I am very pleased to be here in Durban.
Let me thank South Africa for so generously hosting this important event.
Your leadership is key for a successful outcome.
We are here to address an issue of critical importance to human mankind.
We are again reminded of the stark realities of climate change.
Floods, cyclones and drought
are putting millions at risk.
We will all be affected.
But the peoples that are most vulnerable,
will be the most severely hit.
I am particularly concerned about women and indigenous peoples at risk.
I remember the optimism in Kyoto when we agreed on the Kyoto Protocol.
A legally binding agreement covering about half of total global emissions.
An agreement introducing new and important flexible mechanisms for the transfer of technology and funding to the developing countries.
And an agreement that has laid the foundation for a global carbon market that is beneficial for both developed and developing countries.
I travelled home from Kyoto with a sense of optimism that we collectively had made a historic step in addressing our common challenge of climate change.
Let us be honest.
Our optimism from Kyoto was unfounded.
Since then we have suffered serious set backs and disappointments.
From Kyoto to Durban
the Protocol has shrunk to a third of its potential.
It could end up covering only fifteen per cent of global emissions instead of fifty.
But even more important than lack of progress at the negotiating tables,
is reality itself.
The emissions are increasing,
and they are increasing at an accelerating pace.
Last year the emission of greenhouse gases was at the highest level ever.
But we cannot afford to give up.
We cannot just sit and wait.
We must encourage action by all countries
and build a new regime step by step.
There are already many encouraging examples of countries that are introducing effective climate policies and actions:
- Australia has just introduced a price on carbon.
- China is becoming more energy efficient and is testing emission trading systems.
- Brazil is reducing deforestation and thus keeping millions of tonnes of carbon locked up.
- Bangladesh and Rwanda are putting in place strategies for reducing risks and adapting to unavoidable climate change.
- Ethiopia is launching its Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy.
- The Maldives and Costa Rica are aiming to become carbon neutral.
- As is Norway.
I am very encouraged by all this.
It demonstrates that action is being taken,
on the ground,
at country level.
But also at the regional level.
Europe is reducing emissions through an emission trading scheme, and has set ambitious energy efficiency targets.
More than fifty countries have come together to form an international partnership to reduce deforestation, REDD¬ pluss.
This is the fastest,
and most effective way of achieving big cuts in global emissions.
The International Maritime Organization has set new and ambitious standards for environmental friendly shipping.
All countries must do their part, according to their capabilities.
But in the face of the global climate challenge,
we cannot simply rely on the total of individual country efforts.
Climate change is a global problem and calls for a global solution.
Therefore, to deal effectively with climate change,
we need a broad agreement that covers all global emissions.
All countries, except the least developed, should take their appropriate share of emission cuts.
If we reach agreement here in Durban to work towards a broad legally binding agreement,
Norway is willing to take on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.
We have been actively involved in trying to develop balanced compromise solutions.
There will be no effective climate action without climate financing.
I am confident that Durban will bring us closer to a financial architecture that can provide climate financing on the scale needed.
We must kick-start the Green Climate Fund.
I am pleased to announce that Norway is prepared to cover its part of the administrative start-up costs for the Green Climate Fund,
in order to get it up and running quickly.
But a fund without funding is not very helpful.
Therefore we must work to mobilise climate finance.
We must build on the report of the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Finance
which Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and I had the privilege of co-chairing.
Our task was to make recommendations on how to mobilise 100 billion US dollars per year for developing countries by 2020,
from a variety of sources.
One of the key conclusions of this report is even more important today,
given the current financial and debt crisis.
We can not rely on public funds alone.
Without putting a price on carbon, it will not be possible to raise the funding needed.
Putting a price on carbon has a triple effect:
- It reduces emissions.
- It generates revenue which can be used for climate actions.
- And it provides incentives to develop sustainable and clean technologies.
The Cancún agreement gave us a good basis for moving forward.
A broad and ambitious climate agreement that includes all major economies remains our overall goal.
This must be a forward-looking agreement that can supplement the Kyoto Protocol, and build on it.
Durban can and should be the start of a process to deliver such an agreement.
It is within reach.
A balanced Durban package of decisions including a robust commitment
will pave the way for securing a meaningful future for the Kyoto Protocol.
If we also manage to make the Green Climate Fund operational,
we have made significant progress.
I appeal to you.
We cannot miss this opportunity.
We cannot afford to fail.
Let us make Durban a new start towards a global climate agreement.