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German Development Minister launches “Green Button” seal for sustainable textiles

On September 9, 2019, German Development Minister Gerd Müller presented the “Green Button” seal for sustainable textiles, which will be attributed to clothing items produced under certain social and environmental standards. In order to be eligible for the Green Button, companies must comply with a minimum wage requirement for textile workers, forego any child labor in production, and prove that their manufacturing process does not involve certain chemicals and air pollutants.

Minister Müller has been advocating for social responsibility and safety in the textile industry since 2013 when the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over a thousand people. At the launch of the Green Button initiative, 27 companies have successfully passed the requirements of the textile label; another 26 companies are currently in the review process.

News article – Deutsche Welle

Press release – Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development [BMZ] (in German)

Germany

German far-right surges to second place in two state elections

On September 1, 2019, elections were held in two German federal states, Saxony and Brandenburg, both located in the former East Germany. In both states, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has become the second-biggest party.

While both the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have suffered significant losses, the CDU remained the strongest party in Saxony with 32% (followed by the AfD with 28%) and in Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin, the SPD remained the strongest force with 26% (while AfD got 24%). Despite holding on in Brandenburg, the SPD fell to a historic low of only 7.7% of the vote in Saxony. In both states, CDU and SPD will now discuss forming new coalitions, potentially with the Greens, as both parties are opposed to forming a coalition with the AfD.

The formation of the two state governments is likely to prove difficult and time-consuming, as both governments no longer have a majority for a continuation of the existing coalitions (SPD and the Left in Brandenburg, and CDU and SPD in Saxony).

News article - Deutsche Welle

Germany

Germany increases Global Fund contributions by 18% to US$1.1 billion

During the Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Biarritz, France, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Germany’s pledge of €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund) for the replenishment period 2020-2022, an increase of 18% from the previous pledge.

France will host the Global Fund’s sixth replenishment pledging conference in Lyon on October 9-10, 2019. The Conference is aimed at further mobilizing efforts to end the epidemics of AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis by 2030, in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Global Fund seeks to raise at least US$14 billion for the upcoming three years (2020-2022) in order to help save sixteen million lives, cut the mortality rate from HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria in half, and build stronger health systems by 2023.

Germany is the fourth-largest donor of the Global Fund.


Press release - Global Fund

Press release - BMZ (in German)

Germany Global health

German development minister plans to spend an additional €500 million on international climate protection measures, particularly in Africa

Development Minister Gerd Müller called for Germany to invest an additional €500 million (US$564 million) into international climate protection in 2020 and urged Chancellor Merkel to pledge these funds during the UN climate change summit on September 23, 2019.

The additional funding is expected to be allocated either from the national climate fund or from the German federal budget. Müller plans to use these funds for financing innovation and investment campaigns for climate protection measures in Africa, for launching programs for ‘climate-proof agriculture’, and for strengthening international research in agriculture.

Press release – Federal ministry for economic cooperation and development (BMZ) (in German)

Germany

German development minister calls for increased development funds

In an interview with the Hannoversche Allgemeine, German Development Minister Gerd Müller demanded that the current German government comply with its pledge to increase defense and development at a 1:1 ratio. As it stands, this commitment has not been realized, with the 2018, 2019 and 2020 budget including higher increases for the defense budget than for the development budget, in both absolute and relative terms.

According to Müller, funding levels currently planned for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2020 do not suffice to fulfill Germany’s international commitments and obligations, with a funding gap of €650 million (US$733 million). 

This gap is especially problematic for Germany’s international climate commitment. Germany had agreed to increase its international climate funding from €2 million (US$2 million) to €4 million (US$5 million). It is still €500 million (US$564 million) below this target.

News article - Hannoversche Allgemeine (in German)

Germany

Bavarian state premier calls for climate action to be enshrined in Germany’s basic law

Markus Söder, Bavaria’s conservative state premier, has embraced a long-standing demand by the Green Party, namely to enshrine climate action in Germany’s Basic Law, which had previously been rejected by his party. Söder leads the Christian Social Union (CSU): sister party and governing partner of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The CSU plans to adopt its own climate concept in September, which will include a climate budget, as well as a proposal to reform the motor vehicle tax to better address CO2 emissions. Further, he has called for cutting added taxes on train tickets as much as possible, to make rail transport more attractive discourage the use of planes for short-distance travel.  

Germany’s governing coalition has set out to pass a legislative package on climate action by the end of the year and plans to adopt key climate policy decisions in the so-called climate cabinet by September 20, 2019, in time for UN's upcoming New York climate summit.

News article – Clean Energy Wire

Germany

German development minister calls for additional investments for climate protection

Ahead of Earth Overshoot Day (July 29) - the the date when humanity's demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year – German dvelopment minister Gerd Müller has called for additional investments in global climate protection.

Müller stressed that much more funding needs to be invested in deeloping economies; Africa t in particular has the opportunity to develop technologically as a continent of renewable energy. More climate-related funding is needed for this endeavor.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides more than 80% of Germany’s funding for international climate efforts.

Press release – BMZ (in German)

Germany

Japan provides financial support for women’s empowerment in developing countries

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in collaboration with US and German government-affiliated financial institutions, will establish a fund to invest in financial services supporting women's social advancement in developing countries. This fund will comprise about US$100 million in total, and 40% of this budget will be allocated to the sub-Saharan region.

News article - Nikkei (in Japanese)

Germany Japan United States

Leader of the German Christian Democratic Union appointed defense minister

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was appointed as the new defense minister, following Ursula von der Leyen's election as European Commission president. This marks the first time in the history of the German military (Bundeswehr) that the defense minister and CDU leader positions are being held by the same person, underlining the CDU's clear commitment to the Bundeswehr.

This move came as a surprise to many in political Berlin, as Kramp-Karrenbauer had repeatedly stated that she would forgo a ministerial post in favor of concentrating on party leadership. She was elected in December 2018 to succeed Chancellor Merkel in her role as CDU leader. Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was originally perceived by the public as a potential successor for Angela Merkel's chancellorship has lost significant support over the past half-year. The ministerial post is seen by many political analysts as her last chance to prove herself fit for the role of chancellor.

News article - Deutsche Welle

Germany

Von der Leyen resigns German defense ministry to pursue EU Commission presidency

Ursula von der Leyen announced on July 15, 2019, that she will resign as German defense minister, irrespective of whether EU parliamentarians vote to confirm her as European Commission president the following day.

Von der Leyen was nominated for the EU post by the European Council and will need to seek confirmation from the EU Parliament on July 16, 2019. The Greens, the Left fraction, and the right-wing group have already publically announced their intention to vote against von der Leyen. Her confirmation largely depends on the decision of the Social Democrats.  

News article - Reuters

Germany