In this document, NABU presents its demands for the political design of an economic corona recovery programme and proposes concrete measures that contribute to a healthy, green and safe future. The overriding goal must be to ensure that the urgently needed change in economic policy is socially just, nature-friendly and crisisproof.
All measures must comply with these principles:
1. They must contribute to the necessary change towards sustainability, resilience and future viability in central policy areas such as mobility, agriculture and energy.
2. They need to be in line with global and European environmental and climate goals, as agreed in the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, theSustainable Development Goals, as well as the European “Green Deal”. No public subsidies should counteract them.
3. Politicians and public authorities at federal and state level must lead by exampleand provide an ambitious and reliable framework for sustainable action for the private sector.
Hospitals full of seriously ill and dying people, extensive contact restrictions, closed stores, home office, child care at home, overworked medical staff, face masks – the Covid-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down all over the world. Suddenly we realise what “systemically relevant” means in a socialcontext and which professionalgroups are of greatest importance for our everyday life. These days, solidarity is
becoming a global survival strategy. Often times, you only appreciate the things you have when they are taken from you: being able to move freely, to meet friends andfamily whenever you want, to celebrate together. The cornerstones of our coexistence in Germany – democracy and our liberty rights – are currently under heavy strain.
The Covid-19 crisis is an example of how crises hit the weakest members of society particularly hard. This is especially true in the poorest countries of the world, but also here in Germany. In this respect, the consequences from Covid-19 are no different from the consequences of the climate crisis and the loss of our natural resources.
Politics and society have a clear responsibility to prevent or overcome crises in due time and with proper consideration of scientific evidence. This includes combating social injustice, especially in times of crisis.
Our economic and prosperity model with its huge consumption of resources has exceeded the ecological limits of the planetmultiple times: The destruction of nature also increases the risk of pandemics. The loss of biodiversity endangers the harvests.
The climate breakdown undermines development opportunities for the poorest and increases migration. Air pollution threatens people’s health. There are ever larger gaps in the web of life that forms the basis of civilisation and the economy. Germany is currently experiencing one of the most severe spring droughts in recent decades.
Agriculture, forestry and water managementmay be hit with force before Covid-19 is overcome. We must become more forward-looking to detect crises earlier and build more resilient systems for the future.
Increasing globalisation and the associated growth in trade, the transportation of food, goods and animals across the globe, the high number of flights, and the just-in-time production not only endanger the environment, but also make economic processes susceptible to crises. Globalisation is a key to economic development and equitable participation, but it has long exceeded ecological limits. There are good reasons for
regional economic cycles and short supplychains. They minimise the consumption of resources and energy as well as the susceptibility to external disruptions.
For overcoming global crises, more European and international solidarity and cooperation are needed. We can make it out of the Covid-19 crisis and the great environmental crisis.
In order to effectively combat global warming and species extinction, and to build a sustainable and resilient economy, we urgently need to develop new policies and implement them through effective measures. We need a Covid-19 programme for an economic recovery with an expansion of public welfare and prevention, for example in the health sector. But we also need a recovery programme for our planet. To this end we must not lose focus of the implementation of important national and international
policies and agreements that had already been planned before the andemic. Important examples are the European “GreenDeal”, the implementation of the Paris Convention and the German Insect Protection Act. If there is one thing we have learnt from the crisis, it’s this: The earlier we recognise the looming danger, take it seriously and act upon it, the smaller the negative consequences for us and our planet. One could not err more tragically now than by calling for environmental policy to be postponed, reduced or rolled back. Weare now offered a narrow window of
opportunity to prevent future criseswhile mitigating the current one.
Setting course for a corona pandemic recovery programme
Politics and society are called upon to make use of the window of opportunity that now has presented itself. Below, we describe NABU’s basic demands for a corona recovery programme leading to a healthy and crisis-proof future.
We can and must revive the economy after the shock of the pandemic. We now have the chance to do this in a way that will make the economy more resilient and sustainable after the crisis, and better prepared to cope withother global crises. This requires great efforts and will succeed the better the more peopleparticipate. Many industries must now – faster than some would like – overhaul their business models and abandon the usual, but ecologically damaging subsidies and tax breaks. Because one thing is clear: a healthy planet is systemically relevant and we must take care of
In the Covid-19 crisis, politicians and journalists seek advice and a close exchange with science. We should also pursue this when dealing with ecological challenges. Decisions must be made by democratically elected politicians, but the fact-based evidence of science should guide their actions, especially when it comes to dealing with nature, which follows scientific laws. Epidemics, ecosystems and the earth’s atmosphere do not
negotiate. The Federal Government of Germany and the European Union must press ahead with the transformation of the economy with resolute measures. The money used now and in the near future can only be spent once. We need measures thatprovide both shortterm impulses for an economic recovery and that set the course for the long term. It is
high time to place strong emphasis on stemming the climate crisis, but also on combating the serious loss of other foundations of our livelihoods, including the extinction of species. NABU calls on the German Federal Government and the European Union to use the following key points as a basis for actionwhen setting the political course for overcoming the Covid-19 crisis:
Accelerate change now and make it sustainable
The time has come to dare take on the major industrial and economic modernisation processes in Germany and Europe. Only by leading the way internationally will the EU have the chance to become a global role model for sustainable development and to use opportunities as a driver of innovation. This includes a fundamental reform of the European Common Agricultural Policy aswell as an accelerated transition to renewable energies and more energy efficiency in the buildingsector. This also
includes new global and European biodiversitystrategies that focus on protecting the remaining and restorating damaged ecosystems as well as more stringent climate targets for the EU and Germany. The promotion of electromobility and the expansion of public transport and long-distance rural transport play an important role in the common goal of advancing the nationwide transition to sustainable mobility. Last not least, a properly functioning, possibly regional, circular economy must finally be put
into practice. We can no longer afford tocontinue wasting resources. Conserving resources and reusing them in closed cycles, wherever possible, secures the raw material basis for Germany’s economy and our basis of life.
An economic stimulus can and must make a concrete contribution to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, but also agricultural enterprises that wantto readjust themselves towards climate protection and nature conservation. This requires new or reformed support programmes that enable business management consulting services, the purchase of machinery and equipment and the construction of new infrastructure.
Hold on to ambitious common climate and environmental goals
By underwriting the global Sustainable Development Goals,the Paris Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity,almost all governments have committed themselves to containing the great environmental and climate crisis. The last European elections have shown that a large majority of people are in favour of climate neutrality
and nature conservation. The youth of the world reminds us of our commitments in the “School Strike for Climate”-movement.The “Green Deal” developed by the EU Commission might successfully combine environmental and climate policies with ensuring economic prosperity and creating investment security for companies.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen wants to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world.To achieve this, she must present a largescale plan to restore damaged ecosystems and preserve biodiversity. We call on the federal government to continue to implement the European “Green Deal” with determination and to defend it against those who now want to use the Covid-19 crisis for an ecological rollback.
Take the gloves off
We must finally be serious about meeting climate, environmental and sustainability targets. To achieve this, politicians and authorities at federal and state level must themselves act stringently and in an exemplary manner. A suitable and reliable framework for sustainable action must becreated for the private sector. Public investments and public procurement must therefore consistently follow sustainability goals and standards and must not harm the environment as they have done in the past.
A modern framework for the economy includes not only rules but also financial mechanisms, such as a carbon price, which internalise resource consumption or environmental damage into production costs.State subsidies may now only be granted if they contribute to ecological change and are globally fair to all generations.
Companies that behave in an environmentally harmful manner must not be rewarded with subsidies for their dangerous actions. The European Commision’s initiative for a unified sustainable finance classification system (‘taxonomy’) must therefore also be implemented in Germany asquickly as possible.
Democracy and social justice: Using the German EU Council
Presidency for initiatives In many countries around the world, the Covid-19 crisis is causing even more suffering and economic damage than in Germany. Authoritarian states within and outside the EU are using the crisis to repress civil society and to suppress democracy, justice and the freedom rights of the people. As one of the richest countries in the world, Germany has a duty to show global solidarity withthe weakest. NABU therefore calls on the German Federal Government to launch a pan-European initiative to promote and protect non-profit organisations in the health and environmental sectors during its forthcoming EU Council Presidency. The German ministries for evelopment, environment and health must take the leadin adapting their funding programmes.
Investments for a better future – immediate measures as a contribution to overcoming
the Covid-19 crisis and the environmental crisis
The fundamental climate-neutral and nature-friendly modernisation of the German and European economy and its important industrial sectors must be at the heart of the efforts that are now being madeto revive the economy. To this end, NABU suggests the following measures that can be implementedimmediately to contribute to a green, healthy and secure future in Germany.
”E-mobility” in the countryside: Pushing a mobility revolution in
In many rural areas, the development of anattractive and efficient local public transport system is coming up against limits. In sparsely populated regions, individual transport will continue to play a greater role than in the cities. In spite of this, current tests of electromobility and the expansion of corresponding infrastructure focus on large cities, although battery capacity of electric vehicles has already become sufficient for commuter traffic in rural areas. Inany case, the ownership and settlement structures of rural areas are ideally suited for an accelerated switchto electromobility
– in combination with the production of the necessary power from renewable energies.
Consequently, investment and depreciation programmes could stimulate the installation of solar power (photovoltaic, PV) systems together with corresponding subsidy programmes for charging stations inthe home garage. Anyone who can prove that they have installed their own PV system and charging station when buying an electric car will receive an additional purchase subsidy and can deduct the entire installation costs from their tax bill. The subsidy programme should last until 2030 and be designed to reach seven million households.
Well considered: Making one million roofs climate-friendly
It is estimated that the roofs of around ten million buildings in Germany are currently in need of renovation. About one fifth of these roofs are suitable for the generation of electricity (photovoltaic, PV) and heat (solarthermal) from the sun. With a large-scale renovation programme, one million roofs can be made fit for the future: Renovations to increase the energy efficiency of the buildings should go hand in hand with the installation of roof-mounted PV systems or solar thermal systems. New flat roofs that
cannot be used for energy purposes are tobe greened, thus contributing to the preservation of biodiversity, especially in urban areas, in addition to the insulation and summer thermal protection of the building. Subsidising 50 percent of the costs incurred creates an incentive to hire contractors to carry out the work. The programme requires a total volume of around 10 billion Euros to be effective.
Five thousand living brooks: Restoration of watercourses as a
precaution against flooding, drought and species extinction
Small watercourses with their floodplains and accompanying groundwater bodies slow down the flow of water and store it during heavy rainfall. The restoration of brooks is therefore an effective flood protection measure. In dry periods the stored water is released. This guarantees a constant water supply for forests and agriculture.
Furthermore, watercourses form the central axes of a national network of habitats for animals and plants. According to the EU Water Framework Directive, all water bodies must be brought into a good environmental status by 2027. The “Five Thousand Living Brooks for Man and Nature” programme can contribute to this and similtaneously provide countless local development impulses. In the course of the programme, which
is aimed at local authorities and water boards, five thousandbrooks will be selected for restoration. The programme is to beendowed with 1.25 billion Euros.
Securing the future: Biodiversity-enhancing and bio-engineering
measures for climate mitigation and adaptation in settlements and
Municipalities, especially cities, are largely responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, they are very much affected by the climate crisis (e.g. by heavy rains, heat, and drought). The spectrum of possible measures includes not only technological measures but also bio-engineering-approaches. More green in the city improves the climate, benefits health and promotes biodiversity. NABU is proposing a support
programme for local authorities, housing companies and commercial enterprises that are prepared to redesign their outdoor areas to make them climate- and naturefriendly.
Heating transition: A scrapping premium programme to substitute
environmentally harmful oil heating systems with heat pumps
There are still almost five million oil-fired heating systems installed in Germany. That is more than every fourth heating system. The technology is outdated and will not be allowed to be installed again from 2026 onwards anyway, according to the recently adopted climate package. Replacing old oil-fired heating systems with heat pumps now would benefit our climate much sooner. The replacement of an oil heating system with a heat pump is to be subsidised to a maximum of 50 percent and a maximum of 10,000
Euros. With a total volume of 5 billion Euro up to 500.000 oil heatings in Germany are renewed. In addition to the contributionto the heating transition, the premium stimulates the market for heat pumps and creates incentives to hire construction workers.
Stop light pollution: Insect- and climate-friendly lighting of public
Almost 10 million street lights are operated in around 14,000 municipalities
throughout Germany. In addition, there are lighting installations on commercial or industrial sites, sports facilities or monuments on an unknown scale. The annual energy consumption of street lighting alone is around four terawatt hours. Artificial light of the wrong quality and intensity in the wrong place at the wrong time has a negative impact on the living conditions of many animals and plants. It also causes disturbances in the day-night rhythm of humans and thus affects their health. In addition, energy consumption – depending onthe origin of the electricity – has a
negative impact on climate and environment. The replacement of old lighting with climate- and biodiversity-friendly outdoor lighting in the municipal, commercial and industrial sectors, including the associated planning, is to be promoted.
Farewell to micropollutants and microplastics: Retrofitting sewage
treatment plants and cleaning rainwater
In Germany almost 100 percent of municipal wastewater is treated. However, current processes do not eliminate micropollutants such as chemicals from detergents, pharmaceuticals or biocides. For this reason, the introduction of a fourth treatment stage should be promoted at all wastewater treatment plants. This would be a key element in effectively minimising the invisible environmental hazard of micropollutants. In parallel, the use of microplasticsin all cosmetic products and detergents,
cleaning agents and cleaning productsmust be banned and the use of poorly
degradable polymers must be severely restricted. Increased investments should also be made in the purification of rainwater from residential areas. Most of this is discharged directly into watercourses without being treated. It carries with it high loads of microplastics from tyre abrasion, plastic bottles and packaging or facade paints and ends up in ecosystems and the food chain.
UXOs at sea: Technical innovation meets environmental protection
Millions of tons of unexploded ordinances lie at the bottom of the North and Baltic Seas. While experts have been warning against the environmental hazards of ammunition shells corroding in salt water,the federal and state governments have so far failed to agree on a joint strategy for clearance and disposal – a ticking time bomb.
In recent years, German companies and scientific institutions have gained valuable experience in clearings UXOs within the framework of major infrastructure and research projects. Their know-how can help to avert unforeseeable dangers for us humans and the marine ecosystem, to strengthen Germany as a technology leader and to create value in coastal states. The Federal Government and the federal German states must launch and financially secure an emergency programme for the reclamation of contaminated war sites. In a first step, 100 million Euros are urgently needed for a pilot project on environmentally sound clearance of marine UXOs. At the same time, investment must be made in additional disposal capacities, and the construction of a jointly used mobile (or stationary) detonation and combustion chamber must be commissioned.
Harvest the sun, protect the insects: Photovoltaics and
biodiversity in agriculture
The proportion of land that farms must reserve for biodiversity conservation will increase with the forthcoming EU agricultural reform. Instead of planting corn, rapeseed or beets, more habitat will be created for insects and birds. With new forms of ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, agriculture, species diversity and solar energy can also be combined –provided they are planned and managed properly. A
special programme is intended to develop the framework conditions for naturefriendly photovoltaic systems in agriculturalenterprises that serve both biodiversity and solar energy use.
Imprint: © 2020, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) e. V.
Charitéstraße 3, 10117 Berlin, www.NABU.de.
Our demands for a corona pandemic recovery programme for
people and nature
NABU Federal Association Tizia Labahn
Phone +49 (0)30.28 49 84-1510
We cannot continue business as
usual and we cannot go back.
We must draw the right lessons
from the global Covid-19 crisis
and shape the future in a
socially just and nature-friendly
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