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The World from Berlin: Merkel Crowned 'Miss World' After Climate Deal

Angela Merkel is basking in widespread praise for steering the G-8 summit to a compromise on combating climate change. The deal may not be the "huge success" she's calling it, say German commentators, but it's a start -- and that's all that could realistically be expected.

Merkel is credited with getting Bush to make some concessions on climate change.
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Merkel is credited with getting Bush to make some concessions on climate change.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is winning plaudits in the German press for Thursday's G-8 agreement on climate change at the summit in Heiligendamm. The leaders of the world richest nations agreed to "seriously consider" a 50 percent cut in global CO2 emissions by 2050.

They also agreed to negotiate a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which sets cuts in greenhouse gases running to 2012, within the framework of the United Nations.

Merkel originally wanted the world's richest nations to commit themselves to lowering their CO2 emissions to 50 percent of their 1990 levels by 2050. But US President George W. Bush resisted attempts to set a firm goal for cuts.

Conservative Die Welt writes:

"Heiligendamm extends Angela Merkel's list of foreign policy successes. The Chancellor achieved more on climate change than she herself is likely to have expected at times. The American president made concessions in two central areas at Merkel's (and the Europeans') urging: the goal of globally binding upper limits for CO2 emissions, and the fact that the process will be embedded in the United Nations. True, the final communiqué merely says such agreements will be "seriously considered". But even this seemed inconceivable just a few weeks ago.

"The consensus of Heiligendamm doesn't just vindicate Merkel, it vindicates the G-8 format which has frequently been criticized as anachronistic recently. A G-11 format including China, India and Brazil would hardly have been able to achieve such a result."

Mass circulation Bild newspaper crowned Merkel "Miss World" in a banner headline. "Despite the gloomy predictions, the professional pessimists and the demonstrators: The controversial summit meeting behind the high fence on the Baltic sea was a success for Angela Merkel!

"Of course nothing in life is so good that it couldn't be better! But the leaders lived up to their responsibility for the world. The Chancellor as a charming, diplomatic but tough negotiating hostess didn't let go on the climate issue. Step-by-step, she pulled the US President over to her side for a new UN treaty to reduce greenhouse gases.

"And she even built a bridge of reconciliation between Bush and Vladimir Putin in the missile row."

Left-wing Die Tageszeitung is a little more skeptical:

"This wasn't a breakthrough to save the world climate, it was a makeshift deal to save the summit's reputation."

"Despite all protests about it being a supposed world government, the G-8 summits have only a limited scope. No government attending a conference that has no executive power of its own wants to make budget commitments that stretch years ahead. But African aid and climate change require just that. So what does a summit meeting do? It reaffirms a political goal but leaves participants free to choose how to fulfill it. That may be justified for the democratic processes in the various countries. But it's a burden when it comes to international efforts to settle global issues.

"This is a dilemma of international politics in times of globalization, and the G-8 format can't solve it. It's good that Heiligendamm has made this so abundantly clear."

Business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes:

"Measured in terms of the high-flying expectations she herself whipped up in recent weeks, Angela Merkel failed on climate change at the G-8 summit. Measured in terms of what was realistically possible, she achieved a success at the meeting of leaders in Heiligendamm. Not the "huge success" she is calling it, but a good start.

"Merkel can be pleased that that the G-8 is 'seriously considering' the idea to halve CO2 emissions by 2050, and she can even detect in the small print the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees. US President George W. Bush for his part doesn't need to feel committed to any concrete measures on the basis of this communiqué. The other governments too can be as rigorous or relaxed about climate protection as they see fit."

"The success of the German presidency is that it has set a process in motion, or rather back in motion -- the attempt to regard the fight against climate change as an international and common problem which all relevant polluters have to tackle."

David Crossland, 10:00 a.m. CET

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