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Germany warns world not to delay climate action

July 19, 2022

The German foreign minister has called climate change the "greatest security challenge of all time" and stressed that it acts as a catalyst for other crises.

The Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi next to German chancellor Olaf Scholz and foreign minister Annalena Baerbock
Egyptian and German state heads discussed how to build trust and cooperation to combat climate change Image: CHRISTIAN MANG/REUTERS

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has rejected the notion of cutting back on climate change targets despite the energy and food security crisis, speaking at the end of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin on Tuesday. 

Despite geopolitical tensions fueled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she reiterated the importance of cooperation and trust among the global community to combat climate change so as to not further delay crucial climate action. 

What was on the agenda at the 13th Petersberg Climate dialogue? 

Petersberg climate dialogue begins in Berlin

Representatives of 40 different nations met in Berlin to discuss how to combat climate change in preparation for the upcoming COP27 world climate conference in Egypt in November. 

It took place against the backdrop of multiple crises: Climate change, problems with energy supply as a result of the Ukraine war, and food shortages in parts of the world. 

Baerbock stressed that "the climate crisis cannot be overshadowed by other crises since it acts like a catalyst. Even though other crises might seem more important than climate change right now, we can’t delay climate action."

In addition to debates about reducing emissions and climate adaptation, the Petersberg agenda placed a special focus on how to secure climate risk financing as well as how to respond to damages and losses.

What did Germany say?

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue
German Foreign Minister stressed the importance to not reduce targets of combatting climate change amid other crisesImage: Christian Mang/REUTERS

The German Foreign Ministry stated that the aim of the conference was to build trust in multilateral climate negotiations. 

It presented a so-called "global protective umbrella" against climate risks at the conference, aiming to strengthen and develop the global architecture of climate risk financing and insurance for the most vulnerable people and countries. 

Speaking at the dialogue in Berlin on Monday, Scholz said: "No one can be happy with the fact that the share of coal-fired electricity generation is rising, with us as well."

Due to the drastic reduction of gas from Russia, Germany recently approved the use of more coal-fired power plants.

"This is a strictly limited temporary emergency measure that will not be at the expense of our climate targets," Scholz continued. 

Baerbock called the climate catastrophe the "greatest security challenge of our time." 

Speaking at the closing of the dialogue, she said that Germany would in any case "not deviate an inch from our climate targets - on the contrary, we will exit fossil fuels even faster." 

Her appeal was to accelerate the energy transition by reducing dependencies on fossil fuels and helping poorer countries switch to sustainable energy sources. It was fundamental to stay in line with the target of 1.5 degrees (34.7 Fahrenheit), she stressed. 

For her own country, this meant staying committed to "the goal of climate neutrality by 2045," Baerbock went on to say. 

What did Egypt say? 

President al-Sisi und Chancellor Scholz at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue
Egypt co-hosted the climate dialogue in preparation for the COP 27 later this yearImage: CHRISTIAN MANG/REUTERS

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at a joint press conference with Baerbock that the Petersberg talks were about finding "areas of agreement and possible disagreement" on climate issues that needed to be worked out in more detail in the months leading up to COP 27. 

He said progress was needed in climate adaptation and mitigation as well as in how to respond to loss and damages. Regions that were the most affected by climate change should be supported more, Zhukri stressed in the press conference. 

He said it was important to "keep the international climate goals alive" while "leaving no one behind." A failure of the climate conference was "not an option" for the global community.

los/aw (Reuters, dpa, AFP)