determined that a halt was necessary to prevent irreversible changes being made.