Environmental Ministers Get Obama’s Ear, Scold America

Well, that sends a message.

From Der Spiegel, “German Environment Minister Gets Audience with Obama“:

In a surprising move, Barack Obama met with Germany’s environment minister in Washington on Monday. Sigmar Gabriel reportedly called on the Americans to make further reductions in CO2 emissions — a move developing countries are also demanding before they agree to any cuts.

At best, heads of government around the world can expect a few minutes to meet with Barack Obama — and people working at the ministerial level from abroad can generally forget about getting any face time in the Oval Office.

But on Monday, despite the economic crisis and the outbreak of swine flu, the US president took time out to meet with the environment ministers and climate negotiators of the 20 countries with the world’s highest levels of carbon-dioxide emissions

You’re only wounding your economy, Minister Gabriel told the President. We want you to kill it.

The minister said he was pleased the US now wants to take an active role in climate protection, but that the proposals that have been recently announced don’t go far enough. He said carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, just to be in line with what climate scientists are already calling for. The ambitious US project, the so-called “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” only foresees a reduction of 6 percent to 7 percent.\

Gabriel is an SPD member, i.e., left-leaning Social Democrats, part of the governing CDU-SPD coalition. He remonstrates more against the United States in this earlier Spiegel interview.

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