Germany backs island nations’ bid for 1.5 degrees target

Representatives of nations at particular risk from climate change, including Rwanda's Vincent Biruta, show support for the 1.5 degrees target. [Climate Vulnerable Forum/Twitter]

The international community wants to agree on a two degree limit at the COP21 summit, but smaller island-nations want a 1.5 degree limit – and they will enjoy German support. EURACTIV’s partner Tagesspiegel reports.

As negotiations at the Paris summit threaten to falter, Germany is on a quest to raise its profile as a pioneer in climate policy. On Thursday (3 December), State Secretary for the Environment Jochen Flasbarth argued strongly in favour of a 1.5 degrees target. He was adamant that the number be included in the final text. So far, the representatives gathered around the negotiating table have only been able to agree on trying to limit global warming to two degrees, in relation to pre-industrialisation levels.

>>Read: Live: #COP21

Smaller island nations have been striving for years to keep a 1.5 degree target in the spotlight. The foreign affairs minister of the Maldives, Dunya Maumoon, told EURACTIV’s partner Tagesspiegel that, “A two degrees target threatens the existence of low-lying countries.” A group of 38 countries that are particularly at risk from climate change, including the Philippines and Bangladesh, welcomed Flasbarth’s position.

President of the BUND environmental association, Hubert Weiger, said that “the Federal Government has called for more climate protection in Paris. We should be building a bridge between the richer countries and those poorer ones particularly affected by climate change.”

>>Read: COP21: Millions more to go hungry if CO2 levels continue to rise

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama met with the presidents of the small Pacific island nations. The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, said that a two degrees target means that they would effectively “disappear”. Berlin has been trying to forge closer ties with the island nations since the failed Copenhagen summit of 2009. On Thursday (3 December), oil-producing Saudi Arabia called into question the value of a request to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to come up with a special report on the effects of a 1.5 degrees increase.

The Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller (CSU), is confident that a large step forward will be made at the summit. “Climate protection is peace politics,” Müller told a Bavarian broadcaster. Millions of peoples’ livelihoods are on the line. “We’ve got to be honest about this, social unrest and wars will be fought if we do not get global warming under control,” he warned.

>>Read: Cañete: Not enough being done to get a deal in Paris

The negotiations are mostly concerned with establishing how much funding will be needed to ensure developing countries switch to renewable, clean energy and, more importantly, who will foot the bill. Industrialised nations want private investment to form a part of any deal. Developing countries fear that this move would mean less money in the long-term.

Tasneem Essop of the World Wide Fund for Nature commented on the sluggish negotiations, saying that, “Right now, they’re still just rearranging the deck chairs on the ship to get a better view of the iceberg.”

This article was also published by EURACTIV Germany.


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