‘Copenhagen climate conference is not make or break’: expert

If no climate agreement concluded at the upcoming Copenhagen climate conference then it will come next year, according to a key advisor to Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, current Chair of the EU.

The conference, which will be held in the Danish capital in December, has been billed as a ‘now or never’ event and that the world has no ‘plan B’. This is not the case, Lars-Erik Liljelund, Reinfeldt’s climate advisor, has claimed.

“If there is no agreement in Copenhagen, then it will happen next year, probably in Bonn,” Liljelund says.

Most of those involved in the process leading up to the conference which opens on December 7th realize that a binding agreement is unlikely.

Already back in August Fredrik Reinfeldt, for whom the conference is a culmination of Sweden’s period as Chair of the EU, conceded that the two degree global temperature target was in jeopardy.

Reinfeldt expressed confidence however that a deal would be struck but conceded that much of the ambition from 2006 has been lost and that the distances between world leaders are too great to agree to anything resembling a new Kyoto.

The EU meanwhile has been busy billing the conference as a crossroads for the world’s nations to tackle the climate change issue.

Liljelund’s comments take in this context indicate therefore a further easing of expectations on the outcome of the conference.

He argues that Copenhagen should be seen more as a launch pad for continued efforts and negotiations.

“It was a little unwise to describe the Copenhagen meeting as a more important meeting that it in fact is,” Lars-Erik Liljelund argues.

He does not however see this as an insurmountable problem.

The negotiations are set to continue next year; two meetings are also scheduled – one in Bonn in the summer, and one in Mexico in December.

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Copenhagen to miss 2025 zero emissions target

Copenhagen will not reach its longstanding target of becoming CO2 emissions neutral by 2025.

Cyclists on Copenhagen's
Cyclists on Copenhagen's "Lille Langebro" bridge. The Danish capital has admitted to errors in emissions calculations and says it won't be climate neutral in 2025, a long-standing target. Photo by Febiyan on Unsplash

A city councillor told newspaper Jyllands-Posten that the city, which has long stated its aim of becoming the world’s first CO2-neutral capital, would not meet that target as scheduled.

“I won’t need to stand there in 2025 and say ‘hurrah, we’re CO2 neutral’, because I know that CO2 will still be emitted (then),” elected representative Ninna Hedeager Olsen of the Copenhagen Municipality environment section told Jyllands-Posten.

Tourist board Visit Denmark has previously used the emissions goal to market the city, while Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen named the target during the C40 climate summit when it was hosted by Copenhagen in 2019.

But the municipality has included wind energy produced in other municipalities in its calculations on energy sustainability, according to the newspaper report.

This means it effectively still emits CO2 overall.

The company which supplies energy to the city, Hofor, has erected windmills in a number of municipalities outside of Copenhagen. But the electricity produced by these windmills has been used in calculations of CO2 emissions in both Copenhagen and in the municipalities in which the windmills are actually located.

The replication of the energy production in data for different locations can “rightly” be said to be “cheating the scales”, according to Hedeager Olsen.

But that is not the only problem in calculations of the city’s emissions, she also admitted.

“There are loads of things that haven’t been counted,” she said.

The goal to become climate neutral by 2025 was first set by the city in 2012 in a climate plan adopted by the city government.

Copenhagen was the following year awarded the Cities Climate Leadership award for the plan.