Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the opening of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue

18.07.2022 - Speech

“In ten years’ time, my home will be gone.”

That’s what a fisherman said to me only a couple of days ago when I was standing on the beautiful beaches of Palau.

I came to Palau to see what we can do in terms of resettlement of homes within the next twenty or thirty years. But then I was standing there on the beach, realising and hearing that it is not a matter of the next twenty or thirty years – it’s a matter of the next ten years.

This is the brutal reality of the climate crisis – because we have not done enough in the past to fight it together.

And that is why we now have to double our ambitions – and live up to our joint responsibilities.

Because this is not only about Palau – many of you sitting in this room know this much better than me:

How storms are hitting islands, how water is moving closer to villages, to hospitals, to schools.

And, in other regions, how the temperature rises are making farmers struggle to get food, with families not knowing how to feed their children in the evening – because what they have been growing has been destroyed.

And also here in Europe, here in Germany, just last week, we commemorated the deadly floods that devastated the Ahr valley one year ago.

That underlines that the climate crisis is not about the future – it is an issue to tackle now.

For all of us, from the Pacific islands to the Sahel to Europe, the climate crisis is the most important challenge of our time.

It threatens the lives of millions of people – it threatens peace and stability worldwide.

It is the most serious international security issue of our time.

That is why, this year for the first time, we are holding the Petersberg Climate Dialogue at the Federal Foreign Office, which is now spearheading Germany’s international climate policy. We are using all levers of our diplomacy to fight climate change.

It’s great to have you here with us at the Auswärtiges Amt and in Berlin –a warm welcome to you all once again!

Together with our Egyptian partners, we worked hard to host a “Petersberg” that puts us on track for a successful COP27.

Global circumstances are not making this an easy task.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is exacerbating a global energy and food crisis that is pushing millions into poverty, hunger and starvation.

And while we’re still grappling with the fallout from the pandemic, the impacts of climate change are becoming ever more dangerous across the word.

At such a moment, Germany is doubling down to uphold formats for building trust and promoting multilateral cooperation.

That is our goal and our offer to you all today – let us use this year’s “Petersberg” to build bridges at this difficult time.

Looking ahead, we have not thirty, not twenty, not ten years – we have eight years left to almost halve global emissions – that’s the commitment we made in Glasgow.

But we also have to focus much more on the climate impacts that we have failed to avert.

We owe this to the people around the world – on the Pacific islands, in the Sahel and in many other regions – who are already suffering and who are already feeling the impacts of the climate crisis.

That is why it was important to us to give adaptation and loss and damage the attention they deserve at this year’s “Petersberg Climate Dialogue”.

As I told my interlocutors in Palau a few days ago, we as industrialised economies have to live up to our responsibilities and promises that we made in Paris.

That means finally delivering on the 100 billion dollar goal for climate financing.

And it means doubling collective adaptation finance from 2019 levels.

I know that many of you here and around the world are watching this closely.

The industrialised countries have a special responsibility as big emitters.

Therefore, Germany will continue to do its part – through our own contributions and by pushing for action and transparency with other contributors.

Our Special Envoy for International Climate Action Jennifer Morgan will be working on this closely with Minister Steven Guilbeault of Canada as they develop the progress report for last year’s Climate Finance Delivery Plan.

At the same time, more money alone will not solve all problems.

We also have to build a system to ensure that funds and support are reaching the communities and people in need.

Many of you are already on the frontline of climate adaptation – dealing with changes to weather patterns and growing seasons.

That’s why we want to work with you to breathe life into the Global Goal on Adaptation – by reaching agreement on global and regional priorities for adaptation, such as introducing crops that need less water and best practices for cooling cities.

Let’s also join hands to better translate National Actions Plans into fundable projects: By building on tools such as the Adaptation Fund, which we supported with 50 million euro only last year.

And we have to get quicker at bringing support to people. Too often, funding applications take years to get approved – and even longer to be implemented. That is far too long!

But we all know that doubling down on adaptation is not enough – since there are climate impacts to which we won’t be able to adapt. That is the brutal reality.

Loss and damage are a fact that we need to deal with.

It is clear we need to assess how the existing support architecture can become more coherent in responding to loss and damage – be it development, disaster risk, humanitarian assistance or exploring financing options.

Under Germany’s G7 Presidency, we have taken first steps in this regard:

As G7 Foreign Ministers, we agreed to scale up anticipatory humanitarian action.

With the Global Shield, G7 Development Ministers are reaching out to their counterparts in vulnerable countries to expand disaster risk finance and insurance.

And Germany will support the UN Secretary-General’s push to have all people protected by early warning systems within the next five years – so that they can move to safe places before deadly storms hit.

All these initiatives will be part of a package of action that we all need to agree on, with new approaches – and I think that this is something we learned in Glasgow – inside and outside of the UNFCCC.

It is this package that we look forward to discussing with you today and on the road to Sharm El Sheikh.

At the same time, nobody wants to imagine the adaptation pressures and losses we would face without serious action to curtail climate change.

This is why decarbonising our economies and accelerating the global energy transition is and must remain the key priority.

That means cutting greenhouse gas emissions faster in all countries, and especially in all major emitting countries.

And I hear the concerns expressed by those asking whether European countries and my own country Germany are now rolling back on their climate commitments because of Russia’s war.

There is no use beating about the bush:

In the short term, we have to take tough decisions that we don’t like, to reduce our dependency on Russian gas and oil.

For a short period, we will have to revamp coal-fired plants as an emergency reserve – but only as a reserve.

That does not mean that we’re letting go of our commitment to 1.5 degrees.

And neither are we pausing our drive to accelerate renewables. The opposite is the case!

This is probably not what President Putin intended. But with the war in Ukraine, we are now fighting even harder to expand renewable energy.

Russia’s war has convinced even the last sceptics in Germany that we need more renewables and energy efficiency not only to protect the climate, but to safeguard our energy security.

Renewable energy is also freedom energy in these times.

And therefore, this month, our Parliament passed the most ambitious renewable energy legislation in decades – boosting wind and solar energy and setting the goal of renewables contributing at least 80 percent to our electricity consumption by 2030.

Moreover, European Ministers just agreed to push forward equally strong legislation for the EU’s “Fit for 55” agenda.

My colleague and Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck will speak about that tomorrow.

We see renewables as a way to secure our freedom and security – but, of course, the energy transition remains a fundamentally cooperative exercise for us.

We stand ready to speed up international cooperation on renewable supply chains, on a global market for green hydrogen and on storage and energy efficiency regulations.

How can we better cool or heat homes? How can we manage our power plants and transmission networks more efficiently? How can we ensure that workers and communities that depend on coal mining aren’t left behind?

We are all grappling with the same crucial questions – and we need to discuss these on a regular basis as part of the Mitigation Work Programme and among Ministers in the UNFCCC.

Germany stands ready to share knowledge and experience, for example through the climate and energy partnerships we are setting up with different partners.

Last but not least, a faster energy transition requires us to shift financial flows towards climate neutrality.

That means development banks further channelling their investments towards wind and solar.

It means getting nitty-gritty technical issues right. Public governance and tax systems must direct money towards green investments.

And we have to make the private sector chip in even more, as public money alone will not do the job of transforming our economies and energy systems.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The climate crisis is already hitting us hard.

Above all in places like Palau, in places like the Niger – but also in so many of the countries that are represented here today.

For us, it was really important to bring together a diverse global community at this table, one that is fighting for the 1.5 degree goal.

We can no longer ignore the climate impacts we are already seeing.

We have to adapt to the consequences of climate change – and pay for damages it has already caused.

Because we have to stand side by side with the children, women and men who are already suffering around the world.

That is our common task ahead on the road towards COP27.

It is up to us – we are here today to make a difference.

Thank you very much for joining us.


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