Opening Ceremony of the 6th Caribbean Environmental Forum and Exhibition and the 16th Annual Wider Caribbean Waste Management ConferenceEnlarge image German Ambassador Stefan Schlüter at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th Caribbean Environmental Forum and Exhibition and the 16th Annual Wider Caribbean Waste Management Conference (© Embassy)
Remarks by Stefan Schlüter, Ambassador of the FederalRepublicof Germany
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to address this distinguished audience and I would like to thank the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute for inviting me.
The world market share of German companies supplying waste management and recycling plants amounts to 24 % - that is quite an impressive number but I would rather want to leave the discussion about waste management to the experts of this conference though and concentrate on the global issue of climate change.
Climate change is the definitive challenge of the 21st century. The very basis of human life is endangered; drought leads to shortages in food and water. Rising sea levels are already threatening the territories of small island states and vast stretches of coastland.
However, the international community has to admit that it has not, as things stand, stepped up to the challenge. Global CO2 emissions went up again in 2010, global temperatures continue to rise, sea levels rose twice as fast between 1993 and 2003 as they did in the preceding decade; icebergs and glaciers are melting at record speeds.
The environment knows no borders and therefore there is no doubt that to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change it will take a united, global effort. And time is running out - as a matter of fact, it is running out fast!
On a national level Germany has set ambitious goals for our emission reduction and internationally we are on the forefront negotiating effective measures to fight climate change. From Kyoto to Copenhagen, from Cancun to Durban and now on to Rio this is a tough uphill battle as you all know very well.
At the highest level internationally, too, we want to create awareness that we have to act now. It was under Germany’s presidency that the United Nations Security Council, on July 20 of last year, unanimously acknowledged for the first time ever that climate change poses a threat to international security.
In its partnership with the Caribbean Community Germany seeks to support regional programs to diversify the energy sector and promote awareness surrounding climate change and renewable energy alternatives.
The efforts being made in the Caribbean are remarkable. With the signing of the recent “Barbados Declaration on Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States“ earlier this month participants have highlighted the region's commitment to the promotion of the development of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, low carbon development and universal access to clean energy. It is evident that the Caribbean has excellent opportunities to invest in all forms of renewable energy due to its geographic location. The possibilities are endless: wave, solar, hydro, biomass, wind and geothermal energy are all available in the region. The benefits of diversifying the region's energy sector are immense. The switch to cleaner fuels benefits the environment and safeguards it for the use for future generations. It also promotes sustainable development and economic growth; opening up the economy to employment opportunities and new flows of revenue.
However, it is all well and good to have these commitments in writing but it is now the time to act and make these promises of action a reality.
The partnership established through the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme is an integral part of the German commitment to addressing the issues of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Caribbean region as well as internationally. Germany has funded this initiative with close to 10 million €. With the establishment of this partnership, we aim at the reduction of the dependence on fossil fuels and promotion of energy efficiency culture in the region. Currently three German experts work at the CREDEP office in St. Lucia – or I should rather say they work out of their office in Castries as they constantly travel the region to pursue their goals.
Just as with the support of CREDEP most of our climate change projects are regional projects which receive considerable funding. In the framework of a new ‘International Climate Initiative’ of our federal Environmental Ministry we additionally pledged 5 million € for Grenada to help to implement programs to assist with the adaptation of the country to an increase in extreme weather events such as storms, heavy rainfall and the rise of sea levels.
Also on a bilateral basis Germany has financially supported the 'Tropical Forest Protection' programme in Guyana with close to 12,5 Mio. €. A new grant for the third phrase of the programme will contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and natural resources in the Guyana Protected Areas System.
Internationally, Germany has asserted itself as a leader in the efforts to combat climate change. We are in fact the second largest provider of climate financing and actively involved in bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Our former capital Bonn is the seat of the UN Climate Secretariat, only in April Bonn was selected as the seat of IPBES, the "Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services". And currently, we are bidding to host the Secretariat of the future Green Climate Fund in Bonn. Our desire to host the Green Climate Fund underscores our commitment to assuming responsibility with regard to the matters of climate change. The fund will be an integral source of international climate financing, it is therefore an exciting prospect for Germany.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that Germany is determined to continue its successful cooperation with CARICOM, with OECS as well as the states in the region to encourage sustainable, renewable energy use, implement energy efficiency and to ensure environmental security in the region. In international fora you will find Germany as a committed and strong partner in our joint efforts to combat climate change.
Thank you for your attention and once again, thank you for the wonderful opportunity to attend this conference."