Germany to put global warming back on G8 agenda
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Germany will make fighting climate change a top priority when it takes control of the G8 next year and will try to persuade the United States of its importance, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.
Merkel, a former environment minister, said she wants to put cutting emissions of the "greenhouse gases" blamed for global warming back on the agenda of leading industrial nations after Russia played down the issue during its G8 presidency in 2006.
But she said any efforts to stop global warming without the cooperation of "our American partners", the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, were doomed to failure.
"That means we've certainly got our work cut out for us -- let me say that clearly," Merkel said to applause, referring to the United States, which in 2001 withdrew its support for the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty designed to limit greenhouse gases.
"To prevent global warming, the nations with the largest emissions of gases that are causing climate change have to take part," Merkel, who holds a doctorate in physics, told a meeting of conservationists in Berlin.
"That's why we will make this an important issue once again on the agenda during our G8 presidency," said Merkel, who has picked a village on the Baltic coast as the venue for the 2007 G8 summit.
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), produced by burning fossil fuels, trap heat in the atmosphere. Scientists say that if emissions are not curbed, sea levels will rise and drought and floods become more frequent, with dire results.
The United States, responsible for one quarter of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, is the only G8 member not to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Russia, chairing the Group of Eight for the first time, has been ambivalent about global warming. Germany will take the chair next year, and will also hold the European Union's rotating six-month presidency in the first half of 2007.
Merkel said she was encouraged that developing nations with booming economies had acknowledged the danger of climate change.
"China, India and other countries are now much more aware of the risks," she said. "As a result, the ground is now more fertile than it once was."
"We urgently need agreements for the period after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires. Germany will do all it can within its realm as president of both the G8 and the EU ... We have a great chance next year to have an international impact."