Merkel calls climate change “vital question” in new year’s address
Clean Energy Wire
Climate change ranks among the “vital questions” to fix for the global community, German chancellor Angela Merkel said in her New Year’s address. “I am guided by the conviction that we will only master the challenges of our time if we hold together and if we work with others across boundaries and borders,” she said. The images sent by German astronaut Alexander Gerst, who in December moved viewers with an emotional appeal to take care of the planet, were a reminder of the earth’s “overwhelming beauty” as well as its vulnerability, she said. “There is the vital question of climate change, the crucial question of managing and organising migration, the struggle against international terrorism,” Merkel said in a speech that German media qualified as unusually humble, even by her already unpretentious style.
Also unusual for commentators was the fact that the Bavarian state premier Markus Söder, CSU, put climate change at the centre of his New Year’s address. “It is not the question, if climate change is happening, but if we are willing to change in order to at least slow it down,” Söder said. The CSU suffered heavy losses at the state elections in 2018, when conservative voters left in droves to the right-wing populists but also the Green party. Söder’s CSU, which punches well above its weight on a federal level as part of Merkel’s conservative alliance, is governing now with the regional Free Voters party, which supports a stronger regional energy supply with renewables. Söder already surprised many with a focus on environment issues in his first speech to parliament.