2007-12-07 Gaby Katz
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Interesting point in the Study of Swedish Climate Expert

Activists paint their bodies for campaign against climate change during a demonstration as Indonesian police block a road to keep them from proceeding to the U.N climate conference venueActivists paint their bodies for campaign against climate change during a demonstration as Indonesian police block a road to keep them from proceeding to the U.N climate conference venue
10,000 delegates from around the world hammer out a new global action plan in Bali. Joining me in the studio now is an advisor to the Swedish government Gerd Johnsson-Latham - if you were in Bali right now - what would you be pushing for?

“I would indeed be pushing for the need to look at how women and men are different in terms of causing pollution, in terms of C02 emissions - because women and men have different access to resources and also have different priorities. And that is the case both in a country like Sweden but also globally. And also I would like to discuss what kind of well being we are looking for when we are use lots of resources. I don’t think we can look at climate as only a question of energy. We need to look at: what is a good life? And what are the means we need to have a good life? I think we have looked too much into material consumption and that has not given us a good life. You may find that people with less material goods, for instance in Vanuatu and other countries, rate themselves as having a better life - if you look at the Happy Planet survey, compared to rich countries such as the U.S. and Sweden.”

Gerd Johnsson-Latham, it's good to have you here with us on Network Europe – do sit tight, we'll talk a little more about your research later on in the programme - but we’re going to turn to Bali itself now. The goal is to have another agreement in place to take over when the Kyoto protocol reaches its sell by date in 2012. The deadline to have all the t's crossed and the i's dotted by is 2009. The Swedish delegation in Bali is keen to see to it that the deadline is kept because Sweden will hold the chairmanship of the European Union during the last phase of the ratification process. Agnes von Gersdorff is a member of the 40-strong Swedish delegation.

“This is a major focus for Sweden since they’re going to hold the EU presidency in the autumn of 2009. And we’re working as hard as we can to make this possible. We feel that this is important in order to make it possible not to have a gap after 2012.”

One of the sensitive issues being discussed in Bali is whether or not the reductions of greenhouse gases emissions should be voluntary. It's seen as one of the stumbling blocks to a new common policy.

“It is a very tricky issue but in general, of course, we feel that finding targets are quite important in order to have the carbon market going.”

Another stumbling block: a fresh United Nations Human Development Report concludes that industrialised nations are to blame for climate change and should be prepared to face the consequences. But some rich nations argue that rising economies such as China and India should also be prepared to share the burden. Where does Sweden stand on the issue?

Gerd Johnsson-LathamGerd Johnsson-Latham
“We would like to see adequate contributions from some of the more developed developing countries and that of course refers to India and China. There has been quite considerable economic development so that some of the countries that have developed economically need to contribute if we are to achieve our target, but we feel that it is the industrialised countries that have to take the lead.”

The world is developing with cross-border trade – cars rule the streets as we just heard - does all this talk of being environmentally friendly risk putting a halt to development and trade?

“I think we have to be aware of the fact that transportation and such causes at least 25% of all the C02 emissions that we face today. So I think we really must think twice whether or not we need to import things as we do today. And we also need to think whether or not we need to do all the travelling we do today. I think there is also too strong a focus on environmentally friendly cars. We need to look closer at environmentally friendly busses and collective means of transportation. I think when we look back 20 years from now, if we still can do that by that time – we must find that this way of travelling with one person in every car is completely unsustainable.”

You're interested in another aspect to the debate and have made an independent report and that's all about gender differences when it comes to our environmental footprint - explain.

“Yes. Women and men cause different ecological footprints, even if you look within a family – a rich family and a poor family. In both cases, the men have more access to resources and they also have, in general, a greater mobility compared to women. So they travel more, and because of the travel component in the ecological footprint, they cause a larger damage to the globe.”

Even in a country like Sweden?

“Absolutely. Even in a country like Sweden which from the outside is perceived as a very gender equal country. In Sweden for instance, 75% all transportation using private vehicles is done by men. Seventy-five percent of all the cars in Sweden are registered under men.”


“Because it’s mainly men who use cars, and it’s still mainly men who travel to work.”

Louis Palmer of Switzerland sits inside his solar powered-car called Solar Taxi outside the venue of the U.N. climate change conference in Nusa Dua, Bali island, IndonesiaLouis Palmer of Switzerland sits inside his solar powered-car called Solar Taxi outside the venue of the U.N. climate change conference in Nusa Dua, Bali island, Indonesia
Women here do work – very few stay at home mothers – how are they getting themselves to work?

“Far more women than men have to rely on busses, metros, collective transportation. And one can say that because men are better paid than women, men’s time is more valuable. So men prefer and can go by car much more than women.”

This seems rather shocking to me - you’ve presented these ideas to the Swedish government - what did they say?

“Well, they found that these were interesting but it still remains to be seen what action will be taken.”

Gerd - listening to all these contributions from our partner stations - what strikes you about how Europeans react to climate change to those in say North America at one end of the spectrum and South Africa at the other?

“I think everywhere on the globe, there are people and strong groups who understand climate threats. For instance in the U.S. – in California, I think Arnold Schwarzenegger and also several other states in the U.S. have understood the problems fully. I also think that the government of South Africa shows remarkable understanding and is a very strong partner for countries all over the globe who understand the seriousness of this problem. I think in the EU, the understanding is mixed because there are so many short term interests, notably among strong economic groups like car producers and others who would like to profit from the current system and also from things that may appear as transitory ways of getting into a more modern society. But in reality, I think will prove insufficient for solving the problems ahead of us.”

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