Speech

Speech by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, at Peking University, 12 April, 2010

Check against delivery

Greening Together – Chinese-Danish cooperation on the road towards a green economy

Distinguished President Zhou,
Professors and students,
Distinguished guests.

Dear professors and students,
It is a particular pleasure to be here today at Peking University. There is a Chinese proverb: “A nation’s treasure is in its scholars”. I find these words more true than ever.

Why? Because today we stand at cross roads. If we are to ensure growth while preserving our environment we need to think anew. We need innovation, education, research and development that will help us through the transition to a green economy. In other words, we need the students and professors of this highly prestigious university as well as other universitites to make this change possible.

I firmly believe that China can play a positive role in this change. You can only be impressed by the optimism and dynamic mentality of the Chinese people. A tremendous transformation is taking place, and the China of today is vastly different from the China of just a few decades ago. We see it in terms of China’s role on the global stage. We see it in the Chinese economy. And we also see it in the Sino-Danish relationship.

Today, I want to address the following issue. How can China and Denmark cooperate in order to address the dual challenge stemming from the global economic crisis and climate change.

On the one hand, we must continue 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.

My answer to this dual challenge is clear: we need to cooperate on a global green revolution to pave the way for a sustainable, green global economy. And we need to act now, if we are to succeed. In other words: “Dig the well before you are thirsty”.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the last decades globalisation has profoundly transformed our world. Despite our differences, Denmark and China have shared the same approach to globalisation. We have focused on the positive opportunities that globalisation presents. And both our countries have managed to reap the benefits.

In China the benefits of economic liberalisation and open markets have been tremendous. During the last 30 years 300 million people have been brought out of poverty. This year China will be the second largest economy in the world. And many predict that in a few years time, China will become the world’s leading economic power.

Both our countries also recognize the challenges that globalisation presents. Old patterns of production and trade must be replaced by new ones. Old habits must change and new ideas be introduced.

If we are to reap the benefits of globalisation, we must be able to adapt. And more importantly, we must be willing to cooperate. This has become even more apparent following the global economic and financial crisis. Even though countries have been hit very differently from the economic crisis, we have all felt its effects. No country has been left untouched. This also applies to China, even though the growth rates have remained impressive during the crisis.

I draw two important conclusions from the economic crisis:

Firstly, we need more not less international cooperation. In today’s globalised world of interdependence no country can counter the negative impacts of a global economic crisis by acting on its own.

I am pleased that due to international cooperation not least within the G20, we have managed to avoid the worst effects of the global economic crisis. We have avoided protectionist measures which could have deepened the crisis. And we are in the process of establishing international rules to strengthen control and supervision of international financial markets.

Secondly, the economic crisis should be used as an opportunity to “reset” our economies on the base of a new green growth. We urgently need to counter climate change and protect the environment. This also implies that we change the way we produce our goods.

I firmly believe that the way out of the global economic crisis is the transformation of our societies into low-carbon economies. And I believe that once again international cooperation is essential to ensure such a transformation.

***

Denmark and China have been strong partners in globalisation. I am confident that we will also be strong partners on the path towards green growth that will not only ensure economic development and job-creation, but also combat climate change and ensure our energy supplies.
Denmark may be a small country but when it comes to energy efficiency and cleantech, we offer valuable experience and technologies. As China embarks upon realising her ambitious targets to ensure sustainable growth, we may benefit mutually from an even closer cooperation in clean technology. It is my clear impression that China is not going to repeat what some industrialized countries did: Grow now, clean up later.

The first movers of today are the winners of tomorrow. And so are the fast movers. On clean technology Denmark is a first mover. And China is a fast mover. If we join forces and engage in close cooperation both our nations will benefit. Eventually, we will become the leading cleantech economies of tomorrow.

Globally, we will see a massive increase in green investments in the years to come. There has already been a huge increase, but more is needed.

It is estimated that 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 each country needs to make additional investments in the order of around 1 percent of its GDP by 2030.

The approach of my government is that green growth is not only good for the planet, it is also good economics.

Export of Danish energy-technology has tripled over the last decade and has grown substantially faster than export of “ordinary” goods. Cleantech now represents 16 percent of Danish exports (2008). And within the EU, Denmark is among the leading exporters in this field. Our industries are highly specialized and we are constantly looking to take advantage of new opportunities. China is one of our key markets and Chinese companies some of out most important partners.

But there is no room for complacency. My government has set the goal that by 2020 Denmark should be among the three most energy-efficient countries in the industrialized world. And we should also be in the top-three in terms of countries that increase their share of renewable energy the most. In the next decades, we aim to reduce our CO2 emissions with the long-term goal of becoming completely independent of fossil fuels.

This will no doubt require a tremendous and sustained effort by all, but it will also contribute to reducing costs in our households and to keeping our companies competitive in the global market place. Our experience demonstrates that by combining environment-friendly legislation and public and private investments, we have been able to bring down CO2 emissions and at the same time provide market opportunities for our companies. I see the same process taking place in China today.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,
While the market opportunities in cleantech could seem boundless, it is clear that the global competition is becoming more intense. It might be tempting to conclude that this would lead to less cooperation between countries. I would argue the exact opposite. We need more cooperation, exchanges and sharing of experiences to the benefit of our peoples and our economies.

Denmark and China are a perfect example of this. We are both focused on reaping the positive benefits from globalisation and the green revolution. And we are uniquely positioned to forge even closer bonds between our governments, our businesses and our research and educational institutions.

For both our countries, the same lesson applies: To remain at the forefront of the green revolution, we must continue to invest in innovation, education, research and development.

My government has made investment in research and education, particularly in technical fields, a key priority. We expect to learn a lot from China, which is clearly an emerging force in knowledge-intensive industries.

Cooperation between Denmark and China in the field of research and education has developed rapidly and successfully. In 2007, we established a Danish Innovation Centre in Shanghai, which cooperates with Chinese companies and research institutions.

All universities in Denmark have partnerships with Chinese universities, including several of them with Peking University, most prominently Copenhagen University. I am therefore pleased that President Hemmingsen of Copenhagen University is present today.

And later today, Premier Wen Jiabao and I will attend the signing of an agreement to establish a joint Sino-Danish Centre for Research and Education with the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences as the main Chinese partner. The centre will promote mutual research collaboration between Danish and Chinese scientists. This important initiative will create a broader platform for Sino-Danish knowledge-based collaboration. I know that there are contacts also to Peking University on establishing ties with the centre.

The overall vision for our collaboration in the field of education and research is to lay the groundwork for adding value to the Chinese and Danish societies through exchange of knowledge, technology and highly educated manpower. Such bilateral cooperation will also stimulate increased networking and cultural understanding, which will benefit both Denmark and China in a global context marked by mutual interdependence.

***

Bilateral cooperation is not enough, however. To meet the global challenges facing us all today, we need to create a stronger, more effective rules-based international framework.

China’s role on the global stage is strong and will only grow in the years to come. Increased economic power naturally leads to increased political weight and increased political responsibility. The world needs China to cooperate with other responsible stakeholders in tackling regional and global issues such as economic growth, non-proliferation, poverty alleviation and human rights, regional conflicts and counter-terrorism, trade and climate change. It is in our common interest that China actively contributes to addressing these issues. China is a key partner for the European Union and we look forward to strengthening both our strategic dialogue and our practical cooperation in the years to come.

Climate change is perhaps the clearest illustration of the critical importance of concerted multilateral action to meet global challenges.

This was at the heart of the agenda at the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen in December of last year. A lot was at stake – and still is. That is why we worked so hard in Copenhagen to achieve a global agreement. And this is why the outcome of COP15 – the Copenhagen Accord – is so important.

125 heads of state and government convened in Copenhagen to start building a new global framework to combat climate change. The Copenhagen Accord is a major achievement in this regard. Premier Wen Jiabao played a decisive role in brokering the agreement and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him and the Chinese Government for continued support to the Copenhagen Accord.

This agreement 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 Celsius and creates a critical link between this goal, the international cooperation to achieve it, and the contributions of individual countries.

The Accord also includes important elements related to technology development and transfer as well as financing, which will assist developing countries in implementing mitigation actions. The decision to establish a Technology Mechanism will help countries in moving towards low-carbon societies.

Today – a few months after the COP15-conference - 118 countries have 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.

China’s national initiatives in recent years towards a path of sustainable economic growth are impressive and targets for renewable energy indeed very ambitious. Yet I am confident China will make it, given the remarkable development in the utilisation of renewable energy resources that has already taken place over the last 5 to 10 years.

As we look to the next UN climate change conference – COP16 in Mexico – Denmark is working with the incoming Mexican presidency to ensure that the current momentum is translated into concrete action. We look forward to continuing to work closely with China and other key countries towards creating a strong global framework.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude by underlining that the foundation for the bilateral relations between our countries rests on a strong historical footing. I am proud to note that the friendship between Denmark and China goes back a long time. Denmark was among the very first Western countries to recognize the People’s Republic in 1950. This year in May we will therefore celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between our two countries.

It was an important milestone when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and my predecessor in October 2008 launched a Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership agreement between China and Denmark. I look forward to broadening and deepening these ties.

In economic terms, our relations have never been stronger. Never! China is Denmark’s biggest trading partner in Asia. And some 400 Danish companies are established here, contributing to growth and employment and helping to spread advanced technology, not least in the cleantech sector. These companies are strongly anchored in the Chinese society and employ many university graduates like yourselves. I hope that many of you will decide to seek employment with Danish companies when you have completed your studies!

I would also like to use this opportunity to encourage more Chinese students to attend Danish educational institutions. Around 3000 Chinese students are already enrolled at Danish institutions located in Denmark and China. They study everything from engineering, humanities and vocational training to business administration. And please do not worry about our difficult language. Denmark is – also – an English-speaking country and in almost all academic fields you will find study programs in English!

***

As I close my remarks, let me reiterate the basic point that Denmark and China – although very different in size and political system – can and will benefit from closer cooperation in many areas. I see the basis for a strong and expanding partnership as we take on the challenges and opportunities in front of us. Green growth and combating climate change will be at the very centre of our common efforts. As tomorrow’s innovators and leaders, you – the youth and students of China – have a vital role to play in this.

As a testament to the friendship between Denmark and China, we have dispatched our national icon - the statue of Antusheng’s [HC Andersen] Little Mermaid - to be displayed at the Danish EXPO 2010 Pavilion in Shanghai. I hope that you will all to go and see her!

I now look forward to an interesting dialogue with you all. Thank you for your attention.