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Climate disruption/New Year greetings to the diplomatic corps

Published on January 21, 2015
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Paris, January 16, 2015


The issue is not only solidarity but also stability for the world as a whole.
Indeed, this year we, France, will be accepting special responsibility by hosting the climate conference in Paris. This meeting is a rendezvous between the world and its destiny. The facts are now both clear and established. Extreme climate phenomena are on the increase everywhere. They affect first and foremost the poorest and most vulnerable and are causing population displacements that may result in numerous conflicts.

Here again, we know what conditions must be met for success: to arrive at a global agreement committing 193 countries to ensure that global temperature increases are limited to no more than 2ºC. And to ensure that each of those countries, and this is the most crucial point, announces its commitments before the summer.

A solutions agenda will accompany the transition necessary for combating climate change. We will need to increase the number of economic opportunities this commitment will make possible. But we will also need to raise the funds required for the energy transition.

Capitalization of the Green Climate Fund has now begun with $10 billion pledged for the period 2015 to 2018. We are very far, still very far, from the target, which is to raise $100 billion beginning in 2020. We must therefore step up all efforts and endeavour to obtain every commitment to ensure that innovative financing can also be added to the contributions made by states.

We are also conscious of the fact that there was a very serious failure in Copenhagen. We have drawn all the required conclusions from this and will not therefore be waiting for the Paris conference in order to get an agreement of this importance.

Once again, to wait would be to run a considerable risk for the planet. We are starting out from the Lima Conference held in December and which led to the establishment of a working basis for the Paris Conference. In this respect, I salute the action taken by Peru, where I shall be making a visit in the next few weeks.

On the basis of that work, France will act in accordance with three principles. The first is to listen to others. I know that among the countries you represent many are wondering what responsibility they each have to accept. France will listen to all of your concerns in order to take them into consideration and enable the second principle to be adhered to, and that is fairness. The agreement that must be reached in Paris will need to be differentiated to reflect the situation of each country and its level of development. And the most vulnerable countries, the most fragile, the emerging countries also, must be supported – hence the role of the Green Climate Fund. The third principle relates to political will, because there will be no agreement in the absence of political will.
And there will always be a good excuse for not signing when the day comes to sign. We also know that if it is not signed it will be a long time before there is a climate agreement. And it will no longer be a matter of avoiding an increase in the planet’s temperature of two degrees but of preventing a warming of three or even four degrees. That is what the experts are telling us and I fear they are right.

Preparation for what is being called “COP 21” will be led by Laurent Fabius under the auspices of the United Nations. The entire French government, and the Minister of Ecology in particular, is fully mobilized to prepare for this essential gathering, one that will bring together not only civil societies but also companies, researchers and young people from every country.

I shall involve myself personally and go everywhere where France’s voice, the voice of the country organizing the conference, can be heard. I shall go to Davos to address businesses. I shall go to the Philippines with Nicolas Hulot and numerous public figures who have made protecting the planet their life’s work precisely in order to get people to mobilize. I shall go with President Aquino to the areas hardest hit by the climate disaster.

Whenever it is possible to put the climate issue on the international agenda, France will devote the whole force of its diplomacy to it, notably for the G7 and G20. I shall conduct every discussion necessary at the highest level with the heads of state of the countries you represent. At the Paris Conference, the heads of state are not the negotiators – that is a reality that needs to be properly understood. It means that it is up to each country to mobilize its society, to mobilize its players. Naturally, to get an agreement at the Paris Conference, the governments you represent and the heads of state will be obliged to make a decision at some point. I have welcomed for example the declaration made by President Obama where the United States is concerned, and the undertaking given by China, the country with the highest CO2 emissions, which has for the first time confirmed that it is part of the process, which is very important.

And then there are many emerging countries that have also said to us that they do not wish to see their growth and their development compromised. But at the same time, they have told us that if the agreement were fair, they would sign it. The heads of state and government will be judged – foremost amongst them ourselves, inevitably – on our ability to set aside a number of constraints, prejudices, and interests in some cases, to take action at the appropriate level, that of the planet.

The climate issue presents not just an ecological challenge – something well understood by all – but also an economic challenge. We need to understand that through the commitments which are going to be made, there is an opportunity for growth, an opportunity for technology, for innovation, and there will even be a criterion for competitiveness which will not be based simply on product price or quality, but on product content in terms of ecology and the environment. The countries that make most progress on the energy transition will be the most competitive tomorrow. From that point of view, France has passed a law on the energy transition that will soon come before the Senate; this will set goals completely in line with those promoted by us at the European and international levels. (…)./.

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