BERLIN, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Svenja Schulze (SPD), new German minister for the environment, has identified the protection of insect populations as a key goal of her legislative term on Friday.
"Preventing mass species extinction is one of the overriding political tasks of our generation", Schulze told the "Funke" media group. She warned that if "the insects disappear, so will the birds, as well as all of the valuable contributions which insects make towards pollination, water clearing and improving soil fertility."
The minister has consequently announced the launch of a programme, together with Agricultural Minister Julia Kloeckner (CDU), to prevent a further decline in German insect populations. "I want to take the agricultural minister's statement at face value that bees are critical for the functioning of wider ecological systems and need to be protected", Schulze said.
The SPD politician argued that toxic pesticides and herbicides would have to be used with greater moderation in order to avert irreparable damage to the environment. "We need a full exit from glyphosate (a controversial herbicide produced by U.S. agrochemical company Monsanto) during this legislative period. Glyphosate kills everything that is green, depriving insects of their food source", Schulze demanded.
Nevertheless, the minister for the environment noted that such individual approaches to combat the worst symptoms of excessive herbicide and pesticide use would be insufficient on their own unless accompanied by measures to create a "new system of European agricultural subsidies." Schulze proposed that farmers should be rewarded for supporting biodiversity with funds from a "European nature protection fund."
Speaking to the newspaper "Rheinische Post" in a separate interview on Friday, Schulze further announced related plans for a greater collaboration between the German government and companies in transitioning towards alternative energy sources. Scientists have warned that rapid man-made climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions risks triggering the only sixth mass extinction event during the past 500 million years on planet earth.
"We as the federal government want to cover up to 50 percent of the costs if a company develops alternative technology to use energy which produces less emissions", Schulze said.
The German steel- and cement industries release around 56 million and 20 million tons of CO2 each year respectively, highlighting the importance of individual sectors which consume large amounts energy within Berlin's long-standing "energy revolution" strategy to build a greener economy. Schulze noted that new smelting furnaces could cut CO2 emissions from these industries by up to 80 percent.
The new federal government under Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has announced in its founding coalition agreement that it would legally enshrine binding reductions of CO2 emissions in areas like industry and transport until 2030. Earlier, Berlin admitted that it would most likely fail to achieve its own climate policy goals for 2020.