Guest Article #18

The Road to Copenhagen

We need an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen. An agreement that includes all nations, enables us to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and unleashes the forces for sustainable development.

The base for an agreement must be what science has taught us: global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2020 at the latest. They must be reduced by at least 50% as compared with 1990 levels by 2050. Developed countries must take the lead and collectively reduce their emissions by 25 to 40% by 2020 and by 80 to 95% by 2050. Among the developing countries, the emerging economies must ensure a deviation of 15-30% from their business as usual emissions scenarios by 2020.

The EU welcomes the agreement at the Major Economies Forum in L'Aquila, Italy, in July, as a first necessary, although insufficient, step. The agreement was important for upcoming negotiations on setting goals for emissions reductions in the near-term.

The EU has taken the lead by presenting the most ambitious goal of any group of countries: a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. This is within the framework of an ambitious and comprehensive global agreement, and provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and that developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities.

The Swedish Presidency of the EU will now take the lead to speed up the negotiations. At our informal meeting of environment ministers in July 2009, in Are, Sweden, a broad consensus emerged that the EU should reduce its emissions by 30%. But the 30% reduction target is not unconditional. We will continue to demand of others that they deliver sufficient actions and commitments, at a level comparable to that of the EU, to save the climate.

So far, in aggregate, the commitments of developing countries fall short of what is required of them. The gap between what science demands and the proposals that are on the table is far too wide. We will take the necessary steps and the contacts needed to push other countries to raise their bids. Clearly, in the months to come, we need to increase our pressure and intensify our dialogue with the main actors, in order to press for action that will help us achieve an ambitious and comprehensive global agreement in Copenhagen.

Financing is crucial, and our message is that we are prepared to do our “fair share.” However, we must also ensure that others do the same and that both the private and public flows of resources needed are made available.

Let us not forget that without adaptation measures there will be no agreement in Copenhagen. The less ambitious mitigations targets, the more adaptation actions will be needed. Adaptation actions require financing – national and international, public and private.

The EU will continue to work to bring about concrete technological cooperation, such as the establishment of a global partnership.

The main task ahead of us is greater and more promising than to just “doing the math” in Copenhagen. The economic crisis opens the door for a rapid transformation of our economy, it represents a historic opportunity to speed up the “greening” of our economy and lay the foundation for low-carbon and eco-efficient growth. The way out of the financial crisis will be environmentally-driven economic growth.

As the holder of the EU Presidency, Sweden will try to shape environmental policy so that it also contributes to the economy's recovery and long-term competitiveness. This issue cuts across sectors and we will explore the potential for synergies that could ensure that the economy is both competitive and sustainable. We will hold informal meetings of energy, environment and competitiveness ministers to discuss how policy agendas on climate change, energy efficiency, innovation and competitiveness can be combined.

This is the core value of the Swedish Presidency: environment will be the driving force for development.