Climate disruption a central theme of ambassadors’ meeting

Climate disruption/COP21 - Statements by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, President of COP21, during his joint press briefing with Mr Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, and Mr Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Peruvian Minister of the Environment, President of COP20 (excerpts)

Paris, 26 August 2015

THE MINISTER – As you know, since Monday we’ve had what we call “Ambassadors’ Week”. It used to be the Ambassadors’ Conference, and now, given how it has developed, we bring together France’s ambassadors for a whole week to put across a number of messages. The President set out France’s international policy yesterday and we’re also listening to a number of messages which ambassadors who are present all over the world have for us. (…)

This year, we wanted to put the spotlight on climate disruption for two reasons, which are extremely simple to understand.

It’s one of the major problems for mankind and we know that last year and the first few months of this year were the hottest on record. And this has a whole series of absolutely devastating consequences. And when I say “devastating”, I mean literally. Consequences both as regards extreme phenomena – typhoons, floods, droughts –, consequences as regards biodiversity, food, health, migration and consequences as regards peace and war. These are things which are becoming familiar to everyone.

As you know, if there’s no powerful action, the IPCC scientists have explained to us – and this isn’t disputed any more – that climate disruption risks getting even worse, with terrible consequences for mankind, in terms of climate, poverty and conflicts. This was the main reason why the fight against climate disruption had to be foremost among our concerns.

And it was also particularly essential given that France, as you know, after Peru, has been chosen to host the conference, called COP21 – which we’ll call the Paris conference for short. All French diplomats are mobilized, as are many worldwide, to make this conference a success. The President is at the forefront of efforts and I myself will have the honour of chairing it.

It’s against this background that I asked Mr Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, if he would be kind enough to speak to all France’s ambassadors this morning. It was extremely kind of him – and I thank him for it – to come to Paris to set out not just the way he sees a number of issues but firstly the way he himself is committed to making the climate conference a success. (…)

Q. – (in English, on a new paradigm with the emergence of the green economy and its consequences for emerging countries)

THE MINISTER – (…) Greenhouse gases (CO2, methane) are being emitted on too massive a scale, that’s the crux of the problem. But when you emit them, they don’t dissolve. Some of them are going to stay in the atmosphere for a few months, a few years, a few dozen years or a few thousand years.

So we’ll never get back all the time we waste through not taking sufficient action. We risk finding it physically impossible, if we don’t manage [to solve the problem] quickly enough, to get what is essential, namely staying below 2ºC. (…) There’s no plan B, because there’s no planet B. So this isn’t just any old negotiation. We can’t say: “this year it isn’t possible, we can start again in three years”. No, because if we don’t take very swift, very powerful action, then we make it impossible for ourselves, because of the accumulation of greenhouse gases, to find a solution. This is a scientific point that isn’t always borne in mind but is decisive in this negotiation./.

Published on 04/09/2015

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