Let me at the outset express our appreciation for the initiative behind this timely debate on climate change. It should indeed serve as a "building block" for the Secretary General’s initiative for the High Level Event in September. Together, these initiatives should then contribute much needed political momentum and pressure for the Climate Change Conference at Bali in December. Let me also thank the panellists from yesterday’s discussions for their numerous valuable insights, and challenges. The background paper should also be commended for its high quality – it covered almost "everything" of relevance.
The science is clear and no longer in doubt. In fact, the latest IPCC reports may well be erring on the conservative side rather than exaggerating the problems. This we observe very clearly in the Arctic, where the ice is now melting three times as fast as previously believed, as well as in other areas. Also, the economics of the problem, at least at the aggregate level, are clear: The time for action should be postponed no further.
At Bali, it is imperative that we agree to a mandate for negotiating a comprehensive global agreement, negotiations which should include all countries and be finished by 2009, based on the central principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. A central element would naturally be mitigation of emissions, including from aviation, shipping and deforestation. Further important elements would be, adaptation, technology, including technology transfer, and finance. A significant share of the total economic costs should be borne by industrialised countries.
We are especially pleased that there is now a broad consensus that the global agreement should be firmly anchored in the UN Climate Change Convention. While many valuable efforts are being undertaken nationally and regionally, and through various partnerships, they do not amount to binding commitments. Climate change is a problem that has to be solved multilaterally, and only the UN has the global mandate and standing to meet the most serious challenge facing the Earth.
The Norwegian government is ready to play its part in this process. In a policy White Paper to Parliament this last June, it outlined a climate change strategy that covers both the national and the international aspects of the problem. Let me briefly sketch the main points of this strategy:
The main premise for the Government is that industrialised countries, for historical and economic reasons, have a particular responsibility for taking the lead in reducing global GHG emissions. This would speak for including a substantial element of fair distribution and international solidarity in climate change policy. On this background, the Government has set three main goals:
1. Norway should be carbon neutral by 2050. This means that whichever level our emissions will reach at that time, they shall be neutralised through the purchase of emission allowances or whichever other mechanisms will be available then.
2. By 2020, Norway commits to cutting global GHG emissions equivalent to 30% of Norwegian emissions. Based on current knowledge, indicators and technology, this would imply that domestic reductions would count for between 50% and 2/3 of total Norwegian reductions.
3. Norway will unilaterally sharpen its Kyoto Protocol commitment by 10 percentage points, resulting in a first commitment period undertaking of minus 9% in relation to 1990 emissions, as opposed to + 1% now. The Government would encourage other Annex I parties to the Kyoto Protocol to do likewise.
To reach these goals, the Government outlines a three-pronged strategy:
1. The most important element is a better and broader international climate change agreement. With 0,2% of global emissions, Norway’s national efforts will not go far on their own in solving the global problem. The same of course goes for all countries. There is a need for a concise, overarching long term goal for our efforts to combat climate change.
2. Intensified efforts to reduce national emissions. National action plans and reduction targets for the most central emission sectors in Norway are established. These will complement the general economic measures, based on the Polluter Pays Principle, that are central to our national climate policy.
3. In addition to reducing its own emissions, Norway must contribute to emission limitations in developing countries and fast growing economies.
We were also invited to focus on international commitments to address climate change. In addition to what was just outlined, I would like to touch briefly on some of our international efforts to assist developing countries tackle climate change.
On mitigation, the Government, in cooperation with the private sector, has embarked on a very ambitious programme for Carbon Capture and Storage. We already have more than ten years of experience in this field, and once the new larger scale project is up and running, we expect CCS to become a central technology for reducing total global GHG emissions. The Government intends to contribute actively to the diffusion and deployment of this technology.
Norwegian development assistance, both bilateral and multilateral, is rapidly increasing its emphasis on environment in general, and climate change in particular. This is based on our 2006 Strategy for Environment in Development, which is now being operationalised. From a growing ODA budget, most of this new emphasis is financed by new and additional resources. We are gearing up for increased cooperation on renewable energy and energy efficiency, increased investment in CDM projects and capacity building for such projects, notably in Africa. We are also looking with interest at new and innovative ideas in the carbon finance field, by the World Bank, the regional development banks and for instance the UNDP.In 2006, Norway was the largest contributor, in absolute terms, to various climate change activities under the UNFCCC.Adaptation to climate change is key for all countries, but notably so for the poorest, which are also the most vulnerable. The key to adaptation is development and economic growth; therefore adaptation must be an integral part and natural extension of development cooperation. We are stepping up efforts in this area. In the multilateral context, we contribute significantly to the two adaptation funds managed by the GEF. We sincerely hope that at Bali, a solution will be found that can ensure the rapid coming into action of the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol. Too much time has been wasted in making this important, innovative mechanism operational. We note with interest that the African Ministers of Environment have recommended that the GEF be given responsibility for managing also this Fund. Finally, Madame President, a reflection on the further "Road to Bali":It is well known that the climate change negotiating process has been significantly hampered by much unnecessary positioning and bickering, often over insignificant details that hold up progress on the really important issues. Some of this may unfortunately be put down to a lack of trust between major negotiating groups. But there also often seem to be more obscure agendas at play that we could well do without. There may therefore be a case for injecting new oversight into this process in order to make it more forward-looking. The High Level Event in September should obviously address the necessary central elements of a "Bali mandate". At this occasion, we also expect the role of Heads of Government in relation to Bali to be discussed.
Thank you, Madame President.