Climate change and development
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.
"Responsibility for our planet – climate and energy" is one of the five core areas addressed by the German Development Ministry. The BMZ's activities are geared towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for example through climate-neutral energy generation, forest conservation and climate-friendly mobility, and towards adaptation to climate change, for instance through improved water resource management, climate-resilient agriculture, climate risk analyses and insurance for climate-related damage.
In this way, the BMZ is contributing towards international climate financing and towards making international financial flows climate neutral. In the Paris Agreement, the international community agreed in 2015 on the necessary targets for climate change mitigation, adaptation and financing, particularly on limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and preferably to 1.5 degrees.
Germany and the European Union (EU) have a special responsibility in this regard. With the European Green Deal (External link), the EU's new sustainable growth strategy, the EU aims at turning Europe into the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
To achieve this goal, the EU is currently drafting a comprehensive climate law. The negotiations are expected to be concluded in the next six months under the Portuguese Council Presidency. In December 2020, the EU already raised its target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 40 per cent to at least minus 55 per cent compared to 1990 levels. However, the inclusion of natural carbon sinks (e.g. through reforestation) in the new EU NDC could reduce the carbon dioxide reduction goal by about two to five per cent.
The BMZ assists developing countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the consequences of climate change with a view to implementing international climate and development goals. In order to make that happen, the BMZ and its partners have launched and supported a number of climate initiatives of international significance.
They include the NDC Partnership (External link), which seeks to help countries implement, and increase the ambition of, their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, and the InsuResilience Global Partnership for climate risk insurance. The BMZ also supports the expansion of renewable energy generation and reforestation in Africa, and forest conservation worldwide. Other BMZ initiatives focus on sustainable urban transport and climate-neutral transport.
Implementation of the Paris Agreement
Climate change can only be kept within manageable limits if we systematically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Any delay in taking action to protect the climate will make future action more difficult and drive up costs, warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (External link) (IPCC).
The adoption of the Paris Agreement (External link) was the first time that nearly all countries in the world made a commitment to limit climate change. They want to limit the human-made rise in global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to adapt to the consequences of climate change.
In order to make that happen, all parties to the Agreement have to define their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In their NDCs, countries describe how they plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. Over time, the NDCs are to become more ambitious, taking the international community closer towards reaching the Paris Agreement targets. The parties to the Agreement therefore made a commitment that, from 2020, they would present new and improved NDCs every five years. Further steps along these lines will be adopted in 2021 at the next global climate conference (COP26 (External link)) in Glasgow, UK.
The industrialised countries have also pledged to provide technical and financial support to developing countries' efforts for climate change mitigation and adaptation. By 2020, the German government will have doubled its international climate finance from budget funding over 2014 levels, bringing it to a total of 4 billion euros. 80 to 90 per cent of German annual funding for international climate finance comes from the budget of the BMZ.
The global transformation towards climate-neutral and climate-resilient development has been launched. In 2015, the international community created a political framework for such a transformation by adopting the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Climate policy is also development policy
Should the international community fail to achieve the global climate targets, there will be far-reaching and partly irreversible consequences. Even if global warming was limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, sea temperatures would rise even more quickly than to date, and sea levels could rise by several metres over the long term. Entire regions are at risk of becoming excessively arid or could become uninhabitable because of excessive heat or flooding. The rise in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is posing a hazard to humans and the environment.
Developing countries are particularly hard hit. Hard-won economic and social achievements in terms of reduced poverty, hunger and disease and better education and participation are at stake. Climate-neutral and climate-resilient development, on the other hand, offers tremendous opportunities for economic development and poverty reduction. For instance, decentralised energy supply systems based on renewable energy sources do not only protect the climate but also help to reduce energy poverty and promote economic and social progress even in remote regions. Climate-resilient water supplies are vital to people's survival, especially in periods of drought, and facilitate sustainable development.
Climate change mitigation and adaptation
In order to attain the global climate and development goals, what is needed above all is a transition to a largely decarbonised economy. In particular, this is a task for the energy sector, which is responsible for the majority of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. If the energy transition is to become reality, there needs to be a global transformation of transport systems. The agricultural and forestry sectors are also significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, for instance when forests are converted into farmland. And land and oceans are carbon sinks. They need to be protected in order to enable them to store carbon dioxide.
In addition to focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is becoming increasingly important to successfully address the risks and consequences of climate change. Climate change is already affecting many people on a major scale, especially in the least developed countries. However, there is often a lack of capacity and money for a preparedness-based approach to climate change and weather-related disasters and for things such as sustainable water supply systems. Moreover, many people's livelihoods greatly depend on agriculture, and agricultural yields could decrease dramatically or be completely destroyed as a result of climate change.
Avoid, reduce and offset emissions for a climate-neutral world The Development and Climate Alliance and the effort to make the BMZ climate neutral
The BMZ is combining development and climate action measures in an endeavour for the voluntary offsetting of emissions by non-governmental entities, for example enterprises. By creating the Development and Climate Alliance (External link) (in German) in 2018, the BMZ provided a platform for such efforts. The more than 600 supporters of the Alliance are striving to become climate neutral by avoiding, reducing and offsetting emissions. The partners pursue these activities on a voluntary basis. Their actions, which involve contributions to relevant projects in developing and emerging economies, go significantly beyond legal requirements for the reduction of carbon emissions. The offsetting projects in question contribute to technological and economic progress in the countries concerned, helping to improve people's living conditions there.
In the Federal Climate Change Act, 2030 has been established as the target date for making all federal authorities in Germany climate neutral. At the end of 2019, the BMZ became the first federal ministry that is climate neutral. By March 2020, it had already implemented one hundred measures to avoid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including a new official travel guideline, a lower-emission vehicle fleet, and more efficient heating. In order to offset its remaining emissions, the BMZ has purchased quality-checked carbon credits, supporting climate action projects in Nepal and Rwanda. The BMZ wants to bring its carbon footprint close to zero by 2040. For a detailed description of our path to climate neutrality, see our report (in German) on making the BMZ climate neutral by 2020.