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EU climate efforts will fail without global deal: Merkel

Merkel said she "welcomes emphatically" indications from US president-elect Barack Obama that he would "engage more strongly" in global efforts on climate change than his predecessor. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Dec 4, 2008
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday the European Union's efforts to lead the way on climate change would fail without a "sensible" global deal in 2009 that involved the United States.

"Europe accounts for 15 percent of the world's CO2 emissions," Merkel told parliament in a speech that was also a warning shot ahead of what she said would be an "exciting and tough" EU summit next week.

"If the United States does not participate, if we don't agree next year on a sensible international deal, then our efforts in Europe to lead the way will of course fail."

Her remarks came part way through United Nations climate talks in Poland, where representatives from around the world were attempting to lay the groundwork for a new global climate pact to be signed in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The forum of the 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poznan, Poland, which runs until December 12, comes halfway through a two-year process launched in Bali, Indonesia a year ago.

Merkel said she "welcomes emphatically" indications from US president-elect Barack Obama that he would "engage more strongly" in global efforts on climate change than his predecessor.

Obama, who takes office January 20, has set a goal of reducing US emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050, using a cap-and-trade system and a 10-year programme worth 150 billion dollars in renewable energy.

Efforts by the European Union to agree on a joint climate strategy were due to come to a head at a summit of leaders on December 11-12 in Brussels.

The EU has fixed a triple objective for 2020: cutting greenhouse gases 20 percent from 1990 levels, lowering energy use by 20 percent, and generating 20 percent of its energy needs with renewable sources like solar and wind power.

But many EU members, including Germany, are keen to protect their national industries from the costs the targets would involve, and the economic crisis has complicated the chances of an agreement.

The package narrowly avoided falling apart in October. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi only withdrew their vetoes when some decisions were put off to this month's summit.

Merkel called Thursday for energy-intensive industries to be exempt from a proposed scheme involving the auctioning of emissions quotas from 2013 that is part of the package, in order to stop firms moving jobs out of Europe.

"We must ... ensure that our energy-intensive industry, which is driven by exports, is of course excluded from the trading of (emissions quotas) in order to make sure they are not disadvantaged on the global market...

"The way things stand, we cannot spoil our export chances and stand by while jobs in the chemicals, steel and other industries move to regions of the world where climate protection is less stringent than here."

She said that Germany had "few allies" on this issue because its economy was by far the most dependent among the 27 members of the EU on heavy industry, accounting for around 15 percent of the country's output.

But if these countries wanted Germany "to remain the locomotive of the European economy" then the EU needed to ensure that German firms had "tolerable conditions and that firms do not relocate elsewhere," Merkel warned.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to hold talks in Gdansk, Poland on Saturday in an effort to win support for the climate package from sceptical eastern European leaders.

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Analysis: Skeptics renew climate debate
Washington DC (UPI) Dec 04, 2008
Not everyone is sold on the possibility of climate-change catastrophe, even as policymakers worldwide push forward with legislation to halt greenhouse gas emissions.

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