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Environment

Climate change presents economic opportunity, says German minister

At the United Nations climate talks in Cancun, German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen stressed the economic advantages of tackling climate change, by investing in the future.

Wind farm and sun

Roettgen urged investment in renewable technologies

The German environment minister told delegates in Cancun that countries should look to invest in infrastructure and ways to tackle climate change, as the investment pays dividends in the long run.

Norbert Roettgen called on states to follow Germany's lead and launch a "rethink" on climate change.

"In business, politics and society, we no longer see climate change as a threat, but an opportunity and a challenge," said Roettgen in a speech to delegates.

Norbert Roettgen in the tube of a wind turbine

The environment minister said a multilateral approach is needed in Cancun

He said that Germany had invested in tackling climate change and as a result it had created jobs and opportunities.

Rich vs poor countries

Major deadlocks have emerged at Cancun between rich and developing nations, largely over how to lower greenhouse-gas emissions.

Despite wide agreement on issues such as tackling deforestation, adaptation, technology and climate financing, there is little compromise on either side over limiting CO2 emissions that cause climate change.

The European Union and the United States want more scrutiny of emerging powers' actions on climate change and anchoring voluntary emission pledges into the wider UN process.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said there had been "no sign of progress on the crunch issues."

Meanwhile developing nations put the onus on industrial powers to back an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty limiting the gas emissions of wealthy countries that is set to expire in 2012.

European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard

EU Climate Commissioner Hedegaard said little progress has been made

The US never ratified Kyoto and China was exempted – and now Japan is leading a bloc of countries that refuse to back a new treaty without the world's two largest polluters.

Deadline looms

The talks end on Friday and Roettgen told reporters it was now a "difficult point" as the deadline draws close.

However, Mexico's foreign minister, who is chairing the talks said a comprehensive deal among the 190 countries was "within reach."

"We need to work together in finding the balance that will make Cancun a success," Patricia Espinosa said.

Her comments were echoed by the EU Climate Commissioner.

"To come out of Cancun with nothing is simply not an option," Hedegaard said.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa/epd/AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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