‘It will be our children and grandchildren who have to live with the consequences of what we do or refrain from doing today. That is why I use all my strength to ensure that Germany makes its contribution — ecologically, economically, socially — to getting climate change under control.’
That’s German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a climate-focused New Year’s message as the economic engine under her direction rolls back coal usage and works toward hitting a voluntary climate pledge, although not as fast as some advocates would like.
“…[W]e have to do everything humanly possible to overcome this human challenge. It is still possible,” Merkel said in a recorded speech broadcasted Tuesday, excerpts from which were reported by Reuters. More quickly rising world temperatures and the problems created by global warming, including threats to the globe’s vulnerable coastal areas and extreme weather in Europe and elsewhere, are man-made, she stressed.
Germany earlier this month passed into law several climate measures including a $60 billion spending package, a fee system for carbon emissions and taxes to make flying more expensive, all with the aim of reaching voluntary Paris accord goals. Opposition lawmakers and climate scientists offered criticism, saying the law will not be enough to get the country to achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 55% of 1990s levels by 2030.
At the start of the year, a government-appointed panel recommended Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest. Germany gets more than a third of its electricity from burning coal, generating large amounts of greenhouse gases. Germany’s last deep-shaft black coal mine closed last year, but open-cast lignite, or brown coal, mines still operate. Lignite is considered even dirtier than black coal but remains relatively cheap to extract, the Associated Press reported.
Germany’s Cabinet could not reach agreement by the end of the year to approve a proposed plan to spend up to 40 billion euros ($44.4 billion) by 2038 to cushion the impact of abandoning coal on mining regions.
Merkel called on Germans to think out of the box to cope with the challenges arising from global warming.
“To do this, we need more than ever the courage to think in a new way, the strength to leave familiar paths, the willingness to try new things, and the determination to act faster, convinced that the unusual can succeed — and must succeed if the generation of today’s young people and their descendants should still be able to live well on this Earth,” she said.