Climate protection is displacing nature conservation

By fixating on climate protection and phasing out coal, politicians and ecologists are neglecting specific nature conservation. Saving the world has priority.

Now finally some of the big players came to Bonn for the World Climate Conference on Wednesday: Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. In the past few days, it was mainly non-governmental organizations that had dominated the reporting: with rankings such as the “Climate Protection Index” from Germanwatch and, above all, with campaigns against open-cast lignite mining in the Garzweiler district, not too far from Bonn, that can be easily photographed.

After Merkel’s speech, the activists can feel like winners: The Chancellor made it clear that she wants to significantly reduce the use of coal to generate electricity in Germany. After all, it is a “question of fate for humanity”.

The annual world climate conferences are no longer just a scientific and political forum for the formulation of international agreements. They have become a public stage on which the rulers can propagate their will to solve global problems and the booming industry of NGOs can market itself.

There is no question about it: the evidence for anthropogenic – that is, caused by human production and consumption – climate change is convincing. Unfortunately, as Donald Trump and many of the new populist parties in Europe suggest, the change in the global climate is not a conspiratorial invention.

Nevertheless, the increasing fixation of activists and politicians on the coal phase-out and climate protection must be viewed critically. Because climate protection alone does not replace nature conservation. The preservation of biological diversity, natural habitats and landscapes, forests and wild animals has gotten out of the focus of public attention and thus also of politics due to the fixation on the climate. Climate change plays a rather subordinate role in the loss of nature or the extinction of species. On the IUCN ranking of the causes of species extinction, warming comes in seventh place. Land grabbing through the expansion of settlement and economic areas, industrialized agriculture and the use of pesticides has much more devastating effects.

Ironically, the expansion of so-called renewable energies in the service of climate protection, not least the particularly space-intensive expansion of wind and solar power plants, counteracts the goals of the national biodiversity strategy in Germany. Because during the energy transition it was neglected to set load limits for species, forests and landscapes. These pressures affect not only animals, but also people: In Germany, you can hardly go for a walk in the forest

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