President tells world "time is running out" for the climate
Climate/COP21/Paris Agreement signature ceremony – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
New York, 22 April 2016
United Nations Secretary-General,
Cher Ban Ki-moon,
We know what we owe you. It’s under your impetus and initiative that this whole approach, which has led us to New York today to sign the Paris Agreement, has been possible.
I’d like to pay tribute to you, ladies and gentlemen heads of state and government, for being here: it’s so important and enables us to send the signal that will put the Paris Agreement into practice.
I pay tribute to the representatives of every country, the COP President, Ségolène Royal, and also the representative of Morocco, because the conference’s next meeting will be held in Marrakesh.
The fact that so many of us are here in New York today, with such determination, is because there was an agreement in Paris. It was on 12 December last year. Nothing was on the cards. Nothing could be taken for granted. Up until the last minute, if not the last second, we had to overcome scepticism, questions and doubts, go beyond our national interests, which were also legitimate, and be able, all together, to further an ambition for mankind, for future generations.
[We had to] Be ready to commit ourselves to an agreement that could be ambitious, universal, binding, and commit us all for the coming years to reducing the rise in temperatures.
12 December 2015 was an historic day for the international community, which can be proud of it, because when Laurent Fabius, then president of the COP, signalled the consensus by banging a gavel– which will remain in people’s memory –, we all experienced a moment few of which are as moving in political leaders’ lives.
The context in Paris was dramatic, tragic, following the terrorist attacks that had struck the French capital, but in a surge of solidarity and also responsibility, the world was able to ensure an agreement could emerge from Paris and make it a symbolic act for the rest of the world.
Throughout the months preceding the Paris Agreement, significant commitments were also made by governments, but also by businesses, local authorities, citizens themselves and civil society.
That’s what was done in Paris on 12 December. Today we’re all duty-bound by this success, this hope that was kindled. We must go further, beyond the promises made, the commitments made, and ensure our words become deeds, because since 12 December the emergency has remained, and the months which have just gone by were the hottest in the past 100 years. There have been disasters again in Fiji, with a devastating cyclone; there’s been the famine that has spread in Africa; Lake Chad in Africa is still constantly shrinking and at risk of disappearing; there are islands that have been submerged. Do I have to go on, in order to justify what we did in Paris, which obliges us to go even further?
I’m also sounding the alarm about the destruction of ecosystems. Every year, 20 million hectares of forest in South-East Asia, Latin America and Africa go up in smoke. So that’s why we’re gathered today.
We’re gathered in numbers which are themselves exceptional – historic, as the United Nations Secretary-General said; never in the United Nations’ history has it been possible to bring together 170 countries to sign an agreement in one day. So now it’s more than a commitment, it will be a text irreversibly written into international law. That’s great progress.
In Paris on 12 December, we also launched a number of initiatives; they’ve been fleshed out in recent weeks. Seventy coalitions, 10,000 stakeholders involved in the Lima-Paris Action Agenda; the International Solar Alliance, the plan to develop renewable energy in Africa, the innovation mission for green technologies, the high-level coalition to set a carbon price. This must be our main commitment today: to set a carbon price to reorient investment and change both businesses’ and consumers’ choices.
Here, on this rostrum, I pledge on France’s behalf to ensure a carbon price can be set as quickly as possible – first in France, in Europe, then afterwards worldwide. That’s the precondition for us to be able to create a new economy.
What’s the next stage, after what we’re going to do today? It’s the ratification, with the goal of getting 55 states, accounting for 55% of emissions. Fifty-five states: they’re here; 55% of emissions: it must be possible to achieve them. So once again I’m launching an appeal for every country to ratify the Paris Agreement as quickly as possible.
I’ll ask the French Parliament to authorize the ratification of the Paris Agreement between now and the summer, and I’d like the European Union to set an example by the end of the year so that the agreement can enter into force as soon as possible.
Ladies and gentlemen, we must move more quickly, even more quickly because time is running out; we must be able to adopt low-carbon strategies; we must be able to raise the financing which was key to the Paris Agreement – $100 billion by 2020, and more if we can –, get everyone, again, to lead by example, especially the developed countries, and this is what France will do by increasing its annual climate financing from €3 billion to €5 billion by 2020. Similarly, we’ll be increasing our contribution to the fight against desertification in order to finance adaptation, and we’re using donations, not just loans.
Let me conclude, ladies and gentlemen, by saying that it isn’t just states which must take action: the whole world must realize what was done in Paris, what’s being continued in New York and what’s going to be ratified in your parliaments. Everyone must feel involved. So let’s bear in mind the words of David Thoreau, who reminded us that no one is responsible for doing everything, but everyone has to do something.
I trust you, for the sake of the countries you represent, to trigger this mobilization, keep hoping in the future, enable new generations to be proud of you and able to live in a world where there’s no concern about what mankind may produce.
Mankind can always produce what is best, even though it’s capable of what is worst, so today we’ve made sure that the best is possible; let’s continue to reject everything which the worst is capable of destroying – i.e. the most valuable asset, the one we’ve inherited, must cherish and must uphold beyond our own lives: mankind. Thank you./.