The Federal Environment Minister has great responsibilities. I would like to thank Barbara Hendricks for her committed work in this role. She achieved a great deal. The Paris Agreement, which Barbara Hendricks and her team helped negotiate, is perhaps the greatest environmental policy achievement of our time. This and other successes will be the legacy of her time in office. I am taking over a strong ministry and can build on good, solid ground. For this, I am very grateful to Barbara Hendricks. /p>
This ministry handles crucial topics. It comes down to protecting the basis for life: a stable climate, clean air and intact nature. These are major tasks, which I plan to tackle with creativity and determination.
Climate action will be one of my most important tasks. During this legislative period we will, for the first time, present a climate action law to legally ensure our 2030 climate targets are achieved. This requires joint effort from the entire federal government. It will only work if we work with and not against one another.
We will also create clear prospects for change for people in coal-mining regions. My goal is to achieve a society-wide consensus on coal. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is only one part of the equation. We must also work together with workers, unions, municipalities and regions to develop new plans for the future. As former Minister for Science for North Rhine-Westphalia, I know how vital it is to make structural change fair and get people involved.
Another focus of my work will be nature conservation. We know about the sharp decline in the insect population, which, in fact, was brought to light by pioneering researchers in North Rhine-Westphalia. This is a serious existential problem. And it requires a far-reaching solution, which will affect pesticides and industrial agricultural practices. Things will have to change in the near future.
One of the biggest tasks to start with is certainly clean air in cities. I am not a fan of driving bans. But, if we want to avoid them, we need innovative and creative solutions with the involvement of the entire federal government.
I want the current diesel crisis to become an opportunity for our economy to offer better cars and, above all, better transportation options. It is a chance to improve the quality of life in urban centres through modern transport. If we succeed in this, everyone will benefit.
In my view, the Federal Environment Ministry is a key driver of modernisation that is making our country fit for the future: this means moving away from dangerous paths like nuclear power, and moving towards technologies that are set to dominate tomorrow's global markets. These include renewable energies, electric vehicles, efficiency technologies and a strong recycling industry.
The major problems in environmental policy today are global issues, requiring global solutions. This means our solutions must be so successful that other countries imitate them. No one wants to imitate poor solutions that lead to job loss and frustrated citizens. Good solutions put our economy on course for the future and keep society on board.
For me, good environmental policy means involving all stakeholders and learning from one another. I know that bans and strict rules are sometimes necessary. But first I want to know if there is a better, more innovative solution. This is my approach, and it works best in dialogue.