Delhi Summit on Sustainable Development, New Delhi, 2008-02-08 08 February 2008
Andreas Carlgren, Minister for the Environment
Speech HE Andreas Carlgren Addressing Climate Change: Vision 2050.
Bali was a real breakthrough. Now the negotiations will start, and with all countries involved. There is no longer any doubt: at the Conference of Parties in 2009 we are to sign a global agreement aimed to save our earth´s climate.
Through the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change we are aware of what that agreement must achieve. There are only some few years to turn global emissions of greenhouse gases around. By 2050 the emissions need to be reduced by at least 50 to 85 percent.
Our challenge the next two years ahead of us is to achieve that kind of agreement - and not less than that! The question now is: How could we make that happen?
I travel to country after country. I meet minister after minister. They all describe their need for development. And the conclusion is: growth and development must not be a threat to the climate. On the contrary. "Poverty is the greatest polluter", said Indira Gandhi at the conference on environment in Stockholm 1972.
The world needs development - the key issue is to achieve sustainable development. That means to have a strong economic growth based on energy efficiency, renewable resources, recycling and leading to zero emissions.
The industrialised countries have so far had a high-carbon and, not a sustainable, development. We invested in fossil and high carbon technologies. Now we face huge costs transforming transportation, energy and buildings for the low carbon society. Rapidly growing economies in the developing world need not follow the old path. It is better for fast growing developing economies to leapfrog directly towards a low carbon economy.
So, should not the great climate change treaty that we have to sign 2009 be a treaty, not just about climate change, but about climate change and sustainable development?
A point of departure could be the objective of the Convention on Climate Change. Article 2 states that we should stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". But the article in its second part also states that we should "enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner." Let us make that a reality!
Reduction of emissions and simultaneous economic growth is possible. Sweden has experienced it. Since 1970 the use of oil has more or less been cut by half in our country. At the same time the use of bio-energy has grown by sixty per cent. Between 1990 and 2006, we have reduced our emissions by almost 9 per cent, while experiencing an economic growth of 44 per cent.
One important factor behind this has been the carbon tax. Our experience is that a price on carbon emissions is necessary, through taxes or trading. Energy-saving is profitable. Sweden has shown that energy consumption in buildings can be reduced by 50 percent through measures that give a positive economic return and at the same time make houses more comfortable.
The rich part of the world has laid claim to by far the greatest portion of the earth's capability of dealing with carbon dioxide - thereby buying us an economic standard at the cost of destruction of the climate. At the same time, the poorest people, who are least to blame for the problems, are affected first and worst. The rich world must now take the lead. We have to make major emission reductions, as well as assist developing countries in dealing with the consequences of climate change.
The EU has declared that it is prepared to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2020. We encourage and we urge other industrialised countries to make comparable efforts. Let there in no way be any uncertainty: we, the EU countries, are determined to reach our goal. We are now proceeding with the whole climate and energy package to ministerial councils and the European parliament.
At the same time, we welcome adequate contributions to limit emissions from more advanced developing countries. Those countries could not be expected to take on binding commitments. But a climate agreement needs to create incentives for developing countries to implement reductions in emissions that can be measured, reported and verified.
The potential of new and existing technologies is almost unlimited. Industrialised countries must assume responsibility for transferring financing and investment to low-carbon technologies.
The growing carbon market can contribute to the resources needed. One part is the Clean Development Mechanism. For example in Tamil Nadu a CDM-project extracts energy from biomass. Before, this resource was never used. It means both emission reductions and new jobs, better incomes. These actions will benefit both environmental and social development. Sweden recently tripled the financial allocations for project based mechanisms and it is our intention to increase our participation in these projects here in India.
Adaptation is as important as mitigation. The Swedish government has established an International Commission on Climate Change and Development. The main task will be to make proposals on how to integrate risk reduction and adaptation into the development and poverty reduction plans of the least developed countries. One member of the committee is Sunita Narain, director for the Centre for Science and Environment in India.
We are all in the same boat. The challenge ahead of us all is to develop our societies and economies in a sustainable manner that can save the earth´s climate. In short: the global agreement that we will sign in 2009 should enable developing countries to make a shortcut to fossil-free, green economies that grow and flourish in a sustainable way - as we all have to!