Sino-German Environment Forum generates momentum in the fight against plastic waste

01.11.2023
Steffi Lemkes und Herr Huang RunQiu schütteln sich die Hand vor einer Fotowand
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke praised the results of the 7th Sino-German Environment Forum held in Taicang, China.

Minister Steffi Lemke praises the results of the Sino-German meeting in Taicang, China. The goal is to deepen cooperation between the two countries.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke praised the results of the 7th Sino-German Environment Forum held in Taicang, China. Minister Lemke and her Chinese counterpart, Huang Runqiu, agreed to deepen and expand the excellent cooperation between Germany and China on environmental protection and nature conservation issues. Combating plastic waste was one focus of discussion. Representatives from politics, industry and environmental associations met at the forum to discuss sustainable economic models and solutions to promote environmental protection and nature conservation. The Sino-German Environment Forum is the most important bilateral format for the two countries in environmental policy and has been held regularly since 2003.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented: “I am certain that China has a key role to play in tackling global crises. Without China, the biggest carbon emitter and largest producer of renewable energy, we will not be able to curb the climate crisis. China’s contribution is also vital for reaching international nature conservation goals and combating plastic waste. I am pleased that we had the opportunity for productive, solution-focused discussions at the Environment Forum in Taicang. For example, our oceans are overflowing with plastic waste, and microplastics endanger our health. This is why the unchecked growth in the production of plastics, in particular single-use plastics, cannot continue. We need sustainable product design, plastics with fewer toxins and long life spans, more multiple-use products and recycling. We must do more to tackle plastic litter on land and in the oceans. The Environment Forum in Taicang was a key step on the way to drawing up a global agreement to combat plastic pollution by 2025.”

As is highlighted in the German government's strategy on China, China has an important role to play in addressing the planetary crises. The country’s consumption of agricultural commodities contributes to deforestation in other parts of the world. In addition, China is both the worldwide largest producer of plastics and responsible for a considerable share of the plastic polluting the environment, including China’s own rivers and coasts. Germany, as Europe’s largest economy and home to a strong chemicals and plastics industry, bears a similarly heavy responsibility for environmental problems around the globe.

The Sino-German Environment Forum is a tool for implementing the government’s strategy on China. It not only promotes cooperation between the two governments, but also fosters relations between industry, environmental associations, scientists and civil society.

The Environment Forum in Taicang was the seventh such meeting and was organised with the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA). The event included three sub-forums focused on the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, on sustainable chemicals management and on solutions to combat plastic pollution, particularly in the oceans. Taicang, a city near Shanghai, is known for its industrial parks and its sustainable development work. Some large and many small- and medium-sized German companies have operations in the city.

Federal Environment Minister Lemke took her visit as an opportunity to exchange views with German companies active in China. For example, she visited the BASF plant in Shanghai, a branch site of the largest chemical concern in the world. During her visit, she had a frank exchange with Dr Jeffrey Lou, President and Chairman of BASF Greater China. In the conversation, Minister Lemke made it clear that companies like BASF should do their part to solve global environmental problems.

She stressed, “It is my firm belief that sustainable economic models will rule the future, they can be a strategy for economic success. The companies that focus on developing and implementing sustainable products and approaches at an early stage will profit from that decision in the future. China and Germany both have a special responsibility. Economically strong countries in particular can and must set an example for progress. We can show the world that pressing forward on climate action and environmental protection can also bring economic rewards.”

Finally, Federal Environment Minister Lemke devoted part of her China trip to meetings with representatives of civil society to discuss their work. She spoke with entrepreneurs and representatives of NGOs. On Thursday she is meeting with students from Tongji University in Shanghai.

01.11.2023 | Press release Nr. 170/23 | International

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