Speech of Mr.Thierry Berthelot on Chinese Media Launch Ceremony (Beijing) - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

Speech of Mr.Thierry Berthelot on Chinese Media Launch Ceremony (Beijing)

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Speech of Mr.Thierry Berthelot on Chinese Media Launch Ceremony (Beijing)

Dear Chen Yan, Director of the China-Europe Forum, Dear Director of Tencent Company who welcomes us today, Distinguished guests and participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and honor to be with you today in this event organized by China-Europe Forum, to start the media campaign on the Objectives of the COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015. I recognized very eminent scholars and experts of the climate change issue today and I would like to thank them of being with us.

First of all, let me congratulate the China-Europe Forum for his initiative, not only because my country has decided to include your conference in December 2014 one of the Events of the 50th Anniversary of the diplomatic relations between France China: but also because, our planet is being seriously threatened by climate change.

The Chinese people understand this better than anyone because you are badly hit by air pollution. If there is something we can say about the fifth IPCC report, is that it shouldn’t surprise anyone. It delivers a diagnosis that is as clear and disturbing as it has ever been: climate change is real, caused by human activities, happening now, and our failures to address it appropriately are putting us on track for a four degrees Celsius warmer world.

Unless powerful action is taken, it will continue to prevail. This is why the preparation of the climate international conference to be held in Paris in 2015 should be a priority for us all.

Fortunately, major countries – including China - have realized that these issues were of utter importance and are now determined to address this global threat. Companies come to see sustainability not as unaffordable generosity, but as a proof of efficient management. Investors are finally taking climate disruption for what it is – one of the biggest systemic risks we’ve ever known. Clean technologies that were derided, not long ago, as a waste of public money? are becoming mature and competitive.

France has decided to take action on this issue. The objective of the 2015 Paris U.N. Climate Conference that we will host is a universal, legally binding and differentiated agreement that limits the global temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This objective, which is difficult to meet because specialists are talking of a 4 to 5° C rise, is a matter of survival for many regions of the world, which are threatened by submersion, desertification, pollution, and other disasters.

How should we proceed? With dialogue, listening to everyone, and particularly major actors such as China, solidarity and cooperation. I know that the Chinese people consider that they have been unjustly criticized in recent years when it comes to this issue. The reality is that we share the same planet and we all must take action to ensure that is remains habitable.

And all the Chinese Media you are representing today, as well as the China-Europe Forum, as a major NGO, have a great role to play,

France will have a positive discourse because the climate is not simply a responsibility to share, but also a chance to seize, the chance to come up with a development model together, the so-called “green growth”.

China holds one of the keys to making the Paris Conference successful. In their reform strategy, Chinese authorities have made the environment a priority. China is indeed addressing major environmental challenges. Ambitious objectives have been set for tackling climate change and ways to increase these efforts even further are being explored. China is doing a great deal at a national level. Preparation of the Paris Conference is an opportunity for China to showcase these efforts at international level. By taking on a role of leader in this area, in cooperation with France, China will be able to change how things are done, and rally the support of the international community in order to save our common heritage

Climate change is not just as a potential constraint, but also as an opportunity. An opportunity to rethink and reinvent; to value “better”, over “more”. An opportunity to make low-carbon economies not just something that we need, but something we want – because it delivers meaningful jobs, happier and healthier lives, and reinforced social bonds.

What France is striving to do is to seize this opportunity, and actively facilitate with all partners and stakeholders the conclusion of an ambitious, universal climate agreement.

That’s why we very much welcome this initiative of the China-Europe Forum, to organize a Conference of 4 days in Paris and cities in France in December.

We are also supporting, promoting and catalyzing climate-friendly initiatives outside the negotiations, under a “positive agenda” that can help encourage the talks – showing that low-carbon solutions are economically and politically feasible.

Regarding this challenge, France organizes with China a high level Experts’ group: the first step was last December in Beijing, and the next meeting shall be in June in Paris.

We want these initiatives to reinforce and multiply themselves ahead of the UN Secretary General’s “climate summit” next September.

As our minister of Foreign Affairs and International development said during the Warsaw climate talks last November, upon acknowledging France’s designation as the host of the 2015 conference: “we accept this mission with humility, because the challenge is considerable; we accept it with responsibility, because we want it to bring about solutions.”

To be the summit’s host country, we had another considerable advantage over the competition… there was no other volunteer!

We are fully aware that the world is at a critical juncture with regards to the climate challenge. 2015 will be a decisive year. If the COP 21 fails to deliver, the declining faith of the public in international climate negotiations will probably be damaged beyond repair.

We are aware of the difficulties, the challenges ahead. And yet, we remain hopeful. For France, there are a handful of key criteria that would make such an outcome successful:

- First, it must be universal. We cannot continue to ignore the fact that the world has changed since countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, more than twenty years ago. The Kyoto protocol currently binds nations that represent a small and declining share of the world’s emissions, with reduction targets that are not in line with what science recommends.

- Second, the agreement must be ambitious. It cannot be a half-empty political declaration, or a collection of minimal reduction targets. It must catalyze the kind of action needed to put the world on a path consistent with the 2°C objective, harnessing.

- Third, the agreement must be flexible. On that condition only, can it be universal and ambitious. We cannot get everyone on board if we do not design a spectrum of different kinds of possible actions and commitments, suited to the countries’ respective responsibilities and capacities. And, we cannot create a positive spiral of ambition if the agreement has to be re-negotiated every time someone raises their level of contribution.

Universal, ambitious and flexible: we know that in these three words lie many ambiguities, many different definitions.

For the sake of the future international climate regime, much still needs to happen. Even the best possible global agreement is all but worthless if it misses the crucial step of national ratifications.

If we want a meaningful global deal in 2015, all countries will have to do their work. They will have to engage with political and business decision-makers at home; summon their absolute most in terms of emissions reduction pledges and financial contributions, making sure it stays in line with science; convince their public opinion that a deal is in the national interest, but also that it works for them and their family; spark renewed saliency of climate change in the media, the academia, the NGO community – and much more. Anyone with an interest in our climate future must ensure that this homework is done, and well done…

So, as you may have understood from my words, France, as the host country of COP 21, does look to China, among major stakeholders, with great attention. But we do so without any form of resignation or overconfidence:

- No resignation, because we observe the Political will of Chinese leaders.

At the occasion of the bilateral State visit by President Xi Jinping in France (March 25 – 28), our two countries issued a joint statement, in which we agree to work towards the adoption at the COP 21 of either a Protocol an other Legal Instrument or a text of Legal value agreed by all the Parties to the UNCCC. We agree to continue working together in preparing the UNGS Summit in September 2014. We are also jointly committed to present our respective contributions, according to the decisions taken in Warsaw during COP 19.

France and China also adopted a “Joint Medium and Long term Cooperation Plan for France-China relations” in which Part III is dedicated to the fight against Climate change and the Protection of the Environment. We carry out several bilateral projects under this important Roadmap and our cooperation projects in the field of sustainable urbanization in Wuhan, Shenyang and other cities could also be instrumental to promote low-carbon technologies. Now, what we need is to deliver.

- No overconfidence or arrogance, because France also has key battles ahead, and they will not be easily won.

At the national level, a new draft law on Energy transition shall be presented to Parliament after a long National debate, and hopefully be adopted this year to face today’s challenges. We will reinforce our exemplarity by working towards an energy system that is low-carbon, and cost-effective. The French corporate sector has also taken steps in the field of sustainable development to promote cleaner energy production and consumption).

In the run-up to 2015, we will play proactively, collectively, and positively. We will strive to reinforce the level of ambition in the negotiations; ensure that everyone feels included in the discussions; and help change the dominant perception of climate change, from a burden to a challenge, full of opportunities. Proactive, collective, and positive: this is how we perceive our mission, and the path to success.

France appeals for achievable, quantifiable and highly challenging national contributions.

We know that these priorities are shared by Peru, and we are confident that they will be reflected in Lima, which will be a key milestone on the road to Paris. I wanted to take this opportunity to state once again our will to work together, hand-in-hand, with Peru, for the meaningful outcome that both our countries want.

Let us make this spirit of responsibility prevail in the next two years. Let us make Paris 2015 the completion of several processes and initiatives, but also and perhaps more importantly, the launching of many, many more projects, towards a real and shared sustainable development. Thank you very much for your attention.