A few days ago political leaders of all United Nations countries gathered in New Yok for one of the vey many meetings organized to find a common position on the road to Copenhagen for the Conference on Global Climate. What follows s the statement done by the European Union representative, Mr Per Örnéus, Ambassador and Deputive Permanent Representative of Sweden.
Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge that the world faces today, along with poverty. The knowledge and awareness of the consequences of climate change are now solid all over the world. Actions to reduce negative human influence have to be taken without delay; in every country and at different levels of the society – by politicians, by private sector executives and by civil society. Markets for low-carbon, clean and efficient products and technologies hold a vast potential for growth and prosperity.
The economic recession has squeezed many economies and put very many individuals out of employment. There are people who say that the financial crisis is an obstacle to environmental achievements. I firmly believe this view to be mistaken. The Stern report clearly established that it is impossible to develop our economies without firm action on climate and environment. A low carbon economy is the only way towards sustainable development in its true meaning.
Renewable energies, together with energy efficiency, are key elements in the supply of sustainable energy and combating climate change. Renewable energy such as hydropower, biomass, wind and solar holds vast potential to supply a considerable part of energy in many countries and can also increase the security of energy supply. Access to sustainable energy brings economic growth and increases the quality of life for millions of people in developing countries.
The poor pay a heavy price for traditional biomass to secure their energy needs in terms of health impacts, collection time, and energy quality. Four out of five people without electricity live in rural areas of the developing world, mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Despite considerable efforts over the past 30 to 40 years, this population is often beyond the reach of the national grid and do not benefit from large, centralized energy systems. There is a strong case for alternative delivery systems and technologies, as well as new policy frameworks to provide essential energy services. These will need to include both renewable options such as solar energy systems and non-renewable options such as liquefied petroleum gas.
The importance of the further development and dissemination of cost effective systems for production and use of renewable energy can hardly be exaggerated. The formation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in January was therefore an important step to promote a rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale. So far, 136 countries have decided to sign the IRENA statutes. Among these, many European Union member states were very active in the process forming the organisation, lead by Germany, Denmark, Spain and Austria
The challenge of climate change can not be handled without actions on the global level. The present situation does not only imply a global threat, but must also be seen as offering a global opportunity. Actions by single small countries will have little impact on the total emissions. The European Union has therefore an important role to play. I believe that the European Union showed true leadership in March 2007 when Heads of EU States and Governments agreed on ambitious climate and energy targets. The so called 20-20-20 targets were a milestone in the EU cooperation. The targets are more ambitious than any group of countries has hitherto presented.
This commitment will dramatically increase the use of renewable energy in each country within the union and set legally enforceable targets for governments to achieve.
Equally important in order to mitigate climate change is energy efficiency. As a matter of priority, the Swedish EU Presidency is promoting EU-agreement on further measures to meet the 20 per cent energy efficiency target set by the European Union. Such measures include increased requirements on energy labelling of products and energy performance of buildings
Energy issues will continue to be of high priority in view of the international climate negotiations. Renewable and carbon free energy technologies play an important role in reaching sustainable energy consumption in Europe and elsewhere; They are already an essential part of the energy system in many countries and a corner stone in solving the energy and climate challenges we face.
One of the primary objectives of the EU Presidency is to take continued responsibility for dealing with the issue of climate change. The most important task of the Presidency, together with other parties, is to work for the adoption of a global and comprehensive climate agreement during the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December.
The time is ripe for bold political leadership. We need an agreement that includes all nations and enables us to control global warming. We need to set in motion incentives that unleashes the forces of low-carbon growth for sustainable development
Once again I thank the World Energy Forum for organising this conference. It promises to generate many interesting and fruitful discussions on how to increase the use of sustainable energy. Together we can meet future challenges!