Statement by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in the Bundestag on the motion put forward by the coalition parties SPD, the Greens and FDP: “Taking the 1.5 degree path – Taking the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis seriously”

11.11.2022 - Speech

There’s no need to beat around the bush. Never before has it been as hard to get an ambitious result at a UN Climate Change Conference. Never before has a Climate Change Conference taken place against such a difficult geopolitical backdrop. The Russian war of aggression has led to division everywhere. In particular, it has exacerbated existing crises such as the food security crisis.

At the same time, however, it is just as true to say this: rarely has a Climate Change Conference been as important as this one, because the climate crisis is exacerbating existing crises and conflicts from the Sahel to Afghanistan. Already, three times as many people are being displaced by the climate crisis as by conflicts. In southern Iraq, for example, almost half of all cultivable land has been lost. 95 percent of fish stocks have declined. This shows that nothing less than the fate of our planet is at stake at the Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh.

When we began work as the new Federal Government, if you remember, we were asked more than once why on earth we were pursuing climate diplomacy on top of everything else. Let me tell you: it is because, when I travel to other parts of the world, I am repeatedly told, not only by the foreign ministers but especially by the local people: “While we understand that Russia’s war of aggression is the biggest threat to your security, for us the biggest threat comes from the climate crisis”. Our negotiating team, already at the Climate Change Conference in Egypt, is also making it clear, again and again, that many delegations in Sharm el-Sheikh, in every negotiating session, are fighting for their country’s survival, literally. I believe it is important to keep reminding ourselves that for many, the international impacts of climate change are security issues these days.

So it was a correct and important decision for us as the Federal Government to say that we can tackle the biggest security risk of this century only if we act together as the Federal Government. It is the major geopolitical task of our age. That’s why the negotiating delegation is now led by the Federal Foreign Office – but obviously as part of Team Germany. The Federal Chancellor has just been there. Other ministers are there, or are on the way: from the Development Ministry to the Environment Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Economic Affairs and Climate Action Ministry of course, and the Federal Foreign Office.

We have taken a deliberate strategic and political decision at last to view the climate crisis as what it is: the greatest security threat of our century and the central geopolitical challenge facing us. That’s why, at the Petersberg Dialogue in Berlin early in the summer, I also took a deliberate strategic decision to move away from the approach we as the Federal Republic of Germany had previously taken, namely to stop beating about the bush and finding ever new arguments for why we don’t want to talk about loss and damage, but to make it clear that yes, if the threat to security is caused primarily by the industrialised countries, then the industrialised countries also bear the responsibility. That is why this Federal Government, with Jennifer Morgan as chief negotiator, worked so hard to ensure that loss and damage was added to the Climate Change Conference agenda at long last.

That changed something that had prevented a great deal in the past, even though partners should stand together – because those countries now hardest hit by the climate crisis were on the one side, and we kept saying to them “Let’s talk about reduction”, and then those countries said “Yes, we’d be happy to. But then you need to recognise that reduction isn’t enough to help us now! We already have the same situation as Palau, with our houses being washed away.” Thanks to this breakthrough, with the Federal Republic of Germany as an industrialised country and with the European Union – the EU delegation took it up as well – putting loss and damage on the agenda, we have been able to break down this mutual mistrust and are now pushing forward as amplifiers to talk about financing and at the same time about reduction.

The change this has brought about is clear even in this first week of the Conference. At the first session on loss and damage, which we moderated – this is the new alliance – along with our Chilean partners, interest was so great that a second room had to be opened up.

It’s precisely this momentum that we want to use for the second priority in our negotiations, reduction. That’s why it was such an important signal to make it clear that we do not only need solidarity from the Global South with regard to the Russian war of aggression, but rather we are standing in solidarity with the Global South on the climate issue.

So, having been in the Budget Committee till five o’clock this morning, I would like to thank the budget planners very much for having anchored the six billion euro in the budget, and annually from 2025. Thank you for enabling a Global Shield against Climate Risks for other countries.

Because it is an appalling injustice that parts of some Pacific island states are being swallowed up by rising sea levels even though – here’s the answer to the hecklers from the AfD – they bear virtually no responsibility for current greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, however, we need to make it clear that even the most dramatic reduction targets cannot prevent some damage; it has happened. Turn that around – and this was our message to the countries which are already so badly affected – and it also makes sense: without further dramatic reduction targets, we will never be able to pay for future damage.

There’s not enough money in the world to pay for the 2.7 or 2.5 degree world we’re slipping into with our current ambitions.

It is not a matter of whipping up concerns, but of looking reality in the face.

Climate change mitigation is the best life assurance policy. Climate change mitigation will save our future. Together we are committed to that end, with our ambitious national targets. We are accelerating the energy transition; we are phasing out coal by 2030; and we will do our utmost to ensure that not only Germany, but the whole world, becomes climate neutral.


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