I am very honored and pleased about the invitation to Dhaka University today. Thank you for the invitation Saleem. I am so glad to finally have a chance to see you in your home country - and to have the opportunity to speak to and with you about the state of the climate crisis and what we in Germany and the EU are working to do to deliver the action that science tells us is necessary to address this existential crisis in a globally tolerable and just way.
I call climate change a crisis because that’s what we all know it is: a threat to human and planetary well-being and existence. Any further delay to combat it risks missing the remaining opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future everywhere on this planet.
The IPCC WG3 Report released this week was full of shocking findings - that despite all of the devastation around the world, countries are not taking real action; that we know what to do, how energy savings can reduce emissions, that actions that keep 1.5 degrees in sight improves human and planetary wellbeing, yet are not doing it!
The climate crisis does not only threaten our ways of life, all over the world. It threatens our livelihoods, our lives and our future on a healthy planet. You know this better than anyone in the world, despite being amongst the least responsible. And, Germany is starting to experience the realities of a changing planet itself – with last year’s European floods serving as a chilling reminder in my home country that no-one is immune to climate impacts - even in much wealthier countries like mine.
We all know that Bangladesh is among the countries which is most affected by global warming. The climate crisis is already being felt and science tells us that some of its impacts are here to stay. The challenge of our lifetimes is to prevent further, irreversible damage and to work together to support vulnerable communities across the planet to adapt to our changing reality as quickly as possible to save lives and livelihoods.
Let me underline that Germany stands in solidarity with Bangladesh and many other countries facing severe consequences and adaptation needs. It is my particular priority, to get clarity on the adaptation needs and climate risks you are facing, but also the actions you are already taking – in developing national adaptation and loss and damage plans - as a global leader on the forefront of the climate crisis - so that we can think and act together on the bi-lateral and international levels.
Bangladesh, as a chair of the CVF, has been a leader on climate justice for decades.
This is why I chose Bangladesh as the destination for my first trip as Secretary of State and Special Envoy for international Climate Action at the German Foreign Office.
Let me be clear – the new German government is committed to addressing the climate crisis as a top priority, and that holds even, if not more so, during these terrible days of Putin‘s war of aggression in Ukraine. It is clear that dependence on fossil fuels is a danger we can no longer ignore – for the sake of peace, energy security and our planetary security, as well as for the sake of our international partners alongside whom we committed to do more in Glasgow, and our own national security.
Thinking again of the IPCC report, it is beyond time for the global community to accelerate the pace and scale of change, on all of the Paris goals: mitigation, adaptation and finance, and to take loss and damage seriously.
I still truly believe that we can solve this challenge and halt global warming at a level, that is even more than tolerable for the planet, but we all have to start treating this crisis as a crisis - with all-of-government approaches on all levels.
When I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you, I was browsing the university website and came across this quote from your first Vice-Chancellor, P.J. Hartog [“no one can really teach well unless [s]he has the combination of imagination with critical power which leads to the original production (of knowledge), and for that if for no other reason, a university to be a true university must see that its teachers are [wo]men who are also capable of advancing knowledge.”].
One thought particularly stuck in my mind: That it takes the combination of imagination and critical power to create knowledge. Very academic, but true nonetheless: We need to be able to have imagination to be able to re-imagine what a global economy, what societies that are climate-neutral , resilient and more socially-just look like.
And we need decision-makers around the world, to have the critical power – and the determination to act on what science is telling us and translate that into effective policies that at least halve emissions this decade and support those most affected..That is our task for COP 27 in Egypt and for this critical decade.
The Glasgow Pact was a step forward in many ways, but clearly far from what is needed. Yes it is essential that the 1.5 goal is central and the emissions reductions pathways to achieve it, in the agreement. And finally having reference to the need to phase down coal and phase out fossil fuel subsidies was critical. Getting a clearer commitment on the doubling of adaptation finance was critical, as you know, and the beginnings of a real discussion on L&D overdue, particularly knowing how fast the impacts are hitting.
The Glasgow Climate pact, COP26 also captured the paradigm shift – multilateral negotiations will always be at the heart of the Paris Agreement. However, countries – particularly major emitters – are now judged on ambition and implementation – and their willingness to cooperate towards the common goals we have all agreed. Front and center of this was the UK COP Presidencies Breakthrough Agenda of 31 sectoral initiatives and declarations with concrete targets on coal, methane, vehicles, or deforestation, to name just a few. These now have to be delivered and brought into frameworks, like NDCs, where there can be accountability. Many of these initiatives were driven by NGOs and movements that created the conditions for commitments. The question is accountability, and ensuring that this paradigm shift results in greater ambition.
We need to ensure that those who have committed follow-through. But there is also still enormous potential for particularly emerging economies to join the efforts to work together in tackling and innovating in critical sectors for decarbonisation.
These initiatives must be a race to the top.
Clearly, it is only through doing both – the implementation of the NDCs that are at the heart of our multilateral agreement, and cooperation, wherever possible, on the actual transition of industry, transport, food systems and so much more that we can do more, faster this decade.
These are approaches that we are working to implement in Germany, as we agreed in Glasgow to do more ourselves. As we have a new government in Germany, and much is happening, I wanted to share a few points with you.
a.) In January this year – within weeks of taking office– the new Minister for Economics and climate, and Vice Chancellor Habeck announced that we will significantly step up climate efforts to achieve the necessary mitigation for 2030.
b.) This commitment is being made reality in a new climate action programme set to come into force this year. This much needed first step in coming good on our Glasgow promise will include accelerated deployment of renewable energy systems (solar systems and wind turbines), support schemes for renewable heating and a green hydrogen strategy to break our dependence on natural gas – Russian or otherwise.
c.) Concretely, Germany will aim and invest to be 80% RE by 2030 in its electricity production, and reach 50% RE in its heating systems.
d.) Like the EU, Germany also codified its national targets in a Federal Climate Law but sets an even more ambitious path to greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045 and net negative emissions after 2050.
2.) This Climate Action Programme is not just our response to the Glasgow challenge – but in the current crisis has become the backbone of our rapid response to the terrible Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Russia is not only threatening countless lives, but also our common international value based system. Therefore Germany will end its energy imports from Russia as soon as possible as will the EU. This is a question of sanctions, but also of security, as Germany and the EU are currently highly dependent on fossil energy supplies from Russia.
a.) To address this, we are focusing on an acceleration of the energy transition through greater RE and EE, and sticking to our national goals around coal phase out and climate neutrality by 2045. Yes, we must and are reducing our dependency on Russian FF, but we know that we must end our dependency on all fossil fuels
b.) This is a massive challenge, but we see that becoming energy independent, staying within 1.5 degrees and working for peace are all connected. It means RE, EE, and driving towards a green hydrogen future.
C.) we are keen to continue to work with Bangladesh to scale up your renewables for climate prosperity plan. We can also look to the recent IPCC report to find inspiration in why we should all go for a 100% RE future, including Bangladesh. The multiple benefits that come from renewables and efficiency are clear. I am very curious to learn more about your energy discussions, and how we can accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
3.) Perhaps a brief update on the EU as well. Germany, as part of the EU, FF55 package to scale up action but also to put it into law. These are not empty promises, we are building legal frameworks to drive to zero.
a.) The EU increased its mitigation target from 40 to 55 percent GHG emissions reduction [compared to 1990 levels], paving the way to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Both targets for 2030 and 2050 were enacted in the EU Climate Law.
b.) In order to advance on the updated NDC, we are currently discussing a set of no less than seventeen Regulations and Acts, the so called Fit for 55 package.
c.) They will reshape the European energy framework by setting ambitious national targets for every member state, by enhancing the emissions trading scheme for the Industry and introducing new sectoral schemes for traffic and buildings throughout the EU Member states.
d.) We strive to finalise discussion this year in order to come to Sharm el Sheikh with a concrete plan, on how to contribute to the necessary mitigation in this decade.
However, while we are working to deliver on our commitments at home, Germany cannot forget our historic responsibility and ongoing commitments to support international partners in their own sustainable development and safe, resilient and climate-neutral transitions.
Thus on the international level, we have two main guiding stars,:
a.) Responding to the red alert of science and working with partners to keeping the 1.5 degrees goal within reach. We know from the lastest IPCC report that this is incredibly challenging and that we must be doing all we can, on all levels, to scale up the pace and scale of emissions reductions. I am keen to hear your thoughts on how to do this.
b.) Second, solidarity with the most vulnerable countries, and communities on earth – who are frequently least responsible and most affected. We know that we have fallen short here, and are looking to learn and collaborate for greater action.
We cannot afford not to put all our levers and diplomatic capacity behind the defining crisis of this century – which threatens to undermine sustainable development and geopolitical stability alike.
And we are looking for new paradigms and ways of working, building out of Glasgow to achieve change.
We are using our G7 Presidency to do just that
“Transforming now for 1.5°C” is the motif. I won’t go into the details but wanted to mention one key Glasgow outcome we have to deliver upon- raising ambition in 2022. On ambition specifically this means that each G7 country must make clear how it will raise its ambition level, whether that be its NDC top line number, or strengthen the policies and measures within their NDCs e.g. earlier coal phase out date. In my understanding, G7 need to be frontrunner here, but it only works if all countries join in.
The G7 will also hopefully send signals on coal phase out, decarbonisation of energy intensive sectors and other measures.
As part of our drive for a climate neutral and prosperous economy, we are also focused on achieving a far-reaching Just Transition. Without striving for a level playing field for all countries, it will be difficult to engage with them of the necessary action. Thus a focus on bilateral relations with major emitters,
We are focused on climate and energy partnerships to support a just energy transition in countries that can make the most impact to the peaking by 2025 that the IPCC has so clearly highlighted
I believe joint global climate action needs to ensure that everyone benefits from it, or at least most people. In particular, this means providing active and effective support to those countries that need it in the transition to a climate-neutral economy, and in the necessary adaptation to climate change.
Second, solidarity with the most vulnerable countries, and communities on earth – who are frequently least responsible and most affected .
This is a top priority for Germany.
Of course the G7 must also make clear that it understands the decisions in Glasgow around adaptation, loss and damage and finance, and move forward on implementation.
According to the IPCC, half of the world‘s population is already at risk from climate change and there are limitations to adaptation, as you well know.
We must get much more serious about this, and particularly at COP27, give adaptation the front and center attention that it needs. It must be the turning point COP for adaptation, and also make significant progress on Loss and Damage.
One hope I have for this conversation is to listen and learn from you how we should be moving forward both on adaptation and loss and damage that we can then bring into the Petersberg Climate Dialogue and other discussion. I am curious to learn more about your recently released National Adaptation Plan.
We need a global approach to address this, and we are currently thinking about possible solutions: In our G7 presidency we wants to strengthen the finance and insurance architecture for climate and disaster risks (CDRFI) aiming at a global shield that builds on the InsuResilience Global Partnership established seven years ago in Elmau.
In this regard we also appreciated the call from the UN General Secretary for the development and expansion of Early warning systems.
G7 also aims to send a strong signal to the G20 and developing and emerging economies, including addressing the climate finance gap, further steps towards balancing adaptation finance also through collectively and efforts on a post-2025 finance goal. We must ensure that every country can and is willing to live up to its highest possible ambition.
− The $100 billion Delivery Plan presented in Glasgow, on how industrialized countries plan to reach the annual 100 billion USD for climate finance as quickly as possible, was important to rebuild trust.
− In addition, the promised doubling of developed country collective adaptation finance between 2019 and 2025 was a significant and important step towards striking a balance between adaptation and mitigation finance.
− Now it is up to the industrialized countries to ensure that both are implemented quickly to restore confidence that we can solve the climate crisis together. Because we need everyone
Beyond delivering on the delivery plan, what more should we be focusing on? Certainly delivery on the ground is one thing. Transparency of our commitments another. What priorities would you set, knowing what you know here in Bangladesh? What can we learn and use on the international level from your national L&D plan?
Building our alliances with the most vulnerable countries on earth, by listening and understanding your situations, your priorities and doing all we can, within our own limitations, to act, address and amplify is a priority for Germany. This means a build up of our knowledge and acknowledgement of the long road we still have to walk to build a system that supports countries addressing adaptation and of course of loss and damage.
In order to have a chance to keep 1.5 in sight and act in solidarity, we must join together, for alone we are up against tremendous odds, but together, I am convinced, we can prevail.
Joining together at the governmental level, like the type of cooperation Germany has with Bangladesh focusing on the local level by improving the technical and administrative capacities within local government entities in Bangladesh. For example, we are cooperating on projects to improve drainage systems and flood-proof roads, working together on accelerating the energy transition by contributing to GHG emissions reduction and air quality. Measures involve installing off-grid solar home systems in areas with no grid, providing biogas plants to smallholders and replacing diesel-driven by solar-driven water pumps for irrigation.
Joining together means each of us, major emitters, raising our ambition and putting that ambition into law to ensure implementation, joining together is getting real about adaptation by going deeper into what this means and how to do it, with countries like mine, learning from countries like yours and supporting it.
Joining together to find a way forward that is meaningful on loss and damage.
On each of these joining together means working across society, with universities, think tanks, NGOs, youth movements, companies, students, mayors.
I could go on There is no way to coordinate this, but we can align it, by each acting with courage, and responsibility, to rise to the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.
Let us remain critical and open-eyed towards the necessary challenges ahead and let us preserve the power of imagination that it is possible and inspiring to walk this path together, worldwide.