“It would be best to stop the gas production project,” said Lemke in an interview with the “New Osnabrück newspaper” before the Wadden Sea Conference. She referred to plans by the Dutch company One-Dyas to extract gas from a field between the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog and the East Frisian island of Borkum. Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have been meeting in Wilhelmshaven since Monday for the 14th Wadden Sea Conference, which Germany is chairing. Among other things, it is about protecting the Wadden Sea from the consequences of climate change.
Lemke refers to World Natural Heritage
“As host, my goal is: The three-country meeting must send a clear signal that the Wadden Sea is an extremely important, highly sensitive, but also wonderful ecosystem that we absolutely must protect and preserve,” said Federal Environment Minister Lemke of the newspaper. “It must not happen that short-term and short-sighted decisions endanger the status as a natural world heritage site. We are implementing what we always demand internationally and bear a great deal of responsibility,” said the appeal to the Netherlands.
Greens insist on priority of environmental protection over gas production
“It is not acceptable that the valuable Wadden Sea ecosystem is damaged and its UNESCO status is jeopardized in order to produce natural gas for a few years,” Lemke justified her resistance. “I see this threat.” If the project can no longer be stopped “because of the enormous pressure from the energy crisis, it must be ensured day and night without ifs and buts that the protection of the Wadden Sea has priority,” demanded the Greens politician. “I hope for a clear commitment from the Netherlands that the protection of the Wadden Sea will be guaranteed.” Lower Saxony’s newly elected Environment Minister Christian Meyer (Greens) also emphasized before the conference that the protection of the Wadden Sea was “of the utmost importance”.
Meyer: “Bringing interests together”
The Wadden Sea Conference is the place to “reconcile” different interests, Meyer said. For example, the expansion of wind energy at sea is necessary, even if this means interventions in the Wadden Sea. “But we need renewable energies, especially at sea, to stop climate change,” said Lower Saxony’s Environment Minister.
Lemke: Wadden Sea can store greenhouse gases
With a view to the climate, pollution and biodiversity crisis, the pressure on the Wadden Sea and its biodiversity is growing, said Federal Environment Minister Lemke before the start of the meeting. “It is all the more urgent that the three Wadden Sea countries – Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – work together and promote the protection of our seas and coasts.” The three countries could also learn from each other – for example in natural climate protection. For example, the Wadden Sea can store significant amounts of greenhouse gases in salt and seagrass meadows and in silt soils. “We would like to strengthen these functions together with the coastal states through extensive measures as part of the ‘Natural Climate Protection’ action program,” said Lemke, who had canceled her participation in the meeting due to illness.
Germany has chaired the joint Wadden Sea cooperation since 2018, which has existed between the riparian countries since 1978. At the Wadden Sea Conference, which takes place every four years, the countries coordinate their approach.