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Merkel admits her efforts to counter climate change ‘not sufficient’

Angela Merkel may have just weeks left in office but any farewell talk in Berlin is verboten amid the fallout of last week’s catastrophic floods and exponential growth in Covid-19 infections.

Appearing before the German press on Thursday, the chancellor acknowledged that her efforts to counter climate change were “not sufficient” and gave a cautious welcome to an agreement with the Biden administration to avoid US sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

“It’s a good step that required a readiness to compromise from both sides,” she said.

But she acknowledged that work remained to be done, with Senate pushback in Washington and outstanding agreements with Moscow and Ukraine on safeguards and longer duration gas transit agreements.

Merkel insisted the deal, like the pipeline, was “not at all” a signal that Germany valued its ties to Russia above those with Ukraine and Poland.

And should Russia break its word and instrumentalise gas deliveries to Ukraine, she pointed out the EU was “not without any means” to respond – raising the prospect of further sanctions against Moscow.

A week after devastating floods that have claimed at least 209 lives across Europe – including 170 in Germany, with 150 people still missing – Merkel agreed that Germany and other countries needed to “speed up” the fight against climate change.

Temperature targets

“It’s not as if we’ve done nothing but it’s true that not enough has been done to reach the aim of staying well under [a global average temperature rise of] two degrees and as close to 1.5 as possible,” said Merkel. “That is not just true of Germany, but of many countries across the world, which is why we need to increase the tempo.”

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