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Remarks by Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesman, at the Launch of the Government of Norway's Climate Neutral Pilot Project

Oslo, 30 August 2011-Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development,

Dag StrÝmsnes, Division Director, Agency for Public Management and eGovernment,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director, thank you for inviting UNEP to address this meeting.

Yet again Norway is demonstrating leadership on the urgency of a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy while embracing creative and forward-looking solutions to achieve those aims.

UNEP is delighted that the report Kick the Habit, launched at World Environment Day in New Zealand in 2008, is serving as a guide and a blueprint for your pilot.

Your deliberations, discussions and decisions on how to achieve climate neutrality within the Norwegian government can inspire other members of the climate neutral network and beyond to evolve their plans and actions onto a higher level.

The United Nations itself is also travelling this same road under an initiative called Greening the Blue and would be delighted to share our experiences with you.

Earlier this year, the UN produced a comprehensive carbon footprint across all its agencies and programme including peacekeeping to act as a foundation for action.

UNEP has been climate neutral since 2008 and this year opened its new office in Nairobi which is energy neutral-combining solar panels, energy efficiency appliances and passive air conditioning to generate as much energy as it consumes.

Many people smiled at the idea of a building in East Africa achieving this-but as often is the case, once you put your mind to such initiatives, the challenges can be far more surmountable than the critics presume.

Minister, it is just over three years since we shared a platform in Monaco at UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum to launch the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) with environment ministers and representative of Costa Rica, Iceland and New Zealand along with cities including Arendal.

Over the past three years a great deal has been achieved-CN Net has grown to encompass 10 countries; 19 cities, close to 170 companies, over 50 associations and organization and seven regions including Aust-Agder here in Norway.

Members represent the very differing circumstances and economic departure points of developed and developing nations.

While the formal climate negotiations under the UN struggle to achieve a new legally binding outcome, actions under initiatives such as CN Net can demonstrate paths and provide momentum towards that goal of a cooperative outcome among nations so urgently needed to keep a global temperature rise under 2 degrees C this century.

The fact is that the world is moving on climate change and the other sustainable challenges for this generation.

Indeed, wherever you look the green shoots of a Green Economy are emerging literally everywhere and confounding the critics.

Take solar power as one barometer-in 2002 one private equity firm in London estimated that that annual installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays might reach 1.5 gigawatts (GW) by 2010.

In fact, 17.5 GW was installed in 2010, up 130% from 2009. And PV installations are forecast to rise further this year, by perhaps 20.5GW, taking global capacity to around 50 GW - the equivalent of around 15 nuclear reactors.

A few weeks ago, UNEP in collaboration with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, launched its annual assessment of investments in clean, green energy.

Investments were up over 30 per cent to a record $211 billion globally with more invested in developing economies than developed ones and covering wind, solar and geothermal.

The new assessment also show that the range of countries accessing green energy is also widening.

In Kenya for example several hundred Megawatts of geothermal have been installed in the past few years with a target of 1,200 MW by 2018.

Wind turbine prices have fallen by 18 per cent in the past two years reflecting, as with solar, increased manufacturing capacity and fierce competition in supply chains.

There are multiple reasons why governments are adopting the kinds of smart public policies that are catalyzing such investments from the urgent need for improved energy access to climate change.

Next year, UNEP's annual assessment is likely to showcase significant investments in solar in South Africathe host of the upcoming UN climate convention COP in Durban.

South Africa's interest in solar stems in part from its concern that the levels of water needed to cool more thermal power plants will aggrevate water scaricity.

UNEP's Green Economy work also points to transformative paths being pursued across the range of sustainability challenges from sustainable agriculture and forestry to transport and water which in turn are likely to deliver multiple benefits.

Norway's contribution to the Amazon Fund in Brazil is achieving a new form of partnership for realizing deforestation reduction targets there.

Support by Norway for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD or REDD+) in, for example Indonesia, has also seen Indonesia announce a two-year moratorium on new permits to clear natural forests and peatlands..

Uganda has the world's 13th-largest land area under organic agriculture production and the most in Africa. By 2007, 296,203 hectares of land were under organic agricultural production with 206,803 certified farmers.

This constitutes an increase of 359 per cent in terms of number of farmers and 60 per cent in terms of acreage, respectively, from 2002 to 2007.

It is also assisting to tackle climate change by storing carbon in soils while tackling poverty-organic farmers in Uganda are getting around a third more for their produce on global markets.

Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

The question pre-occupying many people across the globe is how to accelerate and scale-up such transitions.

That preoccupation is now firmly focused on Rio+20 in June next year under the two central themes-a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

And an Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.

The preparatory discussions among governments, but also including business, scientists and civil society generally, are shaping and sharpening possible elements of broad, cooperative 'big ticket' issues.

One of those echoes directly to your meeting here today namely green public procurement.

  • Public purchasing accounts for 23% of GDP on average around the globe. In some countries, like Brazil and India, it approaches 50%. In the OECD, it averages 15% of very large economies.

The 23% can easily enough tip entire markets into the sustainability space. It is calculated that if California, Illinois, Ohio, New York and New England adopt a new fuel efficiency standard, it would become the new standard for the US because it will no longer be worthwhile for it to produce to a lower standard.

The same is true in virtually all markets - the tipping point is reached well below the 50% range.

So governments could commit to introducing sustainability criteria in their purchasing in a set programme, beginning immediately with what is ready today - green energy, forest products, fish products and organic food.

And widening the circle as agreed standards emerge and as markets are available to provide the desired goods. This pledge is fully possible at Rio + 20.

Moving forward on REDD+, both in Durban and in Rio next year also offer transformative pathways.

UNEP, in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization, has also been evolving the scientific understanding of so called non C02 pollutants such as black carbon and ground level ozone which afford fast action on climate change including in the Arctic but with a range of public health and agricultural productivity benefits.

Indeed, our last report launched during the climate negotiations in Bonn in June indicates that comprehensive action here could over the near term keep a global temperature rise under 2 Degrees C perhaps under 1.5 degrees C.

Minister, I was delighted to learn that Norway has signalled support for UNEP's report on policy options for these pollutants to be launched in advance of the Durban climate COP.

And for UNEP's plans to next year to promote regional air pollution agreements on these short-lived climate forcers as a compliment to action on C02 and the other greenhouse gases and in support of the formal UN negotiations.

Perhaps within this work we have another possible cooperative outcome for Rio+20, a further area of action for members of the CN Net and complimentary and cost effective ways towards achieving climate neutrality faster than some may suppose.

Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

Today marks another chapter in Norway's leadership on climate change and the sustainability challenges facing your country and the world at large.

Over the coming weeks, UNEP and the members of CN Net plan to discuss and assess how best to take this partnership forward over the coming years in order to step up the impact and implementation of our shared vision and goals.

Minister we would be keen to explore how together we might showcase what Norway and others are achieving in the field of climate neutrality perhaps at the upcoming UN climate convention meeting in Durban.

Thank you for inviting me to address your meeting and for Norway's support for UNEP and its mission to bring environment and sustainability to centre of economies across the globe.

The challenge of climate change remains as urgent, if not more urgent, than three years ago when the CN Net was born.

But some countries, companies and cities are seeing it as one path which also offers efficiencies, competitiveness, the opportunity to grow new industries and generate new green jobs.

Meanwhile the options for action and the creative solutions already being demonstrated show climate neutrality is do-able which in turn should serve to inspire and to strengthen international resolve as we head to Durban in November and travel again on the Road to Rio for June 2012.

Full Release

The range of countries accessing green energy is widening.



Further Resources

UNEP Climate Neutral Network


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