Merkel says EU should meet existing emissions aims, not set new ones

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the ARD Sommerinterview in Berlin, Germany, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - A proliferation of extreme weather events around the world provides ample evidence that climate change is a reality, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, but she rejected calls for more ambitious climate protection goals.

Extreme temperatures across the northern hemisphere this summer have fueled concerns that climate change is gathering pace, leading dozens of countries to call for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut at a faster rate than planned.

But Merkel said such calls, most recently from the European Commission’s climate chief Miguel Arias Canete, for swifter cuts to harmful carbon dioxide emissions would be counterproductive, adding that setting new goals made little sense when European countries were already struggling to meet their cuts targets.

“I’m not particularly happy about these new proposals,” she said of Canete’s call to increase from 40 to 45 percent the scale of cuts to target by 2030.

“I think we should first stick to the goals we have already set ourselves. I don’t think permanently setting ourselves new goals makes any sense.”

Merkel’s government has already faced criticism for abandoning emissions targets it had set itself for 2020 after concluding they were unachievable, while sticking to a target it had set itself for a decade later.

This summer’s sweltering temperatures across Europe have reignited the climate debate, with record temperatures across the continent causing sea ice to melt in the Arctic, and triggering forest fires across the continent.

“One summer doesn’t on its own express it, but the piling up of extreme weather conditions and the rising temperatures shows climate change isn’t just in Africa and the Arctic and Antarctic, but here too,” Merkel said.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Gareth Jones