With COP27 at Sharm el-Sheikh days away, climate change is rising on the political agenda and global eyes will be on what the German government has to offer. Germany must prove to governments across the world and the public at home that it is a reliable partner, delivering on its promises to fight the climate crisis.
Even after the Ukraine invasion, with climate change low in the political agenda, the German government remained committed to international climate diplomacy. In July, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock promised to use “all levers of our diplomacy to fight climate change”.
As a major geopolitical moment, the COP is an opportunity to revamp global climate collaboration to address the climate crisis despite geopolitical tensions. The newly formed German Team has a central role to play in showing how diplomacy can deliver climate action as part of an effective Climate Foreign Policy.
The African COP is expected to focus on the implementation of what has been agreed at previous COPs on emissions reduction and adaptation, and addressing the losses and damages caused by climate change. Finance is key to all three.
Slow progress on emission reduction pledges as revealed in Wednesday’s UN report synthesising countries’ emission reduction pledges requires urgent attention at COP27. The EU is among the group of countries who have not yet strengthened their emission reduction pledge as all countries were called on to do in last year’s COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact. However, the REPowerEU and Fitfor55 policies could ratchet up the EU’s emission cuts from 55% to 57–58% below 1990 levels. As part of the Group of Friends for an Ambitious EU Climate Diplomacy, Germany should confirm that the EU will enhance its emissions reduction pledge (NDC) this year. It should also immediately present its long overdue national climate policy program to push the EU further, towards a 65% emission reduction target. To maintain credibility, Germany must show it can stay on track to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Emergency efforts to keep coal plants running and a dash for gas without a phase-out plan only make this more pressing.
To gain standing as an international climate leader, Germany must insist on a strong and ambitious COP decision that shows how countries can work together to collectively ramp up their emission cuts this decade, consistent with a1.5 °C pathway. For an agreement on the decision, Germany will need to lead partners in rebuilding trust with climate-vulnerable developing countries by being an ally for progress on finance, adaptation and loss and damage.
Germany has a prominent position on the loss and damage negotiations. It is one of the few countries to have a concrete proposal to address loss and damage with the Global Shield, which offers insurance and guarantees for climate risk, co-developed with the Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20). It will also have Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s Climate Envoy, chairing the loss and damage negotiations along with Chile’s Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas.
The expectation is for Germany to enhance support on loss and damage by complementing the insurance and guarantees in the Global Shield with finance that can go into a specific funding arrangement and getting other developed country governments to support with financial commitments. In the negotiations, countries severely impacted by climate change will expect Germany to urge full operationalisation and funding of the Santiago Network. The most important role Germany can play is using its experience as honest broker to work with the US and other EU member states on a compromise for a COP decision on finance for loss and damage. If the chairs manage the negotiations successfully, the negotiations will help rebuild trust with climate vulnerable countries and demonstrate credibility.
On finance, Germany should do everything possible towards the $100 billion target by increasing its climate finance to at least €8 billion per year by 2025 through new and additional funding with a binding growth plan. It should also build on the response to the climate finance delivery plan it provided with Canada, to send a strong signal that adaptation finance must double by 2025.
Germany should be a voice for innovating and reforming how global finance institutions drive funding where it’s needed. It should continue to support the Bridgetown agenda championed by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, and show how it will work with others to build a wider architecture for JET-Ps, beyond a handful of deals. Embracing these elements, would allow Germany to signal that donor countries are ready to provide transparency and confidence that they are meeting and expanding their finance commitments.
These benchmarks should be on top of Team Germany’s goals towards COP27 to strengthen the UNFCCC as a space to hold governments accountable on the climate action commitment and build the trust for the collaboration needed to stay within the Paris Agreement temperature limit.
This blog first appeared in German language on Tagesspiegel Background.