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Swedish Prime Minister sends 'green' message to China
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15:41, April 09, 2008

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Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has said that he will talk about climate change and sustainable development issues with the Chinese leaders during his forthcoming visit to China. He's also said that he doesn't support boycotting Beijing's Olympics.

He made the remarks during a joint interview with Chinese journalists in Stockholm before he leaves for China.

The Swedish Prime Minister will speak at the Bo'ao Forum to be held in Hainan Province over the weekend and meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

This is the first time a Swedish Prime Minister visits China since 12 years ago. The following are the details of the interview.

Bilateral relations are more and more intense

Q: How do you see the relationship between China and Sweden?

PM: More and more intense since there is a great interest in Sweden concerning China, as a country, as a culture, business interest and your important link to many international questions. Actually the Chinese interest here in Sweden is also very clear, we have a lot of delegations coming to Sweden. We also have the background that we were the first country to recognize China and I always felt that even though we have different political systems, we have had very good and sound dialogue between our countries.

Q: Sweden and China are quite different, how can we cooperate in the best way?

PM: Well it is good that we can say that we have different political systems, for us human rights issue has always been important. What is important in our contacts is that Sweden is a small country, but we have had the opportunity to be a very sustainable society. I find this is of utmost importance for the Chinese leadership to have a discussion in how to create a more sustainable society concerning environment, social and cultural factors.

Q: Is it the first time that you will go to China?

PM: No, I have been there privately in the mid 1980s. And I also have been to Hong Kong a couple of times.

Q: What was your impression then?

PM: That was only at the beginning of the opening up and was very different from what I hear now there are very developed cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Then it was also a very interesting culture. I also went to the Great Wall. We will go to the Great Wall again.

Combine economic growth with reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to meet the threat of climate change

Q: We know that you will speak at the Boao Forum, so what will you talk about and you will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, what are the main issues you will talk about?

PM: Sweden is the incoming Presidency of the European Union in the autumn of 2009, that's the same time when the UN led new climate agreement will be discussed in Copenhagen. So I feel very responsible partly to be active in Europe to keep all the objectives we put up for Europe, change our economies to meet the threat of climate change, partly I will also have this discussion with the Chinese leaders since Wen Jiabao has said that “we now see the climate change effects in China”. There should have a rising interest in China about what we could do about it, what WE in the industrial and developed world can do and what China can do. I hope I can have a dialogue regarding this.

Q: Then what kind of suggestions or solutions can Sweden offer to China in environment protection, energy saving and reduction of CO2 since Sweden is considered one of the leading countries in this aspect?

PM: I think it is important to say that we have shown that you can combine economic growth with reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Our economy has grown somewhere 44-45% since the start of the Kyoto processes, at the same time we have 9% reduction of our green house gas emissions. I think that is an important message because I know that there is a feeling sometimes when we talk about climate change, some countries say that you should slow down your economic growth, something like that, that is not my perspective, it should be a sustainable growth, and it should be possible, but what should you do?

Well, you can use technology to have better energy efficient production means, we have them here in Sweden. I know that Chinese delegations are here looking at them.

We have discussions on renewable fuels in our cars since a lot of the new cars put into the market in the world today are actually in China; We also talk about sustainable cities. I think that is very important for China with many people coming into big cities, how could you build houses which do not need that much added energy to heat, how do you have energy-efficiency in housing projects? I think we should have our dialogue in these matters.

And finally I like to say with all your coal resources, in some way you need to put a price on coal to send a signal that THAT IS THE PROBLEM that you need to reduce the usage of coal and make it more interesting to get renewable energy, you have hydropower and good resources for both sun and wind power, you can do a lot on that. Clean coal yes, but it is also the mechanism to make it commercially interesting to come in with other things than the coal. I know this is starting in China, but I think it needs to be much more of it.

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