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Paris Climate Conference

Published on December 10, 2015
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at the conclusion of the Action Day

Le Bourget, December 5, 2015

Secretary-General of the United Nations, cher Ban Ki-moon,
Heads of government,


President of COP21,


Ladies and gentlemen,

So that was the Action Day, the mobilization of all stakeholders, all those who have chosen to commit to the climate. I have in mind local communities, local authorities, businesses, trade unions, major non-governmental organizations and even financial institutions and scientists. This is the vast movement the UN Secretary-General hoped to spark in New York, during the United Nations General Assembly, and I would now like to thank him, Ban Ki-moon, in particular.

A first Action Day was organized in Lima in December 2014, one year ago, and we wanted to hold another one in Paris, during the Climate Conference. But everyone understands that this day has a different meaning, as it is this day that will also help apply pressure and call for an agreement. This Action Day is also a demonstration, through the initiatives and your presence, that it is possible to establish a concrete action plan that will take effect even before the climate agreement – the Paris Agreement, I hope – comes into force itself, meaning before 2020.

The agreement of the countries is essential for success in Paris. They need to shoulder all their responsibilities to create the legal framework we need to contain the temperature rise below 2°C. That is the purpose of the negotiations. They are not finished; indeed, they are in their crucial phase and it is you, President [of COP21] Laurent Fabius, who are leading this process.

Everyone understands that we have entered a zone, a period, where the best can emerge but where the worst is possible. The worst would be for the heads of state and government, the very same ones who have come here and provided political momentum, not to succeed in convincing the negotiators to produce an ambitious agreement. I do not want to believe in this scenario, and that is why we need to work, and keep working.

But you, you have decided to move ahead and commence a process of climate policies in your own areas of work. The Lima-Paris Action Agenda is a fantastic platform for innovation, and I hope, in the name of France, that this instrument will continue and even be strengthened, that its legitimacy will be further enhanced and that all stakeholders who express the wish may find their place. All expertise and all experience can be useful.

We need to do our utmost, wherever we are, to save the planet, which is our shared home. First and foremost, that means protecting what allows us to breathe: forests and oceans, which absorb a quarter of the CO₂ emitted by mankind every year, while releasing oxygen and regulating temperatures. That is why it was so important for initiatives to be launched here in Paris. The New York Declaration on Forests collected more than 170 signatories – states, indigenous communities, multinationals, NGOs and regions. These signatories now exclude deforestation from their supply chains and contribute to restoring millions of hectares of forest. Then there is the Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation, which includes 305 organizations, 87 countries and 27 businesses, and the first partnerships for ocean protection are emerging.

During the summit of African heads of state that I opened on Tuesday, support – which I hope will be decisive – was given to the initiative of the Great Green Wall from Mauritania to Djibouti, aimed at stopping desertification and restoring degraded land. We have also launched a plan for Lake Chad and another for renewable energy sources.

Yesterday, I participated in the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, organized by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and Michael Bloomberg. This summit brought together hundreds of cities and local government bodies from around the world to adapt means of development, reduce emissions and raise the finance needed. The largest cities agreed to dedicate 10% of their budget to climate risk resilience measures, representing a commitment of more than 5 billion.

The challenge is to build tomorrow’s habitat and tomorrow’s urban world, and initiatives have been launched in this area too: the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, which includes governments, professionals and international organizations with the aim of putting in place solutions to reduce the environmental impact of this sector, which, I should emphasize, currently accounts for 30% of global CO₂ emissions. Thanks to Paris, and thanks to you, projects on promoting clean vehicles and on sustainable urban development have also been presented.

But we also need to transform our production models and prepare the post-carbon economy. Here too, a wide coalition has been formed for carbon pricing – something regions and states have started to do, which governments have decided to do, and which Europe had already started, through a carbon market. It is not in the agreement, but it is already a means of preparing the agreement, and the businesses which have so far been reluctant about carbon contributions, carbon pricing and carbon taxes have understood that it is also a way, so long as it is organized on a large scale, to change investments and guide a number of choices.

We have also seen the plan for access to electricity in Africa through renewable energy sources, and the Africa Clean Energy Corridor which was launched here, allowing finance to be provided. Also during this conference, the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Modi, launched the [International] Solar Alliance – we were there – to promote universal access to this energy source. We can therefore see that mindsets have shifted during this conference. Choices have been made, initiatives taken, and commitments affirmed, including in the financial sphere, where 80 commercial banks and 30 investors have announced an increase in their financing of energy efficiency. That same sphere now takes into account not only what are known as prudential ratios – though what better prudential ratio can there be than one on the climate? The financial sector is now taking that risk into account, which will help redirect investment.
A coalition to decarbonize portfolios was also formed, and will enable $230 billion of assets to be reallocated towards low-carbon sectors. We need this finance, but we also need technology transfers. Initiatives have been launched in this area too, and I have in mind the Innovation mission that brings together countries that commit – France is one – to doubling public investment in research and development for clean energy by 2020. Some 20 +very major private investors, including Bill Gates, have come from around the world to get involved in this project.

Lastly, there is the international platform to record these commitments, NAZCA, which was decided a year ago and quickly launched. It is now acknowledged by many parties to the Convention and by non-state stakeholders as a key tool to recognize their efforts and follow up on their commitments. NAZCA has now collected more than 10,000 commitments from businesses, financial institutions and foundations. NAZCA will become the database for recording and following up on all the promises that have been made.

That is what Paris has already achieved, and the challenges that unite us. Our planet needs us all, and you are all, as non-state stakeholders, showing through your initiatives that it’s not necessary to wait for the agreement to be reached before taking action, but that at the same time, an agreement is necessary. The first week of the Climate Conference is coming to an end, and there will only be two. The first has to be a success, and above all the second has to be able to produce an agreement.
I would like to commend the work of the negotiators, who submitted their text this morning. It is a preview of what might be the outcome, but it is not yet the agreement. It is therefore up to the President of the COP, with the ministers and representatives of each government, to raise options, find compromises and decide on the difficult points without the level of ambition being gradually weakened. I’m therefore calling for us to be capable of overcoming our various interests, the interests of regions and countries, the interests of our levels of development, so that we can, if you will, do justice to the planet as a whole. I ask those who are aiming too high to be careful not to “be alone in being right”. I also alert those who would like to make do with the minimum that they risk, in that case, having a maximum of disasters.

I therefore ask everyone to be aware that the peoples, but above all the coming generations, will judge harshly those government and state representatives – in other words heads of state and government – who do not shoulder their responsibilities and do not make the choice of a universal, binding and differentiated agreement. I make that call because I know that it is in the coming days that everything will be decided, while at the same time I am confident, because you are here, you are showing us the way, bringing solutions and taking initiatives. So I look at all the work that has been done over many weeks, if not months and, for some, years. I would like to tell Al Gore just how much respect his initiative inspires in us still today. Yes, climate justice has stood out as the theme of this Conference, but we need to ask everyone to contribute to the effort. We know which points remain difficult: the review mechanism to limit warming to less than 2°C by the end of the century, the amount of finance, the issue of differentiation, and technology transfers. We know all that, and at the same time we believe that none of these issues will stop us finding a solution.

We are almost there, and we have done most of the work. We now need just a few more strides to reach the finishing line, but this Action Day gives us just the momentum we need, the essential breath, and the strength of your initiatives. We almost have an agreement and we will, thanks to you, have an agreement.

Thank you./.