17 Dec 2018, 10:11
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

COP24 reactions from Germany: “A victory for multilateralism”

Photo after the final plenary at COP24 UN climate change conference in Katowice, Poland. Photo: UNFCCC 2018.
The deal reached on a climate action rulebook at COP24 in Katowice was immediately hailed as a victory for multilateralism. Photo: UNFCCC 2018.

Nearly 200 nations agreed on a rulebook for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement at the UN climate change conference COP24 in Katowice, Poland. The deal on climate action rules was immediately hailed as a victory for multilateralism, a sentiment shared by many commentators from Germany. Clean Energy Wire CLEW has gathered first reactions on the climate conference outcome from politicians, NGOs, business and media in the country of the Energiewende. [UPDATE - Commentary by minister Altmaier, Handelsblatt]

Government and politicians

Svenja Schulze, German environment minister

“This is a strong signal for the global political capacity to act, for multilateralism. I am very relieved that we succeeded in this together. In geopolitically difficult times, this conference has shown that it is worthwhile to work persistently for a global consensus.”

"We have achieved that, for the first time, not only half the world, but the whole world can be scrutinised when it comes to climate action."

“Europe not only spoke with one voice in these difficult negotiations – we Europeans were active and strong vanguards for robust and clear rules for climate action. With our commitment to climate protection and solidarity, we have joined forces with those countries that suffer most from climate change.”


Peter Altmaier, German economy and energy minister

“The good thing is that there was a result at all in Katowice, but it is not sufficient at all to stop climate change. We need a fresh approach in Germany too, by policymakers and by companies. We are able to combat climate change without threatening jobs but instead by creating new ones. That’s the challenge we’re facing. The energy transition has to become a success story that we can export to other countries." (Source)


Anja Weisgerber, climate representative of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag

“One thing became clear again in Katowice: we cannot save the climate on our own. Climate protection is not a national, but a global task. That is why we must support the poorest and weakest countries in building up their economies in a climate-friendly way right from the start. […] By 2020, German climate financing from the federal budget is to rise to four billion euros per year. This is well invested money, because it helps to combat climate-induced causes of migration.

But we are also doing our homework in Germany. Next year we will pass a climate protection law that will ensure that we achieve our 2030 climate targets. In addition to the energy sector, all other sectors - transport, buildings and agriculture - will also have to contribute to this.”


Non-governmental organisations and researchers

Christoph Bals, Policy Director at Germanwatch:

“The result of Katowice is also a victory for multilateralism. However, now it is about implementing the Paris Agreement. We now need government decisions for ambitious climate protection at home. The climate movement, which is forming worldwide from the Hambach Forest to resistance to pipelines to climate school strikes – and has also become visible here in Katowice, will now demand the necessary climate action from the governments ever more vehemently.”

“Germany played a constructive role at the climate summit in Katowice. The country provided urgently needed money for climate protection and adaptation in poor countries. But the role could have been even stronger if Germany had announced its intention to phase out coal here."

After the climate summit in Katowice, Germany must finally take a leading role again through action. The coal phase-out, the mobility transition and a CO₂ price should be included in the climate action law next year. Germany can also promote transformative partnerships for the implementation of the energy and transport transition with relevant developing and emerging countries in the interests of both sides.”


Jennifer Tollmann, Climate Diplomacy Researcher, E3G

“In the end the EU, and Germany, did finally step up as a bridge-builder to deliver the Katowice ambition package. But countries don’t get pats on the back for recognising more needs to be done. What matters is whether they’re willing to do the homework to deliver more climate action: Will Germany use the planned climate action act to kick-off a real debate on how more can be done in a socially-sustainable way?  And what will Germany be bringing to the table at the UN Secretary General summit come September?”


Martin Kaiser, executive director at Greenpeace Germany

“Katowice has disappointed the expectations of millions of people. This climate conference failed to answer the most pressing question: When will governments finally start to noticeably reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? […] The only glimmer of light at this climate summit is the rulebook. It creates transparency and thus the basis for more trust between countries. This instruction manual is an engine for the Paris Agreement. It could be a stronger one, but at least implementation can now finally pick up speed.”

“In Katowice, the German environment minister did not succeed in giving further hope to the inhabitants of the small island states and other victims of the climate crisis. […] After ten lost years for climate protection under chancellor Angela Merkel, the German government no longer has a credible voice at this conference. Germany will only win it back if the German government decides an ambitious coal phase-out by 2030 at the latest and initiates the phase-out of the combustion engine and a transition in agriculture next year.”


Michael Schäfer, head of climate and energy policy at WWF Germany

“At the end of this year full of extreme weather events, the world's governments are still a long way from tackling the necessary climate action. One thing has become quite clear: The world's governments need much more pressure from their citizens to finally take climate protection seriously.”               


Ottmar Edenhofer, designated director of The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

“Once again, governments from around the world have shown that they are capable and willing to work together to protect their citizens from climate risks. Despite an increasing number of populist governments, multilateralism has triumphed. But the world needs more than just climate policy goals and processes - it needs concrete measures to reduce greenhouse gases; and it needs these measures not at some point in the future, but now. [...] Through appropriate policies – such as effective CO₂ pricing – governments must build a new relationship of trust with their citizens. A CO₂ price cannot solve everything, but without it nothing can be solved.”


Hubert Weiger, chairman of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND)

“In order to prevent a steadily worsening climate crisis, the countries would have to improve their climate protection targets in line with the 1.5-degree limit - this did not happen in Katowice." BUND welcomes the fact that the necessary, binding rules for the comparability of climate protection measures have been adopted. “But observing these rules alone will not automatically lead to an improvement in climate action. The gap between the Paris climate target and the necessary climate protection measures is still too wide. Germany is no exception and must now change course,“ writes BUND.


Hermann Ott, executive committee member at environmental umbrella NGO DNR

“We welcome the promises made by the environment minister about increasing the contribution to the Green Climate Fund, but they could not divert attention from the fact that Germany is now a climate loser at the national level. How can the German government credibly commit itself internationally to ambitious climate action if it does not make any progress at the national level? At COP24, Germany announced only vague political measures that had long been known. […] Germany will have to initiate a legally clean and fast coal phase-out immediately after the report of the coal commission is published."


Sven Harmeling, climate expert at CARE Germany

“The governments have at least agreed to adopt an important set of rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. However, much faster and stronger climate protection measures are now needed at the national level, including in Germany, and support for poor countries in building up their resilience to climate change.”


Olaf Tschimpke, president of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU)

"On the international stage, the federal government has shown itself to be very determined and constructive. It has tried to build bridges with the poorest states through financial commitments made by federal ministers Schulze and Müller and through pressing ahead with negotiations. But this cannot hide the fact that national climate protection policy has been at a standstill for years and that, unfortunately, environment minister Schulze, who shined here in Poland, is being held back at home by members of government from all parties when it comes to significantly increasing national climate targets."


Pirmin Spiegel, executive director at Misereor

The discrepancy between the need for more ambitious action in the fight against climate change and the lack of will on the part of the states to implement it has become more than clear in Poland: "Germany too has once again brought in the knowledge and diplomatic skills of its experts, but has not promised concrete measures to reduce emissions. One sign of hope is that the contributions to the Green Climate, and Adaptation funds have been increased.”


Industry and business

Dieter Kempf, Federation of German Industries (BDI)

“The compromise reached in Katowice is urgently needed to make at least some progress on the way towards implementing the Paris Climate Agreement (…) Companies need reliability in the rulebook in order for the transformation of our energy systems to be a success (…) Trust in the emissions reduction efforts of other states are as necessary as a CO2 price to reach the climate targets in a cost-efficient way. Especially the G20 states now should be determined to push for the development and implementation of a carbon pricing system (…) It would be wrong to come up with overly ambitious reduction targets now that impede on the competitiveness of key industry branches and which would pull the plug on Europe’s basic materials industry.” (Source)  


Simone Peter, President of the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE)

“COP24 in Katowice ended with an inadequate result after tough negotiations for more ambition in climate protection. Although the IPCC reports have been recognised as ground-breaking, and all countries must present better climate protection targets for 2030, it is completely unclear how they will actually achieve them. It's up to the countries to decide what to do with the Katowice outcome. We still need pioneers in climate protection who can show that the energy transition is technically, economically and socially feasible. The German government must urgently give climate protection more priority again. This also includes an exit path for coal.”


Stefan Kapferer, head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW)

"It is remarkable that, despite the numerous and sometimes fierce opposition of some states, viable compromises have been reached. It is particularly important that in future there will be common rules for measuring and reporting climate protection and greenhouse gas emissions. This will create the necessary transparency and comparability of climate protection policies in the individual countries.

In Germany, too, we must not ease climate action efforts. Clear and ambitious national targets are important. But credibility suffers if we have to admit on a regular basis that we miss the targets we have set ourselves - as we have just done in Germany with the climate target for 2020.”


Utz Tillmann, executive director at the German Chemicals Industry Association (VCI)

“The new rule book adopted yesterday creates the basis for making the system more transparent. It is a first step towards establishing a global set of rules for climate protection in the long term. Despite Katowice, however, we are still a long way from similar conditions of competition for industry.”

“Global rules for CO₂ prices and suitable market instruments have unfortunately not made it into the rulebook. This makes it much more difficult for companies in Europe to come up with the considerable investments in low-emission technologies.” According to Tillmann, there is still a great deal of disagreement worldwide about a CO₂ price. "CO₂ markets with the same rules for all major emitters would be the ideal way to reduce global emissions," says Tillmann. The VCI managing director hopes for further progress here, at least at the G20 level.



Werner Eckert, German public broadcaster SWR

“These climate conferences are overloaded with expectations. During the two weeks, world rescue is not even on the agenda. Climate protection is homework for the states. The conferences only set the framework, the rules, and summarise the national programmes. This is difficult enough when almost 200 governments have to agree in the end. Therefore, the results in Katowice are not an ideal solution. Only: a small step forward.”


Daniel Wetzel, Die Welt

“What a Greek king once said after the battle won against the Romans also applies to the result of Katowice: "Another victory like that and we are lost." For once again the outcome of the world climate conference remained meagre in terms of content, and progress was slow. It should now be seen as proven that the pace of the UN climate process is not compatible with the findings of science. Researchers recommend halving global emissions in just twelve years if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. If, however, it takes three to five years for the handbook on the Paris Climate Agreement to be drafted, then this will not work out.”

“If success means not having failed completely, then the United Nations Climate Secretariat in Katowice was victorious. Let us remember: Multilateral agreements between states are not exactly in fashion at the moment. World politics is characterised by nationalism, isolation, breaking alliances and dissolving communities of values.”


Silke Kersting, Handelsblatt

“Katowice was not a sufficient answer to advancing climate change. No country dared to venture out of cover with concrete steps for swifter action. (…) Others say the negotiations were not that bad after all, given the difficult geopolitical circumstances. (…) The good thing is that the nitty-gritty of how exactly the praised Paris Agreement can be implemented is finally being addressed. (…) This also finally opens the door for the crucial question in Germany: How can the use of fossil energy sources be curbed so that the country becomes largely greenhouse-gas neutral by the middle of the century? (…) One thing is clear: The Climate Action Law slated for 2019 by environment minister Svenja Schulze will be the litmus test. The whole government will have to show that it is capable of speaking with one voice.”

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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