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Petersberg Climate Dialogue: Ministers aim to make COP26 a success

The 12th Petersberg Climate Dialogue ended on Friday, May 7, 2021 with a call to make this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow a success and to conclude negotiations on all unresolved aspects of the rulebook under the Paris Agreement.

Petersberg Climate Dialogue
German chancellor Angela Merkel (L on screen) attends a virtual ’12th meeting of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue conference’ in Berlin, Germany, May 6, 2021. Photo credit: EPA-EFE/KAY NIETFELD

At the invitation of the German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and Alok Sharma, designated president of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), around 40 ministers from all over the world participated in the PCD from May 6 to 7 via video conference.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also took part.

In the discussions it became clear that the individual policy steps towards complete greenhouse gas neutrality are becoming increasingly defined, especially in economically strong countries. Many of the participants agreed that the rhythm of the Paris Agreement, under which the international community revises and raises the ambition of its climate targets every five years, has proven effective.

To enable more ambitious climate targets in developing countries too, increased financial support from wealthier countries is required to enhance efforts the countries make themselves. Germany has pledged a fair contribution to this support.

Schulze’s initiative to reduce Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent already in 2030 compared with 1990 levels, and to make Germany climate neutral by 2045, met with a very positive response, including from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Schulze commented: “Our guiding principle is a climate-neutral, resilient world that shows solidarity with those most affected by climate change. More and more countries are committing to the goal of climate neutrality and by doing so are sending an unmistakable message to all sectors of industry. There are even countries that plan to become climate neutral before 2050. This now includes Germany.

“The hesitant wait-and-see approach of recent years has been replaced by competition to find the best climate action solutions. This shows that the Paris Agreement has now reached the centre of political discourse and the heart of society. The priority in the months to come will be to maintain and enhance the current momentum in international climate policy.”

The UK also raised the ambition of its 2035 climate target last month. Its goal is to cut emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases by 78 percent by 2035 compared with 1990 levels. For the first time, the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions will also be incorporated.

Sharma said: “Thank you to my friend Minister Schulze for co-hosting the Petersberg Climate Dialogue XII. We have covered many vital areas of UN climate change negotiations and I leave optimistic the political will is there to reach a balanced negotiated outcome in Glasgow. We have work to do ahead of COP26 and mobilising finance for climate action is the highest priority. All donor countries must do our part and embrace the opportunities which unleash investment at scale. A global green and resilient recovery from Covid-19 is within our reach, we can and must seize it.

“I urge all ministers to not lose sight of our real task here, the climate crisis is the greatest challenge we face and it is entirely within our power to address it. These negotiations may seem technical but they lay the foundations for the global fight against climate change. We must find consensus and I will not rest until we do. That’s why I intend to meet with ministers in-person in July as we look to shape an outcome from Glasgow that leaves no one and no issue behind, keeping the chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees alive.”

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