Merkel Urges Nations to Reach Binding Climate Deal in Two Years

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said world leaders must do more to come to a binding global agreement to cut greenhouse gases by 2015 as inaction would increase the costs of climate change.

Even if industrialized nations were to stop emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, the world would miss its target to keep warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, Merkel said at a climate conference today in Berlin.

“The path toward a real fight against climate change is complicated,” Merkel told delegates from 35 countries, including the U.S., China, the U.K. and Russia. “Doing nothing means that we face much, much greater costs.”

Delegates from more than 190 states are working toward a new pact on limiting emissions in 2015 that would take effect in 2020 in United Nations-mandated negotiations. They’re seeking to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 and limits greenhouse gas pollution from industrial nations.

Nations will meet again later this year for the annual round of talks involving environment ministers and heads of state and government, starting in November in Warsaw. Germany seeks to help the Polish government in its attempt to make “visible and clear” progress at the Warsaw summit, German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said at the same conference.

Global emissions in 2020 will be at least 52 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent, or 18 percent more than the 44 billion-ton limit needed to meet the 2 degrees target, the UN said in a report on Nov. 21.

Slowing Deforestation

While Brazil has slowed deforestation, Saudi Arabia is pushing solar energy and California introduced a cap-and-trade program, the many single initiatives should form an “irreversible stream” that increases the pressure on nations to reach a deal by 2015, Merkel said.

U.S. emissions and energy costs are falling because of the country’s shale gas boom, Merkel said.

“The use of natural gas alone, however, won’t be enough in the very long run regarding the U.S. CO2 emissions,” Merkel said. “We also need the expansion of renewable energies.”

The European Union should adopt 2030 climate protection targets and industrialized nations must do more to reach the $100 billion in aid a year they’ve pledged for climate projects by 2020, Merkel said. Rich nations and UN organizations should help developing countries file aid applications to get money flowing, she said.

“It’s a long way from the commitment to give funds to the point where the money arrives at where projects are being done,” Merkel said.

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