Petersberg Dialogue: Building bridges

Doaa El-Bey , Wednesday 20 Jul 2022

AS COP27 fast approaches, this week’s climate dialogue aimed to push forward momentum and international commitments to tackling climate change

Petersberg Dialogue: Building bridges
Leaders at the 13th Petersberg Climate Dialogue (photo: AFP)


Participants in this week’s 13th Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD13) agreed that they should all work to promote the success of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP27).

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi co-chaired the high-level session with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and seized the opportunity to underline that Egypt will spare no effort to make COP27 a success.

PCD13 marked the kick-off for preparations for COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh. Pointing out that climate change has become an existential threat, President Al-Sisi said Egypt’s focus is to make COP27 a turning point in terms of international climate action, maintain international momentum and affirm the commitment of all governmental and non-governmental parties to turn promises and pledges to action on the ground.

He noted that COP 27 is being held against the backdrop of global energy and food crises, “the accumulation of debt, poor flow of funds, the negative impact of coronavirus and a political scene complicated by the war in Ukraine.”

Al-Sisi called for efforts to implement the Paris Agreement to be intensified, and urged all countries to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDGs) and raise the bar of their commitments before and during the COP27.

Egypt submitted its updated NDG document last month.

Praising the statements on climate change issued during the G7 summit held in Germany last month, Al-Sisi said Egypt will also focus on contributing to enhancing the size, quality, and mechanisms of climate financing available to developing countries. To achieve this target, he said Egypt was counting on the support of all parties to developing a climate of trust.

President Al-Sisi highlighted the impacts of climate change on Africa, a continent already suffering from desertification and water scarcity combined with floods, torrential rains and other extreme weather conditions.

The recent food and energy crises, he added, have exacerbated the challenges that African countries face.

He called for African countries to be empowered to benefit from their natural resources and achieve economic development in line with efforts to combat climate change and protect the environment and also cast a light on Egypt’s efforts to shift to a sustainable development model which includes increases use of renewable energy.

High-level representatives from 40 countries attended this week’s PCD at the Federal Foreign Office at the invitation of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Baerbock, who recently returned from a trip to Palau, noted that the Pacific island is contending with the impacts of war, floods, drought and violent storms and stressed that developed countries have a responsibility to provide the $100 billion they had pledged to combat climate change. During the opening session of the PCD she added, however, that money alone will not solve the problem in the absence of “systems that ensure that the money reaches the communities that are most in need”.

Twelve years ago, at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, rich nations pledged to channel $100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. The target has not yet been met.

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukri, who co-chaired the opening session with Baerbock, pointed to the fact that though PCD13 comes at a very critical juncture, when the world is facing unprecedented geopolitical tensions that have negatively impacted food supply chains and raised energy prices, such crises must not be used as a pretext to backtrack on earlier climate commitments.

In COP27, Shoukri said: “Egypt is committed to an inclusive conference where all parties and stakeholders are given the necessary space to showcase their actions, present their priorities, and voice their concerns.”

In the opening session Alok Shama, COP26 president, said the world needs to deliver more on the commitments it made eight months ago during COP26.

In a virtual address to the same session, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that though half of humanity lives in zones threatened by floods, droughts, extreme storms, and wildfires we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.

“Promises made must be promises kept… We need to demonstrate at COP27 that a renewables revolution is underway,” he said. He concluded that the world had a choice between “collective action or collective suicide”.

UN Climate Change Acting Executive Secretary and UN Undersecretary-General Ibrahim Thiaw underlined that climate change is an existential threat and that protecting the planet must be our priority. “The momentum we gained in COP26 must be kept and increased in Cop 27,” he said.

In a related development, Shoukri discussed preparations for COP27 with Thiaw on the sidelines of PCD13. He also met with US Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. The two diplomats discussed current coordination in facing the impact of climate change.

Shoukri also reviewed Egypt’s vision and goals on COP27 in a telephone call with the UK’s Prince Charles early this week as part of ongoing consultations with countries and parties concerned with preparations for COP27.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue was launched in 2010 by the then German chancellor Angela Merkel.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 21 July, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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