German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday promised a stronger government focus on climate protection following the deadly floods that have ravaged parts of Germany and neighboring countries.
“The German language knows hardly any words for this devastation,” Merkel said during a visit to flood-stricken areas in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate. “We have to hurry to fight climate change.”
At a news conference in the severely damaged town of Schuld, Merkel said her government would “counteract this natural disaster in the short term, but also in the medium term and in the long term: We’ll be ensuring that we focus our policymaking more on climate protection that we have in recent years.”
“This is clearly very necessary,” she added.
Climate scientists have long warned that such extreme weather events would increasingly hit Europe as the world warms. The recent floods have claimed the lives of over 180 people across Germany and Belgium. Further flash floods hit southern Germany on Sunday, notably in Bavaria’s Berchtesgadener Land district.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper he wants to provide €300 million in emergency aid and put “billions of euros” into a reconstruction program to repair “destroyed houses, roads and bridges.”
Merkel confirmed at Sunday’s press conference that her government would be approving a relief program on Wednesday.
“We see the violence that nature can exert in torrential floods,” she added. “All the same, we see the strong will of the people who have survived.”
Merkel added that she will be returning to the region in August “so that we can show you that we are in it for the long haul.”
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