At the second Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, Foreign Frank-Walter Minister Steinmeier called for everyone to "set to work together today" and to fulfil the commitments made in Paris. He opened the conference on Thursday morning (17 March) with Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy. A large number of ministers from countries including Norway, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, as well as high-level delegations and guests from 74 countries, gathered in the German capital for the conference.
The green sofa travelled round the world and is now back in Berlin. On 17 and 18 March 2016, the German Government hosted the conference, Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue – towards a global Energiewende, at the Federal Foreign Office for the second time. Speaking at the opening, Foreign Minister Steinmeier called for everyone to "set to work together today" and to fulfil the obligations of the Paris Climate Agreement. He said that a sustainable energy supply was also an important foreign policy issue.
We are living in turbulent times – Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya (...) This also poses fresh challenges for energy policy. Conflicts over scarce resources will also leave their mark on the generations to come. And the negative impact of climate change on stability and security will increase.
Ground-breaking successes at international level in 2015
Against this backdrop, Germany’s Foreign Minister emphasised, "several ground-breaking successes at international level" had been achieved in 2015 on the path to a more sustainable energy supply. Along with the historic success of the climate negotiations in Paris in November, Steinmeier mentioned the agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations and the success of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
At the same time, he warned that "we all need to roll up our sleeves" in order to transform the energy system. "And moreover, we will only be able to fulfil the commitments made in Paris if we all now set to work together, today. The hard graft is only just beginning." Our energy supply, cities and transport system needed to be "radically transformed". In Steinmeier’s view, this means that a sustainable energy supply must also "promote development". The Energiewende did not come in "one size fits all". He called on the conference participants from all over the world to tackle the global Energiewende:
The global Energiewende isn’t going to happen on its own. That is why our watchword is ‘From negotiation to action’. Let’s all get to work!
The Energiewende worldwide: setting to work together, right now!
"The energy transition that Germany and other countries are undertaking is an important step that is also being followed very closely in other countries. Ten years ago, hardly anyone would have thought it possible. Today, however, we know that the energy transition is technically and financially feasible," Steinmeier said and stressed that the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue can provide a platform for the necessary exchange of experiences between key stakeholders.
Following the successful climate change summit in Paris, the aim of the conference in Berlin was to foster international dialogue on a secure, environmentally responsible and cost-efficient global Energiewende. The key to success will be to compare policy concepts with the private sector’s experiences and performance in order to speed up the transformation of energy systems, while involving all important market players. Fritz Brickwedde, President of the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE), said:
As the country that coined the term ‘Energiewende’, Germany wants to share its experiences with its international partners. We would like to enter into a dialogue in order to plan the next steps on the path to a sustainable energy supply system based on renewable energy sources and increasing efficiency.
The conference brought foreign and energy ministers from around the globe into contact with leading experts from the worlds of industry, science, administration and civil society. The purpose of this exchange was to develop proposals for future political decisions and alliances worldwide.
During the conference, the physicist and environmental activist Amory B. Lovins, co-founder and head of the Rocky Mountain Institute, was presented with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The conference participants were offered an extensive side programme for the first time this year. The trips organised in cooperation with the German Energy Agency (dena) gave participants an opportunity to visit sites of Germany’s Energiewende. At the first Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue in March 2015, over 700 participants from almost 60 countries, including 15 ministers, met in the German capital to discuss the restructuring and future of the global energy supply.
The conference was organised by the German Government in cooperation with the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE). The extensive side programme was organised by the German Energy Agency (dena).