BERLIN — The United States and Germany signed an agreement Friday to deepen their cooperation in shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy to contain climate change.
The deal will see the two countries work together to develop and deploy technologies to accelerate the clean energy transition, particularly in offshore wind energy, zero-emission vehicles, and hydrogen.
The US and Germany pledged to work together to promote ambitious climate policies and energy security worldwide.
US climate envoy John Kerry said both countries aim to reap the benefits of an early clean energy transition, creating new jobs and opportunities for businesses in the growing renewable energy market.
Such markets depended on common standards of what hydrogen could be classified as ‘green’, for example. Officials will now work to reach a common definition to ensure that hydrogen produced on one side of the Atlantic can be sold on the other.
German Energy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said the agreement reflects the urgency to tackle global warming. Scientists have said significant global emissions reductions are needed this decade to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“Time is running out,” Habeck said, calling climate change “the challenge of our political generation.”
The agreement between the US and Germany was signed on the sidelines of a meeting of energy and climate ministers of the Group of Seven Prosperous Countries.
The Group was due to announce a series of new commitments later Friday on tackling climate change, including a common goal of phasing out coal burning for electricity and increasing financial aid to poor countries affected by global warming.
Coal is a highly polluting fossil fuel responsible for a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
G-7 members Britain, France, and Italy have set deadlines to stop burning coal for electricity in the coming years. Germany and Canada aim for 2030; Japan wants more time, while the Biden administration has set a goal of ending the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation in the United States by 2035.
Setting a common deadline would pressure other major polluters to follow suit and build on the compromise reached last year’s UN climate summit, where countries committed to “phasing out” coal rather than “to be phased out” – with no fixed date.
Habeck said the issue could be moved to the G-7 leaders’ summit in Elmau, Germany, next month and then to the meeting later this year of the Group of 20 Leading and Emerging Economies, which are responsible for 80% of global emissions.
All G-20 countries must join the ambitious goals of some of the most advanced economies, as countries such as China, India, and Indonesia remain heavily dependent on coal.
There is also pressure on rich countries to ramp up their financial aid to poor countries ahead of this year’s UN climate meeting in Egypt. In particular, developing countries want a clear commitment that they will receive money to absorb the losses and damage caused by climate change.
Rich countries have resisted the idea for fear of being held liable for costly disasters caused by global warming.
The Berlin meeting will also seek to agree on phasing out combustion engine vehicles, boosting funding for biodiversity programs, protecting oceans, and reducing plastic pollution