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Statement by Barbara Hendricks for the opening of the 5th Petersberg Climate Dialogue

Date: 14.07.2014
Location: Berlin

A woman standing at a white speakers desk

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I am delighted to share the Chair of this year's Petersberg Climate Dialogue with his Excellency the Peruvian Minister for Environment, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, our next COP president. I would also like to give a warm welcome to the current Polish president of the COP, Marcin Korolec, who led us through a successful summit in Warsaw.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue traditionally pursues two aims: firstly, to advance the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and secondly, to foster an exchange of information on our national climate measures. Forging a link between national action and international negotiations has been our aim since the Dialogue was launched by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2010. This year the link is particularly evident. I am sure that in all our countries discussions have begun on what we will submit as our respective country's contribution to the 2015 climate agreement in the course of the coming year. At the same time we are all working to implement existing pledges already made during the negotiations. Altogether, however, these are not yet enough to achieve our common target of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius. That is why we have given this year's Petersberg Climate Dialogue the heading "Addressing the urgency – stepping up our contributions".

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would encourage everybody here, both as a group and individually as minister responsible for the environment in our home country, to roll up our sleeves and step up our efforts to combat climate change. After all, we have long known that deferring action will only cost us dearly. And for many regions and their inhabitants the international community's failure to act on climate change would be nothing short of a disaster. I am therefore very pleased that we are now on course to leave behind the stalemate, the reluctance to commit that characterised the negotiation process for too long. We cannot allow our negotiations to be dominated by the attitude "First to move loses". Those who move first, those who reconsider negotiation positions that have been blocking progress, those who make overtures to other parties and acknowledge their own responsibility for the Earth – these are the true champions of our planet. We need the courage to go ahead, even if we cannot yet know for certain whether our partners will join us in all the actions that we ourselves feel are right. We must put an end to prevarication and replace it with a resolute move towards greater climate action.

I am aware that in many countries there are discussions as to how much climate action they can afford. These are arguments I would like to see consigned to the past. Let us talk instead about how climate action can help us achieve a modern and above all sustainable economy for the long term. You cannot negotiate with nature, and if we overstretch the resilience of our planet we will destroy the foundations of our economic systems as well. That is why ultimately, climate action is also important for securing stable and prosperous economies. 

What we must do, in all areas, is find a balance between legitimate short-term interests and the long-term goal of ensuring that future generations also enjoy a good quality of life. This brings us to the need to steadily advance our economies towards decarbonisation as quickly as possible.

This debate is taking place in Germany too. The German government has set itself ambitious climate targets for 2020 and beyond. By 2020 we aim to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared to 1990. We consider this to be a milestone towards a reduction of at least 80 to 95 percent by 2050. Already, we have made excellent progress with a reduction of just under 24 percent compared to 1990. At the current rate we would achieve a reduction of 33 percent by 2020.

This means we need additional climate action if we are to achieve our 40 percent target. That is why by November this year we will develop a Climate Action Programme 2020. Its aim is to get the necessary measures for 2020 underway, but also to lay the right foundations for the reductions needed for the post-2020 period. In the EU too, we are currently discussing the form of the Climate and Energy Framework 2030. We will decide on this in October this year. A binding and ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target – our contribution to the 2015 agreement – will be part of this framework.

Supporting partner countries in formulating and elaborating their own contributions to the agreement is currently a top priority for our International Climate Initiative. I'm delighted that we have already made a start on this - for instance in Peru, Colombia, Gambia, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Egypt and Armenia.

In giving support, the International Climate Initiative can draw on a wealth of experience from nearly 100 climate change mitigation projects: 
Up to now the Federal Environment Ministry has pledged over 360 million euros for projects to support partner countries in

  • developing Low Carbon Development Strategies (LCDS)
  • developing Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs)
  • establishing Measurement, Reporting, Verification (MRV) systems to ensure transparency regarding the reductions achieved and
  • establishing instruments for the carbon market.

We are currently reviewing another aspect of our financial cooperation with our partner countries. A number of developed countries have already announced that they will end their public bank funding for coal-fired power plants or limit it to a few exceptions. We are also reviewing the criteria under which Germany's public bank, the KfW, supports coal-fired power plants and coal infrastructure abroad. And I can already tell you that I will advocate restricting this support and reducing it to a few exceptions. In particular, such support must not be allowed to stand in the way of a long-term climate strategy of the country in question.

Colleagues,  At this year's Petersberg Climate Dialogue I would like to discuss with you how we can augment our national contributions and how we can combine these contributions in an ambitious whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

In this context, I would like us to cast our glance towards the conference in Lima, COP 21 in Paris and to the time beyond.

We will do this in four work sessions: following this opening segment I invite you to an exchange on the functions of a 2015 agreement:

  • What should the 2015 agreement be able to accomplish?
  • Where are the stumbling blocks that need joint solutions?
  • On which points do we already have a consensus?

After our lunch break we will concentrate on our national contributions to the 2015 agreement – the intended nationally determined contributions. We will consider their scope, transparency, assessment and their legal form.

This afternoon Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of Peru Ollanta Humala will do us the honour of presenting their political views on international climate action.

Tomorrow morning, in the session "Raising pre-2020 ambition", former Mexican President Felipe Calderón will give us insights into the work of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, in particular the report on the New Climate Economy project.

In the final session we will discuss the possible outcomes of the Lima summit, share our expectations of the conference and discuss the role that Lima will play on the road to Paris.

I would like to conclude with a few words on the format of the Dialogue: this opening segment and the speeches by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Ollanta Humala are open to the press, the other discussions are closed.

As co-chairs we will be moderating some of the sessions, others will have a guest moderator who will help us to draw concrete conclusions from the discussion. I am delighted that former South African Environment Minister Valli Moosa has agreed to undertake this task. A very warm welcome to you, Valli Moosa and thank you very much for coming.

To close the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, my co-chair Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and I will summarise the discussions. This summary will contain our personal conclusions and is not a negotiated document.

I look forward to stimulating discussions. But first I would like to hand over to my co-chair, Environment Minister of Peru, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.

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