Paris climate agreement "irreversible", says President

Climate – COP22 – Opening speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Marrakesh, 16 November 2016

I want to begin by thanking His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco for organizing this conference.

Barely a year ago, COP21 was taking place in Paris. I wanted it to be organized in France. I was fully aware of the difficulties we faced. I remembered a number of failures but knew what high hopes there were.

However, on 12 December 2015, in exceptional, even appalling circumstances, since terrorist attacks had taken place in Paris, many heads of state and government came, worked, and concluded a historic agreement.

I still remember the moment when Laurent Fabius, COP President, set the seal on the Paris Agreement. Here we are in Marrakesh, one year on.

The agreement was historic, and what we have to say here is that the agreement is irreversible.

It’s irreversible legally speaking. It came into force on 4 November. More than 100 states, accounting for two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified it.

I welcome the efforts led by Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, and Ségolène Royal, COP President, to arrive at that result in record time and at an international agreement of that scope.

The agreement is also irreversible in practice, because governments – the ones you’re representing –, businesses, non-governmental organizations and citizens of the world are taking initiatives, launching projects and coming up with concrete solutions enabling us to combine the fight against global warming with development.

We’re going to move inexorably towards a much lower-carbon model. Already 90% of new electricity is produced by renewable energy sources.

More than 70 countries and thousands of businesses have committed themselves to a coalition which has set itself the goal of doubling the share of global emissions covered by a carbon price by 2030. Even the world of finance has committed itself to the process: €80 billion-worth of green bonds has been raised and France itself will set an example by being the first country to issue them, at the start of the year [2017], for investments in the environment and energy transition. That’s why the agreement is irreversible legally and practically speaking.

Moreover, it is irreversible in people’s minds. The climate emergency didn’t end in Paris on 12 December 2015. The past few months have been the hottest in modern history and the link has been established between [global] warming caused by man – humans – and [natural] disasters. Everyone now knows that if we don’t do anything, rising sea levels will flood islands and coasts, including the most populated on our planet. Doing nothing would be catastrophic for the world, terrible for future generations and dangerous for peace.

Millions of people would be displaced, [there would be] conflicts – we’re already experiencing them – linked to access to water and resources, then in Africa, famine linked to drought, which could affect millions of people who, to survive, would be forced to migrate in the hope of finding adequate resources elsewhere to feed themselves.

So, taking action for the climate means ensuring the security and stability of the world. I’ve come here to Marrakesh not to go back over Paris, but to call for coherence and perseverance. The Paris Agreement is the work of everyone. It belongs to everyone, it depends on everyone, it is in the interest of everyone.

Barack Obama’s role in securing an agreement in Paris was crucial, particularly when it came to decisions taken with China and other countries. The United States, the world’s leading economic power and the second largest greenhouse gas emitter, must honour the commitments that were made. It’s not only its duty, it’s in its interest – that of the American people, who are being hit by climate disruption, because no country is immune. It’s also in the interest of American businesses, which have invested in the ecological transition. It’s also the desire of cities and federal states, which made active efforts to support us in the climate agreement.

France – I assure you of this here – will hold this dialogue with the United States and its new president, openly, with respect, but with insistence and determination and on behalf of the 100 countries that have already ratified the Paris Agreement.

I also want to make an appeal for perseverance. We’re all gathered with the aim of limiting temperature rises to below 2ºC and, if possible, 1.5ºC. But I assure you, we must move faster. Move faster so that we can implement the Paris Agreement more quickly than planned – even before 2018. Move faster to implement our national contributions. There too, France wants to set an example and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Likewise, those same emissions will be cut fourfold by 2050. Moving faster, ever faster. We’re also going to close coal-fired power stations by 2023, because we’re conscious that time is needed, a transition is needed, but that we must also have this goal.

We want to set a carbon price; €22 in 2016, more in 2030. But we must have the determination to be carbon neutral by 2050. I know that not all countries are ready. But France has decided to take the lead in this “carbon neutral coalition” by 2050.

COP22 in Marrakesh must be the COP of solutions. It must make Africa’s future among the top priorities. The world owes the African continent an ecological debt. Of the 50 countries worst afflicted by global warming, 36 are in sub-Saharan Africa.

That’s why I wanted an Agenda 2020 for Africa to be implemented; the aim is to provide all Africans with access to electricity. An Africa Renewable Energy Initiative was launched in Paris at COP21. €10 billion was promised; France will provide €2 billion of this over the next five years. But I know this commitment will be exceeded.

We now have a road map. The African Development Bank has implemented the procedures; 240 projects have been identified by the COP21 President. We’ll make sure to spur the European Union into action, because the destinies of Africa and Europe are linked.

Finally, what persuaded many of those who were hesitant to sign the Paris Agreement was the fact that the most developed countries made commitments and above all fulfilled them. The $100 billion by 2020 will be delivered. We must do everything to mobilize it. There too, France will keep its word; our annual climate finance will be $5 billion a year by 2020, including $1 billion for adaptation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I know what this meeting may represent for many people. The idea that the bulk of the work was done in Paris and only the implementation remains to be carried out: nothing could be more wrong. It’s now that everything is beginning – especially in the world we know. A world going through terrible ordeals. A world full of uncertainties, with conflicts, threats, terrorism, civilians who are suffering, poverty and massive inequalities.

That’s why, for those who trade in fear, the world has become an ideal breeding ground. Doubts may sometimes exist as to the international community’s ability [to respond]. There may be questions about globalization, which must be brought under control. I’m aware of all the problems that may sometimes prey on our peoples.

But there are also reasons for hope, and the Paris Agreement is one. It’s proof that the international community can overcome its divisions, take action and protect what we hold most dear.

So, Your Majesty, heads of state and government, Secretary-General, delegates, you can’t break a promise of hope. You must fulfil it. You must champion it. Here in Marrakesh, we’re the guardians of the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement. We’ll keep it alive, because what unites us – over and above our differences, our beliefs, religions, situations and modes of development – is what we share, and that is quite simply our planet. Thank you./.

publie le 22/11/2016

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