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Germany - Laying a new foundation for climate policy

Representatives of 45 countries are gathering for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue to discuss the way ahead for international climate protection. Germany and Mexico are co organizers of the conference. On the opening day of the meeting, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke to the participants on climate policy’s foreign and security dimension.

The conference’s aim is to get international climate protection back in motion following last December’s Copenhagen summit and with a view to the next UN climate conference at the end of 2010 in Cancún, Mexico. This international “climate dialogue” on the Petersberg is therefore designed to help the international community prepare concrete decisions in Cancún. At the same time exemplary initiatives will be used to show how climate protection can be implemented on the ground in developing countries.

Westerwelle: Climate change also has an impact on human rights

In his speech to the conference, Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle said that the fight against climate change was “one of the central issues of the 21st century”. The trend towards ever-increasing emissions had to be reversed by 2020, he continued. Climate change threatened one of the most basic human rights, i. e. “that to life in a healthy environment”.

Link between climate and security

Global warming could, he went on, negatively affect the stability of countries and relations between peoples, due to food and water shortages, disease, rural depopulation and migration. For that reason climate protection had become one of the major policy issues worldwide.

However, according to Westerwelle, climate change also represented an opportunity. Through investment in sustainable growth, education and research, he went on, “At global level a modern industry can be established which produces in an environment-friendly way, enables growth and innovation, and creates jobs.”

Promoting cooperation based on equal rights

Just as the founding of the CSCE created trust and in time helped end the Cold War, it was now time, Westerwelle stated, to bring that “spirit of solidarity” into the climate negotiations. Globalization, he said, meant “a global, universal neighbourhood”. It was thus important to balance individual countries’ differing, legitimate interests.

The Petersberg conference could, he continued, help “lay a new foundation for climate policy”. For this to happen, there had to be “cooperation based on the equality of our nations in this globalized world”.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue is taking place from 2 to 4 May 2010 on the Petersberg near Bonn. Environment and climate protection ministers have been invited to attend. On 2 May Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the Climate Dialogue together with the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. Federal Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen and his Mexican opposite number Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada are the conference co chairs.

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