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German minister for the environment warns of a’species crisis’
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German minister for the environment warns of a’species crisis’

Steffi Lemke, the new German environment minister, has warned that the next global challenge is what she calls the “species crises.”

German publication Sddeutsche Zeitung, Lemke stated: “The species crise will be the next big fight” 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

The new government is determined to address climate change.

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

“This is not about working against each other but about working together. As with climate protection, biodiversity is directly related to our production methods, lifestyles, and consumption patterns. Lemke emphasized that this brings us back to consumers.

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 it was important not to let one issue overtake 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 and fragmentation as well as unsustainable agriculture and climate changes are the main drivers of biodiversity loss in Europe.

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

Half of Europe’s trees are at risk. A fifth of reptiles, amphibians, and amphibians are also at risk. 

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.

Glass-covered buildings, for example, kill approximately 1,000 times more birds (108 millions) annually than wind farms. 70 million more people die each year in collisions between cars, trucks, or trains.

The minister stressed that one issue shouldn’t be taken precedence over the other and proposed 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 required to find solutions.”

Lemke acknowledged conflict can occur in certain situations, but she said it wasn’t something to be afraid of.

“There can be conflicts. We have also long since reached a point where ecological crises threaten the foundations of economic activity. A federal government’s task is to protect the natural bases of life and people. This is the core of politics. This doesn’t bother me.

kb/aw (AFP, dpa)

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