Climate facts: How France is trying to educate the US and Canada

French ambassador is joining a panel of experts on a 12-city tour to influence public opinion ahead of climate talks in Paris



By Ed King

The French government has organised a climate roadshow across the US and Canada to try and mobilise public opinion in favour of a UN deal, set to be finalised this December.

The 12-city tour started in Vancouver, and will accelerate in September with talks in San Francisco, Dallas, Washington DC and Miami.

Panellists include France’s ambassador to the US Nicolas Chapuis, the mayors of Vancouver and Miami Beach along with experts in health, water and the Arctic.

The aim, write the organisers, is to educate French, American, and Canadian public opinion “on the issues of the conference and reinforce the dialogue between experts from these countries.”


They want the prospect of a global deal to be seen as an “opportunity to create employment, economic growth and innovative modes of production and consumption.”

It’s the latest initiative by a French government determined to mobilise a tsunami of support for climate action by the time envoys arrive in Paris to seal a global deal.

All embassies have been ordered to make the promotion of climate change a priority this year, and to hold outreach events with senior officials of their host countries.

As RTCC reported last week, France knows it cannot just rely on governments to make the COP21 talks a success, so it’s building a coalition of business, civil society and religious leaders.

Teresa Ribera, director of Paris-based think tank IDDRI, told RTCC the Hollande administration was now making a “great effort to mobilise everybody”.

“But they don’t want to impose a deal – people need to understand that they need to do this,” she added.

Still, the US looks a tough place to sell global warming as a threat, given how polarised support for action is between advocating Democrats and hostile Republicans.

A recent survey suggests 63% of Americans believe climate change is happening, but only 37% are very sure about this, and only 11% are “very worried” about it.

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