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Industrial policy must also be environmental policy!

On the podium: Prof. Dr. Helmut Maurer (EU Commission), moderator Dr. Beate Kummer, Dr. Gitta Egbers (BASF), Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, Prof. Dr. Mario Schmidt (Pforzheim University), Andreas Kuhlmann (German Energy Agency) (from left to right) (Photo: FES)

Photos: Mark Bollhorst

Climate protection and resource policy are the topics of the future. Professor Dr. Mario Schmidt, head of the Institute for Industrial Ecology (INEC) at Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences, emphasizes this during a strategy discussion between the managers of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), which is close to the SPD, and Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. On Wednesday, July 4, representatives from business, politics and science discussed the successes and failures of environmental and climate policy in Berlin.

Much has been achieved in environmental policy in the past decades, the new Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze summarized at the event in Berlin: The blue sky over the Ruhr is a reality today. Germany has the world's most exemplary chemicals law. Nuclear phase-out and energy transition are in implementation. But there is still a lot to be done, for example in climate policy and resource efficiency. To achieve this, binding targets are necessary.

In response to the Federal Environment Minister's reference that environmental policy today creates many jobs and is therefore also industrial policy, Professor Schmidt said that in the future the environment should no longer be a matter for the ministries, but should be integrated in all areas - transport, economy, finance, social affairs, etc. -. The reverse formula applies: Industrial policy should also be environmental policy.

Schmidt explained that today one unreflectingly base on the triad or the three pillars of sustainability, i.e. environment, economy and social affairs, and then experiences the economy again and again as an inhibiting factor. Rather, it is a matter of balancing "good life and participation" on the one hand and "ecological sustainability" on the other. The economy is not a social goal in itself, but a means to an end - for example to achieve a good life, which the social market economy has largely achieved. Schmidt: "Now the economy must also be used to achieve ecological sustainability. However, the goals for this must not be set by the economy, but must come from politics.

For Schmidt, a future topic alongside climate protection is resource policy, ultimately also as a prerequisite for our modern industrial society. "We can completely ban carbon dioxide from our energy supply; we will continue to need raw materials and metals in the future. To achieve this, we need a newly oriented recycling economy law that does not see itself as an extended waste disposal system, but focuses on environmental protection and the conservation of resources."