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Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to open this conference. I would like to extend a warm welcome to Copenhagen.
In six months, the Governments of the world will gather in this very place for the Climate Change Conference, also known as COP15. The objective is to reach an ambitious and comprehensive global climate change agreement.
It is an important task. It is also a difficult and complex task. We must unite all our efforts to succeed.
Therefore, I am both pleased and impressed by this gathering of 700 representatives of local authorities from more than 100 countries from all over the world.
Last week, 700 international business people gathered here to present their views. And in March, 2.500 experts presented the scientific evidence on climate change.
All these conferences constitute an important part of the preparation for December. All sides in our societies need to participate in meeting the climate challenge. Every input is valuable.
I am especially pleased to address representatives from local government. My own political career started in local politics. And I am very much aware of local government’s crucial role in implementing climate policies.
1. Ambitions for a Copenhagen agreement
Let me first give you the big picture. What are governments expected to deliver in December in Copenhagen?
My first point is ambition.
We need to meet the challenge. We have to come to an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen. The deadline is clear. I remain optimistic and - trust me - I will be the last man standing and argue the case.
In Copenhagen we must come to an agreement with ambitious targets for the reduction of global CO2 emissions. By 2050 global emissions must be down by 50 % compared to 1990.
Industrialised countries must take the lead, but without actions by the emerging economies in the developing world, we can not meet the goal. Emerging economies are already engaging in strong efforts to limit the growth in their emissions. These efforts must be reinforced and supported.
My second point is fairness.
The worst consequences of climate change are already occuring in developing countries, although the rich countries are to blame for the problem.
Poor countries must be given a helping hand to adapt to climate change. The rich countries must help finance their efforts to secure their populations and their land.
My third and final point is policies.
Targets are of no use without policies and measures to implement them. Eventually, it is the policies we adopt in every country that will bring us on the right track – towards a low carbon economy.
The good news is that this track is possible. Let me highlight some encouraging figures:
Every American emits about 20 tonnes of CO2 a year. In Denmark the number is 11 tonnes. But our wealth is about the same.
This implies that you can get the same wealth from 11 tons as you get from 20 tonnes. The challenge is to get down to 4 or even 2 tonnes per capita in the coming decades. And do it without jeopardizing economic growth and without undermining our welfare. This is the big question all over the world.
Those countries, regions, local authorities and private companies who can answer this question will be the winners in 10 or 20 years. And the answer is about policies and incentives towards low carbon societies.
We need incentives to develop new technologies and disseminate them all over the world. Governments must do their part in financing research and development. We must adopt policies that encourage climate friendly behaviour and that punish polluters.
2. Cities, local and regional governments play a crucial role
But action by governments alone will not make it happen. You in local government are crucial partners.
And I dare remind you: You carry a responsibility. Your target should be the sectors with the largest emissions. In most countries they are: transport, power generation and housing.
You must make an efficient and climate friendly transport planning.
You must in cooperation with government look for new energy sources, not least renewables. And you must look at urban planning and housing.
The choices we make together make all the difference. We can decide to build or renovate buildings with insulation, solar cells and effective heat pumps. We can decide to establish lanes for bicycles and to use electric cars. And we can choose to use district heating and renewables in our energy production instead of coal, oil and gas.
I call upon you to make use of the power you have to change direction and set the example.
The fact is that today more than half of the world’s populations live in cities. More than 75 % of energy is consumed in the cities. And by 2030, two third of humanity is expected to live in cities.
Fortunately a lot is happening in cities around the world. Let me give you a few examples:
Eco-cities are being built with focus on urban development combined with low carbon solutions such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean water. Examples are the Tianjin [Ti-an-djin] Eco-city in China and the Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.
São Paolo in Brazil is focusing on green transport with more public transportation and building new roads for bicycles only.
And in Mali and Uganda partnerships with rural populations and local entrepreneurs has been established to promote climate friendly solutions.
3. Learning from each other – Danish examples
Here in Denmark you will also find many examples that can serve as an inspiration.
The Danish Government has set an ambitious goal that Denmark should be totally free of fossil fuels.
We have already taken some important steps.
Firstly, we will ensure a massive expansion of renewable energy. Denmark is already a frontrunner in wind power and biomass. Now we double public funding for research in new energy technologies.
Secondly, we will increase energy savings. To increase energy efficiency has long been a political priority. Over the last 25 years our economy has grown by 75 percent while energy consumption has remained broadly stable.
Thirdly, we will invest massively in public transport. Green transportation is the goal. And smart road pricing-systems will reduce CO-2 emissions and congestion.
Fourthly, a new green tax reform raises taxes on pollution. We are not afraid to use taxation as a means to change behaviour.
And also Danish municipalities and regions have important roles to play.
Some of you will after the conference have the opportunity to visit Albertslund. Here you will see examples of new as well as renovated low energy houses.
Others of you will go to Lolland. Here you will see one of the world largest offshore wind parks. And you will learn about hydrogen fuel cells and you will see a project turning algae into biomass for energy use.
And if you take a walk – or go by bike - in the city of Copenhagen you will realise why the city just have been elected the world best city for bicycles by the American internet Magazine Treehugger.
We are all different, but we all bring examples with us and we need to find different solutions to our problems. But already now we have a solid base of experiences. I encourage you to learn from each other.
It is encouraging that many of the solutions already exist and that you – the mayors, the representatives of local and regional governments and all your local partners – are doing a lot to promote and introduce intelligent and sustainable solutions.
In December Governments should take the first step at global level and set the direction for a new climate friendly future.
We need your actions and your determination to secure success. I encourage you to act now while you can, and not wait until it is too late. I will send the same message to my colleagues around the world.
I wish you all a fruitful conference in the coming days.