Climate change – COP21 – World Summit Climate Territories – Speech by MrLaurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Lyon, 2 July 2015) [fr]
Local government officials from around the world,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would have liked to be speaking before you in person today. Unfortunately, the Iranian nuclear negotiations have called me to Vienna, Austria. I can, therefore, communicate with you only through this video message, during your summit dedicated to the commitment of local government to climate action.
I just returned from New York, where the President of the United Nations General Assembly organized an event on climate change with all 195countries. The message is clear: international mobilization is getting stronger, which is great, but global warming itself is also accelerating and we need to step up action against climate change. Last year, 2014, was the warmest on record, and 2015 may be even hotter. And the weather at the moment isn’t going to bring down the year’s averages, far from it!
We know we need to limit global warming to within 1.5 or 2C. if temperatures rise further – by 3, 4 or even 5°C – then the effects on the planet and on each of our territories will be dramatic. Not only for the climate, but also for public health, development, security and peace. No world region could escape the consequences of our inaction.
Five months ahead of COP21, which I will have the responsibility of presiding over, what have we achieved? There have been several positive developments. A consensus has been reached between the countries on the need to reach a universal, ambitious agreement in Paris. Major carbon dioxide emitters – such as the USA and China, which yesterday submitted its contribution during Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to France – have made commitments. Moreover, many businesses, financial stakeholders and local governments – as shown by your meeting in Lyon – have become aware. I have also noted – most importantly – the support of the scientific community and the highest spiritual and moral authorities and the leadership of a number of eminent leaders, like the United Nations Secretary General. Lastly, you and I have all noticed the support of public opinion, and particularly young people and civil society and its organizations. All that is welcome and bodes well for a historic climate agreement in Paris this December.
However, we are clear-headed. We know how extremely complex the task is and the work still to be done in such a short time. We know there are barriers to overcome. We therefore need to transform all the good will – which is already won – into a good agreement, which remains to be achieved.
At least two major innovations are planned for COP21 compared with previous ones. One concerns national mobilization. All countries have committed to presenting Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that set down targets to limit their emissions. That is a first in international climate negotiations, and an extremely valuable lever, even if some commitments can appear disappointing or have not yet been published. To date, 54% of emissions have already been covered.
The countries’ efforts are essential, but not enough alone. They need to be supported by a mobilization of non-governmental stakeholders. That is the raison d’être of the second innovation: in Paris, we want to gather commitments and concrete climate initiatives from all those non-state actors. This is what we call the “Agenda of Solutions”.
In this respect, the climate mobilization of towns, regions, and territories – yours – is absolutely essential. It is not an option. It is an obligation. Through your commitments, you have first and foremost the power to encourage governments to set more ambitious targets and increase our chances of remaining below the 2°C limit.
Through your commitments, you can decide yourselves and encourage your citizens to adopt “zero carbon” habits in their daily lives. With environmentally friendly transport, solar-powered buildings and waste recovery, for example, you hold major keys to the solution.
Your commitments – having led local government bodies myself, I know this – take a number of forms.
Firstly, goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, like for national governments. Some important commitments have already been made in this sense and you are preparing to announce new ones. I particularly welcome the commitment by 100large cities and world regions made in September 2014 in New York to reduce their emissions by 2030. I welcome the commitment of European cities, which have long been mobilized and have committed to reducing their emissions by 20% by 2020 and, for some by 40% by 2030. And I welcome the ambitious commitment made in May by several world regions, led by the Governor of California, to cut their emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, or limit emissions to 2 tonnes per person per year.
Many of you have also adopted climate action plans with extremely concrete measures which have an immediate impact, including when it comes to adapting to the consequences of climate change that are already visible. I particularly have in mind cities and regions in developing countries, which are very present at this Summit in Lyon.
When San Francisco sets itself a “zero waste” target, that is a game-changer. When Dakar produces a climate plan for the use of renewable energy and better building insulation, that is a game-changer. When Helsinki announces the creation of an urban transport system massively reducing private car use by 2025, that is a game-changer. And when Seoul implements a proactive agenda for public transport and expansion of green areas, that too is a game-changer. I could mention many other examples of territories setting a climate example that show that local government bodies are active laboratories for green growth.
In view of COP21, I encourage you and all other local governments to make commitments, implement concrete initiatives and make them known. I encourage you to publish them on the digital NAZCA (Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action) platform, created by the United Nations in preparation for COP21. This platform will help better identify initiatives and share best practices.
But we need to be clear: while the action of local government bodies for the planet is absolutely essential, it cannot replace action by governments. They have a central role to play, and we must show we too, as governments, are up to scratch.
That means speeding up negotiations. We cannot wait until the last minute to settle difficult issues. That is why I will be organizing ministerial meetings several times in the run-up to COP21. An agreement is vital, and possible, but we need to speed things up.
I know that, following your work, you will send me a statement including several requests for negotiators. I will report them to the delegates ahead of COP21 and we will particularly emphasize two essential points to ensure that the Paris agreement is a good one.
The requirement of justice. Justice means fairness in the efforts asked of countries, which are in different situations. It means financial solidarity with developing and poor countries. The idea that local government bodies could receive international climate financing is an excellent idea, and we are going to try to move forward on it. And it means taking greater account of adaptation to the effects of climate change, and not only mitigation.
A further condition for a good agreement is that it is sustainable: it must not stop abruptly in 2030, and should continue further while being improved. It should therefore contain a “review clause” allowing us to assess things together and work out where we are, and regularly review the initial commitments upwards.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are five months away from the Paris Conference, the agreement is absolutely vital and possible. It is up to the 196parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to adopt an ambitious, fair, differentiated and sustainable instrument. Through your actions and commitments, you can contribute to making the agreement as ambitious as possible. Local and national governments need to be allies for the climate. We must, as governments, take the utmost account of your message, while you need to provide your full support, which will be absolutely decisive. I look forward to seeing you at the beginning of December at the Summit of local elected representatives held at Paris City Hall and for the day in Le Bourget devoted to the action of cities and regions during COP21 itself. I congratulate you for your efforts and what you are doing for the inhabitants of your cities and regions and the world as a whole. Thank you.