German leader champions new approach to climate at event in Davos | Economic news

By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — New German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday called for a “paradigm shift” in how the world approaches climate policy, saying his country would leverage its chairmanship of the Group of Seven industrial nations this year to push for warm-up global wrestling standards.

Climate talks were a key theme this week at a meeting of the World Economic Forum, which is being held online after COVID-19 concerns delayed its annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland.

Unlike events such as the UN climate conference last year in Glasgow, Scotland, the Davos meeting is more of a discussion of big ideas – not a place where concrete agreements are reached on how to move forward. ‘to act. Critics regularly criticize the Davos event, whose origins date back to 1971, for hosting economic and political elites who express lofty but often meaningless goals and are seen as disconnected from the needs of ordinary people.

Scholz spoke on issues ranging from economic growth to Russian military buildup along the Ukrainian border, focusing on the ambitions of Germany and the wider European Union to fight climate change.

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“Europe has decided to become the first carbon neutral continent by 2050; Germany wants to achieve this goal already in 2045…a monumental task, but a task we can and will master,” he said.

Scholz added that Germany will use its G-7 presidency to “make this group the nucleus of an international climate club.”

“What we want to achieve is a paradigm shift in international climate policy. We will no longer wait for the slowest and least ambitious,” he said. “Instead, we will lead by example and transform climate action from a cost driver into a competitive advantage by agreeing on common minimum standards”.

Scholz said the “climate club”, which he first announced months ago when he was finance minister, would be open to all countries.

Several groups of countries have similar goals, including the High Ambition Coalition which aims to meet the toughest goal of the Paris climate accord – limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit ) by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times.

Critics say these groups often include members with less than stellar weather records. Germany and the United States, for example, are not on track to meet their emission reduction targets and have postponed providing poor countries with the kind of financing they seek to fight climate change. .

The goals Scholz suggested for the climate club – the 1.5 degree cap and climate neutrality by 2050 – are already part of or are implicit in the Paris agreement. More importantly, Scholz said the club could seek to achieve these goals “by pricing carbon and preventing carbon leakage”.

These proposals are designed to prevent companies from moving carbon-intensive industries to countries with less stringent emissions rules and disadvantage countries like Germany.

If the idea enjoys strong support within the European Union, whose members are accustomed to negotiating compromise agreements for the common good, it will be more difficult to obtain the adhesion of the United States and large developing countries such as China and India.

In a separate panel discussion on energy transition, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman highlighted the major oil producer’s commitment to tackling climate change. He said his country was “proactively engaged with everyone” as the world tries to reduce emissions.

The prince said fossil fuels would play a role alongside renewables and urged countries to use “all the tools in the kit” including cleaner ways to use fossil fuels rather than simply phase them out.

Bjoern Rosengren, CEO of Swiss-based engineering group ABB Ltd., emphasized energy efficiency through things like smarter buildings as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, saying that ” the best energy is the one we don’t waste”.

Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub has touted her company’s plans for a direct air capture facility that will suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the most prolific oilfield in the United States, at straddling Texas and New Mexico.

Also scheduled for Wednesday was a climate innovation conference with Bill Gates and John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special climate envoy.

AP Business writer David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, and AP writers Geir Moulson and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

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