Opening of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) [fr]
Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, ADP co-chairs, Dear hosts, whom I thank for their warm welcome, Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be speaking before you today. I would like to thank you for this invitation to the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), in this year that is so important for the protection of our planet and for development. With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in New York in September and the Paris Climate Conference, we have two events that are essential for building a world “without carbon and without poverty”.
Without carbon because we must act urgently if we are to fulfil the goal of containing global warming below2°C.
Climate change is a threat to development and to peace and security. It is also a source of injustice and inequalities that first and foremost affects the poorest, most vulnerable populations. For some communities, like in Africa and small island states, this is a matter of survival.
The carbonless world can only be achieved if, at the same time, we achieve a world free of poverty. Indeed, it would be futile to ask those who are not responsible for climate change to give up the fight against poverty to focus on preserving the planet. I have the developing countries in mind, and especially the least developed countries (LDCs), who also have to concentrate on challenges including poverty, universal access to sustainable energy, health, and education.
Seeking to address the climate challenge without at the same time tackling that of poverty would mean condemning the climate negotiations to failure.
It would mean depriving ourselves of the chance of containing global warming below 2°C.
It would mean losing the benefits of the fight against climate change in terms of development.
Reducing emissions, supporting renewable energy sources and securing water supplies allow us to both preserve the planet and improve people’s health.
Providing access to modern energy sources, such as biogas for cooking, would help put an end to the 800,000 early deaths of women and children caused annually by traditional energy sources in developing countries.
Combating climate change is also a source of new jobs and new industries. I particularly have in mind the opportunities of renewable energy sources on the continent that has the world’s greatest solar energy potential.
I know that many of you share this vision of a world without carbon, without poverty. And that is no doubt why it was an alliance between Africa and the European Union that enabled us in 2011 to reinvigorate the international climate negotiation process in Durban.
In 2015, France will not be part of an alliance, as it will be chairing COP21. Our responsibility will be to facilitate exchanges between countries that sometimes have very different views.
We will shoulder that responsibility with the aim of achieving an ambitious, binding, universal agreement to put us back on the path to containing global warming below 2°C.
As you know, we obtained a first outline of that future agreement during the Geneva session. It is important and confirms what we saw in Lima: that we are making progress. We are advancing.
Sometimes it is complicated, as we saw in Lima. But that only increases our determination to work in full confidence and transparency. No other method is possible. We will not make the same mistakes as in Copenhagen.
Every other aspect relies on listening. And what I came here to say is that your messages were received loud and clear in Lima and then in Geneva. I am here to listen to you, and I will remain available to listen to your messages right up to the closure of the Paris Conference.
France is convinced that a “climate alliance” needs to be formed in Paris, bringing together all countries and all other stakeholders, including the private sector, local government bodies, scientists and, of course, citizens. The climate challenge affects all aspects of life and all economic sectors, so it needs to involve everybody.
The Paris agreement can be built around four pillars.
The first pillar is the legally binding agreement
The Durban mandate gave us a brief outline:
universal, so that no country is left by the wayside;
dynamic and sustainable, so that negotiations do not have to be recommenced every five years;
fair and equitable, for the agreement will have to acknowledge the various national situations and adapt efforts to the responsibilities and capacities of each party;
ambitious, for rapid action is needed to achieve the goal of 2°C.
The second pillar of the agreement is the contributions
This agreement will have to draw on contributions from all countries.. Those contributions, with their goals for reducing emissions and adaptation aspects, are not an additional constraint or an exception to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.
On the contrary, they are a concrete implementation of it. Each country needs to put forward what it can do and what it considers fair, given the 2°C goal.
The aim is by no means for industrialized countries, which need to make the strongest commitments, to shirk their responsibilities. The EU put forward its proposal last November, with a -40% goal. The United States and China have provided their first figures. Switzerland has just published its contribution. We have particular responsibilities, which we shoulder and will continue to shoulder.
It is essential that all countries, including in Africa, undertake the preparation of their contributions as early as possible, which will have a considerable ripple effect.
As regards the poorest countries, it is quite right for them to include in their contributions what they can do with their own resources, but also with support from the international community. I have in mind technology transfers, and of course financing.
For many countries, these contributions are a new exercise, and we are aware of that. For that reason, France has put in place a support programme for the countries that need it.
The third pillar is that of financing
We need to fulfil the Cancún Commitment to mobilize $100 billion of public and private funds per year up to 2020. The first wave of Green Climate Fund projects will also be an opportunity to demonstrate concretely the capital importance of adaptation.
Climate financing can be summed up in two words: solidarity and responsibility.
Solidarity was emphasized by the President of the French Republic in the Philippines, because the poorest are the hardest hit and need all the assistance we can provide.
Responsibility because each country needs to shoulder its own: the developed and developing countries, by raising public funds; local government bodies, by developing field projects; and businesses, by investing massively in green economy sectors.
The last pillar is the Action Agenda.
The Action Agenda involves immediate, concrete efforts. The fight against climate change is not just negotiators in negotiating rooms, working to write texts. It also includes concrete actions, in the areas of access to energy and adaptation, enabling us to make faster progress towards our goal.
To keep within 2°C, immediate, concrete and measurable action is needed. All stakeholders need to be mobilized; for alone, we go faster, while together we go further!
We are convinced that these four pillars can produce a balanced agreement in Paris, worthy of the stakes. We also know that such a result is within our reach. But that result cannot be achieved without Africa.
Africa is where the challenges of preserving the planet and combating poverty are most closely linked.
Africa has always been constructive in negotiations, combining ambition and pragmatism. You can also help us to build bridges, between developed and developing countries, between the vulnerable and less vulnerable, and between the convinced and the reluctant.
Ministers, dear colleagues,
The ideal agreement is not a perfect agreement. It is the best possible agreement, which satisfies everybody. One where everyone does their utmost.
It is an agreement setting all stakeholders to work with a single goal: action to combat climate change.
Africa is in the process of inventing a new development model reconciling the quest for prosperity with the fight against climate change.
You can be sure that France will remain at your side, listening to you, so that your countries can play their full role in the new climate regime that we are building together. COP21 needs Africa, and Africa needs COP21.
Thank you for listening.