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Merkel meets Nordic leaders amid climate change concerns

August 20, 2019

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Iceland for talks with leaders of Nordic countries. Climate policy is expected to dominate the agenda, and Merkel has called for 'humility' in our treatment of the environment.

Angela Merkel and Katrin Jakobsdottir in Thingvellir, Iceland
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/E. Bjarnason

Climate change is expected to be a key topic when German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Nordic leaders in Iceland on Tuesday.    

Iceland's Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir is hosting a working lunch during which Merkel is expected to discuss climate policy and a range of international topics with the heads of government of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Read more: Europe's seas to lose almost a third of life due to climate change: report

"From the shift in mobility patterns to the issue of energy generation, I believe we face common challenges," Merkel said on Monday. The example of Iceland shows "that humankind must treat nature with care and show some humility," the chancellor stressed.

What is the Nordic Council?

The Nordic Council groups together Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden as well as self-ruling territories like Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

It was set up in 1952 to strengthen interparliamentary and intergovernmental cooperation among the member states.

The region boasted a population of about 27 million in 2017 and its total economic output that year was estimated to be around $1.4 trillion (€1.26 trillion). By 2030, the Nordic Council expects the number of inhabitants in the region to increase by 10% to around 29 million.

Iceland currently holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Nordic leaders meet annually for informal talks. This year, Merkel was invited to join them.

Ceremony for first glacier lost

Merkel is due to visit the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant on Tuesday. Iceland — known for its many volcanoes and geological activity — harnesses geothermal power for district heating and electricity production. 

Read more: Greta Thunberg: The teenage eco-activist who took the world by storm

The Nordic Council meeting comes at a time when the environment is dominating the public agenda in Iceland, with the country commemorating its first glacier lost to climate change a few days ago.

The disappearance of Okjokull, a glacier in the west of the sub-Arctic island, is widely regarded as being caused by man-made global warming.

sri/ng (dpa, AFP)

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