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Do you still remember your old Nokia “brick”? In the age of smartphones, old cell phones seem like technology from a distant past. But they also had their advantages: The battery was replaceable, and they were virtually “unbreakable.” In today’s smartphones, laptops and other devices, the batteries are often firmly welded or glued.
Is a greater integration of battery and “devices” also the future of EV batteries? Christiane Kühl has taken a close look at the latest innovations in battery technologies. CATL, for example, is working on batteries that are permanently installed in the chassis. This is supposed to save space and increase range. However, it would also mean increased problems for the recycling industry.
What is the financial value of clean water, an intact climate or the pollination services of bees? Beijing could soon be faced with these hard questions. The Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council have published plans to assess the value of natural resources and services to make them tradable via usage rights. This is intended to advance environmental protection. In the medium term, the value of natural resources is even to be given the same importance as economic growth. This would have implications for companies and officials.
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Beijing wants to put a price tag on the environment
China has been recording immense growth rates for over 40 years. From the poorhouse of the world, it developed into the second-largest economy. A fair economic development is the decisive pillar of the authoritarian rule of the Communist Party, because it gives it legitimacy. But it also has its downsides: China is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And the rapid economic growth is at the expense of the environment. In many places, the air and water are polluted, prompting even citizens of the dictatorship to protest. That’s why authorities are even trying to coordinate green movements.
But a recent decision by Beijing could usher in a paradigm shift. Authorities want to assess the value of “ecological goods and services” in the future, as the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council decided on in April in a largely unnoticed document. Environmental protection could be put on a par with economic growth in the midterm. The document outlines, for example, that in the medium-term local officials will no longer be evaluated solely on economic growth rates, but also on how well they take care of “ecological products”, ergo, the environment. Analysts see this as a “potential tectonic shift that could significantly alter China’s political landscape,” according to Trey McAvern of the consulting firm Trivium China.
On the way to a Gross Ecosystem Product?
The Central Committee and the State Council want to give the environment a measurable financial value in order to encourage politicians, economic actors and individuals to protect the environment. If they successfully do so, they will be rewarded. Should they damage the environment instead, they will have to pay “compensations”. Authorities specifically stress that the practice of “sacrificing” the environment for economic growth should be “completely abolished.” Ecological protection and economic development are supposed to be mutually beneficial.