As the world reels from the economic fallout from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, senior officials from 40 countries gathered in Berlin on Monday for one-on-one discussions on how to stay focused on the fight against climate change.
The event was the 12th Petersberg Conference on Climate Change and was delivered by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Organizers presented the two-day gathering as an opportunity to restore trust between rich and poor nations ahead of this year’s UN climate summit (COP27) in Egypt. Last month’s technical talks saw little progress on key issues such as climate assistance to developing countries.
“Many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries are currently experiencing severe climate impacts,” German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan told The Associated Press. “The question is how to help them adapt to these impacts and when they experience real loss and damage. We also need to show more solidarity.”
Developing countries are still waiting for rich countries to provide $100 billion (98.5 billion euros) in climate aid every year, a target they were supposed to reach by 2020.
However, the big polluters have long resisted the idea that they should pay for the destruction their greenhouse gas emissions cause worldwide.
Closed-door talks in Berlin kick off with experts presenting on the issue of “loss and damage” to ministers, who will then break into small groups to discuss and listen to each other in the hope of building trust ahead of November’s COP27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Global heat waves trigger these discussions
The Berlin meeting comes as scientists say extreme heat the slamming of large parts of the northern hemisphere over the past few weeks could become the new normal in the summer if global warming continues.
“While this meeting is taking place, parts of Europe are cooking, in fact they are burning; and sadly, it is an experience that is already all too familiar to millions around the world,” said Alok Sharma, the UK official who led last year’s climate talks in Glasgow. He told delegates at the opening of the meeting: “My appeal to all of you is, please speed up our work.
“It is incumbent on us in these uncertain times to act quickly to ensure that climate action remains at the top of the international agenda, and that the current situation is not taken as an excuse to backtrack or roll back previous commitments – especially those related to supporting developing countries,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who will chair the Sharm el-Sheikh summit.
China participates in the Berlin meeting. But Russia was not invited.
Where will Europe get its gas from or are there other options?
The issue of energy sources endangered by the Russian war in Ukraine looms over the talks.
Environmental activists warn that recent efforts by countries like Germany to tap new sources of fossil fuels could undermine countries’ already fragile climate actions. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to discuss buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Egypt.
The country’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is himself in Berlin on Monday, just a few kilometers from the venue of the climate talks.
“The Russian war of aggression forces us to make short-term decisions that we don’t like, including increased use of coal for a very limited period of time,” said Morgan, who previously served as head of Greenpeace International.
“But not only are we sticking firmly to our climate goals – we are accelerating the energy transition and phasing out fossil fuel use even faster,” she added, citing a recently approved plan to accelerate solar power. and wind turbine. generation in Germany.
US climate envoy John Kerry is also attending the talks, after setbacks in his efforts to regulate pollution and boost renewable energies.