Climate Change
Climate Diplomacy
Global Issues
Raffaele Piria, adelphi

US leadership on climate action: what a nice surprise! However, Germany needs to quickly step up efforts – or stand to lose its reputation in climate mitigation and energy transition.

Zapping through the radio news while driving out of San Francisco after an intense week at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), I hear again and again charismatic Governor Brown’s voice saying that California would “launch our own damned satellite” to gather climate data. An impressive response to Trump’s threat of stopping the NASA climate science programme.

The local radio speaker does not sound like a climate expert, but she is happy to show her pride in her state’s determination to tackle climate change, whatever it takes and regardless of the headwinds from the White House.

The most compelling news of the week wasn’t the satellite, but the approval of a new California law including a 100% clean electricity goal by 2045, and of an executive order setting the goal of economy-wide full carbon neutrality by the same year. No country in the world has ever set such an ambitious goal. By hosting the GCAS, California proved to have the weight and the vision to be a global leader on climate.

Despite all the depressing headlines produced by Trump, large parts of US society – including state governments, cities, businesses, trade unions – are still in the Paris Agreement. There is a strong effort to measure how America’s pledge on climate is being met. Renewable energy deployment is speeding up, often driven by economic convenience, but also by businesses, communities and households demanding clean electricity.

At the 2nd California-Germany Bilateral Energy Conference, co-hosted by the California Energy Commission with two other Californian government agencies and by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and organized by adelphi, many US speakers recognized Germany’s great historical achievement in bringing renewables up to scale, reducing their cost and demonstrating how a major industrial nation can run a highly reliable power system with a significant share of variable renewables. Germany’s leadership was also widely acknowledged in energy efficiency and product design.

However, several US speakers also asked how and by when Germany will start making serious progress on clean road transport and on phasing out coal. Last week in San Francisco, “Energiewende” competed with “Volkswagen” (settlement) as the most frequently heard German term. As Germany openly admits that it will not reach its own 2020 climate targets, the credibility of its 2030 commitment is at stake. A failure to quickly take the necessary measures would be a major blow to Germany’s reputation.

As I slowly pass the Golden Gate Bridge, the news ends and the radio broadcasts an old song: “…They're living it up at the Hotel California, what a nice surprise, bring your alibis”. California and Germany have never been as wealthy as they are today. Will they just live it up, or will they live up to their words on climate? Any alibi will sound very implausible to future generations.

Climate Diplomacy
Global Issues
Dennis Tänzler, adelphi
It’s crunch time for the global climate security discourse. While the COVID-19 crisis remains the key present challenge, it’s time to take stock of where the debate stands on the security implications of climate change in the run-up to another debate in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) scheduled for July 2020. The Berlin Climate Security Conference series initiated a year ago with a call for action complements the UNSC debate...
Conflict Transformation
Global Issues

New report for policymakers provides an overview of the growing research on the links between climate change, security and peace. The synthesis identifies ten insights into climate-related security risks and lays the groundwork for the Global Climate Security Risk and Foresight Assessment, led by adelphi and PIK, that will be launched at the Berlin Climate and Security Conference.

Ariana Barrenechea, Sophia Christina Tomany and Teslin Maria Augustine, with contributions from Abhishek Raj, John Chrysostom Kamoga, Nadja Macherey, Sonia Ran and Varad Vatsal (Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt)

In the wake of Germany’s United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presidency for the month of July 2020, its role in addressing climate change in the body gains even greater importance. A look into selected UNSC members that are also pushing the climate issue reveals: health and economic risks are key entry-points.

Dhanasree Jayaram, MAHE

It’s official: India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for 2021-22. Previously, the country has adopted a cautionary approach towards climate security. While it may not significantly shift its positions, global realities may trigger more openness, with an eye on multilateralism, rule of law and fairness.