Climate change mitigation is our "moral duty"

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Petersberg Climate Dialogue Climate change mitigation is our "moral duty"

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks has called on the international community to step up its efforts in the field of climate action. Climate change mitigation is not a luxury, she said at the start of the 6th Petersberg Climate Dialogue. It is an investment in health and prosperity.

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Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius at a press conference before the 6th Petersberg Climate Dialogue

Federal Enviornment Minister Barbara Hendricks is pushing for ambitious, binding climate targets

Photo: picture-alliance/dpa/Britta Pedersen

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks opened the 6th Petersberg Climate Dialogue with French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius. Ministers from 35 countries were invited to attend the informal two-day meeting, at which Germany and France aim to lay the foundations for a new international climate agreement. The new agreement is to be adopted at the end of the year in Paris.

Precondition for sustainable prosperity

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks warned that the impacts of climate change will become uncontrollable unless we manage to limit global warming. In view of the huge number of people already suffering as a result of hunger, drought and flooding, it is our moral duty to combat climate change.

She is, however, equally convinced that climate change mitigation is a precondition for a competitive private sector and thus for sustainable prosperity, she said. She pointed to Germany’s actions in this field and stressed that the national target is still to cut CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2020. Sustainable energy and energy efficiency are "key to achieving prosperity in the long term".

Fewer emissions will mean less environmental damage and air pollution, and fewer diseases like lung cancer. "Climate change mitigation is not a luxury," said Barbara Hendricks, but "an investment in health and prosperity".

Climate-neutral global industry

Barbara Hendricks addressed the legitimate interests that have been voiced against climate action. She underscored the fact that economic change must be calculable, and must not create any new losers. She said that the Paris conference in December must set the goal of attaining climate-neutral industry around the globe. That, she said, would be "a strong signal".

The agreement reached in Paris must be ambitious, said Barbara Hendricks. It must explicitly include inputs of emerging economies and developing countries and ensure that the burden is fairly shared. But the agreement must equally be fair to the poorest states. Industrialised countries have a special responsibility. The dialogue, she announced, would be looking at binding climate targets and fair ways of financing climate change mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Setting ambitious goals

In her latest podcast Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris must pave the way for a binding universal climate change agreement that is to come into effect in 2020. "All states must set ambitious national targets." Angela Merkel will be speaking at the Climate Dialogue on Tuesday morning, as will French President François Hollande.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue is to identify remaining challenges and specific options for action. In this way the dialogue is an important contribution to UN climate negotiations:

The following results are to be achieved at the Sixth Petersberg Climate Dialogue:

  • Greater alignment on the core elements of the Paris climate agreement
  • Better understanding of the status of national inputs and a clear call on all states to present appropriate and fair inputs as soon as possible
  • A clear commitment to achieving the 2 degree ceiling on global warming
  • Development of a common understanding of how the necessary financial resources can be found to keep global warming down to no more than 2° Celsius, and to enable nations adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change
  • Greater alignment of ideas regarding ways of achieving a sound regulatory framework covering reporting, attribution and monitoring.