“Climate Action Is Our New Foreign Policy Imperative” – German Foreign Minister


Climate action belongs at the top of the international agenda and reaching climate targets is “the new imperative” of Germany’s foreign policy, said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Berlin Climate and Security Conference. “The fight against the security policy consequences of climate change requires a global effort. And Germany aims to play a leading role in this,” Maas told foreign diplomats at his ministry. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry said global climate action lacks the necessary seriousness.

“People are doing things, yes, but we’re not doing what we know we need to do,” said Kerry. “Not one country in the world is actually getting the job done.” In a Berlin Call for Action, which Maas launched at the conference, the signatories demand more United Nations (UN) experts on climate and security in affected regions, and a better alignment of climate policy with sustainable development, security and peacebuilding in all UN programmes. It also calls for a periodic Global Risk and Foresight Assessment by the UN to supply knowledge needed for better decision-making by governments. At the conference, the directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström presented their idea of designing a global Early Warning System to predict weather events such as the recent monsoon in India. The German government has made climate action a focus of its ongoing two-year term as a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and said it plans to use its diplomatic clout to ensure that climate change concerns are an integral part of UN security policy. The Security Council so far has only hesitantly taken up the issue. During its last stint as a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2011, Germany managed to get a presidential statement, in which the UNSC said it “expresses its concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.” Now, Germany wants to see climate mainstreamed in the UNSC, to be able to better recognise, assess and act on t he inter-linkage between climate change and peace building. “We want to adapt the structure of the UN Security Council’s work,” said Maas at the conference. “At the moment, we are only dealing with crises, conflicts and wars as they occur. In the face of climate change, we need mechanisms to be able to react earlier.”