On his first day in office, US President Biden prepared the ground for the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change, thereby sending the clear message that the US is back as a partner in the fight against human-induced global warming. This change of course in US climate and energy policy now offers the chance to renew climate cooperation within the transatlantic climate dialogue. This initiative was launched in 2008 by the Federal Foreign Office and the Environment Ministry in order to intensify the climate dialogue with the United States and Canada at all levels. In the past four years, cooperation largely focused on the municipal level. This cooperation at all levels is crucial, as Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised at the opening of the Transatlantic Climate Bridge Conference on 22 June:
Politics can create incentives and legal framework conditions. However, success in the fight against climate change depends on civil society, science, the private sector, cities and regions.
Joint engagement to implement the Paris climate goals
Recently the EU, the US and Canada have all increased their climate targets and not least announced their intention to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. In the context of the G7, too, the countries are working together to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. In the Agreement, the States Parties agreed to restrict global warming ideally to 1.5 degrees, or a maximum of 2 degrees. All States Parties must present a plan of how they intend to become climate neutral by the mid-21st century before the next climate conference COP26, to take place in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November. To achieve these goals it is important to join forces at a transatlantic level. Diplomacy has a crucial role to play in this task. Another objective must be to convince other partners worldwide to take more steps towards climate change mitigation. These include the major emitters within the G20 as well as countries with economies that are dependent on the export of fossil fuels and which still view a carbon-neutral future with concern. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised:
Together, we can ensure that 2021 becomes a watershed in global climate policy – for that is what we need.