Despite the unprecedented Russian war of aggression, we must not lose sight of the fact that climate change is still the most pressing existential threat for many countries in the world, writes German ambassador to South Africa, Andreas Peschke.
Here in Pretoria, we just welcomed the blissful return of the rain. What a relief for people and nature after a long and dry winter. But the rainfalls also reminded us of the deadly floods that haunted KwaZulu-Natal earlier this year.
A year ago, massive floods also ravaged the Ahr Valley in Germany. As everywhere in the world, we feel how vulnerable we are to the devastating effects of climate change. The severe consequences in KZN are still being felt today. Germany continues to support this region in its efforts to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the floods. Just recently, the South African relief organisation Gift of the Givers installed a new batch of boreholes for fresh water supply supported by our project funding.
Germany not only offered immediate assistance, but the long-standing South African-German cooperation on climate action is also strategic and forward-looking.
Last year at the Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow, we launched the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with South Africa and international partners. The JETP aims to accelerate South Africa's just transition towards a modern, resilient and green energy system while at the same time gradually decarbonising our economies in a socially just and fair manner.
The firm commitment by the international community to financially support the steps taken by South Africa and other countries to reach their climate goals was a major achievement of last year's COP. We stand by it, and we are starting to see the first concrete results of these commitments and the increased coordination among partners.
Next week, the next climate conference COP27 will begin in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.
Germany sees this conference as crucial in our joint global fight against climate change. It is of vital importance that we succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Every tenth of a degree less warming means fewer extreme weather events, fewer natural disasters, and more security for all nations. It is time to act. That is why Germany campaigns for a high level of ambition and action for COP27.
We need a robust working programme including concrete steps towards lower emissions. To achieve this aim, all nations are called upon to update further their National Determined Contributions. COP27 is an opportunity for all nations to show that they are ready to aim high.
Germany is ready to do its part on a national level. Even though times are difficult, as Russia's aggression against Ukraine has sent energy prices soaring, we will not abandon our climate goals.
Quite the opposite: we are even accelerating our energy transition. This is despite Russia's use of energy supply as a weapon for blackmail.
True, Germany is forced to use coal for longer than we had planned and to import gas from a larger number of different countries – but these are emergency measures that are strictly limited in time. And even taking these emergency measures into account, Germany will use less – not more – fossil fuels over the coming months.
We hope to achieve this thanks to concrete and determined policy decisions in favour of our energy transition. In Germany, the focus lies on renewables. We have introduced a highly ambitious legislative package to promote renewable energy further. We plan to produce 80 % of our energy from renewable sources by 2030. We are speeding up approval processes. And 2 % of Germany's land surface will be reserved for wind energy generation.
Poorest countries impacted the most
Germany is also ready to do its part internationally. The effects of climate change are already hitting hardest where people are most vulnerable: in the poorest countries of the world. For us, it is clear that rich countries have to stand in solidarity with poorer ones. We have to use the opportunity of COP27 to send a strong signal of solidarity. In order to underline this, Germany firmly stands by its financial commitments. And we have decided to do even more. We will increase our climate finance commitments by 700 million Euros to 6 billion Euros (over R100 billion). We also stand by our responsibility as an industrialised nation and aim for concrete progress in the area of 'loss and damage'. We are furthermore implementing several initiatives to help others to overcome the adverse effects of the climate crises, such as the “Climate4Peace” Initiative, anticipatory Humanitarian Aid, and the “Global Shield” Initiative.
Of course, the strained geopolitical landscape will cause further challenges for a successful COP. Yet, despite the unprecedented Russian war of aggression that represents an attack on the global international order as a whole, we must not lose sight of the fact that climate change is still the most pressing existential threat for many countries in the world.
Many nations see that their people and cultures are in peril. Germany's message to these nations is: we stand by your side, we hear you, and we will support you. It is the responsibility of all nations and of the global community as a whole to make sure that our joint global fight against climate change does not fall victim to geopolitical polarisation.
- Andreas Peschke is the German Ambassador to South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini.