Speech by Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel at COP23 in Bonn on 15 November 2017

Mr Chairman,
Secretary General of the United Nations,
Mr President – Emmanuel Macron,
Ministers, guests, Excellencies,

I would like to welcome all of you to Bonn and thus to the Federal Republic of Germany. We are very proud that the seat of the UNFCCC Secretariat is here in Bonn.

We are meeting here because we are facing a – if not the – key challenge for humanity. Climate change – everyone here in this room is aware of this, but I say it to everyone else, too – will determine the fate of our world. It will determine the well being of us all. In very concrete terms, it will determine whether people will still be able to live on the Pacific islands, for example, in the future, so the fact that the Republic of Fiji, an island state, has taken on the Presidency of COP23 has a particular resonance. It is an honour for us in Germany to support the Republic of Fiji in this role – I say that on behalf of the entire German Government.

Our joint message is that we want to protect our world. That is why we are committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. That is why – and this is our job now after the great achievement of reaching this Agreement in the first place – we now need to put it into practice together. We need the right regulatory framework to do so. This conference is working on that in order to create trust and reliability in the joint endeavours to achieve the urgently needed progress in climate protection. The aim is that the Talanoa dialogue will help in this regard.

We in Europe are aware of our responsibility. The European target – the European Union’s target – of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 is being implemented in the European Union through legislation. Each European Union Member State must play its part here. For Europe, this means that we need to draw up the necessary regulations, for example on emissions trading. We reached an important agreement on this last week. This instrument is based on the European Union’s target. First and foremost, certificates will be taken off the market so that prices can become an effective incentive. The European Union Member States have reached consensus on what each of them needs to do to achieve this joint target. They all know what contribution they have to make.

Germany set out its medium and long term strategy in its Climate Action Plan 2050. By the mid century, our aim is to have largely achieved greenhouse gas neutrality and to have reduced CO2 emissions by between 80 and 95 percent. The next step is to draw up concrete measures for this strategy. I want to state very clearly here that this is not easy in Germany either. We have set ourselves targets for 2020, 2030 and now for 2050. Our target for 2020 is ambitious, namely to reduce emissions by 40 percent compared with 1990. Now, at the end of 2017, we know that we are still a long way off achieving that. This issue plays a key role in the current talks on forming a new government. On the one hand, it involves reaching the target we have set ourselves – but on the other hand, it also involves social issues and jobs, for example as regards the question of reducing coal emissions. And it involves cost factors, that is, the affordability of energy.

I just want to tell you that even in a wealthy country like Germany there are of course significant conflicts in society that we need to resolve reasonably and reliably. The discussions are tough. We know that Germany, as a country that still uses large amounts of coal, particularly lignite, naturally needs to play a major part in achieving the targets. But how exactly we do this is something we need to discuss in detail during the coming days.

During Germany’s Presidency of the G7 in 2015, we reiterated our joint willingness to move towards decarbonisation as industrialised countries. I firmly believe that the industrialised countries need to play a very special and major role because they have the capacity to develop the necessary technological innovations that could set standards, but of course also because they have a historical responsibility and have been a significant factor in the rise of CO2 emissions worldwide.

During our Presidency of the G20 this year, we agreed the G20 Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth, that is, for more sustainable economic growth. The OECD has also made clear what is needed – only if we ensure that the substantial investments are climate friendly will we be able to safeguard our future prosperity. We thus firmly believe that climate policy is also forward looking economic policy, as preserving the basis of our existence is the prerequisite for a successful economy. In view of this, a broad alliance comprised of a large number of states, cities and companies has also been set up in the United States and has presented America’s Pledge. I very much welcome this because it underlines the importance of climate protection in large parts of the United States irrespective of President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement.

All of this is taking place in the firm belief that the transformation to a low carbon economy – if carried out in the right way – creates great opportunities for growth. Renewable energies, efficient technologies that save on resources and costs, climate friendly innovations in buildings and transport, and other things will become increasingly important on the markets worldwide. Allow me to say that renewable energies already provide the greatest share of Germany’s energy supply and that we are witnessing support for them increasing at a relatively fast rate and renewables reaching the market ever more rapidly.

Naturally, innovation opportunities should benefit as many countries as possible in the world, particularly poorer countries. That is why Germany, along with the other industrialised countries, remains committed to the pledge to support developing countries by providing 100 billion dollars in public and private sector capital per year from 2020. That is also why we in Germany are planning to double public sector climate funding by 2020.

However, private sector investments are also needed in addition to investments by the state. It is incumbent on all of us to create suitable conditions in order to ensure that private sector capital for climate finance is truly mobilised. Development banks and the World Bank naturally play an important role in this area. As Member States, all of us should strengthen this role. I can thus only welcome the fact that President Macron, along with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the President of the World Bank, will hold a summit on climate finance in Paris on 12 December. All of us know that 12 December is a very special and magical date for Paris and climate protection. That is another reason why this conference should be a success.

At the conference here in Bonn, the focus is on the imminent risks and on adapting to climate change. On the one hand, we have melting glaciers, rising sea levels and flooding; on the other, we have storms, unbearable heat and severe droughts. No one – I say no one – may or can ignore this. And if we also think about the growing global population, we know that increasing conflicts on natural resources will be inevitable if we do nothing to protect the climate. That is why Germany has always called for a far greater focus in the Security Council and other forums on the security aspects of climate change. Germany will remain committed to this.

In 2016, Germany provided 1.4 billion euros to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change that can no longer be prevented. We are providing a further 100 million euros to the Adaptation Fund this year so that we can help the least developed countries with this difficult task.

I am pleased that we set up a global partnership with the World Bank yesterday for climate risk insurance in developing countries as a joint initiative by the G20 and countries particularly affected by climate change. This agreement reflects two things: on the one hand, the fact that insurance solutions can be a reliable, lasting and good option for absorbing risks; on the other hand, it is important to us that we have agreed this partnership with the countries involved as we need to work together as equal partners and to share our experiences with one another. More good news is that the Nationally Determined Contributions Partnership launched by Morocco and Germany has now grown to include over 70 countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, two years ago, we achieved something that we could not have imagined in Copenhagen. However, we know that the Paris Agreement is a starting point. We also know that we will not be able to adhere to the 2°C or 1.5°C target with the current national commitments. That is why each and every contribution is incredibly important. That is why it is important that we show each other transparently that we are making our contributions comparable. That is why this conference must send a message that we are serious as regards seeing the Paris Agreement as a starting point and that the work has only just started. The daily weather events and climate disasters in the world show us how urgent this matter is. That is why we now need to practise what we preach. We in Germany will endeavour to do so, even if this gives rise to heated discussions. And that is why I am not being flippant when I tell others to do something. I know how hard it is to achieve this in one’s own country.

For this reason, I wish all those here who work to protect the climate – be it as a representative of their country or a member of a non governmental organisation active in this field – great courage, willingness and energy. Thank you.