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Friday August 23rd, 2019 12:42AM

The Latest: Merkel: coal phaseout will be in coalition talks

By The Associated Press
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BONN, Germany (AP) — The Latest on the climate talks in Bonn, Germany (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the issue of when and how to phase out her country's use of coal will be a key issue in talks on forming a new government, but hasn't said whether she backs a firm deadline.

Environmental campaigners had called on Merkel to announce a German exit from coal at global climate talks in Bonn, Germany, this week.

Germany currently gets about 40 percent of its electricity from burning coal and Merkel acknowledged Wednesday that the use of this heavily polluting fossil fuel is one reason her country isn't on track to meet its emissions targets by 2020.

Speaking to officials from around the world, Merkel said there will be "hard discussions" on coal in upcoming coalition talks with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats.

___

4:45 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says Europe should make up the shortfall in funding for the U.N.'s scientific expert panel on climate change left by the U.S. decision to hold back its contribution.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has said it will cut funding for the panel, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which provides key guidance on global warming to governments around the world.

Macron told a global climate meeting in Bonn, Germany, on Wednesday that the panel "won't lack a single euro" from next year onward.

The French president, who is hosting a meeting on the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord next month, also said his country is committed to ending the use of coal-fired power plants by 2021.

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3:40 p.m.

Germany's president has suggested that the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord may be reversed again in the coming years.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier says that while the world has suffered some "setbacks" in efforts to curb global warming, the momentum is difficult to stop.

Steinmeier, whose post as head of state is largely ceremonial, spoke at the opening Wednesday of a high-level meeting at global climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Without naming the U.S. directly, Steinmeier told national leaders and ministers that "some who today have left the ship's bridge for the dinghy may return to our big ship in a couple of years."

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3:30 p.m.

The head of the United Nations says climate change is "the defining threat of our time" and requires concerted action by the international community.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world may have only five years to take measures needed to meet the most ambitious target of keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Guterres told leaders, ministers and negotiators at global climate talks in Bonn, Germany, on Wednesday that although this will require sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the steps are achievable.

He cited data showing major developing countries such as China and India surpassing their emissions reduction goals as evidence that economic growth is possible even while cutting down on fossil fuel use.

Guterres urged leaders to "show courage in combatting entrenched interests" in fighting climate change.

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2:30 p.m.

Police and company officials say environmental activists have occupied conveyor belts and other equipment at a lignite-fired power station in western Germany, causing some disruption to the plant.

Police said several people in masks occupied the facility Wednesday at Weisweiler, west of Bonn, which is hosting global climate talks. News agency dpa reported that operator RWE said it switched off two of the four power generating units for lack of coal.

Activists want Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to phase out the use of coal, which generates about 40 percent of Germany's electricity. The

In Bonn itself, Greenpeace said 14 of its activists protested on a coal ship on the Rhine river, laying out a banner reading "Merkel's Dirty Secret: Coal" as it passed the conference venue.

___

9:30 a.m.

World leaders arrive at the global climate talks in Germany on Wednesday to give the negotiations a boost going into the final stretch.

Attention will focus in particular on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces growing pressure to announce a firm deadline for ending her country's use of coal.

Environmental campaigners and poor countries say Merkel should use the event on home turf to signal Germany will phase out the heavily polluting fossil fuel by 2030.

But the timing is difficult for Merkel. After speaking at the climate talks in Bonn she flies back to Berlin for negotiations on forming a new government that would include a pro-business party, the Free Democrats, which opposes a coal deadline.

Also speaking Wednesday are U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and French President Emmanuel Macron.

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