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There are many things Europeans can’t agree on but when it comes to the urgency of dealing with climate change, a stream of leaders from the euro bloc spoke with one voice on the ski slopes of Davos.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the titans of the corporate world on Thursday at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting and reminded participants that it was a “matter of survival‘’ for her continent to meet its goal of emissions-reduction goals.
On the same day that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Swedish activist Greta Thunberg she should study economics, Merkel weighed in to say that young activists pushing for change should be taken seriously. Her warning was echoed by other leaders from the region present.
“If we can get this right, we will not get fewer jobs, we will get more jobs,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a panel discussion when asked about a national plan in the Netherlands to lower its carbon emissions.
Merkel, a physicist by training who served as a minister for the environment in the 1990s, said the scientific evidence was clear and that emotions should not be confused with facts. Rutte said “it’s not an easy way ahead” as a lot of work has to be done to actually cut carbon emissions by enough to make a difference.
If it wasn’t for a pressing political crisis back home, Italy’s Giuseppe Conte would have today given a speech at Davos focused on sustainable development. But representing the challenges of the Mediterranean countries was Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“The climate is important for Greece as the eastern Mediterranean is particularly vulnerable to climate change,” he said. Greece is a coastal nation and 90% of our tourism infrastructure is on the coast.
--With assistance from Paul Tugwell, Joost Akkermans and Arne Delfs.
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