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Environment minister condemns USA and China

DDP/DPA/The Local · 26 Dec 2009, 10:21

Published: 26 Dec 2009 10:21 GMT+01:00

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In a new interview with news magazine Der Spiegel, German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen laid the blame for the failure of the Copenhagen climate conference at the feet of the USA and China.

Röttgen said that US President Barack Obama and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had "agreed to the lowest common denominator. China didn't want to lead and the USA couldn't lead."

The lowpoint of the negotiations came, according to Röttgen, when China refused to accept a pledge by industrialised nations to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050. In Röttgen's opinion, China's priority was clearly not protecting the climate, but "obstruction."

Röttgen added that the political elites in the USA were incapable of winning over the majority of the people to protect the climate. Too many Americans simply want "cheap money, so they can consume, and are not interested in limiting their CO2 emissions."

Röttgen also refused to consider the suggestion of Hans-Peter Keitel, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), to lower Germany's domestic target of decreasing emissions by 40 percent by 2020.

"This target is a condition for our prosperity," the environment minister said, pointing to Germany's success in exporting new clean energy and environmental technologies. "We shouldn't send the money abroad to buy oil. We should use German engineering to create jobs at home."

Despite the failure of the Copenhagen summit, the German government is considering increasing its climate protection support for poor countries. "We should not refuse help to those states that are seriously trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," said Development Minister Dirk Niebel in the latest edition of news magazine Focus.

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In Copenhagen, Germany agreed to offer €1.26 billion from 2010 to 2012 to help develop climate protection in poor countries. "This offer is still valid," Niebel said, though details are still to be negotiated.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:42 December 26, 2009 by pepsionice
The bottom line is that the German attitude for leadership out of the Obama administration.....is back to zero.....and I think Merkel and team will move forward to be the leader of the free world. We are looking at a major moment in German history....where the US moves to a position less than they are used to.
15:03 December 26, 2009 by thehoorah
I am not seeing how Germany could be a leader for any other other country in the free world. This country has no military to speak of, your economic power is 1/5 to that of the United States, and your politicians carry no clout outside its borders. To be a leader on the global stage, a country must be able to leverage its national powers politically, economically, militarily, or through informational means. Having lived in Germany for many years, I don't see the country ever reaching any significant heights, it can't even influence the EU when Germany is the economic bedrock for this fledgling political entity. Let's face it, the years where Germany was a major influence and had clout on any world stage was from 1870-1944, those times have long passed Germany by....
17:56 December 26, 2009 by MJTinNOLA
Typical German sour grapes. I agree with thehoorah: Germany cannot even lead the EU so how can the lead the world. They just do not have the power, or the perestige, or the brains to do it. Germans often blame the US for things they don't like, but they cannot build McDonald's, and drink Coke fast enough to watch US TV, and remodel their education system to be like the US.

But what I find interesting is Röttgen's refusal to lower carbon emissions while he blames the US for "failure" at Cop15. I call that hypocracy. It was Hillary Clinton and Obama that managed to get anything done. Doesn't this idiot know that any step forward, no matter how small, and unsatisfactroy he thinks it is, is better than no progress at all. And is this the best he can do? The US did not lead? If the US took a more proactive stand, it would be accused of abusing its power and dictating to others. Screw that! At least the US did something besides complain, unlike Germany.
19:44 December 26, 2009 by wenddiver
Every time the US doesn't do what some minor functionary of one of the many countries in europe wants they accuse her of not wanting to lead. So the leader is the one who does what the others tell them too?????? Where in Europe is that how things work?????

If the US had come in with a solid agenda called the US plan, we could have counted on France and Russia screaming , who elected the US the leader of the Free world.

We defend Germany, be happy with that. We didn't come to Europe to make a perfect society, we did it to free mankind from a horrible regime.

By the way, giving away Billions of dollars to third world dictatorships is something the US taxpayer has no interest in and if German politicians have so much money they don't know what to do with, we advise it be returned to the German taxpayer it was taken from.
21:50 December 26, 2009 by Jibzy
Should we lean back and think..should there be something such as a LEADER of the free world? USA is not a LEADER. It is a bully to the entire world. Tell me one selfless dead that USA has done on the international level?

You are right. Germany can never be the LEADER of the free world because they dont lie and cheat humanity like the Government of the United States of America does. Republicans do it more than Dems. Thats it. No difference.
22:52 December 26, 2009 by goody
who kidding who the USA and china with its zillions of people are the WORLDS worst polluters.I feel sorry for the young generation they will have more health issue in the years to come its a shame.Keep up the good work Germany.
23:32 December 26, 2009 by Edmond Schindler
Everyone is so off topic. To me, the failure of the COP15 is a result of poor preparation and leadership by the host of the Summit.

I do like a good debate, but in this case I am happy for the miserable results obtained, as I, for one, am not convinced there is Global Warming do to mankind.
16:34 December 27, 2009 by thehoorah
For Jibzy, how does the U.S. lie and cheat humanity? I will tell you of a selfless deed that the U.S. did for Europeans and specifically Germany. It was the liberation of Europe from Hitler in WW2. The U.S. was not attacked by Germans, but thousands upon thousands of American sons shed his blood on European soil so that tyranny could be stopped and Europeans free. When Communists were on the doorsteps of taking over all of Germany, the U.S. maintained its military presence so that at least part of Germany could flourish and prosper in the last half of the 20th century.

What has Germany done for humanity? When a crisis or event occurs in the world requiring an immediate response/assistance, which country is at the top of the speed dial? My money is on the USA.
17:31 December 27, 2009 by kaysera
Germany is adopting a creditable position and must be applauded. This is commendable. USA and China and lots of others are being obfuscatory, stupid and just selfish. I cannot express my admiration for this German government's mature and even-handed leadership on this and other issues.
17:28 December 28, 2009 by KeithW
It's all Germany's fault. Germany has 8 million cows, China only has 3 million. Use google to find out the truth. Germany cows are pumping millions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere every week causing massive global warming. Stop blaming everyone else.
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