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No.: 2/2019Newsletter "UBA aktuell"

Dear Reader,

Good news: Germany’s emissions of harmful greenhouse gases finally fell significantly in 2018 compared to the previous year. However, a large share of the reduction comes from the warm, dry and sunny weather. For future reductions we need to be proactive and do a lot more. Find out more in this newsletter. 

This issue also looks at damage to the environment in countries that mine raw materials for our industry. In the “UBA positions” section, we set out our models for how Germany, one of the world’s largest importers of raw materials, can meet its responsibilities – an economic as well as an environmental necessity.

Wishing you happy reading

The UBA press office

2018 review: more renewable energy, less greenhouse gas

Photovoltaikanlage auf dem Dach des Umweltbundesamtes in Dessau-Roßlau

Record levels of solar radiation in 2018 led to increased power generation from renewable sources.
Source: Martin Stallmann / Umweltbundesamt

According to a UBA forecast, Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions were down 4.5 percent on the previous year in 2018. This is the first significant decline after four years of stagnation and is down to two reasons: the exceptionally dry, warm and sunny weather, and lower fossil fuel consumption. 

The low river levels caused by the dry summer of 2018, for example, made it difficult to transport hard coal and fuel oil. Prices rose, leading to lower consumption. At the same time, the sunny weather resulted in record levels of electricity generation from photovoltaic systems. Electricity generation from wind turbines also rose again compared to the previous year – a trend partly driven by considerable expansion at the end of 2017. 

If we aim to achieve Germany’s 2030 and 2050 climate protection and energy targets, the current dynamic development in the electricity sector must be kept and intensified over the coming years. Significantly more needs to be done in future in the heating and transport sector. At 5.6 percent, the level of renewables used in transport in 2018 was no higher than five years previously, while in the heating sector, which accounts for around 50 percent of total energy consumption, the proportion of renewables (13.9 percent) was even lower than in 2014. 

Expanding renewable energies is essential to climate protection. As UBA has calculated greenhouse gases with a climate impact of around 184 million tonnes of CO2 were avoided in 2018 through the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable sources – a significant amount considering that Germany’s total emissions in 2018 were around 866 million tonnes. 

Consumer tips

LassMaMachen Challenge for young people launched

Practical steps are needed to protect the climate and the environment. Join the LassMaMachen Challenge and show us what you are doing in your everyday life. As well as a better future for us all, you can also win support for the implementation of your idea – for example help to launch a blog. The closing date for entries is 19 May 2019. read more (in German)

UBA positions

wet forest

CO2 removal should be limited to safe and sustainable measures

The Paris Agreement set the international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. To achieve this, it is essential to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions towards zero. Additional measures are needed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, such as reforestation. However, UBA advises against betting on untried, risky technologies. read more

Minimum distances for wind turbines are affecting the energy transition

Minimum distances required between wind turbines and residential areas are apparently holding up the expansion of the wind energy sector. It is argued that even a set distance of 1000 metres reduces the available area by 20 to 50 percent. This would mean that a sufficient expansion in wind power is difficult to impossible. Instead of fixed distances, an individual site-specific assessment of health and environment issues would appear useful. read more (in German)

Science and research

Past five years the world’s warmest

The global trend towards further increases in average temperatures continues: globally, 2018 was the fourth-hottest year since records began in the 19th century. This makes the past five years the warmest on record. In our annual chronicle, you can read about the extreme weather recorded in 2018 and in previous years. read more (in German)

CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour of electricity continue to fall

CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed in Germany fell further in the past year, in part as a result of the growing proportion of renewables in the electricity mix. While one kilowatt hour of electricity produced 764 grams of CO2 in 1990, the UBA estimate for 2017 on the basis of preliminary data is 486 grams. Estimates for 2018 are 474 grams. read more (in German)

UBA response to Leopoldina report

On behalf of the Federal Government, the Leopoldina Academy of Sciences has delivered its response to the debate on threshold values for air pollutants, and published a report on nitrogen oxides and particulate matter in the air we breathe (“Stickstoffoxide und Feinstaub in der Atemluft”) The Leopoldina report largely confirms the German Environment Agency’s (UBA) assessment of air pollution and its causes. read more (in German)

New test methods reduce pollutant emissions from new cars

Thanks to the introduction of realistic test methods for the type approval of new cars, more and more new vehicles now meet stricter air pollutant emission requirements in actual use. The German Environment Agency supported the development of these road tests and the new harmonised global test method for chassis dynamometers, and is now publishing the results of three research projects. read more (in German)

Tree identification by satellite

How rapidly is climate change progressing in Germany? How are air pollutants affecting the environment? One way to monitor these areas is by looking at how ecosystems are changing. Changes in tree species composition can be a useful indicator. A feasibility study commissioned by the UBA has investigated the potential offered by the European Earth observation programme Copernicus. read more (in German)

Recycled fertilisers: an alternative to conventional fertiliser

A UBA research project compared processes for recovering phosphorus from wastewater and sewage sludge to the production of conventional phosphate fertiliser on the basis of ecological, economic and legal aspects. The study shows that, under certain conditions, the recovery of phosphorus makes ecological and economic sense. read more (in German)

Businesses and repair initiatives willing to cooperate

Repairing consumer goods extends their useful life and helps to preserve natural resources. Repair services are provided not only by the relevant trades but also by a growing number of repair initiatives. A recent UBA study has found that there is no competition between the two, but in fact a willingness to cooperate more closely. read more (in German)

Industry & environment

Das Wort Recycling vor schwarzem Hintergrund, darauf auch ausrangierte Kühlaggregate.

Higher quality plastics recycling is necessary

Now available in English: UBA's biannual "What Matters" magazine covers current topics in environmental protection. The first edition “Recycling” takes an in-depth look at the circular economy in Germany with a special focus on plastics. The magazine offers data and facts and discusses current problems and possible solutions in Germany’s circular economy. read more

Sewage sludge treatment, disposal and phosphorus recovery must be adapted to new statutory requirements

Sewage sludge disposal in Germany

Heavy metals, residues of pharmaceutical drugs and plastic: just a few of the many pollutants contained in sewage sludge. Until recently most of the sludges were used as agricultural fertiliser. Nowadays more than half of it is used and combusted for energy purposes. A new UBA brochure has information on disposal practices and on the current status in sludge treatment and recycling. read more

What environmental criteria influence shoppers?

Product features such as a long shelf life or low pollutant content benefit not only the environment but also manufacturers, for they represent a buying incentive for consumers. A UBA study looked at electronics, clothing, detergents, cleaning agents and furniture to analyse which sustainability criteria influence purchase decisions. read more (in German)

Spare parts from the 3D printer

When electrical appliances break, they are often disposed of instead of repaired. This can be because spare parts are not available or are too expensive. 3D printing allows a single spare part to be produced easily and cost-effectively. New guidelines help repair cafés and the relevant trades to get to grips with the technology. read more (in German)

Protecting fish: a forum on fish protection and fish migration

All fish migrate through our waterways. As they move downstream, they can be injured or killed by hydroelectric turbines. Operators of hydroelectric plants, research professionals, public authorities and associations are working together in the Forum Fischschutz und Fischabstieg (Fish Protection and Fish Migration Forum) to establish how we can achieve European water protection targets. You can read the findings online. read more (in German)

Training material for green procurement published

The basics of environmentally-friendly public procurement, factoring life cycle costs into the procurement process and the use of eco-label product criteria in public procurement: all these topics are covered by the three updated training documents on green procurement issued by the German Environment Agency. read more (in German)

EMAS in public procurement

How can the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme EMAS be used in public procurement? A new brochure published by the German Environment Agency explores the various options for involving EMAS in public tendering processes and provides practical recommendations for procurers. read more (in German)

Environment at municipal level

Online toolbox offers environmental justice tips

People in socially disadvantaged areas are often exposed to higher levels of pollution. How can local authorities ensure a high-quality living environment for everyone? What players need to cooperate? What tools are appropriate? How can we reach out to people locally? The UBA-funded online toolbox Umweltgerechtigkeit (Environmental Justice) from the Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik (German Institute of Urban Affairs) provides answers to all these questions. read more (in German)

Sustainable mobility by bike, bus and train – even in rural areas!

How can we ensure simple and environmentally-friendly mobility for people both in rural areas and in small and medium-sized towns? A UBA research project has developed integrated mobility concepts for a range of target groups on the basis of over twenty measures such as express bus lines, dial-a-bus, sharing services and cycle networks. read more (in German)

New UMID: promoting walking

Walking is healthy – and pedestrians are at the centre of urban life. How can urban planning and administration be more pedestrian-centred? The latest issue of UMID sets out what still needs to be done and the support and funding necessary. Other topics include the Europe-wide HBM4EU study, a study on air quality in Germany in 2018 and regulations on the release of formaldehyde from timber materials. read more (in German)

Environment at international level

Global Environment Outlook 6 and implications for Germany

The sixth Global Environment Outlook published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) draws a worrying conclusion: the environmental and sustainability targets set by the international community will not be achieved with the measures taken to date. The UBA summarised the main conclusions and implications for Germany and presented them together with the UNEP in Berlin on 22 March 2019. read more (in German)

UBA panel recommends a more ecological EU agricultural policy as of 2021

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) neglects the area of environmental protection: the existing system of farm payments cannot guarantee the protection of water, the climate or biodiversity. The German Environment Agency’s Agricultural Expert Panel (KLU) recommends moving away from fixed farm payments. In a position paper, it sets out key points to address for the funding period post-2021. read more (in German)

Law & legislation

Less plastic in the environment – EU Parliament approves directive

Straws, cups and cotton buds are among the ten most common disposable plastic products found on European beaches. The European Parliament has now approved a package of measures aimed at significantly reducing this plastic waste. Measures include a ban on plastic straws from 2021. The UBA welcomes these measures. read more (in German)

EU plans to limit the use of microplastics from 2022

Microplastics are being detected in the environment with ever increasing frequency. This is due to the poor biodegradability of the plastics used. It is not yet possible to predict the long-term effects on organisms, which is why we need to reduce the input of microplastics into our environment. The European Chemicals Agency has now published a proposal on restricting the use of microplastics. read more (in German)

Greater flexibility for water suppliers

Since 3 January 2018, water suppliers in Germany have had the option of adjusting their sampling planning based on the results of a risk assessment. Since December 2018, the German Environment Agency has provided free training material to promote the implementation of Risikobewertungsbasierten Anpassung der Probennahmeplanung (RAP) (Risk assessment-based adjustment of sampling planning). read more (in German)

Trace substances funding symposium

How can we finance measures to reduce trace substances in our waters? This was the topic of a symposium (Finanzierungssymposium Spurenstoffe) organised by the German Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment and held on 22 and 23 January 2019 in Berlin. The event was attended by 130 invited guests from Germany and neighbouring countries. The results of the discussions and the papers are now available to read. read more (in German)

Green contracting: what are the legal issues?

The updated Rechtsgutachten umweltfreundliche öffentliche Beschaffung (Legal opinion – Green Public Procurement) issued by the German Environment Agency addresses procurement regulations governing the consideration of environmental aspects and indicates how these can be factored into procurement for goods and services. read more (in German)

Recently published

Cover of background paper Air Quality 2018

Air Quality 2018

Preliminary Evaluation


This evaluation of air quality in Germany in the year 2018 is based on preliminary data which has not yet been conclusively audited from the air monitoring networks of the federal states and the UBA , valid on 18rd January 2019. Due to the comprehensive quality assurance within the monitoring networks, the final data will only be available in mid-2019. The currently available data allows for a...read more

Series
background paper
Number of pages
28
Year of publication
Cover of broschure A benefit sharing mechanism appropriate for the Common Heritage of Mankind

A benefit sharing mechanism appropriate for the Common Heritage of Mankind

Workshop summary


This report contains a summary of the international deep sea mining expert workshop „A benefit sharing mechanism appropriate for the Common Heritage of Mankind”. The overall objective was to stimulate debate on the Common Heritage of Mankind and its benefit sharing element by discussing first ideas how the benefit sharing required by Article 140 paragraph 2 UNCLOS could be appropriately concept...read more

Series
brochure / flyer
Number of pages
63
Year of publication
Cover of publication Climate Change 02/2019 Analysing the interactions between new market mechanisms and emissions trading schemes: Opportunities and prospects for countries to use Article 6 of the Paris Agreement

Analysing the interactions between new market mechanisms and emissions trading schemes: Opportunities and prospects for countries to use Article 6 of the Paris Agreement


The project had a twofold objective. First, it aimed to conduct a detailed analysis of the provisions related to market mechanisms of the Paris Agreement (Article 6), and to identify issues that should be taken into account when elaborating the rulebook for the Paris Agreement. Second, it switched the perspective from a global discussion towards country-specific research with an aim to answer t...read more

Series
Climate Change
Number of pages
286
Year of publication
Cover of publication CLIMATE CHANGE 09/2019 Assessment of bio-CCS in 2°C compatible scenarios

Assessment of bio-CCS in 2°C compatible scenarios


Since the adoption of the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR5), there has been a growing discussion of methods for Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) from the atmosphere. With CDR as a supplement to GHG-emission reductions it would be possible to stabilize the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere more quickly or perhaps even to reduce it. Bioenergy combined with carbon capture and storage (BECC...read more

Series
Climate Change
Number of pages
87
Year of publication
Cover of publication CLIMATE CHANGE 07/2019 Challenges of Coal Transitions - A comparative study on the status quo and future prospects of coal mining and coal use in Indonesia, Colombia and Viet Nam

Challenges of Coal Transitions

A comparative study on the status quo and future prospects of coal mining and coal use in Indonesia, Colombia and Viet Nam


Today more than 45 % of all energy-related CO2 emissions come from burning coal. Thus, reducing CO 2 emissions from coal use is a necessity for reaching the targets of the Paris Agreement. This will not only pose challenges for coal consumers (restructuring of the energy system), but also for countries whose economy is strongly depending on the production of coal. This paper examines the ro...read more

Series
Climate Change
Number of pages
65
Year of publication
Cover of publication CLIMATE CHANGE 08/2019 Economic models for assessing the economic effects of linking emissions trading schemes

Economic models for assessing the economic effects of linking emissions trading schemes


Before linking emissions trading systems, there should be a good understanding of the expected economic implications: How could linking affect the development of the common allowance price, the development of emissions or industrial production, capi-tal flows or liquidity? Answering these questions requires a multitude of data and as-sumptions and therefore usually the use of economic models.  ...read more

Series
Climate Change
Number of pages
58
Year of publication
Cover of publication TEXTE 32-2019 Environmental risks from mixtures of antibiotic pharmaceuticals in soils – a literature review

Environmental risks from mixtures of antibiotic pharmaceuticals in soils – a literature review


The report summarizes the current knowledge on antibiotic contaminations in soils. The study raises concerns regarding the contamination of manure, anaerobic digestate and sewage sludge with antibiotic mixtures and discusses their ecotoxicological effects and spread of antimicrobial resistance in soils. Overall aims were mainly to identify antibiotic mixtures typically applied in veterinary and...read more

Series
Texte
Number of pages
120
Year of publication
Cover der Publikation TEXTE 39/2019 Expert Report on the Usability of Data from the POP Database in the Field of ‘Technosphere’

Expert Report on the Usability of Data from the POP Database in the Field of ‘Technosphere’


The report provides a quality-assured database for the technosphere compartment as part of the further development of the POP /dioxin database into a knowledge-based system that can be used as a flexible evaluation instrument. To this end, the existing database inventory of technosphere samples was classified according to primary and secondary sources with further subclassification in a tree ...read more

Series
Texte
Number of pages
63
Year of publication
Cover der Publikation CLIMATE CHANGE 11/2019 How can existing national climate policy instruments contribute to ETS development?

How can existing national climate policy instruments contribute to ETS development?


Before introducing an emissions trading system, jurisdictions have to consider the ex-isting energy and climate policy framework. This report seeks to analyse and evaluate non-ETS climate policy instruments, such as carbon taxes or green certificate trading schemes, regarding their suitability to serve as a basis for establishing emission trading systems. There is a general assessment of protot...read more

Series
Climate Change
Number of pages
199
Year of publication
Cover of publication TEXTE 36/2019 Support for the revision of the Monitoring and Reporting Regulation for the 4th trading period (focus: Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU))

Support for the revision of the Monitoring and Reporting Regulation for the 4th trading period (focus: Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU))


In the light of the upcoming phase 4 of the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS, 2021-2030), the Monitoring and Reporting Regulation and the Accreditation and Verification Regulation are currently under review. One topic of particular interest is the question whether and to what extent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions transferred to Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) installations s...read more

Series
Texte
Number of pages
51
Year of publication
View of a city from above at night

Urban Mining – Resource Conservation in the Anthropocene


Urban Mining has been on everyone’s lips for some years, being the quasi-mining of raw materials in urban areas both in cities and communities. Urban Mining requires more and better guidelines and a far-sighted strategy for material flow management. A management concept including a prospective knowledge and decision base for the secondary raw material industry and for local governments is neede...read more

Series
brochure / flyer
Number of pages
72
Year of publication
Cover of the Magazine What Matters 1-2018 Recycling of the German Environment Agency

What Matters 1-2018: Recycling


UBA 's biannual "What Matters" magazine covers current topics in environmental protection. The first edition “Recycling” takes an in-depth look at the circular economy in Germany with a special focus on plastics. The magazine offers data and facts and discusses current problems and possible solutions in Germany’s circular economy.  read more

Series
brochure / flyer
Number of pages
48
Year of publication

As recounted

630.000

Around 630,000 tonnes of detergent are used in Germany every year and they pollute our waters. Read our tips for detergents and washing temperatures to help reduce the environmental impact and your household expenses.

Events

Imprint

Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency)
Präsidialbereich / Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, Internet; Pressesprecher
Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany
Phone: +49(0) 340 2103-2416
Fax: +49(0) 340 2103-2285
Email: buergerservice [at] uba [dot] de

Editor:
Corinne Meunier
corinne [dot] meunier [at] uba [dot] de

Six times a year our Newsletter „UBA aktuell“ provides information about the latest activities and work of the German Environment Agency (UBA).

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