Statsministerens tale ved åbningen af Global Green Growth-konference i Glyptoteket den 8. november 2010

Det talte ord gælder

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Royal Highness,

I would like to thank the Climate Consortium for organizing this event and all of you for attending. I am pleased to have this opportunity to share with you some thoughts on green growth.

* * *

Moving the green growth agenda forward is becoming one of the defining political, commercial and intellectual projects of our time. From national governments to the United Nations; from global corporations to individual entrepreneurs; from grass roots to advanced innovation institutions; we are all seeking to engage.

Some are driven by the urgency of the challenges facing our societies today. Those include

- creating a sustainable basis for long-term recovery
- fuelling long-term growth and employment
- addressing climate change through concerted global action; and
- ensuring our long-term energy supply and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.

Others are moving to take advantage of the enormous business opportunities that the transition to a green economy present.

And yet others see the green transformation as an environmental and moral imperative.

Whatever the motivations, the mounting level of activity in the green sector is a reflection of the structural changes that are rapidly shaping a new world economy.

As we look into an unknown future and towards a global transition to a low carbon economy, we face a fundamental dilemma between what you might term a political as opposed to a commercial logic:

One the one hand, as politicians we want to maintain as much flexibility in policy choices as possible. We know that things will change in unexpected ways and we want to maintain our ability to adjust the course as we move ahead. When we establish the energy policy of the years ahead, we need to take into account that we do not know about the technology of the future.

One the other hand, business and investors favour long term predictability and a stable and transparent long term investment environment. Also, they want higher profits for more insecure investments. To put it short, investors require less flexibility and more stability and predictability in policy choices and incentive structures.

Our challenge is to make this political and commercial logic work together in order to open for investments in the green transition on larger scale than today. This may well be the only viable avenue towards the goal of a global green economy. A goal that is vital in regard to addressing climate change, to securing sufficient provisions of energy, and to maintaining the competitive edge of our economies.

Without any doubt the potential is there. To realise it, however, we must accelerate and renew our international cooperation, engaging the true drivers of the green economy. Especially the regulators, the producers, the investors and the innovators – not forgetting the thinkers and those who are finding the solutions of tomorrow.

Denmark stands ready to do its part in this effort.

* * *

Historically, Denmark has been among the leading countries pushing the green transition, based on a determined and forward-looking national energy policy.

The first generation of this policy - version 1.0 - was born out of the oil crisis of the 70’ies. During this period, we realized the importance of reducing our dependency on imported oil and our vulnerability to rising energy prices.

Since then, the Danish economy has grown by almost 80 percent – until the crisis hit us – while energy consumption has remained more or less constant. And CO2 emissions have been reduced as renewables have been phased in to our main energy production.

These results were achieved through increases in our energy and CO2 efficiency, which ranks among the highest in the OECD. And we changed the composition of our energy consumption so that renewable energy today makes up almost 20 percent.

Through a determined effort, we have increased the efficiency of consumers’ and enterprises’ energy consumption. For example through

- high energy standards for buildings and energy labelling schemes for electrical appliances,
- public campaigns to promote energy savings in households,
- energy saving agreements with industry and
- taxes on consumption of fossil fuels.

We have also prioritized research, development and demonstration of new technologies and systems.

We have developed a strong Danish commercial engagement in energy efficiency and green solutions. A number of Danish companies have become world leading within their fields. Today, almost 12 percent of our exports come from clean tech, the largest share among the EU countries.

With a growing global demand for green solutions, there is considerable potential for the Danish economy. But competition is also increasing. Danish businesses will have to adapt to the new realities. We cannot take for granted that the green transition will automatically create new jobs in Denmark.

In order to meet these challenges, we need to develop a new and ambitious energy strategy version 2.0.

That is why the Danish Government, in 2008, established the independent Commission on Climate Change Policy. We asked the Commission to present a blue print for a complete phasing out of fossil fuel from the Danish economy by 2050.

The Commission’s report shows that turning this ambitious goal into reality will be extremely complicated. We need to balance a number of considerations, including economic growth, employment, sound public finances and competitiveness. And it will take time, careful planning, smart policies and – not least – political will.

But the Commission report also demonstrates that it is possible and that it is indeed compatible with our future economic growth perspectives.

This is a national goal that Denmark must work for over the coming decades.

The Danish Government is now examining the Commission’s report. Later this month at a meeting of our national Growth Forum, we will discuss possible solutions to move Denmark towards a fossil free economy.

And in early 2011, the complete strategy for freeing ourselves from fossil fuels by 2050 will be presented. I believe it will be among the first roadmaps in the world on how to become fully independent on fossil fuels.

* * *

As we address today’s challenges of growth, climate change and energy dependency, it is clear that our efforts cannot stand alone.

We need stronger and deeper international cooperation to move forward the green transition.

Global action through the UN has to be the overarching framework for this effort. The Copenhagen Accord was an important step forward in creating such a framework. COP16 in Cancun will be an opportunity to make further progress in the UN track.

At the same time, we must push forward with the green transition based on the engagement of actors such as you who are present here today. In this room, you clearly sense the will to act and to take advantage of the opportunities that the transition presents.

We need to foster practical solutions, new business ventures and investments. We need to develop regulatory models that can create incentives for businesses and investors to engage in green projects. And we need to match those who develop ideas for new green solutions with those who can fund and produce them.

In short, we need a new type of international cooperation that can bring these different players together. We also need a version 2.0 of our international cooperation on green growth.

The Danish Government’s vision is to create a global forum to identify the main challenges and find practical solutions. So we can further the green transition on a truly global scale. So we can bring on board all relevant stakeholders. Our goal is to convene such a forum next year.

This will not be a purely government-run initiative. Nor will it be a purely Danish initiative. We see this as a partnership among businesses, investors, regulators and knowledge institutions involved in green growth from all over the world. And we see this as a venue for making the political perspectives meet with the business and investment outlook.

We must jointly translate ambitious words in to ambitious action.

Let me conclude by noting that this is an extremely appropriate venue to have this conference. This impressive building was founded by one of the great Danish industrialists, Carl Jacobsen. He was a very visionary man and a leading force in Denmark’s transition to what was then a “new economy”. Let us be inspired by his foresight and willingness to take bold steps as we embark on the transition to the new green economy.

I thank you for your attention and wish you a productive conference.

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