French, German leaders appeal for end to use of fossil fuels

2015-05-19 13:34

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Berlin - The leaders of France and Germany urged the world on Tuesday to "decarbonise", to completely phase out use of fossil fuels this century as pressure grows to end carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions.

"As the common vision we seek to pursue with all partners in the UN, we will strive to decarbonise fully the global economy over the course of this century," German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said in a joint statement.

The same day, both addressed a conference in Berlin of environment ministers from 35 nations in the run-up to a world climate summit to be hosted by Paris in December.

"The countdown is running. There are only 200 days to go. That's very little time," the French president told the delegates.

The joint statement called for "an ambitious, comprehensive and binding UN climate agreement by the end of this year in Paris."

"The best treaty is the one you reach in advance of the meeting," said Hollande. "Let's do this, so that we will only need to do some editing work on the text at the summit."

Merkel vowed a surge in development-aid funding to help poor nations to introduce new technology that cuts CO2 emissions.

"Germany aims to double its international climate financing by 2020, compared to 2014," she said.

"We must help these nations technologically and financially," Hollande agreed.

Industrialised nations have said they will be providing $100bn in such funding annually from 2020.

"Germany stands by that pledge and will pay up its fair share," Merkel said.

The meetings, dubbed the Petersberg Dialogue, were organised after earlier global talks on ending greenhouse gas emissions reached a deadlock.

Merkel's participation was overshadowed by accusations from environmentalists that Germany has been backsliding.

Merkel's government is on the point of modifying a plan to close down power stations burning lignite, one of the least efficient fossil fuels. The reductions, enforced by carbon trading rights, are part of Germany's promise to reduce its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020.

The government initially tasked the lignite sector with reducing overall CO2 emissions during that time span by 22 million tons, but sources say the target is being trimmed to 16 million tons after protests from lignite miners, electricity generators and unions.

Tobias Muenchmeyer of the environmentalist group Greenpeace said, "The watered-down proposals on carbon certificates imperil our national climate targets."

But environment minister Barbara Hendricks said there were alternative plans to help reach the 22-million-ton target by making better use of waste heat from thermal power plants.

The world's main nations are being pressed in the dialogue to make pledges of CO2 cuts in advance. So far 37 have announced such pledges. Hendricks said the effective total was now "about 40" and welcomed promises by China and Japan to make pledges next month.

Read more on:    un  |  francois hollande  |  angela merkel  |  germany  |  france  |  climate change  |  pollution  |  environment

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