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Paris Climate Conference

Published on December 8, 2015
Statements by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, President of the Paris Climate Conference, at his joint press briefing with the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC (excerpts)

Le Bourget, December 7, 2015


It’s the second Monday of the Paris Climate Conference and, as I told the assembly this morning, it’s the beginning of the week I’ve called the week of hope.

I want to briefly highlight the progress since we last met on Friday, before providing some information on the coming days, which Christiana Figueres must have mentioned.

Before that, a word to commend the outstanding success of the “Action Day” that took place in Le Bourget on Saturday. This event confirmed the success of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, initiated at the end of 2014 to mobilize all non-governmental stakeholders with concrete commitments. It showed that the whole world’s civil society is working to preserve our planet. This continues to be shown by a whole series of events within the COP. This is how, immediately after our press conference, I will join colleagues to conclude the spectacular “Renewable Energy in Africa” initiative, which will allow us in very practical terms to mobilize $10 billion by 2020 to provide an additional 10 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity to the African continent by 2020
– so it is a great success.

I’ll come back now to the negotiation of the draft agreement.

Saturday was a key day in this COP21. What we call the ADP group concluded its work and adopted a draft agreement. The co-chairs – whom I congratulated – handed it to me during a plenary session late on Saturday. The deadlines were thus strictly met. This project still contains many options, and this will require significant work in the coming week. But it is progress: we have a new, universally-accepted basis for negotiations, and it is more finished than the text for discussion at the beginning of last week. The formulations are more concise, the number of options has been reduced and I’d say that with this new draft, a step has been taken towards the final compromise.

The other step forward on Saturday was the definition of a method for the organization of work up to the end of the conference.

I proposed – and this proposal was adopted by the parties – establishing a single forum, open to all, in order to hold informal consultations. The aim of these consultations is to move forward on the agreement text and facilitate compromises. The work of this forum, as Christiana Figueres was saying – we call it the Paris Committee, which I will chair – needs to result in a draft outcome and draft decisions. This will then be sent to the formal COP body with a view to adopting it on Friday 11 December.

In order to move forward quickly, I have proposed – this too was kindly approved by the parties – that a series of four informal working groups should be created on cross-cutting issues on whose resolution an agreement largely hinges. The chosen themes are differentiation, ambition, means of implementation – including financing, technology and capacities – and, lastly, pre-2020 action, excluding pre-2020 financing, covered under the means of implementation group.

For each of these four themes, I have asked two facilitator ministers to carry out informal consultations on behalf of the COP21 Presidency. I have also appointed three facilitators on the themes of adaptation and the preamble, and three others whose roles I shall specify this evening.

In total, a team of 14 ministers – whose names you’ve been given – will support my work in the coming days. They come from different groups and geographical regions. They all have the necessary skill and legitimacy to achieve progress on the subjects they are responsible for.

I thank them warmly, because they’ll be doing a major job, working both day and night because we have little time, and in the coming days this team of facilitators will be the ambassadors of compromise.

We met yesterday morning to specify their mandate and set out the schedule. Work on the four cross-cutting themes started yesterday afternoon and is continuing today. Consultations on the other themes will begin very soon, and I will meet the facilitators once a day to discuss progress.

Moreover, the facilitators will set out the progress of their consultations every evening at around 7.00 p.m. to the Paris Committee, which I will chair.

The first meeting will take place today. These sessions should, on the basis of the facilitators’ reports, identify a shared vision on the main points that need to be settled. The aim – if the parties agree to it – is to produce on Wednesday a first overall view of the final agreement.

So the method is clear, the schedule is precise and the goal is set. Now, together, we need to continue working and moving forward. Starting today, the involvement in the negotiations of ministers from a great majority of countries will help provide the momentum needed for political decisions. This came through in the statements delivered by the ministers during the high-level segment which I opened this morning and is being held today and tomorrow.

This week of work is short, and we have few days left to conclude the agreement the world is waiting for. For given the time needed for final legal verifications and the translation into the six languages of the United Nations, it will really be necessary to have a text on Thursday, in order to be able to adopt it on Friday.

Time is therefore limited and much work remains to be done. But I want to emphasize that the general spirit is positive, geared to work, concentration and determination. There is – and this is essential for the continuation of the negotiations – genuine collective will. Now we need to transform that will into a good agreement. That is this week’s job./.

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