23 Apr 2021, 12:55
Kerstine Appunn

German politicians welcome U.S. return to global climate action

Clean Energy Wire

President Joe Biden’s announcement to raise the U.S. greenhouse gas reduction target to 50 percent by 2030 over 2005 has been met with relief by many politicians and activists in Germany. German chancellor Angela Merkel said at the Climate Leaders’ Summit hosted by Biden on Thursday that she was “glad that the U.S. is back in climate policy, because it is absolutely indisputable that the world needs your cooperation if we are to meet the Paris Agreement goals". "We are facing a global Herculean task. It is about nothing more and nothing less than the transformation of our entire way of life and our economy,” Merkel said in her speech.

Green party chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock said on Twitter: “Biden's proposal is an ambitious climate action plan. Europe should join in on this. I propose that we establish a transatlantic alliance for climate neutrality.” Gerd Müller, German minister for development, said “it is good that the U.S. is back as one of the leading nations in international climate action.” But he also warned that the past five years have been the warmest to date and global warming will lead to catastrophic consequences, in developing countries in particular. “That is why the industrialised countries must invest much more consistently in global climate action and a global energy transition.”

At the Climate Leaders’ Summit hosted by President Biden, the EU presented its own new climate target of reducing emissions by 55 percent compared to 1990. Canada, Japan and the UK have also announced more ambitious reduction targets, while China, Russia and India did not.

Christoph Bals of climate NGO Germanwatch said the new U.S. target meant that the country was ready “to help restore momentum in international climate policy after four years of gridlock in the U.S. … Biden succeeded in persuading other major emitters to improve their climate plans and to significantly improve the poor climate action record of industrialised countries,” he said. Merkel, on the other hand, had missed the chance to create more momentum in her speech, Bals said. “Perhaps she saved it for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, where in a fortnight she will probably have the chance to send a strong international climate signal for the last time during her term in office.“

Researchers from the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) found that Biden's greeenhouse gas reduction target was "in some respects even more ambitious than the EU's target".

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