The EU has placed its bid. Now others must follow suit, writes Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt i in an op-ed in Tuesday's Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's largest morning daily.
With only 34 days left until the climate change conference in Copenhagen, the EU continues to lead the way. Since the European Council in March 2007 we have been at the forefront on climate change. Then it was about concrete commitments: a 30 per cent reduction in emissions by the year 2020 compared with 1990 levels, provided that a new global climate agreement is reached – and provided that others make comparable commitments. During the Swedish Presidency we are now continuing to show leadership and unity on important issues such as financing, technology transfer, adaptation and efficient and results-oriented management of financial resources.
Concrete commitments on emissions reductions are important if we are to meet the target set by the UN climate panel of global warming not exceeding two degrees. Therefore such commitments must also be the guiding principle for the UN negotiations. We know that global emissions must be reduced by 50 per cent by 2050, compared with 1990, in order to reach this target. And we know that developed countries must take the lead and reduce their emissions. At the summit at the end of last week, the EU set its own long-term goal for emissions reductions – 80–95 per cent by 2050.
All this is important and necessary. But the countries of the world must also agree on the central issue of how to finance the fight against climate change. In September this year, the European Commission presented an estimate of the cost of climate change adaptation measures and emissions reductions in developing countries. In the Commission’s view, the additional cost of limiting or completely eliminating emissions is estimated to reach EUR 100 billion per year by 2020, and the funds need to come from the public and private sectors in developed countries, the global emissions market and international capital. It was also emphasised that from next year until 2012 between EUR 5 billion and 7 billion will be needed for a ‘fast start’ to adaptation, emissions reductions, research and capacity development in developing countries.
As President of the European Council I am pleased that, at the end of last week, despite the economic crisis we are still experiencing, the Member States showed themselves ready to take both responsibility and action by supporting the Commission’s estimates. The European Union is now prepared to make a fair contribution to global action within the context of a climate agreement; by means of an ambitious mitigation target, granting compensation and contributing our fair share of public funding.
With just over a month remaining until the climate change conference in Copenhagen, the EU stands more united than previously. The summit last week gave us a strong mandate for negotiation.
But action by the EU alone is not enough. We can only reach an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen if all parties contribute to the process. Therefore other developed countries must now show the same leadership – taking on similarly ambitious emissions reductions, presenting proposals on financing, and intensifying their work. Developing countries, especially those that are more advanced, must also present clear commitments that reflect their responsibility and ability.
Yesterday, with a strong mandate from the European Council and the Member States, I travelled to Washington to discuss climate change and the road to Copenhagen; yesterday in an individual meeting with President Obama and today at an EU-USA summit. Today I am also meeting Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who together with the Chair of the Environment Committee, Senator Barbara Boxer, is responsible for the proposal for the new American climate and energy legislation, which is soon to be read by the US Congress.
My message to President Obama, the Senate and Congress is this: we must now put the climate in focus, with the two-degree target as our guiding principle. We are in agreement on what needs to be done in the long term – but in order to succeed we must also have an offensive goal for the medium term. A lot can be done with simple means. The medium-term goals can in all essentials be achieved by means of energy saving and increased energy efficiency. The quicker we undertake the transition to a green economy, the less the costs will be.
Tomorrow I am travelling on to New Delhi for an EU-India summit. My message to Prime Minister Singh is essentially the same as to President Obama: we must focus on the climate, and that requires immediate action. We know that it is important for India to be able to continue along the path towards greater prosperity for its citizens. However, this development cannot be accompanied by parallel increases in carbon dioxide emissions. This would mean that India’s greenhouse gas emissions would more than double by 2030.
We are aware that India’s per capita emissions are relatively low – and that it is therefore argued that there should be scope for an increase in emissions. But with the knowledge we have today, it is not reasonable to presume that certain countries have a right to increased emissions. In addition, India has major potential when it comes to increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources. Solar energy is one example of this. The EU is very interested in closer cooperation in this area.
At the end of November I will represent the Swedish EU Presidency when I chair an EU-China summit. Over the past two decades, China has made a fantastic journey and it is today the world’s third strongest economy. At the same time, this has entailed an unreasonably heavy burden on the environment. We know that in its five-year plans China has ambitious programmes for reducing emissions in proportion to economic development. However, since the country has now overtaken the USA as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, greater measures are needed if we are to successfully tackle climate change. Therefore, my message to China is this: raise your ambitions so that emissions peak by 2020 at the latest and then fall. We know that China has all the requirements for success and I hope that concrete commitments will be announced at the conference in Copenhagen.
With just over a month to go until the climate change conference, the UN negotiations are still moving slowly. Many are writing off our chances of succeeding. Yet Copenhagen may not be the final stop: the Kyoto Protocol was not concluded in 1997, but in 2001. But it would be a major political failure if no agreement were reached in December. Climate change will not wait for drawn-out negotiations. That is why everyone has a responsibility to make Copenhagen a success. The EU has placed its bid. Now others must follow suit.
Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister