Angela Merkel has admitted that Germany’s track record in reducing carbon emissions “was not sufficient” to meet the global warming targets of the Paris climate agreement, as the chancellor reflected on the achievements and missed opportunities of her leadership. 16 years old.
Speaking at the last of her annual summer press conferences on Thursday before stepping down as the leader of Europe’s largest economy after the September 26 federal elections, Merkel said Germany “has done a lot” to recalibrate its economy. in the face of the climate crisis, increasing the share of renewable energies in its energy mix from 10% to 40%, and reducing carbon emissions by 20% in the period from 1990 to 2010, and by another 20% in the next 10 years.
However, the 67-year-old admitted that “what has been achieved is not enough” when compared to the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 ° C, preferably 1.5 ° C. C, compared to pre-industrial levels. Not just Germany, but the entire world had failed to achieve its goals, he said.
“I am equipped with enough common sense for science to see that objective circumstances demand that we cannot continue at the current rate, but must accelerate the rate,” Merkel said.
While Germany alone cannot change the global climate, he argued, “the way we do it can set an example for others to follow.”
Merkel, who was Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s environment minister from 1994 to 1998, said the fight for joint global steps towards more efficient climate protection had “shaped all my political work.”
He defended his government’s 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, which critics say has made the country more dependent on coal power. “For Germany, the die is cast,” he said. “I do not see that a government of the future changes anything in that sense.”
The issue of the climate emergency has returned to the top of the political agenda after record rains and flash floods devastated much of western Germany last week, killing at least 179 people and leaving transport and energy infrastructure. in parts of Rhineland-Palatinate and northern Germany. Rhineland Westphalia in disarray.
Germany’s national weather service said on Thursday that regions affected by last week’s floods could see more heavy rains over the weekend.
Merkel said the effort to rebuild houses, railways and power lines in the flooded region would be a monumental undertaking requiring her efforts “until the last day” of her chancellorship.
On Wednesday, his cabinet approved 200 million euros (170 million pounds) of emergency financial aid for people affected by the floods, and state governments are expected to match the federal aid program.
More than 4,500 civil defense workers, firefighters and soldiers have been deployed to assist with clean-up efforts in the badly affected Ahr Valley region of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Merkel said the extent of the damage has yet to be determined “but it is immense.”
At the start of the broad 1.5-hour press conference, Merkel also raised concerns about the “worrying dynamics” of the Covid-19 pandemic in Germany, saying the Delta variant was driving another wave of “exponential growth” despite that 60% of the German population has received at least one vaccine injection.
Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, on Thursday recorded 1,890 new infections in the past 24 hours and an incidence rate of 12.2 new cases per 100,000 people in the past week, down from a low of 4.9 in early July.