Address by Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at the Climate Session in Singapore on 15 November 2009
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Thank you for this opportunity to address world leaders gathered for the APEC Summit. And thank you Prime Minister Rudd and President Calderon for your support and for hosting this breakfast.
The importance of the Asia-Pacific Region is growing. This underlines the importance of your discussion on climate change only three weeks ahead of the opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Climate change is a truly global challenge. But it’s also a challenge we have the tools to meet. We know the huge economic opportunities and advantages inherent in taking early action. We know the imperative of joint action. And we know the urgency of meeting our agreed deadline by December.
With the Copenhagen deadline fast approaching, the question on everybody’s lips is: can we make it? My answer is yes. It is absolutely doable: If we focus on what we can agree, a strong, comprehensive and global Agreement is within reach.
Over the last months, I have consulted many of you and other world leaders. I am impressed by the fact that without exemption all have called for a strong agreement to be reached in Copenhagen. If we build on this political commitment at the highest level then we can seal the deal in Copenhagen.
Given the time factor and the situation of individual countries we must in the coming weeks focus on what is possible and not let ourselves be distracted by what is not possible.
We must base ourselves firmly on the instruments and principles already agreed and we must lock in the commitment expressed by countries throughout the world.
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With this point of departure, I would like to share with you how I believe a Copenhagen Agreement could be constructed to serve the dual purpose of providing for continued negotiations on a legal agreement and for immediate action:
The Copenhagen Agreement should capture progress already achieved in the negotiations and at the same time provide for immediate action already from next year.
The Copenhagen Agreement should be political by nature, yet precise on specific commitments and binding on countries committing to reach certain targets and to undertake certain actions or provide agreed finance.
The Copenhagen Agreement should be global, comprehensive and substantial, yet flexible enough to accommodate countries with very different national circumstances.
The Copenhagen Agreement should finally mandate continued legal negotiations and set a deadline for their conclusion.
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We have set out this vision of “one Agreement – two purposes” and we will consult you on the way ahead in our efforts to build global consensus on the specific terms of the Agreement. In this regard, I would like to use this opportunity to address some questions that have been raised in relation to the proposed format of the Copenhagen Agreement.
Will it be ambitious? Yes it will indeed. The overall aim will be to conclude a binding agreement that will set the path to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius as recommended by science.
Will it divert from the agreed principles and instruments? No absolutely not. The agreement will build on already agreed legal instruments and principles. It’s very foundation will be the principle of a common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities.
Will it only be a partial agreement? No – we cannot do half a deal in Copenhagen and postpone the rest till later. The agreement will cover all the key issues and all parts of the Bali mandates. I do not share the view that it will be possible in Copenhagen to do some parts of the deal and not the other. We need the commitments. We need the figures. We need the action.
Will it be binding? Yes – it will be binding. Even if we may not hammer out the last dot’s of a legally binding instrument, I do believe a political binding agreement with specific commitment to mitigation and finance provides a strong basis for immediate action in the years to come.
Let me be specific on the format: I envisage a political text framing the agreement, say 5-8 pages. Not a political declaration with niceties, but precise language of a comprehensive political agreement covering all aspects of the Bali mandates: Commitment of developed countries to reductions and of developing countries to actions. Strong provisions on adaptation, finance and technology, including up front finance for early action.
Beneath that we will have underlying annexes outlining the specific commitments of individual countries. These will be negotiated and they will be subject to a transparent system of measurement, reporting and verification.
We are not aiming to let anyone off the hook. We are trying to create a framework that will allow everybody to commit.
Are we loosing sight of a new legal treaty or doing away with the Kyoto Protocol? No, on the contrary: The stronger our political agreement in Copenhagen, the faster the progress towards a new legally binding, global climate regime. The Copenhagen Agreement will build on the principles of the Convention and on the experience of the Kyoto Protocol. On that basis, we shall mandate continued negotiations and we shall set a deadline for agreeing new legal terms.
Are we then pushing action forward into an uncertain future where we may never agree? No again. Our vision is that the Copenhagen Agreement provides for immediate action to commence even before a full new legal framework is agreed, signed, ratified and effective. We cannot postpone action – and indeed many of us are already committed to act. So why wait? Why refuse to do what we can already by Copenhagen agree to do?
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It is my firm view that the vision I have outlined to you is not one among many possible ways ahead. It may well be the only one.
Some of you might have wished for a different format or for a different legal structure. Still, I believe you will agree with me on one fundamental point: What matters at the end of the day is the ability of the Copenhagen Agreement to capture and reinforce global commitment to real actions.
Equity and realism must guide our efforts. We should not look for another international declaration of intent but strive for an agreement to commit.
Allow me to conclude by reiterating my invitation for you to come to Copenhagen and close the Conference at the summit level. You can make it happen! I invite you to do so.