Angela Merkel Says Fight Against Climate Change ‘Matter of Survival’

Raymond Colitt, Brian Parkin and Arne Delfs
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Angela Merkel Says Fight Against Climate Change ‘Matter of Survival’

(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she’s worried about the growing conflict between young campaigners for a cleaner planet and those who reject global warming.

Their stances have become “irreconcilable” and led to a gap in dialog just when nations need collective actionon climate change, Merkel said Thursday in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“The question of achieving the Paris Agreement goals could be a matter of survival for the whole continent and that is why there is pressure to act,” said Merkel. Scientific evidence is clear and emotions should not be confused with facts, she said.

Merkel’s comments follow remarks By Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist behind an international wave of student climate strikes. She told leaders that the rate of global warming should make them start to panic. President Donald Trump blasted the “prophets of doom” on the same day in the Swiss resort village in a speech which focused squarely on the U.S. economy.

In an oblique reference to young environment activists, Merkel said those who are campaigning for a more trenchant policy to counteract global warming deserve a hearing. The “impatience of young people” must be addressed, she said.

Europe and beyond faces a “decade of action,” said Merkel, citing words said previously by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations.

Merkel is making climate policy a focus of her last full year as chancellor of Europe’s biggest economy. In the wake of mass protests, her administration sought to kick start a stalled climate agenda with a series of measures to help get Germany achieve steep cuts in carbon emissions.

Germany, which is also Europe’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has lagged meeting its climate targets. It aims to cut emissions 40% by this year compared with 1990 levels, yet needs to close a big gap to get there.

The moves include placing levies on transportation, investing heavily in railways and applying a timetable for power companies to exit coal. Yet critics say the measures are too little and too late, and that tax payers ought not to be paying billion-dollar compensations to utilities.

(Updates and rewrites from first paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Raymond Colitt in Berlin at rcolitt@bloomberg.net;Brian Parkin in Berlin at bparkin@bloomberg.net;Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Jonathan Tirone

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