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A COP27 sign on the road to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, October 20 2022. Picture: SAYED SHEASHA/REUTERS
A COP27 sign on the road to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, October 20 2022. Picture: SAYED SHEASHA/REUTERS

As the world gathers at Sharm el-Sheikh for COP27 we are facing a dual challenge. The climate crisis is hitting with ever-greater force. This summer floods swept through a third of Pakistan, killing thousands. In Ethiopia, the worst drought in decades pushed millions into hunger and starvation. In the Sahel, water scarcity is worsening conflicts over resources and land, forcing people to migrate. All of this shows the climate crisis is the biggest security challenge humanity faces in the 21st century — and taking action against it is more urgent than before.

Meanwhile, Russia’s war against Ukraine has been eroding the international trust needed for successful global climate action. President Vladimir Putin’s war is not only inflicting unspeakable suffering on Ukraine, but is also trampling the UN Charter underfoot. It has shaken global energy markets and fuelled a hunger crisis, hitting the most vulnerable hardest. Putin’s aggression has brought geopolitical polarisation to heights not seen since the Cold War.

As the German delegation heads to COP27 we are keenly aware of this tough environment. We know this will be a particularly difficult climate conference. Still, as Germany and with our EU partners we will do all we can to advance climate action. Now is the time for ambitious emissions cutting by all countries to stay on the 1.5 °C path. Now is the moment to show solidarity with the children, women and men hit hardest by storms and droughts.

As a major economy and emitter we know Germany has particular responsibilities. When entering office last year our government set out ambitious energy transition plans. Now, in response to Russia’s weaponisation of energy, we are taking painful steps that seemingly contradict those plans. Many people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are asking us, “Now that Russia’s war rages in Europe, has Germany cancelled its energy transition and its promises on solidarity?”

Our answer is clear — and it is also our message for COP27: Germany is not deviating one inch from its climate goals. On the contrary, we are doubling down on them. Yes, we are taking tough decisions to get Germany and Europe through this and next winter. But the coal-fired power plants we have reactivated will run only until until March 2024. New permanent pipelines we are building to import LNG are required by law to be hydrogen-ready. And in the EU we have committed to cutting gas consumption by 15% this winter — not least to push global LNG prices down.

Strongest packages

Most importantly, our government has boosted Germany’s energy transition. In July the Bundestag passed the most ambitious legislation yet to expand renewables and energy efficiency. In the first half of 2022 the share of renewables in our electricity mix rose to almost 50% — and with the new legislation it will climb to 80% by 2030.

The EU, after the Green Deal and the Fit-for-55 agenda, presented one of the strongest climate packages in its history in June — with stricter rules for renewables, energy efficiency and CO2 pricing. Last week the EU decided to phase out the sale of new combustion engine vehicles by 2035. These steps will make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

All this is making it clear that Russia’s war is not leading us back to a fossil fuels past. Instead, we are moving towards a greener future faster than before. Every solar panel and every wind turbine means more security: for our country and Europe, since they make us less dependent on fossil energy imports. And for the world, as every tenth of a degree less global warming means fewer climate effects globally.

Germany is also stepping up global climate solidarity. By increasing our contribution to international climate financing to €6bn we are doing our part to ensure that industrialised countries finally live up to their $100bn pledge.The Group of Seven (G7) most economically advanced countries are committed to doubling adaptation financing by 2025. And we will work hard to achieve progress on loss and damage at COP27.

With the Global Shield the G7 is reaching out to vulnerable countries to expand disaster risk financing and insurance. From the Pacific to South Asia to the Sahel, rising sea levels, scorching heat and terrible floods are a threat to people’s safety and security. We hear you and we see you — and we stand by your side.

Germany is doing this also through its new climate diplomacy. The technologies for the global energy transition are out there. Now we have to transfer them to countries in the south — and mobilise financing away from fossils to renewables. Germany, its partners and SA are setting up a just energy transition partnership. Together we are investing billions in renewables — and in ensuring that communities dependent on coal mining get new opportunities to make a living. The G7 is working on more such partnerships with other countries: Senegal, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Not only to help them protect the climate, but to transform their entire economies.

It is important to keep these opportunities of the green transition in mind as we meet in Sharm el-Sheikh this week. The dual challenge of ever-harsher climate effects and geopolitical tensions will make negotiations hard, and their outcome is unclear. But Germany stands ready to co-operate — for greater ambition and greater solidarity.

• Baerbock is foreign minister, and Habeck vice-chancellor and economy minister, of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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