Speech by Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel at the 12th Petersberg Climate Dialogue on 6 May 2021 (video conference)

Secretary-General António Guterres,

Prime Minister, Boris,

President of COP 26 Alok Sharma,

Svenja Schulze,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We naturally want COP 26 in Glasgow to be a success. Germany will do its part to make this happen. We also all agree, I think, that the world needs it to be a success. And our climate dialogue today and tomorrow is of course dedicated to precisely this goal.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue has already become a tradition. I launched it in 2010 after the failure of the Copenhagen conference the previous year. We needed to rebuild trust for new negotiations. I believe that the Petersberg Climate Dialogue has proven effective in this regard and has become integral to international climate policy. My thanks naturally go to Svenja Schulze and the Environment Ministry for all of the preparations.

We have come to speak of climate neutrality as a shared global goal. Progress towards this goal depends on two crucial factors: national ambition on the one hand and international solidarity on the other.

I will begin by saying something about national ambition. All states are called upon to develop new nationally determined contributions and long-term strategies. The European Union has already sent out a clear message. By 2030, we want to reduce our CO2 emissions by at least 55 percent as against 1990.

Many other states have also announced that they will be increasing their national contributions to climate change mitigation. For example, President Biden recently introduced a new 2030 target for the US. Boris Johnson has set the United Kingdom an ambitious goal for 2035. Canada and Japan have also defined new goals which make it clear that they are ready to do more. It would be good, if I may be perfectly honest, if we could all agree on comparable figures as a basis for our goals, because we currently have such a confusing array of different years as starting points and target dates that it is impossible to compare them without a conversion table on hand.

In Germany, we have mapped out our route to climate neutrality with the Federal Climate Change Act. We are working hard to implement this act, for example by phasing out coal and further expanding renewables. We plan to continue developing and fleshing out these goals. As Svenja Schulze has already mentioned, the Federal Constitutional Court has issued a ground-breaking ruling which requires us to give greater consideration to intergenerational equity in our climate change mitigation efforts and to map out the path to climate neutrality in greater detail. We will therefore raise our national reduction target for 2030 by ten percent, to 65%, and will aim to be climate neutral as soon as 2045. This means that we will have to modify our sector-specific targets. But we are not contenting ourselves with just an agreement on objectives. Our Climate Change Act stipulates that, if progress is insufficient, an immediate action programme will be initiated to allow us to meet the targets.

In the interests of future generations around the world, it is essential that we act rapidly and resolutely to limit the dramatic effects of global warming. The EU, too, has chosen to use legislation to establish its new climate goal for 2030 and its goal of greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 as binding benchmarks. The Commission will present proposals for implementation in the summer. We may then have to adjust our national programmes once more to align them with the European Union’s methodology.

I believe carbon pricing to be a particularly suitable steering instrument. The EU emissions trading system has shown that this works in the field of energy. It thus makes sense to expand it to other sectors such as heating and transport. In Germany, we have already done precisely this. Looking at the timescale, we want to enable market mechanisms to have an effect as soon as possible. In my view, it would be highly desirable to have carbon pricing at a global level, too. This would have to be established step by step, of course. I would like to encourage you to promote this market-oriented and thus highly efficient instrument which will help smooth our shared path to climate neutrality. Pricing is, of course, an approach which we can use to give all technologies a chance.

Of course, the starting point for effective national climate change mitigation measures is not the same everywhere; in fact, it varies significantly. But we are reliant on everyone to do their part. That is, we need international solidarity – not only in the reduction of emissions through technology transfer, for example, but in particular when it comes to climate adaptation and resilience. With the global NDC partnership and with InsuResilience, the global partnership for insuring climate risks, Germany has helped launch important initiatives in this field.

Industrialised countries had previously pledged to mobilise an annual sum of 100 billion US dollars from public and private funds up until 2020 to finance climate action. And we had also agreed to extend this target until 2025. However, the latest OECD figures for 2018 show that we must do more if we are to keep our promise.

Germany has gone above and beyond its own promise to double its public funding to four billion euro by 2020; this sum reached over 4.3 billion euro the previous year. We also provide significant funding via development and promotional loans. The total German contribution from all sources – public and private – was almost 7.6 billion euro in 2019, and on a similar level in 2020. I believe this is a fair contribution on the part of Germany.

But we must now also look to the future, because we must continue our international efforts. The need for financing in developing countries in particular is enormous. I thus second what Boris Johnson has just said. At the next COP in Glasgow, we must discuss a new financing target for the period from 2025. The new target should also send out a clear message. Instead of new fossil fuel power plants, renewable energies should be funded – around the world. Germany is prepared to make a fair contribution to a new financing target for the years after 2025, too.

I spoke with Boris Johnson yesterday and we agreed that we want to do everything we can, together, to make progress on this goal and ensure that the COP in Glasgow is a success. This includes private investors around the world investing in climate change mitigation. There is no doubt that significantly more private capital must be mobilised if we are to move closer to climate neutrality. Of course, we also need to see major progress across the different industries, and this progress will primarily be achieved when it becomes very clear that climate change mitigation is financially viable. E-mobility, photovoltaics and green hydrogen are examples of modern technologies which are becoming increasingly significant in this context.

The UK COP Presidency has launched campaigns surrounding these issues. I would like to thank Prime Minister Johnson most sincerely for these efforts. I expressly support your commitment to making climate change mitigation one focus of your G7 presidency. The G7 summit in Cornwall should send out a clear message in favour of protecting the climate and biodiversity. Finally, we also want to make this year’s COP in Kunming a success for biodiversity. One crucial element of this is the protection of our rainforests and oceans, an area where progress must be made. Protecting biodiversity will, not least, help to reduce the likelihood of future pandemics. Germany makes a major contribution to these efforts, providing 500 million euro per year.

It is true that protecting the climate and biodiversity requires a great deal of work and investment. But it is also true that failing to ensure this protection, or sufficient protection, would entail far higher costs – not just financial costs, but those caused by the loss of living space and habitats, essential resources and human lives. We have come together for this 12th Petersberg Climate Dialogue because we are united by the goal of keeping the promises made with the Paris Agreement, and of limiting climate change so that future generations can enjoy a life worth living and the rights and freedoms to choose how they live on our Earth. To reach this goal we must act today, and act ambitiously. At the same time, we must act together and in a spirit of solidarity. Thank you all for doing your part.

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