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Baerbock urges global climate change action in Palau

July 9, 2022

Annalena Baerbock, Germany's Green foreign minister, has pledged more support for the Pacific region. She visited Palau as part of a six-day tour of Asia.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (L) on a beach in Palau with two Palau officials
Baerbock is the first German foreign minister to visit the island nation in over a centuryImage: Britta Pedersen/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was in the Pacific Island nation of Palau on Saturday where she discussed the threat of rising sea levels.

"When we stand here, looking out at the ocean, we see what truly looks like paradise. But we can also easily imagine what will happen to this peaceful paradise if sea levels rise even further," Baerbock said.

The Green party politician pledged closer ties between Germany and the Pacific region and called for greater international focus on fighting climate change.

"The climate emergency is not an isolated crisis. It is the most challenging security issue of our time," she said. "But we have to admit that our response as an international community has been insufficient and our support too limited."

'Blatant injustice' of rising sea levels in Pacific

Baerbock, the first German foreign minister to visit Palau in 120 years, announced the appointment of a special envoy to the Pacific Island states.

"I think it's actually about time that we not only listened to you from afar, but that we actually came here," she said.

The foreign minister also said it was a "blatant injustice" that Pacific islands like Palau are facing so pronounced a threat from rising sea levels despite having contributed very little to global greenhouse gas emissions.

"In this crisis we don't stand oceans apart — we stand right by your side," she wrote in a Twitter message. "We will keep the pressure on energy transition in the industrial countries and we will support you here on the ground."

Germany's attachment to fossil fuels

Baerbock is on a six-day tour of Asia, having taken part in the G20 summit on the Indonesia island of Bali on Friday and traveling on to Japan after her stop in Palau.

A recent UN ocean conference held in Lisbon aimed to establish a legal framework to protect the 70% of the planet's surface covered by water, however, this was condemned by environmental groups as a missed opportunity for real change.

Germany, which is one of the countries most responsible for historic carbon emissions, has pledged to end using coal and to phase out non-renewable sources of energy.

However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has seen the German government seeking alternative sources of gas amid fears that Russia will turn off its supplies. 

ab/msh (dpa, AFP)

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