Need for a new strategy

Gunilla Herolf
Sweden largely regards the climate conference as a failure in terms of the outcome. On the positive side, the EU had a united position, which was achieved with some difficulty, since the EU members did not find it easy to agree on the high level of reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Another positive aspect was the total EU pledge of 7.2 billion Euros to help the least developed and most vulnerable countries, an amount that was above expectations. The negative side was dominant, however. The EU’s hope was also to convince the United States and a number of other countries, particularly China, the two combined responsible for half of the greenhouse gas emissions, to increase their commitment. The USA was asked for a legally binding economy-wide commitment to reduce emissions whereas China was asked for binding actions. Both countries gave offers below expectations, however. Most commentators in Sweden have put the blame on the USA and China not being willing to make substantial and binding reductions and on some other countries obstructing the meeting with endless procedural questions. It was obvious that the EU negotiating strategy of seeking to convince the major emitters by making substantial European promises was not enough. The interests against reductions were simply too strong. In the USA, Congress was against substantial concessions and in China, the need for quick economic development was dominant.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt sees the need for a new dynamic and believes that dynamism can be increased through a stepwise approach based on the Copenhagen Accord. A plan of action should be agreed on at the coming meeting in Bonn; thereafter, concrete measures should be taken in Mexico in order to anchor the Copenhagen Accord in the United Nations (UN) negotiation process. Another important step in this process is to start work on the financial fast start contributions. In order to accomplish this, member states have promised to report at the UN meeting in May or April 2010. We are to give coordinated reports on its implementation at the Mexico meeting by the end of the year and annually thereafter.[1]
Prime Minister Reinfeldt, however, feels that the present approach with veto rights and the UN framework creates problems for progress. In addition to the global approach, the big countries posing problems in Copenhagen need to be approached bilaterally in order to break the present stalemate.[2]
Andreas Carlgren, Minister for the Environment, has similar thoughts. We should, he argues, continue to work globally, but also try alternative and complementary ways at the same time. Not least, we should intensify the pressure on the United States and China. Carlgren also thinks that it would be an illusion to believe, the way the environmental movement does, that increased European reductions would, by themselves, have an effect on others. A ten percent reduction in Europe could be nullified by China in two years if Chinese emissions continue to grow.[3]
Sweden has two ambitions. The first is that all countries should live up to their pledges made in Copenhagen for fast start support to these countries. The other is to find the money and the mechanisms for the long-term support that was also discussed at the Copenhagen meeting.

[1] Fredrik Reinfeldt before the Parliamentary Committee on EU Affairs, 30 March 2010, p. 2.

[2] Ibid., p. 5.

[3] Andreas Carlgren: Så ska vi fortsätta arbetet med att rädda klimatet [This is how we should continue our work to save the climate], Dagens Nyheter, 3 January 2010.