Content

Background

Earth as light bulb
UN Secretary General António Guterres

"Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. We have the tools to make our actions effective. What we still lack – even after the Paris Agreement – is the leadership and the ambition to do what is needed."

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

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.

Soroti solar power plant in Uganda

Well below two degrees, and 1.5 degrees if possible

Scientists are agreed 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. This 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 be achieved if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced as quickly as possible. That will only be possible by continuing to massively scale up the use of renewable energy. And carbon sinks, such as forests and oceans, will have to be preserved and protected so as to facilitate the sequestration of emitted carbon dioxide, thus reducing the strain on the global atmosphere. This requires fast and far-reaching technological, economic and social change.

Nomad with water canister in Kenya

The consequences of failing to reach the targets

Failing to achieve the climate targets would have devastating consequences: depending on the scenario, this would lead to an even more significant increase in sea temperatures than so far and a rise in sea levels by several metres.

The consequences that we are already witnessing 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 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 progress may then be undone; achievements in the struggle against poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy will be jeopardised. Inevitably, therefore, climate policy is also development policy. After all, climate change does not stop at the border. Its impacts are not limited to specific areas of policy, sectors of the economy or social groups – but poor population groups are particularly vulnerable. It is therefore important to take account of these interdependencies when addressing 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. Urban areas compete with agriculture for water and food. The migration of people from rural areas to cities greatly increases population pressure in urban centres, where action to protect the climate must be harmonised with the creation of jobs and the growth in motorised transport.

Steps must be taken to reconcile differing needs, create incentives for climate-friendly behaviour and open up opportunities for adaptation to climate change. This is not only about limiting and preventing the negative effects of climate change. The transition to a climate-friendly and climate-resilient economy also offers enormous opportunities for economic development and poverty reduction. Decentralised energy supply systems based on renewable energy sources do not only contribute to climate change mitigation. They also help, above all, to reduce energy poverty and facilitate economic and social development even in remote regions. According to the latest 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 policy, and it harmonises its activities with the guiding resolutions of the international community. After all, as German Development Minister Gerd Müller put it, "We need global awareness of climate change. We're all in the same boat. Climate action is a vital issue for the survival of humankind."

The "Climate Planet" at the World Climate Conference COP23 in Bonn, 2017

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, and implementation has started. To implement the Paris Agreement, all countries agreed on a comprehensive "rulebook" at the 2018 World Climate Conference. Implementation of the goals has begun. However, now it is crucial to reinforce and accelerate efforts so that the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to two 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 implement their current climate action plans systematically. Over time, they will also have to define new and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions.

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 make progress on the implementation of the climate targets at the international level. They include

For more information on each initiative, go to the respective sections.

Logo: NDC Partnership

G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth

Implementing the Paris Agreement will require a strong international alliance that works for sustainable development within the boundaries of our planet. For example, during its G20 Presidency in 2016 and 2017, Germany made a point of closely linking the implementation of climate, energy and development goals in G20 and developing countries. The G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth was an important step towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement. All the G20 countries committed themselves to this plan. The only exception was the US government, which stated its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

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

Based on the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth, the Argentinian Presidency in 2018 worked on further evolving the G20 Adaptation Work Programme. 

In line with the priorities of the Argentine and Japanese G20 presidencies, Germany and the World Bank jointly published a study on 'Financing a Resilient Urban Future: A Policy Brief on World Bank and Global Experience on Financing Climate-Resilient Urban Infrastructure' at the end of 2018 as a contribution to the G20 work programme on adaptation and resilience.

Germany is also working closely with the current Japanese G20 Presidency on climate and development.

  • 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, the international community, meeting in New York in September 2015, had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  • Wind power turbine at sunrise
    Mitigation

    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, transition to 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

    Tackling the consequences of climate change

    In addition to focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, attention must be given to the risks and consequences of climate change. They often impact most severely on the least developed countries.

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, the international community, meeting in New York in September 2015, had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the year 2000. Unlike the MDGs, they take account not only of the social dimension of sustainable development but also of its economic and ecological dimensions. 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 endeavours.

Infographic on the topic of the "Paris Agreement"

The 2030 Agenda and climate change

There are, moreover, several SDGs that contribute to the achievement of climate change mitigation and adaptation goals. For instance, sustainable urban development (SDG 11) is linked to the development of lower-emission public transport. And actions that are geared, for example, to climate change adaptation in agriculture usually have a positive impact on food security (SDG 2) and poverty reduction (SDG 1).

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 climate change mitigation and adaptation are vital because in their absence, progress towards development that has already been achieved may be undone and future progress is put at risk.

In practical terms, this means that development must be climate-smart. To this end, most countries have now specified Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are at the heart of the Paris Agreement. Over time, the NDCs are to become more ambitious, taking the international community closer towards reaching the Paris Agreement targets. Achievement of the targets is to be monitored. The rules for this have been negotiated by the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2018.

Global partnership for the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions

In order to make headway on the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions, Germany (the Development Ministry and the Environment Ministry) joined forces in 2016 with Morocco, the World Resources Institute and numerous other countries and international organisations to set up the global NDC Partnership.

The Partnership is intended to act as a driver for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It supports the efforts of poorer countries to harmonise their climate and development goals, translate them into appropriate action and access climate and development finance opportunities for this purpose. This is providing a better basis for partner countries to define even more ambitious climate goals quickly.

Wind power turbine at sunrise
Mitigation

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, transition to 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. 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 has also been confirmed by a study of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It shows that, in G20 countries, investment in climate action can lead to a higher gross domestic product, both in the short term and in the long term.

Transformation of the transport sector needed

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 systematic support for 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 as a result of the conversion of forests into farmland, but also through greenhouse gas emissions from farming activities.

The BMZ is providing strong support to the efforts of its partner countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the areas of energy, urban development, transport and agriculture and forestry. In concrete terms, this involves a gradual shift to energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal power, and efforts for increased energy efficiency. Emissions can also be prevented through climate-smart urban development and innovative infrastructure planning in urban centres. At the same time, it is important to pursue the systematic conservation of forests in order to 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

Tackling the consequences of climate change

In addition to focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, attention must be given to 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 focuses on poor and vulnerable countries and population groups.

Germany's activities in this area involve, firstly, no-regret measures that definitely contribute to sustainable development, even if the extent of climate change turns 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.

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.

Creating an enabling environment

Developing the capacity 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 and financing mechanisms at all levels must be coordinated 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.

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 together with international partners in 2017.

Promising approaches to adaptation to climate change

The impact of the greenhouse gas emissions of the past on the global climate is already irreversible, and this impact is primarily affecting poor and particularly vulnerable population groups. The BMZ therefore supports its partner countries' efforts to deal with climate-related risks.

The following publication provides an overview of the BMZ's activities in the field of adaptation, with a special focus on adaptation and the private sector (including innovative financing instruments).

Climate change and development

Facts and figures

Infographic on the topic of the "Paris Agreement"
Infographic on the topic of "Adaptation to climate change"
Infographic on the topic of "NDC Partnership"
Infographic on the topic of "Energy and Climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Cities and climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Mobility and climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Water and climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Agriculture and climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Forests and climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Oceans and climate"
Infographic on the topic of "Climate risk management"
Infographic on the topic of "InsuResilience"
Infographic on the topic of "Climate finance"
Infographic on the topic of "The private sector and climate change"
Climate change and development

BMZ publications

Table of contents

Topic "Climate change and development"

BMZ glossary

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