30 Mar 2022, 13:52
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany earmarks 4 billion euros to restore ecosystems for natural climate protection

Clean Energy Wire

In order to tap into the potential of nature conservation and natural habitats for climate action, Germany will invest four billion euros over the next four years to restore and strengthen moorlands, waterbodies, forests and soils. “Natural ecosystems play an important role for biodiversity and climate action. They capture greenhouse gases and provide a habitat for plants and animals,” environment minister Steffi Lemke from the Green Party said. The sum earmarked until 2026 is the largest ever invested in the protection of natural ecosystems, the minister said, arguing that far-reaching measures are necessary both to exploit the potential for climate action and to make ecosystems themselves more resilient to rising temperatures and changing weather patterns. Degrading ecosystems, on the other hand, would not only be lost as carbon sinks but would contribute to climate change by releasing stored greenhouse gases themselves, she said. The links and interdependencies between healthy ecosystems and the climate were stressed in the latest report of the UN’s climate panel IPCC and were included as a policy goal in the government’s coalition treaty.

Environmental Action Germany (DUH) welcomed the environment ministry’s (BMU) announcement. “Apart from energy saving and renewables expansion, natural carbon sinks in ecosystems are the third important pillar of the path to climate neutrality,” DUH head Sascha Müller-Kraenner said. He pointed out the key role of agriculture in this respect, arguing that the drainage of farmland has to be stopped to keep natural carbon sinks intact. Environmental NGO NABU said the natural climate action programme could become a “gamechanger” for climate policy in the country. “Compared to what’s been done so far, the programme can really make a difference,” NABU head Jörg-Andreas Krüger said. Four billion euros would provide sufficient leeway for initiating important developments, but the federal government, the states and all other actors involved would have to pull together in a coordinated way to achieve the greatest impact, he said.

The German Farmers’ Association (DBV) said the programme’s scope would be so far-reaching that the environment ministry had to become “honest” about its economic impact, too. “This is not only about agriculture in moorlands, but about villages, entire regions and rural areas that need to have a perspective for their income and lives,” DBV president Joachim Rukwied said. A transformation of this scale could only be done together with people living in affected areas. “There have to be alternative sources of income to ensure that these areas can still be used,” Rukwied said, adding that solar power generation could be an option for these areas.

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