Germany's Merkel urges strict, binding goals to tackle climate change

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s chancellor gave a qualified welcome on Saturday to China’s pledge to tackle rising temperatures ahead of a global climate conference but she called for more ambitious goals to cut greenhouse emissions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a session of the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany November 25, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

In her weekly internet podcast on Saturday, Angela Merkel also underscored the long-term importance of coal-fired power for Germany, a country that remains one of the globe’s biggest economies and exporters.

“It is remarkable that China ... has given a timeframe for reduction of 2030,” said Merkel.

“But the proposed targets for reduction will not allow us to reach the (United Nations) 2 degree goal. That means we need a follow up process and that, in my view, must be binding.”

Merkel’s comments come as world leaders prepare to meet for a summit that seeks to steer the global economy away from reliance on fossil fuels.

Several scientific studies project that pledges made so far will - at best - hold the world to temperature rises of anywhere from 2.7 degrees to 3 or even 3.5 above pre-industrial times by 2100. That is well above an agreed 2-degree UN limit.

China has promised its carbon dioxide emissions will peak by 2030 but has not said how high they will rise before then.

In her podcast, Merkel underscored the continued importance of coal power for Germany. “We never promised to leave coal behind us in 2020. It stays an important pillar for a longer time,” she said.

She said that the industrialized countries could develop energy technology that could be used by developing countries.

Opening the summit near Paris on Nov. 30, heads of government from big carbon burning countries such as U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping will seek common cause with leaders from the smallest emitters in Africa.

Reporting By John O’Donnell Editing by Jeremy Gaunt