Sweden must push harder for a green planet

Sweden must push harder for a green planet
Deforestation in Sweden. Photo: TT
The world's governments are in Lima, Peru this week to lay the foundations for a new United Nations Convention on Climate Change. Sweden must play a more assertive role to push for change, says Svante Axelsson from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.
All countries must think about how we can reduce emissions by 70 to 95 percent by 2050. We need to stop global warming, which is causing great risks for the economy, the ecosystem and our safety.
The meeting in Lima will set the scene for a new global climate agreement in Paris. Hopes of a similar agreement were dashed in Copenhagen five years ago. This time there are encouraging signs of a new constructive climate of cooperation.
China and the US have this time both promised to reduce emissions. But they both need to do more as they account for almost half of the world's emissions.
Several countries have put forward money to help low income nations to deal with the costs of climate change and to help them invest in renewable energy. The US, Japan and Germany have pledged money. Lets hope that Sweden can bring another positive surprize.
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has said ahead of the summit:
"In Paris next year the international climate summit has been organized where we must make crucial decision for our generation. The time for failures and excuses are long gone. World countries must stop investing in things that destroy our planet. Climate change is a global security threat. It is time for responsibility. "
So will Sweden will begin to play a more assertive role in the EU? Will it stop just growing trees that can be offset against emissions and instead set goals to reduce emissions? Will it strive to become a pioneer of new technology instead of emphasizing short-term costs and uncertain emission reductions abroad as an excuse?
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation believes that Sweden must develop a new position and operate a prominent and active line in the climate negotiations. We want the following:
1. The government should confirm its election promise to ensure Sweden reduces emissions by 40 percent within the country by 2020. It should also lobby the EU, which has already reached its goal five years ahead of schedule to raise its aspirations. It is important that we are role model and guide.
2. Encourage commitment periods of five instead of ten years. Most countries and regions meet their emissions targets faster and easier than expected. With shorter periods, the bar can be raised earlier.
3. Bring back the trust between high and low-income countries.
4. Increase funding to assist other countries.
5. Push for a concrete draft of the Paris protocol in Lima. Countries must begin to negotiate the actual text soon, if there is to be any chance of agreement.
If Sweden shows that it is possible both to reduce emissions and maintain well-being, other countries will become more willing to promise more ambitious emission reductions too. Sweden has the capacity to raise ambitions and be a clear pioneer.

Svante Axelsson is Secretary General of the Society for Nature Conservation. Read a longer version of his argument in Swedish.

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