15 Nov 2023, 16:26
Julian Wettengel

Geopolitical situation makes upcoming COP28 as important as Paris climate talks – German foreign min

Clean Energy Wire

Geopolitical conflicts like those in Ukraine or the Middle East may force the climate crisis off newspapers’ front pages, but the upcoming UN COP28 talks are still crucial, because climate change often exacerbates other crises and threatens the security and freedom of people, said German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock. “Precisely because the geopolitical world situation is currently tearing us apart, this COP is probably as important as the COP in 2015,” Baerbock said during a briefing in Berlin. Governments eventually agreed the landmark Paris Climate Agreement at the UN talks in 2015, but in the run-up, many had questioned whether this was possible against the backdrop of failed climate negotiations in the years before, Baerbock added. Geopolitics and fossil interests are “evident everywhere in climate negotiations,” she said. “We know from the national debate that climate policy negotiations are not always just about the climate policy issues on the table, but also about power politics considerations, such as future technological leadership in climate protection technologies, or the self-interests of the fossil fuel industries,” said Baerbock. This had to be taken into account in the upcoming UN climate talks in the United Arab Emirates in December, she emphasised.

Baerbock also said big greenhouse gas emitters such as China, and fossil fuel producing countries must contribute to a planned fund to support vulnerable economies dealing with losses and damages from climate change. The upcoming talks in Dubai have the goal to make headway on setting up a loss and damage fund, and states must still negotiate key details, such as who should pay and who is entitled to receive funds. For the German government it is important that the most vulnerable people receive support quickly, and that all governments “able to contribute” do so, said Baerbock. This includes industrial economies of course. “However, in view of the losses and damages, and also considering climate justice, states that have earned a lot of money with fossil fuels, such as the Gulf States, or countries like China, which have seen big growth rates in the past years and are among the biggest emitters, should also pay into the fund,” said Baerbock.

Loss and damage will be a big focus of the climate finance debate at COP28. It concerns the climate change impacts that cannot be prevented through mitigation and adaptation efforts. Many richer countries have long resisted committing to payments to poorer and vulnerable regions, concerned it could lead to liabilities for countries whose historical emissions fuelled climate change.

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