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Published on March 31, 2014
Press conference given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, following the European Council (excerpts)

Brussels, March 21, 2014


We believe there’s a key challenge for our economies and also our people: to handle our energy transition successfully and get a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But we set store by this also because at the end of 2015, France is going to organize the climate conference to ensure that where Copenhagen failed, Paris can succeed. This isn’t a foregone conclusion. Europe must play a major role.

What role? Not one of being a better pupil than the others and risking losing its competitiveness, but one of being able to demonstrate that the energy transition is good for people’s health, good for future generations and good for the economy, and in this way being able to lead a number of what were reluctant countries – that’s the least one can say for Copenhagen – towards a comprehensive, balanced agreement. I’m thinking of the United States. I still remember what Barack Obama said, including when I was there on my state visit. I’m thinking of China. In a few days I’ll be welcoming President Xi Jinping, who is particularly committed to this. I’m thinking, too, of the African countries. There’s going to be the summit between the European Union and Africa in a few days; I’ll come back to this.

So, to signal our desire to find an agreement, Europe itself had to determine its position. (…)

Several principles and objectives have already been set out. The first principle is for everything to be done to comply with the target Europe set itself: an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. So this must mean, for 2030, a target to reduce European domestic emissions by 40%. This figure must be compared to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in 1990. This is the ambition we’re going to promote.
Secondly, this requires an in-depth reform of the carbon market, so that manufacturers can foresee, can see what the cost of their emissions is.

Second objective: incorporate renewables in energy policy, including by reforming state subsidies. This too was a position France had adopted. It has been adopted in the Council. The target is to attain 27% of renewables in the energy balance at European level by leaving each country entirely free to decide on the means of achieving it.

Then there’s the objective of energy efficiency. In France, we’ll have to translate it into the [energy] transition act. This involves making as many savings as possible on individuals’ as much as companies’ energy consumption. This allows the restoration of purchasing power, financial margins. So we have to establish the essential financial instruments for this.

Fourth objective: research – particularly for energy storage – must be carried out at EU level and in each of our countries.

Finally, there’s the reduction in energy dependence. As you’re all too aware, this discussion is being held at the very moment when concerns are being raised about the supply of gas to part of Europe.

Some countries may, at some point, hesitate by asking themselves questions about their own dependence on gas. So it’s very important for us to be able to ensure security of supplies. This is also the whole point of the interconnections which many southern European countries set great store by. They point out, not without reason, that it’s also a way of supplying Europe with the energy products it needs without the risks which are being raised today. So there will be a comprehensive plan for the reduction of EU energy dependence, which will be presented in June.

That’s what has been decided on this important issue. I’m fully mobilized because I want us to be able to come to an agreement in 2015, not just, as some people have said, because France is organizing it and it would be good for its diplomacy – even though we’ve taken a risk… But I think that, after the failure of Copenhagen, if there was a failure in Paris there would be no further commitment on a worldwide scale to reducing global warming. (…)./.

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