Sweden Hits Out At US Ahead Of Climate Summit

By Leigh Phillips

As the UN Copenhagen climate change summit will hold in December.

In Saturday's (21 November) edition of centre-right Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, premier Frederick Reinfeldt defended his work on a global climate pact while at the helm of Europe and expressed his disappointment in the new American administration.

He described a "pronounced difficulty from several sides" but then went on to salute all major global blocs other than the US and Canada.

After bountifully praising the offers on the table from Australia, Japan, South Korea, Russia, China, Indonesia and Brazil and developing nations in general, Mr Reinfeld bluntly stated that the US position is "not enough."

"Protracted discussions of the proposed new American climate and energy legislation in Congress limit the opportunities for clear political leadership," said the Swedish leader, whose country holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency for a few more weeks, before handing over the reins to Spain and a new permanent EU Council president.

"We know that the proposal, should it be adopted, would lead to significant reductions of emissions by 2050. But ...a lot of work is needed to live up to the ambitious promises of change."

"Again - this is not enough. The process is too slow and the pledges made are still not binding, which is essential if we are to reach the two degree target [on limiting global temperature increases]."

He did however concede that the US is making "small steps in the right direction."

Mr Reinfeldt's language stood in stark contrast to his statements about other nations, which he variously awarded accolades such as "very ambitious" and "very important" and which have come up with "concrete programmes" and "major investments."

While the EU has regularly been criticised by both green groups and development NGOs for forming a developed-nation bloc with the US against the third world, developing nations were also saluted for their efforts.

"A number of developing countries have reported declining emission figures compared to business-as-usual. Indonesia is a very important example of this," the Swedish premier said.

He added that, for its part, the European Union had shown strong leadership in the talks ahead of the summit.

"From the EU's side, we have always had our sights set on a comprehensive and binding agreement in Copenhagen. We have held fast to our commitment to reduce our emissions by 2020, irrespective of what others do. During the Swedish Presidency we also reached agreement on financing and technology transfer."

He rebuked "some countries" for foot-dragging, however.

"At the same time, we have seen how some of the greatest emitting countries have continued to bide their time. They want to see others lead the way, and have been unwilling to be held accountable by a sceptical public opinion.

"That strategy is untenable. It provides no global answer. It does not solve the threat of climate change."