Net-Zero Dialogue|Laurent Fabius


Source: China-Europe-America Wechat Official Account

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Former French Prime Minister, President of COP 21, President of the French Constitutional Council, Laurent Fabius's Speech

Ladies and gentlemen,


Environmental challenges are not a figment of our imaginations but the key issue of mankind’s future. We all know that international dialogue and cooperation is imperative to fight against climate change. Paris COP21 I had the honour to chair in 2015 was the “landmark COP”. Two months after the Glasgow COP26, what conclusions can we draw?


In spite of some results on nationally determined contributions, on long-term objectives, on the Paris Agreement rulebook, deforestation, coal, and methane, very important goals have not yet been achieved in Glasgow. Developed countries have not delivered the $100 billion per year they committed to gather each year by 2020. Not enough finance and technology is dedicated to developing countries. And parties’ ambition in terms of fossil fuel emissions is still very insufficient. All in all, with catastrophic consequences, we are not in line with the objective of 1.5° to 2°C established by the Paris Agreement.


This situation is not a cause for climate fatalism but, on the contrary, a call for more ambitious and more urgent actions. We know the time, we know the actors, and we know the tools.


Time. Efforts should be focused on the near future, and particularly on the following COPs, because climate action is a race against time. COP27 by 2022 in Egypt will be important, especially as Glasgow provides that Parties must submit updated NDCs by next year. Transparent and accurate reporting will matter. A priority is to move forward on the financing of mitigation, adaptation and “loss and damages” dedicated to developing countries. Efforts which are needed must be based on the principles of justice and “Common But Differentiated Responsibilities” (CBDR). We know too that the fight against climate change and the protection of biodiversity are deeply interconnected. Next spring’s biodiversity COP15 in Kunming will be a key moment.


Actors. The historical success of the Paris Agreement in 2015 was made possible by the alignment of three “planets” - science, society, and States. The “science planet” allows us to develop innovative solutions. It is crucial to invest more in research about green technologies and to increase the efficiency and lower the cost of renewables and carbon capture and storage (CCS). The “social planet” – i.e., many companies, cities, regions, universities, young people, non-governmental organisations - has taken action: it must be accelerated. But Glasgow confirms that the “States planet” is particularly decisive. Many States have enhanced their commitments and actions but too many are still reluctant to make necessary efforts in order to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C. States planet must therefore be strongly mobilized.


Several tools will be discussed today: energy, transportation, sustainable design…I would like to emphasize two points.


First, carbon pricing: At present, limiting emissions is often more expensive than emitting greenhouse gases. Putting a price on carbon is a must. Convergence and cooperation are necessary to make it efficient. The idea of one or several carbon price floors throughout the world and of sectorial agreements is fruitful. Such policies should be paired with powerful social justice measures and transparent information about the use of money, because climate issues are also social and regional issues.


More generally, it is crystal clear that green finance is key. Climate change is massively impacted by financial activities and the reverse is equally true. Private banks, development banks, insurance companies, financial institutions have been developing more and more initiatives to invest in green activities and disinvest from polluting sectors and companies: they must be praised. Yet, more numerous and more ambitious concrete transition plans are necessary. And transparent data, unquestionable evaluations and verifications are needed to avoid greenwashing.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Long-term objectives are necessary, but short-term actions are key. How is as important as how much. Compensations are necessary, but the main objective is to reduce directly greenhouse gas emissions. These indispensable transformations are only possible through a rapid and multilateral perspective. China, US and Europe are major CO2 emitters. So we have a common responsibility towards our own population’s present and future as well as towards the entire world. In spite of our differences, we need to work more together with a genuinely cooperative approach. In this context, the China-Europe-America Net-Zero Transition Platform can and must bring an important contribution.


I wish all of you very fruitful debates.


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