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Merkel urges 'ambitious' Glasgow climate summit

June 5, 2021

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the UN's COP26 summit in November must deliver "concrete measures" to tackle climate change. She used her weekly podcast to highlight World Environment Day.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
On World Environment Day, Merkel used her weekly podcast to discuss the upcoming EU ban on single-use plasticsImage: bundeskanzlerin.de

The United Nation's COP26 climate summit in November "must provide further impetus for concrete measures" to cut global warming to a "tolerable level," German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Saturday.

In her weekly video podcast, coinciding with World Environment Day, Merkel said the climate goals set in Paris in 2015 and to be finessed in Glasgow, Scotland, later this year, will make 2021 a "significant year" in the transition from fossil fuels.

Europe making progress

Europe has "already come a long way" toward becoming what the EU terms a "climate-neutral economy" by 2050, asserted Merkel — a former environment minister herself from 1994 until 1998 under late conservative chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The Paris Agreement set the aim of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to pre-industrial levels.

Experts such as the Climate Action Tracker consortium warn that current policies have the world heading for 2.9 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, 2100.

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"These [Paris] goals are ambitious, but we can achieve them," insisted Merkel in her podcast, adding that new German climate legislationprompted by Germany's constitutional court in April — would "preserve our environment, our own livelihoods."

"We have the appropriate instruments for this: An effective CO2 price, the phase-out of coal-fired power generation, increased coal-fired power generation, the increased expansion of renewable energies, and the switch to e-mobility," she said.

Under the current bill submitted by Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, Germany aims by 2030 to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 65% in relation to 1990 levels.

By 2045, Germany's economy is supposed to be climate neutral.

'Easy to stop' single-use plastics

Referring to World Environment Day, Merkel also highlighted the need to cut plastic waste.

She urged Germany's 83 million residents to embrace from July the EU's ban on the production in Europe of single-use plastics such as straws and cotton buds.

"Doing without them will be easy and will greatly relieve the environment," Merkel said.

The chancellor also highlighted species depletion and losses in biological diversity.

"Up to a million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades," she said. "We urgently need to stop this development."

"We humans are dependent on an intact environment and the preservation of biodiversity," emphasized Merkel.

ipj/mm (epd, KNA, dpa, AFP, Reuters)