Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the opening of the 15th Petersberg Climate Dialogue

25.04.2024 - Speech

In international politics, progress is often measured in millimetres.

When negotiating over trucks delivering humanitarian aid.

When bringing together conflict parties after years of tension.

Major breakthroughs, clear wins, are obviously rare, especially these days.

But last year we had such a moment of achievement at the COP in Dubai.

In December 2023, 195 parties decided, all together, in this global, challenging times, to end the age of fossil fuels. To keep the 1.5-degree limit within reach. 195 parties decided to triple renewable energy capacities, to double improvements in energy efficiency and to halt deforestation by 2030.

Many of us, many of you, were there. And you all remember that we celebrated in the end. But it was not easy at all. We negotiated straight through the days, but especially through the nights. We exchanged many different texts proposals. For a while, it looked as if the negotiations may fail.

But in the end, we achieved a great success, not only for our climate, for our planet, for our people, but also for multilateralism.

While we know that this success was not bold and ambitious enough for all of us, particularly me, when looking at the challenges that Small Island States face, Dubai does send a clear signal to the real economy.

Our decisions now need to materialise in the real world, so that they will also be a great success for our people now. So how do we turn the paper, the theory, into practice? How do we transpose our commitments into concrete results, into infrastructure investments on the ground, into solar plants, into a green power grid? How do we get from international commitments to concrete national climate plans that are able to bring about the necessary investments?

As we head to Baku for COP29 this year, we must be able to answer precisely those questions on the international stage, on conferences like this, but especially, and I think this is important, we need to answer them concretely at home. Because our people, our industry, our investors want to know not only what we decided in theory, on paper, but they want an answer to the question: what does it mean for my own energy security? What does it mean if we do not have the grid nation-wide? The important point will be to be very precise and concrete for the different national circumstances.

Key for that will be our Nationally Determined Contribution, our well-known NDCs, because COP30 in Belém next year will be a moment of truth. In our third round of national climate targets, we will see whether we have turned the Dubai commitments into reality.

A lot of work is already being done, but if we want to cut emissions in half within six years, we need to be bolder and braver. And we need to build new coalitions, new alliances.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue was invented for exactly this purpose: building new coalitions, building alliances of those who really want to do something. It was invented 15 years ago by our former Chancellor Angela Merkel, and she sends her best wishes.

Today, we are obviously therefore coming together for the 15th time. And we have proved in the past that this is a forum where ideas that once seemed impossible can actually be turned into climate action.

In 2015, it was in this forum – not in this building, but in this forum in Berlin – ahead of the Paris Agreement, where we discussed a concept that would only later be known as the key innovation of the Paris Climate agreement, the NDCs. Or more recently, and that was in this building, the Fund for Loss and Damage, which we proposed and strongly discussed here in Berlin, because not everybody was convinced about it. Two years later it became a reality in Dubai.

So, let's prove the great innovative force of this forum again. But not only its innovative force, but more importantly, the spirit of this forum not to shy away from obstacles.

For this, I think we have to start by stepping away from outdated debates, such as that this is about climate protection and adaptation on one hand, versus economic development on the other hand. It's not an either-or situation.

Rather, each enhances the other. We see what devastating effects the climate crisis is already having on our economies, which are only set to grow, if we don't act fast.

Think, for example, of the Panama Canal. In January, ship traffic was reduced by 36%. Because after months of drought, there simply wasn't enough water left in this lifeline of global trade. Global trade is about fighting the climate crisis.

Or even think of our meeting today. I learned this morning that three of our colleagues from places as far apart as Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa had to cancel their participation here due to extreme weather events in their respective countries. Droughts, heavy rains, storms. Due to the very real effects of climate crisis.

In Germany, we have recognized that climate protection and economic growth go hand in hand. That's why we are transforming our economy like others, moving it toward a green and sustainable business model. It's not easy, but the only way, and we are convinced about this, to keep our economy, to keep our industry strong.

In the EU, we have also recognized this. The Green Deal is all about this conviction. That's why we, why I push for the further development of the EU Green Deal as a central framework for our economy, our industry, and our social policies. Because obviously, again, they are related to our economic strength.

I strongly support the EU’s proposal of an EU climate target that reduces emissions by at least 90% by 2040.

Many of us are already working on developing and implementing ambitious NDCs that are both climate and investment plans at the same time. Let's call this action plans our NDCs 3.0.

However, we must acknowledge a critical challenge. And we have discussed that also in Dubai, and I am personally very thankful for this critical, for this self-critical reflection: sometimes, even solid climate investment plans are unable to attract the funds that are needed. Because not every country enjoys the same credit rating like mine, or has equal access to capital. Today, 90% of green finance in the world goes to developed and a few emerging economies. In spite of the fact that this is simply not where you will find many of the places where climate investments would yield the best results. It's also simply unfair.

60% of the best spots for solar panels are, as we all know by now, in Africa. But only 1% of the world's solar capacity is installed on the African continent. We urgently need to address this challenge. Fighting the climate crisis today, in the year 2024 is about bringing the investments, the capabilities, the capacities to the places where they have to be.

Yet, we are not talking about trivial sums here. We are looking at the investments needed to fundamentally transform our economies worldwide. We need 5 trillion dollars annually for the global ecological transition, with over 2 trillion of that specifically for developing countries. Half of the 2 trillion dollars must come from sources within developing countries, and obviously the other half from international financial flows.

Those are the numbers provided by the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate finance. So, the crucial question now is for us, and this is why we're here: how can we build a new international financial system that mobilizes 1 trillion dollar annually in international finance for developing countries?

I see three elements that will help us to get there.

First, to be clear, we in the industrialized countries need to continue to live up to our responsibilities. That is why financial contributions from developed countries and multinational development banks will remain the basis of our efforts. Germany has kept and will keep its promises in this regard. Our climate finance has reached 6.4 billion euro, and I want to confirm that our goal for 2025 stands at 6 billion euro per year. Even though, and I would like to say that also very frankly, we are face budget constraints in Europe because of Russia's war against Ukraine.

We encourage other industrialized countries to follow suit, so that we will continue to jointly fulfil our 100-billion-dollar commitment, as we finally did for the first time in 2022.

Second, we need to build on this and go beyond the 100 billion mark. The world has changed, obviously, since 1992, when the UNFCCC framework was set up. In 1992, the two dozen countries that provided international climate finance made up 80% of the world's economy. Now, that share is down to 50%, and the share of all other countries has more than doubled. This is why I strongly urge those who can to join our efforts. And particularly the strongest polluters of today. Particularly looking also at the G20. Because strong economies share strong responsibilities.

However, and this is my third point, when we look at the trillions of dollars needed to finance our global climate ambition, public funds simply aren't going to be sufficient. We need to establish new and innovative sources of finance. We said that in different texts already, also in the Loss and Damage Fund, and this is important for us because we want to deliver and not only promise.

Therefore, we need new, innovative sources of finance. We need to finally get the private sector to invest significantly more in a safer, cleaner and more resilient economy in developing countries. We need to use our public funding as a catalyst for exactly this.

To make private funds available, we need to close the gap between policymakers, who set national targets, local authorities, who best know their communities’ needs, and a fit-for-purpose international financial system that can provide the means.

Some of our partners found innovative ways to go about this. For example, I've learned that Barbados is successfully using its NDCs not just as a national climate action plan, but also as a national investment plan. To put the plan into action, the country has created a bank that brings together government agencies, private companies, investors and international institutions, like the World Bank. Barbados is thus linking climate-policy planning, project implementation, and public and private financing.

And I'm convinced that we all stand to learn from this. If we want to mobilize the domestic and international public and private investment that the world needs, we have to learn from best practice.

This is why today I propose that we come together in a multi-stakeholder alliance, to work on NDCs that are 1.5-degree-aligned. NDCs that serve as core reference documents for climate action and economic and development action. For this, we need all hands on deck. A coalition of changemakers that brings together government ministries – foreign, climate, economic, development and finance - and financial institutions - development banks, private financial actors –, as well as civil society, indigenous peoples, international organizations and existing initiatives.

Good progress has been made in both the World Bank and the IMF, which are increasingly working on climate action. The UNDP was requested to lead the UN system on the NDCs. The NDC partnership also stands ready to support.

So instead of creating new institutions, this multi-stakeholder alliance, or coalition, should encourage bold political decisions on a national level for reduction targets in countries with high emissions.

Because if the big economies, in particularly the G20 countries, will not move, we all fail together.

The alliance should support poorer and vulnerable countries with drafting and implementing their NDCs, which should then serve as those central reference documents. Fully aware of the fact that for many it's not the ambition but, as I said in the beginning, the funds that are lacking, we want to work with international organizations and rally the support of financial institutions. We look forward to exploring this alliance with all of you during the coming days at the Petersburg Dialogue.

To kickstart our commitment, Germany will make available additional financial support to partner countries, to help them with drafting ambitious and implementable NDCs.

To push climate ambition and financial opportunities,

climate action and economic development.

To the benefit of all of us. Whether we hail from the North, the South, the East or the West.

Because in the end, we all share, in this stormy global world, the same interest. To ensure a future in which we, and especially our children, can live in prosperity, in safety and in freedom.


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