At the start of the crucial week of the COP27 global climate conference in Egypt, Environment Minister Leonor Goesler (Greens) took on her role as negotiator with the European Union. “What we need is a fair transition from an economy based on fossil fuels to one powered by 100 percent renewable energy,” Gosler said on Monday. The solutions are known, and now the international community must quickly begin to implement them.
On the agenda for the first day of the conference in the seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Gewessler included the opening of the “EU Energy Day” – with her colleagues, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Spain’s Minister for Environmental Change. Theresa Ribera, Belgian Energy Minister Tine van der Straiten and Dutch Energy Minister Rob Jett.
After the delegation meeting, Gewessler also met with a group of Austrian youth delegates. Each year, the Ministry of Climate Funds awards grants to two committed youth from civil society to participate in the COP. Young delegates from the previous year will serve as their mentors.
Iris Zierlauth, a graduate of the Diplomatic Academy and this year’s scholarship recipient, sees climate change as the greatest crisis of our time. “Being involved in this way is the best lever we should really change,” Zerlauth told APA. Together with her colleague Philip Steiger, she raised her concerns and calls for more climate protection funding in a small group in the Austrian delegation’s office. Young delegates, who have been in Egypt since the beginning of November for the youth conference in the run-up to the COP, want more funds for climate protection measures and greater participation from actors from the Global South.
“Of course we agree with the increase in climate finance. However, the amount allocated to the population is still much less than Germany’s contribution, for example,” said Michael Spekermann, a scholarship recipient last year and activist for Friday For Future. Overall, the Department of Climate Protection will increase funds for international climate finance by 220 million to a total of 340 million over the next four years. During this period, there is 50 million euros from the Ministry’s budget to finance repair, prevention and mitigation of damages (“losses and damages”).
Gewessler stressed how important it is for the voices of the generation that will feel the effects of the climate crisis to be heard. There was also additional support this year for the Ukrainian Youth Delegate. Gewessler, who was the executive director of the environmental organization Global 2000 before becoming a minister, knows how important it is for civil society to put pressure on policymakers to initiate changes.
According to Goessler, the money released for “losses and damages” in particular should be seen as a positive sign. “We were the fifth country in the world to make a contribution,” says Gewessler. “It was very well received here and it has a positive impact on the negotiations.” It is clear, however, that other players will also have to take action: “The private sector is also needed. Funding should generally be moved in the direction of the green.”
In addition, a ministerial dialogue on long-term climate finance was on the agenda at the invitation of the Egyptian presidency. It’s about how industrialized countries can actually deliver on their promise to mobilize $100 billion (about 97 billion euros) annually. So far, payments have remained below commitments. These funds are intended for poor countries for climate protection measures and climate change adaptation. Rich industrial countries are responsible for about 80 percent of global emissions, and the effects are mainly felt in poor countries.
At a working meeting of the so-called “Coalition of High Ambition”, which includes about 60 contracting parties including the European Union, the focus will once again be on measures such as how the world can achieve the 1.5 degree target. “In light of the current devastating effects of the global climate crisis, it is more important than ever that we, as aspiring parties, stand together in this process and call for greater ambition,” Gosler said.