“We have no alternative. We must handle climate change and we must do it right now. Copenhagen is the deadline. Time is up,” writes former Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s commissioner-designate for climate action, in an exclusive op-ed for EURACTIV.
Hedegaard is the host of a UN-led climate conference which kicks off in Copenhagen next week (7-18 December). Officials from 192 countries which signed up to the Bali Action plan in 2007 are expected to make legally-binding commitments to ink a new post-Kyoto climate treaty.
“There are moments in history where the world can choose to go down different paths,” the Dane writes, describing the COP-15 climate conference in Copenhagen as one of those defining moments.
“We can choose to go down the road towards green prosperity and a more sustainable future. Or we can choose a pathway to stalemate and do nothing about climate change, leaving an enormous bill for our kids and grandkids to pay. It really isn’t that hard a choice,” she argues.
The Danish government’s goal is to work towards an ambitious, global agreement that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and delivers on adaptation, technology and finance, Hedegaard stresses, adding that a deadline on when to close a legally-binding agreement must be set in Copenhagen.
Hedegaard welcomes the concrete targets committed to by developed and developing countries alike ahead of the conference, namely Brazil, South Korea and Russia.
The United States’ announced targets of cutting emissions by 4% below 1990 levels might not be what the world expects, underlines the EU Commissioner-designate, but it is in line with the US decision to embark on the extra steep pathway for reductions in later years, of 18% by 2025 and 32% by 2030.
“For each day we wait, the price increases and the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change increase,” she writes, quoting International Energy Agency figures which show that every year lost to inaction will cost 500 billion dollars.
“We must make the pressure pay and use the political momentum to make the leaders of the world live up to their responsibility and act swiftly on climate change,” writes Hedegaard, stressing delivery is needed on four cornerstones: binding medium and long-term emission targets for developed countries, a green action plan for developing countries, finance and technology transfer.