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200 days out from Paris climate talks, momentum grows for global deal

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Greenpeace activists met at the Brandenburg Gate to call on governments to commit to a 100% renewable future. Courtesy of: Greenpeace, 2015

With less than 200 days until the UN climate summit in Paris, governments met in Germany this week to continue the momentum towards securing a new global agreement for taking on climate change.

Environment ministers from 35 countries met together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande as part of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin this week, to discuss key points of the global climate agreement to be signed this December.

Hollande and Merkel called for urgent and ambitious action to limit global temperature rise below the internationally agreed 2C threshold and called on all nations to submit clear, formal promises on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The two leaders also reaffirmed the need for a complete energy transition, where fossil fuels are phased out and clean energy is phased in.

Martin Kaiser, head of international climate politics with Greenpeace said:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent an important signal today when she reaffirmed the long term goal of global decarbonisation – a necessary first step for a global energy transition towards 100% renewable energy for all. However, this goal can and must be reached by 2050.  We must not delay it until the end of the century.

Outside the conference, civil society groups joined the momentum.

Hoisted a six-metre high model of the Eiffel Tower converted into a wind turbine, Greenpeace activists met at the Brandenburg Gate today to calling on leaders to “commit to a global energy transition.

These calls come on the heels of Marshall Islands’ foreign minister, Tony de Brum urging governments to support a strong climate deal that holds global warming to no more than 2C.

The private sector is also getting in on the action.

This week’s summit is part of a series of high level meetings happening along the “Road Through Paris,”, which includes the Business and Climate Summit happening in Paris later this week and the G7 meeting in June, where leading corporations and major economies are expected to back a long term goal to phase out fossil fuel emissions as part of the Paris agreement.

As anticipated, national climate plans so far submitted by countries such as Canada, the EU, the US and others move us closer to, but not all the way to, a safe climate.

The spotlight is now on the G7 to “rise to the biggest challenge humankind has ever faced”.

NGOs are looking to both Merkel and Hollande offer a long term goal to phase out emissions and phase in renewable energy, and further drive momentum towards the UN climate talks in Paris.

Alix Mazounie, international policy lead with RAC France said:

For France to take the lead and secure an ambitious and durable agreement, it is crucial François Hollande step up climate action in France. Our energy transition is not fully under way: we are not even on track to meet our 2020 renewable energy target and French utilities are still massively investing in coal power plants abroad. This is not setting the right example for the rest of the world and is undermining our capacity to stabilize climate change below 2C. France has two hundred days left to clean up its act.

The pressure is particularly on Merkel as campaigners call on her to make the right choice in her “defining last moment” as G7 host and “establish herself as the… ‘climate chancellor’”.

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