As former European Commissioner for Climate Action and as host Minister of the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Connie Hedegaard has been at the sharp end of global agreements. While the Copenhagen talks ended with a breakthrough recognition of the scientific case for restraining temperature rises to no more than 2°C, the accord failed to achieve commitments to reducing emissions. The outcome frustrated many and Hedegaard has subsequently described the eight-draft, 115-country process as a ‘nightmare’. Hedegaard refused to give up.
Two years later in Durban, she made a stand against fierce opposition to push through a timetable for new negotiations, this time designed to create a global pact on emissions reductions. The 2015 UNFCCC in Paris is the culmination of that timetable and the global pact, if it is achieved, will come into force in 2020. Presiding over the European 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, which commits to a 40% reduction in emissions, Hedegaard said: “We have sent a strong signal to the rest of the world. We have now done our homework and now it’s up to other big economies to do theirs".