Statement by Horst Freitag (Germany)

Delivered on behalf Dr. Norbert Röttgen, German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Speech at SARi Launch – 7 December 2011

I am delighted to join you tonight and congratulate the South African government on the official launch of SARI.

Germany has been following the development of SARI with great interest. We believe that SARI is an important programme for climate, energy and industrial policy whose impact will also be felt beyond South Africa’s borders. This excellent programme can be a model of an ambitious NAMA. Its mechanisms now need to be specified in order to support implementation. We are happy to support SARI by making available our know-how, including from the renewables industry.

We have a solid record to build on: since 2008 the German Environment Ministry and the German Development Ministry have jointly been supporting measures in South Africa in the field of climate and energy with a total of €400 million. In line with this ongoing cooperation, SARI helps build a bridge from a carbon-based economy to a climate-friendly economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I said this afternoon, renewable energies will become the driving force for industrial development.  Germany – a highly industrialised country – has embarked upon the path towards a “third industrial revolution.” This path to energy efficiency and renewable energies offers a key opportunity for economic modernisation and technological innovation for every country that chooses this path.

Currently almost 2 million people have “green jobs” in Germany. Hardly any other sector has experienced such a strong development.

In the renewables sector alone, around 370,000 jobs have been created over the past two decades. Turnover from investments by German companies is growing year by year. In 2009 it totalled around €37 billion.

At the beginning, renewable energies need state support to become established. In Germany we ensured this support with our Renewable Energy Sources Act. Providers offering renewable electricity have priority and receive a fixed tariff.

The costs are divided among all consumers through a surcharge. Energy-intensive industry was given special consideration in order to maintain its competitiveness.

This system has proved successful. It has enabled us to achieve a renewables share in the electricity supply of over 20 percent. This is five times higher than just ten years ago.

Transforming Germany’s energy system is not just an important project for industry. It mobilises the whole of society. We have an amazingly broad consensus: over 90 percent of people in Germany back this course.

Industry has recognised the opportunities of the energy transformation. People understand this opportunity for our society: to come together in a unique joint action and show by example that such a project can succeed.

Ultimately, in Germany or in South Africa with SARI, it is not just about transforming our energy systems. There is far more at stake. It is a question of further developing our economic practices and way of life in line with the principles of intergenerational equity, international responsibility, a better quality of life and social cohesion.

Let us work together to translate these principles into political action.