UPDATED: Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg traveled home from yet another difficult top meeting on financing a global climate deal, amidst reports he’s giving up on securing any single, huge, UN-backed pact. Calls rose for Stoltenberg to now pay more attention to cutting Norway’s own carbon emissions at home.
Stoltenberg spent a few hot days in Addis Ababa earlier in the week with his co-leader of the UN’s high-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and others trying to raise USD 100 billion a year for climate measures in poor countries.
Stoltenberg warned last month that no one seems willing to pay the bill for the measures that would cut carbon emissions in the poor countries, and that meant there would be no deal struck at the next UN Climate Conference in December.
With disagreement still surrounding means of raising the money needed, Stoltenberg now seems to be joining others in calling for reform of how a global effort to cut emissions should be organized.
“We have seen that the big international negotiations must be augmented by smaller working groups, for example within deforestation or financing,” Stoltenberg told newspaper Aftenposten. “Not everything can happen under the direction of 193 countries.”
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported the group did produce a finished report likely to reflect “a new reality” born of frustration. Stoltenberg told Aftenposten he thinks it’s “unrealistic” to expect a broad judicial international agreement within the next few years.
“I think we therefore must look at changes in the structure of the agreements so that we get an overall deal backed by the UN, but not where all countries go along with all the agreements,” Stoltenberg said. “Then we could get one deal on forests, one for financing etc. Then we may see some progress.”
‘More progress needed at home in Norway’
That means smaller groups of countries could agree on concrete measures without waiting for one overall agreement. And that alarms environmental activists, who still demand a global solution to a global problem.
At the very least, Lars Haltbrekken of environmental group Naturvernforbund told Aftenposten on Friday that “now Norway must stop postponing its own climate measures at home while it waits for a global agreement.” He claims Norway should take steps quickly to cut emissions within its petroleum- and transport sectors and phase out oil-based heating systems.
Stoltenberg’s reported acceptance of “a new reality” doesn’t necessarily mean farewell to UN backing or involvement. Nicolas Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics and well-known climate economist, told Aftenposten it could simply allow work to progress more quickly in some areas while still seeking an overall climate agreement that would get as many countries as possible to cut emissions.
China and the US, for example, have resisted giving up national sovereignty because of any international agreements, but China is making much more progress than the US in cutting its own emissions. China now ranks as the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, has closed many coal-fired power plants and is currently using 14 times the amount of non-fossil fuels as it used five years ago. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has said China’s growing use of alternative energy alone can make a huge contribution towards international climate measures.