The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 2011 and 2011 Deselect

  1. Octylphenol will become the first chemical to be taken up on the European ‘Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern for Authorisation’ because of its endocrine disruptive effect.Scientific studies have proven that octylphenol acts as an endocrine disruptor in fish. Even at low concentrations it impairs development and reproduction. Octylphenol, or 4-tert-Octylphenol, is used to manufacture paints, adhesives, and tyres. Effective immediately, octylphenol is classified as a ”substance of very high concern for authorisation“ which should be replaced, as stipulated by the EU REACH Directive. The EU states have thereby voted unanimously to approve UBA’s proposal.

  2. The cities of Stuttgart, Arnsberg and Wuppertal and the WOGENO housing cooperative in Munich are this year’s winners of the Blue Compass contest (Blauer Kompass 2011). The prize is awarded for the best ideas in adapting to climate change in Germany. It is being awarded for the first time in 2011 by the German Federal Ministry for Environment (BMU) and the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and represents one measure to implement the Federal Government’s Adaptation to Climate Change action plan. Participants included 59 municipalities, businesses and associations. All contest entries and other examples of adaptation measures are stored in a Federal Environment Agency database which is available to the public at

  3. With around 3 litres per square metre (l/m²) in November 2011, the mean rainfall total for Germany remained unprecedentedly below the target of 66 l/m². Since records began in 1881, there has never been such a dry November and it would appear that there has also been no other comparable month. This month’s figure was even less than the lowest rainfall ever recorded of 3.65 l/m², measured in April 1893. Some stations did not record one single drop of rain throughout the whole month. The only areas that saw appreciable amounts of precipitation were the Saarland and northern and central Germany. Schleswig saw the most rain, registering 18 l/m². The continuing drought caused many river levels to fall to record lows and snow in the Bavarian Alps was scarce. At the same time, there was a greater risk of forest fires.

  4. On 20 October 2011 the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) announced the deadline for applications to receive free emission allowances for the 2013-2020 third trading period in electronic issue of the Federal Gazette. Sweeping harmonisation of the European emissions trading system will occur in the third trading period of 2013-2020. In addition to the common cap on greenhouse gas emissions, the same rules governing the allocation of free emission allowances will be in place for the first time in all EU Member States.

  5. On 13 October 2011, the Rainbow Warrior III was christened and handed over to Greenpeace at a special launch ceremony at the Fassmer Shipyard in Berne, near Bremen, Germany.

  6. On 7 October 2011 Federal Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen and the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Adnan Z. Amin inaugurated the IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre (IITC) in Bonn. The IITC is supported by the German government and aims to develop scientific scenarios for promoting renewable energies throughout the world. It will work closely with the IRENA headquarters in Abu Dhabi to advance the global transition to resource-efficient technologies.

  7. The Year 2011 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Forests (IYF). On this occasion the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, in close cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), hosted the International Bonn Forest Days focussing on the central IYF-topic “Forests for People”. Different associations, organisations, companies and international partners presented in a big theme show, took place from 6th to 9th October 2011, the wide diversity of services from forests.

  8. Leading climate research organizations from eight European nations have agreed to join forces on research in four key topics related to climate change. On 4 October 2011 the European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA), a loose coalition launched at the European Parliament in Brussels, will focus on research on Arctic climate variability, hydrological cycles in the Mediterranean region, links between climate change and extreme weather, and sea-level rise.

  9. In New York European Development Commissioner Piebalgs participated in the launch of the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) initiative on 21 September 2011. This event took place in the context of an UN-sponsored meeting to address land degradation and desertification. The ELD initiative will be a comprehensive assessment of land degradation that looks both at the costs of failing to prevent further land degradation and at the economic benefits of addressing it through sustainable land management policies.

  10. On 20 September 2011, EU Commissioner Piebalgs was appointed as a member of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for all, together with leaders from business, government, international organisation and civil society. He attended the launch of the UN High Level Group in New York, in presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The High-level Group will work to develop a global agenda to achieve the objective of Sustainable Energy for All by 2030 and to provide clear actions to take at the global and regional level. 2012 will be a crucial year in putting Sustainable Energy at the top of the development agenda with the UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All and the RIO+ 20 summit in June next year.

  11. On 20 September 2011, the European Commission set out a roadmap aimed at transforming Europe's economy into a sustainable one by 2050. The Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe outlines how we can achieve the resource efficient growth which is essential for our future wellbeing and prosperity. The roadmap identifies the economic sectors that consume the most resources, and suggests tools and indicators to help guide action in Europe and internationally. It is an agenda for competitiveness and growth based on using fewer resources when we produce and consume goods and creating business and job opportunities from activities such as recycling, better product design, materials substitution and eco-engineering. The Europe 2020 Flagship initiative on resource-efficiency called for a Roadmap to define medium and long-term objectives on resource efficiency and means for achieving them. This Roadmap builds on and complements other initiatives under the flagship, such as the Roadmap for a low-carbon economy the White paper on transport adopted in spring 2011 and the Energy Roadmap expected for later this year. The Resource Efficiency Roadmap also builds upon the 2005 Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources and the EU's sustainable development strategy.

  12. On the 16th of September, 2011 Frauhofer IWES held the opening of its test centre for smart grids and electromobility (SysTec). In its test centre for smart grids and electromobility, Fraunhofer IWES is developing and testing new equipment and operation strategies for smart low and medium voltage grids. In addition, investigations regarding grid integration and grid connection of electric vehicles and their power generated from renewable energy sources as well as photovoltaic systems, wind energy plants, storage and hybrid systems are carried out under realistic conditions here.

  13. In an opinion report published on 15 September 2011, the Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency have argued that the EU's biofuels policy was based on a "serious accounting error" and should be changed.

  14. On 7 September 2011, the EU and USA signed in Washington A historic statement pledging bilateral cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, known as IUU fishing. This statement is the first of its kind in the longstanding partnership between the EU and the US on fisheries management.

  15. At the International Consumer Electronics Fair (IFA) in Berlin, the Blue Angel eco-label initiative and the Philips company introduced the first television sets that meet the criteria of the eco-label. The Blue Angel-labelled Philips 55PFL6606 and 46PFL6606 consume surprisingly little electricity, are free of mercury, are made of low-emissions materials and are built to be recyclable. It is the first time the Blue Angel has been awarded to an entertainment electronics product. “Energy-efficient televisions are playing their part as products that are easy on the environment and climate. With the Blue Angel consumers have a clear guideline at their disposal when making purchases“, said Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Federal Environment Agency, and continued: “The Philips company commitment is a timely impetus for product-related climate protection in Germany.“

  16. Starting 1 September 2011 standard light bulbs of more than 40 watts may no longer be marketed.

  17. On 31 August 2011, the Federal Cabinet adopted the Adaptation Action Plan to support the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change.

  18. Germany’s Federal Network Agency has decided not to keep any nuclear power stations operational as back-up in case of electricity shortfalls this winter. The president of the authority, Matthias Kurth, announced the decision on 31 August 2011, in Berlin, promising that other types of power stations would be able to provide extra electricity.

  19. On 25 August 2011, the sixth annual Wadden Sea Day took place in Wilhelmshaven. Over 80 participants from the three Wadden Sea countries, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, attended the scientific conference on “Fish in the Wadden Sea – Exploring an Unknown World”. With this year’s topic a very important issue for the Wadden Sea was addressed, which often does not get enough attention. The conference aimed at providing insights in recent research and assessment of monitoring data, identifying research priorities for trilateral projects, and discussing with scientists and managers how trilateral targets on fish could be met.

  20. On August 22, 2011 people in 22 cities spanning 16 countries held solidarity demonstrations to urge Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to cancel the controversial Belo Monte Dam and to defend the forest code.

  21. On 19 August 2011, at the Neptun Werft in Rostock-Warnemünde, Germany, German Federal Research Minister, Annette Schavan, together with the Lower Saxony Minister of Science and Culture, Johanna Wanka, signed the build and management contract for the new deep-sea research vessel Sonne - German for sun. In 2015 the new ship will replace the 36 years old German deep-sea research vessel carrying the same name. The Federal Ministery of Education & Research will cover 90% of the EUR 124.4 million investment; the coastal states will cover the remaining 10% of which . The Indian and Pacific Ocean will be the newbuild’s principal areas of operations. Both have a major impact on world climate, which is why their research is becoming increasingly important. The Sonne will also help in answering other scientific and socially very relevant questions, especially regarding the supply of marine raw materials and human intervention in ecosystems.

  22. On 18 August 2011 at the SADC Summit in Luanda, Angola, the Presidents of the Republics of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe signed a Treaty which formally and legally establishes the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).

  23. On 12 August 2011, the European Commission has tabled its proposal for a new Regulation of the Council and the European Parliament establishing a multiannual plan for the sustainable management of Baltic salmon. Scientific advice indicates that stocks in some of the approximately 30 wild salmon rivers in the Baltic are outside safe biological limits and at risk of genetic depletion. A non-binding management plan established by the International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission in 1997 expired in 2010. In response, the European Commission is proposing a new multi-annual management plan for Baltic salmon. The objective of the proposal is the sustainable exploitation of all salmon river stocks in the Baltic Sea and hence to ensure the conservation status of the entire Baltic stock. The specific objectives of the new Regulation aim in ensuring that: the Baltic salmon stock is exploited in a sustainable way according to the principle of maximum sustainable yield (MSY); the genetic integrity and diversity of the Baltic salmon stock is safeguarded.

  24. On 8 August 2011, Germany's National Meteorological Service, the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), launched the new Climate Atlas of Germany.

  25. On 3 August 2011, the Federal Cabinet adopted the 6th Energy Research Programme worth 3.4 billion over the period 2011 to 2014.

  26. On 3 August 2011 the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced that the MOX Plant would close, due to the loss of Japanese orders following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

  27. A ban on heavy fuel oil from the Antarctic entered into force on 1 August 2011. The ban is contained in an amendment to Annex I (Regulations for the prevention of pollution by oil) to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), with a new chapter on "Special requirements for the use or carriage of oils in the Antarctic area." The effect of the new chapter is to prohibit the use of heavy fuel oils by ships transiting the Antarctic area, which will have to switch to higher grade fuels while in the area.

  28. A study known as DEMOCOPHES on human exposure levels to pollutants will involve some 4,000 mothers and children from various countries in the European Union (EU). It is scheduled to start in 17 European countries in August 2011. This harmonised approach to testing for exposure to pollutants in humans (biomonitoring) used to be funded by the EU Action Programme Environment and Health. The Federal Environment Agency is the German project partner on whose behalf samples from randomly selected mother-child pairs from Bochum and the Hochsauerland region (North-Rhine Westphalia) will be collected and tested for traces of the pollutants mercury, cadmium, cotinine and phthalates (plasticisers).

  29. International Tiger Day, also known as Global Tiger Day, is an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation, held annually on 29 July. It was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit.

  30. Anyone can now view for themselves the raw data that was at the centre of "climategate" scandal 2009. Temperature records going back 150 years from 5113 weather stations around the world were released on 28 July 2011 to the public by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. The only records missing are from 19 stations in Poland, which refused to allow them to be made public.

  31. On a day when 4.9 tonnes of confiscated illegal ivory is destroyed in Kenya by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, an intergovernmental body set up to facilitate wildlife law enforcement in Africa, WWF is issuing a strong warning that burning stockpiles of seized ivory is not the whole solution to the long-running elephant poaching problem on the continent. There is an urgent need to strengthen law enforcement and clean-up unregulated domestic ivory markets. While most of the worlds’ attention will be focused on the blazing pile of ivory in Kenya on the first African Elephant Law Enforcement Day, WWF is urging the range states of African elephants, and the international community, to embrace the broader challenge and to step up their efforts to stamp out illegal and poorly regulated domestic ivory markets, in both Asia and Africa.

  32. On 19 July 2011, the Commission has recognised seven voluntary schemes for biofuels: ISCC, Bonsucro EU, RTRS EU RED, RSB EU RED, 2BSvs, RBSA and Greenergy. This recognition applies directly in 27 EU Member States. Voluntary schemes are control systems that certify sustainability of biofuels. Companies importing or producing biofuels have to demonstrate that their biofuels are produced in a sustainable way.

  33. On 15 July 2011 Lufthansa is launching a six-month biofuel trial on regular scheduled flights. A Lufthansa Airbus A321 will fly the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route four times daily. One of its engines will run on a 50/50 mix of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene. The biofuel for jet engines has been approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Since biokerosene has similar properties to those of conventional kerosene it can be used for all aircraft types without any need for modifications to the aircraft or its engines.

  34. Mandatory measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping were adopted by Parties to MARPOL Annex VI represented in the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when it met for its 62nd session from 11 to 15 July 2011 at IMO Headquarters in London, representing the first ever mandatory global greenhouse gas reduction regime for an international industry sector.

  35. Jülich, 8 July 2011 – The IAGOS project has now entered its operative phase. Together with Lufthansa and other European partners, Forschungszentrum Jülich has started long-term monitoring of the Earth's atmosphere from commercial airliners on a scale not yet seen in climate research. Specially developed measuring instruments on board a Lufthansa Airbus A340-300 named "Viersen" will routinely make broad-based records of atmospheric trace substances during its flights worldwide and in future will also monitor aerosols and cloud particles.

  36. Mutriku, said to be the world’s first commerical wave power facility, was developed by Basque utility company Ente Vasco de la Energía (EVE). The 300 kW plant is made up 16 wave power units and is based in the Basque port of Mutriku, between Bilbao and San Sebastian in the North of Spain.

  37. The Federal Government has provided the financial basis for the establishment of a forest climate fund in the draft Federal Budget for 2012. Resources amounting to 35 million euros per year are to be allocated for the fund, which will be set up by 1 January 2013 under the joint patronage of the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and of the Environment. The funds are to be used to develop schemes to restore balanced landscape water resources, to improve adaptation to climate change, to maintain and secure forest mires, to establish new carbon-rich riparian and moist forests, as well as to set up reference areas, but also to expand the CO2 reduction potential of wood. There are also plans to prevent and cope with large-scale damage caused by events such as storms or forest fires. In addition, research, monitoring, communication and knowledge transfer are to be supported.

  38. A majority of MEPs, led by rapporteur Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL), voted on 5 July 2011 against the adoption of a draft resolution on EU climate policy. An amendment had been narrowly adopted to support a conditional 30% greenhouse gas reductions target, rather than the unilateral step to 30% cuts previously recommended by Parliament. In the final vote, there were 258 votes in favour of adopting the amended resolution, 347 against and 63 abstentions. Parliament's latest adopted position on climate policy therefore remains the resolution voted in November 2010, which recommended an unconditional 30% greenhouse gas reduction target (by 2020 based on 1990 levels).

  39. On 5 July 2011 the Bahamas announced a ban on shark fishing. The Atlantic Ocean archipelago said it was banning the commercial fishing of sharks in its 243,000 square miles (630,000 square kilometers) of water, along with the sale, import or export of shark products.