Germany sticking to ambitious CO2 target

In Europe, News Headlines, Scientific Reports

Germany will stick to a more ambitious goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 even though the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen fell short of expectations, a government adviser said on Monday.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said it was unclear if the European Union as a whole would pursue a 30 percent target when it submits its plan to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat by January 31.

Germany had hoped that its offer to raise its 2020 target from 30 to 40 percent, combined with an EU offer to raise its goal from 20 to 30 percent if other nations pledged substantial cuts, would spur a deal on worldwide reductions in Copenhagen.

The Copenhagen accord set a goal of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times. But it failed to say how this would be achieved.

“Germany has a firm target that the government has even spelled out in its coalition agreement to cut its emissions by 40 percent,” Schellnhuber told a news conference. “That’s unconditional. Germany will continue to be a driving force.”

Germany is the world’s sixth largest emitter. Some industry groups have urged Berlin to drop ambitious emissions targets, saying they could jeopardise jobs. Germany has created hundreds of thousands of green tech jobs in the last decade.

Schellnhuber said it was hard to tell how the EU would react to the bare-minimum Copenhagen result in which delegates “noted” an accord struck by the United States, China and emerging powers that fell far short of the conference’s original goals.

“But if others hesitate, Germany will have the chance to make its economy more fit for the future,” said the adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the EU on climate change.

Schellnhuber, whose PIK institute calculated the Copenhagen accord will lead to a 3.5-degree rise in global temperatures, said he was optimistic the process would move forward in 2010.

An interim conference in June in Bonn could make progress and create momentum for a U.N. agreement in Mexico in November.

“The game isn’t over yet,” Schellnhuber said. “The dice haven’t fallen yet. We still have the chance in the multilateral system to reach a worthwhile agreement.”

At another climate meeting in Berlin on Monday, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the U.N. Environment Program, said the failure to reach a deal in Copenhagen would cost economies around the world billions of dollars.

“Copenhagen was a setback. There was no deal. But maybe we can use the shock from that to overcome the hurdles in front of us,” he said.

(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Paul Taylor)

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