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

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

Which elements of IKI have been particularly effective in recent years?And which additional developments are needed?

Norbert Gorißen: Together with IKI, we have built up important capacities in the environment ministries in order to better understand and implement the complex functioning of the Paris Agreement. We particularly want to promote the development of long-term strategies in the future. This will allow countries to develop long-term programmes and plan until 2050 and beyond.

Another important topic is “Just transition”. We must also address social impacts more intensively and support our partner countries in implementing decarbonisation in such a way that the associated social disruptions are properly managed.

How can you strengthen implementation in the partner countries in such a way that they will want to increase their contributions to the Paris Agreement – and can do so?

Norbert Gorißen: One of the priorities of IKI is to advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This is why we help the partner countries in implementing their NDCs and strengthening their ambitions. All this happens in the context of the NDC partnership: Many stakeholders must support the countries and collaborate on the implementation of an NDC in a coordinated and focused manner. However, we also need long-term orientation, which must be geared to the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement.

The IKI not only provides country-specific cooperation; among other topics, it has also recently begun to focus on larger issues to address “gaps” in international climate cooperation. We offer financing options for cities and thematise the decarbonisation of industry. We also want to tender for such new topics in a targeted manner, listen to suggestions and promote larger projects in specific regions of the world as examples.

"We must also address social impacts of decarbonisation more intensively."

Norbert Gorißen, BMU/IKI

"Now we’re almost ‘down to the bone’, as they say – and that’s why we need courage and determination right now."

Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace

Ms Morgan, what would you recommend to BMU and IKI in terms of how they can improve inter-departmental climate and development cooperation?

Jennifer Morgan: The focus must be on a system change towards a low-emission and ultimately emission-free economy. However, this requires more than just focusing on the energy system. One approach would be to work more intensively with new stakeholders in the financial and industrial sectors. In countries like Germany, the interests of the old corporations, which still benefit from fossilised fuels, are a major hurdle. These power dynamics must be changed by promoting sustainable business models. In my opinion, it is equally important to highlight the costs of the climate crisis more clearly by supporting relevant scientific studies and make the resulting findings available to those who are affected.

In recent years there has been a strong backlash against climate protection and we have seen a lot of misinformation about climate change. Is this a problem for you in your daily work and if so, how do you deal with it?

Jennifer Morgan: This problem is really prevalent in the USA, more so than in any other country. It is very obvious just whose interests are being implemented and who is behind the supposedly ‘scientific’ studies. However, this attitude is now receding into the background, even in the USA, because the impacts of the climate crisis are already being felt strongly, they are everywhere. We need politicians here who are courageous enough to do what is necessary.

Norbert Gorißen: I also can see no significant influential impact caused by those who persistently deny that we are experiencing a climate change. Our day-to-day problem is rather the lack of understanding of the financial support for certain projects – and we have to justify our actions to remedy this: “Why are you doing this? Can’t they do it themselves? Shouldn’t that only be for the poorest of the poor?” These are typical questions with which development policy is often confronted.

Jennifer Morgan: However, Germany is increasingly losing credibility at the international level, but this cannot of course be compared to the situation in the USA. However, emissions are rising in several sectors, they have been stagnating for ten years and Germany is failing to meet its climate targets – and that is a problem for IKI and for German climate diplomacy.

What would you wish most for climate project work in the next ten years?

Norbert Gorißen: More consistency and coherence, that is my wish. Better coordination between the various stakeholders who influence climate policy and investments – and this definitely applies to Germany as well. For example, it is inconsistent to co-finance business-as-usual investments via Asian development banks, but at the same time cooperate with IKI and BMZ to focus less on fossil energies in Asia. How much more effective could we be if we all really pulled together!

Jennifer Morgan: I would wish for support for new stakeholders like the indigenous peoples who stand for systemic change. In view of the current climate crisis, governments are not acting adequately; they are simply not doing what is necessary. If we leave everything to the governments, we won’t make it. We need support from very courageous people in different countries. That’s what I would wish for in the next ten years.

Are you personally optimistic that we will get the climate crisis under control?

Norbert Gorißen: It can’t be done if we lose hope. A new dynamism is currently developing in public debates, and that makes me feel more positive. However, at the same time I’m experiencing just how little climate protection has arrived in people’s minds. Many of us still believe that we can continue with our normal economic and social policies and then simply put a plaster on them to take care of climate protection.

Jennifer Morgan: I’m optimistic, because in my work I experience the daily commitment to climate protection of so many people around the world, both young and old, regardless of their social background. The first climate report in the USA was published in 1965. If we had acted sooner, I’d have even more hope. Now we’re almost ‘down to the bone’, as they say – and that’s why we need courage and determination right now.

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

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.

"COP 25 and COP 26 must prove that implementation really works"

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

to part I