Shared but differing responsibility

Mon, 24.09.2007
In New York, Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out strongly in favour of a new climate protection agreement under the aegis of the United Nations. An intelligent and fair regulation of reductions in CO2 emissions is in everybody's best interests, the Chancellor underlined, in her speech to the UN. This holds true for industrialised nations, developing countries and emerging economies alike.
In order to accelerate climate protection activities, representatives of some 160 states accepted the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to attend a High Level Event on Climate Change. Delegates included about eighty heads of state and government.
At the High Level Event on Climate Change various groups performed the groundwork for the major UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Bali, Indonesia in December this year.
At the event, the Chancellor called on delegates to do everything in their power to ensure that a roadmap for a new UN climate protection agreement can be adopted in Bali for the period as of 2012, when the first international climate protection agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, expires. Merkel is convinced that a follow-on agreement would "build a bridge, that would lead all countries to sustainable development".

A moral imperative

The Chancellor again underlined the fact that industrialised countries must be the trailblazers in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is, she declared, a "moral and economic imperative".
At the same time she reminded her audience of the European Union's climate-policy strategy, adopted this spring during the German presidency. By 2020, Europeans aim to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by a minimum of 20 percent of the 1990 levels. Within the framework of a UN agreement, under the terms of which all states agree to make a fair contribution, the EU would be prepared to raise this limit by another 10 percent.
The new agreement would, however, have to get all nations on board and motivate them to play an active part in climate protection, Merkel stressed. If everybody does their part, we can all benefit from new technologies.

Economic rationale

This can only work if the interests of industrialised countries and the emerging economies are fairly balanced. The Chancellor put her faith firmly in the effectiveness of international emissions trading. As she put it, "Climate-friendly technologies will only become economically attractive if a price is put on emissions of greenhouse gases".
The long-term result would be that per capita emissions around the globe would gradually converge on the road to a joint objective of protecting our global climate, said Merkel. In this way, the action that is vital to save the climate can be taken without overstretching any one nation or group of nations.
The costs of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases should be seen as a sound investment: studies show that unabated climate change would slash prosperity in the world by anywhere between five and twenty percent. Rigorous climate protection will cost only about one percent of this prosperity. "Climate protection thus makes economic sense," concluded the Chancellor.
Climate change is coming. Leading international experts agree on this. By the middle of this century worldwide emissions must be halved. This was the conclusion reached by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) in a study submitted to the United Nations at the start of this year. If we do not take action, the experts forecast catastrophic droughts and flooding. Our prosperity is at stake, and in many parts of the world people risk losing their livelihoods and natural resource base, and thus their means of survival.
At the weekend the Chancellor had already declared in her weekly video message, "It is very important to me that we manage to get all nations on board. The German government is endeavouring to put in motion joint action under the aegis of the United Nations. No country can afford not to get involved, because climate change is a threat to every country."