Inaugural address by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the German reception on the occasion of the UN Climate Summit

24.09.2014 - Speech

Excellency, President of Nauru,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Lieber Herr Professor Messner,

Somebody once said:

Forests are the lungs of our planet.

Somebody else said:

The Arctic and Antarctic are our global air conditioning.

Well, if this is so, I would like to add:

Small Island States are our planet’s alarm system. And I am afraid: The alarm bell is ringing loud and clear!

Rising sea levels cause whole islands and coastal regions to disappear.

Global warming threatens the livelihoods of millions of people.

Climate change poses a risk to food security, to the availability of drinking water and to public health.

Floods and hurricanes cause destruction and severe economic loss. And this is already being felt not only by island states, but by all of us in Europe or North America. In my own country, Germany, we had to experience two big floods in the past 10 years only.

I, as Foreign Minister, consider climate protection a top foreign policy priority. Conflicts caused by climate change and conflicts over scarce resources are the security threats of tomorrow.

I am glad that the UN Security Council has recognized these implications.

Foreign policy has a role to play on our way to a global climate protection agreement in Paris next year. Only with an ambitious agreement can we tackle the root causes of climate change, namely greenhouse gas emissions.

AOSIS and Germany share this goal. That is why I say: Let’s work together, both in Lima and in Paris, in order to make the UN negotiations a success!

I thank the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for bringing the issue of climate change back to the front page. That is where it belongs!

I thank my colleagues Barbara Hendricks, the Federal Minister for the Environment, and Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, for presenting Germany’s case at today’s important summit.

Germany is advocating ambitious mitigation targets. A solid, legally binding agreement for all countries in 2015 may be our last chance to keep global warming below 2°C.

It is existential to keep this target – not just to protect island states and other most vulnerable countries – but it is existential to all of us!

Climate change does not stop at national borders. So in our response, let’s not be limited by borders either:

Our responsibility to protect our climate is a global responsibility – just as our responsibility for peace and security is global, too.

I thank you, the representatives of the Alliance of Small Island States for reminding us of this.

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