New recommendation: Making hydrogen a sustainable decarbonisation option

The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) issued a recommendation to the Federal government in response to the government’s National Hydrogen Strategy.

In its recommendation RNE argues that if fossil energy from coal, oil and gas is to be almost entirely replaced by renewable energy
sources by 2050 at the latest, hydrogen needs to be made a partner to the renewable energies in order to achieve sector coupling and storage, and thus also both security of supply and sustainable prices.

RNE does not consider an energy transition based solely on electrification to be realisable. Electrons and molecules are consequently a
necessary synthesis for a promising energy transition within industry and society. The RNE therefore fundamentally welcomes the National Hydrogen Strategy adopted by the Federal Government on 10 June 2020 and explicitly supports the establishment of a hydrogen industry being given a major boost in the stimulus package.

RNE does, however, recommend that the proposed measures be substantiated in the upcoming implementation process and that they be turned into political action quickly and based on partnership. The RNE believes it is time to think big and act swiftly. At the same time, the council is aware that some of the issues such as the establishment of international partnerships, the reduction of carbon emissions and the needs-based availability of hydrogen still need to be discussed and negotiated in detail.  Read More

Latest statement: For an efficient and area effective insect protection

The German Advisory Council on the Environment, together with the Scientific Advisory Board on Biodiversity and Genetic Resources at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture launched a statement entitled ‘For an efficient and area effective insect protection’.

The two organisations, state that insects are essential components of ecosystems. They provide many services on which we rely and from which we benefit every day, for example the pollination of crops or biological pest control. Data shows a serious loss of insects, the most species-rich class of animals. A further loss of insects and thus fundamental ecosystem services would have far-reaching negative consequences, also for human well-being as well as the environment.

The decline is the result of complex, often cumulative factors. Agriculture is a major contributor to this decline. Two of the most important reasons are the widespread and increasing impoverishment of the landscape structure and the input of nutrients and pesticides. In order to stop the loss of insects, the use of plant protection products and nutrients has to be reduced and monotonous landscapes have to be enriched with small structures such as hedges, trees and field margins. Furthermore, extensive grassland needs to be protected and used sustainably. Read More

Water quantity governance in the context of climate change

Climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of the water needed to meet basic human needs. This will inevitably increase risks in energy production, food security, human health, economic development and poverty reduction, and consequently represents a serious threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the same time, both climate change and the human responses to it will add to the existing pressures on water systems and ecosystems. For this reason, the EEAC Working Group on Fresh Water Affairs dedicated an online session to the challenges of water quantity governance in the context of climate change. Read More

Presidency of the Council of the EU: half a year to make a wholehearted commitment

Germany will soon commence its presidency of the Council of the European Union. Rarely have there been so many sustainability-related topics on the agenda – plus the opportunity to put the billions of euros earmarked for the coronavirus recovery to transformative use, the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) argues. In a post the council sheds its light on issues such as the ‘Next Generation EU’ framework, as well as on issues related to New climate targets, Circular economy, Industrial strategy and energy, the MMF and Agriculture. Read More

New composition SRU approved by Federal Cabinet

The German Federal Cabinet approved the appointment of the members of the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) for the period July 2020 until mid 2024.

Four university professors from various disciplines have been newly appointed. These four have special scientific knowledge and experience in environmental protection:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christina Dornack, TU Dresden, for the field of waste and recycling management
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Köck, University of Leipzig/Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ Leipzig), for the area of environmental and planning law
Prof. Dr. Josef Settele, University of Halle-Wittenberg/Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ Halle), for the field of nature conservation/ecology/biodiversity/land use
Prof. Dr. Annette Elisabeth Töller, FernUniversität Hagen, for German and European environmental policy

Several council members were re-appointed:

Prof. Dr. Claudia Hornberg, University of Bielefeld, for the area of health sciences/toxicology/noise and environmental justice
Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert, DIW Berlin, for the area of Economics/Climate Protection/Energy/Transport
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Lucht, PIK Potsdam, for the area of sustainability/earth system analysis

This  item is an English summary of the official press release by the BMU. Press release in German

Updated: One pandemic, numerous lessons and 17 goals that we must not put in lockdown

In a response to the Covid19 crisis that sweep the world, several EEAC member bodies drafted statements or posted blogs.

A new paper from the National Economic and Social Council, The Implications of Covid-19 for Housing in Ireland, argues that it has brought insights about what has been done well, some important lessons and provided food for thought about the future. This paper followed another recent publication, entitled How We Value Work:  The Impact of Covid-19. In this paper NESC argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has made good jobs better and more valuable to the worker; and made poor jobs worse, yet more valuable to society. This recently released papers are part of NESC’s attempt to contribute to Ireland’s policy response to Covid19. The Council dedicated a special area on their website where research reports are published. This research work, in normal circumstances, would be used to produce NESC reports, which would be published following detailed deliberation by the Council. By putting it in the public domain earlier, it is hoped this research can help those now working on the response to Covid-19. Learn more

The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)  launched it’s recommendation, entitled: ‘A sustainable recovery from the coronavirus crisis’. In their recomendation, the RNE argues that the strategy for tackling the economic and social consequences of the pandemic should have a sound approach which complements the global Sustainable Development Goals right from the start. There will be no financial leeway for fundamental readjustments later on, the council argues. In their recommendation, the council members of the RNE propose eight steps for a sustainable recovery from the Covid19 crisis. In addition, the council published to articles on how the post-coronavirus restart can become ecological and encounters that leave a smaller footprint.

In addtion, the Luxembourg High Council for Sustainable Development published a statement (FR) in mid-May.  The statement addresses the Government of Luxembourg, and urges to draw lessons from and respond to the Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath. The Council  stresses that no country will be able to emerge from this crisis alone. In the context of Europe Day on 9 May, the Council thus joined the initiative of the EEAC Network, by reiterating the consensus that the pandemic reinforces the need to actively pursue the implementation of the Green Pact for Europe (Green Deal) and Agenda 2030.

The Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia earlier released a statement, entitled ‘One pandemic, numerous lessons and 17 goals that we must not put in lockdown’. In this statement the Council argues that the Covid19 pandemic force us to reinterpret the world and the way we live, and it stresses the need for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the importance to act.

The Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development posted a blog based on the statement issued by the Expert Panel to the Parliament’s Committee for the Future on 25 March 2020 regarding the European Green Deal and the implications of the Covid19 crisis. In the blog, entitled ‘Coronavirus fostering the implementation of the European Green Deal and boosting sustainability transformation’ the Expert Panel touches upon the expected consequences of Covid19 for the European Green Deal and describes how the sustainability transformation should rise from the ashes of the crisis.

A grip on hazardous substances

The Dutch Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) organised an on-line debate session with live presentations,  on Monday, 8 June 2020. At this meeting, the Council presented and discussed its advisory report concerning national and EU policy on hazardous substances. With the discussion and reflection involving experts, stakeholders and NGOs, the Council contributed to the debate on a European level.  Read More

Internal EEAC Session: Towards an ambitious environmental policy in Germany and Europe

The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) published its new Environmental Report, entitled: “Towards an ambitious environmental policy in Germany and Europe” on the 15th of May 2020. With this Environmental Report, the SRU is addressing environmental policy topics that require urgent action. These topics include: climate policy, the circular economy, water protection, sustainable neighbourhood development, noise regulation, urban mobility and the future of EU environmental policy.

In a sequence of two online sessions, SRU experts will present and discuss with EEAC colleagues:

1. The future of EU environmental policies and climate policy
2. Circular economy and urban mobility.

The first online session was held on June 5th, World Environment Day. The second session is scheduled to take place after summer.