– Check against delivery –
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted that the Indo-German Environment Forum is meeting for the third
time. I would, particularly, like to thank my Indian colleague and his ministry with
whom we have shared a close partnership for years. You made this day possible.
A lot has been achieved in the field of environmental protection in recent years. Just
think of renewable energies or the growing demand for ecological products.
However, we also have to admit that progress in the implementation of the 2030
agenda and the Paris Agreement is very slow.
Global carbon dioxide emissions are still rising. Every year, we cross planetary boundaries.
The window of opportunity for a transformation towards a low-carbon economy is
It is high time that consumers and companies reduce their ecological footprint.
Governments, business leaders and civil society need to do even more to
accelerate this change.
First, the goals of the 2030 agenda and the climate targets of Paris have to be taken
seriously by the governments. Some areas will require laws to catch up. Let me give
you an example: In Germany, we have decided to phase out coal-fired power
generation. In order to achieve this, we are drawing up an extensive climate change
act, which will lay down binding emission reduction targets for all relevant sectors.
Second, governments and the financial sector should foster more green
investments and remove barriers. Subsidies for technologies harmful to the
environment must be abolished, prices for polluting practices increased.
Last but not least, we have to guarantee a socially just transformation towards a
green economy that benefits and includes everyone.
Our two countries can learn a lot from one another and achieve great things
together. In Germany, like in India, the national government cannot decide
everything on its own. We need the federal states for implementation, in particular.
The Conference of Environment Ministers of the German Federation and federal
states is a key driver for environmental protection, even though the approach might
vary from state to state.
The reason I am saying this is because partnerships are indispensable for
successful environmental protection. Exchange of experience; this is what the Indo-
German Environment Forum wants to build on.
I am delighted that the Indian government adopted the Air Quality Monitoring
Programme. Most of the measures it contains make a major contribution to climate
As you may know, until the 1970s, many German cities had been frequently
affected by health-threatening smog. The situation improved only after years of
efforts by citizens, environmental associations and environmental policy-makers.
Legal provisions at European and national level contributed to this success –
regulating the energy industry, private households, the agriculture and transport
sectors and many industrial branches.
More stringent emission limits for vehicles and using best available techniques in
industrial production also were part of the strategy.
What is ultimately important is the transformation towards an economy that is as
free of emissions as possible, and that enables new value creation and jobs.
It bodes well that the expansion of renewable energies, particularly solar energy, is
making great headway in India. I would like to highlight the ambitious goals you
Renewable energies make affordable energy accessible for everyone – also in rural
regions. That is an important step towards achieving SDG 7 (energy) and SDG 8
(socially and environmentally compatible growth). Generally, it contributes to the
fast and fair transition that is long overdue; that is genuine sustainable development
in accordance with the 2030 agenda.
The issue of a fast and fair transition is also at the centre of the German discussion.
A commission composed of different social stakeholders, such as economic
associations, trade unions and environmental associations, has presented a
roadmap setting out how Germany will phase out coal-fired power generation by
2038 at the latest. The coal phase-out will go hand in hand with extensive measures
aimed at improving the economic future of the affected regions. To this end, the
Commission has drawn up a series of proposals.
Renewable energies change mobility, too. India has set the ambitious goal of
completely electrifying road transport by 2030. I am convinced that India and
Germany can benefit from a closer cooperation in this area as well.
Clean air and sound waste management are integral parts of a modern green
economy. If we were, for example, successful in burning less agricultural residues,
the air quality would improve and composts would be created which could then be
used for farming. By not just dumping waste in landfill sites but converting it in
waste-to-energy processes in modern plants, we can prevent harmful methane
Another big issue is marine litter. Why does a welter of plastic bottles and bags end
up in the rivers and oceans even though this raw material is valuable?
I am delighted that Prime Minister Modi, in cooperation with UNEP, has shone the
spotlight on this problem. As soon as people and companies identify the value of
waste, they act accordingly. In Germany, this has resulted in the development of a
strong business sector.
Our cooperation is further consolidated through the work of my ministry’s
International Climate Initiative and of our bilateral working groups. I am confident
that our cooperation will help India to quickly progress in the implementation of its
NDCs and the SDGs. We in Germany are also learning a lot from our working
At the most recent meeting of the working group on climate in November, we
fleshed out the priorities of our climate action cooperation.
Last week, the working groups on waste and water management both met here in
Delhi. The project Integrated Climate-friendly Waste Management Systems for
India’s Cities was launched at that meeting.
I welcome India’s initiative to create a circular economy. And I am impressed by the
commitment of India’s government to achieve a lasting accord between economic
growth and the protection of ecosystems. I am looking forward to future partnership
opportunities in this field.
Yesterday, the bilateral working group on biodiversity met for the first time. Its aim is
to further strengthen our cooperation on biodiversity.
This third Indo-German Environment Forum provides us with a great opportunity to
continue the talks started in the working groups and open them up to a wider circle
of people. It serves as a platform for jointly working on solutions to improve air
pollution control and achieve a low-carbon economy.
Green technologies and clean innovations offer major opportunities for a
sustainable economic development around the world. My ministry’s export initiative
aims to further spread green technologies.
Recently, India became a partner to the UN alliance PAGE which my ministry
strongly supports. I hope that this alliance will find good ways of working together
with India to promote its efforts for a green economy.
The German environment ministries and authorities and the German business
sector are well represented here today, and so are our Indian partners. I wish all of
you – also in the margins of the forum – fruitful talks.
Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you tonight.