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German Federal Government adopts first cross-government Climate Foreign Policy Strategy

Berliner Reichtagsgebäude
Photo by creativemariolorek on Adobe Stock.

For the German version of this article, please follow this link.

  • As climate diplomats convene at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai to negotiate ways to address the climate crisis, the Federal Cabinet in Berlin has unveiled Germany’s first climate foreign policy strategy. With this strategy, it seeks to integrate a unified approach to climate policy in all of its international diplomacy. It is a welcome show of unity at a time when relations between coalition partners are under particular strain given the current budget crisis.
  • The strategy recognises that the challenges of the climate crisis and global transformation must be met strategically, comprehensively and resolutely. In a multipolar and geopolitically complex world, the entire government approach must take unified action to safeguard economic prosperity and foster international stability.
  • Overall, the strategy successfully strikes a balance between priorities. Nevertheless, there is still work to be done to ensure consistent integration across all German foreign and security engagement on a government-wide scale. To ensure it is as effective as possible, it must now specify clear actions and responsibilities for implementation and evaluation.

An important strategic milestone in tackling the climate crisis

On December 6, the German government published its first climate Foreign Policy Strategy, marking a significant and welcomed move towards a more cohesive, comprehensive and cross-governmental approach. This strategy joins upclimate objectives with other key international policy areas, such as security, energy, foreign trade, fiscal policyand development cooperation. This integrated approach signals a notable shift in how the Federal Government addresses the pressing challenges of the climate crisis.

Germany is taking a leading role in these areas:

  • The strategy underscores the pivotal role of international partnerships and cooperation in addressing the climate crisis. It will carry out a comprehensive evaluation of its current bilateral partnerships by 2024, in order to glean insights that can enhance existing bi- and plurilateral climate collaborations.
  • The German Government recognises the prevailing global political momentum driving international financial architecture reform. This reform extends beyond conventional climate finance, playing a central role in reshaping global North-South dynamics. It serves as the foundation for establishing a stable and equitable multilateral system rooted in common global goals.
  • The strategy focuses on the decarbonisation of industry and broader economic transformation. In doing so, it underscores the importance of supporting the global transition to net zero for Germany’s own prosperity. The Climate Club is at the core of Germany’s approach to industrial decarbonisation.

But there is room for improvement:

  • All of Germany’s international partnerships need to align with the overarching goals of the strategy. Currently, there is a lack of strategic action outlined to achieve this. We recommend the formulation of shared criteria or concrete steps for strategic consolidation of partnerships throughout the Federal Government.
  • To ensure the strategy’s success, coherent action by the entire Federal Government is crucial. The suggestion to establish a coordination group at State Secretary level is a commendable initiative. However, to maximise effectiveness, it is imperative to formulate a well-defined roadmap that includes performance indicators and specific implementation timelines. The strategy needs to clarify specific responsibilities and commitments.
  • The strategy currently falls short in providing explicit evaluation benchmarks and review mechanisms. It is essential to outline procedures for their development together with civil society organisations and other stakeholders. This collaborative effort would facilitate a robust external, independent review. A positive step (in line with the Strategy’s “participatory climate foreign policy”approach) could see the creation of an independent external advisory board, with representatives from civil society and academia, to actively contribute to shaping the process. 


Steffen Menzel, Program Lead Geopolitics and Diplomacy at E3G Berlin:

“Amidst challenges posed by climate change and dynamic geopolitical shifts, Germany’s Climate Foreign Policy Strategy emerges as a timely and necessary response. It not only sets a commendable course but also articulates ambitious objectives. The pivotal next step involves its integration across the entire federal government, with mechanisms fortransparent accountability from all three coalition partners.” 

“The strategic focus on Germany’s climate cooperation with global partners is crucial. To meaningfully and impactfully contribute to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement, it is essential for the German government to align both its diplomatic efforts and implementation structures accordingly. This alignment is crucial for bolstering international collaboration and meeting the challenges laid out in the strategy.” 

“A key goal of the strategy is the rapid reduction of global emissions and the phase-out of fossil fuels, crucial milestones to maintain the 1.5° target. The  ambitious tone of the strategy is commendable and aligns with this mission. However, it is equally vital for Germany to promptly halt support for new gas infrastructure- without exceptions. Regrettably, the strategy still presents loopholes that need to be addressed if the approach is to be resolute.” 

Marc Weissgerber, Executive Director of E3G gGmbH, Berlin:

“The successful execution of the strategy demands collective effort. The international activities of all ministries must operate within a unified framework. This extends beyond the mentioned coordination at the state secretary level and the participation of missions abroad. It  necessitates a comprehensive and cohesive approach across the board.” 

“For the strategy to be effective, concrete measures are needed, encompassing both detailed plans and continuous monitoring of success. In addition, establishing an independent external advisory board for German climate foreign policy, comprising representatives from academia and civil society, is essential. This would align with established norms in other policy domains and would strengthen the strategy’s efficacy.” 

“Germany’s climate foreign policy sets many priorities that resonate positively with the global community. While commendable progress has been made through initiatives like the Just Energy Transition Partnerships and the Climate Club, there is room for strengthening cooperation in such formats and alliances. Despite these promising steps, there are discernible weaknesses in both design and implementation that require careful attention and rectification.” 

Available for comment

Marc Weissgerber, Executive Director of E3G gGmbh
m: +49 (0) 175 1974404,

Steffen Menzel, Programme Lead for Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics
m: +49 (0) 151 5120 1182,


Notes to Editors 

  1. E3G is an independent climate change think tank with a global outlook. We work on the frontier of the climate landscape, tackling the barriers and advancing the solutions to a safe climate. Our goal is to translate climate politics, economics and policies into action. About – E3G 
  2. For further enquiries email


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