Danish minister sounds climate wake-up call


With only 70 or so days to go before leaders meet to agree on a post-Kyoto climate deal in Copenhagen, there is a need to speed up negotiations and “make political choices,” Danish Climate Change and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard told EURACTIV in an interview.

“It is crucial that the negotiators start to diminish the text [of the agreement] substantially. It is much too long, much too complicated, there are too many square brackets. They must diminish the text and make the political choices much clearer,” she said as representatives of 192 countries continue talks in Bangkok to thrash out the details of the Kyoto Protocol’s successor. 

According to Hedegaard, who will play host in December as hundreds of nations gather in Copenhagen for the UN-led global climate conference, some countries have started to awaken to the urgency of the situation. In recent weeks, Japan has come up with new ambitious targets to reduce its carbon emissions, and China and India have begun to inch into action. 

But Copenhagen needs to bring about change “in the sense that the binding political decisions taken there […] put the world on the right track” to keep temperatures hikes below two degrees Celsius. We need to get “an ambitious agreement that makes it likely that we can stick to what science tells us,” the Danish minister said. 

Hedegaard argued that the short- to medium-term C02 emission reduction targets currently on the negotiating table average 15-16%, which she believes is not not enough. “The less the world does by 2020, the more we have to do in years to follow. And the longer we postpone action, the more expensive it’s going to be,” she said. 

One of the stumbling blocks in reaching a post-Kyoto climate agreement regards coming up with enough resources to help developing countries adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change. 

The Danish minister argues that there are a variety of possibilities which, taken together, can generate a substantial amount of money. On top of using auctioning revenues from the carbon market, Denmark has proposed imposing a levy on bunker fuel for international shipping, for example. 

However, before coming up with a package of financing tools, Hedegaard underlined the need to fast-track financing for the period 2010-2012. The EU has proposed 500 m-2.1 bn euros per year as its contribution to international climate finance. “I think what matters the most is to get upfront financing now and then establish the architecture, so that as the years go by you can fill more money into the system,” she said. 

Another building bloc of the agreement refers to transferring technology from rich to poorer nations. That could be done by creating centres of excellence in different areas and regions, said the minister, who also spoke out in favour of disseminating new technologies through the carbon market via the so-called Clean Development Mechanism. 

With Australia and Japan planning to establish a carbon market like the EU’s emission trading scheme (EU ETS; see EURACTIV LinksDossier) and the US currently pushing the proposal in Congress, the EU idea to establish a global carbon market could be created “within a few years,” Hedegaard noted. 

Connie Hedegaard was speaking to Daniela Vincenti-Mitchener.

To read the interview in full, please click here.

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