Germany Emphasizes Climate Urgency
Representatives from 40 countries gathered in Berlin for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue this week, a “starting signal” for the upcoming COP27 World Climate Conference in Egypt this November. The meeting happened against the backdrop of a sweltering heatwave in Europe, the war in Ukraine, and the resulting energy and food supply crises. Still, the host country’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pushed on, emphasizing that it would be a mistake to delay climate action.
"The climate crisis cannot be overshadowed by other crises since it acts like a catalyst,” said Baerbock. “Even though other crises might seem more important than climate change right now, we can’t delay climate action."
BBC: EU told to prepare for Russian gas shut-off, July 20, 2022.
DW: What can Germany, the EU do if Russia keeps Nord Stream 1 turned off?, July 20, 2022.
DW: International Energy Agency warns Europe of insufficient supplies to see through winter, July 19, 2022.
Why This Matters
On an environmental level, Baerbock’s statement that Germany would accelerate its clean energy transition and "not deviate an inch from our climate targets” comes at a time when many countries (including Germany) are reverting to temporarily burning coal as gas supplies from Russia are reduced. Politically, Baerbock’s statement acknowledges that climate change is a geopolitical and global security issue.
In this decade, it is critical to undergo an energy transition away from fossil fuels to hit climate targets in 2050 and reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. Also, shifting to renewables is a shift away from paying Russia for its fossil fuels and giving Vladimir Putin even more political power to terrorize the continent and world at large.
DW: Cutting the catastrophic cost of climate change, November 5, 2021.
FRANCE 24: German floods show urgency to act on climate change, July 16, 2021.
The Cost Of Climate Inaction
Germany has had a difficult history in recent years with respect to its energy decisions. The nation moved away from emissions-free nuclear energy after Fukushima, and until the Ukraine invasion, was completing a gas pipeline with Russia that would've made Germany even more dependent on Putin for energy. But climate is a personal issue in Germany and the Green Party was a close contender in the last election for that very reason. Weather events amplified by the climate crisis have cost the country at least €145 billion over the last 20 years, according to a study released at the start of the Climate Dialogue. Still, that figure is only a fraction of the cost of of what climate inaction will cost the global economy $178 trillion over the next 50 years, as estimated by consulting firm Deloitte. On the flip side, if countries took action on net zero by 2050 goals, it could add $43 trillion to the global economy, leading to a green “Industrial Revolution.”
DW: Should German nuclear power plants run longer?, June 24, 2022.
DW: Germany's Greens | From 'anti-party party' to political player, September 19, 2021.