Germany is part of a dense network of bilateral environmental cooperation linking it with many countries all over the world. One third of total German development aid goes towards projects in the field of nature and resource conservation. Since the creation of a separate Federal Environment Ministry in 1986, Germany has signed a wide range of bilateral agreements with numerous partner countries in Europe and elsewhere.
Very considerable importance is attached to environmental issues in the European Union. Germany therefore cooperates particularly closely with its European neighbours in the field of environmental policy. EU Environment Ministers meet regularly, both within the EU framework and on a bilateral basis.
By way of example, in addition to the Franco-German summits and ongoing consultations between the two countries, a Franco-German Environment Council brings their respective environment ministers together every year. This Council was set up as early as 1989.
A similar ministerial-level German-Polish Council has existed since 1992. The Council meets regularly to discuss cooperation on environmental protection in both countries.
Before the countries of Central and Eastern Europe became part of the European Union, Germany’s extremely close environmental cooperation with them focused on bringing them into line with EU environmental standards and repairing environmental damage done in the past. The priorities now are exchanging views on twinning projects and, quite frequently, coordinating positions in the run-up to international environmental conferences, such as climate conferences or the Conferences of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
Cooperation between Germany and the United States is of key importance in the area of environmental and energy policy. With its vast economy producing the highest pro capita CO2 emissions in the world, the US plays a major role in UN climate negotiations. In order to underline the political significance of this cooperation, the Federal Foreign Office and Federal Environment Ministry initiated the “Transatlantic Climate Bridge” on 30 September 2008.
Specific measures include networking activities, the provision of information and events, targeted in the first instance at suitable multipliers. Examples are lecture tours and fact-finding visits, specialist events and the website of the German Embassy in Washington
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Environmental Cooperation with China
Priorityis also attached to bilateral environmental cooperation with China, which has recognized both the dangers associated with climate change and the advantages of low-emission environmental technologies and renewable energies.
In 2009 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the German and Chinese Governments and also a joint declaration between the Federal Environment Ministry and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on cooperation in the field of climate protection. These consolidate the multifaceted cooperation in this area and provide a basis for climate protection projects within the framework of the “International Climate Initiative”.
Bilateral environmental agreements take the form of intergovernmental agreements or interministerial agreements entered into by the Federal Environment Ministry with many other countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.