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Climate

German Environment Minister Altmaier makes Doha appeal

Peter Altmaier has addressed the UN's world climate conference in Doha, just a day before the difficult talks conclude. He said a deal was needed, lest some delegates found their houses under rising seas.

Environment Minister Peter Altmaier told delegates from 194 countries in Doha that they should strive to decide on a successor to the outgoing Kyoto protocol before the summit's end on Friday - saying that the elements would not wait for political consensus.

"The dramatic development of climate change stands in stark contrast with the slow progress of our work," Altmaier said.

The Christian Democrat minister said that Germany was "seriously concerned" about achieving the stated global goal of limiting the average global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius between now and the end of the century.

"If we do not act, some of us here in this room will soon lose their houses to rising global sea levels," Altmaier said.

Green growth

The German environment minister said a continued switch towards renewable energies and more reform of the energy industry was a key step towards the stated climate goals – saying the country had coupled economic growth with a 26-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to 1990 levels. This performance, Altmaier said, went over and above the terms of the Kyoto Protocol.

"The Energiewende [the German term for this switch, which boasts growing popularity the world over] can mean maximum climate protection and optimal economic competitivity at the same time," Altmaier said.

This message contrasted somewhat with the CDU's last election platform, but fits more closely with the country's energy policy since the earthquake and tsunami-enduced nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant in Japan in March, 2011.

The conference in Doha has two primary aims: firstly, arranging an extension of the Kyoto Protocol with a successor no longer practical before the current expiry date at the end of the year. Secondly, delegates are aiming for a roadmap towards a new deal - tentatively targeting to decide on terms by 2015 and to ratify them by 2020.

Even those at the center of the talks aren't predicting miracles in Doha.

"In the end, the ministers will have to agree on a politically balanced concept that won't excite anyone," the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said.

msh/rg (AFP, dpa, dapd)