As flood deaths rise, Merkel calls for more rapid climate action.
As the death toll from Germany’s terrible floods reached 177 on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the need to “speed up” the fight against climate change.
Merkel, who will step down after the September elections, said Germany and other nations had “not done enough” to fulfill the Paris climate agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We shouldn’t pretend that we haven’t done anything,” Merkel told reporters, “but it is true that not enough has been done to achieve the goal of remaining well below two degrees and as near to 1.5 degrees as possible.”
“This is true not only in Germany, but in many other nations throughout the world, which is why we need to pick up the pace.”
Last Sunday, Merkel visited flood victims in Rhineland-Palatinate and called for more rapid climate action.
Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the areas hardest impacted by last week’s disastrous floods, said on Thursday that its death toll had risen to 128, bringing the overall number of deaths in Germany to 177 and 209 across Europe.
Merkel’s cabinet approved a massive emergency aid package for flood-stricken areas on Wednesday, providing immediate relief of 400 million euros ($470 million).
“We have also made it plain that if this amount is not sufficient, we will increase it,” Merkel said on Thursday.
She went on to say that society was undergoing a “fundamental shift” as European nations sought to achieve carbon neutrality in the next decades.
Merkel, who will leave office after the September 26 election after 16 years in power, defended her environmental record.
She pointed to new emissions reductions targets agreed by her government earlier this year, which mean Germany now aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2045, five years earlier than the previous target.
The move occurred after Germany’s top court ordered the government to adjust its aims, which it deemed to be too modest.