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Convention on Climate change

1. The Doha Climate Conference (Dec. 2012) Retour à la table des matières

Logo DOHA 2012

The 18th conference on climate change took place in Doha (Qatar) from 26 November to 7 December 2012.

Following the conference, the Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman made the following statement, about the final agreement :

“The agreement reached on December 8 at the conclusion of the Doha conference includes advances that are modest but essential to ensuring continued international commitment to combating the threat of climate change.

France, represented by Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Delphine Batho, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Mr. Pascal Canfin, Minister Delegate for Development, and the European Union underscored throughout the conference the lack of efforts to combat climate change and the need to make further progress with respect to the environmental transition in order to reduce greenhouse gases.

The EU and France committed in Doha to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, thus extending this agreement on reducing greenhouse gases until 2020. Efforts must be made over the next few years to raise the level of ambition of the emission reductions in order to limit global warming to less than 2°C.

The final compromise will also make it possible to strengthen efforts to mobilize $100 billion by 2020 to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries. A work program should make it possible to increase the amount of funding to combat climate change. In this context, France will devote a portion of its tax on financial transactions to funding the fight against climate change, notably within the framework of the Green Climate Fund.

The agreement also identifies a work program to develop a global agreement that will apply to everyone from 2020. At the Doha conference, France reaffirmed its proposal to host the Conference of the Parties in 2015 which should lead to this new global agreement.”

2. The Durban Climate Conference (Dec. 2011) Retour à la table des matières

The 17th conference on climate change took place in Durban from 28 November to 11 December 2011. It was preceded by preparatory conferences, from 3 to 8 April 2011 in Bangkok and from 6 to 17 June in Bonn.

Following the conference, the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry Spokesman made the following statement :

" The 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol ended in Durban on the morning of Sunday, 11 December 2011 with a success guaranteeing the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Following the conference, the parties agreed on a set of four texts which consolidate the multilateral system and pave the way for a comprehensive agreement bringing together all states:

— a decision of the conference makes provision for a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period to begin on 1 January 2013 for a duration of five years;

— the Durban Platform adopted in accordance with this decision sets in train a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an outcome with legal force in the framework of the Convention applicable to all its parties. To this end, it creates an ad hoc working group whose work – which is to start before mid-2012 – will have to be completed by 2015 in order [for the legal framework] to take effect as of 2020. The aim of this ambitious process will be to strengthen greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets to limit effectively the rise in our planet’s average temperature. Among other things, it will draw on the next IPCC report and the results of the 2013-2015 review;

— The agreement reached in Durban also enables the decisions taken in Cancún to be implemented. In particular, the conference gave the go-ahead to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, which by 2020 will help raise the $100 billion per year promised by the developed countries to help developing countries in their efforts against climate change and its effects.

France welcomes this agreement. It should make it possible to make the international system for fighting climate change more ambitious. This success is the result of the South African presidency’s wise conduct of the negotiations. France, along with the European Union, will continue to shoulder all her responsibilities and remain the main initiator of proposals against climate change. "

On the eve of the Bonn preparatory conference, on 6 June 2011, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs made the following statement:

"The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will hold its next session in Bonn from June 6 to 17. This is the follow-up to the 14th session of the Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention and the 16th session of the Working Group on the Future of the Kyoto Protocol which began in Bangkok in April 2011.

The challenge of these sessions lies in making progress in a balanced manner on all components of the negotiation, while maintaining our openness to the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, implementing the agreements secured at the Cancun Conference and preparing the decisions to be adopted at the next UN Climate Change Conference in Durban (November 28 to December 2, 2011).

As during the recent meetings in Bangkok (April 3 to 8), several workshops were devoted to the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals of developed countries and the specific actions of the developing countries. Several informal meetings will also take place on the sidelines of the negotiations, notably the meeting of the “REDD+ Partnership” on safeguarding tropical forest basins which France co-chairs with Brazil.

This new session will allow France to signal its commitment and its determination to making its climate change policy and its participation in global climate negotiations one of its strategic priorities. Following the G8 Summit in Deauville, which signaled its determination to continue its efforts to conclude a global agreement, France is, together with its European partners, determined to work towards implementing the decisions adopted at the Cancun Conference.

Serge Lepeltier, Ambassador responsible for climate change negotiations, will lead the French delegation."

3. The Cancun Climate Conference (29 Nov-10 Dec 2010) Retour à la table des matières

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference held from 29 November to 10 December 2010 in Cancun (Mexico chairs the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention) ended on 11 December 2010.

On 13 December 2010, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs made the following statement:

"The 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place from 28 November to 11 December in Cancun (Mexico) and concluded successfully. After two weeks of negotiations, one year after the Copenhagen Conference, the 194 Member States of the United Nations Framework Convention adopted several decisions on the post-2012 regime to fight against climate change.


The Conference’s main challenge was to ensure the adoption of the Copenhagen political accord by the United Nations Framework Convention, and to decide on the follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol for which the first commitment period ends at the end of 2012. There was a need to restore confidence in multilateralism and demonstrate the capacity of the UN system to achieve concrete results.


The emissions reduction objectives for the industrialized countries for 2020 now come within the scope of the Climate Convention and a system to register and monitor the actions of developing countries has been implemented.

The objective of limiting the long-term global temperature increase to 2˚C also comes within the scope of the Climate Convention, and includes the possibility of increasing this objective to 1.5˚C in 2015.

The need, established by the Copenhagen Accord, for emissions to peak as swiftly as possible is also reaffirmed by the text, with commitments by countries to specify a date for this and to develop low carbon strategies.


During the last few hours of the negotiations, the Mexican presidency, unanimously commended for its management of the debates, managed to secure the approval of several key decisions.

— The Copenhagen Accord is now integrated in the Climate Convention, and several of its recommendations can now be implemented;

— The Green Climate Fund to support projects, programs, and the policies of developing countries was established together with its governing bodies;

— A committee focusing on climate change adaptation was established to guide the actions of developing countries;

— Establishment of a Climate Technology Center to develop expertise on new green technologies in developing countries;

— The mechanism to combat deforestation was launched.

France was represented by Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, who successfully conducted informal consultations on the technology component of the Cancun Conference conclusions, at the request of Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Mexico’s Foreign Minister and President of this conference.

The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs welcomes this ambitious agreement and pays tribute to the exceptional quality of the Mexican presidency which allowed us to mark a new stage in the climate negotiation process. This result allows us to confidently envisage an agreement on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol at the Durban Conference in 2011.

This conference strengthens France’s commitment and determination to make its climate policy and its participation in the global climate negotiations one of its strategic priorities. For the record, France will honor its financial commitments, made in Copenhagen, of €412 million per year under the early financing program which will extend until 2012."

4. The Copenhagen Climate Conference (Dec. 2009) Retour à la table des matières

A. Assessment of the Copenhagen Conference

- The Copenhagen Conference proved to be the exceptional event it was expected to be, with a historic level of participation (130 of the 192 countries having ratified the Climate Convention were represented by their Heads of State or Government), an unprecedented audience (more than 45,000 accredited representatives), and global media coverage.

The goal of the Conference was to bring together the entire international community to focus on the future climate change regime to be implemented by the end of 2012, the expiration date of the Kyoko Protocol.

Copenhagen was meant to be the culmination of the Action Plan launched in Bali in 2007. Two years of work have resulted in major progress being achieved regarding the main topics of negotiation (shared vision, curbing emissions, including from deforestation, adaptation, financing and transfer of technology). However, starting in 2009 it became apparent that in order to achieve an agreement on a treaty in 2010 it would be vital to reach a political agreement by the end of 2009.

This was accomplished under extremely tense conditions and the Copenhagen Conference almost failed. For the first time, the majority of the international community took steps towards stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions by endorsing the objective of limiting global temperature increases to less than 2˚C.

- The Copenhagen Accord led to the following 10 major achievements which did not previously exist in any text of global significance:

1. Support for the 2˚C objective and confirmation of a global emissions peak “as early as possible”;

2. The creation of a specific framework to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change;

3. Recording of the 2020 reduction targets of developed countries (The UE confirmed its previous announcement that it would make a unilateral 20 percent cut below 1990 levels, or 30 percent if others act);

4. Recording of the mitigation measures to be implemented by 2020 by developing countries;

5. Guidelines on the system for monitoring the commitments;

6. Implementation of a mechanism to combat deforestation;

7. Provision of financial resources to support mitigation actions, with a commitment of $30 billion for the period 2010-2012, the setting of a goal of $100 billion per year in 2020 for climate support in developing countries and the creation of a climate fund;

8. Use of innovative financing;

9. The creation of a mechanism to accelerate technology deployment;

10. Monitoring of the agreement’s implementation between now and 2015, with adjustment of the objectives if necessary.

- The current structure will continue after Copenhagen:

The mandates of the two main ad hoc working groups established in Bali, one on the future of the Climate Convention (AWG-LCA) and the other on the future of the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) were extended in Copenhagen. The texts drawn up, which are well advanced with regard to certain topics, should form the basis of the future international treaty. The legal implication linking the political agreement with the future work of the two working groups will be key to achieving the ambitious, global treaty we are all hoping for. The Copenhagen Accord, negotiated on December 18, 2009, by around 30 Heads of State and Government falls firmly within the framework of the United Nations even though its adoption by all of the Parties to the Conference is restricted to one notable decision.

Its goal is therefore to go beyond a political statement through which the Heads of State and Government express their willingness to commit to continuing the process and establishing their guidelines. Its true scope will depend on its formal adoption, in particular through the texts relating to its implementation.

B. The contribution of France and the EU in the negotiations

France and its European partners have invested a great deal of effort towards achieving an agreement in Copenhagen. During the Bali negotiation process, the European Union developed an ambitious position aimed at reaching a global agreement on climate change. France intervened directly at the Copenhagen Conference through the President of the Republic who, together with Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown in particular, managed to break the deadlock in the negotiation process, thus allowing a political agreement to be reached.

France successfully defended the principle of creating a Global Environmental Organization which should be developed further in 2010.

The accord also allowed considerable progress to be made with regard to the forestry issue in the broad sense (REDD+) which is one of France’s priorities. France was rewarded for the position that it took on this topic at the Conference. The political agreement thus provides for the immediate implementation of a mechanism aimed at combating deforestation and forest degradation and the commitment to provide funding for this purpose.

The innovative financing mechanisms promoted by France to fund the fight against climate change also have a role to play in the political agreement. The tax on financial transactions falls within this category. Copenhagen made it possible to obtain commitments from developed countries to contribute $100 million per year from now until 2020.

The Copenhagen Accord has already announced the need for funding of $30 billion for the period 2010-2012, in particular for the most vulnerable countries (least developed countries (LDC), Small Island States and Africa). In this respect, France has pledged to contribute €420 million per year over three years.

5. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Retour à la table des matières

The framework Convention was adopted during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force on 21 March 1994. It is one of the three major Conventions that emanated from the Earth Summit, along with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. It recognized that climate change has human causes and called primarily on industrialized countries to fight against this phenomenon.

The Convention sets an ultimate objective: the stabilization of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The States agreed to reach this level within a sufficient time frame to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, so that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, was an essential step in the implementation of the Convention, since it provided quantified commitments. Under the Protocol, industrialized countries pledged to meet quotas for reducing or limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, usually for the first Commitment Period, i.e. 2008 - 2012.

The multilateral regime on climate change is evolving. The international community must reach a new agreement which will be a successor to the Kyoto Protocol for the period after 2012. The aim now is to make sure that all Parties make commitments in the fight against climate change. Formal negotiations on the development of a multilateral regime post 2012 began with the roadmap agreed in Bali in 2007, continued in Copenhagen in December 2009, and and at Cancun (Mexico) in 2010, and will hopefully be concluded in Durban at the end of 2011.

6. Work of the Security Council and of the General Assembly Retour à la table des matières

- Security Council debates

The Security Council met for the first time in April 2007, at the initiative of the United Kingdom, to address the issue of climate change as a threat to international peace and security. This meeting made it possible to increase the members’ awareness of this issue, but did not result in the adoption of a text.

On July 20, 2011, the Security Council met for a second time with respect to the issue, on the initiative of Germany under its presidency of the Security Council, for a public and open debate in the presence of the Secretary-General and Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program.

In his speech, the Permanent Representative of France reaffirmed the critical importance of the issue and stated “My delegation regrets the fact that the Council is not currently able to adopt a joint position on the implications of climate change on peacekeeping and international security (…). Today’s debate is only a first step. It should be a call for action for all of us at the United Nations. The climate threat demands that we take action, in the short term first of all, in order to ensure the success of the Durban Conference and then the Rio Conference, in the medium term to prevent conflicts that may arise as a result, and in the long term in order to save the planet. My delegation is convinced that the Security Council must revisit this issue and that it will be able, in the future, to speak with one voice. This isn’t an exaggerated ambition, just recognition of the sad realities that await us.”

At the end of the debate, the Security Council members were finally able to agree on the adoption of a presidential statement. The fact that it was possible to reach a unanimous agreement on this issue is in itself a remarkable step forward. This is one more step in the right direction following the debate in 2007 and the UNGA resolution of 2009 (see below). France regrets, however, that it did not prove possible to reach a consensus on a more ambitious presidential statement that was commensurate with the magnitude of the threat and the importance attributed by the Council to effective and comprehensive conflict prevention strategies.

Climate: the UNSC adopts a statement on the implications of climate change on international peace and security - Statement by the Spokeperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs - 21 July 2011

Yesterday, the Presidency of the Security Council adopted a statement on the implications of climate change on international peace and security.

France is convinced of the need for the Security Council to be involved in this area.

France welcomes the fact that the Council has instructed the Secretary-General to take the implications of climate change for international security into account in its reports, notably when they relate to the implementation of the Council’s mandates and peacebuilding efforts.

The Security Council must in effect ensure an integrated approach in responding to the risks and have a better understanding of the vectors of conflict associated with climate change. At the same time, it must take into account the impact of its own actions and decisions. Peacekeeping operations alone produce emissions of more than a million tons of CO2 per year and can contribute to the depletion of scarce resources in vulnerable regions where they take place. France welcomes the first steps taken by the UN Secretariat to limit this impact. These efforts must be maintained and strengthened.

- Work of the General Assembly

The General Assembly looked into the issue of climate change and security for the first time in 2009. On June 3, 2009, the UNGA adopted, by consensus, resolution A/63/281, co-sponsored by more than 100 countries including France, on “Climate change and its possible security implications.” For the first time, all members of the United Nations recognized that climate change constituted a challenge for international security. The adoption of this resolution represented an achievement for the “Small Island States,” - notably in the Pacific - that were behind this text.

7. Commitment of France in fighting climate change Retour à la table des matières

- Setting an example at the national level, with the “Grenelle de l’Environnement” (Environment Round Table)

This process brought together the Government and representatives from civil society for the first time in 2007 to create a road map to support sustainable ecology, development and land-use.

Excerpts taken from the speech made by the President of the French Republic at the concluding session of the Grenelle de l’environnement

“France has not fallen behind. But France now wants to be in the lead. And this is what has prompted the changes that we are proposing today in France. Our ambition is not to be as mediocre as others in our objectives. It is not to be average. Our ambition is to be in the vanguard and to set an example. At the United Nations, France called for a worldwide economic and ecological New Deal. France cannot hope that its appeal will be heard if it doesn’t apply the strongest measures to itself. How can you set an example if you cannot comply yourself with the rules that you are asking others to adopt?

This is the spirit in which I called for this Grenelle de l’Environnement.

Grenelle stands for shared discussion and shared proposals. This Grenelle is a success. It is a success that we owe to environmental non-governmental organizations, which proved equal to taking on this unusual role.”

(Thursday 25 October 2007)

- Through a European commitment to become the global leader in the fight against climate change:

The climate-energy legislative package , adopted under the French presidency of the European Union Council on December 12, 2008, was a historical step: the European Union is the first major global economy to adopt an operational, detailed and binding program to introduce commitments aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, as well as improving energy efficiency by 20%, with renewable energy accounting for 20% of energy consumption by this time.

- Strong involvement in New York

On 22 September 2009, a Summit on Climate Change was organized in New York in the run-up to Copenhagen. It was attended by more than 100 Heads of State and Government. President Sarkozy was invited by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to speak at the opening plenary session along with seven other Heads of State and Government (Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives, Mr. Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden, Mr. Oscar Arias Sanchez, President of Costa Rica).

In his speech, French President Nicolas Sarkozy recalled the four principles which would make Copenhagen a success:

"- Reducing global emissions by 50% [below 1990 levels] by 2050;
- For the developed countries, we don’t need a reduction of 50%, but one of at least 80% by 2050;
- For the emerging countries, the growth of their emissions must be reduced, with technological and financial assistance from the developed countries;
- And finally, somehow or other, we’ll have to pay for the most vulnerable countries, those of Africa and the small island States, there’s no other choice.”

President Sarkozy ended his statement with the proposal to create a single World Environment Organization. “Making a success of Copenhagen isn’t everything, we also have to be able to manage the consequences of the decisions taken in Copenhagen. There are around 60 scattered organizations dealing with the same questions, let’s create a World Environment Organization, decide in principle to do so in Copenhagen.”

- Climate Change Financing

Ms Christine Lagarde, Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment, is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF) which was established on 12 February 2010. Composed of 20 members, this group will study and propose solutions to significantly scale-up long-term financing to fight against climate change in developing countries. The group issued its report on 5 November 2010.

(December 2012)

8. Statements of France Retour à la table des matières

- 20 July 2011 - Security Council - Maintenance of international peace and security: Impact of climate change - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 11 January 2010 - General Assembly- Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the UN

- 22 September 2009 - Speech delivered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change

9. Reference documents Retour à la table des matières

- 20 July 2011 - Security Council - Presidential statement

- Fast Start - How France’s development partnerships are meeting the challenge of climate change (Ministry of Ecology - November 2010)

- 18 December 2009, the Copenhagen Accord

- 14 November 2009, Elysée Palace - Common Position of the Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Government of the French Republic on Climate Change

- Brochure on France’s international action on global warming (16 page report - PDF)

- 14 September 2009 - Joint article by Bernard Kouchner, Carl Bildt, David Miliband, Per Stig Moller, Miguel Angel Moratinos Cuyaubé, and Alexander Stubb, published in the “Le Figaro” newspaper

- 7 July 2009 - UK-French Summit: Declaration on international climate negotiations

10. Useful links Retour à la table des matières

- Climate change section on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

- EU information sheets on the Copenhagen Conference

- Website of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

- Website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

- Gateway to the UN System’s Work on Climate Change

- Website detailing pledges made for climate aid for developing countries

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