Discours de l’Ambassadeur lors de la conférence COP 21 Climat et Economie à la VŠE : "transformer des contraintes en opportunités" (30 octobre 2015 - en anglais)
Mr. Vice-Rector, Dear Professor Lecocq, Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very glad to be here today, on the premises of the VSE with which the French Embassy has developed a long-term and friendly relationship. Before anything else, I’d like to warmly thank Mrs. Hana MACHKOVA, the VSE’s Rector, as well as all her colleagues for their hospitality and personal involvement in the organisation of this conference. I would also like to address my gratitude to our other academic partners from the University of Chemistry and the University of Life sciences, and, of course, to our panellists from France and the Czech Republic whose presentations will provide us with a more comprehensive understanding of climate finance-related challenges.
Thirty days from now the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP 21, will be officially kicked-off in Paris. These past months, a lot has been achieved to mobilise governments, companies, associations and citizens all over the planet so that a global, binding and differentiated agreement can be reached in Paris and thus limit the global temperature rise to 2°C. Last May, President HOLLANDE called for a “miracle” that could bring 195 countries together to take a strong stand against the degradation of our planet. The very same planet we will pass on to future generations. Some recent elements might encourage us to believe that this miracle can be achieved in Paris.
Last week in Bonn the national delegations closed the last round of negotiation where they finally agreed on a common agreement proposal. This proposal is still rather long but well balanced. If some options have been clarified, final decisions will have to be taken in Paris, especially on the sensitive issue of financing. Nevertheless, this document has been underpinned by the significant involvement of more than 150 countries which handed over their CO2 reduction national commitment. Last May, only 35 states had done so. More is still to be achieved since many oil producing countries haven’t submitted any commitment. Moreover, a solidarity mechanism has to be fairly designed so that developed countries, bearing a historical responsibility, could from 2020 mobilise every year $100 Bn to help developing countries in both reducing their emission and adapting to climate change. This financial aspect has been at the heart of the final negotiations and is still highly debated.
The final decision will be taken by officials in Paris. Associations and private companies have nevertheless actively participated alongside the whole negotiation process. Both will send representatives to Paris next month. If national delegations’ job is to negotiate and conclude an agreement, it is up to civil society to implement this commitment into concrete actions. The private sector has a key role to play since emissions reduction could only be achieved by designing new production processes, and by radically changing the way we travel, move or build. Innovative solutions, such as energy efficiency, clean mobility, renewable energies, waste management, and recycling, are already well-known. I’m not talking about far-fetched speculative solutions out of science-fiction novels. I’m talking about real solutions that could be found on the internet on dedicated data-bases set up by United Nations offices in the run-up to the COP21 and daily nourished by companies. This is the so-called Agenda of Solutions. However, many existing solutions remain for the time being more costly to implement than the traditional carbon-intensive processes, and cannot be quickly developed at a large scale without an adequate economic and financial framework. Strong signals must be sent to markets in order to make these industrial solutions cost-effective and to redirect our economies towards a decarbonised and more climate-friendly economy.
Carbon pricing is one of those strong signals. I will gladly leave to Mr. LECOCQ the difficult task of enlightening us on this subject. I believe however that if tomorrow a global price is finally set on carbon emissions, behaviours and mentalities could be driven to a radical change. Currently, despite the European Union’s revolutionary initiative to establish the first regional Emission Trading System in 2005, later followed by other pioneers, global greenhouse emissions are either under-priced or even non-priced.
This is why a comprehensive agreement is needed in order to design a stable and differentiated mechanism setting a global price on emissions. Should only a few states implement such a mechanism, their economic actors will face competition from less environmentally-friendly competitors. Each national economy will have to be part of any global mechanism to make it work and the burden has to be fairly shared with regard to each economy’s own level of development.
I am convinced that the EU has to play a pioneering role in fostering mechanisms both safeguarding the environment and economic activity, the same way it did with its recently adopted communication on circular economy. Carbon pricing has the potential to trigger massive low-carbon investments, but is only the tip of the iceberg. The Paris agreement will have to call for a broader financial and economic architecture in which all financial practices will have to be modified as for instance investment or pension funds’ strategies.
I’d like to conclude in paying tribute to the call launched last week by 220 internationally respected economists among which Professor LECOCQ. That call stresses that the Paris agreement will have to rely on a global consensus, likely to arouse trust among states. As the call states, “an ambitious action against Climate Change won’t burden the economy”. It would on the contrary have positive impacts on employment, health, poverty, and development, turning our current short-sighted outlooks into sustainable long-term strategies likely to build a common future.
Economic and Environmental interests have been wrongly opposed for years. Let’s market mechanisms serve environmental purposes, thus turning yesterday’s problem into today’s solution. /.