Climate Governance for a Green Transformation

5th FES-SIIS yearly Climate Governance Conference: Scholars and practitioners from China, Europe and the US discussed ways forward for the climate cause after the COP27 Sharm-el-Sheikh Summit last year.

The 5th FES-SIIS two-day Climate Governance Conference united Chinese, European and US speakers from academia and administrations to take stock of the results of the COP 27 Sharm-el-Sheikh Summit and the further way forward in climate protection efforts.

Evaluating the summit, Mr. Xu from China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation expressed his satisfaction with the results of the conference in Egypt. At the same time, he also warned against a revival of coal use as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Luisa Rölke, Head of the Unit International Climate Policy at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded that the surge in coal use was only a temporary reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis. Germany stays firm on its reduction targets, such as reaching 80% of renewable energy by 2030.

A special focus at this year’s meeting was given to the Loss & Damage Funding, considered one of the major new milestones of the past COP conference. Dr. Annette Windmeißer, Head of the Climate Finance Division at the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, underlined the great importance and commitment Germany attributes to the development of this new funding mechanism as a matter of climate justice.

Mr. Pan Jiahua from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, however, pointed out that since financial resources were limited, they would be better used to further limit emissions by investing in green energies than in Loss & Damage Funding. Sara Jane Ahmed, Special Finance Advisor to the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the V20, expounded on the economic logic behind Loss & Damage Funding that goes beyond mere climate justice.

On the second day of the conference, the participants discussed how countries can work together on closing the emission gap to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Prof. Chao Qingchen, Director-General at China’s National Climate Center, pointed out the difficulties many developing countries had at implementing their green transition due to a lack of technology and funding. Dr. Susanne Dröge, Head of Division on Climate Protection and Energy at the German Environment Agency, announced the publishment of Germany’s Hydrogen Strategy for 2023 and identified Carbon Capture and Storage technologies only as suitable for going the “last mile” at reducing emissions. Daniel Garrett, former US Department of State Foreign Service Officer of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, pointed out that the US continue to put more attention to global warming. According to him, a hopeful scenario is important to channel fundings and investments in the climate change debate.

Eventually, participants turned to the topic of international cooperation in times of geopolitical tensions. Wang Yi, Member of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee and Vice President of the Institutes of Science and Development at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, provided an overlook to China’s new climate ambitions. The upcoming annual gathering of China’s NPC will bring about a number of institutional reforms, according to Wang, that will lead to a more solid transformation towards renewables. “We will exceed our goals”, so Wang. Prof. Daniel Guttman, Fellow of the US National Academy of Public Administration; introduced very practical examples from his research of how international cooperation can be implemented in terms of disaster management.

The participants agreed that in order for international cooperation to persist, trust is one of the major preconditions. Trust is a rare currency that can be built by establishing rules-based mechanisms and increased communication, despite tensions in other fields of politics. As Kevin Tu, Managing Director at Agora Energy Transition, put it: “We need more carrots and less sticks.”

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