'Bee power' contracts seek to make Germany's bioenergy crops more sustainable
Power suppliers in Germany have begun offering "bee power" contracts that charge customers one additional cent per kilowatt hour to help preserve the industrious creatures’ habitats, Joachim Göres writes in the Tageszeitung (taz). The money raised is forwarded to farmers who currently grow energy crops, such as corn, for biogas plants and vow to switch to wild plants and to not use pesticides. Since the energy efficiency of wild plants is lower than that of energy crops, local utilities in Nürtingen in southwestern Germany have compensated biogas producers with additional funds paid by about 600 of its customers so far. Bees and other insects, whose numbers have plummeted in Germany and most other industrialised countries over the last years mainly due to intensive agriculture practices, stand to benefit from a greater use of wild plants on fields. "Especially with wild bees we see a positive effect," Walter Haefker of the Professional Beekeeper Association told the newspaper.
Climate impacts of agriculture shifted into political focus in Germany in late 2019, as thousands of farmers flocked to Berlin from across the country to protest against being branded as climate villains and insect killers. German farmers have been hit hard by droughts and heatwaves in the past few years and have called for emergency aid to cushion the impact of global warming on their businesses.