Norway has been handed an important assignment in the negotiations at the UN climate summit in Paris: Leading the group that will formulate the summit’s long-term goal. The Norwegian government minister in charge of climate and environmental issues, Tine Sundtoft, arrived in Paris on Monday, along with her counterparts from around the world.
After a week of discussions without government leaders present, negotiations are moving up the ranks. Sundtoft, reported newspaper Dagsavisen, was asked to lead the group responsible for formulating long-term goals by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
“This is a large and demanding job,” Sundtoft stated, “and it’s an honor that Norway was asked to do this.”
Norway has long lobbied for a climate agreement that includes long-term goals for the world to be “carbon neutral.” That means that all remaining industrial carbon emissions in 2050 must be offset by, among other things, the planting of forests. Several industrialized countries support that. The goal, Sundtoft says, is to come closer to the 2-degree cap on global warming. Various alternative texts are on the table, however.
As the government ministers gather in Paris, meanwhile, many are worrying about major storms, flooding and calamities at home that are believed to be a result of climate change. Norway was hit by extreme weather over the weekend, as was Great Britain, Denmark and many areas of northern Europe. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled from Paris back to India to deal with severe flooding in Chennai (formerly Madras), while the Chinese must deal with severe pollution in Beijing, so leaders should be motivated to reach a climate agreement. Sundtoft was cautiously optimistic, telling state broadcaster NRK on Monday that “a common understanding that this is important is definitely in place.” The French hosts of the summit have set a deadline of Friday for a new climate agreement.