Germany welcomes China climate goals, wants more EU action

Wind Energy
Mölsheim, Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed China’s plan to be carbon-neutral by 2060, contrasting it with the U.S. failure to abide by the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord.

In a speech Wednesday to Germany’s parliament, Merkel stressed the significance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement last week as the European Union debates ramping up its own medium- and long-term emissions reduction goals.

“I think it’s beyond debate that we need to work with China when it comes to protecting the climate,” she told lawmakers. “China is now the biggest emitter worldwide and it’s very important that China contributes to efforts to protect the climate.”

Without naming the United States – the world’s second-biggest source of manmade greenhouse gases – she added: “And unlike other large emitters, it’s encouraging that China stands by the Paris climate accord.”

Merkel said the target set by Beijing should be seen in light of the economic development China still has ahead of it compared to other industrialized nations.

“This is a very ambitious goal that should spur us in Europe to really fulfil our targets,” she said.

The EU recently proposed raising its target for cutting planet-warming greenhouse gases to at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. Some of the 27-nation bloc’s members, particularly in the coal-reliant east like Poland, are opposed to the goal, however.

Germany’s environment minister said she hoped to reach consensus among EU members during her country’s current six-month presidency of the bloc.

International climate policy is gaining momentum and we are perhaps at a crucial turning point for the future of this planet,” Svenja Schulze said Wednesday before a meeting with EU environment ministers in Berlin. “Two of the world’s most economically robust regions, the EU and China, are reinforcing the effectiveness of the Paris agreement.”

Asked whether Europe shouldn’t be setting its sights even higher and aim for a 65% reduction, as scientists have suggested is necessary to achieve the Paris accord’s goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), Schulze said the current proposal envisages a review every five years.

“What’s important to me is that we reach an agreement,” she said. “We need this signal now.”

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