More urgent and ambitious action needed on global warming, say Merkel, Hollande

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and French President Francois Hollande attend the Petersberg Climate Dialogue conference in Berlin, Germany on May 19, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and French President Francois Hollande attend the Petersberg Climate Dialogue conference in Berlin, Germany on May 19, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (REUTERS) - More urgent and ambitious action is needed if the world wants to meet its commitment of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to two degrees Celsius, the leaders of Germany and France said on Tuesday.

Addressing environment ministers in Berlin, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande called on other nations to submit clear formal promises on cutting greenhouse gases ahead of a year-end United Nations summit in Paris aimed at achieving a new worldwide deal on global warming.

"We will see in Paris that more engagement is needed to really achieve the two degrees goal than what we currently have on the table," Merkel said in a speech to the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which she set up in 2010 to allow for informal discussions ahead of larger United Nations meetings after the failure of climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

Merkel believes industrialised nations need to commit funds to help developing countries cope with the side effects of climate change like flooding and drought if they want poorer countries to back a global deal.

She said Germany aimed to double its climate financing by 2020 compared to 2014, by doubling aid from its budget to 4 billion euros (S$5.96 billion) annually and increasing funds available from KfW state development bank to 3 billion euros.

Rich nations have committed to mobilise by 2020 an annual US$100 billion in climate finance that is "new and additional" to existing funding. However, only around US$10 billion has been pledged so far.

It is important that the first climate development projects are set up before Paris, Merkel said.

In a joint statement, the two leaders also called for the European Union's Emission Trading System (ETS) to be extended to other regions to help the transition towards a carbon-free economy this century.

The system works by giving power plants, factories and airlines in Europe an annual allowance for every tonne of heat-trapping gas emitted. However, a surplus of allowances has depressed their price on the ETS and has made it cheaper to burn coal than to switch to greener fuels.