German Chancellor will focus on climate as she leads G8 and E.U.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel intends to make climate change top priority when her country takes the reins of both the European Union and the G8 at the beginning of next year. Enviros are likely to welcome the leadership of Merkel, a former environment minister, after Russia downplayed global warming during its 2006 G8 presidency. For one thing, Merkel is unafraid to call out U.S. slackerness; her goal, she says, is to “convert the big emitters” of carbon dioxide. (Hey, President Bush has been converted once — why not again?) “China, India, and other countries are now much more aware of the risks” of climate change, says Merkel, but without the cooperation of “our American partners,” efforts to curb greenhouse gases will surely fail. Will the U.S. — which, need we remind you, is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s GHGs and is the only G8 nation not to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol — be convinced? “[W]e’ve certainly got our work cut out for us,” Merkel said. Sounds like she could use a backrub.