Is Iceland considered a Nordic country

Merkel in Iceland: "The price of doing nothing is higher than that of acting"

In Iceland, Chancellor Angela Merkel got an idea of ​​the natural forces of the country and spoke to the heads of government in Scandinavia about pressing climate issues. The Scandinavian government leaders and they agree that climate change is now becoming visible, said the CDU politician after a working lunch on the island of Videy near Reykjavik.

This is particularly true in the Nordic countries, but also in Germany, said Merkel. This was only recently seen in Iceland by having to say goodbye to the Okjökull glacier. Scientists had declared Okjökull dead at a farewell ceremony after it had lost its status as a glacier a good five years ago. "The price of doing nothing will certainly be higher than the price of acting," said the Chancellor.

Sustainable energy generation

Merkel was impressed by the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, which she had visited shortly before the meeting with the heads of government. It was an important point of their trip to be shown the sustainable way of generating energy there. In Hellisheidi one thinks consistently in cycles. "Thinking in cycles is the key that we have to be very clear about in order to meet the global challenges."

The Chancellor in the middle of the steam from a geothermal power plant in Iceland

Hellisheidi is the largest power plant of its kind in Iceland. There the Icelanders produce heating energy and electricity from hot water and steam. As part of a project, climate-damaging CO2 is captured from the air on the site of the power plant and stored in the rock. A video by government spokesman Steffen Seibert showed how Merkel walked through the thick steam and had the functionality of a borehole explained to her.

The Chancellor attended the informal summer meeting of the Scandinavian heads of government as a guest. Most of the countries in the far north want to achieve the goal of climate neutrality much earlier than the federal government, Iceland for example as early as 2040 and thus ten years before Germany. Germany is committed to the target year 2050, said Merkel.

Criticism of Merkel

The Chancellor had once earned the nickname "Climate Chancellor", among other things because of a trip in 2007 with her then Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), with whom she posed in front of a Greenland glacier in a red outdoor jacket. From the point of view of environmental associations, Merkel has not earned this name for a long time. Activists accuse Merkel, among other things, of preventing stricter climate protection requirements for the auto industry in Brussels.

Germany will clearly miss the climate protection target for 2020 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990, as will the 2020 target of one million electric cars on German roads. Nonetheless, environmentalists hope that Merkel will once again make steam in the fight against global warming in the last few meters of her term of office - which should end in 2021 at the latest.

Merkel remembers the volcanic eruption

After her arrival, Merkel had already pointed out the forces of nature, which are particularly noticeable in Iceland. Her previous acquaintance with the country was that she was only able to return to Germany via detours from America because of the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, she said in the summer residence of Iceland's Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir in Thingvellir National Park near Reykjavik.

Angela Merkel with Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir in Thingvellir National Park on the sidelines of the meeting of the Scandinavian heads of government

The ash cloud from the volcano had paralyzed air traffic in large parts of Europe. "I mention this because we can learn even more from the example of Iceland that people have to be careful with nature and that they also have to show some humility towards nature," said Merkel. It is good for humanity to be reminded every now and then of the strength and beauty of nature, she added.

The Greenpeace energy expert Niklas Schinerl called for Merkel's concrete action. "As important as respect for this planet is, it is also clear that only decisive steps away from coal, oil and gas will save it," he said. Merkel must make the preservation of our livelihood a top priority and accelerate climate-friendly change in Germany.

Climate platform

Six states announced the establishment of a platform for this. The appearance at the UN climate summit in New York in September should be closely coordinated. Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that the Nordic countries Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are also considering new climate protection targets so that global warming can be limited to a maximum of 1.5 degrees.

Angela Merkel with Nordic Prime Ministers: Stefan Lofven (Sweden), Katrin Jakobsdottir (Iceland) and Erna Solberg (Norway) in Reykjavik

A vote on the protection of the rainforest is also necessary. Both Germany and Norway, the largest donors for the preservation of the Amazon forest, have withdrawn funds because the Brazilian government is accused of intensifying deforestation policies.

Merkel said that on issues of climate change, a multilateral world order and the ideas of the rule of law, they are very close. She announced an increased German involvement in the Arctic and demanded that the EU should be taken seriously as an observer in the Arctic Council. This includes Canada, the USA, Russia, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Germany has observer status.

ni / st (dpa, rtr)