French diplomats rallied to climate cause in run-up to Paris

President Francois Hollande prepares for Ban Ki-moon summit next month as French diplomacy ramps up ahead of Paris

French president Francois Hollande: climate change is "this century's major challenge" (Pic: Jmayrault/Flickr)

French president Francois Hollande: climate change is “this century’s major challenge”
(Pic: Jmayrault/Flickr)

By Megan Darby

French president Francois Hollande has confirmed he plans to attend next month’s climate summit hosted by Ban Ki-moon in New York.

France and Europe must set an example to the world on climate action, Hollande said in a wide-ranging foreign policy speech. Paris will host the UN’s climate conference in 2015, where all nations have agreed to sign a new deal to cut emissions.

Climate change is “this century’s major challenge,” said Hollande at a conference of French ambassadors.

“Every day, every minute, even, the consequences of global warming become more and more devastating.”

Ban, the UN secretary general, has invited top political, business and civil society leaders to his headquarters on 23 September.

There will be three hours for heads of state to announce national commitments on climate change, followed by thematic discussions.

Hollande said that during the summit he will set out France’s strategy leading up to December 2015, when negotiators are set to sign a climate deal in Paris.

He can also boast of France’s recently-approved green energy law, which set targets to cut fossil fuel use 30% by 2030 and get 32% of energy from renewables.

And he said France would be ready to contribute to the UN’s Green Climate Fund by the end of the year.

The UN has asked countries to come forward with their intended commitments to the Paris deal by March next year at the latest. These will include targets to cut emissions and offer support to developing countries on finance and adaptation.

Carbon price

Hollande expressed in advance his support for a World Bank campaign to put a price on carbon emissions, which it will promote in New York.

“Pollution must have a cost, if we want to point investments towards clean and efficient energy,” he said.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who will chair the UN’s 2015 climate summit, also spoke about climate change at the ambassadors’ conference.

The deal reached in Paris must be legally binding, he said, before admitting that would not be easy to achieve.

Fabius urged the diplomats, who had gathered from French embassies all over the world, to help make Paris a success.

“You will, if you’re not already, turn into a specialist in the subject,” he said. “It’s on your shoulders that this success will largely rest… It’s an exciting job.”

Momentum

The aim of the Ban Ki-moon summit is to build momentum on climate action at the highest level. Its success depends on world leaders turning up, in particular from the highest emitting countries.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres told RTCC she was “very confident” that heads of state would come, including from the US and China.

The White House has confirmed US president Barack Obama will be there. Hollande and Obama in February pledged to cooperate on work towards an effective climate deal.

Beijing has yet to announce who will represent China at the summit.

India’s Narendra Modi is not expected to attend.

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