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Climate disruption/COP21

Published on June 11, 2015
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, President of COP21, to the daily newspaper Le Monde

Paris, June 7, 2015


Q. – The G7 summit in Elmau, Germany, on 7 and 8 June plans a broad focus on climate challenges. What can we expect?

THE MINISTER – We’d like to see the adoption of the global target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40-70% between 2010 and 2050, a target defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, and compatible with 2ºC, the threshold beyond which the scientific community warns of the irreversible effects of global warming. In the run-up to the Paris Conference in December – the 21st Conference of the Parties or COP21 – it’s very important for the G7 countries, which are among the world’s richest, to commit to decarbonization by the end of the century. The second target concerns finance.
The more contacts we have with poor countries and developing countries, the more we delve into the issue, the more we note that the issue of finance will be decisive for COP21. Finally, it would be desirable for this G7 meeting to enable us to launch two concrete initiatives: the widespread adoption of alert systems in the face of disasters affecting the most vulnerable countries, and a major renewable energy investment plan for the African continent.

Q. – When could this alert system and this investment plan see the light of day?

THE MINISTER – At the end of June the Minister of State for Development and Francophony, Annick Girardin, is going to bring together a group of the most interested countries and of potential donors, not limited to the G7, to begin initiatives without delay. The point of implementation of the Paris Conference in December is 2020. But 2020 is already a very long way off. A lot of leaders are asking me: what do we do between 2015 and 2020? These two initiatives may strengthen the credibility of the whole climate negotiation process.


Q. – Canada has presented a national scenario for reducing polluting emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2005, which is regarded as very poor. How do you persuade this bad G7 pupil to go further?

THE MINISTER – It’s not for me to give marks. I have confidence in the discussion, in the collective intelligence. The Canadian government has indeed shown reservations, but the premiers of several states have taken very progressive stances, like the Premier of Quebec and the recently-elected Premier of Alberta.

Q. – Japan should make its contribution – i.e. its greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments – official during the G7 summit. In total, only about 40 countries have come forward. Is this delay not damaging?

THE MINISTER – The countries which have presented their contributions so far account for between 30% and 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By COP21, we should reach at least 90% of global emissions, but when they’re added together we’ll be above the 2ºC threshold, the experts say. There will no doubt be an additional effort to make over time. So we’re going to have to find a mechanism for periodically reassessing these commitments, bearing in mind the 2ºC target. And we’ll also have to take into account technological progress, which will be considerable, as well as additional, non-state pledges. The fight against climate disruption isn’t a 100-metre sprint, it’s a marathon.


Q. – The fight against global warming is also an obstacle course where you can run up against the issue of finance for climate policies…

THE MINISTER – A promise was made by the rich countries at the Copenhagen conference in 2009: to make $100 billion – €90 billion – of public and private finance available to developing countries every year by 2020. Even if you look at the controversies over the assessment of the sums available today, this promise is the basis of the trust between the 196 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For many countries, finance is a condition, a key point, for an agreement in Paris. So it’s crucial for the G7 countries to respect these funding needs and, if necessary, meet them. A lot of countries whose leaders I meet are expecting the G7 to make a strong commitment to the fight against climate disruption. These requesting countries must be reassured that these aren’t empty promises but money that will help us transform our economies.

Q. – The Green [Climate] Fund, one of the special vehicles for achieving that $100 billion, has been promised $10 billion in public funding over four years (2015-2018). Is this package sufficient?

THE MINISTER – More than 50% of the $10 billion has been delivered – the prerequisite for it to start working. It will no doubt take its first concrete decisions around October, before COP21 opens. More broadly, you can sense a trend in our societies and in various financial institutions – public, private, banking or not – towards increasingly bringing this climate dimension into the financing of the economy. A few days ago, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s decided to include climate risk in companies’ ratings and, if necessary, in countries’ ratings. That’s a strong signal.


Q. – During the G7 summit, a new session of negotiations on the climate is under way in Bonn. Must the UN’s working method be reformed, as Ségolène Royal is demanding?

THE MINISTER – The UN Framework Convention is an international treaty. It’s true that you can put forward ideas on how things should operate ideally, but more than 20 years ago international society chose this 196-strong negotiation framework; it must be taken into account.

Q. – On opening the Bonn session, you put forward the idea of a preliminary agreement on the climate in October. What’s that about?

THE MINISTER – A text must emerge from the final session of negotiations in October. What I meant was that we must hope a lot of issues, including difficult ones, will have been examined and even decided on by then. Legally speaking, it’s at the Paris summit that an agreement must be finalized, but we’re going to do everything to ensure that the work is at a very advanced stage before COP21 opens./.

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