20 Apr 2015 | Kerstine Appunn

Climate high on Germany's G7 agenda, ambitious goals tough to agree - Merkel

German chancellor wants to push for commitment for ambitious climate targets from G7 as climate activists call for strong leadership.

Ambitious climate targets are high up on Germany's list for the upcoming G7 summit but could be tough to agree, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a discussion with civil society representatives in Berlin. For the “Civil G7 Dialogue”, environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace and CARE had put together their expectations for the G7 group of leading industrial countries, including a commitment to decarbonising the countríes’ power sectors before 2050 “through transition to renewable energies, and to developing scenarios for a coal phase-out”.

Calling it one of the “most difficult topics” of the G7 summit and saying that she found it sobering to see how few countries were still committed to the Kyoto Protocol which she once “ardently negotiated” as an Environment Minister, Angela Merkel said that the German G7 presidency would try to get ambitious climate targets.

Speaking at a session on climate and energy, German environment ministry representative Norbert Gorißen said that a long-term goal of decarbonisation could possibly be discussed at the meeting of the G7 heads of state and government in June. “We want to create additional momentum for the Paris climate conference,” he said.

Martin Schöpe, Head of Division International Energy Policy at the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, said that his ministry would pitch sustainable energy security as a main topic for the climate talks at the G7 events. But instead of just discussing energy security in the light of the Ukraine crisis, domestic renewable development, energy efficiency as well as technologies and policies to incorporate more renewables into power systems should be the talking points, he said.

Climate activists stressed the need for leadership from the G7. “We want the G7 to recognise that the current climate protection commitments are not enough and that more is needed to limit global warming to 2 degrees,” Director Wael Hmaidan said on behalf of the Climate Action Network. Civil society was pressing for the long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuel usage by 2050, Hmaidan said. “If the G7 don’t reach an agreement on this long-term goal, it’s very unlikely that Paris will.”

Tobias Münchmeyer, deputy head of Greenpeace's political unit in Berlin also highlighted the importance of the G7 summit, which will take place in the Bavarian town Elmau. “If there is no progress on the long-term goal, Elmau will be seen as a failure,” he said. Deciding on a target of 100-percent-renewable energy by 2050 by the G7 members would send a very strong signal to other industrial countries, Münchmeyer said. “But if Chancellor Merkel is not able to convince the other six members of this, we will see a failure.”

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