Climate dialogue at the global climate summit – State Secretary Kitschelt calls for a global energy revolution

November 8, 2017 | COP 23 | Bonn, Germany

Climate change is a reality, and is having a massive impact on many parts of the world. Vegetation zones and livelihoods are undergoing changes, some quite dramatic. In future, some regions will be inhospitable or nearly uninhabitable for human beings, resulting in increasing and massive waves of migration worldwide.

On November 8, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Dr Friedrich Kitschelt, President of German Welthungerhilfe Bärbel Dieckmann, Deputy Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) Prof Ottmar Edenhofer, and founder of the Plant-for-the-Planet initiative Felix Finkbeiner discussed ways of meeting these enormous challenges.

State Secretary Kitschelt reminded around 150 guests that 22 million people – more than the total number of people living in North Rhine-Westphalia – are forced to abandon their homelands every year. He called for a global energy revolution to promote climate protection worldwide and appealed to the world community to tackle phasing out coal. In the interplay between development and climate protection, Kitschelt outlined five core areas in which the BMZ is active and will continue to focus its efforts in future: engagement at the local level; the energy revolution; sustainable growth and alternatives to the current path of growth; protecting the forest and reforestation; and adaptation projects. "We're the foreign office for climate change," he told those assembled.

Prof Edenhofer from the PIK agreed that phasing out coal was a top priority. He contended that an increase in the number of power plants, some with estimated lifetimes of up to 40 years, across the globe and in Africa and Asia in particular, was putting the two-degree target at risk. They alone would consume the lion's share of the CO2 budget available, he said. Edenhofer contended, “We have to put a price on CO2,” since this would serve as key driver behind the energy revolution. In developing countries, however, the energy industry could only be transformed with massive support from industrialised countries, Edenhofer said. “If we do not offer Africa opportunities for sustainable growth, we will ultimately fail,” he warned the audience.

Bärbel Dieckmann highlighted the link between climate change and food security, pointing out that much of the arable land in Africa may be unusable for agriculture in future. Dr Kitschelt called for tangible support for these countries in particular to help them to grow more resistant plant varieties that could guarantee food supplies even under difficult climatic conditions.

Felix Finkbeiner, whose initiative has already planted millions of trees worldwide, took the up State Secretary Kitschelt’s call for action, and addressed forest conservation and reforestation. He underlined the vital importance of forest ecosystems for both the climate and environment, as well as for improving the living conditions of local people.

His point was well illustrated by two climate ambassadors from the Fiji Islands and Kiribati. Using powerful words and dramatic images, they described how climate change, and especially the rise in sea level, was already threatening the basis for people’s existence today. They also pointed to projects helping islanders adapt to changing climatic conditions, such as reclaiming land and reforestation to build up natural buffers.

The Climate Planet provided an impressive venue for the evening event. The BMZ and the City of Bonn presented Climate Planet with support from the GIZ. Visitors can walk right into the interior of the earth and explore the climate from the inside. The exhibit features a 360-degree screen shaped like a globe showing a documentary that strikingly illustrates and explains the earth's climate and evolution.

Picture above: Photo: matzke-foto.de

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