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Germany welcomes China climate goals, wants more EU action

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed China's plan to be carbon-neutral by 2060, contrasting it with the U.S. failure to abide by the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord.

In a speech Wednesday to Germany's parliament, Merkel stressed the significance of Chinese President Xi Jinping's announcement last week as the European Union debates ramping up its own medium- and long-term emissions reduction goals.

“I think it's beyond debate that we need to work with China when it comes to protecting the climate,” she told lawmakers. “China is now the biggest emitter worldwide and it's very important that China contributes to efforts to protect the climate.”

Without naming the United States — the world's second-biggest source of manmade greenhouse gases — she added: “And unlike other large emitters, it's encouraging that China stands by the Paris climate accord.”

Merkel said the target set by Beijing should be seen in light of the economic development China still has ahead of it compared to other industrialized nations.

“This is a very ambitious goal that should spur us in Europe to really fulfil our targets," she said.

The EU recently proposed raising its target for cutting planet-warming greenhouse gases to at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. Some of the 27-nation bloc's members, particularly in the coal-reliant east like Poland, are opposed to the goal, however.

Germany's environment minister said she hoped to reach consensus among EU members during her country's current six-month presidency of the bloc.

International climate policy is gaining momentum and we are perhaps at a crucial turning point for the future of this planet," Svenja Schulze said Wednesday before a meeting with EU environment ministers in Berlin. "Two of the world’s most economically robust regions, the EU and China, are reinforcing the effectiveness of the Paris agreement.”

Asked whether Europe shouldn't be setting its sights even higher and aim for a 65% reduction, as scientists have suggested is necessary to achieve the Paris accord's goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), Schulze said the current proposal envisages a review every five years.

“What's important to me is that we reach an agreement,” she said. “We need this signal now.”

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