At the end of the world’s hottest year since weather records began, the federal government decided on a comprehensive strategy for its climate foreign policy. The 74-page paper describes combating the climate crisis and its fatal consequences as a “central human task of this century”. Global warming is already endangering human lives in many places, according to the strategy approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. Inequalities and distribution conflicts would be exacerbated, people would be forced to flee and conflicts would be fueled.

With such a broadly formulated climate strategy, Germany is a pioneer – it is “the most comprehensive strategy in the world,” said Climate State Secretary Jennifer Morgan in Dubai. The strategy also creates more transparency, especially for the public. And: “The federal government is networking better and defining common goals and areas of action.”

The federal government wants to work “with all its might” to achieve the goal agreed in Paris in 2015 of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. By 2030, global emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases must be almost halved compared to 2019, it is said. Germany wants to accelerate the global energy transition in order to “gradually” phase out coal, oil and gas – unless the emissions can be captured and stored.

Support for poor countries

The exit from fossil fuels is a central point of contention at the ongoing UN climate conference of almost 200 countries in Dubai. While more than 100 countries want to formally decide on this, many are against it – including oil states like Saudi Arabia.

In the strategy paper, Germany also commits to supporting poor countries that are particularly suffering from the consequences of global warming – such as more frequent and severe droughts, forest fires, floods and storms. They say they remain a “good and reliable partner in international climate financing.” However, in view of the budget crisis in the federal government, there is currently talk about possible cuts to such budget items. Cooperation with rainforest states in particular should continue to be strengthened in order to stop deforestation by 2030.

According to the paper, climate foreign policy should also protect German interests and help expand Germany and Europe as economic locations. An ambitious climate policy should “not be a locational disadvantage that leads to the migration of important industries,” it warns.

The managing director of Greenpeace in Germany, Martin Kaiser, said that the new climate foreign policy would lose all effect if the current traffic light budget crisis leads to a collapse in international and national climate protection. “That’s why all democratic parties in the Bundestag must now agree on a constitutionally protected special fund of 100 billion euros for climate protection and innovation.”

UN: Climate change is accelerating rapidly

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) said that in these geopolitically challenging times, climate policy is also an opportunity to overcome old rifts in power politics. “Those states that work together and want to achieve something in climate policy have the chance to get everyone on board and lead the world onto the 1.5 degree path that is essential for survival.”

In the warmest decade in recorded history, from 2011 to 2020, climate change accelerated rapidly, according to a new UN report. More and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing “a turbo-driven, dramatic acceleration of ice melting and sea level rise,” as the World Weather Organization (WMO) warned on Tuesday at the World Climate Conference. According to the United Nations, instead of 1.5 degrees, the planet is heading for almost 3 degrees by the end of the century – if all of the states’ promises are kept, which many experts doubt.