Will ten prime ministers around the Baltic Sea go for
sustainable development in June?
By Gunnar Boye Olesen,
What are the visions for sustainable development in a region of
industrialised countries? This question was raised by the prime ministers of the
10 countries around the Baltic Sea when they met in 1996. Now, almost two years
later, more or less clear pictures appear for the seven sectors that were
analysed since then in intergovernmental discussions.
In the energy sector, the vision of the process follows a
"sustainable development scenario" with phase-out of nuclear power and reduction
of CO2 emissions by 30% in 1995-2030. This official scenario involves
increased use of cogeneration of heat and power, a shift from coal to gas,
renewable energy, and an increase in energy efficiency.
The scenario includes economic growth both east and west of the
former iron curtain, but by far the most growth is estimated in the eastern
parts, leading to almost a closing of the income gap between east and west by
the year 2030. This growth imposes additional demands for energy services, as
well as increased costs. However, it is estimated that the district heat and
electricity prices can be kept stable and that the overall cost of the energy
supply can be reduced from 7% of GNP to 4% of GNP.
NGOs for More Reductions
INFORSE-Europe, Friends of the Earth, and the Coalition Clean
Baltic participated as NGO networks in the process.
As NGOs, we had to conclude that the "sustainable development
scenario", described above, is not sufficient to support sustainable development
with equal opportunities for the developing world.
50% vs 30% CO2 Reduction
If we want sustainable development with global CO2
reductions of 50% by the middle of the next century, we have to reduce the
CO2 emissions in the industrialised countries by 80-90% by 2050 and
50-80% by 2030. This would allow the developing countries to raise their living
standards, which, even if done efficiently, will increase CO2
emissions. Such a CO2 reduction by industrialized nations will lead
to stabilisation of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, and will
probably limit the global warming to +1°C during the next century. If the
climate change is limited to this level, we will avoid the mass destruction of
ecosystems that more warming could bring, and only a few islanders will have to
pack up and leave their flooded is lands.(1)
(1)With these reductions it will he possible to keep global
emissions below the IPCC low-emission scenario (IS92c) and warming probably
High Efficiency is Solution
The official 30% CO2-reduction scenario is based on
the assumption that 20% increase in energy efficiency can be achieved by 2030
for all countries, except for the industrial sectors that have higher estimates
(30% reductions in the West, 50% in the East) and for electricity consumption in
households, where no efficiency gain is foreseen. The last is due to an expected
increase in electrical appliances, eating up the efficiency gains. Even for
Western Europe, these assumptions are very conservative for the long time period
between now and 2030. For Eastern Europe, it is generally agreed that the
efficiency potentials are far higher. A rough estimate shows that a 40% increase
in energy efficiency, instead of 20%, will yield about a 50% CO2
emission reduction rather than 30%. In the above scenario, the price for
the energy efficiency measures is estimated to be about 2/3 of the cost of
providing the energy. Unfortunately, the official scenario does not include
detailed studies of the energy consuming sectors. Based on other studies, it is
quite realistic to assume that an energy efficiency gain of more than 40% can be
achieved by 2030 for less than 2/3 of the energy supply costs (2). With this
assumption, development with a CO2 reduction of 50% or more is
possible at a price lower than that of the 30% CO2 reduction
described above, and still includes phase-out of nuclear power.
(2) A good description of energy efficiency potentials can be
found in the book of "Factor Four, Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource use"
Earthscan Publications, London 1997.
This would be a real sustainable development vision.
Now, the officials of the ten Baltic Sea countries are
discussing the recommendation to the prime ministers who will meet in June. From
NGOs, we will propose that the real sustainable development vision with at least
50% CO2 reduction be adopted by the prime ministers as their
INFORSE-Europe, Gl. Kirkevej 56,