Luisa Neubauer

Less than three months before leaving office, Chancellor Angela Merkel has openly conceded that the industrial world has failed to adequately fight climate change and that more rapid, pain-inducing steps were urgently needed.

Angela Merkel in a blue shirt:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel - Getty Images © Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

- Getty Images

Merkel, who has led Europe’s largest economy and one of the world’s leading emitters of CO2 for the last 16 years, reflected on her own bitter disappointments in not getting steeper cuts in emissions enacted at home and among Germany’s international trading partners in an effort to try to limit global temperature increases to two degrees Celsius.

A trained physicist who is not running for re-election in the September 26 elections, Merkel, 67, said she believes the whole world has to quickly raise its game in the fight against the perils of climate change that some experts have blamed for playing at least a contributing role in the devastating flashfloods that killed at least 170 people in Germany last week.

“I believe that I personally invested a tremendous amount of energy towards protecting the climate,” Merkel said at what was probably the last major news conference of her career before she departed for her summer holiday.

“And yet, yes, I am sufficiently equipped with a scientific mind to see that the objective realities demand that we can’t continue at this speed but rather we have to accelerate the pace.”

Merkel, who began her political career as Germany’s environment minister in the early 1990s, said there were many powerful forces in Germany and around the world that had succeeded in thwarting climate protection since the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 that envisioned reducing global CO2 emissions by 2020.

“I experienced far too many disappointments,” she said, adding it was a “mistake” to try to stick to the agreements reached in Kyoto, Japan for so many years even as many nations failed with impunity to reach emission-reduction targets.


Video: Europe floods:'We must make big changes' (Sky News)

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