14 Dec 2020, 14:20
Charlotte Nijhuis

Germany pledges 500 million euros at Paris Agreement anniversary summit that leaves critics unimpressed

Der Spiegel / Clean Energy Wire

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged an additional 500 million euros to help poorer countries in their effort to protect the climate in the context of the virtual UN climate summit on Sunday, news website Der Spiegel reports. "All countries must be able to finance necessary climate protection investments," Merkel said in a video message at the event held exactly five years after the Paris climate agreement was concluded. UN Secretary General António Guterres used the occasion to call on governments worldwide to declare a "climate emergency" in their countries. "Every country, every city, every financial institution and every company must adopt plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

Climate activists and NGOs, however, were disappointed by the summit's conclusions. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg took to Twitter to express her frustration. "At the Climate Ambition Summit, leaders celebrate their shameless loopholes, empty words, inadequate long-term goals and the robbery of present and future living conditions - and call it ambition," Thunberg wrote.
The head of Greenpeace Germany, Martin Kaiser, commented on Merkel’s speech, saying that the "ambitious national contributions” the chancellor talks about must become visible in Germany. “Only if no more money is spent on yesterday can Germany catch up in the race for sustainable industries and climate protection,” Kaiser said with a view to ongoing support for industries based on fossil power. David Eckstein of NGO Germanwatch criticised the lack of specificity on how the 500 million euros would be raised: "It's very disappointing that there was almost nothing said on how the money needed for climate mitigation and adaptation in the Global South will finally come together.”

German development minister Gerd Müller emphasized in a press release on Saturday that all countries should do more to combat climate change. “So far, the climate plans of the states are far from sufficient to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius. We need additional global initiatives, otherwise there is even a threat of an increase to three degrees,” the minister said. He also called on the EU to add an ‘Africa component’ to its Green Deal. “In Africa, 600 million people have no access to electricity. If they were all to get a power outlet based on coal, hundreds of coal-fired power plants would have to be built. This additional CO2 could not be saved in Europe, no matter how consistent the measures,” Müller explained.

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