The Diplomatic Dispatch

The British Ambassador to Sweden blogs on The Local

Posts Tagged ‘Doha’

Climate challenges after Doha – some light amidst the gloom

Monday, December 17th, 2012

The latest round of international talks on climate change ended last weekend in Doha. One of my previous postings was at the UK Mission to the UN so I have firsthand experience of how exhausting and difficult these huge international negotiations can be.

From a distance, the outcome from Doha looks like a modest step forward. In short, the Kyoto Protocol will continue past this year, and we have up until 2020 to get a new legally binding agreement for the period after 2020, when the Kyoto Protocol has expired

However, we still need countries to do more and be more ambitious about reducing their emissions if we are going to avoid irreversible climate change and prevent devastating global warming.

As things stand, the world is plainly not on track to keep the global temperature increase from climate change below two degrees centigrade, which is generally regarded as global warming’s danger threshold.

The UK, with Sweden and other EU partners, will be working over the next year to ensure the next round of discussions yields more progress and that we play our part in lowering global emissions.

There are rays of light amidst the gloom.

We have seen serious action by many countries, including some of the big emitters. Brazil has reduced deforestation by around two thirds since 2004.  Korea is spending two per cent of its GDP on the low-carbon economy.  China has embedded energy efficiency and renewables targets in its latest five-year plan, and is testing carbon markets in seven of its provinces.

In the UK, our Carbon Budgets provide a target of an 80 per cent emissions cut by 2050.  We are acting on energy efficiency and smarter infrastructure.  The UK also recently introduced an Energy Bill which will give investors and industry the framework and the certainty they need to deliver the huge infrastructure investment that the UK’s energy sector requires.

We are on track to meet the milestones set by the EU Renewables Directive and to deliver enough renewable generation capacity to source 30% of the UK’s electricity by 2020.

In the EU, the UK will also continue to argue for increasing ambition, going from a 20% emissions cut to a 30% target by 2020, with a renewed focus on the benefits the Green Economy will provide. We’re delighted that the Green economy will be a focus of the next meeting of UK, Nordic and Baltic Prime Ministers, in Riga early next year.

Our focus on the Green economy in the UK is underpinned by important changes in the real economy.   According to Bloomberg, global investment in renewables overtook that in fossil fuels for the first time last year. We are seeing new renewable energy technologies break into and compete successfully in the market place.  Solar PV has averaged 42% annual growth globally over the last decade; onshore wind has averaged 27%.

In some markets, solar technologies have come down in price by as much as 75% in three years, and are now cheaper than fossil fuels, for example, in many parts of Africa and South Asia.  Companies such as Unilever, Vodafone, Walmart and Kingfisher are setting ambitious targets to make their supply chains more sustainable.  This isn’t just a marketing ploy: rising resource scarcity and climate stress means that sustainable, resilient production makes good business sense.  As we saw in Rio earlier this year, businesses are now increasingly setting the agenda for governments.

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Trading up

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

It has perhaps become commonplace to say that the world is becoming more and more connected. That we live in a global village. That we all depend on each other.  But it’s worth repeating because it needs to condition how we work to make the modern world a fairer and more prosperous place for all.

Crises have a habit of bringing this into particular focus.  Think global banking and you probably think crisis.  Global and climate now equals threat.  Think international solidarity and you perhaps think Haiti earthquake and perhaps Pakistan floods.  There is an underlying narrative that links the way we are connected to our inherent vulnerabilities.

But connectedness is also about opportunity.   And the publication yesterday by the British government of our new Trade and Investment White Paper shows the way.  Interconnectedness also means trade and investment, and these are roads to strong and sustainable growth for the future.

There is an important idea too about how our mutual dependency can be a positive. Trade and investment is not a game where some countries or parts of the world win and others lose. We all gain from  an increase in trade. Trade is a way out of poverty for poor countries.

But this needs openness.  The fastest growing countries are often those with the fewest trade barriers. So we must commit to open markets globally and make sure we don’t revert to protectionism. The UK is launching an African Free Trade initiative to remove barriers to trade. Further a conclusion of the Doha Development Round of trade talks in 2011 would mean that this agreement, once signed, would boost the global economy by £110 billion.

The UK also want to build partnerships to help businesses build networks and strengthen international trade and investment and multilateral system.

This will not be an easy task, but it is a task that we can achieve if we have confidence in what we can achieve together, for jobs and growth and in the struggle against world poverty.  It’s time to trade up.

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