Daily briefing

A mean green look at the news on Earth Overshoot Day

Handle with care. Source: DPA / NASA

Today, I’m mostly about green, even though we need to move beyond an annual spurt of angst just because it’s Earth Overshoot Day. That’s the point in the year at which we have already used up the resources that the earth can renew in a year. That day gets earlier every year and was May 2 in Germany. This feels like an environmentally-friendly country but if everyone lived like we do here, we would need three earths. If you do one thing today, make it a step towards reducing your carbon footprint.

Ahem. If you’re reading this in an airport, chances are you’re flying Lufthansa, and maybe you paid through the nose for a ticket. Germany’s flagship airline is passing onto fliers the cost of integrating the planes it took over after Air Berlin’s bankruptcy. Unfortunately, those flights didn’t come with the necessary slots, leaving people waiting hours for flights or stranded after cancellations. Given the crowds of people at check-in lines, soothing unhappy kids and hunting for water, riding the more-sustainable train looks tempting.

Siemens, a maker of trains as well as turbines and other industrial goods, and almost every other thing, today announces a sequel on strategy, as Joe Kaeser gives divisions more power and independence as conglomerate structures fall out of fashion. It’s likely to help earnings so earns a yay from analysts who see savings ahead.

Analysts are also hungrily watching Jumia, dubbed Africa’s Amazon. Rumors are swirling that the company might go public. Rocket helped set up the e-retailer in 2012 and now we’re watching to see whether the company be snapped up by Amazon. But let’s hope Jumia can make e-commerce greener in Africa than it is here, where tangled supply chains, deliveries and returns clog and smog up cities throughout Europe.

Today also marks the opening of the first “refugee transfer centers” near the German-Austrian border. Bavaria wants to speed up deportations and asylum claim reviews. But the camps aren’t likely to be able to process asylum claims within the 24-hour period in which someone can legally be detained without a court order, raising the question of why Bavaria wants them at all. Whatever the chaos, it’s a further sop to the right by the government ahead of the state elections in fall.

As a heatwave desiccates Germany, I’m curious whether Berlin will help farmers who fear up to 70 percent of crop losses in the worst-affected areas of Germany, to the north and east. Yesterday, they met politicians to discuss the impact of the weather and called for €1 billion in support. Germany’s agriculture minister will assess the situation in August, on seeing harvest data, before promising emergency payments. As calls for aid grow louder, maybe it’s also time to incentivize agricultural businesses to adopt sustainable farming practices.

But it seems it’s a vicious circle as providers try to keep prices low, chasing the grail of growth. VW’s record sales today mean business as usual, though evidence is mounting that the company’s execs were warned about the consequences of covering up Dieselgate before the scandal was unveiled by the US authorities. Consumers in Europe are still battling for compensation but who cares if the company’s figures keep investors happy? Are we only about growth or can we dream of a greener future?

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