Germany – Key Statements

Date: 10 November 2022

March 2024

28/3/24

  • Germany stressed that environmental thresholds must be developed based on scientific expertise and transparency. 
  • Germany noted that the LTC has failed to comply with requests by the Commission to be more open and transparent and failed to provide further reasons for not naming contractors that failed to adequately respond to LTC requests. 
  • Germany called for the LTC to forward information on potential instances of contractor non-compliance to a proposed Compliance Committee under the Council for further investigation and advice. 
  • The delegation noted that the thresholds being developed now are an initial batch and we should consider others like toxicity, sedimentation and vulnerable marine ecosystems.
  • Germany stressed the need to avoid inefficient mining practices and to minimize waste generation into contractor obligations and good industry practice definitions.

27/3/24

  • Germany emphasized that exploitation cannot commence in absence of REMPs. 
  • Germany stated that REMPs should be legally binding. 
  • Germany called for an obligation on contractors to ensure environmental plans are aligned with REMPs.
  • Germany believes that test mining must be undertaken before applying for a plan of work so sufficient data from the field can be in the EIA. However, if test mining does happen after the approval of a plan of work, then there must be a clear stopping mechanism in cases of non-compliance. The ISA must be able to stop the contractor if test mining shows unsatisfactory results.
  • Germany supports the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage in the regulations and should not be limited to particular areas. 

26/3/24

  • On Reg 22 – Supports France, Costa Rica and others on comments 
  • Germany supports a strict liability regime for activities in the area. 
  • Germany believes that the compensation fund should not be managed by the Council and that the fund must be established before the first contract is allotted. 
  • Germany agrees with the African Group, Costa Rica and Spain that there should be a requirement for the contractor to pay into the fund first, before the activity begins. 

25/3/24

  • Germany noted that some of their textual proposals were not included in DR15, even though their proposals did not conflict with others. Germany asked for their proposals to be re-inserted into the draft consolidated text. 
  • Germany emphasized the need for procedural safeguards to ensure contractors gather sufficient baseline data during the exploration phase. 
  • On DR18, Germany argues for the reinsertion of paragraph 5(b), as contractors must be required to limit environmental impacts to their contract areas to protect neighboring contract areas, nearby coastal states, and the global commons. Otherwise, this could:
    • trigger litigation between contractors
    • Cross contaminate contract areas
  • Germany believes that requiring contractors to limit environmental impacts to their contract areas will incentivize technological innovation to reduce the spread of noise and light pollution, as well as plumes.
  • Germany reminded delegations that we need to always ask ourselves, what will be the most beneficial to humankind as a whole because our mandate and duty to act in the interest of humankind. 
  • On DR 18bis, Germany argued for reinstating text in paragraph 1 to ensure that contractors shall comply with the rules, regulations and procedures of the Authority, as amended from time to time. This is due to the Authority updating regulations overtime and exploitation contracts lasting for two to three decades.

22/3/24

  • Germany proposes establishing a Compliance Committee to ensure ISA compliance and to make their meetings/findings publicly available. 
  • Germany views that ISA member states should take direct responsibility for incurring compliance
  • Germany expressed doubts about the ISA’s powers to establish safety zones around exploration installations and aligned themselves with the Netherlands position on the Greenpeace protest matter, calling that no additional actions are needed. 
  • Germany empahsized the importance of balancing contractors’ right with the peaceful protest at sea.

21/3/24

  •  Germany supports independent experts to review applications.
  • Germany expressed surprise at the deletion of State proposals, while contractor proposals were included instead. “Contractors should not have more influence than member states in the decision-making process.” 
  • The delegation queried the lack of clarity in the consolidated text regarding the inclusion of textual proposals.

20/3/24

  • Germany believes that by starting to internalise environmental externalities, we can start to assess the true cost to humanity of potential exploitation activities and achieve a level  playing field between contractors over time.
  • It is not necessary to evaluate the full environmental costs of deep-sea mining, but agree that undertaking primary valuation would be a great idea. 
  • The delegation summed up that deep-sea mining would be in good company if payment mechanisms tried to incorporate environmental externalities. 
  • “If we don’t even try to value the marine environment, we value it at zero”
  • Germany highlighted that the ISA regulates deep-sea mining, enforces the legal framework but also stands to benefit from deep-sea mining creates an inherent risk for conflicts of interest.

19/3/24

  • Germany expressed that as currently drafted, all the ISA can do is impose penalties. “We believe any contract violation should be subject to enforcement in DR103.” 
  • “ISA needs more power to act in the interest of humankind and be able to suspend the license.”

18/3/24

  • Germany confirmed their commitment for a precautionary pause. Germany supports a precautionary pause due to a lack of knowledge of the deep sea, underlining more than ever that there are still many unanswered questions. 
  • “There is a need to prevent environmental harm.”
  • Germany calls on all delegations to reject any mining applications without a code 
  • On the new draft consolidated text, the delegation noted that:
    • Germany questions if it is a consensus-based text
    • Many unanswered questions
    • Some topics have been omitted 
    • Some text proposals are reflected in the text, other places they are not 
    • Will need to discuss the many previously submitted proposals that are not included in the consolidated text
    • Where there are disagreements, Germany ask for negotiations
  • The delegation does not support the use of informal-informals or limiting the participation of observers
  • Germany looks forward to discussing the environmental costs of exploitation activities and how these can be internalized into the payment mechanism.

November 2023

8/11/23

  • Germany aligned themselves with Ireland with regards to Section 12 of Annex X, Suspension and termination of Contract and penalties. 
  • Germany raised a broader question around limiting impacts of mining activities to the contract area and how to ensure other contractors and the marine environment outside of that are not negatively impacted.
  • The delegation does not support informal informals just yet – we suggest the current facilitation format. Continue to involve observers in participation.

7/11/23

  • Germany sees that there can be instances where confidential information without the prior consent of the contractor can be justified.

6/11/23

  • The delegation noted that OEWG should consider early payments where there may be evidence of environmental impacts.

3/11/23

  • Germany believes that like taxes, the transfer of rights and equalization measures, the implications of environmental costs on the potential payment system need to be discussed prior to making final decisions on preferred options.

2/11/23

  • “Independent monitoring is supposed to be established in addition to contractor monitoring.”
  • Germany underlined the importance of additional monitoring in addition to contractor monitoring. Independent monitoring for a limited time frame is needed so the ISA is not reliant only on the contractor. “Must keep competent and independent experts.”

1/11/23

  • Draft regulation 49: The delegation supports including marine litter and underwater noise to underline that they are explicitly included in pollution which may not always be the case.
  • “Environmental fund is important tool to help reduce environmental harm.

July 2023

28/7/23

  • Germany stated that they have come to a compromise with delegations that we that we include the item on the periodic review and the strategic plan in next year’s Assembly agenda.

27/7/23

  • Germany noted the short time countries had to review the Strategic plan and requested more time to review before adoption. Germany said “in order to implement a precautionary approach, clear environmental goals and objectives are required as well as a robust environmental baseline information” and “Strategic plans would better align with the BBNJ agreement”

25/7/23

  • Germany highlights the importance of making informed decisions in regards to deep-sea mining based on scientific facts. 
  • Germany reiterates its precautionary pause position that it will not approve mining applications without the knowledge based and robust findings.

24/7/23

  • Germany supports the inclusion of agenda item establishing a general policy by the Assembly related to the consultation of the marine environment under the two year rule, proposed by Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau, and Vanuatu. Germany states not adopting this agenda would send a very unfortunate signal to the world about the willingness of the Assembly to assume and fulfill its international legal obligations

20/7/23

  • Germany noted the importance of transparency and inclusive governance, which are expected standards under international law 
  • Germany urges the LTC to hold their webinars as open meetings, where appropriate, and to allow for greater transparency in its work 
  • Germany urged the Commission to name minings contracts that have responded inadequately, or failed to respond, to issues of concern in relation to their contractual obligations

19/7/23

  • Germany supported Norway’s proposal on bringing in independent experts during the approval process of a Plan of Work.

14/7/23

  • Germany stated that “We will not approve a plan of work until science is known informing appropriate regulations.” 
  • The delegation added that “We welcome the growing momentum among state parties towards the effective protection of the marine environment.”

13/7/23

  • Test mining must be mandatory in order to create a level playing field. Also support the request that an appropriate approval procedure needs to be established for test mining projects in order to regulate the test mining operation itself and to avoid harmful effects caused by such mining projects. Strongly support that test mining must not be misused as commercial mining in disguise and the respective provisions must be set in place.

12/7/23

  • Called for acknowledgement of knowledge gaps and uncertainties.

11/7/23

  • Regarding the discussion around the ISA commissioned Value of Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital in the Area report, Germany raised that there did not appear to be sufficient time for any substantive discussion on this matter, as it was at the end of the session. Germany welcomed guidance on further discussion from the Secretariat.
    • Germany highlighted that the report does not provide any specific estimates of the monetary values of the ecosystem services and the costs of potential degradation, nor any analysis of the potential impacts of activities, for example, habitat removal or carbon dioxide emissions. Germany noted that this was disappointing but not surprising, as per the explanation in the report that these analyses could not be undertaken due to knowledge gaps and uncertainties. 
    • Germany believes the lack of knowledge hinders the development of a fair and effective payment regime, and of the view that the Council has two options: 1) Choose to ignore the environmental costs in the payment regime. 2) The Council could discuss ways to move forward to actively discuss knowledge gaps. It is Germany’s view that the Council should take the second option. 
    • Germany noted that there is expected to be a second part of this study which has not yet been published and would be grateful for further information on when it will be made available.

March 2023

27/3/23

  • The French delegation fully aligned with France – and supported their call for action stating that they have co-signed this letter.
  • “From listening to general statements – but also from other meetings we are convinced that many parties share these points – even those who have not said precautionary pause or moratorium.”

24/3/23

  • Broad agreement that the LTC is not required to make a specific recommendation to approve or disapprove a Plan of Work within UNCLOS nor the 1994 agreement.

23/3/23

  • The delegation stated:
    • “As a general point, we would prefer to keep the vision of the term serious before harm. The reason is that the convention requires us to ensure that activities in the area provide for the effective protection of the marine environment, not only to prevent serious harm,
    • In fact, if serious harm is caused, this would necessitate suspending mining operations.
    • It is in the interest of both the authority and contractors that inspectors identify non compliance before it reaches the level of serious harm to allow contractors to modify their mining operations”

22/3/23

  • On restoration and rehabilitation, the German delegation reiterated that neither terms are scientifically possible, so we suggest to add ‘if they become feasible in the future’
  • Views requirements for environmental impact assessments to be binding requirements that could be accompanied by additional guidelines.
  • Stated that ISA regulations should not undermine ABMT in other international fora and the new BBNJ agreement
  • Called for reference to underwater cultural heritage and and stressed the importance of having indirect effects included in definition of environmental effects.

21/3/23

  • Commented that test mining should be conducted before a contract is granted
  • Stated that “While we understand that we try to narrow down the text, we are not in the position of agreeing on the text at this stage, because of short time allocated to the discussion.”
  • Highlighted that the EIS for NORI’s test mining is still not to be found on ISA’s website despite requested by several delegations, a point that was echoed by Norway.
  • Stated that environmental restoration and rehabilitation as currently referenced in regulations is not feasible based on current scientific knowledge

20/3/23

  • Stated that “rare and fragile ecosystems” is not enough and regulations should include “all forms of marine ecosystems”

16/3/23

  • Stated that we don’t know the overall biodiversity of the deep sea, the basics of food dynamics the role of microbial communities in the water column, connectivity, ocean acidification, species and productivity loss – we know less about deep sea than any other ecosystems on earth.
  • Germany called on all countries to reject all applications until all essential issues have been resolved.
  • Germany called for the constructive use of a precautionary pause.
  • Germany stated that it remains crucial that council members prepare for a scenario in which a mining code is not adopted and a discussion is had between member states and observers without undue influence.
  • Supported Canada on giving more time to the intersessional dialogue.

October/November 2022

10/11/22

  • Welcome the growing momentum towards precaution amongst members of the Authority. It is our responsibility to determine the conditions under which seabed mining could occur.
  • On the NORI EIS – proper public consultation should be mandatory even and especially after an EIS has been substantially revised by a contractor. While NORI’s initial EIS was subject to stakeholder consultation, significant revisions were made to the second and third versions of the EIS without further consultation.
  • Requested that a discussion be held regarding whether it is advisable to use the silence procedure in decision making of such important matters. 
  • Assume that NORI will provide the Authority with all environmental information collected during the mining tests after a reasonable period of time to evaluate the data and this information be made publicly available. 
  • Reiterated call from The Netherlands for the LTC to report back and explicitly mention the names of the contractors that have repeatedly ignored the call from both the Council as well as the LTC to abide by their contractual obligations.

4/11/22

  • Germany stated that our primary objective remains a timely adoption of exploitation regulations, standards and guidelines that provide for strict environmental protection.
  • The delegation stated that the commencement of deep-sea mining is the single most important decision this Authority has to take, and must concern a majority of the Council.

3/11/22

  • On standardising the procedure for development and approval of REMPs (Regional Environmental Monitoring Plans) Germany commented that they could not support the draft as submitted and that significant amendments would need to be made. The delegation stated that “a high level of caution and thoroughness is more than justified.”
  • Germany stated that the establishment of environmental thresholds is necessary for the fulfillment of the environmental obligations under UNCLOS

2/11/22

  • Germany reiterated their position that if there are significant uncertainties, mining operations should or should not take place

31/10/22

  • Germany underlined its view that “the current knowledge and available science is insufficient to approve deep seabed mining until further notice.” They added that subject to national legal review, Germany will therefore not sponsor any plans of work for exploitation until the deep-sea ecosystems and the impacts of deep-sea mining have been sufficiently researched and until there are exploitation regulations with strict environmental standards in place, ensuring that the marine environment is not seriously harmed.
  • The delegation called for “the strict application of the precautionary approach” and “a precautionary pause in deep-sea mining, facilitating further marine scientific research.”

July/August 2022

28/7/22

  • Commented that contractors are required to adhere to best environmental practices, but it will be based on the technical abilities of the contractor at the moment of approval. Incentives are to keep improving their technical abilities even after their contract is approved. They stated that contractors who go beyond what is technically required by the contract and should be able to market their goods in a form that is less costly

26/7/22

  • Stated that “e note with concerned that the environmental management and monitoring plan submitted by the contractor NORI is still insufficient, despite plans to carry out a mining test during the next weeks or months.”
  • “In general we find the entire process of NORIs EIS submission in three pieces in order to meet the one-year deadline to be deficient. The first early and premature draft submitted in July 2021 only contains rudimentary site-specific environmental baseline data. The following report submitted on March 2022, was the missing environmental data then lacked the EMP, which was not submitted until two months later. In order to bring the process to a positive conclusion. We expect NORI to provide sufficient and thorough answers to the Commission’s questions on the EMMP before the test mining could be included in the plan of work.“

22/7/22

  • Shared concerns of Costa Rica on offsetting

21/7/22

  • On budgetary matters highlighted “short period between receiving report and today, so have to reserve our position.
  • Stated that “a clear and effective and enforceable regulatory regime for DSM is imperative and needs to include binding with measurable thresholds” and that “so far developed environmental standards by the LTC are lacking such thresholds and largely focus on procedural issues in the preparation of plans of work.”
  • The delegation reminded that UNCLOS Article 145 calls for the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects and as such “any plan of work submitted to the authority must comply with this level of protection.” 
  • They added that “UNCLOS provides for emergency orders to prevent serious harm.”
  • Germany stated that “In our paper, we put a particular emphasis on the role of scientific uncertainties which are a key challenge for defining threshold values, in particular for deep sea environments. Both for setting thresholds and for predicting and measuring impacts in advance and in the course of an operation cannot be emphasized enough that robust environmental baseline information Information is essential. We therefore also strongly argued for agreeing on a binding standard on baseline data collection with a minimum set of environmental parameters.”
  • They highlighted that “the vast majority of species habitats, and ecological processes are still unknown in the deep sea and state-related parameters, such as biodiversity indices, or population level indicators are extremely difficult to measure.  Due to the urgency and to the high level of expertise needed, we suggest establishing an intersessional working mode to one or more specialized working groups led by volunteering state parties.”
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