Delivered by H.E. Mr. JOCHEN FLASBARTH, State Secretary of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The global economic system is increasingly reaching its limits. We can see this in the serious air and water pollution in many countries, in increasing global resource consumption and decreasing availability of resources and in the global rise in CO2 emissions. In far too many areas, the economic system is based on exploitation of the environment and nature.
At the same time, more than 700 million people are still living in poverty. Our goal has to be to ensure everyone can lead a life in dignity without hunger or poverty. This is a central commitment of the 2030 Agenda.
I fully support the UNEA President and the new UN Environment Executive Director in their call to us at this UN Environment Assembly to seek innovative solutions for these challenges.
We need to rethink production and consumption patterns and make them more effective and resource-efficient. Everyone has a right to strive for prosperity but we must ensure that this is not at the expense of the environment and climate. The only way to achieve this is through innovation.
Industry has a key role to play here.
At the same time, policymakers are responsible for creating the right framework conditions and incentives. This is why the German Environment Ministry has set up a new programme in 2018 for the decarbonisation of industry. This programme promotes pilot projects for the industrial transition to largely greenhouse gas-neutral production. The intention is to avoid short-sighted investments, capital losses and expensive retrofitting.
Innovations can drive environmentally harmful technologies from the market. One example is coal-fired electricity generation, which in many countries is steadily losing ground to renewable electricity.
However, we also have to keep in mind that structural change affects the future of jobs and entire regions. This is why the success depends on making the transformation as fair as possible.
The German government has set up a commission composed of policymakers and different social stakeholders, including industry associations, trade unions and environmental groups, to develop a roadmap how Germany can phase out lignite coal. This process was a great success. The commission jointly developed measures to ensure that the regions and workers affected have new economic prospects and that social conflict is avoided.
This shows once again that we will only be able to achieve an economy in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda if we work together and search for common solutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The path towards a more sustainable, just world for this and coming generations is far from easy. But we have to overcome the existing difficulties quickly if we want to achieve our sustainability goals.
I am delighted that with UNEA-4, we can contribute to driving forward the fair and fast transition that is needed.
And this requires partnerships. The only way to tackle the challenges is through cross-sectoral and cross-boundary cooperation. With this in mind, I would like to conclude with an invitation:
Germany will be hosting the International Conference on Climate Action, known as ICCA2019, in Heidelberg on 22 and 23 May.
We want to bring together decision-makers from all levels of government – national, regional and local. If the various levels of government and different sectors can learn to work together more effectively to combat climate change and environmental degradation, we can accelerate the fair and fast transition. I would be delighted to see you all again in Heidelberg!
Thank you very much.