COP17: German State minister demands more federal action to achieve a climate deal

1 December 2011

BRUSSELS: North Rhine Westphalia Minister Remmel has called for stronger efforts from the federal government towards achieving a new global climate treaty at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17), as well as transformational climate leadership at the sub-national level.

As COP17 opened in Durban this week Johannes Remmel, Minister for Climate Change, North Rhine Westphalia, urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to boost climate action and stressed the need for federal government and EU collaboration on a successor regime to the Kyoto Protocol at COP17. He said: "The federal government and, above all, the Chancellor, has lost credibility on climate change. […] In Durban, the groundwork must be laid for the necessary transitional arrangement; the only way we can limit global warming to two degrees."

Anticipating the absence of a global agreement though, Remmel highlighted the critical leadership role of sub-national government too, stating: "If you want to counteract the effects of climate change, then there is no alternative to international agreements. But previous years have shown that we cannot rely solely on international climate summit. We need more than ever, movement from below - from the economy, and initiatives of committed citizens groups, local communities and of course the states."

Remmel emphasized the urgent and economical need for such transformational action: "The aim must be binding obligations of the parties for the period after 2015. The time of waiting and hesitation is over, because we are running out of time. Climate change is not subject to environmental and natural romanticism, but pure economic rationality."

Remmel went on to list some of the world’s recent extreme weather-related disasters to reiterate Nicolas Stern of the World Bank’s striking quote that ‘unabated climate change’ would cost up to 20% of global GDP, compared to the 1% cost of ‘active climate policy’. He also referenced research by DIW (the German Institute for Economic Research) which says climate change will cost the German economy up to €800 billion by the year 2050 - of which more than €70 billion would be to North Rhine Westphalia alone.

However, Remmel ended on a positive note when he applauded North Rhine Westphalia for having ‘the first Climate Change Bill with mandatory reduction targets pioneered in Germany’, which is a clear example of transformational leadership at sub-national level.

Luc Bas, Director of European Programmes and International States and Regions, The Climate Group says: "North Rhine Westphalia is one of the true leading sub-national governments in The Climate Group's States and Regions Alliance, and together with other states from North America, Latin America, Australia and Europe, they are on a path to a prosperous low carbon society, understanding the benefits such as new jobs and a booming green economy, that come from more ambitious climate action. They can rightfully call for more global and national action as they did recently in the Lyon Declaration."

Further reading

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group, will also be writing news and analysis throughout COP17, and providing a more in-depth post-COP Briefing after the events. Keep up to date on our website and by following him on Twitter during COP17. Read Damian's Pre-COP17 Briefing.

Our international policy teams are also commenting on key regional positions in the lead-up to Durban; read about AustraliaChina, Europe, India and the US


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