Opening remarks by Bente Angell-Hansen, ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations Office and other International Organization at the seminar on Global Warming and Global Responsibility focusing on more sustainable Mobility, Geneva, 12. March 2008
Ladies and gentlemen,
Think about the future, think about the new challenges to the transport sector reflecting climate change and think about public health problems that are caused by pollution from cars.
Geneva is the host city of many organizations, also the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. We all know the dramatic climate change scenarios presented by the panel. They require a new mindset, also when it comes to transportation. In my country the transport sector accounts for approximately 25% of total CO2 emissions.
Last summer the Norwegian Government published a white paper on climate change where a broad range of national emission cuts is proposed. The Government has now come to an agreement with the opposition parties in Parliament on Norway’s climate policy. This agreement implies that more than three quarters of the members support an ambition climate change policy. Let me give you a few highlights from this policy:
Norway intends to cut the global emissions equivalent to 100 percent of its own emissions within 2030. By doing so, Norway will become a carbon neutral nation.
Norway will undertake to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 30% of its own 1990 emissions by 2020
The Government is pursuing a three-tier strategy to achieve these targets:
Firstly, promoting a more ambitious international climate agreement.
Secondly, contributing to emission reductions in developing countries and in rapidly growing economies such as China and India.
Thirdly, intensifying efforts to reduce emissions in Norway.
A global agreement on climate change has to have a common vision that meets the scale of the challenge. Norway agrees with the European Union that to avoid dangerous climate change, global temperatures must not rise more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. According to IPCC this means that global emissions have to be reduced at least by half no later than 2050 compared to the 2000 level.
Industrialised nations have to cut emissions by 25-40 percent already in 2020. We cannot reach these ambitious goals without working with business. Given the high level of CO2 emissions stemming from the transport sector, changes pertaining to transport and mobility are urgently called for. We all need to rethink the way we manage our lives when it comes to mobility. And we need to do it now.
This is why Norwegian authorities have been consistently supportive of Think. Think is a very concrete example of how we can reduce CO2 emissions. A gradual transfer to emission free transportation will make a difference. That goes for the industrial countries and not least for high growth countries in Asia. You only need to imagine the impact on emissions if first car owners in China and India chose electrical!
To achieve a fundamental change in the pattern of car purchasing and transportation, we need industry and investors who are willing to think in new ways. Who are willing to take their part of the responsibility for meeting the challenges of climate change. Let me underline that I see no contradiction between sustainable returns on investment and environmental concerns. On the contrary, corporate social responsibility of this kind is increasingly showing to pay off.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Human Rights Council is presently in session in Geneva. Norway is an active promoter and defender of human rights. We are the main sponsor of a resolution on Business and Human Rights. Professor John Ruggie, distinguished scholar at Harvard, is the UN special rapporteur on this important issue. We are hopeful that the deliberations will yield concrete and positive results in this area.
The demographic patterns demonstrate increasing urbanization world wide. Pollution from transportation causes health problems that are costly to society, for business, for families and the citizen. A transition to electrical cars will have important health benefits, not least in the cities.
In closing let me refer recent news from the Vatican. Modern times bring with them modern sins. According to Archbishop Girotti, “ecological” offences are now listed as modern evils. Pope Benedict has made several strong appeals saying issues such as climate change have become gravely important for the entire human race.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us Think about the future; let us do something about it - TOGETHER.
Thank you all!