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Merkel pushes for binding agreements at Berlin climate talks

With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012, Germany hopes to revive climate talks ahead of a UN summit in South Africa this year. Representatives from 35 countries met in Berlin on Sunday to hash out compromises.

CO2 emmissions from factory

Global warming is to be kept below 2 degrees Celsius

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a binding agreement between the world's industrialized economies in order to ensure that the world's temperature does not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) during the 21st century.

"We are determined to move forward boldly," the German chancellor said Sunday in Berlin at a meeting of representatives from 35 countries to make preparations for the next climate summit in Durban, South Africa. The summit in Durban is scheduled to kick off November 28.

Mitigating climate change will be "very expensive and very cumbersome," Merkel said, adding, however, that inaction would "certainly be more expensive."

Angela Merkel

Merkel is trying to jump-start the lagging negotiations

The Berlin meeting came after a fruitless two-week conference on climate change in Bonn, Germany, in June that was attended by most UN member states. During a UN summit last year in Cancun, Mexico, the world community agreed to prevent global warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, little progress has been made toward concretely implementing this goal. With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012, the pressure is on to make headway toward a new international climate change agreement during the summit in Durban.

Germany's environment minister, Norbert Röttgen, warned that a failure to seriously address global warming would jeopardize global peace and stability.

"Before us stands a world in which hunger and poverty will trigger refugee waves, a world in which political extremism will rise, a world of global but also local instability," Röttgen wrote in the pages of the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Saturday.

Domestic debate

solar panels in Germany

Germany is banking on renewable energy sources

Although the German parliament, the Bundestag, voted last Thursday to phase-out nuclear energy by 2020, Merkel said that Germany would still be able to meet its goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent compared to the level in 1990.

The Bundestag also passed a series of energy laws along a party-line vote aimed at increasing renewable energy sources from 17 to 35 percent of electricity production by the end of the decade. This goal, however, has been criticized by the Green party as insufficient.

"The climate goals of the chancellor are not ambitious and lag behind the real world developments," said Green party parliamentary chief Jürgen Trittin.

In contrast to the German government, the renewable energy industry has zeroed in on well over 40 percent of electricity coming from renewable sources by the decade's end, Trittin continued.

"Germany has gone from being a trailblazer to acting as a break on climate protection," he said.

Author: Spencer Kimball (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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