Content

Background

Earth as light bulb

"If we take climate action seriously, this means that we must not only take action in our own country but must also, and in particular, significantly scale up our efforts for global climate protection. Because saving the climate is vital to the survival of humanity."

Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

Climate change – Time to act

Any delay in taking action to protect the climate will restrict future options and drive up costs, warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The global transformation towards climate-friendly and climate-resilient development has been launched. In 2015, the international community created a political framework for this transformation by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.

  • Hashtag of the World Climate Conference COP21 in Paris, 2015
    Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda

    A set of tasks for the coming years

    The Paris Agreement was adopted at the climate conference in December 2015 and entered into force one year later. Just a few months before, in September 2015 in New York, the international community had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  • Soroti solar power plant in Uganda
    G20 Action Plan

    Climate and energy for growth

    Implementing the Paris climate agreement will require a strong international alliance. In 2017, as part of its G20 Presidency, Germany launched the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth, which serves as the basis for the climate targets of the G20.

Hashtag of the World Climate Conference COP21 in Paris, 2015
Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda

A set of tasks for the coming years

The Paris Agreement was adopted at the climate conference in December 2015 and entered into force one year later.

Just a few months earlier, in September 2015 in New York, the international community had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to the social dimension, these goals also take into account the economic and ecological dimensions of sustainable development. Another difference between the two is that the SDGs apply to every country in the world. With the 2030 Agenda, the international community has created a pact on the world's future that is to be implemented by industrialised and developing countries alike.

The Paris Agreement makes explicit reference to the 2030 Agenda, thereby recognising the close links between the two agreements. The fact that the 2030 Agenda contains a specific climate action goal (SDG 13) is another indication of the close links between the two.

All countries contribute to implementing the Paris climate agreement through ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). To this end, the set of rules for developing and reporting on the NDCs was adopted at COP 2018.

Over time, the NDCs are to become more ambitious, taking the international community closer towards reaching the Paris Agreement targets. In order to move forward on the implementation of the NDCs, Germany, together with other partners, initiated the global NDC Partnership.

Infographic on the topic of the "Paris Agreement"

The role of the 2030 Agenda

There are several SDGs that contribute to the achievement of climate change mitigation and adaptation goals. Using resilient agricultural methods (SDG 2.4) also improves adaptability to climate change, and sustainable urban development (SDG 11), with the expansion of public transport, helps to reduce emissions.

Conversely, measures to help agriculture adapt to climate change usually have a positive effect on food security (SDG 2) and poverty reduction (SDG 1). Whilst there are many synergies between the two agendas, potential tradeoffs need to be discussed and avoided by adopting coherent policies. The 2030 Agenda requires that the increasing demand for food, energy and water be fulfilled in such a way that greenhouse gas emissions and the pressure on the ecosystem are limited, and that no one is left behind.

The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement thus highlight the fact that sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation in fact form a single agenda: sustainable development makes societies more resilient to climate change and promotes the restructuring of national economies along climate-friendly lines, and without climate change mitigation and adaptation, there would be a risk of development achievements being undone and future progress put at risk.

Soroti solar power plant in Uganda
G20 Action Plan

G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth

For implementing the Paris Agreement, the international community will have to collaborate closely. In 2017, as part of its G20 Presidency, Germany launched the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth. As the most comprehensive package ever adopted by the G20, it was an important signal showing that all G20 countries – except the US government – are committed to the swift implementation of the Paris climate agreement.

Since then, the Action Plan has been the basis for defining the climate targets of the G20. Under the current Japanese presidency, a G20 Action Agenda on Adaptation and Resilient Infrastructure was adopted. This G20 Action Agenda lists alls the measures and initiatives of the G20 countries that help to increase resilience to climate change and improve disaster risk management.

As a contribution to the G20 working programme on adaptation and resilience, Germany and the World Bank in late 2018 published a study on financing climate-resilient infrastructure in urban areas.

An overview of the outcomes achieved in the areas of climate and development under Germany's G20 Presidency can be found here.

Well below two degrees, and 1.5 degrees if possible

Scientists agree that climate change is largely anthropogenic in nature. It can only be kept within manageable limits if we systematically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the Paris Agreement, the international community made a commitment to keep average global warming well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to undertake efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The stricter target has been set in consideration of the interests of small island states in particular, whose very existence is under acute threat from global warming.

This ambitious goal can only be reached if the use of renewable energy is scaled up massively. And carbon sinks, such as forests and oceans, will have to be protected and preserved in a good ecological condition so they can sequester carbon dioxide from the air, thereby reducing the strain on the global atmosphere. This requires fast and far-reaching technological, economic and social change.

The 2018 IPCC special report on the 1.5 degree target reaffirmed the urgency to make this change happen as soon as possible. Even 1.5 degrees of global warming will have dramatic and irreversible consequences.

Nomad with water canister in Kenya

The consequences of failing on climate action

Failing to achieve the climate targets would have devastating consequences. Depending on the ultimate scenario, there would be an even more significant increase in sea temperatures, and sea levels could rise by several metres over the long term.

The consequences that we are already witnessing today would become even more severe: as a result of taking up more and more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, oceans are becoming more acidic, causing widespread destruction of plant and animal life in some areas. The rise in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is posing a hazard to humans and to the environment. Entire regions are at risk of becoming excessively arid or becoming uninhabitable because of excessive heat or flooding. In some parts of the world, food production and supply are in jeopardy as a result of these developments.

And even if humanity manages to limit the temperature rise to well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, the world will still have to expect that some of the consequences of climate change that are already evident will become more severe.

Street scene in Maputo, Mozambique

Climate policy is also development policy

Hard-won economic and social achievements in the struggle against poverty, hunger and disease and for better education are at stake. Inevitably, therefore, climate policy is also development policy. The impacts of climate change are not limited to specific areas of policy, sectors of the economy or social groups – but poor population groups are particularly vulnerable. Therefore these interdependencies must be taken into account in all efforts to combat climate change.

Agriculture, for example, is an important source of income for many people in developing countries, but it is coming under increasing pressure as a result of climate change. At the same time, agriculture is itself a major contributor to climate change, for example through the cutting down of forests and through methane emissions from livestock farming. However, climate protection measures in rural areas should at the same time also create jobs and provide sustainable communication and mobility options.

Steps must be taken to reconcile differing needs, create incentives for climate-friendly behaviour and develop options for adaptation to climate change. And this is not just about mitigating climate change. Climate-friendly and climate-resilient transformation also offers tremendous opportunities for economic development and poverty reduction.

Decentralised energy supply systems based on renewable energy sources do not only protect the climate but also help, above all, to reduce energy poverty and promote economic and social progress even in remote regions. According to the New Climate Economy Report, bold climate action could deliver at least 26 trillion UD dollars in economic benefits in the period up to 2030.

Germany is contributing to this through its development cooperation and harmonises its activities with the guiding resolutions of the international community. Because "we're all in the same boat. Climate action is vital to the survival of humanity," as underlined by German Development Minister Gerd Müller.

Implementation of the climate targets has started

For the coming years, the policy framework has been put in place through the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Specific targets have been defined. In order to implement the Paris Agreement, all countries agreed on a comprehensive Rulebook at COP24 in Katowice, and implementation has begun. However, now it is crucial to reinforce and accelerate efforts so that the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 2 or 1.5 degrees can still be reached and progress can be made on adaptation to climate change.

To that end, countries will not only have to systematically implement their current climate action plans. Over time, they will also have to define new and more ambitious plans for their Nationally Determined Contributions. In September 2019, in an effort to mobilise more political commitment and make the NDCs more ambitious, António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, called a climate action summit in New York.

Active at many levels – global initiatives

Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the German government has launched and supported some major climate initiatives in order to move forward on the implementation of the climate targets at international level. These initiatives include

At the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, a number of sectoral initiatives were launched, specifically:

  • Wind power turbine at sunrise
    Reducing greenhouse gases

    The goal: a low-carbon economy

    Decisive action is needed if the international community is to achieve its climate targets. Above all, the world must decarbonise – that is, make the transition towards a low-carbon economy. In particular, this is a task for the energy sector, which is responsible for the majority of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Drying coffee beans in the coffee cooperative in Embu, Kenya
    Adaptation to climate change

    Tackling the consequences of climate change

    Climate change is already posing a threat to countless people's livelihoods and this threat will increase in the future. That is why we not only need to combat climate change but also need to provide support in adapting to its consequences.

Wind power turbine at sunrise
Reducing greenhouse gases

The goal: a low-carbon economy

Decisive action is needed if the international community is to achieve its climate targets. Above all, the world must decarbonise - that is, make the transition towards a low-carbon economy. In particular, this is a task for the energy sector, which accounts for the majority of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. The global energy transition must involve the progressive phasing out of fossil fuels by 2050, a massive increase in the use of renewables, and major improvements in energy efficiency. The example of Germany shows that an energy transition is possible and has a positive impact in terms of growth and employment.

This was also confirmed by several studies: According to the New Climate Economy Report, for instance, low-carbon growth could deliver 26 trillion US dollars in economic benefits in the period up to 2030.

Ambitious action is needed in all sectors

If the energy transition is to become reality, there needs to be a global transformation of transport systems. This can only be brought about through sustainable forms of transport, such as public transport, cycling and walking, and a shift to alternative fuel vehicles. The agricultural and forestry sectors are also significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, especially when forests are converted into farmland, but also due to greenhouse gas emissions from farming activities.

The BMZ is supporting its partner countries in reducing greenhouse gases in the areas of energy, transport, and agriculture and forestry. In concrete terms, this involves a gradual shift in the energy sector towards renewables, such as solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal power, and requires further efforts for increased energy efficiency. In addition, climate-smart urban development and innovative infrastructure planning help to avoid emissions in urban centres. At the same time, it is important to systematically protect forests and, in this way, facilitate carbon sequestration.

All of this has to happen in a context of global population growth in a world where – despite continuing efforts – nearly one person in ten still lives on less than 1.90 US dollars per day.

Drying coffee beans in the coffee cooperative in Embu, Kenya
Adaptation to climate change

Tackling the consequences of climate change

In addition to focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is becoming increasingly important to successfully address the risks and consequences of climate change. They often impact most severely on the least developed countries. In its programmes in support of adaptation to climate change, the BMZ therefore targets poor and vulnerable countries and population groups. There is a lack of capacity and money for improved disaster preparedness, sustainable water supply or forward-looking adaptation of economic structures. Moreover, people's livelihoods very much depend on agriculture, and agricultural yields could decrease dramatically or be completely destroyed as a result of climate change.

Germany's activities in this area involve, firstly, no-regret measures that definitely contribute to sustainable development, even if the extent of climate change should turn out to be less than was feared. More efficient irrigation in agriculture is an example of such a measure. Secondly, Germany supports activities that specifically target certain forms of climatic change - such as setting up systems to monitor water levels or making public infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Decision-makers require specific knowledge in order to analyse climate risks and assess how and where investment in adaptation should be made. The BMZ offers its partner countries comprehensive support, which may take the form of specific investments or involve advice, training, and research and development (for instance, climate risk analyses).

Creating an enabling environment

Developing the capacity and expertise to deal with climate change on the basis of sound knowledge is an important aspect throughout the BMZ's work. For change to be effective in the long term, it must be embedded in appropriate political and legal structures, and strong institutions must be created that can drive such change.

Within a given country, regulation, planning, financing mechanisms and implementation must be coordinated at all levels in order to tackle climate change. To this end, use must also be made of the expertise and capital of private players, so as to jointly give direction to the desired transformation. Through its development cooperation, Germany provides its partner countries with advice and support as they launch the relevant coordination and planning processes and drive their implementation.

For example, the BMZ assists various countries with the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). NDCs and NAPs form the foundation for systematic progress on adaptation to climate change and on the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. The BMZ also supports comprehensive climate risk management activities that enhance resilience and facilitate access to financial protection mechanisms such as climate risk insurance. It was with this goal in mind that the BMZ launched the InsuResilience Global Partnership in 2017.

Mobilising more commitment to adaptation

The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) was founded in October 2018 at the initiative of the Netherlands and the World Resources Institute (WRI). Following the launch of a Flagship Report at the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, implementation began in various thematic fields, the so-called Action Tracks. The GCA works to mobilise more commitment to adaptation to climate change and increasing resilience. It is chaired by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BMGF) and a senior executive of the World Bank act as co-chairs.

There are 19 countries, Germany among them, that are working to mobilise support for the Commission's work. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is a co-patron of the Commission, Development Minister Gerd Müller represents Germany as a GCA member. The BMZ is supporting several Action Tracks of the GCA. It is active especially in the field of agriculture and food security and is also working for the promotion of agro-ecological approaches. In this context, the BMZ is helping to protect and increase the income and yields of 60 million farmers in rural areas in the period up to 2030. The overarching goal of the Action Track is to make 300 million smallholders more resilient to climate change, including through the expansion of microinsurance. In order to help achieve this goal, the BMZ is also an active member of the InsuResilience Global Partnership.

Climate change and development

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