Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to see that so many have gathered here tonight to participate in this meeting on a matter of great concern to us all, the global threat of climate change.
In 1972 Sweden was the host of the first United Nations Environment Conference. I had the possibility to attend a number of meetings and soon realized the necessity for us to find a key to sustainable development. I would say that this was also when the world woke up and started to recognize the threats to our water and air.
But it seems it has taken until now before these threats have become common knowledge. They are high on the agendas of governments, organizations and media all around the globe, and it is significant that the Nobel Peace Prize this year has been awarded to a personality and an organization that have worked hard to warn against climate change.
Every other year I invite a small number of scientists to discuss a specific environmental theme in a meeting arranged by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. During the last couple of meetings we have been dealing with global warming.
In June we went to Greenland where the result of climate change is more evident than anywhere else in the world today. From a global perspective the development in Greenland also is the most threatening. If the ice of Greenland were to collapse altogether the effects on the level of the oceans and the low coastal areas of the world would be immense. In fact history already tells us that the original Greenland population immigrating from Iceland and Norway in the Viking period disappeared as climate change erased their culture.
This is a lesson and warning to us all as good as anyone. Conditions for life on this planet are changing rapidly today. Man-made global warming through emission of greenhouse gases, by pollution and by disposal of dangerous waste is a danger to eco systems and conditions for life.
We must break the link between economic growth and the negative impact on the environment. This is the real challenge we are facing today. I do believe that economic growth can be made sustainable. The new technology is to some extent already here, and it is being developed continuously. Environmental degradation actually hampers economic growth and increases poverty. Sustainable use of natural resources is a precondition for economic development. Consequently, there should be no conflict between economic growth and the reduction of poverty on one hand and measures to protect the environment on the other.
The less privileged are the first to suffer from polluted water and soil. They also have the least ability to adjust to a changing environment. The rich countries must take the lead otherwise it is impossible to ask the less privileged to make sacrifices.
Action today is important for growth tomorrow. It is necessary for the sake of future generations and continued life on this planet. Lack of action means a tremendous loss in human as well as economic capital.
In all of this the international business community has a role of great importance. Companies have been central in creating the problems but they are also vital in finding the solutions.
I find it encouraging that the international business community now seems to take a more active interest. The3Cinitiative “Combat Climate Change — A Business Leaders´ Initiative" is a good example. I note that it has rapidly developed into a global business movement joined by almost 50 major enterprises from all continents. I have read the “Roadmap" to be presented today and I find its series of recommendations most thoughtful, constructive and valuable. A global ceiling for acceptable temperature increase, policies for market-driven change, including emissions trading and a great push to support carbon-efficient technology — these are indeed necessary ingredients for success in the urgent need to combat climate change.
The overriding message is that global warming contains enormous risks but also huge opportunities for companies and investors. We have to take the initiative now and turn it into our future prosperity.
Good luck with your important work contributing to Combat Climate Change.