Speech by the Minister for the Environment Lena Ek, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011, Durban, South Africa

Madame President, ministers, delegates, friends,

We are gathered here in beautiful Durban in the inspiring country of South Africa. It is good to be here!

In Cancun, together we showed the world that the UN-system of multilateral cooperation is capable of delivering results. Sweden, is a strong believer and supporter of this process and of multilateralism.

Climate change is one of the most challenging issues for mankind. We are moving forward, but we need a dramatic increase in ambition when it comes to mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation.

To achieve this, we all need to contribute, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Developed countries must take the lead, but we all have a shared responsibility for the future. This is why I believe we need a comprehensive, rules-based, legally binding framework covering all countries.

In Durban we want to be able to commit to a second Kyoto period. However, the environmental integrity of the protocol needs to be improved and we must complement Kyoto with an agreement to cover the 85% of emissions that it seems otherwise will be left outside.

It took us long and hard negotiations to present a proposal for the rules-based system of Kyoto. It then took another round of tough negotiations over many years to agree on the Marrakesh accords with rules for flexible mechanisms, land use etc. Not all of us have quantified commitments in Kyoto, but all of us who ratified the Protocol have agreed that its rules make sense. Let us use this foundation and develop a new agreement housing a broader group of countries.

We are here in Durban also to operationalise the Cancun Agreements. Cancun gave us the contours of various instruments and institutions and Durban has the opportunity to give them life. The Green Climate Fund is part of this architecture and it needs to be put in place. The fund will be an important channel to support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries.

We can't leave Durban without clearly addressing the emission gap. We should take a decision that acknowledges this here in Durban, and start work on the options available for closing it. This means raising our ambition, and in doing this, the developed world will have to raise the ambitions relatively more compared to developing countries. Sweden is on track to meet our national 2020 target to cut emissions by 40% compared to 1990. Over 4 years we provide over a billion dollar in fast start finance. Rather than hampering growth, effective measures to put a price on carbon, such as the Swedish carbon tax, drive innovation and are widely supported by the public. It also spurs innovation and competitiveness!

Sweden has a Roadmap to 2050 which envisions no net emissions in 2050. Through a consultative process, involving various stakeholders and civil society, we will go through sector by sector to determine what needs to be done year by year to reach this vision. I am convinced that bold climate policy, in line with what science tells us, is not a cost, but rather it is an opportunity that is good for our competitiveness, for sustainable development.

We have a fundamental challenge ahead of us to meet here in Durban. And we must all stretch our mandates for the benefit of the future of the planet.

Madame President, let me finally express our gratitude and our admiration for the way you and your team have organized this conference. We put trust in your excellent leadership to keep guiding us to a successful outcome here in Durban.