Mueller told the RND newspaper network that Germany would “send a strong signal” at the U.N. climate conference in Katowice, Poland with its Alliance for Development and Climate initiative and a pledge to spend an additional 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) on climate protection.
Expectations are muted for this week’s meetings given divisions within Europe, and tension between the United States and China.
Delegates from about 195 nations will seek to produce a “rule book” to flesh out details of the Paris Agreement of 2015, which the United States, at the behest of President Donald Trump, has announced it will quit.
Mueller said it was imperative to help countries such as Brazil, India, China and many nations in Africa to develop their ability to provide electricity for their growing populations without relying on coal production.
“We can help spark leaps in development,” he said. “We have the technology and the knowledge.”
More than 70 companies had already signed up for the new German initiative, he said, which seeks to boost private funds for climate projects in developing countries and emerging economies.
“Even without a concrete date for the end of coal production, Germany will send a strong signal in Katowice,” Mueller said.
The African population was expected to double to 2.5 billion people by 2050, which would trigger construction of 1,000 more coal-burning power plants, unless countries like Germany helped bolster investment in alternative energy sources, he said.
The European Union’s climate chief last week called for the bloc to aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The BDI Federation of German Industry warned Europe against adopting overly ambitious targets, noting that Europe accounted for only 10 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Asked about the EU target, BDI President Dieter Kempf told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper, that moving toward net-zero emissions in Europe would require more investment.
“A completely, or largely emission-free economy would carry an enormous price,” he said.