Stoltenberg’s busy week at the UN

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Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is in New York this week for the opening of the United Nations’ General Assembly and a series of meetings with other national leaders. At one of the first meetings, he candidly claimed that hopes are dim for a new international climate agreement before the current Kyoto agreement expires.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is having another busy week at the UN, just like he did last year at this time. PHOTO: Statsministerenskontor

Stoltenberg and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi have been leading efforts to raise funding to back an agreement. A new fund that Stoltenberg still hopes will be approved at the next UN climate summit, scheduled to take place in South Africa later this year, is meant to transfer money from wealthy countries to poor countries, to help finance emissions cuts where it’s cheaper to make them.

But the global finance crisis and, now, debt crises in Europe and the US are making fund raising efforts difficult. If there’s no money in the fund, there will be no climate agreement, Stoltenberg said.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported how Stoltenberg felt compelled to dampen the mood after both former US President Bill Clinton and South African President Jacob Zuma had optimistically expressed their hopes and good wishes for a climate pact. Stoltenberg said those involved have in fact moved much more slowly and made less progress than hoped.

The world, Stoltenberg said, should have seen a new climate agreement by this point. But he didn’t think a new agreement would be in place before the Kyoto pact from 1992 runs out.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (center) is also having long days at the UN, heavily involved in the Palestinians' desire for full membership. PHOTO: Foreign Ministry/Frode Overland Andersen

Stoltenberg’s team has kept trying to build up the climate fund, led by Kjetil Lund, state secretary in the Norwegian Finance Ministry. He told DN he’s convinced that private funding is needed if a climate fund is to succeed, given the reluctance of various countries’ hard-pressed national economies to finance climate measures within their own borders, much less send money overseas. Private funding, though, would likely need to hinge on a price set for CO2.

Stoltenberg is also involved in meetings over developments in Libya, after Norway took part in the UN-backed and NATO-led bombing that aided opposition forces trying to topple Moammar Gadhafi. Stoltenberg claimed it wasn’t true that France, which took among the most active roles in the NATO coalition, would now get access to most of Libya’s oil.

“It should be distributed through the best companies, in a transparent manner,” Stoltenberg said, adding that he thinks Norwegian oil company Statoil and other Norwegian firms have good possibilities for business in Libya when a new government system is established. Norway has, he claimed, lots of experience in “good management of oil resources.”

Stoltenberg also noted that Libya “has gone through historic change” and that “Gadhafi is gone,” even though he hasn’t been captured and opposition troops are still fighting Gadhafi supporters. Stoltenberg said the new authorities have a major responsibility to develop a new and more democratic Libya, stressing that it’s important the UN contributes to the process.

Stoltenberg has a full agenda including briefer bilateral meetings and also took time to appear on a CNN current affairs program, where he spoke about the terrorist attacks on Norway in July. He also spoke with US President Barack Obama, while Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is actively involved in the drama around the Palestinians’ request for full membership in the UN.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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