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Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today. Let me first take this opportunity to congratulate the president of theMaldives on receiving the Sustainable Development Leadership Award. Leadership is needed.
In just 22 months we are set to conclude a global agreement to combat climate change. It is a huge challenge. And it is a huge opportunity. Much is at stake if we fail. But even more is to be gained – for all of us. An agreement will open the pathway towards a global low-carbon economy.
Thanks to the excellent work of the International Panel on Climate Change under your eminent leadership, Dr. Pachauri, we have the scientific basis laid out clearly before us. Now it is time to act.
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Climate change is happening as we speak. In recent years we have all felt the impact of extreme weather phenomena.
With India’s long coastline and India’s reliance on agriculture as the livelihood of more than 60 percent of the population, India is itself one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, an increase in the temperature by 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a decrease in India’s national product by 5 percent by the 22nd century. You are already feeling the impact of the melting glaciers in the Himalayas. We are also seeing it in other emerging economies and in developing countries. No one will be able to escape the consequences. We have a common interest in a forceful response. What we need is a new comprehensive and ambitious global climate change agreement.
And this will require a globally shared understanding that everyone will be made to contribute – industrialised countries, emerging economies and developing countries. But while we have the responsibility to act in common, it is equally clear that different countries have different responsibilities according to their respective level of development.
Hence the notion of a “common but differentiated responsibility” for combating global warming. This principle – I believe – remains fundamental in arriving at a global agreement in 2009 in Copenhagen. So how can we reach an agreement in 2009? A global agreement requires that we recognize the special needs of emerging economies and developing countries.
I fully understand – and I fully accept – that economic growth needs to be India’s number one priority. But economic growth does not have to lead to a corresponding increase in energy consumption. We all know that access to energy is one of the basic preconditions for development – also in India where millions of people are still left without reliable access to electricity. This needs to be addressed – but it can be done without drastic increases in the emissions of greenhouse gasses. Let me use my own country Denmark as an example. Over the last 25 years we have witnessed sustained economic growth hardly without any increase in energy consumption.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Industrialised countries cannot effectively address climate change on their own. Even a reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions to zero would not be enough to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius as set out by the International Panel on Climate Change. We will therefore also need the participation of emerging economies and developing countries.
With the dynamics of India and with the speed of its economic growth, India clearly needs to be part of a solution.
A global agreement must effectively address four issues of 1) mitigation – that is medium term emission reduction targets, 2) adaptation to the negative consequences of climate change in the poorest countries; 3) technology development and technology dissemination and 4) financing of the adaptation and technology efforts.
Let me in particular stress the importance of recognizing the need for developing countries and emerging economies in a global agreement. A mechanism to support policies and measures pursued by these countries must be included. An agreement must also pave the way for access to affordable environmentally sound technology for developing countries. Pursuing a low carbon development strategy should not be a detour, but rather a shortcut towards sustainable development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The framework for negotiations has been set out in the Bali Action Plan agreed last December. Before us is an extended negotiation process towards Copenhagen. Thank you for your attention.