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PM: Time to get serious on climate change

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PM: Time to get serious on climate change
At a sustainability conference in Copenhagen, the PM stressed the need to act on climate change. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Scanpix
11:37 CEST+02:00
Helle Thorning-Schmidt told a sustainability conference on Wednesday that it's time for action on climate change but she later added that it was doubtful that European leaders would agree on ambitious climate targets.
Speaking to an audience of more than 750 Sustainability Science experts, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told delegates on Wednesday about the recent flooding of her house.
 
She said this brought home to her that it was time to move beyond the question of whether climate change was happening and to refocus on what should be done about it.
 
The prime minister said that Denmark has worked hard to provide conditions to encourage the green energy technology sector, resulting in a tripling of green energy exports which now represent more than 10 percent of the nation's total exports. 
 
"People in Denmark understand that there is a cost for climate action, such as higher environmental taxes and increased recycling," she said.
 
Also in Copenhagen on Wednesday, European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, gave one of her last official speeches before leaving the post next week to make way for a new commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker. Hedegaard said that the European member states had "no excuses for not acting" on finding agreement on the proposed 2030 climate strategy in Brussels by Friday. The proposal from the European Commission includes a target for a 40 percent emission cut compared to 1990 rates but is being resisted by some EU states.
 
Speaking to parliament's European Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Thorning-Schmidt acknowledged that the Brussels meeting was unlikely to produce results as ambitious as Denmark might like.
 
"I will say it very honestly: It is quite doubtful that we will get as far as we'd like from the Danish side. And it is not a given that we will reach an agreement on the 2030 package at the top meeting. If we do manage to reach an agreement, it could very well be on lower goals than the Commission has suggested," she told the committee, according to Altinget.
 
The IARU Sustainability Science Congress is meeting in Copenhagen until Friday and is intended to encourage policy makers to meet to discuss global sustainability issues with a range of different experts.
 
Joe Turner is a freelance science writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @bucksci.

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