Prep for Paris: The Petersberg Climate Dialogue | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 19.05.2015
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Prep for Paris: The Petersberg Climate Dialogue

Representatives from Germany, France and other nations are currently in Berlin for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. DW explains what the annual meeting is and why it's important for the next UN Climate Summit in Paris.

The UN Climate Summit in Paris is getting closer. From November 30 to December 11, the world's nations will gather in the French capital to hammer out a new climate protocol that they hope will keep global warming to 2 degrees. In Paris, countries are supposed to commit themselves to emission reductions and agree on other means to tackle and adapt to climate change.

That's not an easy feat, as participants had to learn in 2009 when the climate summit in Copenhagen ended without any official agreement. As a reaction to this failure, German Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Here, parties can come together before important dates, like the Paris summit , to prepare and compare their positions.

Be prepared

Right now, Merkel and representatives from 34 other nations have gathered at the sixth Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin. But the first meeting took place on a hill outside Bonn, West Germany's former capital, in 2010. In the wake of the failure of the Copenhagen Climate Summit, Angela Merkel invited ministers from several nations to the German government's guest house on the Petersberg.

Grandhotel Petersberg. (Photo: imago/ W. Otto)

The birthplace of the informal climate talks: the Petersberg Hotel outside Bonn

The goal of the annual meeting series, which has been held in Berlin since 2011, is to prepare for the official summits in the hope that they will proceed more smoothly. "Such prep meetings are important, because very few issues are set in stone and definitive in advance of the Climate summits," said Götz Reichert, expert for international and EU environmental law at the German think tank Center for European Policy (CEP).

Too many things were in flux before the Copenhagen summit, so the leaders learned the lesson and are trying to make it work now by discussing certain important issues before the Paris meeting in December.

Commitments, finances and measurement questions

There are three main points to be addressed at the current Petersberg conference. First and foremost among them are the countries' plans to limit their impact on climate change. So far, only 37 nations have presented their commitments. On Monday, French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, called on all 196 participants of the Paris summit to submit their declarations by October 30 at the latest.

"The situation is dramatic," Fabius said. "It's urgent that we act."

Another issue to discuss is the question of how to finance the necessary steps to keep global warming at bay. "It's about how developing countries can be supported in reducing their emissions and in adapting to climate change," Götz Reichert from the CEP told DW. "These are important elements for them when it comes to committing to an international agreement."

Thirdly, the parties at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue are set to talk about how to measure and compare the efforts to tackle global warming. The hope is that a Paris climate agreement will contain measures to evaluate how different countries are progressing with their emission reductions.

After all, if the countries' commitments and their impact on global warming aren't measurable, there's not much of a point to them at all.

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