NABU: No stumbling on and no turning back
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, the
Sustainable 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 example
and provide an ambitious and reliable framework for sustainable action for the
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 professional
groups 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 and
family 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
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 pandemic.
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
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 want
to 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
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 development,
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
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
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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