Chancellor Angela Merkel: “You should get on politicians nerves"

05/11/2012 - German chancellor Angela Merkel has warned about the consequences of unabated climate change and called on scientists to keep on pushing this topic. “You should be persistent and sometimes get on politicians nerves,” Merkel said at a symposium of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WGBU) which was founded 20 years ago. Coming to a worldwide agreement on limiting global warming to two degrees would be difficult, and the energy transition would ask for the willingness for change from the German public, the chancellor said. However, not doing anything is no option, she said: “All progress is of little use if we react too slowly. That’s why we should be aware of what is going to happen if nothing happens now. And that is going to be bitter.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel: “You should get on politicians nerves"
Chancellor Angela Merkel is welcomed by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chair of WBGU and director of PIK. Photo: Muñoz/WBGU

Germany and Europe should be “pioneers also for ethical reasons”, Merkel said at the meeting. “It is our moral duty to go through a testing phase and learn how to cope with new energy supply, and even to pay subsidies. Because it was us, too, who overexploited resources over years and decades“.

Merkel had been welcomed by WGBU-chairman and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. The chancellor was especially occupied with the financial crisis these days, he said. But like rating agencies evaluate a country’s debts, “climate scientists evaluate global climate debts”. Both cases deal with a sustainable management of scarce resources, Schellnhuber pointed out. The upcoming conference Rio+20 could be a crucial impulse, he said, for the decoupling of prosperity and ever growing CO2-emissions from burning fossil fuels.

High-ranking scientists like Nicholas Stern from the London School of Economics and Leena Srivastava from the Indian TERI Energy and Resources Institute talked at the symposium in Berlin as well as representatives of the business sector like Frank Mattern, head of McKinsey Germany, or Caio Koch-Weser, vice-chairman of Deutsche Bank Group. Much applauded as a special guest was Su Wei, Director General of Climate Change at the National Development and Reform Commission of China, for his clear commitment to protecting the climate.


Weblink to chancellor Merkel's speech

Weblink to the WBGU and the video documentation of the symposium