Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

A glimpse at our world in 2018: Europe faced one of the hottest summers in decades. Giant firestorms raged through Greece, Sweden and Germany, laying thousands of hectares of land to ash. At the same time, SA has battled severe drought conditions in the Eastern and Western Cape, affecting the lives of millions of people.

Weather conditions are dominating our media headlines – in Africa and Europe. They serve as a stark reminder that climate issues affect us all, and we will only be able to resist climate change if we join hands and work together.

Germany and France are committed to this ambitious path because we agree on two things. First, climate change is not a question of belief, but a fact. Extreme weather events are increasing around the world. Every year, many millions of people in developing countries fall back into poverty because of natural disasters.

SA has been a strong supporter of this ambitious drive, from hosting the Durban climate conference in 2011 to its crucial role in finalising the 2015 Paris deal. The country has also taken on a strong regional role, advocating more ambitious climate protection targets on the African continent.

Second, climate protection is no luxury. The economic costs of doing nothing are enormous. Only an ambitious climate protection policy will help mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Moreover, climate protection policy has a positive outcome — it takes us forward. It offers new opportunities for innovation and therefore growth and prosperity around the world.

An ambitious and effective climate policy is thus in the core interest of all of us – in Europe and in Africa. The 2015 Paris climate agreement was a milestone, leading the way towards a sustainable and better future. Germany and France remain committed to the deal – particularly at a time when others regrettably want to withdraw from the agreement. We believe we must strengthen our multilateral co-operation and not allow it to be weakened.

SA has been a strong supporter of this ambitious drive, from hosting the Durban climate conference in 2011 to its crucial role in finalising the 2015 Paris deal. The country has also taken on a strong regional role, advocating more ambitious climate protection targets on the African continent.

The Paris objectives are ambitious. Now we must focus on their implementation. The upcoming UN climate change conference in Katowice, Poland, will be a test of our joint efforts. Let’s make the conference a success. Let’s get down to business! The current European climate diplomacy week is a great opportunity to highlight the work that still needs to be done.

Renewable energies play a key role in achieving our targets. In Germany, these energies are now the most important source of power. The renewables sector has created jobs and driven growth and investment. In France, 90% of electricity production is decarbonised and the share of wind and solar power is growing fast.

SA has also advanced on this path, and France and Germany stand ready to expand our co-operation in this field.

Germany has created a special instrument, the International Climate Initiative, to help strengthen co-operation with developing and transition countries for the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and the preservation of biodiversity. Through this instrument and other climate-related programmes, Germany has provided financing to SA to the tune of €1bn, working with partners from both the public and the private sectors.

France is currently implementing its COP 21 commitment to fund €5bn of projects each year worldwide to fight climate change.

In SA, since 2004 projects worth €1bn have been implemented or committed by France in this domain, mainly via the French Development Agency, in particular on clean and renewable energies and transport. Moreover, French firms have invested significantly in SA through the renewable energy independent power producers programme.

We are partners in achieving our global targets. And we are partners in helping others to do so. This joint commitment will be reiterated on Wednesday at the second edition of the One Planet Summit in New York. France and Germany stand by the developed countries’ collective goal of mobilising $100bn of climate finance from 2020 every year for developing countries.

In 2019 France will be joined on the UN Security Council by SA and Germany, which have been elected as nonpermanent members. A successful UN peace policy is inconceivable without an ambitious climate policy, which is why we want to prioritise climate protection.

Climate protection is an investment in the future. It is an investment in jobs and growth. It is an investment in peace and stability. We will only be able to reap the benefits of these investments if we work together.

• Farnaud is France’s ambassador to SA and Schäfer Germany’s ambassador to SA.

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