"Climate action concerns all of us," says Chancellor

Petersberg Dialogue "Climate action concerns all of us," says Chancellor

"We share a common fate," declared Chancellor Angela Merkel on the second day of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Representatives of 35 states are currently in Berlin to discuss how the Paris Agreement on climate change can be effectively implemented.

A view of the conference room: the opening speech of Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks

This year's Petersberg Dialogue aimed to push ahead with implementation of the Paris Agreement

Photo: Thomas Koehler/photothek/BMUB

"We cannot talk our way out of it. Climate action concerns all of us," said Chancellor Angela Merkel in her speech at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. "Progress on climate change mitigation benefits all of us. The spirit that reigned when the Climate Agreement was adopted in Paris must always prevail."

She also attempts to convince sceptics stressed Angela Merkel, but admitted that a lot of work lies ahead of her. Optimistically, the Chancellor pointed to the symbol of Germany’s G20 Presidency, the reef knot. "Reef knots too hold better the stronger you pull on them."

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue serves to prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference in November. It is hosted by the Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and the Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated the Dialogue in 2009.

Great responsibility for changing course

The Chancellor pointed to the commitment to keep global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius. "Every rise in temperature raises sea levels, and today’s paradises risk vanishing for ever."

The Presidency of the Republic of Fiji of the UN Climate Change Conference focuses attention on the states that are most acutely threatened by climate change. "Our responsibility for changing course is great." All states must do their bit, she said.

Detailed rules needed for implementation

The Chancellor called for the Climate Change Conference in Bonn in November to adopt detailed rules and regulations on how to realise climate targets. "In this way we create transparency and a sound foundation on the basis of which states can trust one another."

Angela Merkel also pointed to Germany’s National Sustainable Development Strategy and to the importance of modernising infrastructure. "We need an across-the-board transformation to achieve a sustainable lifestyle." A recent OECD study demonstrates, she said, "that we must increase worldwide investment in sustainable infrastructure by ten per cent if we are to achieve the two-per cent target." Poorer states can also benefit from the technological expertise generated.

Standing together as an international community

The objectives are now to be followed by action, demanded Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks to at the start of the Petersberg Dialogue. The implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change is a real marathon she said in her welcome address on Monday. Germany is one of the states that have already submitted long-term strategies.

"What is crucial is that we, the international community, stand together," said the Minister. "We hope that our American friends remain part of the Agreement." No decision has yet been reached on what steps the USA will take with respect to the Paris Agreement.

Barbara Hendricks urged "mainstreaming" climate change mitigation. Climate action is security policy, health policy, labour market policy and finance policy. It underpins prosperity and generates new prosperity. "Those who cling to the structures of the past, will miss the future." Investment in climate action is an ecological boost for the economy.

Keeping sight of the consequences of climate change

This year’s Petersberg Dialogue aimed to push ahead with the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The main focuses were national long-term strategies and restructuring to achieve a greenhouse-gas-neutral economy.

Traditionally, Germany shares the role of host of the Petersberg Dialogue with the country that holds the Presidency for the next UN Climate Change Conference. In 2017 that is Fiji, the first island state that is particularly threatened by climate change to hold the Presidency.

The special constellation with Fiji as co-host offered the opportunity to take a special view of the consequences of climate change. This year Germany also holds the G20 Presidency and will be hosting the G20 summit in Hamburg at the start of July. Proposals and ideas to emerge from the Climate Dialogue will be incorporated in the international exchange at the summit.

The UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Bonn in November, because Germany is supporting Fiji as technical host in organising the international meeting.