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Speech by Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin at the Green Climate Fund Pledging Conf

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Green Climate Fund Pledging Conference, Berlin 20 november 2014
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Ministers, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank the German Government for its hospitality in hosting this very important conference. I very much look forward to a fruitful discussion during this panel discussion.

The proposed theme of this discussion, ‘Climate Action Now – What is the Green Climate Fund to deliver?’ is very much to the point.

My simple answer to the question of what the Green Climate Fund should deliver is: security.

Security for the world.
Security for investors and businesses.
Security for developing nations.
Security for future generations.

We all know that global action on climate change is long overdue and greatly needed. The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013.

The global carbon budget – which is the amount of carbon that can be burnt before it becomes unlikely we can avoid more than two degrees of global warming – is being rapidly used up.

If we go on with business as usual, without changing our energy systems, we have only 15 years left before the world has emitted so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere that we cannot use any more of the planet’s fossil reserves – unless we are ready to accept a world that is warmer than the two degree Celsius target agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

We also know that if we do not succeed in staying below the target of keeping temperature rises below two degrees Celsius, relative to preindustrial levels, the consequences are likely to be disastrous. We will have an insecure world. Climate change poses a serious threat to the livelihoods of millions of people, causing unprecedented refugee flows and, in the worst case scenario, new conflicts and wars.

Climate change will hit poor countries and poor people the hardest. Unless concerted action is taken, small Pacific island states even face the threat of disappearing completely. Other countries, particularly around the equator, risk being laid waste by extreme drought or flooding, leading to climate refugees. The truth is that if we do not succeed in tackling climate change, it will be extremely hard to eradicate extreme poverty, ensure food security, foster a world free from violence or deliver on any other development ambitions that we, as an international community, have set forth.

The Green Climate Fund is about creating hope that the world will not be one of such insecurity.

But of course, developed countries will not be immune to the consequences of climate change. This summer Sweden suffered exceptional natural disasters – the largest forest fire in our history, and floods and torrential rain that destroyed houses and knocked out infrastructure. Similar disasters have occurred in several other developed countries this year. Just this weekend, I saw pictures of extreme flooding in Italy. Before that it was in the UK, and this spring in the Balkans.

But no country can act alone in order to successfully curb global warming. Our efforts must be shared and genuinely cooperative. Yet developed countries have a particular responsibility to take the lead. Sweden is one of the rich countries whose economic development has been made possible by exploiting fossil energy. It is therefore clear to us that we have both the responsibility and the self-interest to make a substantial contribution to this Fund that can help the world avoid the insecurity posed by a warmer planet.

In light of this, the new green-red government in Sweden has promised USD 580m (GBP 370m) to the GCF, a contribution covering the period 2015–2018.

Sweden sees the GCF as pivotal in furthering momentum to tackle climate change – by strengthening mutual confidence among all parties involved, rich countries and poor, and catalysing new capital for effective finance for climate action in developing countries.

The GCF is also about security of investments. Applying a wide range of instruments – public and private, grants and other non-grant instruments – offers a unique opportunity to mobilise the resources needed to make a difference in supporting developing countries to embark on low-emission and climate resilient pathways.

In creating this new Fund, let us also draw on lessons learned from past experiences in establishing and managing other multilateral funds, as well as bilateral agencies. Guarantees are one example of financial instruments, in which public money can be used to unlock significant investments on a transformative scale, not least from the private sector. In this context we want to emphasise the importance of social and environmental standards always being fully met when public money is involved. And we also want to highlight the importance of a gender perspective in the work of the GCF. Women are hit disproportionately by climate change, but women can also be powerful agents of change. We should therefore ensure that we make use of the full potential of a robust gender policy and a gender plan of action.

We are particularly pleased that the fund will now be operational ahead of the climate conference in Paris in December next year. This will make it possible to demonstrate that projects for climate mitigation and adaptation in the most vulnerable countries can actually be financed – and this offers hope that change is possible.

The Swedish Government is strongly committed to helping advance global progress on climate change in all areas in which we have influence. Our development policy will be one instrument. And of course we will continue to advocate an ambitious and just climate agreement to be adopted in Paris next year.

Many people regard the UN climate summit in Paris as the last chance for the world to unite on a climate agreement that will enable us to meet the two degree Celsius target. Little time remains before then. For this reason, today’s pledging conference represents a crucial opportunity for the international community to demonstrate its commitment to addressing global warming, with Paris firmly in sight.

The Swedish Government hopes and expects that many more of the developed countries will put enough money into the new GCF today to enable it to send a real signal that the world is jointly taking its responsibility, and that we believe that a zero carbon economy – what scientists tell us we have to create within the next century – is possible.

It is my hope that the Green Climate Fund will kick-start this new economy. The Fund should function as a security for investors, and be a catalyst of innovation and real transition to a society based on clean and renewable energy. I hope this conference will be portrayed in the history books as the one where that transition took off. Where we created the hope of a peaceful, more resilient and just world in which we all strive towards a common goal.

Once again, contributing money to the Green Climate Fund is nothing less than investing in a more secure world for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you.

Isabella Lövin