Speech by Minister Haavisto at Bled Forum
Key note speech by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in a panel discussion “Climate Change – Saving the Planet by Going Circular” at Bled Forum on Tuesday, 3 September 2019
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It is a great pleasure for me to be here today. Climate change is an issue that affects us all and it is an issue that we have to solve together.
The global nature of the problem is made clear as we observe the forest fires in the Amazon. They are a tragedy not only for the people directly affected, but for our planet as a whole. The fires concretely demonstrate how interlinked the global community is.
International cooperation continues to be key in the fight against climate change. Brazil has also confirmed its commitment to this end through various international agreements, including the Paris Agreement.
The message from the IPCC’s latest report was clear: we need to increase the ambition level of climate actions.
In all EU member states, public opinion is calling for action. Raising awareness is not enough. We all agree that there is
a clear necessity for an ambitious and fast response to climate change at all levels: national, EU and global.
The Finnish government takes climate change with utmost seriousness. So seriously in fact, that our government programme starts with the words “climate change”.
Our national climate targets are aimed high: the Finnish government will work to ensure Finland is carbon neutral by 2035 and carbon negative soon after that. We will achieve these goals by accelerating measures to reduce emissions, and by strengthening carbon sinks.
Finland aims to become the world’s first fossil-free welfare state, but I must acknowledge that we are facing strong competition from particularly our Nordic neighbours, as we always do.
During the Finnish EU Presidency, our aim is to achieve progress on the EU’s long term strategy so that latest before the end of the year the leaders could agree on the EU’s 2050 vision. The EU can and must lead the way.
A clear majority of Member States have already given their support for this goal. Different countries, including our host Slovenia, have already taken bold steps to lead by example. In climate policy, we can all be bigger than our size.
The Arctic region is warming up more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe. The ice is melting and the permafrost thawing. Within the EU, Finland promotes a policy that respects the need to protect the Arctic region’s particularly sensitive nature. Mitigation of climate change must be at the heart of our Arctic policy.
Our current consumption exceeds the Earth’s capacity. This is unsustainable. There is no backup, no planet B.
Circular economy presents an opportunity to address this issue.
It enables us to reuse the natural resources we have already used, produce less waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry.
Promoting the transition to a circular economy is one of the main priorities of Finland’s EU presidency. New measures are needed especially in areas related to construction, textiles, mobility and food.
Our aim is to produce a new EU circular economy strategy.
A circular transition in the mobility, food and built environment sectors could reduce the pressure on ecosystems while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 compared to 2012 levels.
In EU alone, switching to a more circular use of the four most commonly used materials – steel, plastics, aluminium and cement – could cut industrial emissions by more than half by 2050.
Most countries, including Finland, are too small to be self-sufficient in circularity. Thus, full circularity requires co-operation across borders. As Governments we have to collaborate and create predictable policies to enable business to transform to a circular model.
The Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda provide the foundation for international cooperation on climate action and sustainable development.
We are approaching the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September (23.9.). This will provide an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment on a global scale.
I look forward to interesting discussion on climate change here in Bled Forum.