Looking back on the last 50 years of environmental policy in Germany, it has undoubtedly been very successful in many areas. Air quality has improved considerably, the state of the waste water discharged into rivers has also improved considerably and the fear that Germany as a whole will suffocate in its waste, as it seemed in the early 1990s, has not materialised. However, this is no reason to celebrate.
In retrospect, we have solved the simpler environmental problems. The difficult cases lie before us: Greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting global warming, loss of biodiversity, diffuse substance inputs of various kinds, excessive resource consumption, etc. are the main problems. Politics faces a dimension of problems that go far beyond the challenges of the early days of environmental policy, both in their complexity and in their scope.
Society can and must meet these enormous challenges only with a comprehensive socio-ecological transformation, which in turn consists of a whole series of necessary transformations. Walter Kahlenborn writes in his chapter of the anthology "Soziale Marktwirtschaft ökologisch erneuern" (Renewing the social market economy ecologically) that for this series to be decisively advanced a state is needed that sees itself as a shaping actor in social discourse.
In this anthology, edited by Ralf Fücks and Thomas Köhler, renowned authors discuss regulatory policy guidelines, long-term strategies and concrete possibilities for action for the ecological further development of industrial society on a market economy basis. The aim is to combine what is ecologically necessary with economic opportunities and social participation. All in all a polyphonic plea for the ecological renewal of the social market economy.