The COP26 conference in Glasgow in November presented a last chance for bold, new commitments in the fight against climate change and to prevent temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. Germany pledged to curb methane emissions, and end foreign fossil fuel funding, but did not immediately sign a declaration to accelerate the move to zero-emission cars.
While it is still uncertain how the negotiations for a new German government shake out, all eyes are on Europe’s largest economy to be a driving force for climate action. How does Germany view its own role as a climate leader? What do the new pledges and commitments of COP26 mean in practical terms? Watch a conversation with German climate experts after COP26 to take stock of the results, discuss implementation, and the road ahead for Germany as head of the G7 presidency.
Ambassador Emily Haber
“For the first time in the history of the UN Climate Change Conferences, the final declaration contains an agreement on accelerating the global energy transition, away from coal. And linked to this is the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels. I think that is a big win. It is a big win because it means that international climate policy has carved out a new economic model and that the energy transition is unavoidable and on its way.”
“Cooperation is the only way to achieve results on this issue. Global challenges can only be tackled globally, jointly, by all relevant actors. That is why, President Biden and Chancellor Merkel launched the U.S.-Germany Climate and Energy Partnership in July as part of our joint effort to address the threat of climate change.”
“If we look at the COP in terms of buckets, there is a bucket for ambition, one for action, one for negotiation. We think that the COP delivered to some extent on all three.”
“Something else that we saw, which was new: More streamlining of climate and energy. The breakthrough agenda was about setting sectoral targets for some energy sectors, not just clean power, but also vehicles, steel and hydrogen. This is something we’ll look out for and where we hope to see more momentum next.”
“We made substantial progress in transforming our electricity supply towards renewables. So we have 40 percent renewables by now in the German system. But since electricity only accounts for 20 percent of our energy and 80 percent are these mostly fossile energies on the demand-side, there is still a very long road to be taken until we reach overall renewables. The challenge in essence, is to get from 20 percent renewables to 100 percent in 25 years.”
“On the potential of CBAM (carbon-border adjustment mechanism): We already see the potential it has because it already started to impact the climate & energy policies and actions in the partner countries. With Russia maybe being the most obvious example, where we see the business sector being anxious about the possible loss in competitiveness. They started to push the government to come forward with a more ambitious climate and energy policy as soon as CBAM went on the EU Commission’s agenda.”
“Green Hydrogen is the fuel of choice in Europe. It cannot be produced at home (in Germany) at sufficient quantities. That has to do with land use, acceptance rates among the population for additional wind parks on shore. That requires us to ask: with whom do we partner up for covering the import needs for a green hydrogen economy going forward? The long and short of this is that it will change energy geographies.”
Global Europe Program
The Global Europe Program addresses vital issues affecting the European continent, U.S.-European relations, and Europe’s ties with the rest of the world. It does this through scholars-in-residence, seminars, policy study groups, media commentary, international conferences and publications. Activities cover a wide range of topics, from the role of NATO, the European Union and the OSCE to European energy security, trade disputes, challenges to democracy, and counter-terrorism. The program investigates European approaches to policy issues of importance to the United States, including globalization, digital transformation, climate, migration, global governance, and relations with Russia and Eurasia, China and the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Read more
Environmental Change and Security Program
The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy. Read more