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Environment

Opportunities of climate protection

by Cathrine Schweikardt

In brief

Mongolians appreciate solar panels

Mongolians appreciate solar panels

One of the greatest challenges the international community faces is promoting economic growth that is ecologically sound. German development agencies insist that the interplay of policies on climate, development and economic affairs opens up new opportunities.

When it comes to environmental protection, industrialised and developing countries sometimes have conflicting interests. While the former treat environmental protection as an issue of high and increa­sing priority thanks to their advanced technologies, the latter focus on economic growth. But as Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, the state secretary at Germany’s Federal Development Ministry (BMZ), points out, “developing countries do not have to go down the same toxic path we did”. He says that climate protection should be considered a field of growth and even a stepping stone for development.

“If we are going to dispel charges of eco-colonialism, we need trust. And we build up trust by working together,” says Eberhard Brandes of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). The German government agencies KfW Development Bank and GTZ see opportunities in the triad of climate, development and industrial policy. Therefore, they chose “Diversity – momentum for development” as their annual slogan for this year. By bundling their financial and technological instruments and promoting ideas for climate protection, the GTZ and KfW aim to enhance the impact of their work. The BMZ considers itself a convenor of NGOs, industry and government agencies.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises need more support, and development scouts need to pay more attention to them,” says State Secretary Beerfeltz. The BMZ has set up a new service point for cooperation with industry to improve consulting ser­vices for such “hidden champions”. Beerfeltz says that financial bottlenecks hamper enterprises especially when governments try to pay down debt. He argues that development cooperation can step in and leverage technological expertise.

The Federation of German Industries (BDI) is running a campaign entitled “Business for Climate Protection”. Some 50 companies are involved, stating that economics and ecology are no longer opposites. “Industry has innovative, cost-efficient solutions for climate protection,” says BDI's Kurt-Christian Scheel. The campaign is stepping up investments in the research and development of innovative environmental technologies and working towards an internationally binding climate-protection regime.

More research is needed in the area of adaptation to climate change. “In Germany, we tend to not see that adaptation depends on technology, and we are treading too carefully on the path towards renewables,” says Hans-Jochen Luhmann of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. He says that Germany should act more aggressively, especially because of the example it sets and the prominence it enjoys in the field of climate protection. Luhmann says that Germany’s ambition of the past decades is tapering off even though roughly only a third of the impact of climate change is already being felt. “Standing still means falling behind” is how Bernd Eisenblätter of the GTZ executive board put it, when he spoke at the end of an event organised by the GTZ and the KfW to mark their year of joint environmental efforts in Bonn in November.

Cathrine Schweikardt