XV. Alpine Conference adopts 2050 climate target system for the region and steps up cooperation on soil protection
At the close of the XV. Alpine Conference, held from 3 to 4 April 2019 in Innsbruck, the ministers of the nine contracting parties of the Alpine Convention agreed to increased cooperation on climate action and soil protection in the Alps. A target system for climate-neutrality in the Alps by 2050 (Zielsystem klimaneutrale Alpen 2050) was adopted. The system covers areas including transport, tourism, energy generation and agriculture. A working group on soil protection was established; the group will focus on protection of peatland.
German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented: “The Alpine region is especially hard hit by climate change – melting glaciers, dwindling certainty of snow and a shift in climatic zones. The Alpine countries therefore want to make a substantial contribution to climate action. The target system adopted today is a milestone for the protection of the Alps. It is a concrete result of our vision to make the Alps a model region for climate action and formulates a comprehensive strategy.”
Climate action is an explicit priority of the Alpine Convention’s multi-annual work programme. In the next two years, an updated climate action plan will be drawn up on the basis of the new climate target system.
Climate action in the Alps, a popular holiday destination for Germans, is an important matter. Under the German Presidency of the Alpine Convention in 2016, climate action was already a focus of the convention’s work in connection with sustainable development and support for civil society in the Alps. Following up on this, an action program on green economies (Aktionsprogramm “Grünes Wirtschaften”) was adopted at this year’s Alpine Conference. Germany also supports local climate action in the region in a variety of ways, for example with the ALPACA project for climate partnerships, which promotes exchange of experience between Alpine regions. In the German part of the Alps, the BMU encourages local climate action with its National Climate Initiative (NKI), which supports, for example, the expansion of climate-friendly cycling infrastructure.
In addition, Germany is a champion of more intensive cooperation on soil protection. The Federal Environment Ministry will chair the newly created working group on soil protection with the support of Bavaria and other partners.
This year’s conference was held by the Austrian Presidency and chaired by the Austrian Minister for Sustainability and Tourism, Elisabeth Köstinger. France will hold the Presidency for the period until the next Alpine Conference, provisionally planned for January 2021. The contracting parties of the Alpine Convention are Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland, Slovenia and the European Union.
The Alpine Conference also bid farewell to its Secretary General, Ambassador Markus Reiterer of Austria, and thanked him for six years of hard work. Alenka Smerkolj of Slovenia was appointed the new Secretary General; her last posts were as Slovene Minister without Portfolio responsible for Cohesion and Slovene Minister of Finance.