Official speeches and statements - December 16, 2016
2. Council of Ministers’ meeting - COP21, one year on (Paris - December 14, 2016)
Since 2012, the French economy has been improving. Our businesses are more competitive; 240,000 commercial jobs have been created in the last year and a half. Poverty and inequality have been reduced. Our measures have helped increase standards of living for the lowest-income households.
Those of the middle classes has been protected. I, in turn, want to continue the reforms embarked on by the governments of Jean-Marc Ayrault and Manuel Valls to improve our finances, restore our competitiveness, combat unemployment and build new rights for French people.
Reducing deficits means protecting our sovereignty and our ability to make economic choices. The deficit will go back below the 3% mark in 2017, as the European Commission has recognized. This hasn’t happened since 2008, but in order for this result to last, we must continue the action embarked on.
Strengthening the competitiveness of our businesses also means supporting growth and employment. Since 2012, through the impact of the Competitiveness and Employment Tax Credit [CICE] and the Responsibility and Solidarity Pact, euro40 billion a year has been devoted to strengthening our production system. Businesses in the industrial sector have regained the level their margins were at in the early 2000s. And labour costs in industry are now lower in France than in Germany.
So the CICE will be strengthened from January onwards, with its rate increased to 7%. The normal corporation tax rate will gradually be reduced to 28%, first for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises—SMEs—and then all businesses. I remind you that this rate corresponds exactly to the average tax rate in the Euro Area.
We must also continue supporting businesses’ investments. That’s the remit of the Public Investment Bank we’ve created, whose success is unanimously recognized.
That’s why I’ll also be releasing euro10 billion for investment, growth and competitiveness, in the third tranche of the Investing in the Future Program. The program will be organized more flexibly and will have to boost the most promising industrial sectors which have hitherto had little coverage, like agrifood, the security industries, tourism and sustainable development.
From this winter onwards, the government will also make proposals for more effectively supporting very small businesses and SMEs in the digital transition. Online resources and human support will be provided for businesses that would like to benefit from a diagnosis and fund their projects through state participation.
Combating unemployment will of course still be the government’s priority. As the President recalled a few days ago, our policy is beginning to bear fruit.
The number of job seekers registered with Pôle emploi [governmental employment agency] has fallen by 101,700 since the beginning of the year, and the unemployment rate measured by INSEE [National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies] has returned to its level of the end of 2012. This trend must be built on. One of the keys to a return to full employment is training job seekers. So I’ve decided that the plan for an additional 500,000 training places, launched in 2016, will be extended for at least six months, to provide training to those who most need it. I’m convinced that the government, the regions and the social partners will be part of this effort. (...)
The Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for International Climate Relations, made a statement on COP21, one year on.
A/ A universal agreement, implemented in record time
The Paris Agreement was adopted on 12 December 2015 by the 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- To date, 117 countries accounting for more than 80% of global emissions have ratified the Paris Agreement. This includes the European Union, as well as 18 and soon 22 European countries.
- This historic speed shows that the international community has understood the urgency of the situation.
B/ Resolutely committing Europe
At European level, the member states have decided to reduce the EU’s emissions 40% by 2030 compared with 1990. At the European Council, France is calling for talks on sharing the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to be speeded up.
- France has increased its own target in order to facilitate consensus towards a fair distribution of the effort among the member states.
- The Environment Council must go as far as possible in February 2017 towards quickly deciding the new operational rules for the carbon market and the distribution of (non-ETS) effort among member states.
C/ Mobilizing civil society: elected representatives, businesses, researchers, the public
Towns and cities have a decisive role to play in reducing pollution linked to transport, buildings, industrial production and waste, and they bear special responsibility for strengthening the resilience of coastal regions and reducing urban heat islands by creating green spaces.
On 2 December, the members of C40—the organization bringing together 86 of the world’s largest cities—made a commitment to give themselves climate action plans by 2020 that would enable temperature rises to be limited to under 1.5ºC.
- Several cities have pledged to use solely electric public transport.
Seas and oceans, which cover 70% of the earth’s surface and play a central role in regulating the climate, have been placed at the heart of the climate negotiations.
- An international conference on the Mediterranean will be held in February.
It will bring together the 22 countries of the Mediterranean rim on the basis of practical commitments and a shared action plan for protecting this common good, in the areas of water treatment, waste, fisheries and biodiversity protection.
Research has been a key element in the global awareness of climate disruption, thanks to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to which France has been a long-standing contributor.
- The Environment Ministry will finance new research programs on climate disruption, its causes and consequences, with the support of the energy transition fund.
- They will focus in particular on oceans, climate change, pollinators and biodiversity, and the links between health and the environment.
Green finance, and investment which is responsible in terms of the climate, are also important levers to mobilize.
- The Energy Transition for Green Growth Act stipulates that these practices should be implemented in several sectors, particularly through Article 173, which increases investors’ obligation to be transparent.
- This article is quoted as an example in the report published today by the Bloomberg Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
D/ Continuing to implement the [Global Climate] Action Agenda
France will remain especially involved in the major alliances it helped launch during COP21, in particular:
- the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative. The meeting of the Initiative’s board of directors during the African Union summit on 31 January will finalize the setting-up of the governance structure of the Initiative, which France will continue to back to develop 10GW of renewable energy by 2020;
- the International Solar Alliance, whose statutes are going to be ratified with a view to their swiftly coming into force so that calls for solar technology projects can begin;
- ocean and climate dynamics, which includes initiatives such as the Mediterranean Plan for Blue Growth and the Plastic Pollution Coalition;
- the CREWS [Climate Risk and] Early Warning Systems Initiative, the «4 per 1000» initiative, which aims to develop soil carbon stock, and the water, buildings and transport alliances bring together collectives of highly committed players.
E/ Ensuring France continues to set an example
France must go on supporting concrete action and deploying green-growth solutions to implement the Paris Agreement.
Developing renewable energy: on Monday 12 December the European Commission gave the green light to four French support schemes for renewable energies: geothermal, wind, methanization and hydroelectricity. The tariff orders will be published this week.
Rolling out clean mobility: four decrees for the implementation of the Energy Transition Act setting out obligations in terms of low-emission vehicles will be published in the next few days.
Exemplary buildings: the decree setting a standard of energy and carbon performance for all public buildings will be published before the end of the year.