The aim of the COP21 (Conference of Parties) summit is to reach an international agreement valid for all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the UNFCCC’s (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) objective of limiting global warming to less than 2°C. This implies that carbon dioxide emissions need to be cut by 60 per cent by 2050 compared to 2010.
Sabine Froning, Head of Vattenfall’s PRA and Stakeholder Relations, explains why COP21 is important:
“Because climate change is already happening. And without a global agreement I think the perspectives are actually getting a little bit gloomy. Without a global agreement it will be extremely difficult to stop climate change.”
Biggest polluters on board
At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009 the world leaders failed in reaching an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
What's different now compared to then?
“The US and China have been on board pretty much from the start. Those two countries are among the biggest polluters. Without them it would be really difficult to get to an agreement. And today, the awareness that climate change is actually happening, is also bigger than it used to be. Also, technological progress has ensured that today there are technical possibilities to tackle the problem. Previously, protecting the climate has merely been seen as a cost by many. Today basically everybody seems to agree that mitigating climate change actually has more upsides also economically than downsides.”
Sustainable Innovation Forum
Vattenfall will closely follow the COP21 negotiations but will also be present in other arenas. The company sponsors the Sustainable Innovation Forum which is the official business forum of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in co-operation with Climate Action. Magnus Hall, President and CEO of Vattenfall, and CFO Ingrid Bonde will be present at the Forum.
Sabine Froning states that Vattenfall sponsors the Sustainable Innovation Forum to show that the company strongly supports the ambition to conclude a binding and ambitious global climate protocol to meet the challenge of limiting, global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
“The second thing is to show that we are totally aware of the need to exit fossil fuels. In the energy sector, not only in the electricity sector. We also want to showcase areas where we contribute, be that by investing in the growth of wind power, be that in providing e-mobility or district heating solutions. Last but not least, we have always been strong advocates of carbon pricing as a relevant tool to make sure reduction targets are effectively met.”
“We acknowledge that we have been part of the problem. And now we can also show that we can be part of the solution.”
Vattenfall will also provide the youngsters from different schools in Sweden in the project Gnistan a platform to engage at the Sustainable Forum both by acting as reporters and by showcasing their own ideas on what sustainable living could look like in the future.
“They will also participate in the Youth Forum where they will be on stage with Magnus Hall as well during the Sustainable Innovation Forum,” says Froning and explains why 15 high school pupils will be present in Paris.
“They are the generation that will be even more affected by the decisions that will be taken in Paris. What will be negotiated there is about their future. We have prepared them by providing them with insights about the climate conference, what will happen there, why it is important and also why it is so difficult.”
During COP21 Vattenfall will also organise an e-mobility event at the Swedish embassy in Paris.
“We will showcase some best practises from the Nordic countries and discuss with policy makers how to incentivise the turn of the transport sector away from fossil fuels to low or no carbon electricity,” says Froning.
Despite the fact that the national contributions which have been tabled so far collectively fail to put the world on a 2°C trajectory, Sabine Froning is optimistic ahead of the climate summit.
“There are many positive signs. At the beginning of this week, environment and energy ministers from around the world have been holding meetings in advance of the big summit. What we hear from these talks makes me very confident that there will be a meaningful agreement. Obama has given a clear sign that he means business when talking about climate protection, notably by adopting a clean power plan and rejecting the Keystone pipeline. This week, European finance ministers have also committed to financially supporting the efforts of developing countries. There are only few countries that have not yet submitted their emission reduction pledges. The World Bank has issued a strong warning as regard the consequences of a failure. All this makes me quite confident that this time it’s for real. ”