Merkel Speaks of Global Need for Action on Climate Change | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 25.09.2007
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Germany

Merkel Speaks of Global Need for Action on Climate Change

Industrialized countries have a moral imperative to reduce CO2 emissions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday, Sept. 24. She spoke at an unprecedented one-day United Nations climate conference in New York.

The world as seen from space

It's not getting any cooler

Germany's chancellor repeated her call for global solutions to cutting CO2 emissions, encouraging countries to begin looking for a way to move forward efforts to combat climate change.

Negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol -- a treaty which sets targets for industrial nations to reduce carbon emissions -- is of crucial importance, Merkel said, speaking before a UN climate conference.

"It's not only the dry facts and numbers that call us to negotiate, but also the question of in what future we want to live," she said. "For me, this is not only an economic imperative, but also a moral one."

Merkel called for global CO2 emissions, a major man-made factor that contributes to global warming, to be halved by 2050.

Carbon trading suggested as a solution

German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles

Merkel wants the UN to take the lead on combating climate change

Merkel suggested that a global carbon-trading scheme, which places a price on industries' carbon-dioxide emissions, should play a "central role" in plans to fight global warming.

"Only when greenhouse gases have a price will climate friendly technologies really become economically attractive," she said.

Her comments were echoed by others, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. In 2005, the European Union introduced the world's largest carbon trading scheme. The plan has not worked as expected, since some countries gave their polluters large numbers of carbon credits.

Yet Europe still feels carbon trading is the way forward.

"Our ultimate success will depend on developing the carbon market," Barroso said at the UN climate conference Monday.

Looking beyond the Kyoto Protocol

Smoke comes from a car's exhaust pipe

Clean fuel is a necessity

The EU has agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, but both Merkel and Barroso said that figure could be raised to 30 percent if a binding international deal included other regions.

"Industrialized countries must play a pioneering role here," Merkel said. "They have to set themselves ambitious reduction targets. They have to demonstrate how they intend to achieve these targets."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the world's major polluters to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050. He advocated the use of nuclear energy, France's main power source, as a possible solution.

"It is not a question of choice between growth and protecting our world," Sarkozy said. "We need clean growth. A new economy must be invented."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday's conference achieved its goal of building momentum ahead of a critical December meeting in Bali, Indonesia. There, negotiators will begin talks to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

"This event has sent a powerful signal to the world ... that there is a will and determination at the highest level to break with the past and act decisively," Ban said.

The US called on to take action

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at the UN climate conference

A man of action

While California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did address the conference, calling for "action, action, action," on climate change, United States President George W. Bush was conspicuously absent.

The US never ratified Kyoto and has been reluctant to endorse ideas like carbon trading. Bush plans to hold his own conference on climate change in Washington later this week.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that new technologies were at the heart of US efforts to combat global warming.

"The world needs a technological revolution," Rice said Monday, adding that the world must find ways to "transcend" fossil fuels in the search for clean, renewable alternatives.

Monday's address was the Merkel's first visit to the United Nations as chancellor. She was scheduled to address an annual gathering of the UN General Assembly Tuesday afternoon, where she's expected to again bring up the subject of climate change.

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