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Honourable Vice President Xi Jinping,
Heads of State and Government,
Ministers and Governors,
Chairman and Secretary General of the Boao Forum,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s a great honour and privilege for me to be here today and take part in this opening session of the Boao Forum for Asia. The BFA has established itself as one of the most prestigious and important conferences for leaders in government, business and academia to discuss the most pressing challenges of our time.
One of those challenges is how to ensure a “green recovery”. To allow for sustainable growth not only in Asia, but in the world as such.
In the following I’ll make the argument that green recovery is not only good for our planet. It is also good for business.
It is certainly good for Danish business. Export of energy and environmental technology – so called cleantech – has increased markedly over the last decade. Export of Danish energy technology has tripled over the last decade and has grown substantially faster than export of “ordinary” goods. Clean tech now represents 16 percent of Danish exports.
Looking to the future, it is estimated that globally we will have to make additional investments of more than 10 trillion USD in the period 2010 to 2030 to meet international climate change targets. This means that by 2030 each country needs to make additional investments in the order of around 1 percent of its GDP.
Countries that embark on a road towards a green economy – and do it early – will have a head start in the new economy. I know China is going down this path. Denmark has been doing so for some years already. Allow me to mention a few examples:
Firstly, electrical cars are exempted from ordinary car tax. This exemption has just been prolonged until the end of 2015.
Secondly, we are imposing very ambitious energy standards on new buildings. By 2020 energy consumption in new buildings – including houses and homes – should be down by 75 percent.
Thirdly, we plan to introduce a green car tax in Denmark, including smart road pricing – aimed at increasing both energy efficiency and reducing congestion
Finally, we have set the aim of being among the three most energy efficient countries in the OECD by 2020 as well as being among the three countries that increase its share of renewable energy the most.
Every country needs to develop its own solutions based on its own circumstances. But I truly believe that no matter our point of departure we would all benefit from going down this path of green growth. I hope that the Boao Forum can serve as inspiration for all of us in this context.
The world right now is faced with two critical challenges. On the one hand, we have been forced to deal with the global economic crisis and find new ways to create sustainable growth and employment. On the other hand, we must transform our societies into low-carbon economies in order to address global climate change and future energy security. This dual challenge is changing the global landscape and the nature of our international cooperation.
Some two years ago the world was confronted with an unprecedented economic crisis. The crisis called for joint counter-actions from governments world-wide. Massive stabilization and stimulation programs were launched. Although not yet “home and safe”, today we have what looks like a successful stabilization.
The economic crisis has – together with increasing awareness of the need to address climate change and ensure future energy supply – forced us to look for new solutions. The notion of “Green Recovery” – or “Green Growth” – has become part of the solution. The crisis highlighted the opportunities inherent in moving towards green economies with maximum usage of non-carbon energy sources and climate friendly technologies.
The simple fact is that the way out of the crisis is to look not to the politics of the past, but to the possibilities of the future.
During my current visit to China and my recent visit to other parts of Asia, I have clearly seen how Asia has positioned itself at the forefront of globalization. Many countries in Asia have also taken on board the green economy agenda and are moving forward with impressive growth rates.
The importance of green growth as a way out of the crisis begs the question of persistency and continuity. What will it take to maintain a stable and self-sustainable path towards a green economy? What are the building blocks needed to push our societies continuously down the green road?
The answer to that question lies with the market. And consequently with the private sector. But also in the framework and incentives we – as governments – provide to the private sector. Both through international cooperation and agreements and through interventions at the national level.
The international framework was the subject for the COP15 Summit in Copenhagen.
Four months ago 125 heads of state and government convened in Copenhagen for the COP15 Summit. The outcome of the summit – the Copenhagen Accord – provides the fundamentals of a global framework and reconfirms the principles established by the United Nations Framework Convention. It sets out the target to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celcius and creates a critical link between this goal, the international cooperation to achieve it, and the contributions of individual countries.
Today 118 countries have by now associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord. This includes China and other major economies. The countries represent more than 80 percent of global emissions and almost 90 percent of the world’s GDP. We shall build on this to further strengthen international cooperation aiming to address global warming and further low carbon growth.
Much of the transition will take place in the national economies and within the economic planning of individual countries. National governments have a key role in creating incentives and establishing the right regulatory framework for markets and companies to undertake green investments.
The Danish government has made it an overriding priority to address this challenge. I have put forward an ambitious program with the goal that Denmark in 2020 should be among the highest performing economies in the world. Investments in research and education, particularly in the technical field, will be essential.
We have set the goal that Denmark should become fully independent of fossil fuels. We will achieve this through a massive expansion of renewable energy.
We will increase energy savings and energy efficiency.
In this context one of our key challenges is to ensure that the “Green Wave” also leads to economic growth and job creation. Therefore, we need to create the right framework conditions for the private sector to sustain a move towards a green economy.
If we tackle the green challenge head-on, I see a potential win-win situation to the benefit of our economies as well as the global climate.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to our discussion.