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National statement by Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister, at COP24

Katowice, Poland, 12 December 2018.

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Excellencies, ministers, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

The effects of climate change are already here. People see them with their own eyes, live the effect of them around the world. In Sweden we experienced an extremely hot summer this year, with drought and violent forest fires in the Arctic region like never before. We watch the news and we see wildfires in California, hurricanes hitting the Caribbean and the Pacific, violent torrential rains in Japan and droughts in Africa, and we can no longer ignore the disastrous consequences for this planet and all future generations if we do not take action now.

Some people say we should not talk about the enormous threat of climate change because then people might lose hope. But to quote Greta Thunberg, a remarkable 15-year old climate activist from Sweden, the world does not need hope. It needs action. But when we take action – hope is everywhere.

The action that is needed here in Katowice is deciding on a robust, detailed, clear and stable rulebook for the Paris Agreement. A transparent rulebook that creates comparability and predictability, and also enables the necessary flexibility and – crucially – increased ambition over time.

Every school child today knows about science. Scientific knowledge is more precise than ever. The IPCC 1.5 degree report provides abundant clarity as to the need for action. And it does not leave room for hesitation.

So, let’s face the facts. A nationally determined system, the beating heart of the Paris Agreement, requires responsible action by everyone. And current pledges are sadly far from sufficient. Time is not just limited, we are on the verge here. This is it. It’s time to step up.

Our leadership is called for by our children. We need to show a predictable pathway towards low-carbon economies. Our constituencies need and demand it, and luckily business increasingly echoes those sentiments.

Dialogue between states is key, but dialogue between other parts of society is needed as well. Sweden has a proud tradition of upholding dialogue between business, unions, and government.

With the Fossil-free Sweden initiative, we enable dialogue between government at all levels, industry, and stakeholders. It has resulted in the industries themselves developing concrete roadmaps for fossil-free competitiveness in many sectors. From the steel, cement and aviation industries, to the forest and retail sectors, as well as many more. This shows action is possible.

Low-carbon transition offers new opportunities for investments, jobs and better lives. The Swedish economy has grown substantially, by more than 60 per cent, while our emissions are down more than 25 per cent since the early 1990s.

We want to, and look forward to, continue sharing our experience on policies, financing and technology with partners.

We believe developed countries must lead the first step of a global transition, encouraging and supporting others to move forward. We also know climate change hits some countries and regions harder than others. The least developed countries and small island states face very real and pressing danger. Developed countries must lead the first steps of a global transition, encouraging and supporting others to move forward.

Therefore, Sweden is proud to be one of the largest per capita providers of climate finance globally. I am also happy that here in Katowice we have been able to announce an additional contribution for 2018 of SEK 50 million each to the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund. This is in addition to the contributions announced at COP23.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We warmly welcome the initiative from the United Nations Secretary-General to organise the Climate Summit in 2019. The summit will serve as an important complement to the UNFCCC process to mobilise political willingness to act and to demonstrate transformative action.

We need action. The cost of inaction is monumental; impossible to quantify. Nations are disappearing, ecological systems are being damaged beyond repair. The difference between 2 degrees and 1.5 is vast: we must pursue the most ambitious outcome. 

And our duty as leaders is to ensure that the transition benefits all. An inclusive approach is part of the spirit of Paris and the 2030 Agenda. It requires full engagement from all stakeholders. It requires rules.

Rules that requires all states to take action. Because when there is action – as Greta, the 15-year old demanding the right to a safe future without climate collapse, says – where there is action, there is hope. And there is hope everywhere.