At the Climate Summit from December 2016 in Paris the whole global community pledged to curb climate change for the first time. All of the countries including the main emitters committed themselves to the goal of keeping global warming below two degrees and, if possible, limiting it to 1.5 degrees. All of the countries agreed to do their part. Their contributions will be reviewed every five years and adjusted in reference to the global target. The Paris Agreement is thus proving to be a historical milestone in international climate protection. Even though the ratification hurdles have not yet been passed, it seems that the world community is on a promising path to eventually deal seriously with the most critical challenge for mankind which is a question of survival.
International agreements are necessary but not sufficient conditions for successful actions. It needs now concrete and adequate policies on the side of governments and all stakeholders to turn the Paris agreement into concrete action. Germany and Canada are critical actors to this end. Although facing differing economic features both countries share political and democratic values that are integral parts of successful climate policies.
There is no single path to achieve the emission targets signed-off in Paris. Rather, the political-economic route towards a low carbon emission world offers many different paths that very much reflect national specifics. Learning from each other is hence a critical element of a successful climate policy. The conference ‘Managing Decarbonization: The Cases of Germany and Canada’ is one particle of such a mutual learning process. By bringing together academics, politicians, practitioners as well as students from both sides of the Atlantic, the German Foreign Ministry – that initiated and sponsors this important event – actively supports international efforts to jointly work out plans, strategies and policies to move towards a zero carbon emission world. Germany’s early move towards a policy of Energiewende (energy turnaround) is not a general recipe for other countries but it is a template that helps to stifle discussions and mutual learning processes.
In this spirit I wish the upcoming conference the best of all success.
Josef Beck, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany