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German environment minister warns about’species crisis’
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German environment minister warns about’species crisis’

German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke has sounded a warning that the next global challenge will be what she calls the “species crisis.”

German publication Sddeutsche Zeitung, Lemke stated that “The species crisis” would be the next major battle and added: “It directly menaces our livelihoods.”

Lemke is a member the environmentalist Green Party. This party is part of Germany’s coalition government with the centre-left Social Democrats and the Free Democrats (FDP).

Biodiversity is as important as climate

Climate change is one key challenge that the new government intends to address.

Lemke stressed that the protection of biodiversity and the climate are not mutually exclusive issues and that they should be addressed in tandem.

“This isn’t a matter of working against one another, but of working together. Like climate protection, biodiversity also has a lot in common with our lifestyles, production methods, and consumption habits. Lemke said that this brings us back the consumer.

The minister stated that carbon could be stored in ecosystems to protect the environment and nature.

“We will renaturalize peatlands, create more natural forests, store more water as a precaution against droughts  and thus protect and strengthen biodiversity,” she told the German publication.

Lemke stated that one issue should not be considered more important than the other.

According to global conservation NGO the World Wildlife Fund, only 23% of species and 16% of habitats under the EU Nature Directives are in good health. These directives are biodiversity policies designed to protect or restore certain species and habitats.

According to the WWF habitat loss, fragmentation, unsustainable agricultural practices and climate change are the leading causes of biodiversity loss in the EU.

According to Figures from the EUMore than 1600 species are in danger of extinction out of 15,000 total. Most endangered species are marine creatures.

Half of Europe’s trees have been declared at risk and a fifth are reptiles and amphibians. 

Finding balance

Renewable energy, especially wind farms, are considered to be critical components of the government’s plans.

Wind power accounts for about a third of the country’s current power generation. However there have been concerns about its effects on the environment, especially bird species. This, however, pales in comparison to traffic and agriculture.

For example, glass-covered buildings kill around 1,000 times more birds each year (108 million) than wind farms. Accidents with cars, trucks, and trains result in around 700 more deaths (70 million).

The minister stressed that one issue shouldn’t be taken precedence over the other and suggested a solution driven approach.

“We also recognize that industrial agriculture poses the greatest threat for biodiversity. No one would argue that if we stop doing agriculture, then there is no need to do more. This is how it should be with the expansion in renewables. We are obliged find solutions.

Lemke acknowledged that conflict can happen in some cases, but she did not believe it was something to be afraid.

“Of course, there can be conflicts. However, ecological crises have already threatened the foundations for economic activity. A federal government’s task is to protect the natural bases of life and people. This is the core essence and purpose of politics. This doesn’t bother me.

kb/aw (AFP, dpa)

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