Davos Agenda

Angela Merkel wants us to overcome our differences and focus on better communication

Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany speaking during the Session "Special Address by Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany" at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 23, 2019. Congress Centre - Congress Hall. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Sandra Blaser

It was Angela Merkel's twelth special address to participants at Davos

Briony Harris
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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Davos Agenda

  • Angela Merkel talked about climate change, Germany's plan to ditch coal and the breakdown in communication at Davos.
  • "We intend by 2030 to have 65% generated by renewables," she said.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel made a passionate plea for people to talk to those they disagree with when she spoke at Davos 2020.

This is the twelth time that Angela Merkel has delivered a Special Address at the Annual Meeting. She has been a prominent supporter of multilaterlaism throughout her 15 years as Germany's leader.

Here are some key quotes of her wide-ranging speech:

On a lack of communication:

"The fact that people seem to no longer wish to talk to one another - that there is no possibility to build a bridge between these different views - that is something that fills me with grave concern...

When we now have a world where perhaps lack of speech is even more pronounced than during the cold war - where we had an orderly channel of communication between the different sides. Then I can only plead: even if you find it so difficult to talk to the other person then please don’t abandon this, otherwise you will be in your digital bubble...you will be talking to people of the same view,,, and that leads us right into catastrophe."

On climate change:

Will we attain the goals we committed do in the Paris climate agreement? [That] may well be a question of survival for the whole planet. So we are under pressure. We have to act.

On a historic transformation of the way we live:

"The whole way that we do business, that we live and that we have grown accustomed to in the industrial age will have to be changed. We will have to leave that behind us in the next 30 years and we have to come to completely new value chains."

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On a shake-up of the energy mix:

"Over the past year we have taken the decision to first exit from nuclear energy because we feel the waste management is simply not sustainable in the long run… and we decided that at the very latest by 2038 we will exit from coal...

Electricity generation supply also has to be changed to being CO2-free... We intend by 2030 to have 65% generated by renewables. For a country where the sun is not always shining and the wind is not always blowing, that is a considerable amount. It means completely new grids."

On the 30 year window of action:

The Chancellor pointed out that German unification took place 30 years ago.
"In 30 years a lot can be done. But I also know that 30 years is not that long if you want to achieve a digital transformation plus a transformation of your value generation. And this is why time is of the essence.

The importance of our young people is something that we ought to tap as a potential. We ought to understand this as something where they look at a far different horizon that goes beyond 2050. These young people ask us what of our biodiversity, what of the climate we live iin. So we are called on to act now."

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On facts vs emotion:

"What we have to overcome are completely new conflicts within our society. Because in Germany too we have a huge group of people who think this [climate change] is not so urgent - they are not so convinced of the phenomonen. How do we take them with us?

Whereever facts and emotions clash one can always try to develop an anti-fact policy through emotions that will then have an enormous impact

That’s what we have to reconcile - the facts and the emotion."

On Africa:

Angela Merkel said Germany’s forthcoming presidency of the EU would convene a special summit between the African nations and the EU.

"We want in particular to listen to the Africans - what is their agenda? I am very glad that we no longer do something for Africa but with Africa...We should finally realise that cooperation with Africa is not handing out charity but this is something that will benefit us too.

We have an average age of 45. Mali and Niger have an [average] age of 15...European can only win if they listen to the Africans and tap this enormous potential of creativity."

On multilateralism:

Angela Merkel ended her speech by mentioning that there will also be a special summit between EU states and China, and with a robust defence of multilateralism.

"We as Europeans we will stand up for multilateralism. We will stand up for multilateral organisations ...the most effective way of creating global prosperity is the global way."

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