As we speak, world leaders are gearing up for next month’s crucial climate change conference in Copenhagen. But right now we are concerned about the pace of the negotiating process. Ambitious commitments on emission reductions and financing are imperative for the success of Copenhagen. There is a need for economy-wide reduction targets for all developed countries. Pledges made by most developed countries are not yet sufficiently ambitious. Larger and more advanced developing countries should also take on actions that are measurable, reportable and verifiable. Linked to this, there is a need for additional financial resources for both adaptation and mitigation activities. A significant share must be covered by developed countries by various sources. Norway has put forward a proposal to extract resources from the carbon market through auctioning of allowances. Norway is also of the view that a new, global climate regime should provide incentives to stimulate development and deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies at a global scale. It should also include emissions from international air and sea transport, as well as emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.
Deforestation and forest degradation account for more than 17 % of global greenhouse gas emissions. In our view, there can be no victory in the global battle against climate change without urgent large scale action on this issue. Both a medium to long term framework and firm commitments on urgent action – as described for example by the Informal Working Group for Interim Financing on REDD – is of crucial importance if we are to succeed.
Reduced deforestation will support the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, protect biodiversity and water resources. Land use must be seen in the context of adaptation to climate change. Forests carry out important ecosystem functions which may be important to reduce the most drastic effects of global warming.
Norway will continue to allocate substantial funding for protecting forests and sustainable forest management in developing countries – up to 500million USD per year bilaterally and multilaterally. Funds are channelled through the UN REDD programme set up by UNEP, UNDP, and FAO, as well as through the African Development Bank and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility hosted by the World Bank.
A coordinated international support structure should make the best possible use of the expertise and capacity of the multilateral system. It is therefore vital for these organisations to work closely together and make use of their respective comparative advantages.
Recent extreme weather related events have again underlined the need for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reductions measures to be integrated into all development policies and programmes, to ensure their sustainability. Otherwise years of development can be washed away in minutes. Investments in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures must be seen as investments in the future and not just an expense at present.
Based on a joint proposal from Norway and UNISDR, IPCC has agreed to prepare a special report on managing the risk of extreme events and disasters. Norway will support the process of preparing the report, including by making financial resources available.
In less than two months, we also enter the International Year for Biodiversity. In 2002 world leaders in Johannesburg pledged to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biological diversity. This coming year will show us whether we have succeeded in following up on our commitment.
Why is biodiversity so important - faced as we are with serious challenges of reducing poverty and tackling climate change? Well, ensuring food security depends on biological diversity in the form of food plants, livestock and game. Among the poorest of the poor many depend on wild food species for their livelihood. Biodiversity is the wealth of the poor. But it is also linked closely with the problem of climate change. While climate change threatens to further reduce biodiversity, conserving the genetic diversity of domesticated food plants and animals can be a safeguard for our ability to develop new varieties that can adapt to changing climatic conditions.
To contribute to the global discourse on biological diversity, Norway, in close cooperation with the UN, has convened the Trondheim Conferences on Biological Diversity on five occasions since 1993. The sixth Trondheim Conference will be held in February next year and will focus on the status and lessons learned on the 2010 target and on the development on future targets for biological diversity beyond 2010. All UN member states have been invited.
We sincerely hope that the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan next year will boost the global work on biodiversity and agree on new targets. This will be crucial in order to improve the food security for the world’s poor.
Lastly, we have on our agenda a proposal to convene a high-level event on sustainable development in 2012. We are all aware what such an event takes of time and resources. Still, events of this nature are sometimes required when we are faced with new global challenges.
If we agree on the need for a new high-level event, it is crucial that its agenda is forward-looking and focused. It should in no way overlap with or undermine the work of neither CSD nor other intergovernmental bodies.
What pressing issues of a political nature may require heads of state and government to gather in order to find common solutions to common challenges? Two topics that have been suggested are green economy and water. Both represent important challenges that are not properly dealt with in existing international fora, and deserve serious consideration.
A third proposal concerns reform of the International Environmental Governance system (IEG). This is not a new topic. The challenges faced by today’s system are well known. They include fragmentation, overlap, lack of coherence, multiple and costly adminstrative entities, combined with insufficient funding for environment and sustainable development action. The need for reform is obvious, but our ability to act has so far been inadequate. The outcome of the current Belgrade process initiated by the UNEP Governing Council may give an indication of whether there is sufficient political will and enough momentum to take the process further. If so, a high-level event may be the right forum.