No.: 6/2017Newsletter "UBA aktuell"

Dear Reader,

How will Germany achieve its climate objectives for the years 2020 and 2030? With the measures that have been agreed on so far, it won’t be possible. There is still a chance to bridge the gap, however: by using less power from coal-fired plants more quickly. A new UBA position paper shows how.

A new topic in this newsletter: pesticides. In recent weeks, declining insect populations and the extension of the permit for Glyphosate were leading topics in the media. The declining numbers of both insects and the farmland birds that rely on them as food may be a consequence of the large-scale use of pesticides. A new legal report commissioned by the UBA now finds, that the regulatory authorities will have to take the indirect impact of pesticides on biodiversity more strongly into account. 

Wishing you happy reading,

The UBA press office

UBA wants to decommission oldest lignite-fired power plants and cap the full load hours on others

Ein Braunkolhekraftwerk, im Vordergrund ein Tagebau.
Strom aus Braunkohlekraftwerken ist die klimaschädlichste Form der Stromerzeugung.
Source: Teteline /

Over the years to come, Germany intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions significantly to below 1990 levels: by the year 2020, a reduction of 40 percent, and by 2030, a reduction of 55 percent is to be achieved. A new position paper published by the UBA highlights how these goals can still be realised: firstly, power generation by coal-fired power stations that are more than 20 years old should be reduced from the current average of 6,600 full load hours for lignite power stations and 3,600 for hard coal power stations to a maximum of 4,000 full load hours. Secondly, at least 5 gigawatts (GW) from the oldest and most inefficient lignite-fired power plants must be decommissioned completely.

The shutting down of these power stations should take place in addition to the planned closure of 4 GW and added capacity of 1 GW, so that by 2020 the remaining installed output of coal power stations totals a maximum of just 35 GW (it is presently approx. 43 GW). By 2030, the installed output must then be reduced to a maximum of 19 GW with the limits on full load hours remaining in place.

At the same time, energy from wind and sun must be developed much faster than previously planned. To keep pace with an accelerated phasing out of coal, the expansion paths of wind energy in Germany, which currently totals 2.8 GW (gross) per year, and photovoltaic energy which currently totals 2.5 GW (gross) per year, must be increased to at least 4 GW each per year (gross) in the short term, and that of offshore wind energy, to 1 GW per year.

These measures are not only the most cost-effective and quickest to implement, the withdrawal from coal will also save billions of Euros in costs to the environment. In 2016 alone, greenhouse gases and airborne pollutants from coal-fired power plants resulted in some 46 billion Euros worth of damage to public health, the environment and property.

The UBA also analysed how the coal phase out affects those employed in the lignite mining industry. The good news is: the structural changes needed can largely take place without making anyone jobless: by the year 2030, almost two thirds of the employees will reach their regular retirement age. The sooner policy makers initiate the required structural changes in the power generation industry, the more easily bad investments and economic problems in the coal mining regions of Germany can be prevented.

UBA positions

Hybrid-Pkw an einer Stromladesäule

Climate action: Transport sector must do an immediate about-face

If Germany wants to live up to the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement, its transport sector must quickly and drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions. A recently published paper commissioned by the German Environment Agency confirms this conclusion and proposes concrete measures by which emissions can be reduced significantly and ensure that the climate action goals are achieved. read more

Proposals of the EU Commission regarding the CAP: benefits for environmental protection?

Species decline, climate change, water pollution: Our farming industry also takes the blame for that. And it is supported with huge public subsidies at the same time. These subsidies only make sense if they contribute to the necessary environmental protection in the area of farming. It is questionable as to whether the reform proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 2020, as presented by the EU Commission, will achieve this. read more (in German)

Action Programme for Cleaner Air is a step in the right direction

The UBA welcomes the “Action Programme for Cleaner Air 2017-2020” that was agreed on 28.11.2017 in Berlin. In view of Germany's continued clear surpassing of the nitrogen dioxide limit, which is an annual average of 40 µg/m³, the Action Programme represents a first step in reducing the levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in German towns and cities. read more (in German)

Science and research

Klares Wasser fließt durch zwei Hände.

Waters in Germany: Status and Assessment

Since 2016, there are new legal requirements for the assessment for nutrients and substances of the waters in Germany. New assessment procedures for hydromorphology were developed. These assessment instruments and the results of the application are described in the brochure "Waters in Germany: Status and Assessment". read more

Nudging: impetus for sustainable consumption

Getting a free ticket from the local public transport operators when you move house, or watching the animated polar bear on a melting ice floe on the display when you take a shower – two examples from a current UBA study on sources of impetus for sustainable consumer behaviour. The principle of “nudging” has been discussed for several years and is frequently misunderstood. read more (in German)

Country footprint: how much land does Germany’s consumption need?

Germany needs some 22 million hectares of arable land, some 14 million hectares of pasture land and some 30 million hectares of woodland to provide for human food, animal feed and biomass for energy- and material use, both domestic and abroad. The use of this land has a considerable impact on the environment. A new publication provides detailed information on this land use. read more (in German)

Protecting the climate and resources: both is possible

To protect our climate, we need to make increased use of renewable sources of energy and move away from fossil fuels such as coal At the same time, raw materials are required for wind energy, photovoltaic energy, and for electric car batteries etc. Yet Germany can become greenhouse gas neutral and save resources at the same time – if both are taken into account together. This is the conclusion of a new UBA study. read more (in German)

Guidelines for climate-friendly investments

Spending that consists of targeted investments in the areas of energy, transport and buildings can help to limit global warming to below 2 degrees. A new UBA study highlights the criteria to which public financial institutions such as development banks should proceed and the projects for which funding is no longer necessary. read more (in German)

Renewable energies: the latest on statistics and emissions balance

In 2016, the use of renewable energies in Germany prevented greenhouse gas emissions with a climate impact of approximately 160 million tonnes of CO2. Facts like this and many more are available in the latest Emissions Balance report from the Working Group on Energy Statistics (AGEE). Also available to download: presentations of the fourth expert workshop on the latest developments in energy statistics and accounting read more (in German)

Climate-neutral buildings: the latest on building technology & the impact on climate change

The 2016 UBA study on “Climate-neutral building stock 2050” highlighted the ways in which Germany’s stock of buildings can become climate-neutral. Research is now taking place into two further questions: What is the energy efficiency potential of the technology used in buildings? And what impact could climate change have on buildings’ rates of energy consumption in 2050? read more (in German)

Extreme weather conditions could be normal in the future

According to recent climate simulations, extreme weather conditions such as heat waves or very heavy rain could occur more and more frequently in Germany in the future. With adaptive steps – such as response plans for hot weather or making use of vacant lots in towns and cities for the temporary storage of water – we can prepare for the changes to our climate. read more (in German)

New UMID on antimicrobial resistance in the environment

Antimicrobial resistance poses a serious problem to the environment and human health. The current UMID (Environment and Human Health - Information Service) focuses on the current discussions surrounding this topic. Additional articles provide information on how resistances can be monitored in the area of food chains and human medicine. The online version of the UMID is free of charge. read more (in German)

Industry & environment

Grafik mit grünem Hintergrund. Darauf ein weißer Papierflieger.

Rethinking it: Winners of the 6th German Ecodesign Award

The prizes of the 2017 contest go to repair services, mobile applications to initiatives to fight food waste, energy-saving design products, concepts for resource-efficient and recyclable fashion and a vision for the opportunities which living plant construction provides. read more

Learning factory for ecodesign arrives in businesses and universities

For the most part, the environmental impact of products and services is determined in the design phase. Businesses, universities and product designers that want to learn more about ecological design can now register for the “Learning factory for ecodesign”. The training is also available in Berlin in the form of a “mobile version”. read more (in German)

Environmental Innovation Programme encourages metal and plastic recycling

Old auto-bodies and washing machines are now being shredded in Germany for recycling. Until now, materials that could not be broken up and recycled separately on an economical basis have been incinerated for the purpose of power generation or disposed of at landfill sites. Metal and plastic that is of value is therefore lost. A facility planned for Brandenburg / Havel is set to improve the future rates of recycling. read more (in German)

Plastic waste: all colours to be recycled

The recycling of polyethylene and polypropylene plastics, which find widespread use in packaging and a variety of everyday items, does not yet work on an optimum basis for certain kinds of waste. Waste plastic which is dark or black in colour, for example, is not recognised by the conventional material separation technology. With the help of the Environmental Innovation Programme, this is set to change. read more (in German)

Demand for environmental experts in Germany

Environmental protection measures are an important economic factor in Germany. The appropriate experts are therefore highly relevant. An assessment that was completed on behalf of the UBA shows where new employees in this area are needed in Germany. read more (in German)

Environment at municipal level

Zuhörer sitzen in einem Veranstaltungssaal in Stuhreihen

Wanted: success stories in civic participation!

The contest seeking excellence in civic participation projects - Ausgezeichnet! – Wettbewerb für vorbildliche Bürgerbeteiligung kicks off today. It is the first time that the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) and the German Environment Agency (UBA) are looking for projects, strategies and arrangements nationwide that are examples of good civic participation. Federal Environment Minist... read more

Apply now: the UBA seeks the best climate adaptation projects

Whether it is creating an office roof garden, removing paving stones from a school yard or building a solar protection system for the playground – with the motto of “Blue compass – adaptation pioneers sought”, for the third time, the UBA is awarding local and regional adaptation projects which help counter the consequences of climate change. The closing date for applications is 11th March 2018. read more (in German)

Germany-wide series of workshops on European Mobility Week

Four regional workshops are to help municipalities prepare for the EMW 2018. After all: As one EMW ends, the next one begins – which is why we are already starting our preparations for 2018. The workshops, which are offered in northern, southern, eastern and western Germany, provide municipalities with the opportunity to network, obtain practical assistance and develop specific ideas for action surrounding their EMW 2018. read more (in German)

Environment at international level

Reform of European emissions trading acts as a driver for climate protection

The UBA welcomes the compromise on the reform of European emissions trading which was confirmed by the member states of the EU on 22nd November 2017. The surplus of emissions allowances will now be run down much more quickly than previously planned. Therefore, the area of emissions trading is set to provide scarcity-related price incentives for more climate protection by the start of the fourth period of trading in 2021. read more (in German)

Improving environmental and social standards during the supply of raw materials

Germany imports metal and metal-intensive goods from all over the world for the areas of automotive and mechanical engineering. Serious damage is frequently caused to the environment in the countries that mine raw materials. In its UmSoRess project, the UBA has developed recommendations for superior environmental and social standards in the areas of mining and raw materials supply chains. read more (in German)

World Climate Conference certified as environmentally friendly for the first time

Reusable drinking vessels, CO2 compensation and electric shuttle buses powered by green energy – as the first world climate conference to receive such a distinction, the COP23 in Bonn was certified with the validation certificate EMAS for its exemplary environmental management. read more (in German)

Law & legislation

Nano structures

First OECD Test Guideline on the investigation of nanomaterials

The OECD Test Guideline No. 318 features the very first standardized test method particular for nanomaterials adopted by OECD. It is one important component needed for the adaptation of nanospecific requirements for environmental risk assessment applied within legislations on chemical safety. read more

UBA news

Training at the UBA: Our offers for the training year of 2018

Whether it’s in the laboratory, administration, the library or IT: the UBA offers five exciting apprenticeships at a variety of locations. You can now find out about our offers for the start of the training year in August 2018. read more (in German)

New Publications

Cover Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)

Answers to frequently asked questions to Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)

In May 2013 the chemical hexabromocyclododecane, or HBCD, was identified as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) under the international Stockholm Convention. This means that a worldwide ban on the sale and application of the chemical will soon become effective. For a long time HBCD was the most economically significant flame retardant used in polystyrene foam for insulation materials. We have more

background paper
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Cover of the brochure "Data on the Environment 2017, Indicator report" of the German Environment Agency with a picture of different objects like a miniature wind turbine, an energy-saving bulb and a toy car.

Data on the Environment 2017

Indicator report

In its indicator report Data on the Environment 2017, the German Environment Agency gives a comprehensive overview of the state of the environment, the causes of environmental pollution and leverage points for improvement. A total of 50 indicators have been selected from all environmental domains and, wherever possible, underpinned by policy targets, as defined in documents such as the German more

brochure / flyer
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Cover with Title and a picture of water

Protecting the sources of our drinking water from mobile chemicals

A revised proposal for implementing criteria and an assessment procedure to identify Persistent, Mobile and Toxic (PMT) and very Persistent, very Mobile (vPvM) substances registered under REACH

Protecting the sources of our drinking water from any threats caused by chemicals is of the utmost importance. A strategy is needed in order to allow Europe’s chemical industry to continue to innovate while ensuring the protection of the water cycle. The German Environment Agency (UBA) is carrying out an initiative to identify those substances that are persistent (P) in the environment, mobile more

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Cover of position Shaping environmental policy in a citizen- friendly manner How behavioural science findings can make environmental-policy instruments more effective How behavioural science findings can make environmental-policy instruments more effective

Shaping environmental policy in a citizen- friendly manner

How behavioural science findings can make environmental-policy instruments more effective How behavioural science findings can make environmental-policy instruments more effective

Which factors are relevant for environmental decisions? How can people be motivated to act in an environmentally responsible manner and how can environmentally harmful routines be broken down? This publication provides answers to these questions and uses the latest findings from psychology, cognitive science and behavioral economics. An essential part of the publication is a checklist for the more

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Cover "Waters in Germany"

Waters in Germany

Status and assessment

Since 2016, there are new legal requirements for the assessment for nutrients and substances of the waters in Germany. New assessment procedures for hydromorphology were developed. These assessment instruments are described in the brochure "Waters in Germany: Status and Assessment". The results of the assessment clarify the still open problems in water protection. The long time series of data more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
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As recounted


In November 2017, UBA recognized the 100th organisation as an “environmental association”. The recognition which was issued on the basis of the Environmental Appeals Act was awarded to the NGO “Naturschutzinitiative e. V.”. Recognized “environmental associations” can act in court as “advocates for the environment”. They can ask for the judicial review of the substantive and procedural legality of decisions, acts or omissions of public bodies which are relevant to the environment, such as the approval of industrial facilities or highways. Recognized “environmental associations” are overwhelmingly successful before administrative courts: according to the results of a UBA research project published in 2014 the NGOs won or partially won almost half of their lawsuits.

What exactly does ...

… a UBA Research Diver do?

women diving

Stefanie Werner with a grouper in Garajau (Madeira) underwater national park
Source: Explora Madeira Diving

The increasing amounts of plastic litter and the risks that it poses to marine life and habitats are an important topic for the UBA – a topic that isn’t just researched and tackled from the desk. When it comes to the issue of marine litter, UBA expert Stefanie Werner frequently takes an in-depth approach in the truest sense of the words. In addition to her “normal” work in the office and various marine protection committees, her work as a research diver also takes her to the depths of the seabed.

The biologist researches where abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing nets accumulate in the sea, for example, and removes them wherever possible. After all, these "ghost nets" can be fatal to marine mammals such as porpoises and other marine wildlife for many years, who are entangled and strangled by them since these nets keep on fishing ownerless for years or even decades. The nets eventually decompose into many small microplastic particles, which creates a new set of problems: animals confuse the microplastic particles for food, suffer internal injuries and sometimes starve to death, as having a stomach filled with plastic makes them feel full and prevents them from eating. In addition to this topic, over the coming years, Stefanie Werner will be looking at the problem of lost fishing tackle from the sport of fishing such as fishing tendons and spoon lures, in which fish senselessly perish. Together with the German Oceanographic Museum in Stralsund and the Archeomare e.V. association, with her research diving in various different areas of the Baltic Sea, Stefanie wants to gain a picture of how the problem has developed on-location and ascertain the possible countermeasures that can be taken.

Aspiring research divers who want to get on board these scientific boat tours have to study for a research diver’s certificate. The skills and knowledge gained in the theory classes and the practical training range from first aid training to navigation and to tying knots when underwater. Stefanie Werner completed her training as a research diver more than two years ago at the University of Rostock, and it certainly wasn’t all fun and games: her training also involved diving outdoors in the cold waters of the winter months. Yet it also qualified her to gain a live picture of the local conditions and to do something practical and special for the protection of the marine environment.


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

Corinne Meunier

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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