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CDU politician: “Pioneering work”: Former Environment Minister Klaus Töpfer dies

CDU politician: “Pioneering work”: Former Environment Minister Klaus Töpfer dies

He was considered the “green conscience” of the CDU and campaigned for sustainable policies well into old age. Now the former Environment Minister Klaus Töpfer has died at the age of 85.

He was considered a strong voice for environmental protection around the world and once became famous for jumping into the Rhine. Now the former Federal Environment Minister and CDU politician Klaus Töpfer has died.

He died after a short, serious illness, as a spokeswoman for the CDU confirmed. Töpfer was 85 years old. The newspapers “Neue Westfälische” and “Westfalen-Blatt” had previously reported on Töpfer’s death.

Töpfer was Germany’s second environment minister – and the first to have a lasting impact on the office. “He did pioneering work in many areas – and through his work also brought about changes in attitudes and behavior,” wrote Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier after the news of his death was announced. CDU leader Friedrich Merz called Töpfer a “combative fighter for sustainability.” The preservation of creation was his life’s work, the CDU explained.

“Foresight and a strong voice”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wrote on Platform X: “Klaus Töpfer has made climate protection an important issue – worldwide and in Germany.” Scholz credited Töpfer with “foresight” and a “strong voice”. This will be missed.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) praised Töpfer as a “great environment minister” who stood for the reconciliation of ecology and economy. NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) highlighted Töpfer’s persistence and patience in the fight for the environment. This made him “a globally heard and internationally respected voice of warning until the end.”

Töpfer was born in Silesia in 1938 and came to Höxter in North Rhine-Westphalia after the Second World War. Töpfer entered politics in the 1970s in Saarland, where he took a position in the State Chancellery. He later became State Secretary in Rhineland-Palatinate and then State Minister for the Environment and Health before moving into federal politics. Most recently he lived with his wife in Höxter again.

Famous for jumping into the Rhine

For decades, Klaus Töpfer was considered the “green conscience” of the Christian Democrats. Even into old age, he never tired of calling for sustainable policies. Töpfer became famous, among other things, for a courageous jump from a police boat into the Rhine in 1988 – the reason was a lost bet, as he repeatedly said. A year earlier, he had succeeded Walter Wallmann as Minister for the Environment. Töpfer remained in office until 1994 – when he was replaced by the future Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU).

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986 prompted the government of then Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU) to combine environmental issues and the area of ​​reactor safety in a separate ministry. As early as 1988, Töpfer called for a future without nuclear energy, but also with ever fewer fossil fuels.

“He foresaw many of the things we are discussing today decades ago,” praised Wüst in his statement. Thanks to his commitment, NRW has, among other things, the fact that Bonn is now a strong location for the United Nations.

Director of the United Nations Environment Programme

After he left office as Federal Environment Minister, Töpfer’s work continued to focus on environmental protection and sustainability – including social issues. In 1996, he represented Germany as Minister for Construction at the UN Habitat Conference in Istanbul. The focus there was on the quality of life in cities and thus also on the issues of poverty and the environment. From 1998 to 2006, Töpfer was Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Source: Stern

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