News
22 Apr 2021, 10:00
Kerstine Appunn

Biden’s global climate summit raises hopes among German NGOs and industry

Clean Energy Wire

[Update adds industry association and FfF comments]

Tomorrow’s Climate Leaders’ Summit (22-23 April) hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden has raised high hopes among Germany’s climate activists and industry that it will mark the return of the U.S. to the international climate stage. As reports are pouring in of Biden announcing a new climate target that could represent a “near-doubling” of the nation’s current Paris Agreement target, Christoph Bals of NGO Germanwatch said: “The U.S. cannot claim leadership after losing four years under Trump, but it can become a force for new momentum: by pursuing more climate action at home and by supporting strong target announcements by other countries.”

The summit will be attended by the leaders of large emitters, such as China, Russia and the European Union as well as many other heads of state and government.

Industry association BDI welcomed the summit as an necessary signal for more speed in international climate policy. “German industry is calling for a spirit of optimism for a globally coordinated climate policy, as brought about by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's proposal for global corporate taxation,” said BDI president Siegfried Russwurm. “The next step must be the binding decision of a common CO2 price to be introduced at least at G20 level.” German industry traditionally calls for global joint climate action instead of national measures to ensure a global level playing field for its members.

Student climate activist movement Fridays for Future called for worldwide protests on Friday (23 April) under the slogan “No More Empty Promises” and “No More Empty Summits”. “My country has been devastated by typhoons and droughts,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan from the Philippines. “I am afraid of drowning in my own bedroom because leaders, especially from the Global North, are constantly spewing out empty promises and holding summits to congratulate themselves for far-off net-zero targets. Their vague goals and plans mean nothing to us who can lose our lives at any moment.”

“The U.S. and other major emitters must use the climate summit and upcoming conferences to present substantial progress on emissions reductions and funding for vulnerable countries,” Sven Harmeling of CARE Germany said. Chancellor Angela Merkel “must show her colours and announce that Germany will double its climate finance pledges to at least eight billion euros by 2025,” he added.

European leaders will show up at Biden’s summit with an agreed new climate law in hand, but activists from DNR and WWF Germany have pointed out that the new EU target of reducing emissions by “at least 55 percent,” including negative emissions of natural sinks by 2030, was not a strong enough signal to other leaders to raise climate ambitions. But E3G has said that all 27 EU countries have committed to keeping green recovery on the international agenda in 2021 and will have a strong story to tell at the summit of earmarking 37 percent of stimulus money to climate causes and their commitment to “do no significant harm” with their recovery investments.

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