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02.09.2020
Dirk Röse
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Federal Minis­ter Julia Klöck­ner invited

Round table to be held at Klasmann-Deilmann

Klasmann-Deilmann has invi­ted Julia Klöck­ner, Ger­man Federal Minis­ter of Food and Agri­cul­tu­re (BMEL), to our com­pa­ny head­quar­ters in Groß Hese­pe. The back­ground is the cur­rent deba­te on redu­cing the amount of peat in gro­wing media and pot­ting soils. Mana­ging Direc­tor Moritz Böcking com­men­ted on this in an interview.

Mr Böcking, let us once again descri­be the events chro­no­lo­gi­cal­ly. How did the invi­ta­ti­on of the Federal Minis­ter Julia Klöck­ner come about?

Moritz Böcking: Euro­pe wants to be cli­ma­te-neu­tral by 2050. Against this back­ground, the Ger­man government wants to signi­fi­cant­ly redu­ce emis­si­ons in Ger­ma­ny alrea­dy by 2030. In this con­text, Federal Minis­ter Julia Klöck­ner deman­ds that less peat be used in gro­wing media and pot­ting soils. This is a con­cern that we sup­port in princip­le, also becau­se peat sup­plies in Ger­ma­ny will be exhaus­ted in the fore­see­ab­le future.

 

For examp­le through our 15 % tar­get by 2020 and the 30 % tar­get by 2025?

Moritz Böcking: Yes, we are adding more and more alter­na­ti­ve con­sti­tu­ents to our gro­wing media. This puts us on the abso­lu­te right track. Our com­pe­ti­tors also know that this direc­tion is irrever­si­ble. Last win­ter, the Ger­man sub­stra­te manu­fac­tu­rers met and agreed on a vol­un­ta­ry com­mit­ment. This was a big step for all invol­ved and a far-reaching offer to politicians.

 

What is the vol­un­ta­ry commitment?

Moritz Böcking: In pot­ting soils for hob­by gar­de­ners, the share of peat is to be redu­ced by 50 % by 2025 and by 70 % by 2030. At the same time, we are redu­cing the peat con­tent in gro­wing media for com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re by 20% by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

 

From Klasmann-Deil­man­n’s per­spec­ti­ve, this sounds feasible.

Moritz Böcking: Yes, it is fea­si­ble. But it is a huge chal­len­ge for our com­pa­ny, becau­se we will not accept any loss of qua­li­ty for our cus­to­mers and the necessa­ry rene­wa­ble raw mate­ri­als will be dif­fi­cult to obtain. Our sce­n­a­ri­os with 15 % and 30 % refer to our own world­wi­de sales and are accord­in­gly even more ambi­tious. The vol­un­ta­ry com­mit­ment of the Ger­man sub­stra­te manu­fac­tu­rers refers to Ger­ma­ny alo­ne. It was necessa­ry to for­mu­la­te tar­gets that are fea­si­ble for the ent­i­re indus­try – even if Klasmann-Deilmann is alrea­dy a litt­le fur­ther along in this coun­try. We con­si­der the vol­un­ta­ry com­mit­ment to be fair and realistic.

 

So far, the who­le thing sounds like a desi­ra­ble development.

Moritz Böcking: Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, the Minis­try immedia­te­ly issued a state­ment that the goals of the Ger­man sub­stra­te indus­try are not ambi­tious enough. Julia Klöck­ner calls for fur­ther mea­su­res, i.e. even less peat in gro­wing media and espe­cial­ly in pot­ting soils. The main argu­ment here is the erro­ne­ous assump­ti­on that peat cau­ses 2% of Ger­man emis­si­ons. Short­ly the­re­af­ter, she wro­te to important tra­ding part­ners in our indus­try asking them to sup­port them in achie­ving their goals against us.

 

And then came the sum­mer break.

Moritz Böcking: Much has hap­pen­ed behind the sce­nes in the past weeks. Howe­ver, the sub­stra­te manu­fac­tu­rers, who are orga­ni­zed in the Ger­man Hor­ti­cul­tu­ral Indus­try Asso­cia­ti­on (Indus­trie­ver­band Gar­ten­bau, IVG), are still in the pro­cess of coor­di­na­ting with other asso­cia­ti­ons on how to pro­ceed. That is why Klasmann-Deilmann has taken the initia­ti­ve and invi­ted Julia Klöck­ner per­so­nal­ly to join us at the Inno­va­ti­on Cen­ter. Our approach is very much wel­co­med by the IVG.

Mana­ging Direc­tor Moritz Böcking in an interview

What exact­ly is the idea behind the invitation?

Moritz Böcking: We would like to orga­ni­ze a „round table” whe­re the deba­te on peat reduc­tion stra­te­gy will be con­ti­nued. We have infor­med repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of sta­te poli­tics, inclu­ding the Minis­ter of Eco­no­mics of Lower Sax­o­ny, Bernd Althus­mann, as well as poli­ti­ci­ans from the regi­on and at EU level. Invi­ted are also the IVG, the Cen­tral Asso­cia­ti­on for Hor­ti­cul­tu­re in Ger­ma­ny (Zen­tral­ver­band Gar­ten­bau, ZVG) and the Ger­man Sci­en­ti­fic Asso­cia­ti­on for Moors and Peat (Deut­sche Gesell­schaft für Moor- und Torf­kun­de, DGMT) as well as of cour­se repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the other sub­stra­te manu­fac­tu­rers. Ide­al­ly, we would have a very high-cali­ber dis­cus­sion panel as our guests.

 

What argu­ments will Klasmann-Deilmann use?

Moritz Böcking: We are cur­r­ent­ly deve­lo­ping a posi­ti­on paper on this topic. For this pur­po­se, we have cal­cu­la­ted the share of peat extrac­tion and use in Ger­man emis­si­ons. A key basis was the cli­ma­te report from Julia Klöck­ner’s minis­try, the so-cal­led „Natio­nal Inven­to­ry Report 2020”. If you take its figu­res as a basis, peat is respon­si­ble for a maxi­mum of 0.3% of Ger­man emis­si­ons – and not for 2%. Someo­ne in the BMEL has made a huge mis­cal­cu­la­ti­on. Ano­t­her argu­ment is the fact that peat is still the best raw mate­ri­al for high-qua­li­ty gro­wing media. In addi­ti­on, we fear incre­a­sing shor­ta­ges of wood fibers, green com­post, bark, etc., if too high a pro­por­ti­on is to be added to pot­ting soils and gro­wing media in too short a time. Espe­cial­ly during the Coro­na cri­sis, the hor­ti­cul­tu­ral indus­try has pro­ven how robust it is and how important substrates are for a secu­re vege­ta­ble and orna­men­tal plant sup­ply in Euro­pe. Peat is a local raw mate­ri­al that makes Euro­pe inde­pen­dent, even if inter­na­tio­nal trans­port rou­tes are some­ti­mes disrupted.

 

What deman­ds would we make?

Moritz Böcking: We sup­port the Ger­man governmen­t’s cli­ma­te pro­tec­tion poli­cy. At the same time, we must ensu­re that the qua­li­ty of our pro­ducts is main­tai­ned. The vol­un­ta­ry com­mit­ment pro­vi­des a rea­listic frame­work for both goals. We want to defend this frame­work. Our deman­ds that go bey­ond this rela­te, among other things, to secu­re access to alter­na­ti­ve raw mate­ri­als, to pro­mo­te rese­arch pro­jects, to be very care­ful with peat sub­sti­tu­tes in the food indus­try seg­ment and in orna­men­tal plant cul­ti­va­ti­on – and that the use of peat remains possible.

 

But isn’t peat uti­liz­a­ti­on the cri­ti­cal point?

Moritz Böcking: Klasmann-Deilmann sup­ports the Euro­pean Sus­taina­bi­li­ty Initia­ti­ve „Respon­si­b­ly Pro­du­ced Peat” (RPP), who­se aim is the respon­si­ble use of peat extrac­tion are­as and the pro­tec­tion of natu­ral moors. To this end, RPP has estab­lis­hed a cer­ti­fi­ca­ti­on sche­me that demons­tra­b­ly com­bi­nes the selec­tion, use and res­to­ra­ti­on of extrac­tion are­as with strict requi­re­ments. If all par­ties agree on RPP-cer­ti­fied peat, we use a raw mate­ri­al that fits into the sus­tainab­le deve­lo­p­ment of our coun­try, the sub­stra­te indus­try and our products.

 

Is the­re any feed­back from Ber­lin yet?

Moritz Böcking: The invi­ta­ti­on has only been out for a few days. Now the mat­ter must be tho­rough­ly exami­ned in Ber­lin and an opi­ni­on deve­lo­ped. We assu­me that it will take a litt­le lon­ger with the ans­wer, we are curious!

 

Thanks a lot, Herr Böcking.

Moritz Böcking: You’re wel­co­me. We keep you up to date.