The Paris climate accord is a milestone toward saving our planet. We have the knowledge, the technology and the inventive talent to avert the climate catastrophe. We are therefore now facing a decision that will shape our lives and the lives of our children. Let us fight to preserve our natural resources or shall we continue to saw the branch we are sitting on? Do we rely on dirty coal like the Union and the SPD or dirty oil like Trump and Putin? Or are we heading for a new, green age?
Let's get to work: Floods, droughts and rising sea levels are no longer distant threats. They are happening. Every day. If we don't act now, the earth will get about another four degrees warmer by the end of the century. Our way of doing business is destroying our habitats - from the rainforests to our groundwater and from the soil beneath our feet to the oceans at our shores. And we are causing a new extinction of species, making our environment poorer and more fragile.
The consequences will be hunger, poverty and conflicts over dwindling resources. The wars and refugee movements of recent years were only a gentle breeze compared to the storm that threatens future generations. Our concern is to prevent blind faith in growth and the unchecked pursuit of profit from destroying our irreplaceable planet. We want an economy that works with the environment rather than against it, one that delivers sustainable prosperity for all. We can achieve peace, security and a good life for all in the future if we protect our natural resources instead of continuing to destroy them.
If we act decisively now, we have not only a great opportunity but the right way for our country to move into a future worth living in, creating prosperity and security for all. Many people and companies have long since embarked on this path. And have already achieved a great deal. Over the past decades, we have protected forests, reduced emissions and pollution and saved valuable species.
Citizens are joining forces to generate electricity from wind, sun and water, engineers are tinkering with electric bicycles and e-cars. Architects and construction workers are building houses that generate more energy than they consume. There are many who benefit from this: Hundreds of thousands who earn their money from renewable energy - from steel workers to plumbers. So do entire sectors of the economy that are in the black with green ideas and are already now tapping into tomorrow's markets.
We want to take the next steps in ecological modernisation now. We are pursuing an economic policy with ambitious goals, which, although it expects something of companies, it also opens up new opportunities, creates planning security and promotes new knowledge and new technologies, particularly through innovation. We want fair competition that does not further burden the public with the subsequent costs of environmentally damaging actions. This means that we support those companies that take the path to ecological renewal. But we will continue to stand up to lobbies and companies that pursue their business interests without regard for the environment.
We will consistently convert our economy, transport, energy and food production to green business and green technologies. With a consistent expansion of renewable energies, the coal phase-out and the switch to electric mobility. With the phasing out of industrial mass livestock farming and the promotion of agriculture that is humane, environmentally friendly and animal-friendly.
Climate and environmental policy is also a question of justice. It is precisely those who have little that live in neighbourhoods with high levels of air pollution or noise pollution. Globally, it is the poorest who are particularly affected by environmental contamination - although they contribute the least to it. The small farmers in Africa, whose land is withering away, the orphans, who are digging highly toxic landfills in the electronic waste of the industrialized countries. We are taking action: We are recycling our raw materials, ending the ruinous subsidies for the export of European food to the rest of the world and drawing a halt to overfishing off Africa's coasts.
We are making sure that environmental and climate protection is fair. Where jobs are lost, for example in the coal industry, we are already providing good social security and new job prospects. Where prices finally tell the ecological truth, we arrange for better wages and appropriate social benefits so the price can be paid by everyone. In order to create a future worth living for our children, we will change our way of living and working in a way that respects the ecological limits of our planet. For us, ecological policy means a focus on the common good, promoting participation and responsibility for future generations. All this is what we aim to tackle with the social-ecological transformation.
The protection of our livelihoods is our common challenge. We can achieve this. Where the old way of thinking only looks at its own possessions, we see the opportunities of ecological modernisation. Opportunities for clean water and air, for healthy food, for undestroyed natural landscapes, for new jobs and innovations, for a good and peaceful life on our blue planet.