Climate action is the task of the century

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G20 on climate action Climate action is the task of the century

Shortly before the UN Climate Change Conference, the G20 states meeting in Antalya have agreed on an ambitious climate target. "After protracted negotiations, it was finally agreed to adopt the target of keeping global warming down to a rise of less than 2°C," reported Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Speaking at the G20 summit in Antalya, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, with reference to the Climate Change Conference which is to open soon in Paris, "We have heard a lot of inputs that make us very hopeful. They all said ‘We want Paris to be a success.’" But she also pointed out that a whole series of steps will be needed to make progress.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris at the end of the year, about 190 states will be negotiating an agreement to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases. More than 120 heads of state and government are expected to attend. The goal is to keep global warming down to a rise of less than 2° Celsius compared with the pre-industrial era. A total of 161 states have already submitted their plans for climate action to the United Nations. According to the UN figures, however, the climate targets submitted so far will only suffice to keep global warming down to 2.7° C.

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks also believes that there are good chances of success at the Paris conference. The international community has never been so close to achieving a follow-on agreement to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as it is today, she said last Thursday in the German Bundestag. The long-term goal, she declared, is to completely phase out the use of fossil fuels in power generation by the end of the century.

Robust regulations are needed, which ensure transparency and fairness. To this end, national contributions must be reviewed regularly. Germany is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 and by up to 95 per cent by 2050, as compared to 1990.

Climate policy is active refugee policy

When lakes dry up, rivers run dry and extreme rainfall hits, it is often the poorest regions of the world that suffer. "A binding climate agreement should then be a significantly more effective contribution to preventing flows of refugees than any border fence," wrote Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller at the end of October in an article for the newspaper "Handelsblatt".

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks has also pointed out that developing countries are particularly hard hit by the consequences of climate change. "It is clear that if we do not manage to keep climate change to a manageable level, drought will lay waste to huge areas, while other vast tracts of land are flooded," she told the news magazine "Focus" on 10 November. This would bring with it the risk of a new wave of refugees.

Financial assistance for developing countries

If the Paris conference is to be a success, climate financing must be assured. As of 2020 a sum of 100 billion US dollars is to be made available every year to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. According to the OECD’s interim report, a total of 62 billion dollars have been pledged to the fund so far from public and private sources. Germany intends to contribute up to 4.5 billion dollars a year.

Commenting on climate financing, Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller said, "It is right and it is important that we have, for the first time, achieved a global burden-sharing system with respect to climate change. It will help developing countries to protect themselves against rising sea levels, persistent droughts and flooding."

The Green Climate Fund aims to support developing countries, especially the poorest of them, on the road to low-emission, climate-resilient development. To this end, it will provide subsidies and loans to finance both mitigation and adaptation measures. The Fund is also to help mobilise private investment in climate action.