The Clock is Ticking on Climate Diplomacy
Margot Wallström was born on 28 September 1954 in Sweden. She entered politics shortly after graduating from high school in 1973. She worked as an Ombudsman for the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League. Then, in 1979, she was elected as a Member of the Swedish Parliament where she served for six years.
Her ministerial career began in 1988 when she was appointed as Minister of Civil Affairs – Consumer Affairs, Women and Youth (1988-1991). She later served as Minister of Culture (1994-1996) and Social Affairs (1996-1998).
In 1998, she retired from Swedish politics to become Executive Vice-President of Worldview Global Media – an NGO based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The following year she was appointed as Member of the European Commission, under President Romano Prodi, and given responsibility for EU environmental policy.
In 2004, when the Barroso Commission took office, she became Commission Vice- President with responsibility for Inter-institutional Relations and Communication.
Margot Wallström has received honorary doctorates from Chalmers University, Sweden (2001), Mälardalen University, Sweden (2004) and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (2005).
Other distinctions include being voted "Commissioner of the Year" by the European Voice newspaper in 2002.
In 2004, together with Göran Färm, Member of the European Parliament, she published the book “The People’s Europe or Why is it so hard to love the EU?” (“Folkens Europa eller Varför är det så svårt att älska EU?”).
In 2010, she was appointed U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Question: What will the Copenhagen Climate Conference represent for international climate diplomacy?
Margot Wallström: We all feel that the clock is ticking and that this might be the last chance we have to actually get a global deal that will help to rescue life on this planet as we know it. And this is how serious it is. The biggest challenge for all decision makers everywhere is to have and to apply such long-term thinking that is necessary to address the problem of climate change—because we are discussing one, two, maybe three generations. We have to think about fifty years ahead. Ten years is a very long time in politics. So what about having to think about fifty years?
At the same time there are some positive signs. I think that the new signals from the Obama administration, the way we have started to work together, even the fact that the G8 Meeting set a target of keeping the increase of the temperature to two degrees above pre-industrial levels, is a good thing—because at least we’ve decided this is the overall target, and then we have to start to count backwards. How do we reach that? What is necessary to do?
The big challenge will be to make sure that we can have, in the richer part of the world, comparable emission reduction targets, and that we can also get the poorest countries onboard to make commitments, because they are already the biggest emitters. So we have to have them at the same table. We have to get them onboard, and to be able to do so. We also have to raise the money necessary to help both adaptation and mitigation measures.
Question: How can we encourage poorer countries to meet emissions targets?
Margot Wallström: As I said, they already know that this is not something that will theoretically happen one day in the future. They know that this is already a fact. This is happening to them. There are already three hundred thousand people dying every year from the effects of climate change. So it is already happening and they know it. But they also want to see that money is raised or resources are found so that they can adapt their economies, their agriculture, their infrastructure, all of the things that are necessary to both adapt and to mitigate or to invest in new, more energy efficient technology. This is where we have to be able to assist. And I just think they want to see that we are willing to move first, that we are taking our responsibility, and that we’re willing to help.
Question: How much money is the EU contributing to climate change efforts?
Margot Wallström: Well we have calculated that and the need for this kind of funding would be in the range of a hundred and seventy five billion Euros per year. And I saw that Gordon Brown, in a recent speech, estimated it to be one hundred billion only to the developing countries. We said in the European Commission one hundred and seventy five, and half of it would have to go to the poorest countries. And he said one hundred billion. So I think we are fairly close in understanding that these are the kind of amounts that we are talking about in order to pay for adaptation and mitigation measures.
Recorded on: July 10, 2009
Margot Wallström explains the EU’s contributions and challenges in the international fight against global warming.
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