Minister sees "window of opportunity" on climate in 2015

Climate – Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to Charlie Rose on PBS Television (excerpts)¹

New York, 26 September 2014

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Q. – This is Climate Week, here. And I think in 2015 you’re going to chair the Climate Conference –

THE MINISTER – Yes, in December 2015, in Paris.

Q. – What progress is being made?

THE MINISTER – Well, I should say that in terms of practical steps, there has been some progress, maybe not enough. For instance, we have to capitalize what we call the Green [Climate] Fund, because we need money. And there are some countries which have announced some money, but not enough. There have been a lot of speeches and all of them are going in the same direction, saying we have to have an agreement, because this question of – I don’t speak about climate change, I speak about climate disruption, because it is a complete disruption – and every single country…

Q. – Change is too soft a word?

THE MINISTER – Yes it’s too soft. And warming, it’s not true, because in some parts it’s warming, in some parts it’s cooling, and in every part it’s an extreme phenomenon. There have been some practical steps, but the most important things are not the steps. The most important thing is that the private sector has decided to step in this new direction – that’s brand new. Local government – I mean, towns, regions – have decided to go in the same direction, and there is a very strong movement saying that we have to take this decision.

Q. – The decision to…?

THE MINISTER – To stop this situation, because otherwise it would be impossible to live on our world. Ban Ki-moon, who is very involved in that, has a great formula – I asked him and he said I can use it so I use it – “There is no Plan B, because there is no Planet B”. That is the best summary. Because if we don’t do it, and do it quickly – because it is not a question for within 40 years, it’s right now, and we are the first generation to be aware of that and the last generation to be able to act.

Q. – There is a window of opportunity?

THE MINISTER – A window of opportunity and necessity. Next year.

Q. – My impression is that China is better than it’s been before, in its commitment?

THE MINISTER – Yes, you’re completely right. There is a major shift, both in the US attitude and the Chinese attitude. President Obama and John Kerry are completely dedicated. Obviously, it is difficult for them to announce things now because you have the mid-term elections, but I hope that they will do it by the beginning of next year. And as far as the Chinese are concerned, they are fully aware. It is not a question of international pressure; it is a question for them, for their own lives. Last time I was in Beijing, the same day in Paris we decided to have alternate traffic because the pollution was 10% more than the average. But the same day in Beijing, it was not 10% more, it was 18 times the norm. People couldn’t breathe in the street, and children couldn’t go to school. Therefore, it is an absolute necessity. It’s very difficult for the Chinese because it is a complete shift in their economy and they need growth. But the new element you were asking about is that now people understand it is not only a constraint, it can be an opportunity that is offered: green growth, job creation, it’s a new big thing, and particularly for big businesses.

¹M. Fabius spoke in English.

Published on 29/09/2014

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