German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Congress: Climate Change Must Be Addressed

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) — Climate change can no longer be ignored from either a scientific or an economic viewpoint, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the U.S. Congress Tuesday.

“We need an agreement on one objective: Global warming must not exceed 2 degrees Celsius,” Merkel said about December’s U.N. Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. “To achieve this, we need the readiness of all countries to accept internationally binding obligations. We cannot afford missing the objectives in climate protection that science tells us have to be met.”

Anything less, she told the joint session through the translator, “would not only be irresponsible from an environmental point of view, it would also be technologically shortsighted, for the development of new technologies in the field of energy offers great opportunities for growth and innovative jobs.”

Merkel said today’s generation must prove itself capable of meeting 21st century challenges, meaning tearing down philosophical walls just as Germans tore down the Berlin Wall to unify the country 20 years ago.

“(What) is important is to see to it that we tear down walls in the minds of people, walls that separate different concepts of life that make it difficult, time and again, for us to understand each other all over the world,” she said.

Concerning the Middle East, she said, different solutions are available to create peaceful coexistence.

“Tolerance and showing tolerance means showing respect for the history, the tradition, the religion and the cultural identity of others,” she said. “Tolerance does not mean anything goes.”

Finishing her remarks in English, Merkel said the Freedom Bell in Berlin, just as Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, is a symbol that “reminds us that freedom does not come about of itself. It must be struggled for, and then defended anew, every day of our lives.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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