Copyright We transcribed this article from "Our Planet" for reference purposes only.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.... ||
... talks to Our Planet about the prospects for a new global agreement on combating climate change.
unique challenge - page 6 Our Planet©
Why did you decide, from the start of your Chancellorship, to put a high priority on addressing climate change? How important in this was your background as a scientist and your experience as Environment Minister in the 1990s?
Climate change is a key issue for the future that confronts each and every one of us. Not in ten or twenty years’ time, but right now. How will climate change alter our personal environment? Is our home safe? Can we take any precautions? What energy sources should we choose? More and more people in the world are asking themselves these questions.
Climate change is also an ethical challenge. We must allow future generations the things we claim for ourselves. They too must have the chance of an environment worth living in.
[Really? Can the earth support our lifestyles at all? What are "future generations"? Our children?, our grandchildren?, or is the danger less urgent?]
Climate change has long been a personal concern of mine. Certainly my experience as Federal Environment Minister left its mark. The World Climate Conference, which I chaired in Berlin in 1995, and the negotiations in Kyoto in 1997 were decisive points for me. The Kyoto Protocol was the correct first step towards international climate protection. We must make sure further steps follow — in particular, a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol in 2009.
[No. Kyoto et.al is counterproductive activism and any similar treaty will be equally worthless.]
How great, in your view, is the threat of dangerous climate change and how urgently does action need to be taken to combat it?
I am convinced we will need to make crucial decisions very soon indeed on the course to be taken. By the middle of this century we must have reduced global greenhouse gas emissions by at least half compared with the 1990 level. [That's too little and too late.] Doing so will pay off in economic terms too. We know that investment in sensible climate protection is worthwhile. The cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of investment in climate protection. But the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be.
From the security aspect as well, there is a need to change our approach now. The consequences of climate change become more and more of a security problem when the repercussions become life-threatening for many people. For instance, I am greatly worried by the danger of global migratory flows owing to water shortages. UNEP estimates that in 20 years’ time 1.8 billion people could be at risk of absolute water shortages. [So what!? Just wait till Western Europa gets its regular floods after the Alpine glaciers and permafrost slopes have molten. We'll get our fair share!]
What is your assessment of the outcome of the Bali negotiations? What now needs to be done to build on it?
Bali took us a good way forward on some key issues: we have a comprehensive negotiating mandate for a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol and a clear timetable up to 2009. All states are involved — industrial countries, emerging economies and developing countries. Now it is a matter of taking the negotiations forward rapidly and in a concentrated manner. [No! The Bali Protocoll is useless .]
What are the chances of reaching a new agreement, measuring up to the scale of the challenge, by the end of 2009? What elements should it contain?
We have a good basis from which to start, because the international community has made it clear that it is willing to face up to the challenge. Now the aim must be to decide on concrete measures to limit climate change. [Yes! But which? .]
We must lay down who has to make what contribution towards reducing greenhouse gases, towards the better spread of climate-friendly technologies, towards adapting to climate change and, not least, towards the financing of necessary measures.
It is important for the success of the negotiations that all states understand this: combating climate change
contributes to sustainable development and does not — as is occasionally claimed — endanger economic progress, particularly in emerging economies and developing countries. [Really? Can "economic progress" and growth be sustainable?.]
I am convinced that the agreement must build on a shared vision of future climate protection endeavours, and contain clear targets for reductions by industrial countries and verifiable contributions by emerging economies. To this end, we must stipulate how climate protection measures by the developing countries should be credited under this international agreement. Industrial countries must help developing countries in their efforts — for instance via cooperation in the field of technology. [Which yet-to-be-invented technology exactly?]
Has the world taken adequate steps to address adaptation to climate change? What needs to be done?
Only if we have a clear idea of how far we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can we estimate how much of an effort will be needed to adapt. It is already clear, however, that the least developed countries, in particular, will be hard hit by climate change. We are already familiar with many of the effects of climate change: more extreme weather conditions, new health risks, problems with the cultivation of agricultural products or shortages of
drinking water. [And we, the rich? What are we doing??]
In Bali we succeeded in setting up an adaptation fund for the developing countries. It is intended to help them take preventive measures against the worst effects of climate change. [How much has been pledged? And what will finally be paid? For which measures?] The future climate protection agreement will need to contain further financial instruments, because experts estimate that many billions of euros might be needed each year for adaptation. [How can we adapt, in reality, to repetitive floods and droughts? By building structures? Or by moving to safe areas and restructuring?]
What has Germany done to combat global warming? What more do you plan to do, and how will it be achieved?
In Germany we have cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 18 per cent since 1990. [A contested figure since the reduction was largely a result of the collapse of the economy in former Eastern Germany.] We want to continue to play a leading role in climate protection. So on 5 December 2007 the Federal Government adopted the first part of an integrated energy and climate programme. The programme is an ambitious one and includes, in particular, measures to expand co-generation of heat and power and renewable energies in the electricity sector, the promotion of renewable energies for heating and measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. A total of €2.6 billion is available for this in 2008. Thanks to this programme, Germany is establishing an important platform from which to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent (as compared to 1990 levels) by 2020. [Wait and see how realistic this is with the present "solutions".]
What do you believe to be the chances that humanity will succeed in avoiding dangerous climate change?
Tackling climate change poses a unique challenge. We can only meet it if all states work together. That is why climate policy also opens a window for international cooperation. [No!] In technical and economic terms, many of the requirements for reducing greenhouse gases are already in place. [No!] Examples of this include efficiency technologies such as heat insulation and energy-saving bulbs, or renewable energies which are becoming more and more affordable. Such innovations are already contributing to economic growth and thus to the creation of new jobs. [The "We need jobs and therefore growth" argument. But growth policies are planned suicide for humanity!]
In other areas, however, there is still a great deal to be done. We must rethink the way we produce energy and goods. We need a new way of living, with new economic opportunities, which enhances our quality of life while using up fewer resources. [Yes! But not by means of the normal growth model.] If we pursue the principle of sustainable development in both the industrial and the developing countries, then we can prevent climate change from becoming a danger threatening life all over the world. [No! "Sustainable Development" is oxymoron. No development in the usual sense is sustainable.]