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Germany

Green Queen Urges Action on Climate Change

On the second day of her state visit to Germany, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated her concern for environmental issues, opening a joint German-British climate conference.

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The Queen on a rare walkabout Wednesday

Environmental protection is a recurring theme during Queen Elizabeth's three-day visit to Germany. On Tuesday, she and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder discussed climate change with young students, and on Wednesday, she opened a conference on the topic.

Prior to the Queen's arrival in Berlin, senior Buckingham Palace sources said they couldn't remember a previous occasion when the Queen had opened a conference on such a sensitive international topic while on a state visit.

British government officials say Queen Elizabeth has been struck by mounting scientific evidence of the possible catastrophic effects of unchecked climate change, and has urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to make it one of the main topics during Britain's presidency of both the European Union and the G8 in 2005.

Green palaces

The Queen has been boosting her "green" credentials at home, seeking to make her palaces more environmentally-friendly, and endorsing plans to build a hydroelectric plant on the River Thames to power Windsor Castle.

At the Berlin climate conference, Margaret Beckett, Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the UK's presidencies of the G8 and EU next year offered the chance to work with Germany and other EU states to demonstrate common resolve on tackling climate issues.

"We want to seize the opportunity to generate a fresh and reinvigorated strategic vision for putting the world on a path to a sustainable low-carbon future, taking account both of the scientific evidence and the technological challenge," Beckett said.

After opening the German-British conference, the Queen visited Berlin's Museum Island, a collection of historic sites and museums that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Packed schedule

Queen Staatsbesuch Berlin

Queen Elizabeth II in Berlin on the second day of her three-day state visit.

Also on Wednesday's agenda were a brief stop in Potsdam to visit the Cecilienhof castle, and a visit to the Stahnsdorf Commonwealth War Cemetery to lay a wreath honoring soldiers who died during their imprisonment in eastern Germany during World War II.

The Queen and her husband Prince Philip were scheduled to attend a benefit concert in Berlin Wednesday evening for Dresden's Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), which was destroyed in the Allied bombing in 1945, and is being restored to its former glory.

The hectic pace of the Queen's schedule has disappointed many German well-wishers gathering outside various venues in the cold in the hope of a handshake or a royal wave.

"She seems a bit stressed," observed one young woman holding a bouquet she'd hoped to give to the monarch. "Her agenda is way too tight -- that can't be easy for a 78-year-old."

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