BERLIN German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged her country's continued commitment to the Paris climate agreement in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal, saying the deal was a "cornerstone" of attempts to stop global warming.
Merkel, one of the strongest advocates of the global pact to curb emissions of gases that speed climate change, said there was no turning back from the path that began with the 1997 Kyoto climate protocol and led to 2015's Paris deal.
"The decision of the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is very regrettable, and I'm expressing myself in a very reserved way when I say that," she said, adding that the deal was needed to protect the environment.
"We need this Paris agreement to preserve our Creation," she said - a rare use of religious imagery by Merkel, a pastor's daughter who is usually intensely private about her faith. "Nothing can or will stop us from doing that," she added.
Trump's decision would not stop those who feel committed to protecting the planet, she said: "On the contrary, in Germany, in Europe and in the world, we will join forces to take on and successfully tackle big challenges facing humanity."
She said the agreement, which Trump rejected because he said it would impose "unfair" costs on U.S. industry, would ultimately result in more prosperity and greater opportunities for the world.
"To everyone for whom the future of our planet is important, I say let's continue down this path so we're successful for our Mother Earth," she said.
German industry associations also criticized Trump's decision to withdraw from the climate deal, warning that the move would harm the global economy and lead to market distortions.
Germany's DIHK Chambers of Commerce and the VDMA engineering industry association warned that U.S. companies could gain short-term advantages by Trump's decision.
"Climate protection can be pushed forward in an effective and competetion-friendly way only by all states," said DIHK President Eric Schweitzer.
Schweitzer said other countries should stick to their commitments, but warned that attempting to compensate for the U.S. withdrawal by other countries redoubling their commitments would be self-defeating.
(Reporting By Thomas Escritt and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Martin and Andrew Bolton)