France urges world to step up climate commitments

United Nations – High-Level Event on Climate Change – Speech by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs – United Nations General Assembly

New York, 28 March 2019

Thank you, Madam President,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by emphasizing how important France considers this day of collective mobilization on behalf of our climate commitments and the importance of – together – scaling up our ambitions.

The Secretary-General has just reminded us of the challenge that climate change now represents for humanity as a whole. Its dangerous effects are already being felt. A one-degree increase was enough to deeply disrupt and undermine the world we live in. And voices are making themselves heard throughout the world expressing impatience and determination. Each week, young people express their anger, but also their hope. They are addressing themselves to all of us. We have an obligation towards them.

In 2015, we agreed on a universal framework in Paris based on action, responsibility, and respect for the sovereignty of all parties.

Since COP24 in Katowice, thanks to the Secretary-General’s precious support, we have all the necessary instruments.

But to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement, we must act quickly and act together wherever we can, and first and foremost, within the multilateral framework of the United Nations.

Time is of the essence. Our current commitments are largely insufficient. But nothing justifies resignation.

Observing is no longer enough. Promises are no longer enough. We must act.

To those who still have doubts, let us say clearly: we have ways to successfully manage the climate transition. The necessary technological solutions exist. We will hone them further in the future. The funding exists; we must direct it towards low-carbon solutions.

So what, concretely, must we do?

We must achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible for the second half of the century.

France is doing everything it can to meet this goal. On the national level, we established a series of five-year carbon budgets that will ensure the neutrality of our emissions by 2050. In order to do so, we are moving in all sectors of the economy to decrease our fossil fuel consumption. At the European level, we are working to ensure that we can follow that same path along with our partners.

And in this body, standing shoulder to shoulder with you, we want to urge all countries, and especially the major emitters, to make new and more ambitious commitments. The goal of neutrality by 2050 should be everybody’s goal.

We will be meeting on 23 September for a summit organized by the UN Secretary-General. We heard him clearly earlier. We clearly heard his message. And we will come with plans, not speeches.

In this respect, France, Jamaica and Qatar have been tasked with working on climate financing.

Starting next year, we must be able to raise $100 billion every year in order to help developing countries.

This is critical. But there is more than that to the scope of our discussions.

We are already familiar with the parameters of these discussions; we must therefore align official development assistance flows with the objectives of the Paris climate agreement.

Thanks to the ambitious replenishment planned for this year and to rapidly strengthened governance, the Green Climate Fund should play an even more effective role in implementing the Paris climate agreement.

But public funding is not everything. We are convinced of the urgent need to redirect private financial flows as well, by increasing the transparency and accountability of the financial system with respect to climate and by developing instruments that combine public and private funding.

On 15 March in Nairobi at the UN Environment Assembly, President Macron highlighted a twofold pitfall that we must avoid at all costs: first, repainting what already exists green, which is not at all our intention, and then making new tools available without making new methods available. Instead, in order to avoid this twofold pitfall we must comprehensively revise the financing model for our economies.

Climate challenges – and risks – must now be central to economic decision-making processes, central to the decisions made by consumers and central banks, including international investors.

All that is possible. New methods of funding the ecological transition have already been developed and the various editions of the One Planet Summit have helped launch or strengthen these new methods.

I am convinced that the process starting today, which will conclude in September, will make it possible to share and effectively compare experiences that will help us to jointly build the sustainable societies of tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

2019 and 2020 will be decisive years. They must bring strong declarations: new targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new financial commitments, new efforts to improve resilience and adaptation.

Our commitment must be equal to a challenge that is now itself of key importance. Let me assure you that France will play its full role in this effort.

Thank you./.

Published on 13/01/2020

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