Merkel: 'We are not yet where we need to be'

Merkel: 'We are not yet where we need to be'
© Associated Press/Phil Noble

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called upon developed countries to institute dramatic emissions reductions and provide finance as promised to developing nations, during her national statement at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on Monday.

“We are not yet where we need to get, where we have to be,” Merkel said.

Agreements made at the pivotal COP21 in Paris in 2015 serve “as a guiding line,” but the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that each country submitted following that summit will not fulfill the overall aim of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), according to Merkel.

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“The world community hopes — and I would like to underline this — that we present ourselves in a better shape at the end of this conference than we found ourselves in at the beginning,” Merkel said. 

Emphasizing that “the impact of climate change is devastating,” Merkel suggested measuring national targets “in a more binding way,” thereby providing the “yardstick” necessary to meet goals set in Paris by mid-century. 

“We know that the developed countries bear a special responsibility,” she added, noting that this is “especially true” for Germany. “I believe it to be essential for the credibility of industrialized countries that we provide the finance we promised.”

As such, Merkel continued, Germany has increased its NDC to cut emissions by 65 percent by 2030 in comparison to 1990 levels — and to be climate neutral by 2045. 

Meanwhile, she said, Germany and Canada have been focusing on how to achieve the goal set by developed countries in 2010 to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. 

“We have to admit that we will only meet this goal in 2023 — belatedly, that is — but we're going to meet it,” Merkel said, noting that Germany is already providing “a substantial contribution” and intends to increase that contribution to 6 billion euros ($7 billion) per year by 2025.

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Another element that will be critical to global emissions reductions goals, according to Merkel, is “to stop the international financing of coal-based power.” 

“It will not suffice if we take action only at the level of governments,” Merkel said. “If we want to achieve the transformation of our lives and our way of doing business, we need more. I thus plead in favor of putting a price on CO2 emissions.”

By doing so, she continued, countries can ensure that industry and businesses will innovate the best technologies and seek out ways to achieve climate neutrality. 

“It is about changing our way of doing business, our way of working,” Merkel added. “It is a comprehensive transformation, and if we achieve this we know how to best achieve CO2-free mobility, CO2-free industry and CO2-free processes.”