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Cablegate: German Climate Change Policy -- Merkel Committed

VZCZCXRO0698
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHRL #1896/01 2891423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161423Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9490
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0898
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 8547
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 9094
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1517
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 001896

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG KGHG SENV GM
SUBJECT: GERMAN CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY -- MERKEL COMMITTED
TO BINDING EMISSIONS TARGETS

1. (SBU) Summary: Chancellor Merkel is serious about
pursuing aggressive international measures to meet the
challenges of global warming. She has built her
Chancellorship almost exclusively on this issue. Her support
for mandatory, targeted global limits on greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions and an international cap-and-trade regime reflects
a deep-seated belief that only drastic, concerted efforts on
the part of the international community can slow -- and
ultimately reverse -- the human contribution to global
warming. In pursuing activist climate change policies, the
Chancellor enjoys the overwhelming support of the German
population and of political leaders spanning the spectrum of
the German body politic. While Merkel has been careful to
consider alternative solutions, such as new technologies for
clean coal and renewables, fundamental differences in our
approaches to the issue of climate change could lead to more
visible disagreements, especially if Germany and other
like-minded countries push hard for mandatory, global GHG
targets at the UN Bali Conference in December. End Summary.

2. (U) Since declaring the issue of combating global warming
one of the centerpieces of Germany's EU and G-8 presidencies,
Chancellor Angela Merkel has continued to maintain a sharp
focus on the issue in the run-up to the Bali Conference. She
has not missed an opportunity to highlight the centrality and
the urgency of this issue, both internationally -- as in the
context of her UNGA speech and her recent visits to
Greenland, China and Japan -- and domestically, in a series
of keynote speeches on the issue. Merkel most recently
raised the need for a global approach to climate protection
at a climate conference on October 9, 2007 in Potsdam. As in
her UNGA remarks, the Chancellor warned of the dramatic
consequences of global warming and pointed out the need for
industrialized nations to act as role models, especially in
initiating a post-2012 framework agreement that contains
clear GHG emission-reduction targets. She also set out the
various international responsibilities in detail, tying in
with her earlier statements at the G-8 summit in
Heiligendamm. In particular, Merkel recalled that she had
made it a top priority at the June 6-8 Heiligendamm Summit to
persuade G-8 leaders to commit to a 50% reduction in
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to advance a framework
for a post-Kyoto climate protection agreement under the aegis
of the UN by 2009.

3. (U) At the Potsdam meeting, Merkel strongly advocated an
international emissions trading scheme as part of the
post-Kyoto framework agreement, arguing that this would lead
industries to invest in climate-friendly technologies. She
proposed issuing emissions permits to all industry sectors,
which ideally would be tradable at the international level or
-- at a minimum -- at regional level, as an effective means
to combat global warming. Each country would receive
emission permits allowing it to emit a specific amount of
CO2; countries which exceed their allowance would have to buy
permits from countries that produce less than their permits
allow.
4. (U) The Chancellor also reiterated her idea of basing a
nation's carbon dioxide emissions allowance on population
size, a proposal she had unveiled during her recent visits to
China and Japan, calling on both governments to do more to
halt climate change. Terming climate change one of the most
pressing issues for the future, the Chancellor said "the only
realistic long-term goal is to balance per capita emissions
around the world." With this proposal, Merkel hopes to
reassure emerging economies that any future global framework
will be applied equitably.

5. (U) Merkel's focus on emerging economies dates back to
the Heiligendamm summit, where the Chancellor had called for
greater involvement of important emerging economies in global
policy issues, with a particular emphasis on climate change.
However, under her carbon-per-capita proposal, many
developing countries would be allowed to increase their
emissions per capita while industrialized nations cut theirs,
until both sides reached the same level. To cut emissions in
half by 2050, the world-wide average CO2 emission per capita
needs to be reduced to two tons per year. Not only the U.S.,
but most industrialized countries would have to undertake
dramatic reductions in order to meet Merkel's goal, she said.
Merkel concluded her remarks by calling global per capita
emissions limits the only realistic method to begin to

BERLIN 00001896 002 OF 002


reverse the effects of global warming and by underscoring the
importance of the upcoming Bali conference in establishing a
framework for a post-Kyoto climate protection agreement.

6. (SBU) Comment: While Merkel has been willing to consider
alternative complementary approaches to reducing GHG
emissions and to offer at least lukewarm support to our Major
Economies initiative, her support for a global mandatory cap
on emissions has been unwavering. While the Chancellor is
herself not immune from political considerations -- as
illustrated by her efforts to assuage the German automobile
industry in the context of EU-wide auto-emissions goals --
Merkel is a true-believer on the issue of mandatory global
caps on emissions, and will likely not be deterred from
pursuing this in international fora. Interestingly, even
German industry has been largely silent on the difficulties
her plan would entail. While the Chancellor and her advisers
are well aware of our preference for measuring GHG intensity
by linking emissions to units of economic output, as opposed
to population, they are convinced that such a regime would be
unpalatable to emerging nations, and would not succeed in
reversing global warming. Likewise, although Merkel is
interested in exploring the possibilities offered by new
technologies, she is convinced that, in the short term, there
is no viable alternative to binding international GHG
emissions targets. We believe that Merkel and her advisers
will continue to work with us and to avoid confrontation to
the extent possible in the run-up to Bali, but that our
differences in approach may well become more acute if Bali
generates additional momentum for mandatory, global GHG
emissions targets.

KOENIG

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