APF Special Session - Climate Change - Speech by State Secretary Ib Petersen


Addis Ababa, 3 September 2009


Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,


I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to address you today on the biggest challenge facing the world – the need for an ambitious new agreement on climate change. I am also delighted to inform you that Denmark is looking forward to be hosting the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties under the Climate Convention in Copenhagen in December.


On behalf of the Danish Government, I should like to pass on three messages about climate change and the preparations for Copenhagen:


Firstly, that time is running out and that urgent action to curb CO2-emissions is needed from all parties; secondly, that a climate agreement must provide a solid framework and substantial financing for adaptation to climate change; and thirdly, that failing to act now is a serious security risk for our future generations.

But first of all I would like to extend my Government’s congratulations to Prime Minister Meles and African colleagues for the decision taken at the AU special summit in Tripoli last month to speak with a strong African voice. The decision to align the African interests and take part in the climate negotiations with a unified, African voice will enhance Africa’s stance. As the host of COP15, Denmark looks forward to working closely with the representatives of the African delegation.  Let me assure you that Denmark will be everyone’s COP president. We are keen to continue the open and constructive relationship we have had with Africa as a group thus far. As host of the COP15, we would like to count ourselves as part of the coalition on Africa’s key concerns. We look forward to share your ideas, proposals and concerns.


Allow me now to address the three most pressing issues on climate change, which we believe must be addressed without delay:


The first point is about the need for urgent action. Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution. COP15 is our deadline, because the cost of inaction demands action. Global action is in everyone’s interest and a new agreement must have everybody on board.

The agreement must be ambitious, but it must also be fair. It must be sufficiently ambitious to save the world from the consequences of climate change. And it must be sufficiently fair to make room for developing countries to lift their people out of poverty.


It is critical that the developed countries take the lead in curbing CO2-emissions.  But if we are to reach a viable and long-term international agreement in Copenhagen, all countries must take part in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

We should all commit to turning our economies from high carbon to low carbon. A new climate agreement must facilitate the strengthening of technology development and deployment. And it must identify technology needs to fight climate change. Substantial financing must be mobilized to assist developing countries in the move towards a low carbon development path. It is encouraging to note that in many countries – also developing countries - energy efficiency and environmental issues are increasingly becoming a priority. We need to build on this towards Copenhagen and beyond.


My second point relates to the importance of adaptation to climate change. We must acknowledge that climate change is a particular challenge to developing countries. For Africa, the urgency of the matter is even more striking. The poorest countries are often the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.


Agriculture and use of natural resources, such as water resources, constitute the back bone for the livelihood of the majority of people in most developing countries, and especially in Africa.  With agriculture and water resources being the sectors most affected by climate change the developing countries with their high degree of vulnerability are going to be hit the hardest. And widespread poverty, lack of financial means and weak institutions make it difficult for developing countries to counteract the negative effects of climate change.

A new climate agreement must therefore not only include a substantial adaptation chapter. It must specifically address the special needs of the poorest and most vulnerable developing countries. It must be a handle for those millions of people in the developing countries negatively affected by climate change and with the least capacity to adapt.


Action on adaptation requires substantial new financing. It is important that the need for substantial new climate financing does not side-track our focus on poverty reduction. Redirecting official development assistance to climate financing is not the solution. We must continue our fight against poverty and make sure that the hard-earned progress and results we have achieved in relation to the Millennium Development Goals are not lost as the climate agenda increases in importance.


To exchange ideas and discuss new tools for adaptation, the Danish Government is facilitating a global dialogue on land and water management for adaption to climate change. The aim of the dialogue is to increase resilience towards climate change for the most vulnerable. Integration of scientific and local knowledge on how to cope with floods and droughts in the poorest countries is vital. Policy makers, civil society, international organisations, negotiators, and scientists all have an important role to play in exchanging best practice cases and turning words into action.


My third and final point relates to security. Climate change is threatening our aim of achieving stability and security, human well-being, global freedom and prosperity. If unaddressed, climate change is a potential threat multiplier exacerbating existing tensions and instability, but it may also in itself give rise to new security tensions. Denmark is very engaged in further analysing the consequences and potential policy responses to this challenge. For Africa, understanding the security implications of climate change will be of particular importance. The combination of water shortages and droughts in many parts of this continent will put pressure on land resources, on food production and ultimately on people’s livelihood. It is critical that mitigation and adaptation go hand in hand to reduce the risks of conflict. We must ensure that foreign policy, security policy, development policy and climate policy are designed and implemented so that we maximize the synergies between these policy areas.


By way of concluding, I would like to express our appreciation for having been invited to take part in this special APF session on climate change.


We are looking forward to engaging further with Africa now, up to and beyond COP15.

And finally, we look forward to seeing you all in Copenhagen!

Thank you.