Many environmental problems cross national borders and can only be overcome through international cooperation. International climate and environmental policy encompasses a multitude of topics: climate protection, sustainable energy policy, preservation of biological diversity and the protection of forests, seas and soil. Added to this is the fight against desertification, sustainable waste management and protection from dangerous substances. For nearly all of these topics comprehensive strategies are required. This leads to other policy areas, e.g. cooperation with developing nations taking environmental protection into account.
As far back as 1972, the United Nations had already established the environmental program UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program). Since then, the number of environmental agreements under the United Nations umbrella has steadily increased. Initially, there was the formation of the Montreal Protocol for Protection of the Ozone Layer. In 1992, the Rio de Janeiro conference pushed global environmental problems into the focus of international relations, followed by numerous agreements, such as the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Kyoto Protocol, the Washington Convention on Endangered Species, the Basel Convention on the Control of Waste Exports and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
The German Government is a driving force in the international climate protection process. Following the failure of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen, it contributed to restoring a constructive and trusting atmosphere to the international climate negotiations with the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in May 2010. Through the International Climate Initiative, established in 2008, Germany also promotes climate protection projects in developing nations and emerging markets.