Merkel presses G7 to agree on tough climate goals

June 8, 2015 09:14 AM

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Group of Seven (G7) leaders to commit to tough goals to cut greenhouse gases on the final day of their summit in Bavaria on Monday, at which they also discussed the threat from Islamic militants.

Merkel, once dubbed the "climate chancellor", hopes to revitalize her green credentials by getting the G7 industrial nations to agree specific emissions goals ahead of a larger year-end United Nations climate meeting in Paris.

Climate change topped the agenda for Monday's sessions, at which the leaders were also set to discuss combating epidemics and other health issues, the fight against terrorism from Boko Haram to Islamic State, and African development.

Merkel won support for her climate drive from French President Francois Hollande, who will host a U.N. summit on fighting climate change at the end of the year.

Hollande was also looking for an ambitious G7 commitment to ending their dependence on fossil fuels by mid-century, and sought a financial commitment to help poorer countries transform their energy sectors so they can reduce carbon emissions.

"Commitments must be made at this G7. For the moment, the communique is going in the right direction," the French president told reporters on the sidelines of the summit at the foot of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze.

The Europeans were pressing their G7 partners to sign up to legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In a boost for Merkel's push to combat global warming, Japan said on Sunday it would favor the G7 countries setting their own target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

U.S. President Barack Obama kept his counsel on the climate issue on Sunday, the first day of the summit, when leaders presented a united front in facing Russian over the Ukraine conflict and discussed the global economy.

Japan and Canada were regarded before the summit as potential hold-outs on the climate issue, diplomats and environmental campaigners said. It was not clear if Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper would accept a specific G7 goal.

"Canada supports an agreement in Paris that includes all GHG (greenhouse gas) emitting countries," Stephen Lecce, spokesman for Harper, told Reuters in an email.

The green lobby is hoping that Merkel will push for a pledge to phase out fossil fuels by 2050 ahead of the Paris meeting, which aims to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.


A G7 official said France led discussion on climate while Italy took the lead on energy security during Monday morning's talks, before the leaders turned their attention to global threats to international security.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and European Union discussed Islamist militant threats from groups such as Islamic State (or ISIS) and Boko Haram.

"All G7 leaders are supporting military and or humanitarian support to counter the spread of ISIS and help stabilize the region," the G7 official said.

The G7 leaders met so-called "outreach guests" – the leaders of Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Liberia, South Africa, Tunisia and Iraq – and will hold final news conferences later on Monday.

On the economy, a topic addressed on Sunday, a senior U.S. official denied a report that Obama had told the summit the strong dollar was a problem. Bloomberg News earlier quoted a French official as saying Obama had made the comment.

"The President did not state that the strong dollar was a problem," the U.S. official said. "He made a point that he has made previously, a number of times: that global demand is too weak and that G7 countries need to use all policy instruments, including fiscal policy as well as structural reforms and monetary policy, to promote growth."

(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau in Paris and Jeff Mason in Kruen, Germany; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Paul Taylor and Tom Heneghan)


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Paul Carrel, Reuters