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Politics & press news – Embassy 61

COP21: 'Turning point for humanity' says French Ambassador

The climate change deal struck at the COP21 talks in Paris was “a turning point for the future of humanity” France’s Ambassador to London Sylvie Bermann told Embassy.

“A real sense of momentum built up around Paris, and if anything the sense of urgency grew stronger in the wake of the atrocious terrorist attacks that took place on 13 November,” said Bermann (to see full interview please click here)

“These are troubled times we are living in, but there was a definite sense that this was something massive, and positive, that we could do in order to secure our planet’s future,” she added.

Periodic reviews
The accord – which is part legally binding and part voluntary – seeks to limit temperature rises to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts” to keep warming below 1.5°C which has been widely regarded as a historic outcome.

The Ambassador admitted that while current national emissions targets were not sufficient to meet this goal, a key aspect of the agreement is the inclusion of mandatory ‘periodic reviews’, where countries’ national targets for emissions reductions can be “ratcheted up” over time.

Financial assistance to developing countries
To meet these ambitious aims while allowing developing economies access to energy and technology to develop, industrialised nations have also committed to providing finance to the tune of $100bn a year, as well as technical assistance to help developing countries “leapfrog” towards low-carbon economies. The most vulnerable nations, such as low-lying island states, will also receive funds to adapt to the worst impacts of rising temperatures.

Transparency was an important goal of the climate agreement. The aim was for all countries to use the same system of verification and reporting so that so that progress on national emissions targets could be tracked accurately. However many developing countries lack the capacity to carry out the reporting that developed countries are currently obliged to do under the Kyoto accord.

It was therefore decided that differential systems of reporting would remain in place while developing countries build capacity for a more rigorous system.

The new accord will be open for signature from April 2016 and will enter into force once at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 per cent of global emissions have ratified it.

Success for French diplomacy
The successful outcome has been seen as a major achievement for French diplomacy – and for French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius – who quoted Nelson Mandela at the close of the summit saying: “‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’” He went on to say: “I would like to add a few more words, by the same hero: ‘None of us acting alone can achieve success.’”

Delivering a good climate agreement marked the culmination of a year-long diplomatic push by French embassies globally. Here in London Ambassador Bermann and her team staged a number of awareness-raising meetings,

bringing together experts and the members of the public to discuss the urgency of getting a new climate accord in place by 2020.

The French Embassy also practised what it preached by “going green” in May this year. It hosted a seminar to share ideas with other diplomatic missions who have led the way in reducing their carbon footprints.

The result was a collective commitment by the diplomatic missions present to work together to reduce their emissions (to see Report please click here).

We have a deal! The moment the world united against climate change

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