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The World Climate Conference is an Opportunity if We All Pull Together

With the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference opening in Dubai on Thursday, the world climate conference presents an opportunity if we all get involved.

A woman farmer in Niger whose fields are parched because of the heat. A father in Palau who doesn’t know whether his house will still be there when his children are grown, or whether the rising waters will engulf his village. Mayors in Spain, Germany and Lithuania who have to find a way to protect their towns from both water shortages and increasingly dangerous storm surges. Wherever you look in the world, there is a common crisis: the climate crisis.

This crisis poses the greatest security challenge of our time. It affects us all, with varying degrees of intensity but with the same implacability. What gives me hope is that we have the knowledge, the technology and the tools to tackle the climate crisis together. What we need is the political will.

In 2015, the international community already demonstrated this will and, with the Paris Agreement, laid the foundations for a new climate-neutral world. Nearly 170 countries have since set themselves more ambitious climate targets. The development of renewable energies has accelerated spectacularly.

When countries gather in Dubai in a few days’ time to take part in the World Climate Conference, however, they will also have this in mind: “We are racing against time – and we are moving too slowly at the moment.”

This COP presents an incredible opportunity to pick up the pace, an opportunity we should seize together in alliances of pioneering states. In Dubai, for the first time, the world will be taking stock of the global situation as it was agreed upon in Paris. This will enable the international community to examine the progress it has made towards achieving the Paris objectives and to identify the areas in which we need to make adjustments.

In this respect, three points are essential from a German perspective:

First, we should massively accelerate the global energy transition by 2030. After all, each ton of carbon dioxide emitted–irrespective of the offending source–harms the entire planet. According to the IPCC, all countries must jointly reduce global emissions by at least 43% by the end of this decade. Each one percent increment of reduced greenhouse gas emissions translates to fewer droughts, floods, and human casualties.

With the Green Deal, we have set the course for climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. In Germany, we are legally committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2045. However, the energy transition is a global task.

We are therefore working to ensure that we jointly adopt the following targets at the COP: tripling the share of renewable energies, along with doubling energy efficiency and phasing out fossil fuels. In this manner, we want to send a clear signal that the transition to a largely fossil fuel-free energy system has begun.

Second, the best way to combat the climate crisis is through solidarity. That’s why Germany is standing shoulder to shoulder with those who have contributed least to the climate crisis but who are already being hit hardest by it. Germany has increased its annual funding for climate action to over six billion euros from its budget, three years ahead of schedule. In doing so, the country is contributing to the industrialized countries’ pledge to free up 100 billion euros to finance climate action, and Germany is confident that this pledge can be honored as early as this year.

Germany knows that the climate crisis is already having irreversible repercussions. That’s why we are also pushing ahead vigorously with adaptation to climate change, and supporting developing countries, in particular. The contribution of all donors to climate change adaptation should be doubled to forty billion USD by 2025, at the latest. Germany will do its bit to help achieve this goal.

At the last climate conference, we agreed to set up a fund for loss and damage, which we continued to develop recently in Abu Dhabi. Now, at COP 28, we need to confirm this agreement and endow the fund with capital. To this end, it is essential that these resources benefit the most vulnerable countries first and foremost, and that all countries in a position to do so contribute to the fund. This obviously includes industrialized countries, but also countries that have made a lot of money from fossil fuels and that have experienced strong growth in recent years. We are all called upon to assume our responsibilities together.

This is why, thirdly, Germany wants to broaden its partnerships at the COP. We know that the conditions for a successful energy transition and climate protection differ from country to country, and that the green transformation, which is a massive change, will only work if it is shaped in a socially fair manner. We will support our partners in this process.

We all have something to gain, because every investment in solar panels, green hydrogen production, and thermal insulation technologies is an opportunity for growth, new jobs, and a secure energy supply. So we’re building climate, energy and development partnerships where both sides can learn from each other and both sides can benefit.

No country should have to choose between development and climate protection. Each society chooses its own path. What matters is that we all have the same goal: a climate-neutral and resilient future in which our children can live in security and prosperity. Over the next few days in Dubai, we have the opportunity to embark on this path together. We should seize it.

  * Annalena Baerbock is Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs