Afterthoughts UN Climate Summit

Minister at speaker's desk

Federal Environment Minister speaking at the UN Climate Summit; picture: BMUB / Inga Wagner

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks gave a positive assessment of the United Nations Climate Summit today in New York: "Only a comprehensive partnership including industrialised countries, developing countries, business and civil society groups can succeed in solving the problem of protecting our planet's climate, an existential question for humanity. The summit called by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has raised hopes that this can be achieved."

Hendricks pointed out that at the summit the countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions - including China and the United States - had agreed to present what they plan to contribute to a new climate change accord by early 2015. The presentation of these plans for new post-2020 climate targets is part of the run-up to the Paris climate summit. "In addition to this, there were encouraging signals from France, Mexico, Denmark, Switzerland and the Republic of Korea, which give me confidence that the Green Climate Fund will receive substantial funding before the climate conference in Lima at the end of the year."

Forest conservation was another focus at the UN Summit. Hendricks said that the New York Declaration on Forests was an unprecedented case of governments, companies, indigenous groups, civil society and multilateral organisations joining forces to end deforestation by 2030 and to establish deforestation-free supply chains. Hendricks: "This will increase the demand for commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef and wood that are certified to have been produced in such a way so as not to contribute to deforestation. Targeted incentives to prevent deforestation will be established."

Hendricks said that Germany continues to be acknowledged as a pioneer setting the pace for climate action. "At the summit, I received very positive feedback when I traced Germany's progress towards making our national economy climate friendly. Germany's Energiewende, our middle and long-term climate targets and our contribution to climate finance - especially the 750 million euro contribution to the Green Climate Fund announced in July - were repeatedly described as exemplary."

The Environment Minister called special attention to three recent climate policy decisions by the German Government that met with a positive response: First, it initiated the ratification process for the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period. Hendricks: "With this step, Germany is helping to see that the new Kyoto commitments for 2013 to 2020 can enter into force as quickly as possible. This shows clearly that we believe that ambitious international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol are urgently needed to protect the climate."

Second, Germany decided not to make use of surplus Kyoto Protocol emission permits. Hendricks: "To the extent we over-achieve our Kyoto targets, the remaining allowances will not be sold, but rather cancelled successively, thus taking them off the international market. This will prevent additional climate action efforts in Germany from going to waste by the allowances being used elsewhere in the world and causing additional greenhouse gas emissions."

Third, the German Government has decided to redefine its position on financing coal projects. Hendricks: "By mid-century we must almost completely eliminate coal from global energy production. All plans to build new coal-fired power plants must be subjected to critical review. In the field of climate and development cooperation we will not provide any more funding for the construction of new plants, and in this context we will finance the modernisation of coal-fired power plants currently in operation only to a limited extent and in accordance with clearly defined criteria. Germany's government is thus joining the initiative launched by several banks and industrialised countries."