French Ameri-Can Climate Talks
Introductory remarks by Consul General of France Vincent Floreani on the occasion of FACTS French Ameri-Can Climate Talks: Towards A Positive Agenda in Climate Change (October 8, 2014)
Two weeks ago, an important event took place in New York. 400 000 people - simple citizens, actors, world leaders - marched through the streets of Manhattan to raise awareness on climate warming. Similar demonstrations took place in many other places in the world.
The facts about climate change are well known. They can no longer, in good faith, be denied.
What are these facts?
Global warming is largely due to the action of man;
The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere set a new record in 2013;
We can already see the terrible effects with the increasing number of severe climate disruptions: flood here, drought there, hurricanes in places where they did not occur before, unprecedented long and cold winters.
The renowned glaciologist and climatologist Jean Jouzel will tell you more on the facts. He is the Vice President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2007, he received collectively the Nobel Peace Prize with the IPCC. Jean Jouzel, we are proud to have you here today.
What are the consequences of climate disruptions?
Deaths, starvation, migrations, and, most probably, wars for water or for lands;
Some low lying islands are already threatened by ocean rise;
Climate disruptions are a threat to peace and security. The UN Climate Summit discussed that 10 days ago.
This is the background of our meeting today.
Faced with these challenges, France is acting, aware of her international responsibilities. We are working in three main directions. I would like to share them with you to launch our discussion:
1) First, we want to make sure the international community act swiftly and collectively to address these challenges.
A few years back, referring to climate change, French president Chirac said at the UN: « our house is on fire », we need to act. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon added last month: There is no ’Plan B’ because there is no ’Planet B’. "
At the global level, after the UN Summit, two world events are coming: first in Lima, Peru, in December, and then in Paris, France, at the end of 2015.
The Paris conference will build on the NewYork and Lima Summits. It is an opportunity to reach a global and ambitious climate agreement, legally binding, that should lead us towards a net-zero carbon future.
Good news is coming from the main producers of carbon dioxide. In the US, awareness is rising and the administration is committed to act; in China, the authorities are concerned with pollution and are taking measures; in India, Prime Minister Modi is also willing to act.
Brice Lalonde, former French minister for the Environment, thank you for coming from France for this event. You held and still hold several positions to help foster international agreements on climate and environment.
We have also with us Eric Posner, Professor of Law. Thank you for your presence. You will tell us more about Climate change Justice and ethics.
In Europe and in France, we have taken and implemented measures to reduce greenhouse gas. Right now, the French Parliament is debating a law to build a clean energy transition in France. The objectives that our government is pursuing are in particular:
reducing our greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030
reduce by 50% our final energy consumption by 2050
increase the share of renewables by 32% in 2030.
France is also helping most vulnerable countries. In New York, French President François Hollande announced a contribution of $1 bn to the Green Fund.
2) Second message, fighting climate change must involve all stakeholders, not only government officials.
For the Paris summit in 2015, we are already working with cities or regional authorities, with NGOs, with private companies. They are instrumental to achieve our goals.
There is good news coming from them.
When I talk to CEOs in the private sector or to city or state officials, they tell me about their concern for the environment and their efforts to limit their carbon footprint.
We would like the Paris summit to share solutions, rather than sharing the burden.
I would like to thank Karen Weigert, from the City of Chicago, for her presence. She will tell us more about the city’s efforts in that regard. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has said he wants to make Chicago "the greenest city in the world" and has published a plan to that effect.
Sandy Carter, a community organizer, knows a lot about community driven campaigns. Thank you for being with us.
Raising awareness is the « raison d’être » of these Franco-American Climate Talks. These talks are scheduled in seven cities throughout the United States and Canada. They involve leading scientists, NGOs representatives, politicians, journalists and entrepreneurs.
Several other exchanges like the one we have today will follow. We hope to have another edition next year, in Chicago.
3) Third and last message, combating climate change should be seen, as it is: a great opportunity, not a constraint.
I would like to thank Richard Sandor for his presence. It is a great honor for us to have you here. Mr Sandor will tell us about the economy of carbon and much more. Emilie Alberola, an economist from France, is also with us, thank you.
There is a huge potential of economic development with the assertion of new, dynamic and motivated players and holders of innovative projects.
There is a huge potential of economic development with the emergence of new industries and new markets.
Bart Chilton, many thanks also for your presence. You know a lot about Energy and Environmental Markets. Amy Francetic, CEO of Clean Energy Trust, we are also glad to have you here to speak on these topics.
I would like to conclude, first by highlighting a moral obligation. We have the responsibility to provide future generations an environment in which human development takes place in accordance with the capacity of our planet.
Lastly, I would like to thank all our partners for this conference: The Institut Français, the University of Chicago, and last but not least, Baker & McKenzie and their staff for their generous hospitality and their support in the organization of this event. Richard Saines, Cherya Jenkins and Laurel Rhoads have been of a precious help. Thank you! Thank you very much. We want to continue to work with you.
Thank you also to our two moderators for the round tables : Brain Quirke, Director of Communications for the US Department of Energy in the Midwest ; Marisa Martin, attorney in Baker & McKenzie’s Climate Change and Environment Markets practice group./.