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COP 18

Holding the baton of climate

That the COP18 negotiations didnt make any phenomenal announcements was expected but that it paved the way for a new global climate agreement to be finalised in 2015 and enabled a second period of the Kyoto Protocol to start on 1 January 2013 came as a welcome respite.

journalists in the region, the fact that COP18 brought experts in the field of climate change was putative but getting the opportunity to talk to the inspiring ones was a dream come true. One such opportunity was when Qatar Today got to speak to Connie Hedegaard, EUs first ever Commissioner for Climate Action. Before she took on this role Hedegaard was the Danish Minister for the Environment from two terms from 2004 to 2009. In 2007 she was in charge of setting up the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy, where one of her main tasks was to prepare the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Having held the baton of responsibility of the Copenhagen COP talks, Hedegaard is not new to the strain involved in organising and bringing the parties to get to a conclusion. The run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit and the negotiations to get everyone on board were without doubt a big challenge, she said, but Im sure the government of Qatar knows what I am talking about! The resolution of COP18 has given her grounds for optimism: In Doha, we have crossed the bridge from the old climate regime to the new. We are now well on our way to the 2015 global deal. It was not an

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The EUs climate policy is progressing well. Last year, the EUs emissions were 18% below 1990 levels, whereas our economy grew by 46% over the same period.

bring us new economic growth and jobs for example in the renewable energy, waste treatment and building sectors. You were responsible for the Copenhagen meet in 2009. How different was it in Doha? International climate policies have moved forward since Copenhagen. More than 90 countries have made emissions reduction commitments. Significant progress has been made on climate finance, adaptation, technology, and increasing transparency. And the Durban conference, last year, we agreed that by 2015 all countries both developed and developing countries, must commit and contribute to a legally-binding global climate agreement to enter into force in 2020. But we cannot wait until then: we must also strengthen emission reductions before 2020 to keep global warming below 20C. Since Copenhagen the gap between our efforts and the reality has become bigger too. I hope that the Doha conference will raise our joint ambition to address climate change without further delay. What are your thoughts on the Kyoto Protocol and the way to it being resolved? What is the role of EU in the next stage of the Kyoto Protocol? The EU is standing by the commitment it made last year in Durban to take on a binding emissions reduction target under the Kyoto Protocols second period. Having a second Kyoto period is part of the transition to the legally-binding global climate agreement covering all countries and will preserve the well-developed set of rules that the Protocol has established. However, the EU and the handful of other countries who have committed to a second Kyoto

easy and comfortable ride. It was not a very fast ride either. But we have managed to cross the bridge. Very intense negotiations lie ahead of us. What we need now is more ambition and more speed. In this exclusive interview she speaks about the tall ambitions set for the EU and how they intend to keep to it. According to your mandate as the EU Commissioner for Climate Action, you hope that by the end of your fiveyear term, Europe would be the most climate-friendly region in the world. How close are you to achieving this? Is this possible for countries experiencing

austerity? The EUs climate policy is progressing well. Last year, the EUs emissions were 18% below 1990 levels, whereas our economy grew by 46% over the same period. We are on track to achieve our 2020 climate and energy targets - reducing emissions by 20%, increasing the share of renewable in our energy mix to 20%; and a 20% energy efficiency gain. Thanks to these headline targets climate has not disappeared from the agenda despite austerity. In fact, I believe the only way forward is to address the economic, resources and climate crisis simultaneously. Moving to a low-carbon economy will not only reduce the resources bill, it will also

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period only represent around 15% of global emissions and this share is shrinking. The other 85% must come forward too. There are many countries whose GDP per capita is higher than that of the EU for example Qatar which have not committed to an emission reduction target yet. If we are to stop accelerating climate change, the world will have to step up its collective efforts. In your tenure as the Environment Minister of Denmark what were your biggest challenges as the country led by you took strong steps in this direction? While I was environment minister, the Danish government took bold steps to transform Denmark into a climate and environment friendly society. For example, we decided to move to a fossil-fuel free society by 2050. One third of energy used in Denmark already comes from renewable energy. We believe that this can give an important push to our economy; we are world leaders in wind energy technology and other green technologies. How close are you to the aim of building an international carbon trading market? With the EU Emission Trading System, which covers more than 11,000 industrial

and power installations in 30 European countries, we have created the worlds biggest international carbon market. Across the world an increasing group of countries are implementing or setting up carbon markets, including Australia, New Zealand, Korea, California and China. With Australia we have agreed on a plan to link our markets. And here at the negotiations in Doha, we are discussing the continuation of the Clean Development Mechanism and the setting up of a new market mechanism. Not only are carbon markets the most cost-efficient way of reducing emissions, they are also an important potential source of future climate finance. What has the EU and Denmark in particular done in the climate change scenario? Some tips for ME countries? I think there are two important lessons we have learnt in Europe. The first is that if you want to change behaviour, you have to put a price on pollution. That is the basis of the EUs Emissions Trading System, where we put a price on every tonne of CO2 emitted by industrial and power installations. This gives companies a strong incentive to invest in emission reductions, while still ensuring flexibility through trading. The second lesson learnt is that targets help

governments and businesses to focus on emission reductions. For example, thanks to the emission and fuel targets for cars and vans, new cars in Europe currently emit a fifth less CO2 than ten years ago. This has ensured European car manufacturers are among the most competitive in the world. It was in your term as the Environment Minister that Denmark set a mandate with the aim to get half of its electricity from wind power by 2020. By 2050, the countrys goal is to become a society free of coal, oil and natural gas. Tell us how you went about it. Some lessons learnt and challenges scaled. The most important lesson is that making the transition to a climate and environment friendly society is doable, but it does not happen by itself. You need clear targets, incentives and pricing of pollution in order to get there. And you have to engage business to get them on board too. It is the same at these international negotiations here in Doha: everyone must act if we want to save the climate. But if you do it smartly, climate action is not only good for the environment. It can contribute to growth, the development of new markets and a cleaner environment for people to live in. It is about addressing climate, energy and economy at the same time.

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