"I understand - and it makes me a little sad, of course - that young people say, 'man, we had to go to court first before those in the government actually give us what we're entitled to'," dpa news agency quoted the Chancellor as saying during a discussion with German climate activist Luisa Neubauer.
However, it was also true that "in a democracy, I always have to get majorities for something", she added.
Merkel pointed to her own rural constituency as an example, where concerns over the building of wind turbines are always accompanied by complaints.
Simply ignoring people's concerns could lead to a situation where climate deniers could be in the majority, she said, who used former US President
Donald Trump as an example.
In April, the Constitutional Court ruled that Germany's climate protection law was insufficient, and ordered the government to implement more detailed regulations for the period after 2030.
The federal Cabinet passed a new version of the law on Wednesday.
Neubauer, however, said that she found it difficult to frame action on climate change with "but we're in a democracy," as such phrasing "implies that it would be democracy that is standing in our way".
The question is not how much climate protection can democracy afford before it's overstretched, Neubauer added, but rather "what do democracies need in the 21st century to get through this crisis?"
"How should they be equipped. Because it's clear that more climate crises won't do our democracies any good."