Mr President, let me start by thanking you for convening this important debate on climate change.
The IPCC reports have given us the facts, but we can also see them clearly with our own eyes; in the arctic, ice is now melting three times as fast as expected, and the extension of the Arctic Sea Ice was at a record low last year. The same tendencies can be seen in the Himalayas. Since ice reflects heat while water absorbs it, the melting of ice is a self-enforcing process which will further accelerate global warming.
The melting of the Arctic ice cover will have ramifications for the climate in regions thousands of kilometres away. For example, it is likely that the Asian monsoons, crucial for the livelihoods of millions of people, will be affected.
The situation is serious and we need action now. It is positive that we agreed on a Bali Plan of Action, even though we feel we were not ambitious enough. A global agreement on climate change has to have a common vision that meet the scale of the challenge. Norway agrees with the European Union that to avoid dangerous climate change, global temperatures must rise no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial level. According to IPPC this means that global emissions have to peak no later than 2015 and have to be reduced at least by half no later than 2050 compared to 2000. Industrialised nations, such as Norway and the US, have to cut emissions by 25-40 percent already in 2020. We recognize, however, that what is most important is that we now need to work together and bridge our differences in order to tackle the significant challenges ahead.
The fact that the greatest burden of global warming will be on the poor, who have the least responsibility for the current state of affairs, also makes climate change a central issue of justice and ethics in world politics today. Industrialized countries therefore need to take the lead in this effort (to tackle climate change), but all countries must be on board and do what they can in accordance with their capabilities.
The Norwegian government is ready to play its part, and has therefore decided to cut the global emissions equivalent to 100 percent of our own emissions within 2030. This way, Norway will become a carbon neutral nation.
Norway believes that being a big exporter of oil and gas gives us a particular responsibility to provide a more climate friendly option for using fossil fuels, including coal, during the transition to a low carbon energy system.
According to the International Energy Agency, the use of carbon capture and storage in the industrial, fuel transformation and power generation sectors, can account for 20 to 28% of the CO2 emissions savings.
Norway is therefore strongly committed to develop Carbon Capture and Storage technologies, and hopefully our efforts will contribute to make this technology commercially viable at a global scale.
Furthermore, Norway also recognizes the need for bringing reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation to a halt, and has decided to support forestry efforts in this context with more than USD 500 million per annum. Through effective measures against deforestation we can achieve large cuts in greenhouse gas emissions quickly and at a low cost. We welcome, in this regard, the significant developments at Bali on the need for bringing reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation seriously into the negotiations for a post 2012 agreement.
This is a difficult sector to tackle, and a comprehensive effort with close cooperation between all parties involved will be necessary to meet all the challenges we are facing.
The world cannot choose between development and environment. We need both. In fact, without tackling the problem of climate change, development will be harder to achieve and definitely more costly. Sustainable development will therefore be a key factor. So will developing mechanisms that reward environmental friendly practices.
We will also need a major push for new technologies. Rapid technological progress, as well as the rapid transfer of this technology, is vital for achieving sustainable development.
Let me also take this opportunity to welcome the report of the Secretary General. The report gives a useful overview of the activities of the United Nations. I can see from the report that many things are being done both at a local and global level, but the report also underlines the need for the UN to streamline its efforts.
The UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer has talked about the need for a “Climate Change Marshall Plan”. We are in agreement with this idea, and the principles behind it, but in this respect it will be important first that the UN can “deliver as one”, and secondly that it can coordinate and cooperate with international financial institutions as well as donor and program countries, so that the “plan” can deliver results effectively.
Thank you, Mr President
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