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Climate disruption

Published on November 12, 2014
Speech by Mme Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophony, following a meeting with civil society

Isla Margarita, Venezuela, November 6, 2014


Ladies and gentlemen representatives of civil society,

Dear friends,

It’s a pleasure to speak to you this evening, just before our friend Claudia Salerno wraps up the day. Let me begin by thanking the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the warm welcome my delegation has received.

This meeting is a first, and it’s a success. Today’s discussions have been particularly substantive, and I’d like to thank each of you for your contributions, for the discussions you’ve raised and for the proposals you’ve put on the table.

I hope this momentum will continue until Lima, and of course until Paris.
I’d like to say a few words to you here in conclusion, not only on the negotiations and discussions in the run-up to Lima and the 2015 agreement but also on the way the future French presidency intends to involve the whole of civil society in the preparations for and – I hope – the success of Paris.


The climate is, above all, a major issue affecting ordinary people. Our discussions throughout the day have recalled this. We’re all affected by challenges of mitigation and adaptation and most frequently both.

Climate disruption is often presented as something that divides people: it’s seen as absolutely necessary for some people ultimately to lose in order for others to gain. My political experience suggests to me that such a scheme won’t garner much success among the planet’s citizens…

While we can’t deny our responsibilities and our differences, the fight against climate disruption must be something that brings us together. This is also the mandate of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference: a universal agreement where everyone acts according to their responsibilities and abilities, but also an agreement that strengthens our solidarity with the most vulnerable.

We’ll have to confront the difficulties – given the scale of the task and of the change ahead of us – if we want to succeed in getting back on a 2ºC trajectory. You know, when you read the IPCC’s conclusions, the slogan you’ve chosen becomes obvious: let’s change the system, not the climate.

It will have to be done without giving up the debate. But I also think that, along the way, we mustn’t lose sight of what brings us together here: the determination to build an agreement in Lima and then Paris which puts us back on the 2ºC trajectory. We won’t agree on everything. But let’s bear in mind that we already share the same realization and the same goal. I think this is the key thing.

So the 2015 Paris Climate Conference must be a time of mobilization for citizens, a time that brings people together and makes everyone want to switch to the post-carbon world.

And also a time of reassurance. Reassurance for our fellow citizens, to say to them: yes, tomorrow’s world will be different, but it won’t be a cut-price world where we set aside our aspirations for prosperity, quality of life and good living.

It will be a world where we’ll be fighting simultaneously against poverty and for the environment. The aim of the discussions under way on the Sustainable Development Goals is also to conceive this new world, with shared objectives but different ways of achieving them.

Paris must also be a time of reassurance for those on the front line of climate disruption, providing them with practical solutions. That’s the first stage of fairness and climate solidarity. That’s why the capitalization of the Green [Climate] Fund – which will devote 50% of its funding to the most vulnerable, and particularly to adaptation – is so important. France, through its tool, the AFD (French Development Agency), already includes resilience in all the infrastructure projects it supports in Africa.

Finally, Paris must send the message that we’re determined to take the appropriate measures, and first of all send the right signals, in order to put the economy back on the right track, because as we know well – and I was able to confirm it in Samoa at the summit of Small Island Developing States – there can be no economic development without a fight against climate disruption.

What’s worrying in terms of jobs, social cohesion, peace and security is the current trend in [global] warming. It’s not that of a world returning to the path of limiting the temperature rise to below 2ºC.


To succeed in creating a genuine climate alliance in Paris, we have four pillars in mind.

The first pillar concerns the new legal framework – a universal, binding framework – for international action in response to climate disruption. This is central to our mandate and Lima will be a decisive step along this path, with the first elements of the agreement to be discussed there.

The second pillar concerns the emission reduction figures, which will be contained in the contributions, which states are due to present in the first quarter of 2015. The latest scientific data must encourage us to put ambitious proposals on the table. This is why the European Union has just made a commitment to cut its emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. We hope others will follow very soon.

The third pillar concerns the means of implementation, particularly financing, and technology. This is essential in order for action to be taken. It’s also a mutually supportive response: we could, for example, work at reducing the cost of renewable energies to make them competitive with fossil fuels: everyone will benefit from this, and it should allow us to lift millions of people out of poverty without endangering our future climate.

The fourth pillar concerns the action taken by non-state actors – be it businesses or local and regional authorities. We will have to find a way of capitalizing on the New York announcements and discussions and build on the momentum. This action can help partially narrow the difference between our current trajectory and the 2ºC target and put the world on the path to carbon neutrality. This will be a genuine new development.

So in this climate alliance, we must make room for everyone. Paris must result in an agreement written by and for everyone. An ambitious agreement is also one which strikes a balance between adaptation and mitigation and addresses the challenges encountered by those already facing the impact of climate disruption.


I’d now like to say a few words to you about how we intend to continue, but also no doubt to help you increase civil society’s participation between now and the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

The Paris agreement must be written by everyone and for everyone. That also means we’d like to involve the different representations of civil society, in a very broad sense: all the major groups, businesses, local government, women’s representatives, indigenous people and farming organizations must be involved in the success of Paris. France has a long tradition in this area. Moreover, the energy transition bill that we adopted a few days ago was drawn up following a national debate involving all the civil society stakeholders.

Discussions also began more than a year ago with civil society representatives, at the level of our negotiation team, the ministers and even the French President. Among other things, I took part in the Climate March in New York on 23 September. It was a very powerful moment.

We need you to encourage all countries to act, but also to make your own specific commitments in addition to the intergovernmental agreement. You too hold the levers for changing the world. We’d like to strengthen this dialogue. I’ve heard many ideas and proposals which will feed into our discussions and which we’ll be able to talk about in the coming months. (…)

The first priority of our dialogue will probably be the actual content of the Paris agreement. On the key points of the Paris agreement you have ideas, expectations, proposals and areas requiring vigilance. Procedures must be established for discussing these.

The second priority of our discussions is mobilization, because France has a special responsibility in hosting COP21. But 195 states must indeed reach agreement at the Paris conference.

By playing an active role, sparking dialogue and fostering environmental education well ahead of COP21, civil society has a tremendous lever in each of the countries in the [UN Framework] Convention [on Climate Change]. This action is necessary, essential, vital. Paris won’t build in opposition to, or in the absence of, citizens.
The third priority is engagement. I want to talk in particular about businesses, economic stakeholders and local authorities, but also about all those bearing responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions.
Momentum was created in New York. In Lima, we must expand and broaden it.

On all these points, and no doubt on others too, we’ll be listening to you. You can rely on France – and without doubt on Peru, cher Manuel – to foster and encourage the broadest possible dialogue. But we also want to be able to rely on you, because we have a huge collective responsibility./.

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