France calls for mobilization to fight climate change

Climate – Paris Agreement/COP22 opening ceremony – Speech by Mme Ségolène Royal, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for International Climate Relations

Marrakesh, 7 November 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends in the climate battle,

My thanks first of all to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco and his government, and particularly Salaheddine Mezouar, who will be chairing COP22 in a few moments’ time.

Thanks for their exceptional welcome here, to Marrakesh. I thank them also for lighting up the Hassan Tower in Rabat on 4 November, at the same time as the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées.

Today, as this COP22 opens, I feel proud and excited:

- excited because I remember the first Earth Summit in Rio 24 years ago, in which I took part as environment minister,

- proud to be sharing with you this magnificent news: today, the opening day of COP22, 100 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement.

Yes, we’ve made possible what people said was impossible: through determination, obstinacy and drive, without ever letting up our efforts.

It’s a historic moment in the history of mankind.

I’m issuing an appeal to the 93 countries that haven’t yet ratified to do so before the end of this year.

We can be proud of the work done, of this solid foundation on which we must continue building low-carbon strategies to bring global warming below 2ºC and curb the disasters and calamities that blind inertia would lead to. From now on, our eyes are wide open!

Time is running out. The past year has been the hottest on record. The melting of glaciers is speeding up. Desertification is wreaking havoc. Massive urban populations demand a new model of urban development.

Three major principles guided my COP21 action, under the aegis of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

- The sense of climate urgency.

- A concern for climate efficiency, because tackling this huge challenge also provides an opportunity to design the coming world with new jobs, through green growth.

- And above all, climate justice: the richest countries are living as if there were three planets.

The poorest countries as if there were no longer any.

So I’m once again urging climate justice, and in particular for Africa.

That’s the big challenge for COP22.

COP22 is an African COP, and it’s where the priority and the hope lie.

In his speech in Dakar yesterday evening, King Mohammed VI issued an appeal for COP22 to be a success.

He clearly set out the priorities of the Moroccan presidency: in particular to take African challenges into account, through active efforts on access to funding and to technology transfers.

I put the maximum effort into this continent during my presidency, with – as I had pledged – the three reports submitted to the UN Secretary-General:

- The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, with hydroelectric, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and marine energy projects.

- Women and the climate.

- Security and the climate.

Climate change in Africa is cruel and unjust. It’s the African continent which is suffering it the most – without being responsible for it –, with disasters and desertification.

Of the 50 countries most devastated by global warming, 36 are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Between now and 2050, the population will double, reaching more than two billion.

A race against the clock is now under way to provide the African continent’s citizens with access to light and electricity, of which 700 million inhabitants are currently deprived.

Therefore, as a symbol, I’m offering you these little solar lamps in the shape of the flower of Ethiopia, which – when Patricia Espinosa, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, gives us the signal – we’ll all light together shortly to denote the African continent’s right to light.

The African summit of heads of state on 16 November, [convened] on the King of Morocco’s initiative following the same summit organized by the French President at COP21, will be a key moment to secure concrete pledges for the $10 billion promised, through decisions for Africans and by Africans.

I’m going to let you into a secret. Throughout this year, I travelled extensively around the African continent, which I know well and where I was born.

Well, the African countries are among the most mobilized, the most creative, the most committed. They’re designing tomorrow’s world (the Noor solar plant) so as not to repeat the mistakes of economies which pollute and which plunder natural resources. Each time, in each country, what I saw and heard filled me with hope, gratitude and admiration.

And this is why, to conclude, I’d like to mention Wangari Matthai, a major figure from Kenya, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, founder of the Green Belt Movement, and a courageous woman, a fighter and a spokeswoman for this brilliant idea, which is so true: the battle for the environment and the battle for women’s rights are two sides of the same coin.

I’d like to share with you these wonderful words from this committed woman, spoken when she received the Nobel Prize: “In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.”

So let’s heed this message. Let’s mobilize and win the battle for the climate. I have confidence in you./.

publie le 11/11/2016

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