Coast KZN

23 May 2017

Merkel vows to convince climate change ‘doubters’



German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday vowed to work to convince climate change “doubters” as the world waits to see whether US President Donald Trump will endorse the Paris agreement.

“Protecting the climate matters to all of us,” said Merkel, whose country will host a G20 summit and UN climate talks this year.

“We all feel the impacts of climate change… We are responsible for each other…we are liable for each other…we share a common destiny”.

Coal and gas

Urging the international community to maintain “the spirit of Paris” – the 196-nation climate pact reached in late 2015 – she said: “I’m still trying to convince the doubters”.

She was speaking at the annual informal “Petersberg Climate Dialogue” talks hosted by Germany, with some 30 nations taking part.

At the talks, Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Chinese Special Climate Envoy Xie Zhenhua jointly urged the United States to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Trump on the campaign trail dismissed climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by China and vowed to “cancel” the international pact to curb emissions from burning oil, coal and gas.

He has not yet executed his threat, but has appointed an anti-climate litigator to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and chosen the former CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, as his secretary of state.

Merkel said the “energy transition” in Germany – away from nuclear power and fossil fuels and toward solar, wind and other renewables – proved that “prosperity and sustainability can go hand-in-hand.

“About one third of the electricity we consume in Germany comes from renewable energy and despite the rapid growth we have maintained a stable supply,” said the former environment minister.

Green power mega projects

She said efficiency gains now meant giant projects such as off-shore wind farms could be built without state subsidies, but she admitted there were new “bottlenecks”, mainly in transporting and storing green energy.

Worldwide, Merkel said, China was now the leader in renewables, India was planning 50 new solar parks, while nations from the United Arab Emirates to Morocco and Kenya were building green power mega projects.

Trump will meet other leaders of the G7 wealthy nations in Sicily, Italy on May 26 – 27 before Merkel hosts a G20 meeting in Hamburg on July 7 and 8.

The next global meeting on the UN Convention on Climate Change will be organised by the Pacific island state of Fiji, but hosted by the German city of Bonn on November 6 – 17.