Message by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the opening of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue at the Federal Foreign Office

20.03.2017 - Speech

My colleague Ms Zypries,

Mr Birol,
Mr Amin,
Mr Piccard,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Federal Foreign Office, and welcome to the 3rd Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue! It has become something of an annual tradition.

You have gathered here from more than 90 countries. Never before have so many high-ranking ministers attended this conference. Thank you very much for making the effort. We are very honoured.

You can really feel, not only here in this room, but also when you visit other countries in the world and discuss economic development and energy supply, that something considerable has been set in motion.

What we are seeing is a global turnaround. At the moment more is being invested worldwide in developing renewable energies than in conventional energy sources. This was hardly ever the case in the past. And what is particularly striking is that it is now no longer the industrialised countries that are most swiftly driving forward the expansion of renewable energies, but developing countries and emerging economies on the threshold of industrialisation.

What was once a fringe idea in industrialised countries that wasn’t always taken very seriously has established itself as a global future trend.

And this development is not only leading us to produce environmentally safer and more climate friendly energy. It is also enabling us to provide a decentralised energy supply, often without the need for expensive networks, and above all it is creating new added value, new jobs. In this country alone, well over 300,000 new jobs have been created in a totally new industrial sector.

In this way we are demonstrating that environmental and climate protection, protecting resources and economic development are not opposite poles, but are two sides of the same coin.

This development is having a noticeably positive impact, not only on the energy balance, but on the entire economy.

But not only that. Today I am not standing in front of you in my role as Environment or Energy Minister, as I did at the last conferences, but as Foreign Minister. And in the area of foreign policy, too, it is clear that supplying renewable energy has long become a security issue, and it has often also turned into a justice issue. It is an issue that has a crucial impact on peace and stability in our world.

The reasons for this are clear.

We can see how countries that are too dependent on imports of raw materials come under pressure when supply routes are made unstable and insecure by conflicts, violence and civil war.

We also see how the supply of raw materials can itself become the object of a conflict.

And we see how the consequences of climate change can exacerbate crises and conflicts. For example, when, in regions of the world that are already experiencing problems, access to food worsens due to water scarcity, when conflicts erupt over the part of the region where survival is still possible.

And last but not least, we see that energy supply, particularly for people in developing countries, is a crucial prerequisite for their economic progress and thus ultimately a question of justice in our world.

We therefore need the global Energiewende not only with regard to the environment, the climate and energy security. We need the global Energiewende because it can make the world safer and fairer!

It is a major achievement that we as the international community have recognised and committed ourselves to this: by including a globally sustainable energy supply in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And by reaching a consensus on the Paris Climate Agreement.

Now we have to implement them! We stand by that plan. And we – in Germany – also want to use our G20 Presidency this year to achieve this. Our goal is to establish a common position among all G20 states in order to achieve the long-term decarbonisation of the energy sector. To do this we have to get rid of subsidies for fossil fuels. And we have to channel investment into renewable energy sources. Incidentally, fossil fuels will still, of course, play a role in the future, for example as raw materials for large sections of our industry.

Ladies and gentlemen,

the international energy transition is in full swing. We are on the brink of a new era. For us as politicians active in foreign affairs and energy policy, that means we have to create a common framework for achieving the goals of Paris and New York.

That includes anchoring the Energiewende in an effective international institutional context. Good, reliable examples of this are IRENA and the IEA, the heads of which, Adnan Amin and Fatih Birol, I would like to warmly welcome here today.

Yet politicians cannot shoulder this pivotal task alone. Rather, we need strong and reliable forms of dialogue between governments, investors, the energy sector and civil society. That is why we are here today.

We want to join forces in shaping the global Energiewende. We want a safe, reliable and affordable energy supply throughout the world.

So that we can promote economic development, prosperity and justice. For the present and for future generations.

Thank you very much.

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