Speech by State Secretary Stephan Steinlein at the conference Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue

18.03.2016 - Speech

Esteemed guests from around the world,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The second Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue is coming to an end. The past two days have been dedicated to high-level discussions, expert workshops and numerous background talks, addressing the topic of energy transition from various perspectives.

We would like to thank you all for coming to Berlin again in order to discuss this urgent topic and making the 2016 edition of this conference another great success.

Ladies and gentlemen,
We are in the midst of far-reaching changes.
Some describe it as a new industrial revolution and this morning, I was told, Amory Lovins aptly spoke of “Reinventing the Fire”.
Indeed, we deliberately organized the 2016 Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue right after Paris COP 21 In order to offer you a platform to discuss just that: how to reinvent the fire.

After the great success in Paris, now is NOT the time to sit back, now is the time to act. Concrete measures have to be taken, and be taken quickly. As an example, let me illustrate what my government is planning for the road ahead.

Last week, our Cabinet of Ministers formally approved the Paris Agreement. We are aware that our “Energiewende” comes along with major changes in traditional structures, be it the liberalization of markets or the phasing out of long-used power plants, in particular coal-fired ones. We are in the process of reinforcing our grid and have successfully triggered the rapid digitalization of our energy sector. This summer we will review our law on renewable energy in order to integrate renewable energy into a competitive energy market setting. Our instrument of choice will be tenders to increase the share of renewables in Germany’s electricity supply from 33% today to 80% in 2050.

* * *

Ladies and gentlemen,
However, we are well aware that the measures which work in Germany in order to implement our Energiewende, might not necessarily work in Nigeria, India or Peru or elsewhere to enable YOUR shift to renewable energies.

The Sustainable Development Goals are our guidelines – globally! Goal seven – sustainable energy for all – acknowledges the central importance of energy for social and economic development. Yesterday, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier mentioned a number of promising examples how to provide energy to all parts of the world.

The shift towards renewables is certainly no longer a luxury product of industrialised countries. The key task at hand here is to find measures that are suitable to each individual country.

During my recent visit to Nigeria I was impressed by the variety of power solutions that were in place there; for example small, decentralized grids and hybrid power stations.

For some states I think it will be even more important to find ways to finance energy projects. Certainly, industrialized countries can contribute –
for example by reconsidering our development financing tools. But the biggest challenge – and the most sustainable solution – will be for states, especially developing states, to generate revenue from the energy transition process and to create an environment, where participating in the energy transition process is profitable for private firms!

Ladies and gentlemen,
This is why the German Federal Government initiated the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue!

To provide an international platform for the global energy elite to meet once a year to shape concepts for an intelligent energy transition. From my talks with you, I believe that we have succeeded!

Last, but not least, as State Secretary for Foreign Affairs allow me to add that energy transition, is also our chance to ease a great deal of international tensions. Disrupted supply is a constant threat for countries relying on fossil fuels imports.
Consumption of fossil fuels is too often linked to ruthless exploitation of resources and workforce, resulting in social tensions and violence.
And finally: If we don’t manage climate change, the migratory movements we see today will only be a small precursor of what we will witness in 40 or 50 years – with all the associated risks to development and stability.

The global Energiewende is therefore our common homework. Our conference here in Berlin was one of the first important steps post-Paris in moving from negotiation to action.

* * *

As this conference ends, allow me to express my gratitude to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for co-organizing this event. State Secretary Rainer Baake is here today, thank you very much.

Furthermore, this conference would not have been possible without the support given by the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE), the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar), and eclareon GmbH. It is an excellent example for the cooperation of industry and government working towards common goals.

Although this conference ends, our dialogue continues! As a token of our continued dialogue we have come up with the “Energiewende Couch” – the sofa that you see standing behind me.

Many of you sat down to talk about issues of power transition in your country. Your statements were posted on twitter and have inspired quite some discussions! We will continue to send the sofa at conferences around the world, in order to offer you an opportunity to engage with the online community – a mostly young public, interested and involved in the cause of energy transition and renewables.

Finally, let me give a big “Thank You” to you, esteemed participants from around the world, for coming to Berlin, joining the dialogue, and taking an active role in a truly global revolution.

The Dialogue will continue. We are looking forward to welcoming you all again in 2017 to the third Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue in the German Foreign Office!

Thank you very much!

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