Success of UN COP24 in Katowice – we have a global climate agreement
Negotiators from 196 countries and the European Union worked for two weeks on the Katowice Climate Package, implementing the Paris Agreement.
More than a dozen intense meetings enabled negotiations to be successful on different topics regarding principles aimed at implementing the Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015. For two weeks, a wide range of issues were discussed – some fundamental, others very detailed and technical – which gave birth to a complex and difficult document. Finance, transparency and adaptation are some of its aspects.
In Katowice, within the framework of COP24, many heads of state, government and almost 100 Ministers of the Environment and of Foreign Affairs from all over the world were present. Thanks to the consensus, which has been agreed on by the Parties because of their commitment, Katowice has become, after Kyoto and Paris, another milestone on the way towards a sustainable global climate policy. In the Katowice Rules, different parties adopted a path that will be followed by each of them when it comes to stepping up actions for climate protection 2020.
“I can say it aloud now – interests of all the parties have been taken into account in the Katowice Package in a sustainable and honest way”, said the COP24 President Michał Kurtyka. “More importantly, its impact on the world will be positive. We have taken a big step towards achieving the ambitions set in the Paris Agreement. Ambitious Climate Action.”
The Polish Presidency at COP24 also initiated three declarations, which have been broadly supported by the Parties. On the first day at COP24 President Andrzej Duda made a statement about the just transformation based on solidarity. Its adoption was the most important point of the Summit of Heads of States and Governments. The next day, a common initiative of Poland and the UK Katowice Partnership for Electromobility, presented in the presence of the UN Secretary General António Guterres, was presented by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the COP24 President Michał Kurtyka. In the second half of the conference the “Forests for Climate” declaration was announced.
Africa – Americas – Arab States – Asia & Pacific – Central Asia – Europe
UN Habitat will Adopt, commit, implement, encourage, promote adequate investments, support, recognize, invite, underscore and promote urban disaster response;
Urban climatic disaster response – #Disasterlaw
From All cities implementing policies endorsing Urban Climatic Emergency Evacuation Plan (#UCEEP) initiative to What is the military’s role in the New Urban Agenda?
Disaster law initiatives to combat climate change
Drawing the state of disaster action around the world
Participatory meetings to get to concrete catastrophe risk insurance solutions
Increase ability to have national drr assessment strategies, risk assessments International cooperating and access to early warning systems and drr information and assessment that need to be deliver to all by 2030.
(urban/rural) disaster law, an urgent step-up of multi-stakeholder collaboration, coalitions of non-state actors and their flagship disaster adaptation initiatives?
Unsupported substantial self-settlements without assistance shelter permanent shanti towns
Their objectives are to stay mobilized, accelerate climate action and streamline the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the Agenda for Action.
“Strengthening concrete action to bridge the gap between current commitments and the objective of emergency in the Paris Agreement”.
We take full account of the milestone achievements of the year 2015, in particular the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development, the Paris
Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for the period 2015–2030, the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014–2024, the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway and the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020. We also take account of the Rio Declaration on
Environment and Development, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Summit for Social Development, the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the follow-up to these conferences.
Adopt and implement disaster risk reduction and management, reduce vulnerability, build resilience and responsiveness to natural and human-made hazards, and foster mitigation of and adaptation to climate change;
We aim to achieve cities and human settlements where all persons are able to enjoy equal rights and opportunities, as well as their fundamental freedoms, guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including full respect for international law. In this regard, the New Urban Agenda is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights treaties, the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome. It is informed by other instruments such as the Declaration on the Right to Development.
Ensure environmental sustainability, by promoting clean energy and sustainable use of land and resources in urban development; by protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, including adopting healthy lifestyles in harmony with nature; by promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns; by building urban resilience; by reducing disaster risks; and by mitigating and adapting to climate change.
We acknowledge that in implementing the New Urban Agenda particular attention should be given to addressing the unique and emerging urban development challenges facing all countries, in particular developing countries, including African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, as well as the specific challenges facing middle-income countries. Special attention should also be given to countries in situations of conflict,
as well as countries and territories under foreign occupation, post-conflict countries, and countries affected by natural and human-made disasters.
We commit ourselves to strengthening the coordination role of national, subnational and local governments, as appropriate, and their collaboration with other public entities and non-governmental organizations in the provision of social and basic services for all, including generating investments in communities that are most vulnerable to disasters and those affected by recurrent and protracted humanitarian crises. We further commit ourselves to promoting adequate services, accommodation and opportunities for decent and productive work for crisis-affected persons in urban settings, and to working with local communities and local governments to identify opportunities for engaging and developing local, durable and dignified solutions while ensuring that aid also flows to affected persons and host communities to prevent regression of their development.
We acknowledge the need for governments and civil society to further support resilient urban services during armed conflicts. We also acknowledge the need to reaffirm full respect for international humanitarian law.
We recognize that cities and human settlements face unprecedented threats from unsustainable consumption and production patterns, loss of biodiversity, pressure on ecosystems, pollution, natural and human-made disasters, and climate change and its related risks, undermining the efforts to end poverty in all its forms and dimensions and to achieve sustainable development. Given cities’ demographic trends and their central role in the global economy, in the mitigation and adaptation efforts related to climate change, and in the use of resources and ecosystems, the way they are planned, financed, developed, built, governed and managed has a direct impact on sustainability and resilience well beyond urban boundaries.
We also recognize that urban centres worldwide, especially in developing countries, often have characteristics that make them and their inhabitants especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and other natural and human-made hazards, including earthquakes, extreme weather events, flooding, subsidence, storms – including dust and sand storms – heat waves, water scarcity, droughts, water and air pollution, vector-borne diseases, and sea-level rise particularly affecting coastal areas, delta regions and small island developing States, among others.
We commit ourselves to facilitating the sustainable management of natural resources in cities and human settlements in a manner that protects and improves the urban ecosystem and environmental
services, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and promotes disaster risk reduction and management, by supporting the development of disaster risk reduction strategies and periodical
assessments of disaster risk caused by natural and human-made hazards, including standards for risk levels, while fostering sustainable economic development and protecting all persons’ well-being and quality of life through environmentally sound urban and territorial planning, infrastructure and basic services.
We commit ourselves to promoting the creation and maintenance of well-connected and well-distributed networks of open, multi-purpose, safe, inclusive, accessible, green, and quality public spaces; to improving the resilience of cities to disasters and climate change, including floods, drought risks and heat waves; to improving food security and nutrition, physical and mental health, and household and ambient air quality; to reducing noise and promoting attractive and liveable cities, human settlements and urban landscapes, and to prioritizing the conservation of endemic species.
We commit ourselves to strengthening the sustainable management of resources, including land, water (oceans, seas and freshwater), energy, materials, forests and food, with particular attention to the environmentally sound management and minimization of all waste, hazardous chemicals, including air and short-lived climate pollutants, greenhouse gases and noise, and in a way that considers urban–rural linkages, functional supply and value chains vis à vis environmental impact and sustainability, and that strives to transition to a circular economy while facilitating ecosystem conservation, regeneration, restoration and resilience in the face of new and emerging challenges.
We commit ourselves to strengthening the resilience of cities and human settlements, including through the development of quality infrastructure and spatial planning, by adopting and implementing integrated, age- and gender-responsive policies and plans and ecosystem-based approaches in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for the period 2015–2030; and by mainstreaming holistic and data-informed disaster risk reduction and management at all levels to reduce vulnerabilities and risk, especially in risk-prone areas of formal and informal settlements, including slums, and to enable households, communities, institutions and services to prepare for, respond to, adapt to and rapidly recover from the effects of hazards, including shocks or latent stresses. We will promote the development of infrastructure that is resilient and resource efficient and will reduce the risks and impact of disasters, including the rehabilitation and upgrading of slums and informal settlements. We will also promote measures for strengthening and retrofitting all risky housing stock, including in slums and informal settlements, to make it resilient to disasters in coordination with local authorities and stakeholders.
We commit ourselves to supporting moving from reactive to more proactive risk-based, all-hazards and all-of-society approaches, such as raising public awareness of risks and promoting ex-ante investments to prevent risks and build resilience, while also ensuring timely and effective local responses to address the immediate needs of inhabitants affected by natural and human-made disasters and conflicts. This should include the integration of the “build back better” principles into the post disaster recovery process to integrate resilience-building, environmental and spatial.
We strongly urge States to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.
We will integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations and measures into age- and gender-responsive urban and territorial development and planning processes, including greenhouse gas emissions, resilience-based and climate-effective design of spaces, buildings and constructions, services and infrastructure, and nature-based solutions. We will promote cooperation and coordination across sectors, as well as build the capacities of local authorities to develop and implement disaster risk reduction and response plans, such as risk assessments concerning the location of current and future public facilities, and to formulate adequate contingency and evacuation procedures.
We will consider increased allocations of financial and human resources, as appropriate, for the upgrading and, to the extent possible, prevention of slums and informal settlements in the allocation of financial and human resources with strategies that go beyond physical and environmental improvements to ensure that slums and informal settlements are integrated into the social, economic, cultural and political dimensions of cities. These strategies should include, as applicable, access to sustainable, adequate, safe and affordable housing, basic and social services, and safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces, and they should promote security of tenure and its regularization, as well as measures for conflict prevention and mediation.
We will promote the development of adequate and enforceable regulations in the housing sector, including, as applicable, resilient building codes, standards, development permits, land use by-laws and ordinances, and planning regulations; combating and preventing speculation, displacement, homelessness and arbitrary forced evictions; and ensuring sustainability, quality, affordability, health, safety, accessibility, energy and resource efficiency, and resilience. We will also promote differentiated analysis of housing supply and demand based on high-quality, timely and reliable disaggregated data at the national, subnational and local levels, considering specific social, economic, environmental and cultural dimensions.
We will promote adequate investments in protective, accessible and sustainable infrastructure and service provision systems for water, sanitation and hygiene, sewage, solid waste management, urban drainage, reduction of air pollution and stormwater management, in order to improve safety in the event of water-related disasters; improve health; ensure universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, as well as access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all; and end open defecation, with special attention to the needs and safety of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. We will seek to ensure that this infrastructure is climate resilient and forms part of integrated urban and territorial development plans, including housing and mobility, among others, and is implemented in a participatory manner, considering, innovative, resource-efficient, accessible, context-specific and culturally sensitive sustainable solutions.
We will support decentralized decision-making on waste disposal to promote universal access to sustainable waste management systems. We will support the promotion of extended producer responsibility schemes that include waste generators and producers in the financing of urban waste management systems, that reduce the hazards and socio economic impacts of waste streams and increase recycling rates through better product design.
We will promote the integration of food security and the nutritional needs of urban residents, particularly the urban poor, in urban and territorial planning, in order to end hunger and malnutrition. We will promote coordination of sustainable food security and agriculture policies across urban, peri-urban and rural areas to facilitate the production, storage, transport and marketing of food to consumers in adequate and affordable ways in order to reduce food losses and prevent and reuse food waste. We will further promote the coordination of food policies with energy, water, health, transport and waste policies, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds and reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, and implement other policies in urban areas to maximize efficiencies and minimize waste.
We will explore and develop feasible solutions for climate and disaster risks in cities and human settlements, including through collaborating with insurance and reinsurance institutions and other relevant actors, with regard to investments in urban and metropolitan infrastructure, buildings and other urban assets, as well as for local populations to secure their shelter and economic needs.
We reaffirm the role and expertise of UN-Habitat, within its mandate, as a focal point for sustainable urbanization and human settlements, in collaboration with other United Nations system entities, recognizing the linkages between sustainable urbanization and, inter alia, sustainable
development, disaster risk reduction and climate change.
Over Christmas I had a interesting conversation that got me thinking. I was chatting with someone about climate change, and we agreed on a lot. They accepted the science, and understood that it spelt disaster for future generations. But we differed on one crucial point: whether we could actually do anything about it.
Climate catastrophe is inevitable, they said, because governments would not take meaningful action to cut carbon emissions. They ‘couldn’t see the point’ of the global climate marches in September, because politicians ‘wouldn’t listen’. It was ‘too late’ for us to do anything about it, because we’d just be ‘moving deckchairs on the Titanic.’
In my view, this is the most dangerous type of climate scepticism there is. The flat-earthers who question the science are becoming increasing irrelevant, and the ‘no-alternative to fossil fuel’ crowd are seeing their arguments weaken with every new solar panel or wind turbine installed. But what do you say to someone who acknowledges the problem but simply doesn’t believe in the solution?
I can think of three reasons why someone might believe that climate change is inevitable. Firstly, they might think we’ve already burned enough fossil fuels to lock in climate catastrophe. Secondly, they might believe the technical solutions are beyond us. And thirdly, they may believe that while we have the technical capacity to avoid climate change, we lack the political agency to force the issue onto the agenda. All three are wrong.
Let’s start with the idea that we’ve already emitted too much carbon. To force 2C of global warming, the internationally agreed (and heavily contested) limit for ’safe’ global temperature rise, we’d need to release approximately a trillion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. But if you look at how much carbon we’ve actually emitted, you find we’ve released 60% of this amount. At current emissions rates, assuming we don’t cross unpredictable tipping points beforehand, we won’t technically be ‘too late’ to avoid dangerous climate change until September 2039, when we’ll release the trillionth tonne of carbon. And if we cut emissions by about 2.6% a year, starting today, we’d never reach that limit at all.
What about the argument that while we can cut emissions in theory, we don’t have any viable alternatives? Well, the latest report from the IPCC looks at precisely this question, and concludes that a transformation to clean energy is not only possible, but can be achieved without any dip in living standards. This is important, because one of the barriers to people supporting climate action is the mistaken belief, propagated by climate deniers, that a sustainable world will mean giving up modern life.
The IPCC shows this to be the nonsense it is. The report found we could completely abandon fossil fuels by transitioning to a cleaner mix of solar, wind, hydropower, nuclear, and biofuels while improving energy efficiency. So a sustainable energy revolution is entirely possible, and what’s more, it wouldn’t even cost that much: the report found the necessary investment would trim just 0.06% off annual economic growth rates.
But this rosy scenario comes with comes with a big caveat. None of this will happen without a significant shift in political momentum, which brings us to the third cause for climate pessimism – the idea that, even if we accept we have both the time and the tools to transform the global energy system, our politicians will never make the commitments required.
After all, for governments working on five-year election cycles, tackling threat of climate change is a nightmare – the issue is remote in time and space, impersonal, requires unprecedented international cooperation, costs money, and delivers no immediate benefits to the electorate. When you add in the immense pressure exerted by the fossil fuel lobby to maintain the status quo, you begin to see how the single most pressing issue facing humankind has remained at the bottom of the political to-do list.
But it doesn’t have to stay there, because in the world’s growing number of democracies, politicians are bound by public opinion: they can only ignore us if we fail to build the critical mass required to turn tomorrow’s climate crisis into today’s political hot potato. If we accept that man-made climate change is the threat the science tells us it is, and that politicians aren’t doing enough to counter it, it follows that must ask ourselves a simple question: have we taken political action to bring us closer to a solution?
If everyone who believes that the British government isn’t doing enough on climate change (78% according to this poll) were able to answer yes to this question, the issue would be at the top of the political agenda. So we face a choice: we can stay locked in the learned helplessness of political disengagement, afraid that our voices won’t be heard, that our fears for the future do not count, and be proven right by our own apathy. Or we can get out there and start doing something.
Abraham Lincoln, a man with a better grasp of politics than most, once observed: “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.” In other words, we’ll get the politics, and the future, we deserve. A better world only becomes possible when we believe it is.
Expecting the Paris talks to succeed is a pious hope: but the Oslo principles, launched today, argue that governments are already in flagrant breach of their legal obligations to the planet
‘The dismal pace of international negotiations is why the Guardian has thrown its weight behind a divestment campaign.’ The South Korea delegation are all smiles at the 2014 UN climate change conference in Peru, intended to produce a draft deal to be adopted in Paris in December. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP
Today a group of eminent jurists accuse governments and enterprises of being in clear and flagrant breach of their legal obligations on climate change – under human rights law, international law, environmental law, and tort law.
Human ravaging of our planet and climate through relentless fossil fuel extraction and greenhouse gas emissions is undoubtedly the defining existential challenge of our time. Our collective failure to commit to meaningful reductions in emissions is a political and moral travesty, with catastrophic implications, particularly for the poorest and most marginalised, domestically and globally.
But in the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations – launching in London today – a working group of current and ex-judges, advocates and professors, drawn from each region of the world, argue that any new international agreement will just be a coda to obligations already present, pressing and unavoidable in existing law.
What the Oslo principles offer is a solution to our infuriating impasse in which governments – especially those from developed nations, responsible for 70% of the world’s emissions between 1890 and 2007 – are in effect saying: “We all agree that something needs to be done, but we cannot agree on who has to do what and how much. In the absence of any such agreement, we have no obligation to do anything.” The Oslo principles bring a battery of legal arguments to dispute and disarm that second claim. In essence, the working group asserts that governments are violating their legal duties if they each act in a way that, collectively, is known to lead to grave harms.
Governments will retort that they cannot know their obligations to reduce emissions in the absence of an international agreement. The working group’s response is that they can know this, already, and with sufficient precision.
There is a clear answer to the question of each country’s reasonable share, based on a permissible quantum of emissions per capita that never threatens the perilous 2C mean temperature increase that would profoundly and irreversibly affect all life on earth. This reasonable share is what nations owe on the basis of their common but differentiated responsibilities for contributing to climate change. The Oslo principles duly incorporate mechanisms to accommodate the differential impacts and demands on nations and enterprises, particularly in the least developed countries.
Backed by distinguished international lawyers, professors and judges, the principles are a template for courts, advocates and lawmakers to act swiftly, embodying the urgency, conviction and black-letter reasoning required if humanity is to turn the corner before it is too late.
The document is the product of an independent, rigorous, multi-year effort led by Yale University’s Professor Thomas Pogge, and Jaap Spier, the advocate-general of the Netherlands supreme court. It is championed by, among others, Antonio Benjamin, the Brazilian high court justice; Michael Kirby, a former Australian high court justice; Dinah Shelton, a former president of the inter-American commission on human rights; and Elisabeth Steiner, a judge at the European court of human rights.
These principles deserve detailed consideration by lawyers, scientists, advocates and – critically – the policymakers engaged in last-ditch negotiations in Paris in December to divert us from the path towards climate catastrophe. They provide some opinio juris that allows judges to prohibit conduct that, practised by many or all states, will cause enormous damage to people and the planet.
But the working group’s core message is that we simply cannot wait in the pious hope that short-term-minded governments and enterprises will save us; and that when we act it must be on the basis of equity and justice, according to law. Every year that we miss increases the challenge and risk. We’ve squandered decades already, and our window for action is closing. We must act now.
In our efforts to motivate as many people as possible to leave the car for a day and join in our Car-Free Days, Climate Change Centre Reading (CCCRdg) has taken a huge lap forward by campaigning for Car-Free Days until the end of the year.
Yes, we are proud of announcing CCCRdg supporting the Join the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc @ Time To Act National Climate March!
BREAKING: Please see our press release below, we hope you will find the piece interesting,
Climate Change – It’ s time for decisions now! not waste billions on campaigning.
A regular car-free work-day in Reading and UK could fuel an International monthly Car-Free Work-Day which could be an astonishing example of traffic development and public realm. Reading has great potential to embrace the sustainable pathway and become a British role-model in climate change (the air is our all urban common) to honour a successful climate change agreement taking place in Paris December 2015.
Every day more and more people are waking up to climate change. What scientists predicted decades ago is happening right now. And we have little time left to advert catastrophe. But those in power have not yet woken up, or are unwilling to act.
On March 7th, two months before the election, we will take to the streets of London in a creative mass action. We will set out clearly what must happen now to cut emissions and build a better future. No more half-hearted promises: it´s Time to Act on Climate change.
2015 is a crucial year for the climate. in the UK, we must tell politicians seeking election that there is no mandate for climate-wrecking business as usual. Then at UN talks in Paris in December, governments will come together to strike a deal for the climate.
New research has found that At 18 sites, the Swedish government’s actions have led to sharply increased emissions of greenhouse gases. This comes despite their pronounced high climate ambitions. Their talk of leadership on climate change cannot be seen as anything but empty words that have no basis in the actual policy, write the think tank Cogito.
The UN climate panel has now published two new sub-reports; one on the impact of climate change and proposals for measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the IPCC, it becomes increasingly clear that humanity is causing climate change while our chance to meet the two degree target and avoid an escalating climate change is drastically reduced.
The Swedish government has a high tail carriage in climate policy. The government writes in its latest climate bill in 2009 that “the two-degree target is the starting point for the measures now need to be taken” and that “Sweden should show leadership by what we do here at home, at work as well as in the EU and internationally.”
All 18 areas:
1. Government has little ambition and unclear goals for climate policy
2. The Government does not seem acting for sufficient climate goals in Europe
3. The Government conducts not proposed measures from their own climate investigations
4. The Government does not have a roadmap to Sweden without climate emissions by 2050
5. The Conservatives appeared and stopped the proposal to strengthen the EU’s emissions trading scheme
6. The Government sold the surplus of allowances (Offsetting)
7. The Government has scrapped the CO2 tax for cogeneration in industry
8. The Government does not coordinate traffic planning with climate objectives
9. Government approves new traffic construction of Stockholm
10. The Government allows the expansion of airports and supports increased flying
11. The Government will allow Waterfall’s investments in coal power
12. The Government will let the State pension funds to invest in the world’s largest oil companies
13. The Government subsidizes fossil fuel
14. Government betrays the promise of climate finance to developing countries
15. The Government supported oil exploration in the Arctic
16. The Government saw its own regulatory proposals for reduced meat consumption
17. The Government has scrapped the tax on fertilizers
18. The Government does not support the expansion of solar energy and offshore wind
The government does, however, remarkably little to live up to these climate ambitions. Decision after decision leads us in the wrong direction, which means that Sweden will continue to fall in the Climate Action Network’s international ranking of countries’ climate policies.
The green think tank Cogito In its report the Government’s climate black list examined the Government’s climate policy over the past two legislative periods. We can at 18 sites show how the government’s actions resulted in dramatically increased greenhouse gas emissions. It involves direct political decisions but also for failing to take action when the government had the opportunity. Here we present seven points from the report:
A principle for all climate finance within the UNFCCC is that the money should be additional, meaning that they cannot be taken from the aid budget. Despite this all means that the government used to climate-related assistance taken from the regular aid budget.
The Swedish government says it wants to be a leader in climate work but Cogitos report rather show great reluctance to take the decisions needed to achieve climate goals, both nationally and internationally.
Although we have not taken the figures for the emissions from all the locations surveyed, shows our summary to the government’s actions have led to higher greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25 million tonnes in Sweden during the last two legislative periods. This represents almost half of Sweden’s annual emissions.
If we add in all the decisions that affect global emissions, such as the government’s actions in Waterfalls and National Pension Funds, the greenhouse gas emissions many times greater. The talk of leadership on climate change cannot be understood as anything other than empty words that have no basis in the government’s actual policies and Sweden will thus leave the responsibility to solve the climate crisis to other countries and future generations.
Sweden’s emissions of greenhouse gases are increasing instead of decreasing, if we include the aviation and our imported consumption. The government’s response is to hand over responsibility to the consumers. But the government should look at themselves to reduce Sweden’s carbon footprint both at home and abroad, writes Pia Björstrand and Samuel Jarrick, Klimataktion.
SVT’s newscast last Thursday asked Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt a question that he has never had to consider: Why potray the government continually insures Sweden is a climate model with emissions falling, when our overall impact on the climate is actually increasing?
It is quite correct that Sweden’s emissions, according to official UN statistics dropped by 20 percent since 1990. Partly it’s because Sweden early introduced a carbon tax and invested in heating and more, partly due to emissions of heavy industry moved overseas.
If we instead look at our total consumption, the picture is quite different. Then, total emissions increased by 15 percent during the same period, according to the Environmental Protection Agency statistics from 2012. Increased consumption of harmful climate imported goods and services, electronics, meat, long holidays, etc., have eaten up all climate efforts we made at home.
SVT’s story got the Prime Minister therefore asked whether we Swedes really are living more and more climate-friendly. His response: I think we are largely getting more and more tools that enable to reduce our carbon footprint, but then of course there is also a personal responsibility.
Common political commitment
Fredrik Reinfeldt suggesting that it is up to us consumers to ensure that the carbon footprint is reduced. But it is unrealistic to think that we as individual consumers should be able to do what is needed to meet climate challenges. According to a report from the Nordic Council of Ministers, Sustainable behavior must be promoted by the consistent message that is not only conveyed through information dissemination, but also through other strategies, such as infrastructure, marketing, pricing and social institutions. This calls for a common political commitment to the Swedes should be able to reduce their emissions from consumption.
There is an inconsistency in the government’s climate policy. The goal is to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2020, where a third of the reduction shall be credited by actions in other countries. The government wants to count on the emission reductions our policies help in other countries, but do not want to take any responsibility for the emissions increases that our lifestyle causes in other countries.
Offensive climate policy
With an aggressive climate policies at home, we can tackle this inconsistency. We propose the following actions:
First Environmental Management across central and local government own procurement, where low carbon footprint given a higher priority than low prices, and where businesses are encouraged to sustainable consumption.
2nd Tax / VAT exchanges where low-carbon goods and services enjoy a more favorable tax treatment than carbon-intensive goods and services.
The third the face of a meat tax, slowing imports of climate-damaging concentrate and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers. Decrease in return VAT on vegetable, locally grown and organic food.
4th Facing a climate tariff on imported emissions heavy goods that provide an economic incentive for producers to shift and consumers to choose climate-friendly goods.
5th Replace consumption driven tax cuts, such as earned income tax credits and interest deductions of investments in climate adaptation and green jobs.
6th Count In international aviation in the national emissions statistics.
7th Let more message than encouraging consumption take place in the public sphere. Limit climate malicious advertising.
The level of ambition needs to be tightened considerably even when it comes to the emissions created in Sweden. The decrease is not nearly as fast as is required if we are to take our justice responsibilities to meet the 2-degree target. Climate science shows that in countries like Sweden would have to be almost independent of fossil fuels in the coming decades about the risks of climate landslides are to be avoided.
The transition should be operated on, for instance through aggressive investment and a conscious use of pension funds for more rapid development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency among residential and industrial.
If we Succeed the government can reduce both our domestic emissions and the imported emissions, Sweden can be a real role model in international climate policy.
Green Growth in Cities was the theme of a conference arranged by OECD in Stockholm. Based on the reports which were launched, the conference elaborated on the potential of cities and regions around the world to foster economic growth and reduce environmental impact through innovative policies and political commitment.
H.R.H Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was present during the Green Growth in Cities – Urban Evolution conference in Stockholm, here with Sten Nordin, the Mayor of Stockholm and Yves Leterme, deputy secretary general of the OECD.
renewable energy, green certificates, climate change mitigation policy, climate change, carbon tax, greenhouse gas emissions
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Sweden has developed an extensive and sound policy framework to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It is now one of the OECD countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita and it has successfully managed to decouple GDP growth from emissions growth. However, as Sweden has already significantly lowered its greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of reducing them further could be very high, making it urgent to improve the cost-effectiveness of Sweden’s climate change policies. A strategy to enhance the cost-effectiveness of this policy framework would include: i) reducing differences in carbon prices between sectors and increasing even further the role of market-based instruments; ii) limiting overlap between targets and policies; iii) raising Sweden’s participation in greenhouse gas emission reductions abroad; and iv) improving the assessments of the policy framework. This Working Paper relates to the 2011 OECD Economic Survey of Sweden (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Sweden).
Download full report here: OECD: Green Growth in Stockholm (123 pages)