Non-native animal species in Antarctica
On behalf of UBA, the Senckenberg Museum of Natural Sciences Görlitz detected several non-native species of springtails (Collembola) and mites (Actinedida) in Antarctica. The cause of the problem: about 30,000 tourists and several thousands of scientists enter Antarctic soil every year and, thus, introduce soil organisms from other regions of the world in the fragile Antarctic ecosystem. The report advises how to prevent this in future.
Great benefits for health and economic benefits through active mobility
The greening of our mobility and transport systems is possible and beneficial to both individuals and the national economy. In addition to the positive effects for the environment and climate, people can save ready cash by travelling on foot, by bicycle and using local public transport and trains. Nearly every measure assessed results in higher economic output and employment!
UMID 1/2013: Chemicals, environment and health
Which effects do antibiotics have in the environment and what are the consequences of using per- and polyfluorinated chemicals in a variety of consumer products? Issue 01/2013 of “UMID: environment and human health – information service" focuses on chemicals, environment and health. In addition, the issue also informs about a research project on environmental justice in urban areas and reports on knowledge and open questions related to health impacts from low-frequency fields of electrical power supply. UMID is published in German with English-language abstracts.
Nanomaterials become REACH-relevant
There is currently a need for better identification and assessment of potential hazards arising from nanomaterials for humans and their environment in the future. With this aim, BAuA, BfR and UBA have developed a proposal for amending the European Chemicals Regulation REACH.
Getting a grip on chemicals
Bicycle handlebar grips, mousepads, toys – all these everyday products may contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Many PAH are carcinogenic, mutagenic and can impair reproduction. They are absorbed through the skin when we touch plastics that contain PAH. Upon a German initiative the European Commission has now proposed standardized caps for PAH in products for the first time.
Saving CO2 through sustainably mobility planning – Cycling taps potential
It is becoming ever more evident that given the shortage of resources and energy reserves it will not be enough to design more efficient automobiles. Mobility patterns will also have to change if we are to achieve our climate protection goals. A study by UBA identifies how traffic-related emissions can be significantly reduced. By shifting traffic from the car to the bicycle, 40 million tonnes of CO2 can be saved every year.
Bioplastics not superior to common plastics
A new study by UBA proves that plastics made of renewable resources have no ecological advantage over common plastic packaging. Although CO2 emissions and petroleum consumption levels are lower, the farming and processing of plants used in this bio-based packaging pollute soil and water more heavily. The bioplastic bags which have become increasingly common have no ecological advantage either. UBA’s President Jochen Flasbarth says, “The results indicate that the special provisions for such packaging, such as the exemption from retailers‘ take-back obligation, should be discontinued.“
UBA publishes Schwerpunkte 2013
Noise protection is one of the key thematic focus areas of UBA's work in 2013. More than half of the people in Germany feel disturbed by noise. Another focus area is oceans, which are under stress from overfishing and over-fertilisation in particular. The hunt for raw materials on the ocean floor also poses a new threat. The third focus area is sustainable building and living, which means not only protecting the climate but also using building materials that consume few raw materials and are healthy. An English-language version of the publication will be available in May.
Emissions trading: Is there a need for cap adjustment in response to external shocks and unexpected developments?
EU emissions trading is a quantity-based instrument. The emissions reduction target is clearly defined by setting an emissions budget (cap) before every trading period. The price of an allowance reflects the scarcity in the market and creates incentives to make investments in low-emissions technology and innovations. However, if basic conditions undergo fundamental and lasting change - such as the unexpectedly high volume of surplus allowances that have been accumulated in the second trading period and which have caused the CO2 price to drop so dramatically that there is hardly any incentive to make investments – it may be justified to adjust the cap. A new study commissioned by UBA proposes the criteria for such an ex-post adjustment.