The French and German environment state secretaries, Brune Poirson and Jochen Flasbarth, kicked off a high-level interministerial working group on climate change in Paris today, the "Meseberg Climate Working Group". In view of the rising occurrence of natural disasters, France and Germany are stressing their commitment to combating climate change as a matter of urgency and across all sectors. Moreover, the environment ministries of both countries have stepped up their cooperation in a bid to address major challenges in the areas of biodiversity and chemicals safety.
State secretaries Brune Poirson (FRA) and Jochen Flasbarth (GER) highlighted: "The Meseberg Declaration adopted in June is a strong signal for increased German-French cooperation and contains a clear mandate. It is only when governments work together that it will be possible to implement the Paris Agreement and reach our climate targets. We will only make progress by pushing for change in all relevant policy areas: energy, industry, buildings, transport and agriculture. With today's first meeting of the Meseberg Climate Working Group, we are following up on the request of the French President and the Federal Chancellor and intensifying our cooperation at all levels. It is very encouraging to see that the mandate is now taking on a concrete form."
In a constructive atmosphere, representatives from the German and French ministries for the environment, finance, building, foreign affairs, economic affairs and energy, agriculture, transport, research and development took up their work under the joint Climate Working Group, chaired by state secretaries Poirson and Flasbarth. At the Franco-German intergovernmental consultations in Meseberg on 19 June 2018, the governments decided "to set up a joint interministerial High Level Working Group on climate change to intensify cooperation in this cross-cutting field and build up common views on the energy transition and tools for triggering sustainable finance and economic incentives, including carbon pricing issues." (Meseberg Declaration)
The Working Group will focus on the ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement, on how each economic sector can contribute to reaching medium- and long-term climate targets and how the available instruments can be used intelligently and effectively. These tools include the EU budget, sustainable finance and economic incentives such as carbon pricing options. Cooperation on international initiatives was also proposed as a means of resolute implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Also today in Paris, representatives from the German and French environment ministries held a working-level meeting ("Séminaire") to exchange views on climate action, biological diversity and chemicals policy and agree on joint activities. France and Germany want to generate the same level of momentum and awareness for biodiversity conservation as there is for climate change. This includes decisive measures for the protection of bees and pollinators. Germany and France will address the topic at various important international conferences in the run-up to 2020.
Both ministries agree on the vital role the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will play in a strategy to recover biological diversity in the EU. Raising environmental ambition in the Common Agricultural Policy is therefore indispensable to meet public expectations and ensure that environmental ambition becomes the guiding principle for an agricultural transition towards more sustainable production models.
Working at the interface of environment and health, Germany and France will intensify their cooperation on the REACH Regulation by improving the exchange of information on the long-term environmental and health effects of chemical substances. They will also discuss how to improve the quality, independence and transparency of the toxicological evaluation processes carried out by EU agencies. In addition, the two countries will promote the development of an EU definition of nanomaterials that can be applied in all regulations and economic sectors.
Parallel to the interministerial meeting a major conference of local climate pioneers took place in Paris to help participants exchange experiences and forge alliances. The initiative to strengthen cooperation at the levels of regions and cities was born at last year's "Séminaire". "It is great to see more and more Franco-German climate partnerships. These cities are showing vision in shaping their energy future," said state secretaries Poirson and Flasbarth.
The resignation of Nicolas Hulot at the end of August received broad public attention in Germany as well. State secretary Flasbarth commented: "France has been a strategic partner in environmental and climate issues over the past year. This applies to initiatives at EU level as well as Franco-German environmental cooperation, which has become much stronger and gathered momentum. We are confident that the new environment minister François de Rugy will continue along this path and look forward to taking the next steps together.