The path to climate neutrality is the decisive factor in the fight against global warming. The objective is to stop emitting greenhouse gases that are not recaptured elsewhere by 2050. Major industrialised countries such as the EU, China, Japan and Korea have already committed to achieving the goal of climate neutrality. The global energy transition is the key to this. External energy policy will also be an important factor in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Energiewende – Towards Climate Neutrality
On 16 and 17 March, over 50 ministers of foreign affairs and energy as well as high-level delegations from all continents will discuss strategies for an intelligent transformation of the energy system with representatives from the business community and civil society. Thousands of participants and listeners from all around the world are set to tune in to the conference, which is entitled “Energiewende – Towards Climate Neutrality”. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised the following at the opening of the conference:
The energy transition must succeed in order for our planet to have a future. Support for this has never been greater around the world. The US is back on board in the area of climate policy. China, South Korea and Japan have also committed to achieving climate neutrality. We must seize this momentum. With the energy transition and the end of the fossil fuel era, which is drawing nearer, the world will change dramatically in the coming decades. We must adapt to this situation. New dynamics will emerge that will also give rise to tensions. That is why we need a forward-looking external energy policy that can promote cooperation while preventing conflicts.
New transatlantic cooperation
Among those speaking and holding discussions at the BETD are European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry and US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. This is the first time that the US has been represented at ministerial level at the BETD. Since taking office, the new US Administration has turned the spotlight on climate policy. It has rejoined the Paris climate agreement, likewise committed to the goal of climate neutrality and intends to invest several trillion dollars in renewable energy. In the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 2021, Germany, the EU, the US and the UK will step up their efforts to achieve ambitious voluntary commitments to reduce emissions caused by other countries.
Renewable energy as an economic opportunity
Around the world, work on new technologies and solutions for the energy transition is ongoing, and Germany continues to be one of the pioneers in this field. The development of a clean and efficient energy supply is being driven forward not only by climate protection goals, but also for economic reasons. Renewable energies are already, for the most part, the cheapest energy source available worldwide. In Germany, the conversion of electricity generation is well advanced and has the potential to become climate-neutral by 2040. A further future market is the expansion of climate-neutral energy sources – especially the use of hydrogen technologies. Hydrogen could gradually replace fossil fuels – with significant impacts in the foreign policy domain. Traditional producers of fossil fuels would have to adapt their economic systems and new trade routes and energy hubs could emerge. Hydrogen can be produced anywhere in the world with the help of renewable energies. This would eliminate conflicts over the distribution of energy resources. In the future, countries will continue to have to network in order to exchange knowledge and technologies. The issue of hydrogen is therefore on the agenda at the seventh BETD.
Five, ten or twenty years from now, when we look back on today and this global pandemic, what do you think we will remember? Will it be the current debates about vaccines being in scarce supply,…