Reinfeldt pessimistic about 2009 climate treaty progress

Reinfeldt pessimistic about 2009 climate treaty progress
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt voiced his concern that the global financial crisis has diminished the prospect of a robust climate change treaty during 2009.

“A great deal of the political energy which existed a few years ago has disappeared,” Reinfeldt in an interview with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

“Now moving the process forward rests on fewer shoulders. There are many now who are instead using calculations which hint that each country will do less.”

The comments came during an interview with SvD in which the prime minister elaborated on his expectations as Sweden looks ahead to taking over the rotating European Union presidency in the latter half of 2009.

With a major international climate treaty negotiation set to take place in Copenhagen in December, Sweden will find itself speaking for the entire 27-member EU as climate negotiators from around the world gather to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

There is some reason for hope, however, said Reinfeldt, as countries vital to successful negotiations – the United States and China – have signaled a change in attitude since the last round of climate negotiations.

Reinfeldt projected that any agreement reached in Copenhagen will likely be weaker and quite different than Kyoto.

“I’m unsure about whether it will be an agreement where the world sets global goals that everyone will work towards. It doesn’t look like that now,” said Reinfeldt.

The EU recently agreed to its own package of climate measures, but the results have been criticized for being too watered down after several countries said that stronger measures were unattainable due to the economic crisis.

Reinfeldt nevertheless praised the agreement for demonstrating that “the EU can stick to its goals” and can share the burden of reducing emissions among its various members.

But he added that offering too many free carbon emissions rights to heavy industry would be more costly in the long run.

“[Doing so causes] European climate policy too lose its efficacy and it will end up being more expensive. But if the EU didn’t exist, many of these countries wouldn’t have done anything at all,” he said.