Connie Hedegaard: journalist turned Europe's 'Ms. Climate'

28th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

As Denmark's climate minister, she has been setting the stage for the UN climate summit hosted by the Danish capital next month -- a task for which the charismatic minister has travelled the globe for two years in an effort to garner political support for a post-Kyoto accord.

Copenhagen -- Denmark's Connie Hedegaard, Europe's new climate commissioner, is a former journalist who quickly came to the fore as her country's "Ms. Climate."

As Denmark's climate minister, she has been setting the stage for the UN climate summit hosted by the Danish capital next month -- a task for which the charismatic minister has travelled the globe for two years in an effort to garner political support for a post-Kyoto accord.

"There's no doubt the Commission is getting a woman who speaks her mind and isn't afraid to raise her voice if she doesn't get what she wants," Christian Huettemeier of centre-left daily Politiken said.

"I rather set the stakes higher than lower," Hedegaard, dubbed "Connie H." by local media, recently told AFP.

Now 49, the minister was first elected to Denmark's parliament in 1984 and was at the time the conservative party's -- and the country's -- youngest MP.

She quit politics six years later to write for Berlingske Tidende, a conservative daily, and was the host of a public affairs show on Danish public television when Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the previous prime minister, recruited her in 2004 to become environment minister.

She threatened to quit her cabinet posts twice since then, the last time in April when current Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen refused to take her along to a climate meeting with US President Barack Obama.

"She ended up getting what she wanted," Huettemeier said, explaining Hedegaard's strong personality sometimes leads to conflicts, but also makes the laid-back minister of the Conservative party's moderate wing a "very popular" politician.

Hedegaard's former experience puts her at ease in front of cameras and she craves the spotlight, something that at times irritates her colleagues.

And the minister got her fair share of media attention when named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people of 2009 for her fight against climate change.

A sign of her commitment, she hosted in July an environment ministers' conference in Ilulissat, Greenland, a small city facing the Northern hemisphere's largest glacier, melting because of global warming.

Nevertheless, Huettemeier explained, "many prefer sending her off to Brussels than seeing her become Denmark's foreign minister, as we can't control what she says."

AFP/Expatica

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