Interview with Jennifer Morgan (Executive Director, Greenpeace) and Norbert Gorißen (BMU/IKI) – Part I

“COP 25 and COP 26 must prove that implementation really works”

Please give us your views on the current status of international climate protection negotiations. What do you expect from the COP 25 in Chile?


Please give us your views on the current status of international climate protection negotiations. What do you expect from the COP 25 in Chile?

Norbert Gorißen: In 2015, we took a decisive step by adopting the Paris Agreement. It sets long-term targets for us and develops a mechanism through which we can move climate protection forward in the future. Last year in Katowice we adopted common rules for implementation. At the COP 25 and COP 26, we now have to prove that implementation really does work that way. It’s crucial that all the contracting parties must show every five years that they are increasing their level of ambition and are embarking on a path that is sustainable in the long term. It will become clear this year and next year whether enough countries will actually exceed their first climate protection contributions. I hope that a routine will now emerge, one that will really drive the decarbonisation of our economies every two years.

Ms Morgan, what is Greenpeace’s point of view here?

Jennifer Morgan: The last IPCC report made it clear that every tenth counts when it comes to global warming. We are experiencing this up close on the entire planet – heat waves, heavy rain, a burning Arctic – we can really feel the climate emergency. If we land at two degrees instead of 1.5, many more hundreds of millions will suffer – that is simply shocking – and it was supposed to be a wake-up call. At the UN climate summit of the Secretary-General in September, all countries should agree on significantly more ambitious climate targets, and these targets should then be bindingly adopted at the next COP. We must halve emissions over the next ten years, and then again by 2050, to achieve a climate neutral world economy – only this can save our future.

"We must halve emissions over the next ten years, and then again by 2050"

Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace

Enormous financial resources are needed to implement a transformation like this. Where do you currently see the greatest challenges in the area of climate financing?

Norbert Gorißen: In Copenhagen in 2009, we committed ourselves as industrialised nations to mobilise a hundred billion dollars a year until 2020 to support developing countries with adaptation and mitigation.

The second topic is the multilateral development banks, which contribute to these yearly billions and also finance other projects. We must ensure that all their investments are oriented on the Paris objectives and the same applies to private investors, pension funds, large institutional investors and commercial banks. Everyone must contribute.

It is a huge task – but we can only achieve total decarbonisation if we tackle it successfully.

Jennifer Morgan: Investments have to address the future risks related to the climate crisis, we have to fundamentally rethink our approaches. The whole system is still tailored to growth and profit – environmental and climate damage are left by the wayside. And we must also rethink about who pays for adaptation to the climate crisis and for climate damage. It’s a matter of fairness. For example, it’s unacceptable that the poorest countries, in which the consequences of climate change pose a threat to their very existence, should shoulder these costs themselves.

How can an initiative like IKI help to meet these challenges and what has it done in recent years to address them?

Norbert Gorißen: Much of climate finance is simply classical development finance. Climate protection is only considered as a secondary issue, if at all. For IKI, our most important contacts have always been our colleagues in the environment ministries. These departments are very weak in many developing countries – they have a minimum of skills, resources and influence. We have strengthened those who work for climate protection in developing countries by giving them additional capacities and resources, enabling priorities to be set differently in their countries. Together with IKI, we have supported them in analysing potential, reducing emissions and managing climate adaptation. We are also trying to promote good examples and to encourage the private sector and the development banks to do more. And we have responded to the needs that have arisen from the climate protection negotiations.

Ms Morgan, how do you currently see the situation of climate protection in developing and emerging countries and how do you assess the role of IKI?

Jennifer Morgan: My impression is that IKI is conducting strategic talks with these countries at eye level. This is often not the case in development policy. From the outset, I thought the approach of bringing different stakeholders such as institutes, NGOs and cities on board was very important and effective. Civil society often plays an important role in coping with the climate crisis, and IKI is strengthened by its broad spectrum of partners – and consequently perspectives. A variety of citizens and institutions on the ground have been involved in the strategy from the beginning.

Norbert Gorißen: In contrast to traditional development finance, we launched a competition for the best ideas, giving think tanks, non-profit organisations and NGOs the opportunity to introduce new approaches. The developing countries tell us repeatedly that they need their own institutions to continue the work begun in the projects on a permanent basis. This is why we added the “Local Content” topic to the agenda. Local Content basically means that we demand from the partner countries that a certain percentage of project funding goes to institutions in the countries themselves. Not all the countries can do this and some don’t even want to do it – but many are willing to try it. In this way, we also stimulate the internal dialogue between the ministries and the authorities in the countries in question.

"We have strengthened those who work for climate protection in developing countries."

Norbert Gorißen, BMU/IKI

Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan, 53, grew up in New Jersey. During her career, she has held leading positions at several major environmental organisations and research institutes such as the WWF, Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). She has been Managing Director of Greenpeace International since 2016.

Norbert Gorißen

Norbert Gorißen, 61, heads the ‘International’ Directorate at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. He has been at the helm of the International Climate Initiative since 2008. He is the Deputy Director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and was Chief EU Negotiator for Climate Finance in the negotiations for the Paris Agreement. He has worked at the BMU for the past 20 years and has been particularly involved with EU environmental policy and the expansion of renewable energies.

“We need to change our system to a low-emission economy”

Read Part II of the Interview with Jennifer Morgan and Norbert Gorißen.

to Part II