Ten years of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue: milestones from 2010 to 2019

5. Petersberger Klimadialog

5. Petersberger Klimadialog

- BMU/photothek/Thomas Trutschel

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD) was launched in 2010 at the initiative of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. In light of the impressions from the failed climate negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, the PCD’s goal was to create a space for close and constructive exchanges among ministers. A key feature was that the country due to host the next climate change conference would co-host of the PCD.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue, named after the venue of the first meeting, continued under Environment Ministers Röttgen, Altmaier, Hendricks and Schulze. It has become a firmly established event in international climate negotiations and has contributed to climate policy successes in recent years.

Starting from the fundamental doubts following the Copenhagen conference about whether an international climate agreement could ever be achieved, it was possible, after the first PCD, to consolidate the climate process at the 2010 climate change conference in Cancún. In the following year at the climate change conference in Durban, the countries agreed on a mandate to negotiate a new agreement. 

In order to emphasise the importance and need for action regarding climate finance and achieving the industrialised countries’ collective goal of 100 billion US dollars per year from 2020, Chancellor Merkel announced at the PCD in 2014 that Germany would double its climate finance from 2014 to 2020, to four billion euros.

The major breakthrough was achieved in the year of the sixth Petersberg Climate Dialogue ("Reaching for the Paris Outcome"): The Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, followed by an unprecedented wave of ratifications and the swift entry into force of the Agreement. In 2018, after complex negotiations, the Parties agreed on detailed rules for implementation.

A major topic at the PCD meetings has always been the importance of finding the balance between implementation and negotiation. As well as the latest negotiation-based issues, implementation-related topics are also on the agenda. Examples include carbon pricing, steering financial flows towards sustainable investments and measures to achieve a just transition.

In addition to the ministers, the PCD has also been attended by heads of state and government, for example the French President Hollande, the Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki and the Fiji Prime Minister Bainimarama. Federal Chancellor Merkel has taken part in every PCD, giving a speech and participating in discussions. 

Much has changed in the ten years of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Despite some voices of doom, there is now an international rulebook for climate action. There have been many economic changes too. For example, the costs of renewable energies and battery technology have fallen rapidly in recent years. Thanks to investments at an early stage in countries like Germany and Denmark, and to strong demand from China and India, these technologies are now widely competitive and in some cases are even cheaper than fossil fuels. Between 2010 (the year of the first PCD) and 2017, the costs of large-scale photovoltaic systems fell by 73 percent. And this development is far from over. It means that today, countries have greatly improved options for climate-friendly energy production.

Despite this progress, global emissions have continued to rise over the past ten years. International climate policy is now entering a new phase in which negotiation takes a back seat while implementation and cooperation come to the fore. The tenth Petersberg Climate Dialogue will launch this new phase with its theme of "Fulfilling the Promise of Paris".