24 Sep 2019, 13:45
Freja Eriksen

Merkel's commitment to climate neutrality by 2050 at UN summit not enough – critics

Clean Energy Wire / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that Germany was committed to "becoming climate-neutral by 2050" at the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September - but failed to impress NGOs and media commentators. "We would have expected more courage and more honesty," said climate policy expert at Oxfam Germany Jan Kowalzig who, like others, pointed to a discrepancy between the chancellor's international statements and the strategy her government coalition decided days earlier. The government's climate package was not suitable for achieving Germany's 2030 climate targets or for living up to the Paris Agreement, commented Kowalzig. 
"For 14 years Angela Merkel has been policymaking with this dual strategy: internationally, do what is necessary. At home, what can be achieved with respective coalition partners and one's own pro-business wing," wrote Michael Bauchmüller in Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Jennifer Tollmann, policy advisor for climate diplomacy at E3G, called the speech "a poor showing by a major emitter, let alone a former climate chancellor" and called for Merkel to throw her "significant geopolitical weight" behind a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 at the latest. 
NGO Germanwatch had hoped Merkel "would use this stage to announce Germany's commitment to raising the EU climate target,” said policy director Christoph Bals.  However, he commended Germany's decision to support rainforest protection with 250 million euros.  

Days before speaking at the summit, Merkel and her grand coalition government presented their much anticipated Climate Action Programme 2030, which was met with criticism by climate activists, scientists and opposition parties. The Green Party has said it will try to amend the package, which introduces carbon pricing in the transport and heating sector, through its influence in Germany's council of federal states, the Bundesrat.

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