The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 2009 and 2009 Deselect

  1. The German environment associations NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) has named Hans-Werner Sinn, a German economist and President of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, as its “Dinosaur of the Year” in 2009. NABU has presented the award every year to personalities who distinguish themselves with “antiquated ideas about environmental protection” since 1993.

  2. A large number of companies, local authorities and private initiatives throughout Germany have already invested in energy efficiency and reduced their final energy consumption. dena therefore introduced a new Good Practice in Energy Efficiency label in November 2009 to advertise these activities and encourage emulation. The Good Practice label is awarded for successful energy efficiency projects in all sorts of areas, from a reduction in the energy consumption of machines and processes through energy-efficient building refurbishments to measures aimed at changing consumer habits. Companies and public institutions whose efficiency projects have been selected can use the label in their external and internal communications and at events.

  3. Using funds from the Environment Ministry's International Climate Initiative amounting to 2.3 million euros, over the next five years the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) will press ahead with mangrove conservation in Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga. The project will implement initial recommendations of "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity" (TEEB) study which was conducted on behalf of the Federal Environment Ministry and the European Commission and which clearly highlights both the ecological and the economic importance of intact natural habitats. For example, the cultivation and conservation of almost 12,000 hectares of mangroves in Vietnam cost 1.1 million US dollars, but at the same time saved 7.3 million US dollars in maintenance costs for dykes. Mangroves also form the basis for nearshore fishery, as they are home to the young of many fish species. But they are under threat from over-use. The project aims to counter this threat with a combination of different steps, including the participation of local people in the management of mangroves, the restoration of degraded mangrove areas, awareness raising and educational measures.

  4. On 4 December 2009, Nepalese government held a cabinet meeting at Mount Everest to highlight the threat of climate change to the Himalayas. The Nepalese prime Minister and 22 ministers were examined by doctors before boarding helicopters to Kalapathar ((5,250 meters), a rocky plateau just above Everest base-camp. The Cabinet spent only 20 minutes next to the mountain to prevent any of the ministers, unused to the heights of the Himalayas, from getting altitude sickness. All were provided with oxygen masks.

  5. From November 2012 all new tyres on sale in Europe will be classified and labelled for fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise performance. The labelling will be similar to that required for household appliances and potential buyers will be able to compare tyre characteristics before making a purchase. Like the European energy label, the tyre label will use classes ranging from best-performance (green “A” class) to worst (red “G” class). Besides indicating how much the tyre affects the car's fuel efficiency, it will also give information about its performance in wet conditions and its external rolling noise in decibels.

  6. The world's first osmotic power plant prototype was opened on 24 November 2009 at Tofte in Norway. The plant will have a limited production capacity and is intended primarily for testing and development purposes. The aim is to be capable of constructing a commercial osmotic power plant within a few years’ time.

  7. The European Commission rewarded the Federal Environment Agency for outstanding achievements in environmental management. The award ceremony took place at the National Museum of Sweden in Stockholm on 19 November 2009. Each year the annual EMAS awards focus on a different theme related to eco-management. This year's theme focuses on the supply chain.

  8. The Dutch government approved a pilot project to pump carbon dioxide into depleted gas fields beneath the small town of Barendrecht. Shell will pump about 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the underground chamber more than a mile (2 kilometers) beneath the suburb.

  9. The Leipzig European Energy Exchange (EEX) will in future auction greenhouse gas emission allowances on behalf of the German government. The weekly auctioning will start in 2010

  10. The first high seas MPA in the Antarctic region has been declared in an area south of the South Orkney Islands. The South Orkneys MPA is situated in the northern Weddell Sea, east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula - a prime area for feeding humpback whales. At just under 94,000 sq kms, the protection of the South Orkneys MPA is of a significant size. The formal protection becomes effective in May 2010. No fishing activities and no discharge or refuse disposal from fishing vessels will be allowed in the area.

  11. The European Commission and the European Environment Agency launched a comprehensive new European pollutant release and transfer register – E-PRTR. The register contains information about the emissions of pollutants to air, water and land by industrial facilities throughout Europe. It includes annual data for 91 substances and covers more than 24 000 facilities in 65 economic activities. It also provides additional information, such as the amount and types of waste transferred from facilities to waste handlers both inside and outside each country.

  12. On 3 November 2009 at Windsor Castle representatives of nine major religions launched long term plans to protect the environment at a ceremony hosted by HRH The Prince Philip and with HE Mr Ban Ki-moon the UN Secretary-General, the special guest.

  13. The satellite Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) was launched atop a Rockot launch vehicle provided by Eurockot GmbH. Liftoff from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia took place at 01:50 UTC (02:50 CET) on Monday 2 November. SMOS will play a key role in the monitoring of climate change on a global scale. It is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. It features a unique interferometric radiometer that will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land. ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission has been designed to observe soil moisture over the Earth's landmasses and salinity over the oceans. Soil moisture data are urgently required for hydrological studies and data on ocean salinity are vital for improving our understanding of ocean circulation patterns.

  14. Greenpeace activists hang a banner reading 'Save the climate' at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The Barcelona climate talks (November 2-6) were the last set of negotiations before the Copenhagen climate conference in December.

  15. On 30 Oktober 2009 in Munich the articles of association for the DII GmbH were signed by the group of founding members consisting of twelve companies and the DESERTEC Foundation. The DII aims at accelerated implementation of the DESERTEC concept, as proposed by the DESERTEC Foundation. This work of the DII will entail a thorough analysis and the establishment of a framework for investments to supply the MENA region and Europe with power produced using solar and wind energy sources. The long-term goal is to satisfy a substantial part of the energy needs of the MENA countries and meet as much as 15% of Europe’s electricity demand by 2050.

  16. Germany’s designation of additional bird protection areas has enabled the Commission to close a long-running case against the country for violation of nature protection legislation. In 2001 the Commission sent Germany a first warning letter for failing to designate a sufficient number and size of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the Birds Directive. In 2006, a second and final warning letter was sent because the designation was still insufficient in nine Länder. Since 2006, Germany has submitted more than 12,000 km² of additional site designations and enlargements of existing sites. The Commission has therefore decided to close the case.

  17. Headed by Prof. Dr. Peter Lemke from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, eight research centres of the Helmholtz Association have joined together in the network REKLIM. The network is equipped with a budget of 32.2 million Euros during the years 2009 to 2013.

  18. On 27 November 2009 an agreement was reached between regional actors and Greenpeace in a dispute of several years concerning old wilderness-like forests in the wilderness areas of Central Lapland. The agreement covers some 44.200 hectares of forest land. Of them, 6.600 hectares will remain available for normal multiple-use forestry. 2.700 hectares remain in restricted forestry use, and 35.000 hectares are excluded from forestry operations.

  19. At a ceremony in Berlin, German environment organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe e. V. (DUH) awarded the Climate Protection Award 2009 to Dr. Kurt Rohrig from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) for his concept of the Combined Renewable Energy Power Plant. The Combined Power Plant optimally combines the advantages of various renewable energy sources. The annual German Climate Protection Award comes with a cash prize of EUR 10,000 and was presented this year for the third time.

  20. The Maldives' government held an underwater cabinet meeting on 17 Oktober 2009 to draw attention to climate change while European leaders prepared for a week of climate talks ahead of the Copenhagen summit in December. President Mohamed Nasheed and members of his cabinet, in SCUBA gear, around a table 4 meters below the water's surface and signed a resolution calling for global action to cut carbon emissions.

  21. In the year 2009 two Right Livelihood Awards go to two men who fight climate change: The Honorary Award goes to David Suzuki (Canada) "for his lifetime advocacy of the socially responsible use of science, and for his massive contribution to raising awareness about the perils of climate change and building public support for policies to address it". René Ngongo (Democratic Republic of Congo) is honoured "for his courage in confronting the forces that are destroying the Congo's rainforests and building political support for their conservation and sustainable use".

  22. The tiny Pacific Ocean archipelago of Palau told the General Assembly on 25 September 2009 that it will create the world’s first shark sanctuary to protect endangered species by banning all commercial shark fishing within its territorial waters.

  23. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a major worldwide tree planting campaign in 2006. Under The Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, people, communities, business and industry, civil society organizations and governments are encouraged to enter tree planting pledges online with the objective of planting at least one billion trees worldwide each year. The Billion Tree Campaign has reached 7 billion trees - one for every person on the planet. The milestone was reached with the news that the Government of China has planted 2.6 billion trees as part of this unique campaign, bringing the total to 7.3 billion trees planted in 167 countries worldwide. The announcement was made in New York on 21 September at a press conference attended by international dignitaries, including Campaign Patrons Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert II of Monaco, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

  24. Mediterranean countries have rejected a call by the European Union's executive and northern EU states to ban fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna until the over-exploited population has recovered. On 21 September Spain, Italy, France, Cyprus, Greece and Malta rejected the proposal to list the bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

  25. On 17 September 2009 the world's largest offshore wind farm was inaugurated in the North Sea off the west coast of Denmark by Crown Prince Frederik. The Horns Rev 2 wind farm's 91 turbines covers an area of some 35 square kilometres and can produce enough electricity to supply 200,000 homes a year. It is expected to generate 210 megawatts of electricity each year and is the largest offshore wind farm in terms of capacity and the number of turbines used. It is the first of its kind to be equipped with a platform where personnel can spend the night.

  26. The Federal Environment Agency has initiated an event billed as Natural Resources Day whose motto is “Factor X: Beyond Climate Change“, which is scheduled to take place for the first time on 16 September 2009 in Berlin as a side event to the World Resources Forum 2009 taking place in Davos. This international platform will also convene for the first time and seeks to bridge the gap between science and the economy. The objective of both events is to draw attention to the intelligent economical use and sustainable management of natural resources.

  27. 10 September, 2009/ Brussels: The European Commission put forward a blueprint for scaling up international finance to help developing countries combat climate change. This initiative aims to maximise the chances of concluding an ambitious global climate change agreement at the December U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen. By 2020 developing countries are likely to face annual costs of around €100 billion to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Much of the finance needed will have to come from domestic sources and an expanded international carbon market, but international public financing of some €22-50 billion a year is also likely to be necessary. The Commission proposes that industrialised nations and economically more advanced developing countries should provide this public financing in line with their responsibility for emissions and ability to pay. This could mean an EU contribution of some €2-15 billion a year by 2020, assuming an ambitious agreement is reached in Copenhagen.

  28. The Clean Tech Media Awards were presented in Berlin in four categories, including Technology, Sustainability, Culture & Media, and for the first time, Young Research Talent. The 2009 edition honored the most energy efficient office building of the world, an innovative hybrid power station, trail-blazing research about silicium production for solar cells, and the world's largest climate change 'edutainment' park. A special award was given to the DESERTEC Foundation, an initiative of leading German corporations which support the idea to produce solar power in the desert regions of Africa.

  29. A multimillion dollar appeal to save the Mau Forests Complex has been launched by the Government of Kenya at a Partners Forum hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The appeal aims to mobilize resources for the rehabilitation of the Mau, the largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem in Kenya covering over 400,000 hectares - the size of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares combined.

  30. Some 50,000 anti-nuclear protestors demonstrated in Berlin on 05 September 2009 against Germany possibly reversing a decision to abandon atomic energy and extending the life of its nuclear power plants. The protest included a group of farmers from Lower Saxony who have driven their tractors from the nuclear waste sites at Gorleben and Wolfenbüttel to the capital.

  31. World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3), which has brought together from 31 August to 4 September 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland, more than 2 000 climate scientists, sectoral experts and decision-makers established on 3 September a Global Framework for Climate Services “to strengthen production, availability, delivery and application of science-based climate prediction and services.”

  32. The Fahrtziel Natur, or "Destination Nature", Award 2009, was granted in Düsseldorf for the first time on 3 September 2009. This prize has gone to the Nationalpark- und Naturparkregion Bayerischer Wald (Bavarian Forest) for its Igelbusse/Bayernwald Ticket project. The award-winning project is exemplary in its cross-linkage and optimisation of sustainable mobility for the tourism sector. The Fahrtziel Natur Award was initiated by Fahrtziel Natur, a cooperation of Deutsche Bahn and the environmental organisations BUND, NABU and Verkehrsclub Deutschland.

  33. The major research project BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean ACIDification) started on 1 September 2009. It is a joint project which examines the repercussions of oceanic acidification on marine biological communities. The effects of oceanic acidification on lime formation, and growth and development of marine organisms will be examined in an interdisciplinary collaboration within the framework of BIOACID. The project is funded with 8.500.000 Euros by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with the participation of 14 German research institutes and universities. The project is headed by the Leibnitz Institute of Marine Science (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel. The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association is responsible as deputy for the coordination and receives 2.9 million Euros of project funds.

  34. The Asse nuclear waste disposal site formerly run by Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen GmbH contains three times as much toxic plutonium as previously reported, the Environment Ministry said on 29 August 2009. A review of records at Helmholtz’s Munich headquarters shows 28 kilograms of plutonium stored at the underground dump in Lower Saxony, rather than the 9 kilograms previously recorded.

  35. Greenpeace activists displayed a large slogan at the Gorner glacier at 2,600 meters above sea level in Zermatt, Switzerland on 25 August, 2009. Greenpeace demands more leadership from the governments of the western countries and a more active part towards the protection of the world climate.

  36. Germany's largest solar park was inaugurated on 20 August 2009 on the site of a former Soviet military training ground in the east of the country. The Lieberose Solar Park north of Cottbus (Brandenburg) covers 162 hectares (400 acres), the equivalent of more than 210 football pitches.

  37. The environmental group Greenpeace dropped boulders into the Kattegatt, the strait between Sweden and Denmark, on 10 August 2009 to fight 'bottom trawling' with nets that rake the seabed.

  38. The Federal Government has adopted an National Development Plan for Electric Mobility. The goal of the National Development Plan for Electric Mobility is to advance research and development, market preparation for and introduction of batterypowered vehicles in Germany.

  39. The Federal Cabinet has nominated Jochen Flasbarth as the new President of the Federal Environment Agency. Flasbarth, 47, will succeed Prof. Dr. Andreas Troge, who retired at the end of July. Flasbarth will assume his new duties at the Agency upon signature of the letter of appointment by the Federal President.

  40. On 3 August 2009 the EU Member States of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) nominated for the second time substances of very high concern for authorisation according to REACH. 14 proposals were submitted this year, of which five are from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The UBA has submitted a proposal to the EU to include five anthracene oils as subject to authorisation. Anthracene oils extracted from black coal are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. As a rule PAHs persist in the environment, bioaccumulate, and are toxic. As a rule PAHs persist in the environment, bioaccumulate, and are toxic.